The Kim’s House of Prime Rib

My mom makes a great prime rib. She roasts potatoes and bell peppers in the roasting pan along with the meat so they cook in all the drippings. It’s so good. In her words, “It’s my favorite entertaining meal. So easy, yummy, and you get to enjoy your guests without concentrating on the food.” I’ve never made her prime rib recipe before, but last weekend I had my chance.

On Saturday, Andrew and I hosted our friends Cory and Margaret, and Shane and Savannah for dinner. I have no photo of them. Despite telling them I was going to take their picture specifically for this blog post, I had too much fun merrymaking that I completely forgot. So it goes. Anyway, I wanted to make a good ole’ meat and potatoes meal, and what better way to do that than with prime rib? So I emailed my mom for the recipe (full recipe at the end of this post).

Although three ribs worth serves six (2 people per rib), I wanted to make sure I had leftovers so I opted for four ribs. Little did I know how much meat that was. I came home with almost 10 pounds of beef, including the bones (because of course I’m going to make stock with it). My mom only gave me a general cooking time: 1 1/2 hours for three ribs, 2 hours for four. Because I had so much meat, I wanted to make sure I cooked it long enough so I Googled prime rib cooking times and came across this great post on prime rib by Simply Recipes.

It was quite thorough about cooking times:

  • 12-14 minutes per pound for rare (115°F)
  • 15-17 minutes per pound for medium rare (120°-130°F)

The post goes into more detail about other factors that affect cooking times, so if you are planning on making this at any point, I highly recommend reading it. I found it really helpful and adapted my mom’s recipe to include some of their tips. (And by the way, my mom was almost spot on about the 2 hour cooking time. Without the bones, the roast came to 7 1/2 pounds. Do the math and you are at just about 2 hours depending on how rare you want it. Goes to show you should always listen to your mother!)

When I seasoned the meat and added the chopped the veggies, my roasting pan was quite full:

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I popped this baby in the oven and it didn’t take long for the apartment to start to smell amazing. While the beef was roasting, I prepped a salad of radicchio, butter lettuce, shaved fennel, and a champagne vinaigrette. It’s a simplified version of Bon Appetit’s Crunchy Winter-Vegetable Salad, and looks very homey in my grandmother’s wooden salad bowl set.

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The salad didn’t take long to prepare and with the rest of the meal in the oven, not needing any attention, I had over an hour to spare before our guests arrived. I actually had time to test-drive the featured cocktail of the evening and actually finish it! Cory and Margaret are big whiskey fans, so I decided to make whiskey sours using a recipe from RecipesPlus. I had a bunch of Meyer lemons thanks to a colleague who literally brought in buckets of them to work, and with the orange syrup leftover from my candied orange peels, I had the ingredients to make the best whiskey sour I’ve ever tasted. Now I need to candy more orange peels just so I can get the syrup so I can keep making this cocktail. It really was that special ingredient that lifted it from being a good cocktail to Captain Awesome.

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The prime rib was done just about when my friends arrived, which was perfect because we were able to have a cocktail while the meat rested. It turned out beautiful. It was juicy and tender and pink and silky from all the marbled fat that makes this cut of meat “prime.” I was quite impressed with myself. I will be the first to tell you everything that I did wrong with a dish. That’s kind of what this blog is all about, but I really can’t cut myself down this time. I did a fantastic job and I don’t mind tooting my own horn at all. We joked about never needing to go to The House of Prime Rib when you can just come to the Kim’s.

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Look at that perfect pink!

But I’m not done yet. Because there is still dessert. Andrew and I were in Napa the weekend before last and had a great pots de creme at Zuzu, one of our favorite restaurants up there. As I was eating it, I thought, “I could make this.” So I did. I found recipes for pots de creme that call for baking the custard like creme brulee. That’s kind of pain to do, so I opted for a simpler Pots de Creme recipe from the Food Network where you slowly thicken the milk, cream, egg yolk, and sugar into a custard and blend it with chocolate. From there you pour it into whatever dishes you want to serve it in and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Because it needs a few hours to set, make this in the morning you are going to serve. Then all you need to do when it’s dessert time is top with whipped cream, grate some chocolate over it for pizzaz, and you have one hell of a dessert.

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This was the most stress-free dinner party I have thrown yet. I wasn’t scrambling to set the table, or running around crazy doing the final steps for multiple dishes. Everything was ready, on time, with space to enjoy a cocktail and most importantly my guests. Prime rib is now my favorite entertaining meal. So easy, yummy, and you get to enjoy your guests without concentrating on the food. Words (and food) never rang truer.

RECIPES

Prime Rib

(serves 6)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ribs of prime rib (bones removed). If you’re my mom you give the bones to the dog. If you’re me you freeze them for stock.
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Rock salt (or any course salt you have on hand)
  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion

METHOD

  • Take the meat out of the fridge 3 hours before roasting to get it to room temperature. Place in roasting pan and cover the entire roast with rock salt.
  • When it’s time to roast, preheat the oven to 500°F.
  • Meanwhile, dice the potatoes, bell peppers, and onion. Mix together and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Pat the roast dry with a paper towel. Generously season all over with with Herbes de Provence.
  • Add the potatoes, bell peppers, and onion around the prime rib.
  • Roast for 15 minutes at 500°F, then turn down to 325°F and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (12-14 minutes per pound for rare and 15-17 minutes per pound for medium rare).
  • Take out prime rib and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  • Mix the potatoes and taste for doneness. If the potatoes are not fully cooked, leave the oven on and continue to cook while the meat is resting. If they are cooked, turn the oven off and keep the potatoes in the oven to keep warm.
  • Slice the prime rib and place on the serving platter. Arrange potatoes around the meat and serve!
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Tangerine Sorbet with Candied Peels–Valentines Day 2016 (part 2)

When I was planning my Valentine’s Day menu, dessert was not on my radar. I knew the dumplings were going to take up most of my time and I didn’t want to stress myself out by planning elaborate dessert. I was just going to do something simple like fresh berries with a little Grand Marnier (one of my parents’ go-to desserts). But a recipe for tangerine sorbet by David Lebovitz came into my inbox the Friday before Valentine’s Day and I thought, “This looks easy enough, tangerines are in season, it’ll go nicely with my menu, and I’m working from home today. I have time to do this.” So I took a mid-morning break from work and walked to my local produce market to pick up some minneola tangelos (though any tangerine or mandarin orange varietal would have worked, too).

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This recipe does require planning ahead (which for once I successfully did!). You have to juice the fruit, add sugar, some zest, and a little Grand Marnier, and let it chill overnight. Since I was working from home and didn’t have to take my 45 minute commute home, I was able to start on this right at 5 pm, perfect for stress-free prep, i.e. I am not juicing fruit at 9:30 at night. I busted out the juicer and juiced about 8 tangelos, enough to get 4 cups. The juicer is a pain to clean, so if you have a large citrus squeezer or a hand juicer, I recommend going that route. I have neither, so the juicer it was. I ended up with a little more than 4 cups of juice so I used the extra to make screwdrivers for happy hour. Another plus for starting this project at 5 pm.

The next day I took the juice from the fridge and put it in the freezer. Taking instructions from Lebovitz on how to make ice cream without a machine, I took the juice out of the freezer every half hour, for a couple of hours, and blended it with my stick blender (you can also mix with a hand mixer or with a spatula by hand). This allows for a smooth, consistent texture as it slowly freezes. Otherwise you’ll just have a big bowl of popsicle. While it would still be delicious, it would prove a bit difficult to eat.

Lebovitz also candied the peels of the fruit to serve alongside the sorbet. I thought that was a great way to minimize food waste, and decided to do the same. So I peeled the tangelos before juicing to candy later. However, Lebovitz’s recipe for candied orange peels is not available online, so I had to do some research for a recipe. To candy a citrus peel, you basically boil it in sugar water. But I found many methods to do this, with a variety of sugar to water ratios, boiling times, etc. Considering my history of candying fruit and trouble with boiling liquids with a high sugar content, I wanted to be careful about what recipe I chose. I didn’t want to make a sauce-pan full of hard candy.

What most recipes agreed on was cutting the peels of whatever citrus fruit you’re using (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, or a mix) into 1/4 inch strips.

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But that is where the recipes diverge. Some recipes blanch the peels a number of times to remove the bitterness, like Jacques Pepin does in his recipe (this video of his is also helpful). Others boil the strips once for 10-15 minutes, like Martha Stewart. I decided to go the multiple blanch route because that’s what I saw people do more often. After blanching, you boil the peels in sugar water for about 8-10 minutes, until they are translucent. Martha Stewart uses a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar. But Jacques Pepin uses a 2:1 ratio. I randomly decided that Jacques has more authority in this matter and went with the 2:1 ratio. I was also afraid of the 1:1 sugar to water ratio, reasons of which I stated previously.

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peels after their sugar-water boil

After the peels have been boiled, you toss them in sugar to coat. Martha’s recipe recommends letting them dry out for about an hour before coating. Jacques doesn’t. I went with Jacques’ method again, but found that the sugar clumped together more than I would have liked. Even after being left to dry for an hour, they were still pretty wet. Martha may have been on to something with her drying instructions.

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Although the peels turned out very tasty, I was not 100% satisfied with how these came out, and I am going to keep playing around with the recipe. I think a lot of the trouble has to do with how much peel you have and knowing how to scale the sugar to water ratio accordingly. Because you’re not always going to have 8 oranges worth of peel. Clearly, I do not have my magic method for candied orange peels yet, but my adapted recipe for this particular batch of peels is below.

I leave you with the final outcome of the sorbet, garnished and everything. Another good way to server it would be to chop the candied peel and sprinkle it on top so that you can have little bits of candied peel in each bite.

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Recipes

Candied Orange Peels (adapted from Jacques Pepin)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups orange peels (or any mix of citrus peels), cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar (plus 1/3 cup for coating)

METHOD

  1. Peel the zest of oranges, leaving off as much of the white pith as possible. Julienne the peels into 1/4 inch strips.
  2. In a saucepan, cover the strips in water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 seconds. Drain peels in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Repeat one more time.
  3. Return the peels to the saucepan with 1 cup sugar and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until the mixture starts to thicken and the peels turn translucent, about 8-10 minutes, though it took a little longer for me, probably becuase I simmered rather than boiled. I was scared of making hard candy. (This is the step where I need to make the most adjustments, perhaps in sugar to water ratio or cooking temperature.)
  4. Strain the peels, saving the syrup for another use (like cocktails or to sweeten tea).
  5. Spread 1/3 cup of sugar on a tray or medium sized bowl. Add the peels and toss, separating the pieces so that each strip is coated with sugar. Transfer the strips to a cooling rack and let stand for at least an hour, until dry. (Again, my peels didn’t really dry, so I will try letting them dry a bit before tossing in sugar.)
  6. Store in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. You can refrigerate or let it stand at room temperature.

Recipe Discoveries

Last week was not great. It was busy at work. I was distracted and annoyed. Unproductive. This weekend I was able to pull myself together a little bit. I caught up on a few (of the many) things I’ve been putting off, got some rest, finished a book, and spent some time in the kitchen trying new recipes with a good measure of success. So when you’re feeling a bit low and uninspired, these recipes can help pick you back up.

Mango Margaritas

I don’t recommend making these every time you’re feeling low, but they certainly can help celebrate the start of the weekend, particularly when you’ve had a hard week, and especially when you share them with good friends. As I mentioned in the Momofuku Pork Buns (part 2) post, margaritas are a great way to use up the leftovers of that mango puree from mango pudding. I loosely followed my girl, Ree Drummond’s recipe, using mango puree to taste in place of the jarred mangos (and adding very little, if any additional sugar). I love the lime zest and sugar rim–it announces a party in looks and taste. And party we did.

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Spicy Tomato Soup

Barbara Lynch’s Spicy Tomato Soup from Food 52 is a simple soup to make on a lazy weekend or a busy weeknight. The ingredients are minimal and the method is easy. It does require blending and straining, which is a bit of a hassle, but definitely worth it to get a good homemade tomato soup and skip the preservatives and sodium of the store-bought kind.

Warm Lentil and Potato Salad

Smitten Kitchen recently posted this recipe. I’ve been waiting for a new lentil recipe to catch my eye so that I can use up the dregs of all the lentils in my pantry. The dressing is a vague cross between the dressing in your traditional potato salad and a German potato salad, containing dijon mustard, shallots, capers, and cornichons. I knew I would love this recipe based on those ingredients alone. It’s another simple dish to throw together, although you have to use a number of pots, and will most likely have to go to the store to pick up those capers and cornichons and a few other things. However, you will come away with a great (healthy) work lunch for a few days to help get you through another busy week.

Potato Chip Cookies

Yes, these are a thing and they are just as good as you want them to be. This is another Food 52 discovery (seriously, if don’t subscribe to them already, do so now). I’m not much of a cookie baker. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t find cookies to be all that exciting–to eat or make–but the whole game changes when you add crushed potato chips. This recipe does not disappoint, and I have 15 coworkers who can back me up on that. And this photo…

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My only regret is that I didn’t come up with this idea myself.

Pizza Party!

When I was growing up, Saturday was pizza night. My mom would order pizza, spread out an old table cloth on the family room floor, and my family of five would eat picnic-style in front of the TV. As kids, it was our weekly treat, and for mom, it was her night off from cooking, so a treat for her as well. Usually we’d watch Jeopardy, or James Bond movies when TNT hosted its annual 007 marathon. It’s a mundane childhood memory, but a fond one all the same.

As an adult, I don’t have a TV, let alone cable. And I don’t have to wait for TNT to watch James Bond movies thanks to Netflix. Instead of ordering in, I can be fancy and make it myself. I also don’t have to wait for Saturday to have it. But there is something comforting about pizza on a Saturday night.

Before I moved in with Andrew, my former roommate Andrea and I would make pizza every so often. Actually, one of the first meals we made together after she first moved in was pizza, which made it very fitting when she and her boyfriend, Scott, gifted us a pizza steel for our wedding. So of course when Andrew and I hosted Andrea and Scott for dinner last Saturday, we had to make them pizza using the pizza steel they got us.

Andrea and Scott

Andrea and Scott

With me being me, I wanted to make the dough and the sauce from scratch. That was actually the easy part. I found a good dough recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which is honestly a little complicated to read through, but the recipe itself is very easy. You mix flour, yeast, a little salt, and water in a bowl with a large spoon and let it sit over night. That’s it. You don’t need a standing mixer with a dough hook. You don’t have to kneed. You don’t need to adhere to a precise proofing schedule. The dough will look like this after first mixing:

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Then it turn into this after sitting for about 20 hours:

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The dough is a bit sticky and you do have to work it a little to get it into a nice, round pizza shape, but flour your hands and the sticky dough is not much of a problem. Smitten Kitchen’s dough recipe also contains an easy and tasty pizza sauce recipe as well.

Of course, you don’t have to make the dough and sauce from scratch to have good homemade pizza. You can buy dough and sauce at the store and still have damn good pizza. I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. We know it’s delicious. For me, the difficulty in making pizza at home is with transferring the prepared pizza onto the hot pizza steel for baking. Raw pizza dough is notoriously sticky, and it always sticks to whatever I roll it out on, and through my scrambling to try and get it on the steel, I often ruin the pizza entirely or it ends up misshapen. Using cornmeal to coat the bottom does work, but I have to use so much cornmeal that it changes the texture of the bottom of the finished pizza, making it rough and a little grainy. Like sand. Bleh.

What ended up working the best, for texture and for ease, was to prepare the pizza on parchment paper, coating it a little with cornmeal to help keep the dough from sticking while you’re shaping it. Then slide the prepared pizza, parchment and all, onto the hot pizza steel. It slides on without a problem and if it’s not positioned well on the steel, you can take the corners of the parchment and easily adjust the pizza’s position without burning yourself. It’s probably cheating on some level, but it beats ruining the pizza and getting frustrated.

So after some trial and error with our transferring strategy, we came away with four pretty good pizzas. One pizza did perish in the process, requiring me to dip into one of the Trader Joe’s doughs we bought just in case there was a mishap with one of the pieces of homemade dough. At least I planned that well. In the end our plates were a smorgasbord of bread and toppings, with some salad to make ourselves feel like we were being healthy.

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Slices from four pizzas: BBQ chicken w/ cilantro; ricotta with za’atar and ricotta; sausage and mushroom; prosciutto and arugula.

And of course, there was dessert. What kind of Kim dinner party would this be without dessert? I dug into one of my Food 52 cookbooks and found a recipe for Aunt Mariah’s Lemon Sponge Cups. It uses simple ingredients, most of which I already had, and is baked in ramekins, my favorite dessert-delivery method. What intrigued me about the recipe is that it is described as a mix between a souffle and a custard because as the “cups” cook, a spongey cake forms on the top while a lemon custard naturally pools on the bottom. Yes, please!

The trickiest part about this recipe is beating egg whites and folding them into a very liquidy batter. I always have trouble beating egg whites, you know, the two times a year I need to do it. I never really know when they’re stiff enough. How stiff can egg whites really get? I usually end up over beating them so that they start to liquify again, which did indeed happen while I made this recipe. I should YouTube this and get some tips. Or call my mom, who can give cooking advice on almost anything. (Mom, please leave a comment on this post if you have suggestions for me!)

Because the batter was more liquid than batter, I found it difficult to  fold the egg whites into it really well. It just didn’t meld well. There were  definitely some lumps of egg whites. But I didn’t want to over fold and lose the airiness that would give the cups their light and fluffy texture. So I stopped before I could do real damage.

In the end I would give them a score of 7 out of 10. The cake part of the dessert was excellent. It was spongey, had a lovely lemon flavor without being overpowering or too sweet. Look at my beautiful tops:

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But I lost points on the custard. While it tasted good, the texture was off. It was not very smooth, was a bit runny, and did not hold it’s shape when I turned out the ramekins onto a plate. It just spilled all over the plate in a yellow mess. I’m pretty sure this had to do with my egg white problem. This was the only serving that came out decent:

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I will definitely make this again, but next time, I will serve this directly in the ramekins rather than try to be fancy and turn them out. It’ll hide my custard flaws.

Momofuku Pork Buns (part 2)

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, Andrew and I hosted two dinner parties New Year’s weekend. The first dinner was with our siblings, and the second was with our good friends Katy and Josh. They shared valuable wedding tips with us when we first got engaged, and continue to be a support during our first year of marriage. It’s good to have friends who have forged ahead in the Game of Life to help guide those of us coming up the rear. This is their Christmas card. This is how stinking cute they are.

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Katy is a fellow food-lover and blogger and she and I have swapped many recipes and kitchen stories over the years. She’s also very encouraging of my kitchen adventures when I make things way beyond my skill level. So when deciding what to make for her and Josh, pork buns easily made it to the top of the list. It was adventurous, something she probably wouldn’t make herself, and she would be extremely gracious even if it turned out terribly. (Which, we already know it didn’t, thank goodness!)

Since the hard part of the meal (the pork buns) was made the day before, I had time to supplement the meal with additional dishes. To keep with the Asian theme, I served spicy pan-fried noodles, Thai salad (made by Andrew), and mango pudding.

Spicy pan-fried noodles is one of my go-to weeknight recipes. It’s really easy to throw together and the leftovers reheat well. I’ve made it with all kinds of Asian noodles, whatever I had on hand or could find in the store, and it turns out well every single time. The only mishap I had with it this last time was that I forgot we ran out of soy sauce and had to run down to the corner store to get some. It was an inconvenience but nothing earth shattering. But then, right when I drained the cooked noodles, I realized that I didn’t have enough—I meant to double the recipe and realized that I only bought one package of noodles. Noodles are the main ingredient, and I forgot to double it! What is wrong with me? How could I have missed that detail? I was pissed. Making that kind of amateur mistake is just not acceptable to me, especially when I’m hosting. So I was huffing and puffing during the rest of my preparations, disappointed in myself, and rushing because I was running behind (as usual). It was an embarrassing display of childish attitude, even if Andrew was the only one to witness it (God bless his patience), because in the end it was fine. There were plenty of noodles to go around without doubling the recipe.

The Thai salad is Andrew’s take on the Thai chicken salad at Park Chow, a lovely and homey SF restaurant. The key to this salad is the dressing. It’s citrusy and spicy and has a quintessential Asian flavor, which we learned can really only be re-created using two essential ingredients: fish sauce and ground dried shrimp. You can’t taste their individual flavor in the finished dressing, but you can tell when they’re missing. Other than the dressing, the salad is comprised of basic salad ingredients: romaine, red bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, red onion, and roasted peanuts. You can find the full recipe at the end of this post.

So, in addition to the pork buns (which Katy said tasted just like Momofuku’s!), we had a well-rounded menu.

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Noodles and salad

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Now, for the dessert. I am not all that familiar with Asian desserts. So, as one does, I Googled Chinese desserts and mango pudding was one of the first recipes that came up. It’s pretty straight forward to make, like a slightly more involved jell-o. You just have to make it a few hours ahead of when you want to serve so the gelatin can set. I used Chowhound’s recipe and made it for both dinner parties to keep planning simple. The first night I used fresh mangos that weren’t quite ripe enough, and the second time I used frozen mangos to see if there would be a difference in taste. There wasn’t really. Andrew and I noticed a slight difference in texture, but the taste was basically the same. If you make this recipe, use whatever kind of mangoes you prefer. Fresh or frozen, it doesn’t make that much of a difference except in the mess you make cutting the fresh mangoes. Also, no matter which kind of mango you use, you will have leftover mango puree, which I froze and intend to use for mango margaritas next time I host a Latin-themed dinner.

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It was a busy weekend in the kitchen for sure, but a successful one, even with all of my ups and downs. I came out of the weekend with a number of takeaways, including my 2016 New Year Cooking Resolutions:

  1. Improve my planning skills, really reading and understanding recipes before setting out to make them.
  2. Give myself grace when I make mistakes, which I inevitably will.

So cheers to 2016, when I will forgive my flaws, learn from my mistakes, and laugh when all else fails. Happy New Year!

Recipe Links

Thai Salad Dressing

Adapted from Bruce Cost’s “Thai Cucumber Salad” recipe published in The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook Volume 1.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp red chili pepper (Serrano or jalapeno works too), sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 tbsp dried baby shrimp (ground)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped red onion and/or cucumber (optional)

METHOD

Mix all the ingredients together. Adjust the fish sauce and/or lime juice to taste. Then, dress your salad with however much dressing you like. For the actual salad, we typically chop romaine lettuce, add red bell pepper and carrot (preferably julienned), red onion, cucumbers, scallions, and top with roasted peanuts. If we want to make it a main meal we’ll add chicken. You can also keep it meatless by adding edamame or tofu as the protein.

 

An Apple Galette, i.e., My Attempt at French Baking

I don’t consider myself to be much of a baker. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I don’t find cake (or cupcakes) particularly interesting. Basically, I’ve dismissed baking sweets as something I don’t really do. As a result, baking is not a skill I have really developed (with the exception of bread, but that is another matter). However, the tides are turning and I am taking a bigger interest in the possibilities that flour, butter, and sugar have to offer a home cook.

Last week I had a potluck with a small group of friends and I signed up for dessert duty with the intention to exercise my weak baking muscle. And since I was going through all of the trouble to bake something for my friends, I decided to bake enough for my coworkers as well. Double the practice, right?

I wanted to make something that would be easy to transport to work, but I didn’t want to bake cookies or brownies. Too obvious. Too plain. I wanted something fancy. But easy-ish. I was making this on a weeknight after all. I ended up choosing to bake Jacques Pepin’s plum galette (i.e. a fruit tart) which is certainly fancy, simple enough in theory, but not the best for traveling via public transportation. I chose to ignore this last fact because I’m stubborn and wanted to make what I wanted to make, even if that meant cutting the thing in half and stacking the pieces into my largest tupperware. (True story, I really did have to do that.)

I liked this recipe because the dough comes together very quickly. Literally 30 seconds. I also liked this recipe because the ingredients are simple. Flour, sugar, butter, fruit, and some almonds and jam for extra flavor. The most time consuming part of the recipe was cutting the apples (I swapped the plums for apples because apples are in season).

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The hardest part of the recipe is rolling out the dough. The recipe says to roll it out on a floured surface. So I dumped it on my countertop and did my thing. When I went to “drape the dough over the rolling pin” I found that the dough had completely stuck to the counter. There was no saving it, even with a dough scraper, and I had to start all over. A number of things probably went wrong here:

  • I didn’t flour the counter enough.
  • I handled the dough too long and it got too warm.
  • I rolled out the dough too thin, despite the recipe saying to roll it into a 16 x 18 inch oval, 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick (that’s thin!).

Rather than try again on the countertop and risk a second failure, I had the brilliant idea to roll the dough directly onto my large rimless baking sheet. It worked like a charm. What wasn’t charming was my French rolling pin skills. This awkward shape is supposed to be a oval, and this was my second galette of the two I made.

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But apart from my dough and rolling pin issues, the rest of the galette was easy to put together. Spread a mixture of sugar, flour, and ground almonds over the dough.

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Add the apple slices on top. Then dot with butter pieces, and cover with more sugar.

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Then fold the edges of the dough over the apples. The dough naturally pleats so you really don’t have to do much in that regard. My problem was that I didn’t roll out the dough evenly and it was quite thin in places. This caused the dough to tear when pulling it off the baking sheet, resulting in not so pretty pleats. The unevenness of the edges was also a problem as it didn’t cover the apples adequately in some places. Below you can see where the dough tore (bottom right corner) and how the crust is larger in some places and smaller in others.

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But after the galette was baked and brushed with raspberry preserves, the cosmetic flaws were a little less noticeable. But more importantly, it tasted good. The crust was buttery and flaky, the fruit sweet. Between the two galettes I made, I had no leftovers to bring home. So while it didn’t score the most points in presentation and technique, it did well in taste, which is what really counts in my kitchen.

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Jacques Pepin’s recipe as taken directly from Food and Wine. (My notes are in parentheses.)

Ingredients

Pate Brisee (aka dough)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Filling

  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds large plums—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (or whatever fruit you’d like, though apples, cherries, and stone fruits work best. Depending on the fruit you choose you may not need exactly 2 1/2 pounds. Use your best judgement on how much would give you a good 2 layers of filling.)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1/2 cup good-quality plum, apricot or raspberry preserves, strained if chunky or seedy (I used raspberry preserves and skipped straining the seeds because I’m lazy. Feel free to be lazy with me.)

METHOD

  1. MAKE THE PATE BRISEE Put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and process for 5 seconds; the butter should still be in pieces. Add the ice water and process for 5 seconds longer, just until the dough comes together; the butter should still be visible.
  2. MAKE THE PATE BRISEE Remove the dough from the processor and gather it into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 16-by-18-inch oval 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to a large, heavy baking sheet. Chill the dough until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I rolled the dough directly onto a rimless baking sheet to skip the hassle of transferring the dough. See also my problems with the dough in the above post, 100% caused by user-error.)
  3. MAKE THE FILLING In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the ground almonds and flour. Spread this mixture evenly over the dough to within 2 inches of the edge. Arrange the plum wedges on top and dot with the butter. Sprinkle all but 1 teaspoon of the remaining 1/3 cup sugar over the fruit. Fold the edge of the dough up over the plums to create a 2-inch border. If the dough feels cold and firm, wait for a few minutes until it softens to prevent it from cracking. Sprinkle the border with the reserved 1 teaspoon of sugar. (The almonds are not 100% necessary so if you need to be mindful of nut allergies you can leave these out. I also am tempted to reduce the 1/3 cup sugar to a 1/4 cup. It was almost too sweet for me and one of my coworkers, but other tasters thought it was just right.)
  4. MAKE THE FILLING Bake the galette in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, until the fruit is very soft and the crust is richly browned. If any juices have leaked onto the baking sheet, slide a knife under the galette to release it from the sheet. Evenly brush the preserves over the hot fruit; brush some up onto the crust, too, if desired. Let the galette cool to room temperature before serving. (It’s really best served the same day you make it. The next day the crust gets a little softer and loses some of it’s great flakiness.)

 

Old-Fashioneds with Candied Oranges

I am not a recipe developer by any means, but I do enjoy tailoring recipes and putting my own spin on things when inspiration strikes. Earlier this month my sister hosted her annual tree-trimming party and she requested I bring a fancy holiday cocktail. For her party last year, I made a spiced cranberry shrub which (per the recommendation of Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars) I mixed with bourbon and topped with champagne for a kind of Christmas cherry bomb. This year I didn’t have the time and energy to make a shrub, but I did have a whole bag of oranges and thought it would be fun to spice up the classic old-fashioned with candied oranges.

I chose Food and Wine’s recipe for candied oranges because it was the least complicated and took only 35 minutes. You really only need three ingredients: sugar, water, and a sliced orange. You can read the recipe yourself, but essentially you bring sugar and water to a boil, and simmer the orange slices until the liquid becomes a syrup and the oranges turn translucent.

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On paper this sounds simple enough, and I started off well, but rather than getting a nice orange-flavored syrup at the end (which I planned to use as the sugar for the cocktail), I instead got hard orange-sugar candy. The second the syrup cooled it solidified. I notoriously have problems with recipes that call for simmering anything with a high sugar content for long periods of time. One time I tried to make grape ketchup and all I got were solid jars of oddly savory grape candy. Part of my trouble is the fact that I continually fail to understand the science and finesse of cooking sugar at high temperatures, and the other part is the recipes I consulted failed to warn me to be mindful of the fine line between making syrup and candy. “Moderate heat” can be fairly subjective and as an inexperienced candy-maker, I did not interpret that instruction well. I knew I was in trouble when the sugar water had reduced to almost nothing and the orange slices started to caramelize/almost burn, as you can see here:

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I pulled the slices out and attempted to save the syrup, which again, was unsuccessful because it solidified into a sugary mass. Despite this complication, the slices themselves still turned out well enough. Some were more heavily coated in hardened sugar than others, but when you put them in glasses of bourbon, the extra sugar melts and adds the sweetness that the syrup would have provided. No harm, no foul.

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In addition to adding candied orange slices into the bourbon, Andrew made bitters-infused ice cubes, so that when the ice melted, the bitters slow-released into the cocktail. This made for a cocktail with a flavor profile that changed as you drank it, the bitters, orange flavor, and sweetness slowly intensifying as you drank. It was kind of like an ever-lasting gobstopper, a cocktail with constantly changing flavors that unfortunately was not as ever-lasting as you wanted it to be because sadly your glass would eventually empty, your only consolation being the delicious, mildly boozy candied orange slice you got to eat at the end.

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So if you go through the trouble of making candied oranges and bitters-infused ice cubes (which is just filling an ice cube tray with water and adding drops of bitters into the water before freezing), the recipe is a simple one:

  1. Pour the bourbon of your choice into a glass (however much you want because I never really measure, but 2 oz is probably good to start with)
  2. Add candied orange slice (you can muddle it a little if you’d like to excrete some more orange flavor, but you want to keep the slice in tact)
  3. Add bitters-infused ice cube
  4. Garnish with regular slice of orange (you can also play around with squeezing a little fresh orange juice into the cocktail)

As you can see, this is not the most precise recipe. Everything can be experimented with and adjusted to taste.

Cheers!