Hello every one, as many of you know I have moved out west for an incredible job marrying my passion for science and food. I spend almost every day working in a kitchen sautéing, braising, boiling, stirring, basting, flipping, and observing. Each action and dish is an experiment used to collect data with an array of thermocouples (pinpoint thermometers) and many other tools. In the midst of all of this sits my computer, splattered with every sort of food and debris. I alternate between actively cooking, timing, and processing all of this information as part of a team developing smart cookware. My life is a slew of delicious food, incredible people, beautiful graphs and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you for all of your love and support, I know you know how much my family misses me. So an extra thank you for everyone keeping my father company while all of us kids are spread around the country.
In other news, here are some of the recipes, ideas, and inspiration I have been working on over the past few months. I hope you take the time to try some of these recipes or at the very least are inspired to spend a day with family and friends creating a delicious meal together, Thanksgiving included. I know I am so much of who I am from the time spent in the kitchen cooking and connecting with my loved ones.
Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving and many more to come!
Tarragon Gin Gimlet
Leaves from 4 sprigs of Tarragon
Juice of ½ Lime
2 Tbs. Simple Syrup
2 oz. Gin
Club soda as desired
Muddle the tarragon with the gin
Add Lime juice, Simple syrup, Gin, and some ice
Shake, this aerates the alcohol and allows the tarragon to infuse faster
Pour through a fine sieve or mesh strainer into a prepared cup with ice and whole tarragon leaves
Top with Club soda
Meyer Thyme Gin Fizz
The perfect accompaniment to fall pasta “Halloweenioli” (see below)
Thyme Simple syrup
Add fresh thyme sprigs to a mixture of equal parts sugar and water. Bring to a simmer so that all of the sugar dissolves, and the liquid becomes clear. Hold here for an extra 3 min then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Then pass through a fine mesh strainer to remove the thyme. Refrigerate until needed
2 oz. Gin
1 Tbs. Thyme Simple Syrup
1 Tbs. Meyer Lemon Juice
2 oz. Club soda
Add Gin, Simple Syrup, and Lemon Juice to a Collins glass with ice. Stir vigorously. Top with club soda and tuck a few sprigs of thyme down the length of the glass. You can also garnish with a twist of lemon zest if you have any on hand. As the drink sits, the thyme will continue to infuse increasing in flavor throughout your time drinking.
Hot Chocolate to heat you up
A great drink that I fell in love with this fall is Atole or Champurrado, a Mexican hot chocolate variation, thickened with Masa (corn meal that has been treated to make tortillas, tamales, arepas and the like
¼ cup masa harina, a common brand is Maseca it can normally be found in any Latin section of your supermarket
2 cups warm water
2 cups of milk
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cinnamon sticks
(¼ tsp. chili powder if you like to spice things up)
In a sauce pan whisk the masa and warm water until thoroughly combined. Add to the masa the milk, chocolate, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks, and chili powder if you are so inclined. Slowly bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat, you want to allow the masa to cook and thicken the mixture, about 8 to 10 min. If it is too thick, simply thin with milk.
Warning: As this is thickened hot chocolate it holds its heat and stays hot longer. Be very careful with those first few sips. Once you have made it once, you’ll fall in love. Coming into winter this is the perfect drink for a super cold or an exhausting one on the slopes.
Black and Orange pasta “Halloweenioli”
I was actually with some friends in Sin Francisco talking food, when the idea for this dish popped into my head. It was October 30th and I had just under 24 hours to make these in time for Halloween, they were perfect though. The next time you feel like making pasta, try some of these techniques to up your game.
The concept is black pasta filled with an orange pumpkin puree, normally black pasta is made with the use of squid ink, however in this case we are going to create a fragrant black powder to dye and lightly flavor our pasta.
Burnt Meyer Lemon Powder
10 – 20 Meyer lemons (I use Meyer lemons for their sweeter less astringent acidity, however any lemons will do, and if you use larger lemons, you won’t have to juice as many)
Set your oven temperature to 500F (this is another great opportunity to utilize your grill out of season)
Juice your lemons and conserve their juices for later.
Spread the rinds of your lemons out onto a tray, either on top of a piece of parchment or with a rack underneath for additional airflow.
Place your rinds in the oven and burn them. I mean all the way, until they are as black and hard as charcoal. You may find you need to rotate them in the oven so that they cook evenly, this may reduce your cooking time, but they getting burnt either way, you can’t over do this. Also, your smoke alarm, might become alarmed, this is why I suggest the outdoor grill if you have one.
Once your rinds are burnt through and through, turn your oven off and allow to cool. Using a spice grinder, blender, or coffee grinder, grind your burnt lemons to a fine powder. Pass this powder through a fine sieve to remove any large particulate.
You have now made Burnt lemon powder! Taste it, it is bitter, fragrant, and lemony. Not unlike a nice cup of coffee, my favorite example that burnt is a flavor. Once you know how to work with it, you’ll be amazed at the number of dishes that go from destroyed to delightful. Being a good cook is almost more about thinking on your feet than it is about perfect execution.
Black Pasta Dough
Pasta is about feel, but it is not something that should feel daunting. It is simple, use a dough hook attachment to your mixer, or a good amount of elbow grease with your arms. You are going to mix your dry ingredients with your wet ingredients to create a very firm dough that is neither wet enough to stick to your bowl like a bread dough, nor dry enough to leave excess dry ingredients in the bowl, or crumble.
~2 ¼ cups All Purpose Flour
2 egg yolks
¾ tsp. Kosher salt
add black lemon powder
Combine your dry ingredients then add all of your eggs. Begin mixing, allow time to see your whole dough come together. Adjust flour or eggs in order to gain the right texture. Don’t be afraid to beat an egg and use a portion of it, there is no reason adding egg has to be an all or nothing endeavor.
For Black pasta simply add about 1 cup more or less, depending on what you have, to your dry ingredients. You will probably need to add 1 egg per cup of lemon powder to your final dough, but play it by ear.
Once your dough is well combined knead it in your mixer or by hand for 10-20 minutes until it is firm and elastic. Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let it stand for a couple hours. The best thing to look for is the seams. Any seams on your dough from your needing before wrapping should almost disappear. That is when you know your ball is fully hydrated.
Pumpkin Pasta Filling
Any fresh pumpkin or squash or a can of pumpkin puree
If starting with a fresh squash the entire process will take a little longer, but you have a few extra options along the way.
Halve your squash and seed it. Fill each half with butter, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt and brown sugar. Bake at 400F covering with foil after 30 min. Bake until a fork pierces through with little force. Allow to cool, scoop out of the skin, then puree with a stick blender.
Peel and grate your pumpkin on a box greater. My favorite method is to lightly caramelize some sugar about 1 cup/lb. of pumpkin in the bottom of a stock pot. Once the sugar is just amber in color I will add 2 Tbs. butter/cup of sugar directly followed by my grated pumpkin. Stir often to ensure all of the Carmel is dissolved and cook until the pumpkin breaks down and most of the released moister has been simmered off. Then puree with a stick blender.
No matter your method of preparing the pumpkin once you have a puree, caramelize 1 cup of sugar/ lb of pumpkin puree (unless you followed the stove top method) and add 2 Tbs. of butter/cup of sugar. Add the pumpkin puree, mix and simmer.
From stove top method, skip to here.
Season your hot simmering pumpkin puree with pumpkin pie spice, and garlic salt (or garlic powder and salt) You are looking for a fall spiced sweet yet savory filling. Allow to cool. Once cool mix this filling with ricotta cheese at a 2 to 1 ratio, to parts pumpkin 1 part cheese. Adjust ratio to your personal preference, and seasoning as well. As you adjust your seasoning use your reserved lemon juice to add a light hint of acidity to brighten up the flavor and allow the fall spices to shine through.
Filling the pasta
Pasta shapes are a personal preference, I am partial to agnioloti, as they contain more filling, and can be easier to manufacture in large quantities. However without the space and proper equipment (piping bag and pasta cutter) Ravioli are your next best thing.
Roll out your pasta to the second thinnest setting on your pasta roller, if by hand, just roll it as thin as you can, it is a struggle, trust me, I’ve been there! At this point I suggest following which ever filling method you prefer, a couple extra hands help. Use semolina flour to ensure the Pasta does not stick to each other and freeze ASAP if not for immediate consumption.
There is a lot going on with this pasta, from the lemony and bitter pasta dough, to the sweet and savory filling. The ideal sauce here, is a nice emulsified brown butter sauce. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season it so it tastes like a well-seasoned soup broth. This means approx. 1% salt to water by weight, but use your personal taste.
5 Tbs. Butter
4 Leaves of Sage
A splash of lemon juice
Salt to taste
Place 2 Tbs of butter in the ban and begin to cook, you are looking to brown the butter. It will first melt, then simmer, then the solids will separate out and begin to brown on the bottom. Just as the simmering of the butter slows down, add in your sage so that they fry in the butter as it browns. Once the butter solids are a nice nutty color, remove from the heat and add the fresh 3 Tbs. of butter swirling them into the browned butter. This will re-emulsify your butter sauce, savoring the brown butter flavors while creating a smooth sauce. Remove the sage, and save for plating.
Once your water has boiled drop in 1 handful of pasta per person, boil for minutes max, you are looking for the pasta to be soft at the edges, but not mushy, the filling will have more than enough time to heat up. Using a slotted spoon transfer your pasta to the pan with butter sauce. It is okay if some of the water gets into the pan, this will add starches and seasoning to your sauce helping it to coat your pasta. Heat your pasta in the sauce until it simmers and the sauce comes together coating each piece of pasta, a great chance to work on your pan flipping style. Add a splash of lemon juice and extra salt if the sauce is under seasoned. If it is over seasoned, just add some extra butter. Left over butter will stay in the pan when you serve holding onto any extra salt, you could also add water to thin out the sauce, then pour some out before re-reducing for consistency.
Plate the pasta on each plate and artfully place each sage leaf back onto the dish. Voilà The most delicious Halloween themed pasta you have never heard of before!
Pumpkins & Squash
This year my work place is part professional kitchen, part laboratory, part think tank, and part destination. On our property is a garden amongst many things, when we harvested this fall we had a slew of fall squash. Needless to say we have prepared pumpkins and squash every which way imaginable. Here are some personal favorites.
Roasted squash such as Kabocha, with a little butter, thyme, brown sugar, and garlic salt, makes an excellent meaty sandwich filling. I love it with coleslaw, ranch, or cider dressing, you name it. Squish that between your favorite slices of bread, may I suggest King’s Hawaiian rolls, and you are prepared for a wonderful experience.
Crispy pumpkin wedges, Slice your Pumpkin into wedges and coat with a mixture of breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, fresh chopped thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake in the oven at 375 until fork tender, cover with aluminum foil if the breadcrumbs brown before your pumpkin is done.
Curried Squash, the easiest way to make curry is to start with pre made curry powder, it will allow you to receive consistent results that you can tailor with the addition of your favorite spices. In a sauté pan add 1 Tbs. of curry powder to 2 Tbs Extra virgin olive oil. Heat until the spices start to foam. To this mixture add garlic and ginger paste, or just finely chopped garlic and ginger. Then add some diced onion and sweat until soft. Add cubed pumpkin and sauté as well. Add 1 can of canned coconut milk and simmer. To your simmering liquid add fresh herbs like lemon grass, thyme, or bay leaf. Season to taste.
At this point you can choose to puree your dish and make a pumpkin curry sauce to serve with meat or other veg and a grain like rice or faro, or you can thicken the liquid around your pumpkin with a roux, or a cornstarch slurry. Either way, curried pumpkin is one of my favorites.