I know it’s been a while, eh? I apologize for the lack of posting but I’ve been kind of busy since the beginning of the year, and the cherry on top of the rotten cake is that this site was down for some technical issues the past few weeks. Then a funny thing happened. I started receiving email upon email of concerned readers from the four quarters of the world wondering if I was okay, and if the site was going to be gone like… forever. Really? Thank you, guys. This morning I realized that someone started a chow.com thread asking what happened to the site to which someone answered: “I heard he had become enlightened and does not eat food anymore.” Unfortunately I haven’t become enlightened and I still do eat food, but that wise-ass posting hit me with the realization that I needed to come back. I miss this place too.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave you’ve probably heard of the now famous cronuts. They’re the invention of Dominique Ansel of the namesake bakery in Soho and they are taking New York by storm. I’ve never had the actual cronut because they sell out in about 2 minutes every morning and as a result of my apathy for long lines I have absolutely zero reference point. If somebody wants to send me one I will love you forever.
Out of respect for Dominique Ansel I will not post a recipe but just document my experiment. I’m in no way pretending this is as good as his (probably not!) but for the “sport” of figuring things out I attempted to make them at home because, you know, chefs have funny hobbies. Also the cronut craze has generated a bunch of copycat versions in bakeries across the country which seems to annoy the Chef, and it is clearly not my intention to do so. I truly believe that imitation is the highest form of flattery and the attention that it’s getting should be taken as such. We all use techniques that have been invented by others. Once something has gathered so much attention it would be futile and nearly impossible to keep people from re-creating it. It’s true that we rarely thank the people who laid the foundations on which we build on, but how far back would we have to reach to acknowledge the people who invented the croissant and the doughnut? And who’s copying who? Let’s give proper credit and share the love, please.
Spring is synonym with a lot of great produce like peas, asparagus and morels but let’s not forget the tender stalks of rhubarb that are at their best right now. Here’s a variation on Bouchon bakery rhubarb bars, they are essentially sugar & grenadine-cured rhubarb stalks baked in a brown butter filling on top of a sweet pastry dough and topped with a fine crumble. It’s delicious stuff but since I prefer just about anything with a fluffy toasted meringue on top I made the substitution and I actually like it better than the original. I knoww, I’m so predictable.
The Liège waffle (or gaufre as we call them in Europe) is made with a yeast dough instead of batter and is dotted with bits of caramelized sugar, and is not, under any circumstance to be confused with Belgian waffles. Never, ever. That would make a whole lot of people angry. Everyone agrees they are absolutely delicious though.
In Belgium there are two types of waffles: the Brussels and the Liège waffle. The Brussels waffle is the most commonly seen. It’s rectangular with a golden-brown exterior, deep pockets and topped with a variety of toppings such as whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate or jam and is usually eaten with a knife and fork. The Liège waffle is golden-yellow, more dense in texture, rich, and the sugar chunks melt and create pockets of crunchy sweet on the inside and shiny, caramelized sugar spots on the outside, and it should be eaten with your hands. You’ll need to use pearl sugar to keep this authentic but it can easily be ordered online.
Hello friends and happy new year! To jump start the year here’s a recipe using the best-of-the-season. Yup. Every element in this fresh, clean-tasting, cool weather salad are at their best right now. From the bottom-up you’ve got fresh stone crab tossed with olive oil and lemon juice, celery rémoulade enlivened with capers, cornichons and fresh herbs, and a salad of frisée and mache with crunchy walnuts to top it off. The crab salad is already great on its own but it becomes perfect served in a pool of lightly-set green apple gelée with tiny cubes of green apple and some finger lime to make the flavor sparkle.
I used stone crab claws for this salad but feel free to use Dungeness crab if you live on the west coast. Maine lump crab meat works great too and so does Peekytoe crab. The most important thing is that your ingredients are fresh, crisp and bright tasting. Enjoy!