american


Even though I’ve never had a chance to eat at his restaurant, Eric Ripert is one of my favoritest chefs ever. Ok, so what I know of him is only from his television appearances – as Anthony Bourdain’s buddy on “No Reservations”, as a judge on various “Top Chef” episodes, and as a curious chef touring the world on his own show on PBS – but doesn’t he just seem like such a nice and easy-going guy who oh look, also happens to be one of the top chefs in the country??! Let’s hang out, Eric! (Before you mock me too much, let me point out that I even know of a few men who have what can only be described as “man crushes” on Eric Ripert. So there!)

Alright fine, so maybe I won’t actually get to hang out with Eric Ripert any time soon. But I got a copy of his book (thanks to the contests over at Serious Eats – yay!) so it’s almost as good, right?? Given the reputation of Le Bernardin though, I was pretty skeptical about whether any of the dishes in the book would be doable at home. I was imagining recipes asking for seafood I’ve never even heard of, so fresh that they’re still wiggling around, and exotic, crazy ingredients you have to mail-order from France. Thankfully, flipping through the book, we did manage to find a few that are totally doable at home, especially if you’re willing to make some substitutions. This scallops dish is one of them – we opted to use sea salt instead of ‘smoked viking salt’.

Say no to smoking vikings, I say!

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Remember how I was singing the praises of flour not that long ago? Well, flour must also be on other people’s minds because I opened up one of my favorite blogs the other day and there was this gorgeous picture of flour in action.

It seems Michael Ruhlman was also reading the same issue of Saveur I was but instead of chicken paprikash, the recipe that caught his eye was one for buttermilk dinner rolls baked in a cluster in a springform pan. He adapted the original recipe, which itself was an adaptation of one found on The Fresh Loaf. Funnily enough, in following Ruhlman’s recipe, I ended up having to make some adaptations of my own, including sticking the dough in the fridge when I had to leave for a Super Bowl party. When I got home and was assembling the cluster, I took a little extra time to rewarm each of the dough balls by working the dough with my hands before rolling them into little tight boules.

Lately, I’ve been working from home every so often when I don’t have to go into lab for meetings. I love that not only do I actually get more work done from home, I can also multitask and make bread during the day. It takes all of 15 minutes to mix up some dough in the morning and then while I’m being the good little worker bee all day, the yeast is also working hard in the kitchen. By the time the sun is setting, you’re ready to stick the dough in the oven and look forward to freshly baked bread for dinner. I predict this recipe will come in handy during one of these future work-from-home days.

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Lemon Berry Scones

Right before our wedding, Nathan and I were invited to brunch at our friends Amar and Aliza’s house. Amar’s parents were in town and Auntie likes to treat us kids to dosas whenever she’s around. After (not) much consideration, we decided that even with a list of wedding to-dos staring at us, we of course could not resist the call of homemade dosas. I mean, a wedding is serious stuff but so are homemade dosas! So off we went … with a plate of scones in hand.

I love making scones. I love them not only because they’re tasty and delicious, but also because they’re easy, fast, way better when fresh and warm from the oven, and most importantly, the perfect baking project for us lazy people. Why? Because you actually want to mix as little as possible to ensure light, flaky, and tender scones. Oh, and they’re also the perfect thing to bring to parties because honestly, you don’t want a whole batch of them sitting at your house tempting you with their buttery goodness.

I’ve tried this recipe twice now and it’s worked out well both times. The first time was in the middle of blueberry season so I used fresh blueberries. This time, no blueberries were in sight at the store, so I experimented with chopped-up fresh strawberries and it still worked out quite well. Frozen berries should also work splendidly. I think in the winter, I might try this recipe again with dried berries to see if this is a recipe for all seasons.

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Seared Cod with Fennel Ragout

Wow, is it really the end of September already? That means, Nathan and I are getting married in less than month — yikes! Panic time!

Ok, I exaggerate – we’re actually doing pretty good as far as planning goes, so there’s really no need to panic. But you’ll still have to pardon me and my very-likely leave of absence from blogging once we get even closer to the wedding date, and then definitely when we’re on our honeymoon. But we’re going to Spain, possibly one of the best places in the world for eating, so I hope to come back with lots of delicious stories and pictures.

In the meantime, even though I don’t have much extra time for flipping through my cookbooks and scouring my favorite blogs to hunt down new recipes, I have some very lovely friends who will do the work for me. This one comes to us by way of my good friend and former roommate Ms. Laura. I was contemplating a strategy for this head of fennel sitting in the fridge when all of a sudden, my IM window popped up with a message from Laura telling me she just made this awesome recipe from Epicurious. Now, if that’s not divine intervention, I don’t know what is.

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Chilled Corn Soup

If you’re a Top Chef addict like me, then you probably already know from the title of this post that this is the dish that Jamie Lauren (of SF’s very own Absinthe) made during an episode last season that the judges raved about. Everyone loved it so much that she subsequently added it to the menu at Absinthe.

I have to admit that when I saw this episode, I was a bit skeptical that a simple soup, mostly of pureed corn, can taste so amazing that Padma declared it her favorite dish all season. So of course, I had to try it myself! And I didn’t even have to make the trip over to Absinthe when our weekly CSA gave us a sudden flood of sweet corn.

Thanks to Jessica over at Apples and Butter for scaling down the the original recipe to one that’s more reasonable for the home kitchen!

This soup is delicious and I totally get now why the judges and Padma kept talking about it. The cold creamy soup is perfect for a light lunch on a warm summer day (see how the soup is in a little plastic container above? It’s ready to take to work for lunch!). The little dots of chili oil supply a tiny and perfect bit of heat. Sadly, I didn’t have mint in the house, so I substituted for green onions instead. But I definitely plan to find and add the mint next time around.

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Zuni Cafe Caesar Salad

About two years ago, one of my favorite food writers Michael Ruhlman wrote a very entertaining rant on Chicken Caesar Salads… which led him to introduce the Chicken Fried Pork Belly Caesar… which then led him to challenge Chris Cosentino, chef of Incanto here in SF, to put the dish on the Incanto menu … which actually led to the development of an even more ridiculous version (as in ridiculously awesome) of the Caesar Salad by Chris Cosentino himself. If you haven’t seen it before, I suggest checking out this series of posts – if you’re not drooling by the end, then I regret to inform you that you must be a robot.

I will tell you right now that I’m not trying to one-up either of those guys by topping the salad with something even more ridiculous (fried bone marrow? Is that even possible??). But I will tell you about a basic Caesar Salad recipe so amazingly good that also happens to be amazingly simple and requires no frying of any kind. Don’t get me wrong, I love pork bellies and pretty much all things Chris Cosentino cooks (seriosuly, Nathan and I went to his restaurant three times in the span of six months). But thanks to Judy Rodgers and her Zuni Cafe cookbook, here’s a Caesar Salad so delicious and flavorful that you won’t even need to think about garnishing it with crazy proteins.

(Note that the dressing here uses raw eggs, so depending on your personal feelings on raw egg consumption, you may want to use pasteurized eggs. In full disclosure, I have not tried this dressing with pastuerized eggs, so if you do, please leave a comment and let me know if it works out!)

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Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp

I have to admit that when I first saw this recipe, I was skeptical. I mean I’m all for simple and quick foods, but this? This looked beyond simple – so far beyond that I doubt it can be anything but meh.

But then I saw it mentioned again, not once but twice, by two of my favorite bloggers no less. Luisa over at The Wednesday Chef called it a ‘minor miracle’ (!) and all Molly over at Orangette would say was that it was so perfect she’s still thinking about it. Really, can just throwing broccoli and shrimp in the oven really be that good? The only way to know is, of course, to try it for myself.

The result? Well, let’s just say that I recommend some slight amendments to your schedule tomorrow: cancel your dinner plans, run by the market on your way home, make a giant pan of this, and proceed to laugh maniacally at how you must have cheated the cooking gods by making something so amazingly delicious in less than half an hour.

So yeah, it really is that good.

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