Sour pickles: I love them. I can’t say it was always the case though. Growing up in France my first encounter with a sour pickle was at [cough-cough] Mc Donald’s.. because let’s say it: McDonald’s used to boobytrap their burgers with suspicious pickles I clearly didn’t request. At the time cornichons left me totally indifferent and the all-american pickle was unknown to me, so biting into the unexpected the first time left me grimacing. Here’s the thing about removing unwanted pickles from Mc Donald’s burgers: you can’t. Not all the way. By the time you sit down with that burger, it’s already too late. It has spread. Your only hope is to dig deep inside the airy, foamy, artificially engineered part of that bun and jackhammer out the affected areas, which turn out to be about 75% of its total mass. Now you have holes in your bun and ketchup is squirting everywhere and. err.. nevermind.
Chicken tortilla soup is one of my favorite soups. It’s quite a big statement for a chico blanco who haven’t had his first bowl until he was thirty-something. The first time I had it it was prescribed as a late-night hangover cure and it acted as a fountain of rejuvenation. I’m telling you there’s magic in that soup. I went from ♫ Ay, ♪ ay, ay, ay ♫… to cielinto lindo in minutes. The hangover was gone. It was at La Esquina in New York City and I didn’t know if it was the best version out there but I had many bowls in different parts of the country since and it’s still near the top of my list.
Call me crazy but the Frenchman in here can’t help but finding similarities between chicken tortilla soup and French onion soup. Of course there’s the extra depth from the guajillo and chipotle peppers, the Chihuaha cheese replaces the Gruyere of its French counterpart but brings equal melty goodness properties, and the baguette croutons that give the French onion that “je ne sais quoi” is replaced by an outrageous handful of fried corn tortilla chips that gives it that definite “I dont care” attitude. It’s hard to beat. Don’t skimp and top the magic potion with a couple of slices of avocado, some feisty Chihuaha cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime and you’ll be singing ♫ la Cucaracha.. ♪ in no time.. err… No, no I’m not singing…
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.