Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chocolate Truffle at $250 a pop


No kidding! This 2 ounces chocolate truffle cost $250 a pop and was recently named the most expensive item of confectionary in the world by Forbes magazine.

Fritz Knipschildt, a chocolatier based is Norwalk Connecticut is the creator of this extravagant delicacy. The process is simple enough, a 70% Valhrona ganache flavored with vanilla bean and italian truffle oil is shaped by manucured loving hands around a black truffle from Perigord. It is then rolled in more chocolate before getting it's final coating of extra mega supra fine Cocoa powder.

And the result is baaboooom!...or so they say. Sorry but i won't be reviewing that one anytime soon.

For the rest of us, Knipschildt has a whole line of fine chocolates in which he pairs delicate fruit flavors with exotic spices and fragrances. The individual chocolates have names like Charlotte, Helena and Amanda which makes me wonder... does this guy have a thing for naming his creations after ex-girlfriends?... What a show off!

Oprah has reviewed his chocolates in her magazine as being kind of good even if they sound weird and if Oprah thinks so...i'm sold!

I am intrigued by this whole thing, I will buy some of his chocolates in the quest to find out how this Fritz guy is getting so many girls and i promise to keep my findings jealously for myself.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Japan Invents the 26 Hours Work Day

Last time i checked there were only 24 hours in a day but my short term memory has played tricks on me before so you can correct me if i'm wrong...

Oh but wait, we are talking about Japan. Could this be the reason why Japan is getting ahead of us so quickly? Isn't that called cheating?

As we all know, the Japanese are highly efficient, so efficient in fact that 24 hours won't do it anymore but to be brutally honest, 26 hours days for me would mean 2 extra hours sleeping... I knowww... i have no guilt or shame whatsoever.

I still feel bad for those poor chefs in there getting stiffed, i bet there is no 25th and 26th hours on their time sheet. Oh well, as long as the owners keep the Sapporo flowing they won't hear no complains...

If you had 26 hours days what would YOU do with the extra time?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Soft Polenta w/ Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

Nobody was hurt during the writing of this post.

Believe me, being obsessive-compulsive isn't always a bad thing, especially when it comes to make the kind of dish that requires your full obsessive attention, you might want to stop your medication for the day while preparing this dish. I did when i found beautiful wild mushrooms at the market this morning, Alice Waters would have been proud of me!

Like risotto, making polenta isn't for the faint of heart, it takes quick decision making and serious multitasks abilities like being able to reach for your glass of chilled Pouilly-Fuisse with your left hand while stirring the pot with your right hand (Pouilly-Fuisse is not an ingredient in the recipe but if you are the one designated to stand in front of the stove sweating, you might as well do it in style.)

When the ingredients are few, technique is everything, by following this steps you will feel like a Toreador in front of the tamed Bull. The Star is YOU my friend!

Ole and Enjoy!

(Disclaimer: After tasting this, you will want to change your last wish to : be buried in soft polenta topped with wild mushrooms.)

Soft Polenta w/ Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

For the polenta:

  • 3 cups whole milk

  • 1 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup Polenta

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone
  • 4 tablespoon Parmegiano-Reggiano, grated

  • Salt to taste

For the wild mushrooms:

  • 1 1/2 lbs mixed Wild mushrooms (chanterelle, cremini, oyster etc...), cleaned and sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, washed and chopped

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Parmegiano-reggiano shavings

  • White truffle oil (optional)

    __________
  1. In a heavy-bottom pot, place the milk and the water and bring to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat to medium low and slowly add the Polenta while whisking constantly.

  3. Reduce the heat, switch to a wooden spoon and keep stirring.

  4. Stir, Stir, Stir

  5. Stir, Stir, Stir

  6. Don't let the bottom scorch now...

  7. Stir, Stir, Stir

  8. Heat a large sauteed pan over high heat and add the olive oil

  9. Stir, Stir, Stir

  10. Sautee the mushrooms, work in batches if necessary

  11. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper

  12. After stirring for 20 minutes the polenta is ready

  13. Remove from the heat and add the butter, the mascarpone and the parmegiano

  14. Season to taste with salt

  15. Stir, Stir Stir

  16. Reserve the polenta and cover with plastic wrap to keep it soft

  17. Add the garlic to the mushroom and sautee a minute more

  18. Add the butter and the parsley and mix well. Remove from heat

  19. Serve soft polenta in shallow plates topped with sauteed wild mushrooms

  20. Drizzle with hot demi glace reduction if using

  21. Top each plate with some parmegiano-reggiano shavings

  22. Drizzle each plate with some white truffle oil

  23. Serve

  24. Lick the plate

  25. Do the dishes

  26. Write me a thank you note

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to work a Greenmarket



This is a nice little video of Alice Water from "Chez Panisse" shopping at the 14th street Greenmarket in New York City. In case you've been living on another planet "Chez Panisse" is a legendary restaurant in Berkeley California that's famous for cooking the freshest locally grown ingredients in delicious ways. You might think everyone does that, to which i answer...they were already doing it back when Jello was still considered fine cooking in America, they were pioneers!

This video is a must see if you are an aspiring chef or a serious foodie who likes to wander around Greenmarkets. If you are a Private Chef like me chances are you're already sick and tired to spend your life in markets so i won't mention you.

Alice Water explains how she selects what she want to cook that day in a very interesting way, her process is similar to a walking meditation which is definetly not recommended for everyone... last time i tried i hit a pole.

I have great respect for people who are so passionate about what they do, listening to her talking about fresh produce is poetry. So she might well be from California, but she's cool! okay?!

I wish i could talk to these tomatoes too!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stomach Rebellion!

Friends, Be kind to your stomachs!
They don't deserve such abuse... the beast has to eat!!



Anyway nice can!... of Tuna, that is!

The $20,000 Peach Pie

I recently came back from a trip to the Hamptons where i have been working for several weeks. This year, for the first time, the peach trees carried lots of homegrown peaches. Since i know how much went into those Peach trees, I am thinking about contacting the Guiness Book of Records for making the most expensive Peach Pie ever created, but i have serious doubts that Big Bossman will let me do so.


Luckily for us mere mortals, i slightly adapted the Peach Pie recipe by omitting a few not so important ingredients like a $20 millions piece of land in the Hamptons on which to grow your own Peaches.

We can re-create it at home spending about $20 bucks with similar or better results and feeling like $20 millions. If you hold a clutch against rich people you can add to the experience while eating your $3 piece of pie and following this few simple steps:


Sit back comfortably on your couch, close your eyes, visualize a multi-millionaire with his properties, gardeners, fancy cars... while noticing the sweetness of the Peaches from the farmers market on your tongue with hints of cardamon and the flaky, buttery crust. Here come the important part: vizualize Mr Big Bucks again and with an arrogant tone bordering on vengeful speak out loud from the bottom of your lungs: " In Your Face!!".


Aaaahhhhhh....How does it feel? Good Right? His homegrown Peach pie probably doesn't have hints of cardamon anyway and that my friends, makes all the difference in the world!

You're done!...now drink something fruity, and relax, feel the breeze, life is good!

Oh i almost forgot the recipe, you can omit the first 6 ingredients and replace them by peaches from the market.

The $20,000 Peach Pie
  • A few acres of land in the Hamptons: $20 millions (optional)
  • 6 Peach trees @ $3,500 a piece: $21,000 (optional)
  • A Private Chef @ $500 a day (optional)
  • 2 Gardeners @ $250 a day (optional)
  • Lots of ingenuity to keep birds from eating the peaches (optional)
  • 3 years before your first batch of peaches (optional)
  • A pie plate @ $7.50 at your local kitchen store (not optional)

For the flaky pastry dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (no trans-fat), cut into small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons cold water

For the peach filling:

  • 8 ripe peaches peeled, pitted and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamon
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds only
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

------------

  1. Preheat the oven to 425' F.
  2. Make the dough: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.
  3. Add the butter and the shortening and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
  4. Add the cold water and pulse until the dough comes together. Do not overwork!
  5. Reserve in the refrigerator until use or roll 1/2 of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and line a buttered 9 inches pie pan.
  6. Make the filling: Place the slice peaches, the sugar, the cornstarch, the lime juice, the ground cardamon and the vanilla bean seeds into a large bowl and toss until well combined, let it rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Pour the filling into the bottom crust and dot with butter.
  8. Cover with the remaining dough rolled out to 1/4 inch thickness.
  9. Cut steam vents and brush the top of the pie with an eggwash.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes at 425'f then reduce heat to 350'f and bake until juices bubble through the vents, 30 to 35 minutes more.
  11. Let cool on a rack before serving. Best the day it is baked.
  12. Enjoy!