Enchanted Valentine: The Little Mermaid

She saw the bright sun, and all around her floated hundreds of transparent beautiful beings; she could see through them the white sails of the ship, and the red clouds in the sky; their speech was melodious, but too ethereal to be heard by mortal ears, as they were also unseen by mortal eyes. The little mermaid perceived that she had a body like theirs, and that she continues to rise higher and higher out of the foam.

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Continuing the tradition from last year, Joe from Measure and Stir and I wanted to make another set of cocktail and bites. This year we wanted to focus on fairy tales, and we selected a few of our favorite classics. We start of with The Little Mermaid by H.C. Andersen. More specific the Disney retelling of the story is what inspired this dish

In the Disney version there was a different ending, but for the cocktail we wanted to bring the original its glory. We wanted to show case both in this first course. On the plate we have Sebastian, Ariel, Ursula, and Eric. Both worlds are separated by the beach. The cocktail is a Sea Foam cocktail as all Mermaids end as sea foam. The little mermaid were gifted with a soul for all the humane suffering she endured for her love. You can read more about the cocktail here, Out of the Fathomless Deep.

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A World a Part

80g Wagyu Beef
50g Octopus
50g King Crab
40g Salmon
15g Sun Toasted Sand
5g Sea Foam

Sun Toasted Sand:

100g Toasted Rye Bread
100g Toasted Panko
50g Toasted Pine Nuts
30g Butter Snow
5g Dried and Toasted Wakame
5g Grated Palm Sugar
5g Sea Salt
5g Lemon Zest
2g MSG

Butter Snow:

30g Clarified Butter
10g Olive Oil
18g Tapioca Maltodextrin

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Sea Foam:

50g Kombu
50g Bonito Flakes
200g Water
5g Sucrose Ester

First start off by making your Butter Snow by mixing the butter, oil and Tapioca Maltodextrin. The mixture should remind you of light fluffy snow. Toast up your breads and Pine Nuts to get them extra crispy. Once they are toasted combine with the Wakame and Lemon zest, coarsely grind. Balance the sand with salt and sugar.

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For plating I cooked the Wagyu steak (Prince Eric) Sous Vide at 54c for an hour. As King Crab (Sebastian) is not in season we had to settle for frozen, which was steamed back to life, sprinkled with a little fresh chopped parsley. The Salmon (Ariel) were quickly brined in a concentrated brine. This is to firm up the flesh and make it more vibrant. The Octopus (Ursula) we got pre-cooked from Seattle’s Pike Place Market famous fish monger. They cooked the Octopus super tender, not chewy at all. Place on top of the sand and add your sea foam. Decorate with seaweed. Bring the Kombu, Bonito flakes, and water to a boil and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. Once cooled, strain and add the sucrose ester and whip with a as much air into as you can. This ester will create light fluffy bubbles similar to a sea foam. Skim the foam off the top and place on your plate.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

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BBQ Brisket Sandwich

Today is National Sandwich day, so I found it fitting to post about my latest tasty meal I have been enjoying the past week. The Brisket Sandwich was just a vessel for my House BBQ Sauce. And trust me, it is truly amazing. Sweet, Smokey, Spicy, and a little tang. The good people over at ChefSteps have some great sous vide BBQ recipes.

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Spanish BBQ Sauce (House Sauce)

400g Ketchup (Not too sweet)
60g Dijon Mustard (Fine)
55g Apple Cider Vinegar
45g Worcestershire
40g Chipotle Tabasco
40g Olive Oil
20g Garlic
20g Green Onion
20g Tomato Paste
5g Smoked Salt
5g MSG
5g Pepper
3.5g Cayenne Pepper
1.5g Paprika
1.5g Smoked Paprika
0.35 Ghost Chili Powder
0.1g Saffron

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Put on to condiment bottles and get ready to use it on everything. A must for any BBQ. If you like spice, there is nothing stopping you adding a little more Ghost Chili.

For the Brisket I used a 50% Wagyu Brisket, perfectly marbled and not too aggressively trimmed. There is a great butcher/farmer that have some excellent beef if you are located in Seattle. Check out The Buther’s Table if you are in the South Lake Union (SLU) Area of Seattle. I followed ChefSteps killer Smokeless BBQ Brisket recipe, and made a cabbage and carrots using Kewpie Mayonnaise. I like thick pickles we a good crunch, so I added equal parts salt and sugar, along with Vinegar into a sous vide bag and compressed my thick cucumber slices.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Szechuan Pork Slider

Hello, this is Joe from Measureandstir.com, doing a guest post for Johan.

I recently made a special dinner for one of my friends visiting from out of town, and for the first course I served a slider based on my favorite Szechuan dish, eggplant with ground pork.

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Since I was already making a significant departure from the format of this dish, I also took a lot of liberties with the individual elements. Normally, I like to deep-fry the eggplant, cook the ground pork, and then toss them in a sauce made of Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, chilies, and corn starch. To that, I add sliced red bell peppers. It’s not exactly authentic, but part of the joy of cooking is to take your own liberties.

When I imagined this dish as a slider, I departed once again; I envisioned a ground pork patty, topped with slices of fried eggplant, sautéed bell pepper, and spicy mayo infused with Szechuan flavors, sitting on a mini brioche.

Let’s start with a confession: I bought the brioche from a local bakery.

For the mayo, I started with Szechuan chili oil, which is easy to make.

240 ml vegetable oil
15g Szechuan Peppercorns
20g chili flakes (I used Korean gochugaru)
1 cinnamon stick
5 star anise

Simmer the spices (except the chili flakes) in the oil for half an hour, and then strain the oil over the chili flakes. Allow the oil to rest overnight.

After making chili oil, I incorporated it into a mayonnaise.
Szechuan Mayonnaise:
2 Egg Yolks
10 ml Lemon Juice
pinch of Salt
1g Mustard Powder

Using a hand blender, slowly integrate the chili oil into the egg yolks. Once the oil is emulsified, thin the mixture with shaoxing wine until it reaches your desired viscosity. I added about 25ml to mine.

For the pork patty, I used a boneless pork shoulder, which I ground in my food processor. It is easy to grind meat in a food processor: cut the meat into 1-inch cubes and place it in the freezer for twenty minutes to get nice and firm. You can also freeze the blades and bowl of your food processor if you wish. It’s not very precise, but the colder your meat and apparatus, the coarser your grind will be. For pork, especially a stringy cut like pork shoulder, you want a grind of middling coarseness, so I only froze mine for a short time.

With beef burgers, I am a purist, and I do not like to add any other ingredients to the patty. With pork, medium rare is not an option, so I like to integrate a few extra flavors. In this case, I wanted to make sure that every element of the dish followed its theme, so I fold in a few teaspoons of XO sauce and a few cloves of minced garlic. The subtle fishiness and pungent umami flavors of XO sauce complimented the chili mayo beautifully.

For the veggies, I sliced a chinese eggplant into small disks and deep fried them for two minutes at 200C. I sliced a red bell pepper into battons and seared them in a pan until the edges blackened but the flesh was still firm. This could be done with a blowtorch.

I cooked the patty using a “smashed” style, by rolling it into a ball, placing it on a hot cast iron pan, and then smashing it with a metal spatula, exactly once, just as it was starting to heat up. The goal, as with any smashed patty, is to maximize browned surface area.

Once the patty was cooked, I let the brioche halves toast in the pan with the rendered fat from the pork patty.

To assemble the slider, I layered chili mayo on the bottom bun, followed by the patty, then the eggplant, then the bell pepper, then another small dollop of mayo, followed by thinly-sliced green onions.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Restaurant Visit: Osteria Francescana

Earlier this summer I were invited to one of my best friends wedding parties in Italy. Home of the pizza and pasta. Making sure I planned ahead I made reservations for 4 to Osteria Francescana. Osteria Francescana were originally fully booked as there some changes in how to make reservations. But the host was able to magically make a new table appear. So got very lucky to get a reservation. Just days afterwards they were given the “Best Restaurant in the World” award. So expectations were high.

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Got a picture with the Man himself, Chef Massimo Bottura

These are my mobile pictures I took of the meal. The meal was as you could expect top notch. But in any meal there were some I liked better than others. Attention to detail, atmosphere, and the total experience were just fantastic.

 

From the outside you couldn’t really tell what was behind those doors. Looks very hidden, but the best things in life are those that you explore. So this just got me more excited.

Selecting wine is not something that should be taken lightly. We started the meal with a nice Barolo 2008 and then a nice Lambrusco 2013. We selected the Tuffo menu, which is composed of the dishes you see on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. They also have another set menu, which you can find on their website.

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The meal started off with a little crispy toast with Rabbit mousse

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Tuile with Parmesan

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Meringue shells filled with Foie Gras and Puff Pastry filled with Rabbit Pate

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Tribute to Normandy
Tartar of lamb with a seafood sauce

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Lentils are Better than Caviar
Lentals cooking in a briney broth to emulate the saltyness of Caviar. This was probably my favorite dish.

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‘Riso Levante’
Risotto with Saffron

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Mediterranean Sole
Sole served with dehydrated salt water that create a thin paper that melted away in your mouth.

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An Autumn Ceviche in Modena
Mushrooms and chestnut in a cream sauce

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Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in Different Textures and Tempratures
Who knew you could make Parmesan sing like this. Not just you addition to pasta.

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The Crunchy Part of the Lasagna
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At the Dinner of Trimalchione: Fowl in the Ancient Roman Style
Fowl with crispy skin with a dark and rich sauce made with the drippings

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Croccantino of Foie Gras
Foie Gras Popsicle covered with caramel chopped nuts. This was my favorite bite. But I do love my Foie Gras

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Caesar Salad in Bloom
Romain Lettuce with flowers and freeze dried raspberry powder

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Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart
Decontructed Lemon Tart, the small dots on the top of the plate were many different sauces and textures. Ranging from hot sauce and Capers, to different herbs.

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Chocolate Ganache with Freeze Dried Raspberry Powder

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Filled chocolate spheres with cherry liqueur, Chocolate Truffle, and Macaron with Black Truffle and Foie Gras

If you have a chance to dine at Osteria Francescana, it is something that is an adventure into the culinary marvels. The overall course and experience is something I will cherish for a very long time.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Bolognese Ragu & Ricotta Ravioli

Inspired by my recent trip to Italy and the Italian food capital, Modena. I wanted to create a rich Ragu using some of the fine ingredients I brought with me home, Balsamico Vinegar and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Two of the most known ingredients from the Modena area. If you make the trip to look at fast cars and taste the best food in the world, I would highly recommend stopping by Villa San Donnino for their excellent Balsamico tasting.

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I wanted to make a hearty dish for the fall season here in Seattle. Using the best of what is available at the farmers market. For the best tomatoes you unfortunately have to find in the can section, but don’t let that fool you to think you are getting a lesser product. Keeps well in the freezer and goes well with many different types of pasta. This will be your new go to ragu.

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Ricotta

1,8l Whole Milk
200ml Heavy Cream
120ml Vinegar (White, White Wine, Apple Cider, or White Balsamico Vinegar)
Salt

In a sauce pan heat the milk mixture with a little bit of salt. As it is heating up prepare your strainer that you line with cheese cloth. Once the mixture has reached 92c take it a side, make sure the milk does not burn on the bottom of the pan. Slowly add the vinegar (I used White Balsamico condiment) as you are stirring. After about 30 minutes strain the mixture. For the pasta dough, see my earlier post here. Create two pasta sheets and put a table spoon of ricotta in the middle about 4-5cm apart. Put the second sheet on top and make sure there is no air bubbles. Cook for 4-5 minutes in rolling salted water, or freeze for later.

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Shortrib Bolognese Ragu

Warning, recipe is large. It keeps well in the freezer and can be used with many different types of pasta.

5 Carrots
1 Sweet Onion
6 Celery sticks
4 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)

1kg of Short ribs
1l Beef broth
250g Panchetta
50ml Balsamico Vinegar (or Balsamico condiment)
450 ml Red Wine (Sangiovese recommended)
5g fresh Sage (finely chopped)
5g fresh Rosemary (finely chopped)
5g fresh Thyme (finely chopped)
2 Bay leaves
225ml Whole Milk
225ml Heavy Cream
1l Whole peeled San Marzano Tomatoes
5-6 pieces of Sun-dried tomatoes
10g MSG
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan

In a large dutch oven sear off the Short ribs and take them out of the pot. In the same pot add the Panchetta and let that render some of the fat before adding your mirepoix (Carrot, onion, garlic, and celery finely chopped). Once your veggies have been caramelized and golden add in your red wine. I added Balsamico condiment to get another layer for richness and depth. Once the alcohol is burned off, add the stock and reduce a little. Blitz up your tomatoes with a hand blender or food processor and add that to the pot with all your spices. So this is where we are adding a little MSG. MSG is to boost the tomato flavors and get that 5th taste (Umami) really going. Don’t be affraid, it will really make this sauce go from great, to YUM. Add you Short ribs back to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Let it gently stew away for 3-4 hours, trying not to sneak a taste as the wonderful smells fill your house. Finish the sauce by adding the milk and Parmesan. Serve with al dente pasta.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

 

Pappardelle with Shortrib Red Wine Ragu

Usual lazy Sunday tradition consists of going to Ballard Farmers Market in the early morning, watch Football, American Football, or any other sports that are in playoffs. And making some food with my old roommate from college and great friend, Gualtiero. At the market, I browsing all the treats that are on offer. There are a few stands I always gravitate to, Pasteria Lucchese and Skagit River Ranch, they have such amazing products. Pasteria Lucchese is run by a true Italian, he is quite the character and amazing to chat with. Always helpful and encouraging. If you don’t get there early enough, many of the different pastas are sold out. He got me inspired to make my own Pappardelle pasta and my take on a classic tomato based Ragu.

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Egg Pappardelle Pasta

Egg Pasta

170g tipo 00 flour
55g durum semolina flour
9 egg yolks
15ml olive oil
45 ml water

In a food processor combine the 00 flour (All Purpose flour can be substituted) and semolina flour, add the egg yolks and pulse to get it slightly mixed. As you have the machine going, slowly add in the water and oil until the dough comes together into a crumbly texture. Pour the dough out on a floured workbench and kneed the dough. This is to activate the gluten in the dough. Kneed for a few minutes. The dough will be soft and not sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. The gluten protein needs to rest before you can roll it out and cook it. Let it rest at least 30 minutes, but can rest up to 24 hours. Once rested get your pasta roller out and again flour (use semolina) the workbench. Cut the pasta dough into 4 even pieces and using your hand form to a flat oval disc. Run through the pasta machine until you get to 5 on the thickness dial on the machine. Gaultiero were keeping a watchful eye for quality control (checkout his pasta dishes). Gently fold the rolled pasta lengthwise and cut the pasta into 15mm thick ribbons. Hang or spread to dry a little bit before cooking in salted water (water should be as salt as the sea). This pasta dough can be used for other types of pasta (filled, lasagna, or ribbon pasta).

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Short Rib Red Wine Ragu

Short Rib Ragu

2 Carrots
2 Shallots
2 Celery ribs
500g Short ribs (bone in, medium to large pieces)
100ml Red wine (Bold Italian wine is preferred, I used a Masi Campofiorin)
180ml Tomato paste
180ml Beef stock
180ml Water
25g Dried Chanterelle mushrooms
100g Fresh Button mushrooms

I started the day before by sous vide the short ribs at 85c for 24 hours. Ideally you time the sous vide to be done when the sauce is done. Skagit River Ranch had some amazing Wagyu Short ribs that I used. If you are looking for some of the best meat, Skagit River Ranch got you covered. I have not had anything from them that have not been top notch. Go early to make sure you get some of the world’s best bacon. For the base of the ragu I start with rehydrate the dried mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes. Make sure to not toss away the leftover mushroom stock. Finely chop up the carrots, shallots, and Celery. In a pot add a little bit of oil and the chopped vegetables. Allow the shallots to caramelize and add the finely chopped dried and fresh mushrooms before deglazing with red wine. Once the red wine have reduced to about half add in the beef and mushroom stocks as well as tomato paste. Leave the pot on medium heat and reduce the liquid by half again. At the end add the short ribs (chopped/shredded, with no bones) to the sauce and let marry for 30 minutes on low heat. Add a little water if the ragu seems a little dry.

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Egg Pappardelle Pasta with Short Rib Red Wine Ragu

Boil the pasta until you get a slight chewy texture (al dente) and bring together with the ragu. The overall dish had a good texture from both the fresh pasta and falling apart tender short ribs. A nice sweetness from the tomatoes and mirepoix .The Chanterelle mushrooms and red wine really brought a deep rich flavor that just keeps you going in for more. Grate a little bit of Parmesan and finely chop some Italian parsley to sprinkle over the top. Served with a glass of red wine.

Affogato
Affogato with Talenti Chocolate Caramel Gelato

Affogato

To round of the meal, Gualtiero brought with him the Mokapot and some ice cream to make a sweet finish. He chose to use an Italian espresso blend for the coffee and Talenti Chocolate Caramel Gelato. Talenti makes an incredible selection of ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. I love Talenti’s line of desserts, as well as Snoqualmie Creme Fraiche ice cream.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!