October 9, 2012
I don’t know if you can tell, but I get really excited about food. It’s not just the end product, the delicious thing I get to put in my mouth that does so much more than just nourish my body. It’s the process, too, the learning and doing and standing in the kitchen, working with my hands, listening to things sizzle and pop, my glasses steaming up as I open the oven door. I had some amazing kale and taleggio arancini during the kale party at Verjus a couple of weeks ago, and they were stellar. Perfectly prepared balls of rice and cheese and vegetal kale, deep-fried to a golden brown and served with a salty-sweet bacon compote. It’s a dish that makes sense — you know by reading the description that there’s no way that this could be bad, and chef Braden Perkins didn’t disappoint. The plate cost €8, a steal for such high-caliber food. And yet, and still. There was something missing. I didn’t make it myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love dining out, and I know my skill in the kitchen can’t match a trained chef’s, but… but what? I guess I miss the challenge. How extremely clever I feel whenever a dish turns out just how I wanted it to. I wanted to be the one whipping out those perfect arancini with that sticky, perfectly paired sauce. And yes, I felt extremely clever. Continue Reading
August 22, 2012
Have you ever made a laminated dough? Laminated doughs are the ones that have alternating thin layers of fat and thin layers of dough, resulting in a very flaky, delicate end product. Pâte feuilletée, or puff pastry, is one such dough.
I made puff pastry once, just to see if I could do it. It was in the heat of a Santa Monica summer, and I had trouble with the butter melting and not having enough counter space for all that rolling, but I did it. Every cookbook, blog, and cooking show I’d ever seen suggested that I just buy puff pastry, and now I knew why. It was fun to tackle the challenge, but honestly, it’s not worth the time and effort when there are quality all-butter puff pastry doughs that you can just buy.
But I’ve never really given up the fascination with laminated doughs. It’s a brilliant technique that creates a texture that isn’t reproducible any other way. That’s why I was so excited to find this recipe, which creates a beautiful layered dough without the painstaking folding and prolonged chilling needed for pâte feuilletée. The fact that it uses not butter, but another of my favorite fats, sesame oil, adds to the appeal.
July 16, 2012
Sometimes, you feel like being virtuous. You eat a big salad for lunch. Drink water all day. Skip the coffee, maybe go for a run, snack on some fruit, and go to bed early. These kinds of days are necessary.
But so are the days when you roll out of bed at 1pm, waste a couple of hours on the internet, then take a big pile of fresh vegetables and fry the heck out of them. These days are necessary too.