Monday, December 21, 2009

Horseradish-and-Herb-Crusted Beef Rib Roast

This rib roast is the perfect wow-factor for the holidays and big enough to feed a small army. Food and Wine Magazine suggests serving it with popovers and I second that idea!

Horseradish-and-Herb-Crusted Beef Rib Roast
  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1 head of garlic, cloves coarsely chopped
  3. 1 cup prepared horseradish
  4. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  5. 3 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  6. 3 tablespoons chopped sage
  7. One 16-pound rib roast of beef
  8. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a food processor, combine the butter with the garlic, horseradish, thyme, rosemary and sage and process to a paste.
  2. Stand the roast in a very large roasting pan. Season generously all over with salt and pepper and set it fatty side up. Spread the horseradish-herb butter all over the top. Bake for about 3 1/2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125° for medium rare. Transfer the roast to a carving board to rest for at least 20 minutes or for up to 1 hour before serving.
    The horseradish-herb butter can be refrigerated overnight. Let the butter soften before using.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Brown Sugar-Pecan Sticky Buns

Our family has some wonderful holiday food traditions that I look forward to each year. However, I am always looking to add new things that I find 'worthy'. This sticky bun recipe from Bon Appetit looks like it has just the right amount of sugar I'll need this Christmas to try to keep up with my young nieces and nephews.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Sticky Buns
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Spiced Sweet Dough (click for recipe)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, warm room temperature
  • Butter two 13x9x2-inch glass baking dishes. Whisk sugar, butter, and honey in small saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth and bubbling around sides. Divide hot syrup between prepared baking dishes, allowing topping to cover bottom of each dish. Place pecan halves, rounded side down, in syrup, dividing equally. Cool.
  • Whisk both sugars and cinnamon in small bowl.
  • Turn cold Spiced Sweet Dough out onto floured surface; sprinkle with flour. Divide dough in half. Roll out dough to two 15x12-inch rectangles. Using fingers, spread 2 tablespoons butter evenly over each rectangle. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over each. Starting at 1 long side of each dough rectangle, tightly roll up dough jelly-roll style, enclosing filling. Using large knife, cut each roll crosswise into fifteen 1-inch-thick slices. Arrange 15 dough slices, cut side down, atop cooled syrup and pecan halves in each baking dish, spacing evenly apart. Cover with waxed paper; let rise in warm draft-free area until buns are puffy and doubled, about 1 hour 45 minutes.
  • Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment; place dishes with sticky buns on baking sheets. Bake buns until deep golden brown and filling is barely bubbling around edges, about 25 minutes. Let buns stand 2 minutes. Cut around sides of buns to loosen. Place large rimmed platter atop each baking dish. Using oven mitts, firmly hold baking dish and platter together and invert buns onto platter. Cool at least 45 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.


Eggnog Tart

Nothing screams the holidays like eggnog so try jazzing up your menu this season with an eggnog tart. This recipe from Saveur is pretty straight forward and will knock your stockings off!

Eggnog Tart

Makes 10" tart

1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
Pinch salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp. vegetable shortening
2–4 tbsp. dark chocolate, melted

3 cups heavy cream
5 tbsp. sugar
1⁄2–3⁄4 cup bourbon
Half a vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 egg yolks
1 envelope gelatin, softened

1. For the crust: Preheat oven to 450°. Sift flour, sugar, and salt together into a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or 2 table knives to work butter and shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add up to 5 tbsp. ice water, stirring dough with a fork until it holds together. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 14" round. Fit dough, without stretching it, into a 10" tart pan, then prick bottom lightly with a fork. Line dough with foil, then add dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove foil and beans and bake for another 2–5 minutes. Brush bottom and sides with chocolate. Set aside to let cool.

2. For the filling: Put 2 cups of the cream, 4 tbsp. of the sugar, bourbon, and vanilla bean together in the top of a double boiler above simmering water over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until bubbles appear around edge of cream, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a mixing bowl until pale yellow. Continue whisking while adding 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream mixture, then pour yolk mixture into cream mixture in the double boiler, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add gelatin and stir to dissolve. Remove vanilla bean. Set aside to let cool, then strain filling into tart shell and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

3. Whisk remaining cream with remaining sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Garnish tart with whipped cream and confectioners' sugar, if you like.


Mini Brioche Lobster Rolls

We all know that I am obsessed with lobster in all of its shapes and forms so it should come as no surprise that this recipe lept off the page as I was flipping through this month's Food & Wine Magazine. These are perfect for holiday entertaining or for early afternoon snacks.

Mini Brioche Lobster Rolls
  1. 3/4 pound cooked lobster meat, crabmeat or shrimp, coarsely chopped
  2. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  3. 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
  4. 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  5. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. 12 mini brioche or Parker House rolls (about 2 1/2 inches)
  7. Snipped chives, for garnish
  1. In a food processor, combine the lobster with the mayonnaise, tarragon and lemon zest and pulse to a chunky paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a paring knife, cut a 1 1/2-inch-round plug out of the top of each roll, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Using a small spoon, carefully hollow out the rolls. Spoon the lobster filling into the rolls, garnish with the chives and serve.
    The lobster salad can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. The mini lobster rolls can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 hours.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Asparagus & Meyer Lemon Risotto with Butter-Poached Shrimp

I was pretty excited to see our Meyer lemon tree in full force up in Napa this weekend. I harvested a full grocery bag worth and brought them back to San Francisco. The first thing that came to mind last night as the chill rolled in over the bridge... risotto and butter-poached shrimp.

I am a lobster junkie but I never cook it at home or make it for guests because it's so down-right expensive at times. So, in the case, I subbed for some medium sized shrimp that I butter- poached and served right on top. You could also sub scallops, prawns or halibut.

Lobster is a treat so I usually order it out on special occasions. In fact, I plan on ordering it on my 30th birthday this Thursday at Fleur de Lys but more on that later in the week.

Asparagus & Meyer Lemon Risotto with Butter-Poached Shrimp

1 cup asparagus
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 ½ cups chicken stock
1 tbsp butter
2 shallots, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
juice of 2 Meyer lemons
salt & pepper
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
16 medium shrimp, raw, tails removed and devained

Blanch asparagus in boiling water for two minutes. Shock with cold water to stop the cooking and drain well. Cut into one inch pieces and set aside.

Bring chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan. Cover and turn heat to low.

In a Dutch oven, sauté shallots in butter over medium heat until light brown, about 4 minutes. Add rice and lemon zest. Stir to coat in butter/shallot mixture for 1-2 minutes. Add wine and let reduce on medium high heat for about 3 minutes to burn off alcohol. Add 1-1 ½ cups stock and reduce heat to low.

Stirring regularly to make sure rice doesn’t stick to the pan, add stock in ½ cup additions as the rice absorbs liquid. Check the rice before the last addition to see if it is done (rice should be al dente, not mushy). Add lemon juice into the rice with the last addition of stock.

As the lemon juice is absorbed, add asparagus, salt and pepper to taste. Stir two
minutes then remove from heat. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve.

Butter-Poached Shrimp

- 1 tbsp water
- 1 lb unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- shrimp (see above for prep)

Bring shrimp to room temperature.

In a saucepan, heat water until boiling and whisk in one or two chunks of butter to form an emulsion. Reduce heat to low and continue to whisk in butter, one chunk at a time, until the sauce is about 1-inch high.

Use an instant-read thermometer to maintain the temperature of the sauce between 160F and 190F during cooking.

Add shrimp and cook for 5 or 6 minutes. If shrimp are not fully covered, use a spoon to gently turn over after 3 minutes.

Serve immediately over risotto.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mike's Famous Holiday Eggnog

For the 3rd year in a row and back by popular demand... Mike's Famous Holiday Eggnog! This is a holiday must.

Below is the genesis of the holiday party starter told by Mike himself...

Christmas Eggnog

I never cook anything. Most of my friends and family are wonderful cooks so I try to be what every chef needs--an enthusiastic eater and kitchen helper. One thing I do prepare each Holiday Season is the eggnog. I first made this eggnog when I was in college and worked occasionally as a bartender for private parties. When a call came in to the student employment office for a bartender to mix large batches of eggnog for a Christmas party in Woodside I was the only one who claimed to have eggnog experience. I had, of course, lied about my experience and had never drunk a cup of eggnog. This extreme confidence in the face of total ignorance got me the job.

The first research I did was to buy a carton of dairy eggnog, pour it into a cup, and add a good dose of whiskey. It was terrible. It ruined the whiskey. I then indulged in some real research in the card catalog of the main library. After noting the Dewey Decimal numbers for the cookbook section (641.5) I plunged into the stacks and fumbled through all the dusty books until I recognized one from my mother's kitchen--the Joy of Cooking. It had a drink recipe for "Eggnog in Quantity" and I was saved. I couldn't check the book out because I had some unpaid delinquent fines so I wrote it all down (I still have that piece of tablet paper).

Two days before the party I called my employer and with all the authority I could muster gave her a specific list of all the required ingredients, stated that there could be no exceptions, and said that I would need to be at work in her kitchen three hours before the party to prepare properly. The eggnog was so well received that I was given a big tip and hired to do it again the following year. I have been making it for friends and family ever since.

Merry Christmas,


Eggnog in Quantity

• Be sure to use good fresh eggs. The best eggs have a firm orange yolk and are from hens that have access to free range.
• Use heavy whipping cream. This is not a drink that is successful in a low fat version.
• Use good quality liquor. I use a combination of liquors to spread out the flavors. The saying that "nothing succeeds like excess" is especially true when it comes to adding booze to the eggnog. The Brits say that "Christmas brandy will make you randy", so add an extra splash.
• Use fresh nutmeg kernels and grate onto each serving as desired.

Beat separately until light in color
12 egg yolks
Beat in gradually
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
Add very slowly, beating constantly
2 c. dark rum, brandy, or bourbon
These liquors form the basis of the "nog", and you may choose one
variety or mix to taste.

Let mixture stand covered for 1 hour to dispel the "eggy" taste.

Add, beating constantly,
3 cups of liquor (I use a combination and include some Kahlua)
2 quarts whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla (or to taste)
Refrigerate covered for 3 hours.

Beat until stiff but not dry
12 egg whites

Fold egg whites lightly into the other ingredients. Serve sprinkled
with fresh nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Yield is about 1 gallon. I always make a double batch. With all that liquor it keeps very well refrigerated. The egg whites will separate after standing so fold them back in. A jar of this eggnog makes a great holiday present. Have a cup while opening your presents. You'll love them all!

This is a very rich, high-cholesterol, high-octane eggnog. Do not operate heavy equipment after drinking.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is an absolute favorite of mine. As you can see above, I whipped up a decent platter of these bad boys last weekend in Napa for my family. People seem to think that this is a hard meal to prepare but I beg to differ. Here's the trick: It's all about timing and if you can get an extra hand (or two) you're set. Listen up...

Blender hollandaise is foolproof. Just add the hot butter very, very slowly so it doesn't cook the egg. Delegate poaching the eggs to one person. That way, everything will come together at once and the hollandaise doesn't get cold. Be sure to add white vinegar to the boiling water as it helps to separate the eggs. Watch the eggs closely so you do not overcook the yolk. You want it to be runny. Lastly, toast your muffins and warm your meat in the oven on a cookie sheet. If you put the oven on at 325 degrees you can keep a close eye on your muffins and they won't burn as quickly as they would if you were toasting and broiling them. You will need to allow extra time for them to toast that way...I suggest 12 or so minutes.

All the assembly happens at the very end so get your assembly line in order and crank it out. Be sure to finish each serving with some fresh lemon juice, a sprinkle of paprika and some parsley. I like to serve mine with some roasted potatoes.

Eggs Benedict
Serves 6
  • Water
  • 1/2 cup distilled vinegar, divided
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 12 slices Canadian bacon (can sub with lobster, black forest ham, prosciutto and much more!)
  • 6 plain English muffins
  • HOLLANDAISE SAUCE, recipe follows
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • lemon for serving

Pour enough water into 2 large skillets to reach a depth of about 3 inches, and divide the vinegar between them. Bring both skillets to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Crack an egg into a cup and carefully slide it into the hot poaching liquid. Quickly repeat with all the eggs. Poach the eggs, turning them occasionally with a spoon, until the whites are firm, or to the desired degree of doneness, about 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and transfer to a kitchen towel. Lightly dab the eggs with the towel to remove any excess water.

While the eggs are poaching, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Canadian bacon and cook until heated through, about a minute on each side (or heat in oven).

To serve, toast the English muffin halves and divide them among 6 warmed plates. Top each half with a slice of Canadian bacon, and set an egg on top. Spoon the hollandaise sauce over the eggs and garnish. Serve immediately.

Blender Hollandaise

1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Dash of cayenne pepper

Place egg yolks in blender with the lemon juice, turn blender on high speed for 5 seconds to blend. Melt butter in microwave until almost boiling. Turn blender back on high speed and gradually pour in butter. It will thicken into a beautiful yellow hollandaise in 20-40 seconds. The sauce may be kept warm by placing the blender bowl in warm water. The sauce cannot be reheated.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Test Kitchen: Rutherford Grill's Cornbread

This weekend, my step-dad bought a skillet and challenged me to recreate Rutherford Grill's popular cornbread. When I snooped around for a recipe, I quickly found out that it was a house secret. We know the flavor profile because we have had the cornbread so many times so we started there and created a recipe from scratch. After three attempts, we finally nailed it. Here is our variation of Napa Valley's Rutherford Grill Cornbread.

A couple things:
1) Don't even think about making this with out the skillet
2) Buy 2 ears of corn, grill them until charred brown and cut off the cob
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 jalapenos, fine dice with some seeds
  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal (preferably stone-ground; not coarse)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of bacon lard (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Special equipment: a 9 1/2- to 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet
Heat grill to medium high. Lightly brush corn with oil and grill turning every 3 minutes until charred and golden brown. Cut kernels off of cobs. Set aside.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Add butter, lard and oil to skillet and heat in oven until melted, about 5 minutes, then carefully pour into a medium bowl.

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, jalapeno, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk and eggs into melted butter, then stir into cornmeal mixture until just combined. Pour into hot skillet and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in skillet on a rack 5 minutes.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dad's Thanksgiving Caviar

One of the things I love about food is that it is the absolute root of all celebrations. Thanksgiving? Turkey. Easter? Brunch. 4th of July? BBQ!

As I have mentioned several times on here, my aunt's Thanksgiving is bomb. But this post isn't about one of her awesome recipes, it's actually about my dad's contribution for the day... house-cured salmon caviar with homemade bellinis.

Now, my dad has always been a stellar fisherman. I have countless stories about fishing with him while I was young. How many people you know got a fly rod for their college graduation? Enough said. Knowing this and LIVING this, I am somewhat disappointed in myself that when I asked him for "that fish appetizer [he does] on Thanksgiving" that I was surprised at how down-right hard core it was. Here I am thinking, "go to the store, grab some bagels, buy cream cheese, cured salmon..." I was way off.

Turns out my dad puts his waders on and heads to a stream (usually in Michigan) in September and targets female salmon. He can actually t-a-r-g-e-t fish. Sheesh. He then takes them (yes, that's plural) home and cures the eggs for over 30 days in his fridge and brings them to Thanksgiving with all the fixings. He also makes homemade bellinis which he freezes and serves thawed out on Thanksgiving day. To wash it down, he suggests Champagne or a chilled flute of vodka.

Sorry to miss the festivities this year everyone. I love you all!

Preparing Roe for Caviar
Joy of Cooking

Remove from roe from fish as soon as possible. Tear the egg masses into small pieces. Work them through a 1/4 inch or finer sieve to free the eggs from the membrane. Place them for 15-20 minutes in a cold brine of 1cup plus 2 tablespoons pickling salt per quart of cold water. There should be twice as much brine than roe. Remove from liquid and drain thoroughly in a strainer for about 1 hour. Keep refrigerated during this operation.

Place the strained roe in an airtight nonmetal container and store at 34 degrees for 1 to 2 months. Remove, repack, and store at 0 degrees until ready for use.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Roast Turkey with Fried Sage and Pecans

OMG, are you as excited about the holidays as I am?!? We are about to enter into my absolute favorite time of the year where countless celebrations and festivities take place that are surrounded by great food, wine and bubbly. It's really the only time of year where gaining weight is socially acceptable and encouraged. They didn't make the gym a new year's resolution for nothing. So let's get started on some planning! First step, the Thanksgiving turkey.

If you can't get your hands on turkey stock, no big deal. Sub chicken.

Roast Turkey with Fried Sage and Pecans
  1. 1 cup pecans
  2. 1 cup canola oil, for frying
  3. 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  4. 1 cup sage leaves
  5. 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  6. Kosher salt
  7. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  8. One 18-pound turkey
  9. 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  10. 1 onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
  11. 4 cups Turkey Stock
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Transfer the pecans to a food processor and let cool completely.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until very lightly golden, about 1 minute. Add the sage leaves and fry, stirring gently, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sage leaves and garlic clove to a paper towel–lined plate and let cool. Add half of the sage leaves and the garlic clove to the food processor along with the butter and 1 tablespoon of salt; pulse until smooth. Transfer 1/4 cup of the butter to a small bowl and stir in the flour; reserve.
  3. Beginning at the neck end, gently separate the turkey skin from the breast and legs using your fingers. Season the turkey cavity with salt. Rub half of the pecan-sage butter from the food processor under the skin, spreading it over the breast and thighs.
  4. Set the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan and scatter the carrot and onion in the pan; add 1 1/2 cups of water. Rub the remaining pecan-sage butter from the food processor all over the outside of the turkey. Roast on the bottom rack of the oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until an instant-read thermometer inserted deep in the thigh registers 170°; halfway through roasting, add 1 1/2 cups of water to the roasting pan and tent the turkey with foil. Transfer the turkey to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, strain the pan juices into a large measuring cup; discard the solids. Spoon off the fat and discard it. (You should have about 2 cups of defatted pan juices.) In a large saucepan, boil the turkey stock until it is reduced to 3 cups, about 15 minutes. Set the roasting pan over 2 burners on high heat; add the reduced stock and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom and side of the pan. Strain the stock into the saucepan, add the pan juices and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the reserved pecan-sage butter with flour and simmer over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt.
  6. Carve the turkey, transfer to a platter and garnish with the reserved sage leaves. Serve the turkey, passing the gravy at the table.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Event at Press Club, October 29th

Come join Miner Family Vineyards at Press Club tomorrow night to help raise money for breast cancer awareness. My good friends at Miner have been working VERY hard to pull this special event together so be sure to not miss out on all the fun. Enjoy top-tier wines and cheese pairings from 6-9pm, including the heavy-hitting Oracle red wine and the small production Rosella's and Garys' Pinots.

Hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding

There are some classics that just can't be messed with and Roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding is definitely one of them. This British poster child is typically served for Sunday Roast, a traditional main meal served on Sundays in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. It's hearty, packed with flavor and somewhat easy to make.

Don't let the word 'pudding' throw you off. This pudding is not like the chocolate stuff Bill Cosby used to pound on TV commercials. Rather, the pudding is more like a popover and, if done properly, should melt in your mouth.

Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding

1 3–4-lb. beef top sirloin roast, tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper,
to taste
1⁄4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1⁄4 cups milk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour
3 large eggs
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup red wine
1 cup Beef Stock

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together oil, thyme, rosemary, and garlic. Rub beef with herb mixture. Place beef in a small roasting pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

2. Remove beef from refrigerator 2 hours before you are ready to roast; allow it to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, make the yorkshire pudding batter: Whisk together milk, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. salt, and eggs in a bowl. Cover; let batter sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

3. Heat oven to 500°. Remove plastic wrap and roast beef until browned, 18–20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 250°. Roast until a thermometer inserted into center of beef reads 120° (for medium rare), about 25 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest, tented with foil, while you make the yorkshire pudding and gravy. Pour pan drippings into bowl, leaving about 3 tbsp. in pan. Set roasting pan aside.

4. Raise oven temperature to 450°. Spoon 1⁄2 tsp. reserved drippings from bowl into each cup of a nonstick muffin pan. Heat in oven for 15 minutes. Uncover batter; whisk in 1 tbsp. drippings from bowl. Remove pan from oven; pour batter evenly between cups; bake until risen and brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°; bake for 10 minutes to set puddings. Remove pan from oven; set aside.

5. Make the gravy: Heat reserved roasting pan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook until soft, 4–6 minutes. Add wine; cook, scraping up browned bits, until reduced by half, 4–6 minutes. Whisk in remaining flour, followed by stock. Cook, whisking, until thick, about 5 minutes. Slice beef; serve with pudding and gravy. Garnish with chopped parsley, if you like.



Monday, October 19, 2009

Apple Pie Bars

We just got back from a camping trip in Anderson Valley. This has quickly become one of my all-time favorite spots in all of California. First of all, it's tiny. My graduating high school class has more people in it. It's surrounded with vineyards, apple orchards and redwoods with a running creak going right down the middle. It's also home to some family-owned wineries that are cranking out some excellent Pinot Noir.

Apple season is here and Drew and I stopped at a stand on the side of HWY 128 which weaves north west up Anderson Valley. While looking for a recipe that would help to use up our stash, I came along this one on F&W online and decided to give it a shot. I'm using an assortment of apples even though the recipe calls for Granny Smith.

Apple Pie Bars

  1. 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  3. 12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  4. 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  5. 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  6. 1 cup water, as necessary
  1. 3/4 cup walnuts
  2. 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  3. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  5. 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  8. 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled


  1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and 1/2 inch up the side in an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and set. Let cool on a rack.
  2. meanwhile, make the filling: In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 1/4 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to 1/2 cup of water to each pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.
  3. make the topping: Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the walnuts. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps.
  4. Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.


Farmhouse Butternut Squash Soup

Nothing screams fall like butternut squash soup, especially when it is pouring rain outside like it is in San Francisco today. Caraway seeds, carrots and a Granny Smith apple give this recipe a whole new dimension.

Farmhouse Butternut Squash Soup

4 bacon slices
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 pounds carrots, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 thyme sprigs
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Cook bacon in a 4-to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Add garlic and caraway seeds to fat in pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute. Add squash, carrots, apple, thyme, bay leaves, broth, water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and boil, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaves.

Purée about 4 cups soup in a blender, in batches if necessary, until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot and season with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Serve topped with crumbled bacon.

From Gourmet


Monday, October 12, 2009

Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls

When people travel, they typically like to shop. Maybe they'll buy some souvenirs to remember their trip by, some toys for the kids or perhaps they'll take advantage of department stores and local designer storefronts. Well, I'm not your typical traveler. When I get home, I unpack a suitcase filled with food products.

While we were in Chicago, my brother informed me that Lettuce Entertain You started bottling its Spicy Peanut Sauce from my favorite spot, Big Bowl. To give you some context, this is like telling a 12 year old girl that the Jonas Brothers are on her doorstep. I absolutely FREAKED out, hopped a cab to Big Bowl and bought 4 bottles to take home, (I also made a to-go order for my plane ride).

Big Bowl is one of my favorite LEYE concepts that blends Chinese and Thai flavors and is down-right delicious. I worked there for a summer in college and have continued to eat there for over 10 years. The dish that keeps bringing me back is the fresh and light summer rolls they serve with their Spicy Peanut Sauce and now that they are bottling the stuff (prayers answered!) I can recreate the dish in my San Francisco kitchen. And that's just what I did last night.

A little side note: I marinaded my shrimp in a mixture of grated lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and fresh ginger which added acidity and brightness.

Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls
(Not the official Big Bowl recipe)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced Bibb lettuce
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup cooked bean threads (cellophane noodles, about 1 ounce uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 2)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 6 ounces cooked peeled and deveined shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • 8 (8-inch) round sheets rice paper

1. To prepare the rolls, combine the first 8 ingredients.

2. Add hot water to a large, shallow dish to a depth of 1 inch. Place 1 rice paper sheet in dish; let stand 30 seconds or just until soft. Place sheet on a flat surface. Arrange 1/3 cup shrimp mixture over half of sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Folding sides of sheet over filling and starting with filled side, roll up jelly-roll fashion. Gently press seam to seal. Place roll, seam side down, on a serving platter (cover to keep from drying). Repeat procedure with remaining shrimp mixture and rice paper sheets.

Serve with Big Bowl Spicy Peanut Sauce

Thursday, October 8, 2009

RIP Gourmet Magazine

I think a little piece of every foodie died this week upon hearing the news of Conde Nast's decision to shut down the 70 year old publication, Gourmet, led by the great Ruth Reichl. A decline in ad sales coupled with a portfolio overhaul by the publication giant are deemed the culprit. If this isn't a sign of the tough times we are in then I don't know what is.

I have posted many recipes from Gourmet on this blog and I encourage you to cook them and love them as much as I do. I have especially loved reading the articles in each issue over the years. Gourmet did a fantastic job reporting on food as it related to history, culture and travel better than all of its competitors. A foodie tear, RIP.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


We were just in Chicago for a week catching up with old friends and family and with the dishes and restaurants we miss the most. One of the highlights of our trip was our very first visit to my friend Josh's new hot dog joint in Northbrook, Wolfy's.

Wolfy's opened a little over 4 months ago and has become a community epicenter. The local ball team goes after games, business men come for lunch and it's about as family friendly as they come. Josh is the perfect front man and does a great job making everyone feel welcome and a part of the Wolfy's family.

Despite the killer hot dogs and fries with Meerkat (!) cheese, there is truly something on the menu for everyone. How about a Tuscan toss salad, tamale or tuna melt? Better yet, how about a gyro, Italian beef or chicken nuggets? The diverse menu caters to all types of customers- young and old.

What was my favorite bite? Well, that would have to be the grilled salami. Josh insisted we try it and, boy, I'm glad we did.

Congrats Josh. A job well done.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Polenta Gratin with Spinach and Wild Mushrooms

It's starting to cool down across the country which means it's time to start thinking about hearty comfort food dishes. Nothing beats a bunch of cheese on potatoes and this gratin recipe takes it to the next level. Pair this dish with some lamb and a glass of Pinot.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Yountville Restaurant Crawl- Part 1

When my best friend came to visit me from Chicago, I had a difficult time deciding where to take her for dinner for our only night in Napa. Then, I thought back on a great date I had 6 years ago in NYC where we restaurant hopped all over the meatpacking district. At that time, the meatpacking district was the spot to be and we managed to hit about 5 places before we called it a night. The system was simple: sit at the bar to avoid a wait and order a drink and dish at each. This is exactly the strategy I used when Carrie and I went to Yountville.

Before we drove into Yountville, we made a drink stop at Auberge de Soleil. I get tons and tons of emails from friends and colleagues asking for tips when they visit Napa and a drink at this place always makes the list. Auberge is a fantastic resort nestled up in the hills outside of Yountville with amazing views and great people watching. If you go in the late afternoon, you can get a table with little to no wait and enjoy a crisp glass of wine before heading to an early dinner. We both ordered a 2007 Foxen Chenin Blanc and soaked in the view before heading on our way.
Next stop was Bouchon for Salt Aire oysters and a glass of Domain Chandon. Bouchon is owned by world-renown chef, Thomas Keller (he also own 3 other spots within a 3 block radius). It celebrates his love for classic bistro fare and is very, very consistant. After pounding a dozen oysters or so, Carrie and I ventured off to our next stop, Redd.

Yountville Restaurant Crawl- Part 2

It was here, at Redd, that Carrie had a culinary epiphany. For the first time in her life, Carrie had burrata cheese. After her first bite, her world started spinning and she looked at me and said with great disappointment and frustration, "how am I almost thirty and just discovering this now?"

I remember the first time I had this fresh mozzarella cheese that's injected with cream. It was at my Uncle's restaurant in Chicago and I looked at him and said "what is this and where can I buy it?" So, to me, Carrie's reaction was much like mine. Folks in Chicago don't have much access to burrata because of its short shelf life but if you dig you can find it. Chicago, check out Frankie's Fifth Floor for a taste! We paired the cheese with a Horse & Plow Pinot Gris from Anderson Valley.

Next up was Bistro Jeanty. Chef Jeanty is a James Beard award winner and a man that loves to cook the classics from his homeland. At Jeanty, you can get your fix of escargots, duck foie gras pate and many other favorites. We saw a couple enjoying the pork belly with lentil and foie gras ragout and decided to go for it. I have to say that following burrata is a tough act to beat but the pork belly may have been the winner of the night. Carrie and I fought over bites and moaned between them. It was so freaking good you must go try it now. We paired this dish with a Domaines des Romains Pinot Noir.
Last but not least was a stop at Michael Chiarello's new place, Bottega. I've had the pleasure of dining here before so I knew the best seat in the house was the outdoor patio with the fireplace. We quickly found a seat and ordered a glass of Foley Pinot Noir. I am a big fan of Bob Foley and this pinot was my favorite wine of the night. We ordered the Parmesan puffs with peaches and prosciutto. This was the dish we enjoyed the least but Chef Chiarello came to the patio to chat with us and it made Carrie's night.

For those of you wondering, we left our car in the parking lot and walked from spot to spot. Never drink and drive in Napa!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Devils on Horseback

Saturday night was spent at Spotted Pig in West Village. I've written about Spotted Pig before as it was one of my go-to spots when I lived in NYC. Several years ago, there was a gastropub revolution and Spotted Pig and Chef April Bloomfield were at the forefront.

One of their most popular dishes is the English classic, Devils on Horseback. These make for a great snack, hors d'oeuvre or accompaniment to a cheese plate.

Devils on Horseback

Yields 4 servings


12 whole pitted dried prunes

1½ cup warm dark tea (soak prunes in tea for 4 hrs)

12 3 mm-thick flat smoked bacon

1 pickled pear (sliced into pieces)

1 teaspoon ground chili powder


Drain prunes into a bowl and reserve juice. Push pear through center, then wrap stuffed prunes in bacon. Place on an oven tray big enough to hold prunes and drizzle a little of the juice over the top. Sprinkle with chili powder, place under broiler and baste until golden brown and slightly crisp.


DBGB Kitchen & Bar

I know I have fallen off the grid, Dear Reader, and for that I am very sorry. The truth is that between Labor Day guests (wait until I tell you about my Yountville restaurant crawl!) and a business trip to New York City, I've just had no time to write down my culinary journeys. Please bare with me while I play catch up!

Last night, a foodie friend that works for Food Network invited me to an industry party at a new restaurant, SD26. However, before that and countless celebrity chef sightings, we went to check out Daniel Boulud's new restaurant, DBGB. Now, I've had the pleasure of eating at several of Chef Boulud's restaurants so going into our evening I knew it would be great experience. The space was vibrant and packed, especially for a Monday night. I love the foodie quotes written on the mirrors and the signed copper pots from other notable chefs.

What I found most interesting about DBGB was its focus on sausages and unique ones at that. While the menu included some french staples, the true innovation was in the sausages. So, of course, my friend and I ordered a couple to check out.

The first one was a lamb & mint merguez with harissa, lemon braised spinach & chickpeas. The harissa had a great amount of heat, which is what I love about the spice mixture to begin with and the sausage in it's own right was delicious. The second sausage was a Thai mixture made with lemongrass, chilies and more. Unfortunately, this sausage was unbalanced and its accompanying rice mixture was just as disappointing. There was an overwhelming amount of lemongrass flavor but I will say that my citron vodka cocktail paired well!

In my opinion, nothing beats New York City's restaurant scene. Restaurants here are well beyond a sensory experience and most of San Francisco's eateries just can't compare. If you haven't had the luxury of experiencing a night of dining in NYC, I suggest you start saving your pennies. It's worth it, trust me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Corn Fritters with Salsa

Before my best friend lands in San Francisco for a nice long Labor Day weekend in Napa, I thought I'd post a recipe that should appeal to any appetite this holiday. To make this a breakfast dish, fry an egg and serve on the side or on top.

Have a great holiday!

Corn Fritters with Salsa
For salsa
  • 2 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped white onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeño chiles
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
For fritters
  • 2 ears corn, shucked
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Make salsa:
Stir together all salsa ingredients and season with salt.

Make fritters:
Cut corn kernels from ears and scrape cobs to extract juice, then discard cobs. Whisk together egg and milk until smooth and stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir in corn, including juice.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then drop in 2 tablespoons batter each for 4 fritters. Fry until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side, and drain on paper towels. Make more fritters in same manner, adding oil as necessary.

Serve fritters with salsa.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Beer Steamed Crab

Labor day is right around the corner so what better way to celebrate than with this recipe for beer steamed crabs from Saveur Magazine? Look for blue crab at your local seafood store. Calling ahead is always a good idea especially around a holiday where demand may be higher.

Beer Steamed Crab

4 tbsp. fish sauce
2 small red or green Thai chiles,
stemmed and sliced into thin rings
Juice of 2 limes

12 live blue crabs (about 4 lbs.)
4 12-oz. bottles of lager beer
2 tsp. kosher salt
10 garlic cloves, smashed
3 Thai chiles, stemmed and split
1 bunch cilantro
2 limes, halved

1. First, make the dipping sauce: Whisk together fish sauce, chiles, and lime juice. Set aside.

2. Rinse crabs under running water. Pour beer into a 6-quart pot; bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt, garlic, chiles, and cilantro. Squeeze in juice from halved limes; add limes.

3. Add crabs to pot; cook, covered, until they turn a vibrant reddish-orange, about 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer crabs to a platter. Serve with sauce. SERVES 2 – 4


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Tofu really gets a bad rep and it's not fair. I actually enjoy tofu quite a bit but it's all about how you use it. For instance, I don't recommend that you cut off a cube and eat it sitting on the couch for a snack otherwise you'll be pretty disappointed. This recipe is a great example of how tofu can really be a star.

I follow legendary food writer and editor of Gourmet, Ruth Reichl on Twitter. She always talks about what's she's doing whether it's having tea with her cats of cooking for her son's vegan friend like she was today. This is the recipe she chose to make for her vegan guest and it sounded like a huge hit. I can't wait to try it out for myself.

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

  • 1 (14- to 18-oz) package soft tofu (not silken)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted (see Tips) and crushed with side of a heavy knife
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Carefully rinse tofu, then cover with cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then keep warm, covered, over very low heat.
  • Meanwhile, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Stir together with remaining ingredients (except tofu).
  • Just before serving, carefully lift tofu from saucepan with a large spatula and drain on paper towels. Gently pat dry, then transfer to a small plate. Spoon some sauce over tofu and serve warm. Serve remaining sauce on the side.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lamborn Family Vineyards

This weekend, I redeemed the auction item I won at the Taste of Howell Mountain, a day at Lamborn Family Vineyards. Last summer, I visited the tasting room at Napa Wine Company, which is a custom crush facility in Napa Valley, and immediately feel in love with their 2004 Zinfandel. Lamborn grows all of their fruit on Howell Moutain and uses Napa Wine Company to crush, barrel and bottle their wines. They make a little under 2,000 cases a year and their winemaker is Heidi Barrett.

I didn't know what to expect but I knew the day would be filled with good wine and laughter so I was so excited to bring some friends on the journey with me. We drove up to the house and were warmly greeted by Mike and Terry Lamborn in front of their beautiful home and were immediately whisked away on a vineyard tour. Mike and Terry were incredible hosts, very knowledgeable and everyone learned a lot on the tour.

Next, they took us in their home and we did a vertical Zinfandel tasting starting with the '99 and going up to the 2006. It was fascinating to try the different vintages and understand how the fruit differed vintage to vintage and how the wines age. If you haven't had Lamborn wines, I would highly suggest that you run not walk to your computer and order some online or go to Napa Wine Company. Since case production is low, you won't find it in stores. Oh yeah, their Cabernet is amazing, too.

I love wine but days like these really make me love the wine business. Folks like Terry and Mike are a great example of what the family wine business should be and should stand for. Their son is slated to take over once they retire and both of them tend to the vines themselves except at crush. They have a lovely home, a wonderful relationship and like to have friends over for bocce ball and drinks. They are just wonderful people.

We had such a great time at Lamborn and thank Mike and Terry for their hospitality. If you are coming to Napa Valley, try to visit them for a tasting and tell them I sent you. I promised them I would be their biggest fan and ambassador for life!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burgers

This week, I invited a group of friends up from the city to do a day of wine tasting, swimming and BBQ at our place in Napa. I figured that after a long day of tasting wine nothing would hit the spot more than this Bacon Pimento Cheese Burger. Pimento cheese is a childhood friend of mine and it reminds me so much of home and my mom's house.

I'm going to add about a 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce to the meat along with seasoning and worcestershire sauce. The hint of BBQ flavor should go great with the smokiness of the bacon and the heat from the jalapenos.

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burgers
Serves 4

2 lbs of ground beef (80/20)
8 slices of bacon
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c pimento
1/8 chopped jalapenos
1/4 cup of mayo
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon until done and set aside.

Mix cheese, pimentos, jalapenos and mayo in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to liking. Set aside.

Season meat and form into patties (add BBQ and worcestershire sauce to the meat if you would like). Turn grill to medium heat. Add burger patties to grill and cook 5 minutes per side. Add cheese and bacon on top of each patty and close cover for 1 more minute until melted. Serve on toasted bun with lettuce, red onion and sliced tomatoes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fig and Ginger Pork Rib

Often times we forget that making ribs doesn't always require a grill. This recipe only requires a sheet pan, store bought fruit preserves and a couple other things that you should have in your pantry. Fig is the in-season flavor here and nothing goes better with the sweetness of a fig than the saltiness of pork. If you have a fig tree in your yard or access to one, try making your own fig preserves from scratch.

Fig and Ginger Pork Rib
(The Hungry Mouse)

5-6 pork spare ribs (about 2 1/4 lbs. or so)
3/4 cup fig preserves
1 Tbls. powdered ginger
1 Tbls. apple cider
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbls. dried parsley

Serves about 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer.

Measure out your fig preserves and put them in a medium-sized bowl. Add the powdered ginger, apple cider, and kosher salt.

Whisk together with a fork to combine well. The apple cider will help thin out the preserves. Be sure to break up any lumps of ground ginger.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and/or aluminum foil.

Grab your ribs out of the fridge. Unwrap them and put them in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Pour the glaze in the bag and over the ribs. Seal the bag well. Smoosh it around between your hands to coat the ribs with glaze. Seal the bag well. Take ribs out of bag and lay out on pan. Sprinkle each rib with a little dried parsley. Cook for 1 hour.

Serve warm.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Soft-Cooked Eggs with Onion Soubise, Caviar, and Potato Chips

This recipe is a little hard core but you can sub some stuff to make it a little more approachable. If you're looking for a challenge, here you go.

Let's start off with talking about David Chang. For those of you that have not been to Momofuku Noddle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar or Momofuko Ko in NYC, I suggest you make it a priority. I remember waiting in line on a rainy Thursday night when Momofuku Noddle Bar had just opened, sharing an umbrella with two friends waiting to see what all the hype was about. (Remember Friedman?) Once we had our first bite of Chang's famous pork buns, we all looked at each other and thought 'who is this guy'?

David Chang is a decorated chef with Michelin stars, James Beard awards, F&W Best New Chef titles and more. After positions at hot spots in NYC and cooking and living in Tokyo, Chang developed a concept that is true to his Korean roots and quickly grew an empire.

To cut some corners in this recipe, you can use store bought potato chips and skip the liquid smoke. To save you some serious cash, sub for store-bought whitefish caviar or fresh salmon roe.

Soft-Cooked Eggs with Onion Soubise, Caviar, and Potato Chips

Recipe by Momofuku Ko


* 12 ounces onions (about 2 medium), halved, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, room temperature
* 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt


* 8 large eggs, room temperature
* 3 cups water
* 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke*


* 4 3x3/4-inch fingerling potatoes (about 4 ounces), scrubbed
* Grapeseed oil (for frying)
* Coarse kosher salt
* 1/2 cup mixed herb leaves (such as 1/4 cup chervil or tarragon, 2 tablespoons parsley, and 2 tablespoons 1-inch pieces fresh chives)
* 2 ounces American hackleback caviar or paddlefish caviar
* Smoked salt or Maldon sea salt
* 4 teaspoons purple sweet potato vinegar (see Ingredient Tip) or Sherry wine vinegar

*A smoke-flavored liquid seasoning; available at many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Chef Chang uses Benímosu, a purple sweet potato vinegar, in this dish. The potatoes have deep-purple flesh, but the vinegar is a stunning strawberry red color. The vinegar has an aroma similar to that of Sherry wine vinegar, which makes a good substitute.


Place all ingredients in small saucepan. Simmer uncovered over lowest possible heat until onions are very tender, and butter and water are reduced to silky sauce, stirring often, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.


Bring large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add eggs to water gently to prevent cracking. Cook 5 minutes. Transfer eggs to large bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, crack eggs gently all over on flat surface. Return to ice water and peel carefully. (Do not break eggs; yolks will be runny.)

Mix 3 cups water and 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke in large saucepan. Add peeled eggs to water. Cover and chill overnight.


Using V-slicer or mandoline, thinly slice potatoes crosswise. Rinse potato slices in small bowl of water. Drain. Rinse until water runs clear, 1 or 2 times more. Drain well. Place on kitchen towel; pat dry.

Pour enough oil into large deep saucepan to measure depth of 1 inch. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan. Heat oil to 360°F. Working in 3 batches, fry potatoes until beginning to brown and crisp, stirring frequently to prevent slices from sticking together, about 1 minute per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Cool. Transfer to clean paper towels.

Using slotted spoon, gently transfer eggs to medium bowl. Bring smoked water to gentle simmer over medium heat. Carefully slide eggs from bowl into water. Cook until heated through, about 4 minutes. Rewarm soubise. Mix herbs together in small bowl.

Spoon generous 2 tablespoons soubise onto each plate, using back of spoon to create small indentation for egg. Divide potato chips among plates, creating small mound alongside soubise. Spoon small pile of herb salad alongside chips and soubise. Place 1 egg atop soubise on each plate. Using small sharp knife, cut 1-inch-long slit in each egg (yolk will spill out). Spoon small dollop of caviar atop yolks, dividing equally. Sprinkle with small pinch smoked salt. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon vinegar alongside soubise.

Grilled Skirt Steak and Pepper Sandwiches with Corn Mayonnaise

My weekend was spent poolside catching up on all my cooking magazines in Napa. I might be the only woman that sits in her bathing suit and talks about food all afternoon but it's just what makes me happy. We all know I'm a sandwich junkie so it should come as no surprise that as soon as I saw this recipe in this month's Bon Appetit my mouth started watering. Corn mayonnaise? Who is the genius that came up with that amazing combo? I'm almost upset that I didn't come up with that idea myself. The bread is key so take a second and hunt down a ciabatta roll at your local grocery or bakery.

Grilled Skirt Steak and Pepper Sandwiches with Corn Mayonnaise

* 2/3 cup mayonnaise
* 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
* 1 small garlic clove, pressed
* 6 4-inch-long baguette sections or one 1-pound loaf ciabatta, halved horizontally
* 2 ears of corn, husked
* 2 small red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise
* 1 large red onion, cut into 1/3-inch rounds
* 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, cut crosswise into 6-inch pieces
* Olive oil (for brushing)

Prepare barbecue (high heat). Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Set aside. Pull out some of inside of bread, forming thick shells. Brush corn, peppers, onion, cut sides of bread, and steaks with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until charred and just tender and steaks until charred and cooked to medium-rare, about 15 minutes for corn, 8 to 10 minutes for peppers, and 5 to 8 minutes for onion, turning occasionally, and 3 minutes per side for steaks. Let steaks rest 5 minutes. Grill bread, cut side down, until charred, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Cut corn from cobs; add 1 cup to bowl with mayonnaise mixture and stir to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut steaks diagonally against the grain into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick strips. Arrange steak slices, peppers, and onion over bottom halves of bread. Spoon corn mayonnaise over. Top with bread, pressing slightly to compact. (If using ciabatta, cut into 6 sandwiches.)