Sunday, December 30, 2012

Brooklyn Biergarten

Ringing in 2013 in Brooklyn again. Thanks Susan, Alex and Matthew.  We arrived to have a few beers (Weyerbacher Quad & Corsendonk Chrstmas Ale) with Alex before we took a walk to Jubilat for fresh sausages and to the Eagle Provisions for me to drool over the beer selections.  We had two hours to walk and browse and Brad and Eli prodded  me every five minutes to keep me on task so I would not end up camping out at the Eagle Provisions.  I whined kicking and whining as we had LOTS of time to browse.

At Jubilat we bought some double smoked sausages.  We haven't cut into the links yet and we are talking about going back tomorrow for ham and more sausages.  Enjoy the last few hours of 2012 and happy new year to you all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bananas and Rum Sauce

December 2012 Saveur - New Orleans dessert from Matt and Naddie's Restaurant 

I will post the recipe as it was listed in the 'zine and will then proceed to write about all the changes I made for convenience.

For the Bread Pudding:
4 1/2 cups of milk (4 c; 1/2 used for the pan frying portion that I did not do)
20 tbsp unsalted butter (16 tbsp; the other 4 tbsp was for the pan frying)
1 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
12 oz stale country white bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes - about 8 cups
 6 oz white chocolate, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
1/2 c toasted slivered almonds
8 eggs (6 eggs when not pan frying)
1 c flour (I did not use as I did not pan fry the sliced bread pudding - too much work for a party held at someone else's house)
2 c panko bread crumbs (ditto - related to pan frying)

For the Rum Sauce and bananas:
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c heavy cream
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp dark rum
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice (did not use)
1/2 c turbinado sugar (did not use - see above)
4 bananas, halved lengthwise and then halved crosswise (ended up putting them IN the bread pudding as I did not pan fry the bread pudding)

I mostly followed the recipe when making the bread pudding and the rum sauce but I nixed the pan frying portion of the recipe.  I made the dish during my Thanksgiving break and froze both the pudding and sauce.  Since I had a holiday party two weeks later, I knew I would be exhausted from work as it was the busiest time of year with the end of semester and graduation.

To make the bread pudding:  I brought 4 cups of milk, 16 tbsp of butter, the vanilla, nutmeg and salt to a simmer in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.  Combine the bread cubes, chocolate, almonds and bananas in a large bowl and set aside.  Add 6 eggs to the milk mixture and I then also added some rum - I don't know how much as I poured it from the bottle - maybe a 1/4 cup.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour the custard over the bread mixture and stir until evenly combined.  Let sit to soften bread which is about 20 minutes.  Heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pour bread mixture into a 9"x13" metal baking pan, which for me was a foil pan because it was going to be frozen after I baked it.  I made sure the ingredients were evenly distributed and I covered with foil as the recipe instructed and baked it for an hour.  I let it cool of course, before I bagged it into a 2 1/2 gallon zip lock and put it in the freezer.

While the bread pudding cooked, I made the sauce.  In 1/2 cup of water, bring the sugar to a boil over high heat stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Continuing cooking sugar mixture without stirring until the sugar turns into an amber-colored caramel, which is about 15 minutes (I forgot to do this step).  Add the cream, butter, rum and juice and stir until smooth.  I then let it cool, placed it in a container and put it in the freezer.

The biggest worry was freezer burn and it was a non-issue.  The other thing I discovered was that the bread pudding was so moist probably because I had added some rum.  Maybe freezing it added some moisture but not to the detriment of the bread pudding.  My friend had a convention oven so I had to bump up the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and it took at least an hour to bake again.  I baked it with the foil on for at least half of the time and just watched that it did not burn.  It was still moist and custardy that it did not really need the rum sauce.  While the bread pudding baked, I heated up the sauce and poured it on the plates for individual slices of bread pudding.  My friend whose heart is in the same place as mine could not wait for the bread pudding to bake and she helped me keep an eye on it, tasting it along the way, too.

I thought it turned out pretty good and I plan to make it again while I have time over this second holiday break and freeze for another occasion.  I will do without making the rum sauce and improvise again by using the leftover heavy cream I froze in November combining it with soy milk because we don't usually have milk on hand and I don't want to buy it again just for this dish.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Uni (Sea Urchin)

As you all know, I have been slacking a bit so no picture here.  Now that I have upgraded my cell phone and the plan, too, I might just be able to do better at taking pictures - impromptu. 

I love Lancaster but don't wear the bumper sticker on my car or bike.  I fantasize we are the baby city of big Apple and my dream came true over the weekend.  At Sukara, I think the best sushi place in the whole county, I had fresh Uni.  It was a Saturday where I was scheduled at the office.  I caught up on my work when the day's real work must have spread amongst my colleagues also working on a beautiful weekend on the East Coast in December.  I was determined to have a mug of beer at Iron Hill - and did so when released from my duties.  They do a fabulous job at being consistent with their batches of beer.  Of course I had a Belgian Tripel and I was set.

Having a late lunch did not leave much room for dinner so when we when to Sakura, with the air of a Belgian, I was game for something light and different.  The wait staff know us a mile away and he barely told us the specials and I say; "Why not?!"  Then I asked, what is Uni?  Sure, okay.  Again, why not.

Being a fan of Bourdain, I felt like I was in one of his shows when the Uni arrived (it must have been the Belgian).  It was fresh, they said it was alive (I was a little freaked as we did just watch Bourdain in Brooklyn at this awesome Thai "Asian" restaurant called Pok Pok NY but their seafood was still moving - at least the Uni was not - that I could tell).  Renown "Asian" chef, Eddie Huang, talked about "Gringo chefs doing Asian Food" especially those that win James Beard awards - doing "Asian Food".  How authentic can they be?! Huang goes in thinking those chefs suck and he ended up loving Pok Pok NY...  As I was saying, I felt like I was in an episode of No Reservations in Lancaster City - Pennsylvania.

I ate the Uni without soy sauce and wasbi to get the full taste and it was fragrant and a bit slimy but good.  It was served in it's shell on a bed of ice as part of the presentation with some of the spikes still moving.  Not sure that I would order it again but was honored to partake in Sakura's adventure of offering something different and fun for my palate.