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We’ve Moved!

Our little In the Making is all grown up, and we are moving to a bigger and better space to see what we can do!

Please bookmark www.thegourmandandthepeasant.com – its our new home.

See you there!

We’re Moving!

Our little In the Making is all grown up, and we are moving to a bigger and better space to see what we can do!

Please bookmark www.thegourmandandthepeasant.com – its our new home!

Right now, the content is in both places, but as of May 15th, we will only be posting new stuff to The Gourmand & the Peasant. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should click over and see what we’ve done with the place. Slick new design, fun food photography and tutorial videos are a few of the changes, along with new curtains. Also, sign up for the email or RSS feed at the new site, because if you are getting this message in your inbox, these too will stop on May 15th.

Thank you for all the support over the last year and we hope you enjoy the new Gourmand & the Peasant.

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

A simple recipe for homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream, assuming you have an ice cream maker – which makes all the difference in the world!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
3 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
8 egg yolks
2 tsp peppermint extract
2 tsp crème de menthe (green or white)
a few drops of green food coloring (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Pour the half-and-half into a medium saucepan and place over a medium burner on the stove.

2. Add the sugar and the salt to the saucepan. Bring to just a simmer.

3. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks.

4. Temper the egg yolks into the cream and put back on the stove until the custard coats the back of your spoon and you can draw a line through with your finger, about 140ºF.

5. Pour hot egg mixture through a sieve into heavy cream in a bowl set over an ice bath. Stir with a rubber spatula until cool. Don’t use a whisk, you don’t want to add any air bubbles.

6. Stir in mint extract, crème de menthe and green color to your look and taste desires. Chill several hours, overnight is best.

7. Following your ice cream maker’s instructions, freeze ice cream base and add chocolate chips for the last minute.

8. Pour ice cream into a container and freeze several hours more.

9. Enjoy!

The Best Meatloaf Recipe You’ll Find

When M and I met, he was The Gourmand and I was the Peasant. He, having gone to culinary school, and I making the best meatloaf he’d ever had. Times have changed and the line between who’s who has blurred, but I remain meatloaf champion of our kitchen. Here’s my recipe. I give quantities, but once you make it once or twice, you’ll be able to eyeball how much of each ingredient to add. And trust me, you’ll make it more than twice.

Meatloaf
2 lbs ground meat (I use all beef, a combination of beef, pork and veal, or ground turkey)
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup milk
1 cup crushed saltine or ritz crackers (about 16) or 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T hot sauce
1 T whole grain mustard
2 tsp each of salt & pepper 
Meatloaf Glaze (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the glaze. Using clean hands, mix thoroughly, to evenly distribute all the mix-ins, but be careful to not over mix, as the result will be tough, grainy meat.

On a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, form the meatloaf mixture into a loaf about the size of a football* and make a shallow gutter down the middle. Pour half of the glaze into the gutter and used the back of a spoon to smear some glaze around the top and allow some to drip down the sides of the meatloaf.

Bake at 350° 50-60 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with extra glaze.

Meatloaf Glaze
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar

In a small saucepan, mix the ingredients over low heat. Stir occasionally until the glaze beings to simmer. Take off the heat, allow to cool slightly before glazing meatloaf.

*I know there is a tradition of placing the meatloaf into an actual loaf pan and baking it that way. I don’t do that for two reasons. First, when the meatloaf cooks, lots of fat and juices cook out onto the cookie sheet. If you cook the meatloaf in a loaf pan, those juices have nowhere to go and essentially poach in fat the bottom half of the meatloaf. Second, more exposed surface area means more glaze to get caramelized and that is everyone’s favorite part.

Happy New Year Post!

A warm Happy New Year to all of you foodies out there. Cheers to all that 2009 has in store for us, may it all be delicious!

As for me, culinary school is swimming along and the tension is mounting, which is strange, considering no one is actually competing for anything, except center stage. Speaking of which, last night I performed at my very first storytelling event at The Creek in Long Island City, Queens. Storytelling is kind of like doing stand-up but there is no requirement to be funny. But I was and it was really fun. The theme was “2008” and I told the story of how I quit my life to start over as a chef. I didn’t make it too well-known in advance that I was actually doing this until I was sure I could… actually do it. The place was packed and I left a room full of strangers entertained. Thanks to Brad and Cindy

The Gourmand & I will be spending this evening in the best way we know how – eating beef bulgogi & cheetos and drinking Pain Killers and cava and setting the alarm for midnight to get up and watch the ball drop. Perfect.

The painkiller was our specialty cocktail at our wedding and has a long story behind it that I’ll tell you someday. In the meantime, the recipe consists of good quality dark rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, sweetened cream of coconut, shaken and poured with crushed ice and served with a hefty grating of fresh nutmeg.

Cheers!

Panko-fried Oyster Po’ Boys

Ah the glory of Christmas vacation… A time to relax, reflect on a delicious Christmas dinner prepared by yours truly, and watch lots of trashy television (George, you are NOT the father!)

If Santa was kind to you, you too got 100 North Sea oysters harvested just days before Christmas and are spending your leisure time sipping martinis and wondering just how to prepare your dinner. For tonight:

Panko-fried Oyster Po’ Boys with Chipotle Mayo
Makes 4 Po’ Boys 

40 oysters (ten per sandwich)
flour for dredging, about 1 cup
1 egg
1 cup milk
panko* for dredging, about 1 cup
Vegetable oil for frying
4 soft hero rolls
1 head Boston bib lettuce
Chipotle mayo (recipe follows)

For the Oysters:
Shuck the oysters and drain the liquor, reserve the liquid for fish stock, white clam sauce, or something else that needs some briny goodness (perhaps a martini?)

Set up your standard breading procedure:
In one dish, place your flour. In the second dish, beat your egg lightly with the milk. In a third dish, place your panko, assembly-line style. This is known as “standard breading procedure.”

Bread your oysters:
Lightly dredge the oysters, one at a time, in flour so that just a light coating adheres to the entire mollusk. Dunk in the egg/milk bath and let the excess egg run off, making sure that egg fully coats all the flour and there are no dusty spots left. Finally, dredge the oysters in panko and set on a parchment-lined pan in a single layer (a cookie sheet works great.) 

Fry your oysters:
Set your oven to 200° and place an ink-free brown paper bag directly on the oven rack.  

Heat vegetable oil in a pan to 325°. The oil should be deep enough that the oysters float above the bottom. Don’t go crazy with the oil. You’ll flip the oysters halfway through and you’ll have all that oil to dispose of when you are done**. You’ll know that the oil is hot enough when you touch it… Just kidding! Drop a few bits of panko in and it should immediately sizzle lightly. A candy thermometer works great, just don’t let it touch the bottom of the pot, you want the temperature of the oil, not the pot.

Have a slotted spoon or fish spatula at the ready. Drop in the oysters a few at a time, depending on the circumference of your pan. Fewer is better and you don’t want them touching each other. Allow oysters to cook on one side until golden. The time will depend on a lot of factors. Don’t walk away. When the edges are lightly golden, flip, cook the second side until it too is golden and remove the batch to the oven. Brown paper bags are great at absorbing excess oil. Repeat until all oysters are cooked.

For the Chipotle (chi-POTE-lay) Mayo
1 egg yolk (or two, or three depending on how eggy you like your mayo.)
salt
1 T water
1 T white or champagne vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced chipotle peppers (they come in a can, usually found with the taco fixins. Careful! They’re spicy. You can also use just the juice they come packed in)

In a large bowl, place your egg yolk. Add about a 1/2 tsp of salt, the water and the vinegar. Using a whisk, mix everything together. Then, slowly dribble in the vegetable oil, whisking constantly until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture looks like, well, mayo. Stir in the minced peppers and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.

Assemble:
Slice a roll lengthwise. Slather both cut sides with mayo. Line with lettuce leaves. Place about 10 oysters inside, fold closed and cut crosswise. Repeat three more times. 

Any leftover mayo can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge up to one month.

*Panko bread crumbs are untoasted white bread crumbs from Japan. You could use regular bread crumbs, seasoned bread crumbs, crushed cornflakes or rice crispies. We like panko for this job. Most supermarkets carry them with either the bread crumbs or the asian food.

**My grandmother used to keep an old coffee can with lid in the freezer, dumping in excess cooking fat until it was full, then pitching the frozen can on trash night.

Week 2 Thrills & Blues

Week one of culinary school down and week two has begun! I have passed through all the stuff I already know how to do and am into the actually learning part – that didn’t take long!

Here’s a story: When I was a kid, like any brainy kid, I not only was excited to be learning my 2nd grade material, but was excited to see what was coming in grade three. In my elementary school, I knew that in third grade, I would learn conversions! How many teaspoons in a cup? How many cups in a gallon? My little mind bristled with excitement. The problem that has haunted me all of my adult life (especially as a math teacher!) is that when I made it to third grade, the conversion unit had been dropped down to second grade, and I never was formally taught teaspoons to cups and so on. So the basics that I do know are pure memorization of conversions I come across most frequently. I know that there are 16 ounces in a pound. I know that there are… that’s where my confidence ends. I am never sure that I am not about to sound like a fool.

Culinary math has been a big part of recent days and while my classmates want to stand by me to make sure they are doing the chiffonade correctly, they are quickly learning that I, the former math teacher, am not the one to stand near during math, except to offer help.

On the plus side, last week, we did a tasting of thirty cheeses. Awesome. We’ve tasted tons of different greens and learned about oils and vinegars in an in depth and practical way.

Today, I got in the mail my student loan, hooray, and the paper work on the compounding interest payback. I felt light-headed. I scrubbed my stovetop for a distraction.

Also, this weekend was my birthday, for which I had friends over for a make-your-own pizza party and made a German Chocolate Cake from the Tate’s Bakeshop Cookbook. Tate’s is in Southampton, NY. Mark & I bought our wedding cakes from them. (Sidebar: If you are getting married and aren’t obsessed with the idea of the inedible, rolled fondant tower of chalk, opt for several 10″ cakes, so you not only get to choose a variety of filling/cake/icing combinations, but won’t pay $10 a slice either. Our total cake bill was under $250 for 100 guests. Just don’t mention “wedding.”)

Kathleen King’s (née Tate) cookbook is adorable and my mom gave it to me last Christmas. The problem with it is that the recipe development is, well, lacking. It pains me to critique such a successful and prolific cookbook author, but I will because if you want your cakes (specifically the presentation) to be a success, adjustments need to be made, primarily in the icing. Unless her theory is that you don’t feel successful and keep buying her fabricated cakes… conspiracy?

Tate’s Bake Shop German Chocolate Cake with Notes from Yours Truly

Cake
4 oz Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup canned Coco Lopez (look in the cocktail mixes isle)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened to being easily malleable, room temperature
1 1/4 cups white sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 tsp real vanilla extract (NOT imitation)
1 cup buttermilk

1. Heat oven to 350.

2. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans. (If you grease then flour, you run the risk of white streaks turning out on your chocolate cake. I used Pam Baker’s Spray, which has flour in the spray, and no white streaks. Alternately, you could grease with butter, but dust with cocoa powder, so the streaks don’t appear on the cake because they are both brown!)

3. In a small sacepan, melt the chocolate and the cream of coconut together, stirring constantly. (Use a bigger saucepan and stir with a whisk, to break up the gooey coconut.) Set aside to cool. (The recipe doesn’t say how cool. I let it sit until I was ready for it, and it was fine. Just put the pan on a different burner than the one you cooked on, as the metal/coil will hold heat and thus keep the bottom of your pot warm.)

4. Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

5. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (I used my KitchenAid on medium speed for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom halfway through.)

6. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of the bowl.

7. Beat in the vanilla extract.

8. Stir in the chocolate coconut mixture and mix until completely combined. (Take big, deep inhalations to enjoy the rich, sweet smell.)

9. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to a soft peak. (The bowl must be absolutely clean, no rogue grease from last night’s french fries. The act of whipping egg whites incorporates air. This is most efficiently accomplished with a hand mixer, but a whisk and a strong arm work just as well. If you are whisking by hand, don’t lift the whisk out of the bowl, except to test the density of the egg white, otherwise you are releasing air and undoing your hard work. Instead, rapidly trace a figure eight in the bottom of the bowl. To test for the soft peak stage, stop stirring and lift the whisk or mixer straight up, slowly. As soon as the whisk separates from the eggs, the top of the peak in the bowl should stand up and immediately flop over, retaining its shape. Test frequently because if you go too far, you get stiff peaks (they don’t flop over) and you can’t recover from that except to start over. Oh, and soft peaks take about a minute and a half by machine, 2 and a half by elbow grease.)

10. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter to start the fluffing, then fold in the rest. (Be gentle, you don’t want to break up all the air pockets you just created. Only stir until all but a few thin streaks of white remain.)

11. Divide the batter into the three prepared pans.

12. Bake for 25 minutes. The edges will pull away from the edges of the pan, the center will spring back when lightly pressed on and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. (Rotate pans once halfway through to ensure evenly cooked cakes.)

13. Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Icing
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 cups evaporated milk
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp real vanilla
2 cups pecans, lightly toasted (I chopped mine lightly before toasting)
2 cups shredded coconut (the recipe says either sweetened or unsweetened. Use unsweetened if you can find it. I used sweetened and the whole cake was too sweet. I know there’s not really a such thing. But it was too sweet. We were all twitching.)

1. In a small saucepan, stir together butter, milk, eggs, and brown sugar.

2. Cook ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and is golden brown. (Here is where a poorly written recipe stands out. How thick? How “golden?” Because of the dark brown sugar, its golden brown as soon as everything is evenly mixed. How thick is the bigger issue. I feared over-cooking and thought that the mixture would set up (get thicker) as it cooled and that the coconut and pecans would add to the the thickening. WRONG. It doesn’t set up at all, so you have to cook it until its the consistency you want at the finish. I’d give you a temperature, but I didn’t temp it. I cooked my mixture for about 20 minutes over low. It was thickened and golden brown, but soaked the cake and created a nice pool on the cake plate. I’d go for medium-low heat next time, and cook until I can scoop a bit of icing up without it flattening out too much on the spoon.)

3. Remove from heat and cool completely.

4. Stir in cooled (from toasting) pecans and coconut.

*To toast pecans, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread out the pecans in a single layer. Put in a 425 degree oven for 3 minutes, take out par, stir around the nuts, place back in over and toast for a minute or two more. the best gague is your nos. When you smell toastiness, they’re done.

Build the cake
On a large cake platter, center the first layer. Scoop 1/3 of the icing into the center and spread it flat all the way to the edges of the cake, without spilling over. Place second cake ring, repeat icing treatment. Place final cake, top with remaining 1/3 of icing. Don’t ice the sides, the icing is too heavy.

Ok, so yes this cake has 4 sticks of butter (as my dad says “if a recipe calls for butter in sticks, you know its going to be good”) but you aren’t going to eat this cake everyday, or all of it in one sitting.

I recommend it served with a sweet sparkling wine (Clairette de Die, if you can find it,) a calculator for practicing culinary math, a Sallie Mae student loan statement, or a 29th birthday party with great friends.