Bouillabaisse is a traditional seafood stew that originated in Marseille, and I had a great bowl of it during my summer in France (but no picture of it, so no post). But until last week I had never made it. Now you can add to my growing list of food obsessions. The flavors are complex and aromatic. The rouille is a garlicky mayonnaise that is spread on toasted baguette rounds and served as described further down.
The recipe below is primarily taken from one of my favorite cookbooks. It's called "The Secrets of Success Cookbook." Nearly everything I've tried from it has been flat-out great. Published in 2000, it gathered favorite recipes from all types of restaurants in San Francisco. All that said, I have tweaked the recipe below a bit (particularly the rouille, which I found way too garlicky, and I really like garlic). I also used a different variety of seafood and made the fishstock from scratch. This recipe is for six people, but you can easily halve it and have very hearty portions for two people.
The Fish Stock
2 quart stock pot
1 lb. of fish bones or heads (make sure it's white fish. I used two pollack heads)
2 garlic cloves, smashed with the edge a knife and peeled
1/4 of a medium size onion
5 cups of water
(1) Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil
(2) reduce to a simmer and continue simmering for about 20 minutes
(3) strain ingredients and reserve stock after it has reduced down to about 4 cups
1/4 red bell pepper
3-5 cloves garlic
1 egg yolk
juice of 1/2 lemon
10 threads of saffron
salt and pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
(1) In a food processor combine all ingredients except the olive oil and process
(2) while processor is on, add olive oil in a slow drip, until done. The rouille should be emulsified. If you didn't do it right and it's watery, well, I'm just not in the mood to help you right now. Google "homemade mayonnaise" or something and try again.
Large saute pan
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 garlic head, peeled and crushed with edge of knife
10 saffron threads
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced leek
1/2 cup diced fennel bulb
1/2 cup peeled and diced red potatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of good diced tomato
zest from 1/4 of an orange
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
6 fresh basil leaves
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2 cups dry white wine
3 Tablespoons Sambuca (original called for Pernod, Pernod being French, but Sambuca is what I had and it worked just fine)
the 4 cups of fish stock from above
6 large or 12 medium shrimp
1 lb. red snapper, cut into large chunks
(1) Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add garlic, onion, and saffron, and stir for 2-3 minutes
(2) Add carrot, leek, fennel, and potato, saute for 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper
(3) Add the tomatoes, zest, fennel seeds, basil, and rosemary. Stir for 3-4 more minutes
(4) Stir in wine and Sambuca (or Pernod). Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the fish stock, cover pan, and simmer for 20 minutes.
(5) Add the clams and cook for about 10 minutes.
(6) Add the mussels and cook for 1 minute. Remember that if the clams or mussels don't open, they were dead before they made it in the pot. They need to go!
(7) Add the red snapper and shrimp and cook for about 3-4 minutes until snapper is firm and the shrimp are pink. Remove from the heat.
If you want to serve it traditionally, take out the seafood and place it on a platter. Then pour the remaining broth and vegetables into individual bowls. Slice a baguette into thin slices, toast, then spread the rouille on each one. Place the toast rounds floating in the broth and serve. People can select what seafood they want.
We just spooned the seafood into our bowls along with the stock, and had the toasts on the side (dipping them into the stock, of course).
Labor intensive? Yes, a bit. But trust me, this one is worth the effort. Especially on a cold night.
Apparently, the term "deviled" in reference to food dates back at least 1786, and was often used to refer to stuffed and/or spicy food.1 Also, apparently many church functions in the South and Midwest refer to them as "salad eggs," obviously to avoid honoring Satan through the power of mayonnaise.
Now I like the standard deviled egg just fine, but Kitchen Monkey is no Bittmanesque minimalist, not around the holidays anyway. So, looking around the kitchen and coming with up with various odds and ends, I came up with a pretty interesting sauce to match with some delicious toppings for a unique and addictive deviled egg.
2 heaping spoonfuls quality mayonnaise
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup chopped black olives
Ingredients for the Chili-Cherry Sauce:
2 Tbsp. olive oil (for sauteeing)
1/4 of a habanero pepper (chopped)
1 serrano pepper (chopped)
1 cherry pepper (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. sweet vermouth (I imagine port wine could also be good here)
1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
(1) the quantities above were estimated from memory, and may not be accurate. Deal with it. Adjust however you like.
(2) sautee the peppers in 2 Tbsp olive oil for a couple minutes, then add the garlic and sautee for a couple minutes more, then add the dried cherries and the water. Once the water has cooked off and the cherries are hydrated, remove from heat and add to your food processor.
(3) add the thyme leaves and the vermouth and puree.
(4) once fairly smooth, begin to add the olive oil slowly until it reaches the consistency you like, add salt and pepper to taste.
(5) Boil a dozen eggs, peel them, split them in half, spoon out the yolk, and mix the mayonnaise into the yolk. Go as easy as possible with the mayo, while getting a consistency you can spoon. Spoon the yolk mixture back into the eggs, but only enough to come up to top of the yolk hole, not heaping as one normally would.
(6) Cut the avocado into chunks and mash with a fork--mix with a bit of salt and pepper--until you get a chunky, not-quite-quacamole mix. Spoon a small spoonful of the avocado on top of each egg.
(7) Chop the ol and scallions and sprinkle some of each on top of the eggs.
(8) Spoon a small amount of the chili-cherry sauce on top of each egg.
 - Wikipedia: "Deviled Eggs"
Hello readers! Just a short post today. It turns out that one of my most continuingly popular posts is one I did years ago about tuna tataki, which you'll find here. It still gets about 30 to 50 hits a day. So, I thought it time for a very quick update. First, now that I live in D.C., the prices I mentioned in the old post are sadly inaccurate--at least, for D.C., where sushi-grade tuna can easily run $22 per pound.
Second, and more importantly, some species of tuna (in particular the mighty bluefin and yellowfin tunas) are tragically endangered. You can see this site for a bit more information. As much as it pains me, I have stopped eating tuna unless I can find one of the non-endangered and eco-friendly varieties, and they aren't always readily available. Sigh. Sadly, it's the Japanese (who invented many of my favorite foods, including tuna tataki) who are largely responsible for the state of the bluefin tuna. They eat the vast majority of the bluefin tuna consumed in the world. And if you're Japanese, don't get all defensive on me. I aint preachin'. We Americans specialize in making species endangered or threatened. Anyway. Do your part. Enjoy tuna (and every other species) responsibly.
Yeah, OK, I am preaching. Big deal.
Ours is a metal, non-stick, electric fondue pot, which provides for very nice control, but ... non-stick interior, sharp metal fondue forks? How is that a good idea? In any event, the cheese fondue was good. Our host's fondue set was made of cast iron, and instead of electricity is heated by the flame from an alcohol burner.
The heat control seemed a bit trickier than on the electric set, but I like the cast-ironness of it. We used his set for the chocolate, coating both strawberries as well as mint-flavored marshmallows that the missus made from scratch (perhaps we can get her to post the recipe in the comments? Hint hint!) (Also, for this blog, we're still waiting on a better name than "the missus.").
This is a recipe for a pineapple cake which our host actually made. And it was good! I'm not so sure I would say the same if he had made the casserole with enormous chunks of (pork?) loin resting in the midst of what seemed to be macaroni mixed with cream of mushroom soup.
Incidentally, the photo you see at the very top of this post was from a hike we did in Kannaraville Canyon, one of the many "slot" canyons in southern Utah.
Kitchen Monkey just returned home from a week-long adventure in southern Utah and Las Vegas, NV (more on that trip next post) to find Washington, D.C. sagging in the haze of record temperatures. Firing up the iMac and longing already for the dry desert heat, I've decided this is as good a time as any to post on some recent summer adventures in and around D.C.
A couple weeks ago KM and the Missus (who will be doing some guest posting and has yet to choose her blogname--suggestions welcome!!) followed some friends to Ocean City, Maryland. I typically go more for the quaint beach villages such as Chincoteague, Virginia over the giant boardwalk, Jersey-Shore, kitsch-fests such as Virginia Beach and Ocean City, but there's no denying this was a great trip.
Our small group split a fifth-floor room overlooking the ocean. Our day was divided roughly into four acts. Act One: scarily gigantic cocktails while watching the ill-fated U.S.-Ghana World Cup Match (a moment of silence please). Act Two: wave-jumping in the Atlantic. Someone swears they saw a shark, and at least three of us were pinched (surprisingly hard) by crabs while swimming. As you can see in the above pic, we had our revenge. Act Three: lunch (on both Saturday and Sunday) at "On the Bay" - a great little seafood shack about a block from the beach. Ignore the fact that it is not actually "on the bay," and ignore the fact (if you can) that they appear to have the same Jimmy Buffet CD playing on constant rotation. They have high quality and reasonably large oysters, which are getting more expensive (just another reason to hate BP). They also have excellent king crabs and shrimp, but the specialty would be the local blue crabs, of which I ate far too many.
Act Four: as night fell, we retired to the hotel and grilled some delicious marinated vegetables and lamb cubes and watched as a red moon rose above the water, which you can see here.
Going further back in time, I wanted to post some pics of a recent grilling. The burger you see here was produced solely with locally grown or raised ingredients purchased at the Mt. Pleasant farmer's market just down the street from us. It includes ground beef and greens from Truck Patch Farms, and my favorite, Monocacy Ash goat cheese from Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Company, which recently won a bronze medal at the 2009 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
This burger was really truly delicious. The Missus also made her trademark ice cream sandwiches (which she says New Englanders call a Chipwich), with chocolate chip cookies sandwiching home made vanilla ice cream, with the edges rolled in chocolate chips. Perhaps she'll post the recipe here soon.
Hope you're all having a great summer, and feel free to send links to or comment on your own favorite grilling ideas for this summer.
Next up, Vegas, baby.
That's right folks: June 5, 2010. Any attempt in this blog to describe how meaningful and wonderful it all was would come up short. That said, allow me to set the scene.
It was an intensely classy affair, with the ceremony and cocktail hour held on the rooftop of the Hay Adams Hotel, which is across the street from the White House, with only a brief strip of Lafayette Park in between. The photo you see above was taken from said roof top. If you're going to wed in D.C., I can't imagine a better backdrop than this. Sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Obama did not accept our invitation, despite being just across the street, but they did send us a card wishing us a happy future together. I'm not even kidding. OK, granted, it was no doubt an intern with pre-singed stationery whose sole job is to answer wedding and birthday party invitations from the lowly masses, but I still think it's pretty cool.
After the ceremony, the Hay Adams served hors d'oeuvres, which I'm told were delicious, but which I did not get to eat, sadly, as I was down in Lafayette Park being photographed with family and the bridal party. This is a good time to mention our photographer, Thomas Graves. We couldn't have been happier with him--he was great to work with. The photos you see below are his. You'll not see better pics than this on Kitchen Monkey, ever.
The reception was held in the Lafayette Room, which is normally a restaurant. The guests were served a lobster bisque appetizer, a caprese-like salad, and for the entree, fillet mignon, sea bass, and a gratin. It was all delicious, though honestly, with all the well-wishing and guest-greeting, I didn't get to eat everything that was served (including all the beautiful desserts seen below, which I missed entirely). In any event, it was an amazing fantastic day that I will remember forever. I'm a very lucky monkey.
It's a good feeling to have somebody specially request that you cook a favorite dish. It means that you did it right the last time. It also means you have a chance to outdo the last time.
- I offer no pretenses that this is "authentic" paella. I think it probably started from a recipe in a Spanish cookbook years ago, but over time I've either consciously altered or just forgotten parts of the original.
- quantities of nearly everything here are very negotiable and should be toyed with according to your personal preferences.
- I did not have a true paella pan with me, but instead used various pans. If you don't have a paella pan, the important thing is that it go on the range and in the oven.
- Though I was cooking for 12, I've cut the recipe in half here, so it should make paella for about 5 or 6.
1 medium carrot, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sweet paprika (if you only have one kind of paprika, just use 2 Tbsp of that)
Salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes (san marzano if you're serious)
32 oz. chicken stock (I used a veal/chicken stock I made earlier this year and froze--delicious!)
16 oz. fish stock (you could instead make a stock by boiling the shells of your shrimp)
15 to 18 clams
1/3 to 1/2 lb. of squid, cleaned and sliced (use tubes and tentacles)
1/3 lb. shrimp, peeled
15 to 18 mussels
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large saute pan over medium high heat to make a nice soffrito. After about 7 to 10 minutes, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Pull off the heat and set aside for the moment.
In your paella pan (it must be range and oven safe, remember) or cast iron, or whatever you're using, add the chorizo over medium high heat. Cook a few minutes. Spanish chorizo is already cooked, so you don't want to cook them too long, just enough to release some of that delicious grease. Once there is a nice bit of grease, remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon. Add the chicken to the chorizo grease and cook over high heat until the chicken is browned on both sides. Then remove the chicken.
Add a little olive oil to the remaining grease, and then add the rice. Cook for about five minutes over high heat, stirring here and there, until the rice begins to brown.
Add the vegetable mix to the rice, then the chorizo and the chicken. Then add salt and pepper and the paprika. Stir for a couple minutes over medium high heat. Then add the crushed tomatoes and both types of stock. Stir everything well. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Check to see if there is still a bit of liquid left in the pan. You don't want too much left, but you don't want your rice burning either.
Once the rice is about 15 minutes from being done (test it!), add the clams and the shrimp and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Check it. If the clams are just starting to open, that's the time to add the squid and the mussels, both of which will take less cooking time than the clams.
Season with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve with a delicious crusty bread and plenty of good Spanish wine.
Finding this salsa recipe was a bit like finding religion, but better! I got both the euphoria and the feeling that I'd been wandering aimlessly for too many years before the discovery--but without feeling judged or having to listen to hymns that sound, perhaps unintentionally, like plodding, joyless dirges.
Now that I've trivialized something that billions hold dear and invited angry comments (there I go again, assuming actual readership exceeding five persons), allow me to apologize and talk about the salsa.
I have made my own salsa since I was a wastrel of a teenager in Albuquerque, New Mexico who couldn't cook a lick. Even as my kitchen skills have improved over the years, my salsas have only occasionally risen above shrug-producing.
A few weeks ago, however, while visiting one of my sisters in the tiny town of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, I was introduced to a real true connoisseure of good food, a scholar of history, and a mean blues harp player: Joe Baker. (You can check out his entertaining blog here, where he posits on a wide variety of subjects).
Joe treated us to some seriously good venison quesadillas. The salsa was addictive, and lucky for me (and now you), he relayed the recipe. I print it below in full in its original form. I've made it three times since, each time with different tomatoes and different combinations of peppers, and all of them have been great, if not as great as the original.
A couple weeks ago, a Sunday brunch gave me the chance to share the salsa with friends, topping as it did a near-perfect batch of heuvos rancheros. I'll freely admit I'm getting further and further away from the old-school standby of simply beans, eggs, and a tortilla. These days I'm crock-potting the beans overnight in a combination of san marzano crushed tomatoes, beer, ancho pepper, cumin, garlic, and parsley. The potatoes are half-boiled, then fried in a bit of olive oil and a good dose of cumin and smoked paprika. Then I serve it all with poached eggs, slab bacon, fresh cilantro, guacamole, flour tortillas, chopped jalapeno, and a good sharp cheddar. I was already entering the upper reaches of Paradiso with my huevos rancheros. Now that I've added this salsa, I can hear Beatrice singing and the Holy Ghost settin' the breakfast table.
Try it yourself, and see the light. And five million thanks to Joe Baker. I'll be making this salsa for years and years to come.
· 1 whole chipotle or about a tablespoon of chipotle powder (KM's note: I used chipotle in adobo sauce, since it was all I had, but you're better off with a straight chipotle or the powder)
· 1 whole ancho or about two tablespoons of ancho chili powder
· ½ teaspoon ground cumin or cumin seed
· About a cup of fresh or frozen fresh cilantro
· 1 whole fresh jalapeno (or whatever number you like to make the salsa spicy, cayenne’s work OK too) (KM's note: I'm a sucker for habanero, and it tastes good with this too, if you don't overdo it).
· A teaspoon of sea salt
· A heaping tablespoon (more or less) of brown sugar or honey
· 2 cloves of garlic
· ½ medium onion, diced
Add everything but the tomatoes to a food processor and blend them thoroughly, then add the tomatoes and blend again. You can also make this by hand. Soak the dried chilies in warm water, then chop them and everything else together in a large bowl. Store in the fridge. Makes about a quart. This salsa has no oil and is not cooked. The garlic will go rancid in about a week. If you freeze it, it will get watery (although it’s still good). I guess that means you should enjoy it within a week! JB
- 4 eggs, scrambled in a bit of butter (make the curds not too large, but not too small either)
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. AP flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 to 6 pieces of toast
Shamefully, it has been around a year and a half since my last post. I've been busy with work, recording music, and yes, cooking. Somehow the blog fell by the wayside, but I'm hoping to change that. Yes, I know I've said that before. No, I'm not assuming that you care.
I want to note one other sad aspect of my long absence. Until the later years of this blog, I was linking all the photos from Photobucket. Well...my Photobucket account went dormant, I didn't do anything about it, and now ALL of those photos are gone. In their place you will see an image saying that my account no longer exists. Bastards. Over time I will replace many of them, but many others are on a long-gone computer, and are therefore forever gone. But enough about the past! Onward to the future!
There have been numerous interesting food adventures in the past year or so--sojourns to out-of-the-way butcher shops and farms; fantastic farmers markets; excellent D.C. area restaurants--but two adventures easily stand out. The first is the SASOU Chef cooking competition/supper club that Kitchen Monkey and seven friends formed over a year ago. SASOU deserves its own post, however, and will have to wait. The second was a truly phenomenal dinner at a truly phenomenal restaurant: Daniel.
That dinner was part of what I would say was a perfect day, the day I proposed to my soon-to-be-wife. Without going into too much detail, I proposed in a secluded part of Central Park in Manhattan, she was surprised, and she said yes. She knew we had reservations at Daniel. She didn't know it was going to be an engagement dinner.
This is the lovely dining room at Daniel. Executive chef and owner, Daniel Boulud, opened this restaurant in 1993 and in 1998 it moved to its current location at Park Avenue and 65th Street in Manhattan. In 2008 renovations were completed to its interior, the one you see above. It has been called one of the ten best restaurants in the world. The President of France has made Boulud a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. The restaurant has three Michelin stars in the 2010 Michelin, the book's highest rating. It is elegant, grand, and any other hyperbolic synonym you can find for those words.
It is also out-of-this world expensive. Kitchen Monkey is not a wealthy man. He has a mountain of law school debt. But obviously this was an extremely special occasion. Was it worth it? YES. Will I be able to go again any time in the next five to ten years? Probably not.
First, I should describe the service, and if in doing so I sound like a hick who just saw his first skyscraper, so be it. First we were seated in the cocktail lounge to await our table and sip perfect (and we're talking 'Platonic Form' here) martinis. Not too much later, we were shown to our table in the dining room pictured above.
Over the course of the evening we were assisted by at least seven different people, each one with a different role, and each one of them like ninjas: their movements smooth and effortless, sometimes too quick to be noticed. Not long after we sat down, my fiancee asked me if I had seen what had just happened. I had not. She explained how she had sat down, placing her pocketbook (a $12 Filene's Basement affair) on the table. Almost before she had even noticed, a waiter/ninja had silently slipped her pocketbook off the table and placed it on a small plush pedestal next to the table. I had not noticed any of this.
Moments later, we looked up to see another man folding my fiancee's scarf (also from Filene's Basement--$20) in crisp, perfect folds, and setting it across the back of her chair, to keep it from touching the floor. In a French accent he said "this is my job...this is all I do...I fold scarves." It turned out later he was the sommelier.
But the food! How was it? I'm not Shakespeare, but allow me to wax poetic: GOD DAMN IT WAS AMAZING.
I started with sauteed foie gras (feel free to hate, all you haters, I understand why it's wrong and actually agree. I am not always a rational being and am aware that I may spend the afterlife being pecked for eternity by angry geese).
My main course was a stunningly tender venison loin that made me want to weep with joy. My fiancee's main course was a fillet of turbot, which was baked on a block of salt from Spain, I think. It was wheeled out to the table still on said block of salt. Another french-accented waiter effortlessly filleted the fish at our table. It was served with pureed parsnips which I have to assume had as much butter as parsnip and were remarkable.
For dessert I had a ganache, and it was decadent and delicious. During the entire meal we were treated wonderfully. I don't know how much that had to do with the fact that the staff knew ahead of time that this was an engagement dinner. Would we get the same treatment on an average visit? Don't know. Don't much care. They also brought us an additional dessert, with the word "congratulations" written in chocolate in fine cursive on the plate. Nice touch.
After dinner, the assistant manager came over and asked us how everything was. He was very helpful when I asked where we might find a cigar bar. There happened to be one the next block down, called Macanudo. It is one of maybe four or five places left in Manhattan that allow indoor smoking. We finished the night there with a cigar and cognac, and happened to sit next to a woman who had just gotten engaged that day. Even the initially-frosty bartender warmed up to us once she overheard that we had just gotten engaged.
In short, it was a wonderful day. One I will never forget.