Espresso Sorbet with Chocolate Brownie Brittle

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I wanted to make some sorbet today, but was struggling with ingredients. Berries are not in season in the NorthEast. The vegetable growing season is just starting. What to use? I could go with shipped in or frozen fruits, but, ahh, I have a cup of espresso left from my morning java fix. I like coffee ice cream. Let’s try some espresso sorbet.

You could add a quarter cup of cream to the mixture for a latte flavor. I was thinking of adding some coconut cream to the mixture for a dairy free version but decided on Bailey’s Irish Cream which I conveniently had on hand. As Chef John of Food Wishes would say, you’re the Diane Rehm of choosing your cream. Sorry, I could not help but add a Chef John-ish quote now and again. Amaretto or any coffee liqueur would be a good addition.

My Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker doesn’t get cold enough in the freezer. I put my ice cream or sorbet mixture in the freezer for a couple of hours instead of the refrigerator to get it extra cold before processing. It works much better. I had soft-serve consistency in 10 minutes.

Coffee and chocolate goes so great together. I topped this one with crumbled chocolate brownie brittle and a larger piece of the brittle for presentation.

The chocolate brownie brittle was store bought in the cookie aisle. I was looking for biscotti and chocolate brownie brittle was right there. It was the perfect compliment. A chocolate biscotti would go well or just scoop it on top of a brownie.

Ingredients:

1 cup cold espresso coffee

2 3/4 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

Directions:

1. Mix the cold espresso coffee with 2 1/4 cups water.

2. In a small pan, heat 1/2 cup of water with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

3. Add the sugar syrup to the espresso.

4. Add Bailey’s Irish Cream.

5. Refrigerate until cold.

6. Process in ice cream maker using manufacturer directions.

7. Freeze until ready to use.

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Forbidden Rice Pudding topped with a Red Wine, Cranberry, and Blueberry Sauce

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I don’t normally do desserts, but I’ve been working this one up on paper for awhile. I had some time to play recently and whipped up my first and second attempts at Forbidden Rice Pudding. The genesis of this recipe is a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman in The New York Times (not FALSE RECIPES: Sorry, I couldn’t help myself): https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013017-forbidden-rice-pudding-with-blueberries. Her recipe was an adaptation of a recipe by Sherry Yard, executive pastry chef at Spago Beverly Hills. So we have an adaptation of an adaptation where I tweaked the ingredients, changed the cooking technique, and changed the topping.

Why is Forbidden (Chinese Black) Rice Pudding intriguing? I don’t know; maybe because its taboo! Maybe its the bad boy of the rice puddings! No actually, its the color. Forbidden rice pudding has a purple hue that is unique and is definitely not your run of the mill rice pudding: white with a sprinkle of cinnamon and maybe a raisin or two. Forbidden Rice Pudding would be a focal point of any dinner party. Here is what you are going to need to know as a talking point: during the days of the Ching and Ming dynasties, Forbidden Rice was exclusively reserved for the Chinese Emperors to ensure their longevity and good health; thus, it was forbidden for them masses.

Why cook the rice pudding Sous Vide? With Sous Vide, there is no question about time or temperature to achieve a perfect result. Cooking rice can be tricky. Subtle variations in time and temperature can result in chewy, under-cooked rice or mushy, over-cooked rice. With the Sous Vide method, the rice is cooked perfectly every time. With Sous Vide, lose track of time and let it go 15 minutes too long; no problem. On the stove top, let rice go too long and look forward to scorched rice and bitter pudding. Sous Vide is precision and control.

The original recipe called for stirring blueberries into the finished pudding. I’m thinking we can do something more interesting than that. I chose a red wine, cranberry, and blueberry sauce. The cranberries add some tartness. The blueberries add some sweetness. The red wine adds some complexity. I used a Uruguayan Tennat for the wine, because I just happened to have 1/2 cup of it available and its an excellent red wine. You can use any good red wine or, I’m thinking maybe a good rum.

Instead of the sauce, you could soak some raisins in rum while the pudding is cooking and mix them in before serving. Rum, raisins, and coconut milk definitely go together.

Let’s talk about sweetness. What can I say, I’m sweet enough; I don’t need additional sweetening. This recipe reflects my preference, which is not too sweet. My mother-in-law, rest her soul, would be adding spoonfuls of sugar. Adjust the sweetness to your preference.

Rice Pudding Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Forbidden rice (Chinese black rice)
  • 1 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 cups unsweetened low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Red Wine, Cranberry, and Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:

  1. Prepare Sous Vide bath to 185° F.
  2. Combine all rice pudding ingredients into a one gallon freezer rated zip-lock bag and mix thoroughly.
  3. Remove excess air and seal bag.
  4. Place into Sous Vide bath and cook for 4 hours agitating contents hourly.
  5. Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium pan and bring to a rolling boil, stirring intermittently.
  6. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove sauce from heat and allow to cool.
  8. Remove the pudding from the bag, pour into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  9. Serve pudding warm or chill with the sauce layered on top.

Short Rib and Mushroom Ravioli with Butternut Squash Pasta and Pinot-Sage Reduction

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This recipe has been floating around in my brain for almost a year now. It’s genesis was an entree that my wife had at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano. Their butternut ravioli was regular ravioli with a butternut filling. I got me thinking of ravioli with a butternut pasta filled with something hardy. For hardy, you don’t have to look any farther than short-ribs and their beefy goodness meshes perfectly with mushrooms.

My short-ribs were cooked Sous Vide. Again, I’m not trying to turn this blog into a Sous Vide blog, but this methods of cooking is one of my favorites. I allows me to cook at a precise temperature for an optimal time and perfectly control the doneness and the texture of the meat. I cooked my short-ribs for 24 hours at 185° F. This is a higher temperature than I would normally cook short-ribs, but I was looking for the fat and collagen to totally render and the meat to fall apart into individual fascicles.

Feel free to use a crockpot or simply braise your short-ribs. You will get similar results. Since I had the bath going, I threw the mushrooms and squash into the pool to cook at 185° F., as well, for 1 and 2 hours, respectively.

I make my own pasta. My normal ratio of egg to flour is one large egg for every 100 grams of flour. In this case, I omitted one egg since I was adding the puréed squash and it adds moisture. I used Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour. It is a fine grind flour and I find it does not have the heaviness of many whole wheat flours. If using a courser ground whole wheat flour, you may want to mix it half and half with AP flour.  I used my Kitchenaid pasta roller to make the Ravioli sheets and rolled it down to level 4.  I topped one sheet with balls of the short-rib filling, topped that with a second sheet and cut the raviolis with a large biscuit cutter.  if you have a ravioli cutter or press, all the better.  If you are unfamiliar with making pasta, in general, or ravioli, in specific, there are numerous YouTube videos waiting to help.  This was my first attempt at ravioli and they turned out well.

I used the juice from the short-ribs as the base for my sauce and topped it off with a dry Pinot Noir. Any good, dry red wine will work.  You don’t need much sauce.  Reduction is the key to intensifying flavor.  The revioli was plated with a smear of the horseradish/crème fraiche below the raviolis and sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, breadcrumps and sage above.

The below will make around 4 servings.  This is a good fall or winter dish.  Serve it with a side salad and a glass of the left-over Pinot Noir . . . better buy a second bottle to make sure you have enough.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Boneless Short Ribs
  • 1/2 cup small, fresh crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Juices from SV bags plus red wine to total 1 1/2 cups
  • 4 sage leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the Pasta:
    • 10 oz. butternut squash, cube
    • 300 grams whole wheat flour
    • 2 large eggs
  • For Plating:
    • 2 Tbsp crème fraîche
    • 2 Tbsp fresh horseradish
    • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    • Panko breadcrumbs
    • Chiffonade of Sage

Directions:

  1. Prepare Sous Vide bath to 1855° F.
  2. Salt and Pepper Short-Ribs and vacuum seal is a FoodSaver bag. Place in Sous Vide bath for 24 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, vacuum seal cubed butternut squash in a FoodSaver bag and add to Sous Vide bath for 2 hours of cooking.  You can do this in advance of the final two hours in preparation for making the pasta.
  4. Vacuum seal mushrooms, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a FoodSaver bag and add to Sous Vide bath for the final hour of cooking.
  5. After the squash has cooked for 2 hours, remove the squash from the bath, unbag and puree in a blender or food processors adding water as necessary.  Set aside to cool.
  6. Either manually or in a mixer, combine the flour, eggs, and pureed squash, adding water as necessary, and knead to create a smooth elastic dough.  Create a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  7. After 24 hours, remove the short-ribs from the bath and remove from the bag to a cutting board to cool.  Reserve the juices for the sauce.
  8. Remove the mushrooms from the bath, unbag and split in half.  Chop one half finely and set aside for the ravioli filling.  Slice the other half and set aside for the sauce.
  9. After the short-ribs have cooled, shred the meat and roughly chop.
  10. Mix the finely chopped mushrooms imto the chopped meat.
  11. In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and butter.
  12. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for about 4-5 minutes,
  13. Add shallots to the pan and cook until they are becoming translucent, 3-4 minutes
  14. Add garlic and cook of 1 minute more
  15. Add SV bag juices, red wine and sage to the pan and reduce by 3/4s, 10-15 minutes. Strain out the mushrooms. shallots, garlic, and sage and season to taste.
  16. Start a large pan of water to boil over high heat.
  17. Meanwhile roll out the pasta dough.  Place small balls of the short-rib/mushroom mixture on one layer of pasta spacing appropriately for your ravioli cutter.  Brush water around the filling on the bottom layer of pasta and top with a second layer of pasta.  Press pasta together around the filling and cut the raviolis.
  18. Cook the raviolis in the boiling water for 3 minutes or until done.  Fresh pasta does not take long to cook.
  19. Mix an equal amount of crème fraîche and horseradish.  Smear a small amount on each plate as a base for the raviolis.
  20. Place 3-5 raviolis on each plate, depending on the size of the raviolis.
  21. Top raviolis with cheese, breadcrumbs and reserved chiffonade of sage.
  22. Enjoy.

Asian Sticky Baby Back Ribs Sous Vide

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I have been thinking about doing this recipe for a couple of months after having some Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs during my Asian cooking boot camp at the Culinary Institute of America.  There are tons of recipes out on the web for Asian Sticky Ribs and, of course, none of them agree on how to do anything.  That’s okay, because I only use them for inspiration. I always end up taking my own road.

I kept my ingredients simple since this was the first time making Asian Sticky Ribs.  Next time, I may start it venture out a little.  I used commercially available Chinese Five-spice.  You can experiment with the flavor profile by actually using the base spices (star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel, clove, and cinnamon) and varying the amounts. 

Ribs need a low and slow cook to become tender.  I chose to do the basic cooking Sous Vide since I can control time and temperature precisely.  The other thing that nobody agrees on is time and temperature for ribs.  The Sous Vide community seems to fall into two camps: The ~140F group and the ~165F group.  The former tend to cook their ribs for 24-48 hours and the later for 4-12 hours.  This is my first time with Baby Backs Sous Vide so I went with 160F for 12 hours in the dry rub and then finished them on the grill with the sticky sauce.  You can chose your method, time and temp of cooking.  The important point is having tender ribs that melt in your mouth and, of course, stick to your fingers. 

I wanted to maximize the surface area for the sticky sauce so I cut the rack into individual ribs before coating the ribs.  For ease of grilling, the two half-rack pieces can be left whole until ready to plate. 

I served my ribs over a Spicy Asian slaw (recipe that I picked up at the CIA and tweaked) and Japanese Potato Salad (recipe in the May/June issue of Milk Street magazine).  [As a side note, I run hot and cold on Cook’s Illustrated; however, I love Chris Kimball’s new effort.  He has taken on international cuisine and it doing an excellent job of bringing it into the American kitchen.  If you don’t already subscribe to the magazine and podcast, you are truly missing out on a fantastic culinary discussion. . . . Free advertisement complete.]

Wow, this is a keeper.  The meat was moist and tender and easily pulls away from the bone leaving it totally clean.  The sauce was not really sticky, but the flavor profile is definitely there.  You can taste the anise, the soy sauce and Hoisin.  The savory flavors of the ribs played well with the insane crunchiness and heat of the slaw and the cool, crunchiness of the potato salad.  Every bit was an explosion of flavor and texture.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 rack of Baby Back Ribs
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Dry Rub:
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese Five-spice
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • Sticky Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 3 tsp Chinese Five-spice

Directions:

  1. Prepare the Baby Back Ribs by removing the membrane from the back of the rack.
  2. Cut rack into two pieces for ease of Sous Vide bagging.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the Dry Rub ingredients and mix well.
  4. Slather ribs generously on both side with yellow mustard.
  5. Coat both sides of the ribs with the dry rub and rub to evenly coat.
  6. Place ribs into a the Sous Vide bags and vacuum seal.`
  7. Refrigerate ribs for 8 hours or overnight.
  8. Prepare your Sous Vide cooking vessel and preheat water to 160F.
  9. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and place into the Sous Vide bath for 12 hours.
  10. Near the end of the Sous Vide cooking time, combine the Sticky Sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  11. At the end of 12 hours, remove the ribs from the Sous Vide bath, remove ribs from the bags and place on paper towels on a cutting board. Let ribs dry for 15 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, fire up the grill for high heat cooking.
  13. When the ribs are somewhat dry, cut the rack into individual ribs and place in a large bowl.
  14. Pour the Sticky sauce into the bowl with the ribs and gently toss to thoroughly coat.
  15. Place the ribs on the grill and cook until the sauce has thickened and become sticky.  Recoat the ribs with the left-over sauce until it is gone.

The Ollie Burger

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And now for something a little different:

Anyone remember Lum’s Restaurant or Ollie’s Trolley?  The only reason to go to Lum’s was the Ollie Burger created by Oliver G. Gleichenhaus and the recipe eventually sold to Lum’s.  Only one Lum’s remains open, in Nebraska, and that Lum’s sadly has no Ollie Burger. 

 I have been on the search for a copycat Ollie Burger recipe for years and finally found what claims to be the original recipe (http://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_14/2008/JAN/29430.html) and developed a method to use it to get the original flavor profile.  The suggested method did not impart the marinade spices into the burger enough. 

 The change I made was to marinate 3/4 lbs of boneless Short Ribs and 3/4 lbs of Sirloin, each cut into 1 inch cubes, in the Ollie Burger marinade for 2 hours and then course ground it into ground beef.  After forming 6 oz. burgers, I bagged them and cooked them sous vide for 45 minutes at 135F.  Once out of the water bath, I let the burgers rest for 10 minutes, basted them with more marinade and seared them on a super hot grill for about 1 minute on each side topping the burgers with mozzarella after flipping.  I then slathered a toasted multi-grain bun, not original, with Ollie’s Bun Sauce, plated the burger, and enjoyed.  This is the Ollie Burger.  I used one slice of mozzarella.  Next time, I will use two. 

No reason to fret if you have not yet explored Sous Vide cooking.   The key here is marinating the meat in the Ollie Burger Sauce and grinding it into the ground beef.  

Again not original, I served with a Japanese Potato Salad; recipe from this month’s Milk Street Magazine.  The potato salad almost stole the show, but not quite.  You need to get this recipe and try it.  I was able to snag Kewpie mayo at my local Wegmans, but will have to try the work-around (extra egg yolk and sugar) when the wife is around since she is MSG sensitive.

The Perfect Poached Egg – plus a little time

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Poached eggs take only a few minutes right?  Why use a 46 minute process?  Repeatability and perfection, that’s why.  You break even the freshest egg into a simmering pot of water and are immediately presented with far reaching wisps of whites clouding up the water.   Give it some time and you have a perfect poached egg every time.

I’ve tried the traditional method for years.  I’ve added vinegar.  I’ve tried the whirlpool.  You can strain your egg to get rid of loose whites before cooking.  Sure it helps, but you still can’t get a well formed egg every time.  Then there’s the timing. Am I over cooking it?  Am I under cooking it enough?  If only I could get a perfect poached egg every time without fuss and worry.

Of course, you can.  The holy grail of the search for the perfect poached egg method is Sous Vide . . . and a little bit of patience . . . okay, maybe a lot of patience.

But can it be that easy?  Of course not.  I’ve seen lots of attempts to poach an egg sous vide.  Frankly, you end up with a lot of the same problems as the traditional method.  I have seen plenty of pictures of poached eggs with perfect yolks and runny, unshaped whites or perfect whites with stiff yolks.  The answer to the perfect poached egg seems elusive even with sous vide.  Enter J. Kenji López-Alt and The Food Lab’s Guide to Slow-Cooked, Sous Vide-Style Egg .  Here is everything you want to know about cooking eggs.  Using the data garnered from Food Labs you can cook perfect yolks and whites every time.  

The poached egg in the photos was cooked sous vide in the shell at 147F for 45 minutes.  This sets up the yoke perfectly, but the white are still a little runny. That is solved by poaching it in water for just 1 min (traditional poaching method: crack the shell and gently drop the egg into simmering water). After the sous vide bath, the whites are firm enough that they hold their shape in the poaching water unlike poaching a raw egg.  The result: a perfectly poached egg.

On service day, you can save yourself some time by cooking the eggs sous vide in advance, chilling them in an ice bath, and refrigeratoring them until needed.  When ready to serve, warm them sous vide at 147F for 15 minutes and then proceed with the poaching.

Mississippi Short Ribs Sous Vide

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The Mississippi Roast recipe is an internet sensation and a great way to add flavor and tenderness to a tough piece of meat. It’s simply made by throwing a chuck roast into a crockpot with one package each of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing and Au Jus Gravy Mix with some butter, pepperoncini and water and cooking for 6-8 hours. But we can’t do anything simply, can we? We need to complicate everything and take the road less traveled.

First, I don’t use salad dressing or gravy mixes. The top two ingredients in Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing are salt and MSG. The top ingredient in McCormick Au Jus Mix is salt. No wonder Mississippi Roast tastes good: gobs of salt and glutamic acid. It’s an Umami Express. But I prefer to control my ingredients and minimize salt. In addition, my better-half is sensitive to MSG; so homemade buttermilk ranch dressing is on the prep list. You can, of course, substitute store-bought (shutter) ranch dressing for the homemade.


I was planning on making the dressing from homemade mayonnaise.  That plan did not work out too well.  I’m not sure why, but it would not emulsify.  As a fall back, I used Hellman’s.

As far as the Au Jus mix, I don’t see the point. The meat has its own jus and we don’t need the added salt.

Okay, I admit I am a culinary snob, I don’t do “crockpot.” My slow cooker of choice is my Anova Precision Cooker (sous vide). Unlike the crockpot, with sous vide I can precisely control the doneness and texture of the meat. It’s all a matter of time and temperature. Variations are endless and predictable.

I have done a Mississippi Roast using this method with great results. Unfortunately, I lost my recipe to an iPad meltdown before I could post it. I thought I would start over and, as a twist, give it a try with Short Ribs. Short-ribs are another cut of meat that benefits from low, slow cooking and has a rich beefy taste.  The recipe calls for bone-in Short Ribs.  I actually used boneless since that is what was available.

 I was looking for a texture somewhere between a steak and the fascicles falling apart. I went with 165 F. / 74 C. for 24 hours.   The texture and doneness were perfect.  The meat was tender and flavorful without being stringy.


I am not sure if it adds much, but I did marinate the ribs in the ranch dressing and pepperoncini for 8 hours before throwing it into the cooker. Buttermilk has natural enzymes that tenderize meat. I figured it couldn’t hurt to let the short-ribs get happy in the dressing before starting the cooking process.  If I were to change anything, it would be to pierce the pepperoncini before adding them to the bag.  Even after 24 hours of cooking, many of them were whole with the juices still captured inside instead of flavoring the meat.

I have also been experimenting with molecular gastronomy, so for plating I topped it with some pepperoncini air. This step is totally optional. I served it with my take on Spinach Salad ala Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and some Bourbon Cracked Potatoes (recipe coming later).

Ingredients:

  • 3 Bone-in Short-Ribs, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, English or Hybrid cut
  • 3/4 cups Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (see below)
  • 12 Pepperoncini
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbps Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Place the short ribs in vacuum bag(s) leaving room between ribs with 1/4 cup of ranch dressing and 4 pepperoncini per rib. Vacuum seal each bag.
  2. Marinate in refrigerator for 8 hours.
  3. Preheat water bath to 165F/74C
  4. Place short ribs into the water bath and cook for 24 hrs.
  5. Remove bags from the water bag, remove ribs from the bags and pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  6. In a skillet, heat oil over high heat. Sear short ribs on all sides.
  7. Serve on smear of Ranch Dressing. Top with Pepperoncini air.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk 
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Pepperoncini Air

  • 20 grams Pepperoncini
  • 25 grams juice from Pepperoncini
  • 100 grams water
  • 1 gram Soy Lecithin