Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Discussion and Review of Jonathan Dixon's memoir Beaten, Seared and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at The Culinary Institute of America

Thanks to Kitchen Arts & Letters I found out about a great event on May 19th at the Museum of the City of New York to promote their current exhibit Movable Feast: Fresh Produce and the NYC Green Cart Program. Jonathan Dixon discussed his first book Beaten, Seared, and Sauced with food writer Andrew Friedman. I'd heard a little bit about the book, mostly in the same breath as Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef; this comparison seems to be drawn mostly from the idea that both have written about attending the Culinary Institute of America, not based on style (I have yet to read Ruhlman's book). The day of the discussion I read the first few pages of the book online. When I hit the words "Grateful Dead" on the very first page and "Bob Weir" on the second, I had an inkling I'd really enjoy both the book and hearing Dixon speak later that evening (I was destined to be a Deadhead before I was even conceived). 

The Museum of the City of New York is an impressive building sitting across from Central Park on upper 5th Avenue (my brief walk through SpaHa from the subway stop over 3 city blocks was only slightly intimidating). The event was held in a small auditorium just within the side entrance. Friedman and Dixon spoke to the audience from a small raised platform in grandfather's-study style arm chairs. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chef Ludo's Chocolate Soufflé Pour Une!

Ever have a hankering for some chocolate after dinner? And not just a nibble of your 70% cocoa Lindt bar, but warm satisfying chocolately goodness? Thursday night was one of those nights for me. Chocolate soufflés are something I crave ever since I had my first many moons ago at the now closed Carmine’s Restaurant (in Albany, NY, now Grappa 72). Last May I picked up Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s cookbook Crave and finally made something from it tonight. His soufflé recipe always came to mind when I wanted one. I decided to make them tonight. Rather than make 4-9 oz. ramekins of soufflés, I opted to pare down the recipe for 1, using 2-4 oz. ramekins, as I was only baking for myself.
The recipe I normally use contains melted butter. Chef Ludo keeps it simple and light with

Monday, May 9, 2011

Kitchen Arts and Letters Book Sale!

The day before the Duckathlon I spend my early afternoon loitering around in Kitchen Arts & Letters, New York’s resident cookbook store. I told you about this place last May after my first visit, but I thought it deserved a post all to itself. Just a few days after reading about a serious weekend-long book sale at Rabelais Books in Portland, ME I got a newsletter in my inbox saying KA&L would be having their own! Rejoice!
The sale was confined to a table in the back of the (not large) store. Because the space given for the sale was small, books were being brought out from storage in shifts, hence the loitering. Every cover had a colored sticker in the upper left hand corner and signs with prices were hanging above the table. Prices ranged from $1 to $10.
I got there an hour after the sale began and saw some good ones had already been scooped up by shoppers; most notably A Return to Cooking by Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman. The narrow space took a bit of maneuvering to make sure you could look through what was already out but most importantly see what was coming out new. I admit I was watching the store employees like a hawk waiting to see when they went in the back and positioning myself as close as possible to where the newbies were being placed.
The system worked well and

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011: Kathleen's Roast Beef

Last year I discussed Mother's Day's role as a food holiday and told you a little bit about my own mother. This year I'd like to shine a bigger spot light on my Mommy (yes I still call her mommy a lot) and share one of her tastiest recipes. As you may remember from my first Mother's Day post, my mom has been the most influential person in making me the culinary enthusiast I am today. In October she accompanied me to the New York City Wine & Food Festival-- where we had an unforgettable time! She has been my biggest fan in terms of the blog and even had a special talk with Santa to get me a Cuisinart food processor for Christmas

In all, my mother is an indispensable part of my life. As such, I wanted to share one of my favorite things she makes with you all. Since I was little one of my top 10 meals has always been my mom’s roast beef with brown gravy, french-cut green beans, mashed potatoes and rolls (yes, exactly that way). My mom does an exceptional job cooking her roast beef to just above rare doneness and it is so, so good. I asked her for the recipe, telling her it was so I can make my own roast for sandwich meat (not untrue, but not my main purpose), so I could post it here to celebrate what a wonderful cook she is! A lot of the preparation is in the way she seasons the meat and then cooking it for just enough time and letting it fully rest. 

So here is the recipe for roast beef. You can serve it hot or make it for cold sandwiches. If enjoying it hot I’d be sure to whip up some brown gravy and your favorite side dishes—don’t forget the veggies! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. 

[FYI, this is straight from the horse’s mouth, she doesn’t write things down and this hasn’t been tested, so like I will always tell you trust your instincts!]
My mom in Little Italy in December 2010

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Duckathlon!: New York's top kitchens compete in Culinary Challenges

The first of May was a gorgeous, sunny day in New York. While some were lounging in Central Park, biking through the five boroughs or just enjoying lunch al fresco, the kitchen staffs from New York's top restaurants were running around the Meatpacking District completing a variety of challenges in hopes of winning the D'Artagnan Duckathlon. Starting from the James Beard Pop-Up (JBF LTD) in Chelsea Market contestants in the 6th annual Duckathlon set out to complete the 26 point itinerary in four hours time. 

Ariane Daguin, owner of D'Artagnan, created the Duckathlon 7 years ago to celebrate the company's 20th Anniversary (Last year the company hosted a slew of events to celebrate their 25th anniversary and did not have the Duckathlon). Every team is a winner and receives goodies including truffle butter, foie gras and even feathers-still-on birds! First, second, third places and the Best Dressed team all get official trophies featuring the D'Artagnan logo. 

Thanks once again to my careful Twitter use I was invited to join in the fun at this exclusive event as a "free-range" judge. I arrived at JBF LTD not quite sure what to expect, but looking forward to a day of duckingly good fun. I checked in with Lily Hodge, Director of Public Realtions for D'Artagnan. Teams arrived one by one. Some had matching shirts with jersey-style numbers and names on the back, others wearing quacking yellow beaks. An adorable rubber duckie dressed in a chefs coat tops the trophy that is awarded to the Best Dressed team, so most teams try to show some spirit and usually love of foie gras through their outfits. With my Duckathlon kit, complete with map, itinerary and rules for judging,  I set out to each challenge at 1:oopm to see how the teams were performing and find out what each trial involved. 

Of the 26 challenges 16 took place within Chelsea Market so most teams got to work on the ones inside before venturing out into the surrounding neighborhood. Many of the shops in the market hosted challenges. Favorites here include: