Friday, April 22, 2011

Inspirational Flavorgasm!

I've been putting cilantro, lime, and green onions on everything lately. What I didn't expect was how utterly incredible this combination would be with pork schnitzel and sauerkraut. First things first though, let's talk about schnitzel. It's just thinly cut meat, breaded, and fried. Here's how breading happens:

I mix a liberal amount of salt and pepper into both the bread crumbs and the flour. I then take a single piece of meat with my left hand, drop it in the flour and use my right hand to coat it in flour. Then I use my right hand to drop the floury meat into the egg. My left hand makes sure the piece of meat is coated in egg and moves it to the bread crumbs, where my right hand ensures the egg-y meat is coated in bread crumbs. All of this switching of hands keeps one hand for the wet things and one hand for the dry things, since this process gets messy fast. Meanwhile, heat up some oil or bacon grease:

When they were done frying, I put the schnitzels in a warm oven so they would stay warm and crispy while I made the sauce. For the sauce I sauteed red onions in butter, deglazed with demi-glace and then finished it with more butter, cilantro, green onion, lime, salt, and pepper. Then I put some schnitzel on a plate, topped with my sauce and Firefly Kitchen's Red Sauerkraut.

The sourness of the lime paired perfectly with the sourness of the sauerkraut, while the green onion and cilantro added a punch of green, the schnitzel provided a comforting crunch and the butter smoothed everything together. It was amazing!

Sausage Fest

Every Friday some of my friends and I have a potluck. Last week, my friends' wife was out of town so he decided the food theme should be sausage. I realized that if everyone brought sausage, that could be a bit overwhelming, so instead I made meat balls and manly desserts.

The Balls. Skagit Valley Ranch ground beef with an egg, some bread crumbs, minced onion, and some wicked garlic powder that was slipped under the table to me at the farmers market. I seared them in bacon grease and then added a wee bit of tomato sauce and chicken demi glace:

Then for dessert I made cream puffs, here they are in the oven:

I followed Julia Child's recipe for Pate-a-Choux. They puffed up nicely in the oven, but then when I took them out to cool, they deflated in such a way they were almost impossible to re-inflate with pastry cream. So I just made a dish of pastry cream for everyone to dip their cream puff in.

The thing about pastry cream is it requires a lot of egg yolks, which means you have a lot of egg whites left and when life give you egg whites - make meringue!

I added a pinch of cinnamon to a traditional meringue recipe which one these cookies the title of "dickerdoodles" because they tasted reminiscent of snickerdoodles.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Food of Spring, that isn't really spring yet...

Alex's cooking continues to amaze me. His latest creation reminded me of what Thomas Keller might eat at home if he lived in Germany... or perhaps Iron Chef Germany - battle cabbage! Here is what he made: Sausage braised in beer with napa cabbage and potatoes, topped with sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and served with kale (a type of cabbage) salad and Tall Grass Bakery sour dough bread. Three cabbages, two sour things, meat, and potatoes. Perhaps it's my heritage, but this was a fantastic meal.

This also exemplifies the type of spring we've been having--as far as I can tell it's still winter. The farmers market still pretty much only has cabbages and root vegetables. I've been itching for the variety of summer, and craving spicy, citrusy foods. So my recent culinary exploration was a beef ceviche of sorts... ceviche was the inspiration, beef stew meat is what was in my freezer. I stewed the meat in lime juice, chicken stock, and onions until it was tender. Meanwhile I cooked up some rice and mixed in a bunch of paprika, cayenne, and cumin. When the beef was tender, I turned off the heat and added a few canned tomatoes and a lot of chopped scallions, cilantro, cinnamon, and salt. It was exactly the tangy brightness I needed with all the clouds and rain outside lately.