Cured Egg Yolk

I recently learned of another fun trick with eggs!  At a recent Thurk dinner, Chef Justin Behlke strolled past each diner shaving what he referred to as cured egg yolk while he explained the dish.  This definitely piqued my interest and I cached it away as something that would require further research!

The proof of concept seemed easy enough so I grabbed the last egg in the fridge and buried it in the curing mixture to see what would happen.  I decided to start with a basic 50/50 mix of sugar and salt and added a bit of Herbs de Provence to see if it would pick up much flavor.  The “biggest” challenge is making sure the yolk doesn’t break!

After a 1 day cure and a two-week aging, the flavor seemed comparable to parmesan cheese, adding a salty richness.  My first pairing was with bone marrow, daikon, and leek which didn’t look quite as pretty as I envisioned, but it added an extra depth of flavor to the already rich marrow.

I’m curious now how different aging times will impact the flavor.  Hmmmm, I think I have a fresh dozen in the refrigerator… stay tuned…

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Place whole raw egg yolk into a 50/50 mixture of salt and sugar. I added herbs de provence for extra flavor.

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Cure the egg yolk for 24 hours in this mixture

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Remove salt from cured egg yolk, place in cheesecloth and hang in the back of your fridge for 1 week.

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Use a microplane to shave the cured egg yolk onto your dish

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One egg yolk produces a lot of shavings!

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We shaved ours onto bone marrow with roasted daikon and leeks. Not the prettiest, but delicious!

Egg Bao with Pork Belly and Pickled Ramp Sauce

Awhile back, my friend Tom introduced me to the idea of pressure cooking eggs. After months of staring at a brand new pressure cooker, trying to figure out how to break it in and not blow up the kitchen in the process (there is really little risk of blowing anything up these days), I happened to be flush with eggs from my farmer Paul. I figured it would be a good time to toss ’em in the pressure cooker and see what happens.

Nerd Side Bar:  A pressure cooker @15 psi will boil water at ~120C/248F (depending on elevation and a few other factors). This, coupled with the alkalinity of egg whites, causes both the whites and yolk to undergo Maillard Reactions (aka the reason browned meat tastes so darn good!).  This results in a hard boiled egg that has the flavor of roast chicken (seriously).

Prior to embarking on this journey, I decided I should at least do some research. I came across this interview with Dave Arnold where he described how he (and his intern Ed) stumbled into something they called egg bread while trying to pressure cook just the yolks.  So, of course, I had to attempt some egg bread of my own.  I did have plenty of eggs after all. Did I mention I was roasting some pork belly?  I don’t quite remember what I had in mind at the time, but when someone (Paul) shows up bearing 5 pounds of pork belly, you find ways to use it!

Egg Bread Recipe:

  1. 6 large egg yolks
  2. 4.5g baking powder

Mix yolks and baking powder together until it starts to get a little thick.  Pour mixture into a ramekin (or any other suitably shaped dish) and place the dish into a steamer for 30 min.

The mix rises nicely and the texture reminded me of bao.  So quite naturally I cut my bread into vaguely bao shaped buns, topped them with a slice of the pork belly and made a pickled ramp dressing that I recalled from the Momofuku book (chopped pickled ramps + mayonnaise = delicious ). This recipe is also gluten free which was nicely noted by our friend Melissa McEwen!

*The more astute among you may have noticed the pressure cooked eggs didn’t quite make an appearance in the final product, but rest assured they did turn out quite tasty and make a rockin egg salad mixed with a little mayo and sriracha. Fill pressure cooker with just enough water to cover eggs, then follow your pressure cooker’s instructions to cook at 15psi for about an hour.

** I used this Pork Belly Egg Bao below to ‘cheat’ at an Iron Chef Sardine dinner party I attended.  This time I used a sous vide pork belly with a homemade sardine ‘katsuobushi’ shaved on top.

Egg yolk and baking soda mixture

Ready for steaming

Egg mixture steaming

Steamed egg bread ready for cutting

Pork belly from Paulie’s Pastures (not sure why this picture came out so yellow…)

Pork belly egg bao with pickled ramp aioli

 

Written and photographed by: Nicholas A. Hruza

Roasted pasta

Always looking for new inspiration and techniques to further our cooking, we usually take our search to the Ideas in Food book or blog. This simple, yet extremely affective roasting technique brings the pasta flavor to a nutty, toasty level that is surprisingly not on grocery shelves yet.

Pasta roasting in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes

Aerial glamour shot of the roasted pasta.

Roasted pasta soaking for 2.5 hours in water to re-hydrate. This cuts down cooking time. You can also further infuse flavor by using flavored liquid.

Finished dish: Roasted pasta with roasted pasta water reduction (Finished with some acidulated butter and thyme)

Close up

Root Beer Sausage

For awhile now, my husband and I have had a bit of a closet obsession with root beer.  With a great root beer, you get an amazing blend of spices that compliments the sassafras and gives the beverage its character.  All this flavor is rounded out by the creaminess of the vanilla.  In balancing out these two characteristics, you get a wide variety of products ranging from spicy to creamy, that fit different palates.

The “ah ha” moment for us was realizing most of the spices are pretty normal, everyday cooking spices (anise, clove, cinnamon, mint, ginger) and that you can get root beer flavor in a savory dish without dumping in a bottle of sugary soda.  Of course our first stab at root beer cooking, we had no idea if it would work, so we were lucky the flavor actually came through!  Now we have a litany of dishes we hope to “root beerify” at some point.

Once our annual “Encased Meat Fest” came around, we aspired to take a stab at something more interesting and decided to attempt another root beerification.  As a starting point, we looked to one of our favorite root beers: Virgil’s (These guys agree). They were kind enough to post some highlights of their ingredient list on the website.  By cross referencing this list with our spice rack, we basically came up with the main ingredient list.  I wish I could say it was more scientific, but you have to start somewhere.

The next question was how much of each spice to use.  To get some ideas, we consulted ‘Home Sausage Making’ by Susan Mahnke Peery.  Using a few spice heavy recipes, we settled on our ratios and were surprised by how little of each ingredient was actually needed.

The final decision was how much vanilla to add. This we reasoned would round out the flavor and tie the spice characteristics back to being from root beer.   If the spices were off, we figured it would just taste like a spiced Christmas sausage, but too much creaminess could take it to a weird place that pork just doesn’t belong. Below is the recipe we executed with great first attempt success! Up next — making actual root beer without using a root beer extract — natural and raw ingredients only!

Recipe:

4 feet Medium hog casing

2 1/2 pounds of pork butt

1/3 pound pork fat

2 tbs molasses

2 tbs Virgil’s root beer

2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

1 tbs anise seed

1 tbs star anise

2 tbs clove

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tbs salt

To make:

1. Prepare the casing. See below.*

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl. (We ground everything fine with a mortar and pestle.)

3. Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl.  This step placed us at a crossroad.  One of our goals was to not use any actual root beer — just the raw components.  The molasses and vanilla extract alone felt too thick in consistency, so to thin it out the most natural solution was to toss in a bit a Virgil’s into the mix.

4. Cut the meat and fat into 1 inch cubes and freeze for about 30 minutes. This helps to firm the meat up before grinding.

5. Grind the meat and fat together through the coarse disk of your meat grinder.

6.  In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients to the ground meat and mix well with your hands. Once thoroughly mixed, add the wet ingredients.  The wet ingredients should form a light coating throughout the mixture.  It is good practice to keep placing the mixing bowl into another bowl filled with ice.  This will keep the meat cold and lessens the risk of bacteria growth.

Practice Safe Sausage making! (http://www.sausagemaking.org/safety.html)

5. Stuff the mixture into the casings, prick the air pockets, and twist off into 4-5 inch links. Cut the links apart with a sharp knife.

6. Freeze any sausages you don’t want to cook. Grill the others until cooked through (160 degrees fahrenheit). For indoor grilling, place the sausages on a grill pan over medium heat and cook for approximately 10 minutes, turning frequently, until browned. For outdoor grilling, do not prick the sausages before grilling, or you will lose a lot of flavor and moisture along with the fat and juices in the sausage. Grill over medium heat for around 10 minutes.

*Snip off 4 feet of casing and rinse it under cool water. Place into a bowl of cool water to cover and let it soak for about a half hour. Rinse the casing again under cool running water. Hold one end of the casing open under the faucet nozzle. Holding the casing in place, turn on the cold water gently, then more forcefully, to flush out any salt in the casing and pinpoint any tears or breaks. Cut out the section that has any tears or holes. Soak the casing again but this time, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for each cup of cool water in the bowl. This softens the casing and makes it more transparent. Leave in the solution until you are ready to stuff it, then rinse well and drain.

Simple Never Tasted So Good

A recipe rarely makes an appearance twice in our kitchen, but this recipe from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook uses incredibly simple ingredients with mind blowing results so we made it again. Roasted asparagus pairs perfectly with the richness of poached eggs and saltiness of prosciutto. Toasted garlic croutons add nice texture and soak up the runny yolks. It does not disappoint! Plus, it teaches an approachable way to poach eggs that works marvelously.
Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto, Fried Bread, Poached Egg, and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Adapted from: Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller; Page 156-157
Ingredients:
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
6 large eggs
2 bunches pencil-thin asparagus
Canola Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
2 cups Torn Croutons (recipe below)
Extra virgin olive oil
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Fleur de sel
Directions:
To poach the eggs, bring 6 to 8 inches of water to a boil in a large deep saucepan. Prepare an ice bath. Add the vinegar to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Crack 1 egg into a small cup or ramekin. Using a wooden spoon, stir the water at the edges of the pan twice in a circular motion to get the water moving, then add the egg to the center of the pan and simmer gently for 1-1/2 minutes, or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny.
With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the egg to the ice bath. Skim and discard any foam that has risen to the top of the water, and cook the remaining eggs one at a time. (The eggs can be poached several hours ahead and stored in ice water in the refrigerator.)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Hold an asparagus spear and bend it to break off the less tender bottom end. Trim all of the asparagus to the same length. If using medium or large asparagus, peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler. Spread the asparagus out on the aluminum-lined pan, coat with canola oil, and season with salt and pepper. Put the pan in the oven for 15 minutes.
To serve:
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a simmer. With a small pair of scissors, trim any uneven edges from the poached eggs. Lower the eggs into the simmering water for about 30 seconds, just to reheat. Remove the eggs with a skimmer or slotted spoon and blot the bottoms with paper towels. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and arrange around the asparagus.
Arrange the prosciutto and croutons* (recipe below) on the platter. Drizzle the salad with olive oil and balsamic, and sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper.
*Torn Croutons
Adapted from: Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller; Page 274
Ingredients:
1 loaf country bread
1 Head of Roasted Garlic
Canola Oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Directions:
Cut the crusts off the loaf of bread. Tear the bread into irregular pieces no larger than 2 inches. You need about 3 cups of croutons; reserve any remaining bread for another use.
We happened to have a head of roasted garlic in the refrigerator, so to make the garlic oil for the bread, squeeze the head of roasted garlic into oil and incorporate until melted.
Pour 1/8 inch of the garlic oil into a large saute pan and heat over medium heat until hot. Spread the bread in a single layer in the pan (if your pan is not large enough, these can be cooked in two smaller pans). Add the butter. The oil and butter should be bubbling, but if you hear sizzling, the heat is too high. Adjust the heat as necessary, and stir the croutons often as they cook. Cook until the croutons are crisp and a beatuiful rich golden brown on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Move the croutons to one side of the pan and keep warm until ready to serve. (Do not drain on paper towels; you want the flavors of the oil intermingled with the other ingredients as you eat the croutons in a salad.) Torn croutons should be used the day they are made; you can reheat them in a low oven before serving if necessary.

Cuban Ice Cream Sandwich with Smoked Ice Cream

Smoking Gun by Polyscience

I bought Nick a Polyscience smoking gun from Williams Sonoma last year and it’s proven to be an excellent tool for cold smoking. So far, we have only experimented with making smoked ice cream and smoked mussels — both were excellent.

Nick’s creative skills in the kitchen are similar to a curious mad scientist. One day after working on a Saturday, I came home to open the fridge and see what he calls “pickle jello” in the refrigerator. We had previously discussed somehow making smoked ice cream and from here, he took it to a whole different level by creating a bite size “cuban sandwich” — one of his best culinary moments yet.

To make the ice cream, you start with your basic ice cream mixture. I used this recipe for the base:

Ingredients:

2 cups full-fat milk
2 cups thickened / heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg

Method:
1. Heat the milk, cream, and half of the sugar in a saucepan until it’s just below the boiling point and starts to bubble.
2. Whisk together the other half of the sugar, vanilla and egg in a bowl to a ribbon stage.
3. Still whisking, pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture and pour this back into the cleaned-out pan and cook till a velvety custard
4. When it’s thickened, take it off the heat.
5. Pour into a bowl over another bowl of ice and let it cool or you can stir to help it cool faster.

Styrofoam contraption

We created a contraption using a styrofoam box that I received when a customer of mine brought me fish from his family’s wholesale fish market. We cut a hole in the lid big enough so the hose of the smoking gun fit and would not let any smoke seep out. We then poured the ice cream into a flat pan to create as much surface area as possible, placed it into the box, and closed the lid. We stuck the hose into the hole and recharged the smoker 4 times, letting the smoke sit for 5 minutes each time. Once we felt the smoke flavor had penetrated the ice cream base mixture sufficiently, we churned it in our ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions (for about 30 minutes) and then froze it overnight.

Cuban sandwich

Cuban sandwich components listed from bottom to top for assembly:

Bread:  Briefly soak a small square of bread into a beaten egg mixture and lightly saute in a hot pan until crisp and browned. (It’s like making french toast.)

Pickle jello:  Take pickle juice from a jar of dill pickles and add gelatin (see instructions for ratios on gelatin box). We made a whole batch of pickle jello but only used a few squares for the Cuban sandwiches.

Smoked Ice cream (recipe above)

Cilantro-jalapeno syrup:  Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil, add 2 chopped jalapenos, and a few cilantro sprigs. Let sit for 30 minutes and strain. Then refrigerate.

Cilantro leaf for garnish

How to French…Press Coffee

I know it seems like making French Press coffee is as simple as coffee grounds and hot water, but it’s the little extra steps that make a whole lotta difference:

Step 1: Purchase your beans whole for maximum flavor and freshness. Store beans in an airtight container and keep it out of direct sunlight — away from heat, cold, and moisture. Avoid storing your beans in the fridge or freezer; these places can facilitate odor contamination and damaging condensation.
Step 2: Use a burr grinder if you are grinding your own beans. Grinding with a blade grinder results in uneven bean particles, which affects coffee extraction and ultimately muddles the flavor.
Step 3: Try to grind your beans only right before you brew them.

Step 4: Making Coffee in a French Press

What You’ll Need:

French press, cleaned and dry
Spoon
Timer
Coffee Cup

– Grind coffee. It’s important that the coffee be ground coarse. If you don’t, the grounds can get through the press holes and make the coffee grainy.
– Add coffee to pot — One tablespoon of coffee for every 4 oz. of water.
– Add water. Bring the water just to a boil and then let it cool for about 45 seconds. Pour into the pot so that it saturates the grounds. The key is to saturate all the grounds evenly. You should move the stream around as you pour to facilitate this.
– Start timer for 4 minutes.
– After 1 minute, stir grounds in the pot.
– Put press/top on pot.
– Press the pot at exactly 4 minutes.
– Pour the coffee. Do this as soon as you’ve pressed the pot. The longer you leave the water mixed with the grounds, the more bitter the coffee will be.