Potato Mousseline with 63 Degree Egg and Pancetta Marmalade

In my quest for finding inspiration, I ran across a menu item from LudoBites that was undeniably luscious. I have never been to his restaurant since I don’t live in the LA area, but it looked so good. I had to recreate his potato mousseline with poached egg to the best of my ability, and I wanted to do a majority of the cooking using sous vide. My version is not exactly the same since I did not use chorizo this time.

The recipe is very rich so a little goes a long way, but boy is it comforting. The process is to place a layer of potato on the plate, placing a poached egg in the mousseline, and then another layer of potato on top without breaking the egg. I then placed a small spoonful of pancetta marmalade on top to finish.

Potato Mousseline Recipe:

  • 500 grams of russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch by 1 inch cubes.
  • salt and white pepper to taste.
  • 200 grams of unsalted butter, cut into cubes and brought to room temperature.
  • milk or half-half, as needed, but extremely important.

You can adjust recipe up or down using a ratio of 5 parts potato for 2 parts butter.

Vacuum seal a single layer of potatoes in bag with some salt and pepper. Place in a water bath at 185 deg F for 2 1/2 hours. Pull out the bag out of the water and pour contents in a large mixing bowl. Using a grinder or tamis press the potatoes through 1 time. Mix butter into potatoes and mix until fully incorporated. Add milk or cream to get a very creamy consistency and press potato mixture again through a tamis or strainer. If needed, add a little more milk and put the mousseline in a bowl and keep warm in a pan of warm water. The potatoes will need time to solidify and firm up.

At the same time reset your sous vide temperature to  145.4 deg F (63 deg C) by using some ice cubes and cold water to bring down the temperature as quickly as possible. Place as many eggs as you want in the water bath for 45 minutes at 145.4 deg F.

While the eggs are cooking we can start on the pancetta marmalade. This recipe is from Thomas Keller and the PolyScience guide to cooking sous vide.

Pancetta Marmalade Recipe:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 12 oz slab of pancetta or bacon

Place bacon in grinder and saute bacon over medium-high until nicely brown. Place bacon on a paper towel to drain. If you don’t have a grinder, placing bacon in the freezer for 40 minutes will allow you to finely dice the bacon. I agree with Chef Keller that both works, but grinding  does give you a more delicate texture that works very well with this dish.

In six cups of water add onions and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water. Wrap onions in a towel and wring to draw out any excess water. Set aside.

Place the honey and the vinegar into a pan and bring to a simmer over med-high heat. Reduce and simmer for about 30 minutes until reduced by half. Skim the impurities that rise to the top.

Stir the onions and the pancetta into the reduced vinegar mixture at a simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes. Keep the heat low enough or you risk hardening the honey in the mixture. The mixture should have thickened and the bacon is now soft. Take the mixture off the heat, allowing it to cool while the eggs finish cooking.

Okay…time to plate.

In a small plate or shallow bowl put a spoonful of mousseline and with the back of a spoon, spread mousseline. Place egg in middle. To get a smooth layer of potato I get parchment paper and lightly butter it, and spread a layer of mousseline. Using a cake ring I create a circle and remove the mousseline from outside the ring. Picking up the parchment paper and ring gently slide the mousseline off the paper and on top of the egg. I’m not sure how Ludo got the smooth top, but this was my solution. It worked very well and it doesn’t take very long to do.

To finish the plate, place a light drizzle of the pancetta marmalade on top of the mousseline. You will have a salty, sweet, creamy, and luxurious dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighing the pototatoes to know how much butter you needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the circulator to 185deg F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impurities from the red wine vinegar and honey. Skim the top as it rises to the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honey and vinegar with softened onions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using a ricer would be a lot easier, but you can get similar results from using a strainer or tamis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kids Cook Monday – January 24, 2011 “Healthy Pizza”

Pizza and healthy can go together, and it’s a great way to cook with your child. Alessandra loves Mac and Cheese and pizza for lunch, but we don’t head to the local pizza restaurant. Making our own pizza dough is super easy and Alessandra can watch the dough rise for extra entertainment. To be honest, even at 40+ years of age, I still giggle when I see the dough double in size.

This recipe will allow you to make two large pizza, or four mini pizzas. I prefer to make small pizzas and allow Alessandra to make her own.

Recipe:

  • 6 cups – All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant rise yeast
  • 3 cups warm (90-110 degree F)

Combine all dry ingredients into the bowl and mix throughly. Pour in water and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the water is mixed into the flour and smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic and let rise at room temperature for 4 hours.

After the dough has risen to about 1 1/2 times its original size, get the rubber spatula and loosen the dough from the bowl. Grab one end and fold it back into the dough, turn the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat. Once you have folded the dough 4 times flip the dough over so the cracks are on the bottom. Cover again, and place into the refrigerator where it should deflate a little before cooking.

When you are ready to make pizza take the dough and cut it into four equal pieces. Lightly flour a working area, and then roll out using a rolling-pin to get the dough stretched out into a disk. The shape of your pizza is up to you and the way you want it, round, square, rectangle, or something that resembles a cloud. It’s your pizza and have fun cooking it.

Typical Toppings :

  • Grated or shredded cheese.
  • Fresh leafy spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives

The goal is to customize the pizza to your liking. My personal favorite is a large thin slices of pecorino romano, olives, and tomato slices. I use a mixture of tomato paste and a little tomato sauce to provide thicker cover for the pizza. Up until now, your child can do almost all of the above, but don’t let it stop now. Big time fun is here in finishing the pizza. Alessandra has cut slices of pecorino romano with her little Ikea knife, or grated cheese using a single sided grater. (note: Be careful if your little one wants to do this step because hands can get hurt.) Having them help just a little all of the way through the process is worth the extra time. Nothing better than putting the toppings on a pizza. I just love how proud Alessandra becomes when she finishes her cooking.

After your child has helped make dough and the pizza with their custom toppings, it is time for the adult to have 100% of the cooking responsibilities. With a preheated oven at 450 degrees and the rack in the upper third, cook the pizza for 2-3 minutes and see if the dough edges are a golden brown. Once they edges do turn brown you can remove the pizza and let it rest until it’s cool enough to eat.

You can make the dough and the pizza on different days to make it easier. It’s good time fun and you can easily get a serving or two of vegetables.

The Kids Cook Monday – January 24, 2011 “Success In Harlem”

One of the reasons I started to write and document my cooking adventures with my daughter is the importance of family meals. This was one of the few times when growing up that my family sat down together during the week. I hope that she will be able to understand the importance of cooking at home with family and share it with future generations.

Columbia University launched a The Kids Cook Monday cooking class for families in Harlem in the fall and the families that attended reported the program very successful. Most families began to cook family dinners even after the program was over. Why is this so important? Foundation and education are paramount for healthy cooking and spending time at dinner. This applies to all income levels and social classes. Below is the flyer and a sample video of the cooking class. Congratulations to the program in Harlem and look for my article on “Healthy Pizza” on my next update for The Kids Cook Monday.

The Answer – How Do You Find Time To Cook?

I get asked this question a lot, and it’s a fair question. We are all so busy with jobs, kids, commutes, hobbies, and significant others. There are a couple of secrets that I will share,  but I am so lucky that my daughter loves the kitchen. It’s one thing to cook quickly to get everybody fed, and another, to cook and stretch your culinary education. My daughter allows me cooking time while spending quality time with her. Without it, I would be cooking pasta, rice, steamed vegetables, and some other sources of quick protein.

My daily life involves driving my daughter to school, driving an hour to work, working, training my dog at lunch, back to work, and then driving an hour to pick up my daughter and then getting us both home. Although I love to cook sometimes it’s hard to motivate myself after a hard day, but cooking sous vide helps tremendously.

So how do I do it. Secret number 1 is planning. Have a game plan going into the kitchen and have things ready to go before you start cooking. If I have a lot of prep, I will do as much the night before and then for dinner its “badda bing…badda boom”. Cook something that is 20 minutes, and while its cooking finish the other dish(es). During the week, make it simple with fewer but fresher ingredients. Letting the quality rule the day provides many benefits. I cannot stress enough how I have looked like a rock star because I used fresh caught salmon and cooked it for only 15 minutes.

The second secret is using technology, specifically, Sous-Vide. French for under vacuum. This process of cooking has made my life easier for everyday cooking. I use a professional immersion circulator from PolyScience, but you can also use a digital thermometer and a large stockpot of water. I am able to cook several days worth of meat, chicken, vegetables and then serve it days later. I only have to sear or bring the temperature of the food up to eating temps. You can have 4 chicken breasts with vegetables served in less than 10 minutes, and it will take only 3o minutes of total active cooking time.

Having a vacuum sealer like a FoodSaver is optimal, but you can also get by using the Ziploc handheld vacuum sealing system. Even a Ziploc bag with as much air taken out of it will work. If you go with the last option a tip is to submerge the bag into water after you placed the product in the bag. This will push the air out, and you can seal it. Make sure to keep the water out of the bag.

Recipe:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts with skin on.
  • salt and pepper ( a little goes a long way in sous vide)
  • 2 small cloves of garlic cut into halves (4 small pieces total)
  • 4 teaspoons of unsalted butter
  • 1-2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 pound of ice and gallon of water (at end of cooking chicken)

Place all of the chicken in one layer with garlic on top of skin, paprika, salt and pepper, and place butter with chicken. The most important part is having the chicken on a single layer with skin up.

Seal chicken in bag, and place in the water bath that has reached a consistent (145.4 F) temperature. Put in water bath for one hour. Pull out and place the chicken in the ice bath to stop the cooking process and to eliminate any chance for bacteria growth. Plus the goal is to eat it the chicken in a couple of days. After the chicken has cooled considerably place the chicken on a baking sheet and put another pan on top to flatten the chicken. Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or days, and the pull out the chicken from the bags. Fry the chicken in hot vegetable oil for 3 minutes on each side.  You want to brown the skin and not necessary cook the chicken.

In six minutes you can also warm up vegetables and dinner is ready. The chicken will be extremely tender and very tasty. When I was begging to my wife to let me have an immersion circulator she laughed at me and said, “no way!”. After I cooked this chicken using a stock pot and a digital thermometer she said okay after eating this chicken.

What I love most about this tool is the ability to cook proteins perfectly every time. Very  stress free and the cooking times are very long that you can start the process and come back later that night or tomorrow. You don’t need an expensive device for occasional sous-vide action, read how QandAbe.com created a device for well under $75.

For my PolyScience circulator, I purchased it from Williams Sonoma and I choose this model. Michael Voltaggio, an amazing chef from Season 6 of TopChef, is a spokesman for this device and his videos on the Williams Sonoma website really helped me pick the PolyScience model. The benefits of this model over other devices are many. My kitchen counterspace is incredbily small and I cannot rent out a permanent space on the counter. After finishing my cooking, I clean it and put it away in a cabinet. The cookbook from Thomas Keller that comes with the device is incredible and approachable and has helped me from day 1 to conceive my own ideas on cooking sous vide. Cooking sous vide has already saved over $100 in a couple of months by eliminating the need to eat out on busy work days.

The possibilities are endless for sous-vide and it can make every day cooking so much easier.

Bahn It Tran – Vietnamese Sticky Dumplings

Most people would never realize that I am half-Vietnamese, and when I cook, people would gather that I am from European heritage. Growing up we had a lot of Vietnamese food on special occasions but normal American food during the week. As I grew up and learning to cook I always wanted to cook French food, and to this day I will still cook food with an European twist. I never felt the need to cook Vietnamese food since my mom does such a great job and she makes enough to feed the entire Silicon Valley.

I am proud of my Vietnamese heritage. I have been working on a Pho recipe for the past year since without Pho life doesn’t exist. Through Twitter, I ran into a young Vietnamese couple that have a blog devoted to authentic Vietnamese cooking. It really inspired me to start cooking more Vietnamese food since it tastes so good. At the same time I also want to teach my daughter different styles of cooking. My daughter is Vietnamese, El Salvadoran, Mexican, and Caucasian. She has a lot to learn from her ethnic background’s styles of cooking.

The first recipe that we tried was relatively easy, but it does require patience. Here is the recipe from Hong and Kim: http://ravenouscouple.blogspot.com/2009/10/banh-it-tran-recipe-sticky-rice.html You can follow them on Facebook or on Twitter (@ravenouscouple)

I really enjoyed making these dumplings and I plan to make them again for future dinner parties and for lunches during the week.

Notes:

  • The dough is critical. Don’t add too much water because you will think it’s not coming together, but it does.
  • Keep your hands well floured to prevent the dough to sticking to your hands.
  • Use a small spoon to place the filling in the bun. You will need both hands to wrap the dough around the filling and you don’t want any of the filling on the outside.
  • After the wrapping the dumpling around the filling, I coated the dumpling with a little flour and rolled them in my hand to get a consistent roundness.
  • Use pork belly or shoulder for the pork. Leaner cuts may dry out.
  • Do not over marinate the meat or shrimp. A little goes a long way and you can easily blow out the ingredients if you use too much.

If you want your children to help, the dough process is a great place for them. The dough is extremely pliable and kids can get crazy with it without fear of getting sick. No eggs or ingredients that would be subject to salmonella. To be honest, the package of flour is so cheap, buy an extra package and mix in the water. Split it evenly among the kids and let them play away with the play-do like flour. For Alessandra, she helped me mix the dough and make one dumpling. Next time, I will have her make a couple of dumplings. Perfection is not a requirement as long as she enjoys the process and is proud of what she does.

For the sauce, it’s 1 part soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar, and a dash of sesame oil. You can mix in a little green onion, or if you want some heat, thinly slice a small seeded Serrano chile.

It felt really good to cook Vietnamese and I plan to do more cooking this weekend. It’s very inexpensive to cook, it’s enjoyable, and it allows my daughter and I to spend time together while learning about an ethnic dish.

Additions To My Cookbook Library

As a child, I loved to cook and it was a lot of fun. It started out cooking pizza using dough in a circular tube and rubbing cheap pizza sauce and cheese. 35 years later, I am now cooking sous-vide and playing with molecular gastronomy.

Being self-taught requires inspiration, hard work, and a desire to accept failure and try again.  Cookbooks are a great source of inspiration for home cooks but don’t be discouraged if a recipe from book doesn’t turn out the first time. A failed recipe attempt is still cheaper than culinary school.

Here are some of my recent additions and favorites:

Momofuku – David Chang David’s book is approachable and with familiar foods. His techniques will allow you to learn how to make every day ramen into a culinary delight. I love this book because I am  1/2 Asian I would eat everything in his book and learning these techniques have already helped me at home.

Alinea – Grant Achatz Grant’s book is a masterpiece of visual imagery, use of science to create food and art, and masterful cooking. Some of the recipes  are extremely friendly and while others are more advanced, you can still draw inspiration from this book and from this style of cooking.

On The LineEric Ripert Eric’s book is the one book that transformed my cooking immediately. His approach to using fresh ingredients and highlighting them with complex flavors is much harder than it looks. His book is extremely usable by almost any level of cook and is not intimidating to read or learn from. I will buy a second copy to keep in my library since I have used the first copy so often.

Poly-Science Sous Vide CookbookThomas Keller When I bought my PolyScience immersion circulator the best bonus was the cookbook from Thomas Keller. Well written and it gives you a solid foundation on the food, but also the food safety of cooking in this method.

Ideas In Food – Aki Kamozawa & H. Alexander Talbot Aki and Alexander put their heart and soul into this book. This book is so helpful and insightful they must have done a ton of work. The quality of work shows, and if you buy this book you will have a better understanding of how common every day foods are cooked, and with a level of refinement. The bread and the egg sections, to name a couple, have so much information that you can use immediately. Within days of receiving this book I have made at least 5 recipes and they all work.

You must inspire yourself to gather information and implement into your cooking, but these cookbooks will add to your creativity and knowledge. There are many more beautiful and worthy cookbooks, but these are my favorite.

The Kids Cook Monday – January 10, 2011

 The goal today was to cook Vietnamese food with my daughter for its healthiness, and because  we are part Vietnamese. Well, Alessandra had other ideas of what she wanted to eat. She wanted pasta topped with cheese, and served with steamed peas. Hard to fault a kid for eating healthy. As a results she helped me cook dinner for the adults, homemade buns with pancetta and carrots. For condiments we put a small coating of hoisin sauce and some fish sauce to round it out. Alessandra also made her own pasta noodles with a hand-held pasta maker for her dinner. For the money, a pasta roller is a great way to make your own fresh pasta and it’s safe enough for a child to use.

The best quote from my 3-year-old during the cooking time was, “I cannot wait to cook all by myself, without any help.” At least she wanted to cook for mom and dad.

After making the dough for the buns, (see last week’s recipe) and some pasta dough, I pulled out the pasta roller. Alessandra excitement was fun to see and she was ready to make the pasta. Grabbing the dough I kneaded it slightly and then gave it to my daughter. She grabbed it and put it through the roller on the widest setting and folded it three ways. I set the roller to the next notch and we repeated this process until she got to the 4th notch. We then spread flour on the pasta noodle attachment and ran the flattened dough through the pasta machine to make  the pasta noodles.  We covered the pasta with a coating of flour to prevent sticking and hung it up to dry while making the buns.

For the buns, I use a 2×4 inch cake mold and simply roll out the dough through the pasta roller until I get to the 3rd notch. Using the mold, we cut out circles and slightly coated one of the inside halves with butter or some sort of fat to prevent the sides of the bun from sticking. If you don’t want to use this, you could stick a small piece of parchment paper as you fold the bun in half. Alessandra had a blast rolling out the dough, running through the roller, and then cutting out circles. She made a total of 25 buns and placed them on individual squares of parchment paper or tin foil. To cook these buns place them in a steamer.

Alessandra did such a great job making the buns it allowed me time to cook the pancetta. In the end, Alessandra got her homemade pasta and she made a lot of buns for dinner. Great job!! Next time we will be cooking Vietnamese…

Looking with Anticipation

Work in Progress

Buns Made by Alessandra

Dinner Is Served!

Wine Memories of 2010 or the GourmetDad Wine Awards

I hate to admit, but I like to drink a lot of wine. Perhaps I don’t finish the bottle but having a couple of glasses of wine every couple of nights is very nice. Throughout the year I have had bad wine, good discoveries, and wines that have made a positive impact on my wine expectations.

Without a lot of fan fare here are the wines that I loved the most:

Biggest Revelation:

Charles Smith “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling. At $12 for a bottle of this bottle of wine is truly amazing.  Unpretentious and drinkable, unscrew that cap and start pouring this wine and begin drinking. This and the other wines from Charles Smith will save you a ton of cash without sacrifice.

Best White Wine:

2008 South Coast Winery “GVR” . At $20 per bottle it’s affordable, but it’s very crisp and clean tasting. Everybody we have shared this wine with has remarked how nice a bottle it was. It was one of the memorable selections from our dinner at The Plumed Horse in Saratoga, and I am glad we have a case of it at home.

Best Red Wine:

2007 Gramercy Cellars Syrah. At $42 per bottle it still has remarkable value. We tried a lot of reds throughout the year, and some cost two or three times more. This wine was amazing, full-bodied, fresh, and said “wow” with every drink. We had it for our New Years Eve celebration with Italian food and it was superb. I’m sad to say that I only had one bottle of this wine in the cellar. They are now sold-out of the 2007, but I will look to Gramercy for future wines. btw..if you see a bottle of 2007, get it.

My Daily Drinker:

Ben Marco Malbec. I have loved this wine maker for almost 10 years and they deliver a true Malbec in the US for under $20 a bottle.

The Kids Cook Monday – January 3, 2011

Over the weekend my daughter was dying to cook something. We had spent the better part of the holiday week in the kitchen while I was practicing some cooking techniques, and I think being a spectator was no longer in her plans. My plan for us was to make asian pork buns from David Chang‘s Momofuku cookbook and then place chicken or any kid friendly protein and vegetables to finish.

Making the bun from this recipe is a great kid friendly activity since there are no eggs in the dough. A similar recipe from David Chang is here, and for Alessandra, I only made the pork buns. (note: the pork portion is very tasty) It’s very straight forward but this allowed Alessandra involvement every step of the way. I had her measure all of the ingredients and place them into the bowl, and start the mixer with dough hook. Once the dough was ready in a couple of hours, she made several buns herself using her own rolling-pin.

The fruit of her success was when she ate some of her buns straight from the steamer and loved it. This is the part that I love the most when she cooks her own food. When she is proud of her work it makes me so happy. We are going to use these buns for snacks for the upcoming school week and you can place almost anything in these buns. The best part is that they store amazingly well in the refrigerator or stored in freezer lock bags. You just have to place them in a steamer until heated through.

After a little work, you should have 40-50 buns and a happy child.

I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to the next time.