madbaker: (charcuterie)
A downside to using the sous vide for sausage poaching: a recipe that is optimized for normal poaching will taste overly salty when cooked sous vide. Because it hasn't had flavor leached out in the water.

Now I know to cut salt in these recipes by a good 10-20%.
madbaker: (Chef!)
Four pints of apricot jam potted up. It might be slightly runnier than the ideal, but that's what happens when not using pectin and trying to get it done on a week-night.
madbaker: (mammoth garlic)
Wendy and Josh came over last night. The original plan was to make a blitzkrieg shopping trip to Bitters & Bottles before going out to dinner, but between him getting off work late and Giants game-day traffic, there wasn't enough time. Instead we drove over the hill to Third Rail, which is a new-ish bar less than ten minutes' drive away (too many steep hills in between to walk comfortably) for a pre-dinner cocktail.

Did I mention that Third Rail makes their own jerky, and does jerky pairings to go with their (very nice) drinks? We did not actually try said jerky due to aforementioned dinner plans, but I'm sure it will happen at some point. I liked the place and when I want a high-end cocktail that's close by, that will be a go-to.

We quickly drove home and got a cab, since the restaurant is close enough to the ballpark that finding parking was likely to be impossible. Plus this way we could have another cocktail with dinner! We went to Cockscomb -- Dawn and I went there last year for our anniversary and it's much better with four people. We split the "hot mess", foie and roasted pig trotter, which was excellent; a ramp "fondue" which was really just a plate of melted cheese and ramps, good but not spectacular; and lamb chops and shoulder, which was quite good. Obviously rather rich and we didn't finish the lamb.

Neither the wife nor I slept all that well after the rich food and booze, but it was a fun night out with friends. I'd do it again, but not any time soon please.

madbaker: (disgruntled clown)
The 1000-mile road trip to LA* was good overall. I really enjoy the West Coast Culinary Symposium; it's nerding within a specific subgroup of nerds. We even tried Pea Soup Andersen's, which as a kid I always wanted to do. (Review: meh.)

However, we hit epic traffic even by LA standards. We hit Pasadena around 12:30ish and were in stop-and-go for the next four hours. That did a number on the car: our brand-new tire got a flat (which apparently was the fault of the tire failing, not driving over a nail) and our rear brake pads ground down to nothing. So half the drive home Sunday was on screechy grinding brakes. That was as much fun as it sounds.

I took yesterday off, planning to do laundry, shopping, and relax before the flood of catch-up work today. Instead we spent much of the day at the tire shop. But at least it's fixed now.

(Except for the tire pressure light, which came back on about ten miles from the tire place. Really?)

*Yes, I am aware that we were significantly outside LA proper. (Hemet, for the curious.) To a Northern Californian - even one like me who spent time down there - anything that requires driving in the vague vicinity of LA is LA.
madbaker: (mammoth garlic)
I have 300 g of foie torchon curing in the fridge in preparation for New Year's. (We follow a fine Fronch tradition of ringing in the New Year with foie and champers.) I also made Russian Tea, which is an old family* holiday recipe.
Today we will head off to silliness, food, and wine with friends. That should be nice.

*By which we think it came from Sunset Magazine in the '50s. It's been served at family holiday gatherings every year since then.

madbaker: (cthulu-meer)
It's been a bit of a lazy long-ish weekend. (I had to work Friday, but at least it was from home and it was only a half day.) The wife and I spent Thanksgiving at home with no relatives. Just crab, champagne, freshly-baked bread, and each other. It was very nice.

madbaker: (joyful Wulfric)
I generally really enjoy Collegium. It's such a refreshing break for me from the usual fighting-based events.
In an attack of sanity, we drove out to Sacramento Friday night so that we wouldn't be round-tripping Saturday. Traffic was horrible, as we expected; the 90 miles took us three hours. (The wife wasn't sure she was going to go as she had come down with a cold. But she was meeting the chronicler to help her put together formatting for the newsletter.)

A quick search on Yelp and we decided on a fusion hot pot place for dinner. We were among the few white people in there, always a good sign. It was quite good! Spicier than I expected but tasty.

I taught a first period 9:30 AM class on "How to Exchequer an event." O the excitement. I think it was useful for the two people who showed up. If so it was worth it. To amuse myself I made two pages of joke SCA names. Some of them were classics, like Reed the Page and Portia Audi Tudor. Others were lesser-known like Crispian Milk. It kept me engaged when I was putting the class together.

My other class was an open drop-in to go over forms, answer questions, whatever. Again lightly attended but I would have been surprised if it hadn't been. Another exchequer put together a really good short Powerpoint presentation on reports to help out. I solved a couple minor problems for two people who showed up so again, I'll count that as a win.

In between the two I audited a 16th c. Dutch sauces class in the kitchen. I loved it. I got to hang around people cooking and being creative. Without any pressure to actually do anything. One of the unexpected downsides of this job has been the crushing of my creativity and this was a bit of a reminder as to what I am missing.

I also got my coronet delivered! I had seen it two weeks previously but it needed pearl replacement. I'm quite happy with it. The wife is polishing it right now (not a euphemism).

Afterwards we went to a local Ethiopian restaurant with three others. Very good food, especially for the cost. It did mean that we didn't leave Sacramento until 7:30 and got home around 9:30 PM. We had to trade off driving partway through - I just couldn't keep my eyes open. And we're both tired today.

Cockscomb

Jul. 31st, 2016 11:01 am
madbaker: (feast)
Four months later, we went out for our anniversary. My dad gave us a gift certificate to Chris Cosentino's place; we'd wanted to try it but hadn't made the effort.

We were overdressed, which I expected. Most men aren't wearing ties these days, let alone a hat. (But if we can't put in a little effort for our anniversary, when can we?) The vibe of the place is fairly casual, with some vaguely dance-type music playing. Lots of exposed wood and animal-related things on the walls: a bison head, a pig prodder, and so forth. The bathrooms have amusing death bunny wallpaper.

We started off with San Francisco-titled cocktails. The wife had a gin fizz variant, which she liked. I had a Manhattan variant (rye, amaro, grapefruit bitters) which was excellent. Many things on the menu sounded good but we knew we couldn't eat all of them. Or even try. So we bypassed the gold leaf-gilded pig head, and split the surf & turf - which was actually a braised pork belly in delicious five spice sauce along with lobster. The lobster was, sadly, just okay. Honestly I prefer Dungeness crab. We also had lovely roasted carrots with Berbere seasoning, which I may have to try at home. A fruit crumble to finish, and I had a flight of three Amaros. One was definitely in the Fernet Branca mouthwash category, which might be okay in a mixed drink but I did not care for straight.

All the rich food and booze meant that I didn't sleep well, but it was a good time. I wouldn't put this on our "must return" list but I would go back, preferably with more people to try more things.

madbaker: (scary clown)
I had dinner last night with a friend who I hadn't seen in a couple years. Good pizza and chattage. It meant I got home around 10 PM, and I'm feeling that lack of sleep today. But I don't do this sort of thing very often and it was good to catch up.

The pizza was at a small chain called Blue Line. It's got an elevated train as its logo. I overheard the couple next to us asking each other if it was a BART train. Yes, that's right -- it has nothing to do with serving Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and the Blue Line being a Chicago train. Nope. BART's trains were originally blue with red accents (hence the original name, "Blue And Red Trains") and this is a homage to that forgotten bit of Bay Area history.

...I forbore to interject this into their conversation in a withering tone, but it was a close thing. Though I did not manage to forestall an eyeroll.

I had an odd dream that I, unusually, remembered: civilization was broken because the structure of the universe had been irreparably damaged by time travel. Apparently traveling to the future caused time rips or something, but because civilization had collapsed due to these rips, we made very short time trips to the future to collect resources so we could muddle along. Of course, the daughter of the protagonist, feeling like she could be a hero, made a long trip to the future to collect a huge amount of resources... and this was the cause and reason that the time rips had broken the structure of the universe. Closed loop. Which is how I like my time travel plots, so it's nice that my subconscious cooperated.

madbaker: (Bayeux cook)
This last weekend was the annual West Coast Culinary Symposium. This year it was in Portland, at the same place it was three years back - a remoteish Campfire Girl camp. It's on the rustic side (apparently some of the cabins had rodent dropping infestations). I've been attending them for some years now. I always have fun, because this is a subset of a subset of friends. It's an SCA event focused on food nerding. My happy place. Also, I get to hang out with people I don't see very often from Oregon/Washington and Southern California. And usually meet new people to be friends with. The keynote speaker led a discussion on food history and "Why do we do this?" My answer is "To inspire and be inspired." No exception for me this time 'round.

I usually teach at least one sausage class. This year it was one of my recent discoveries: an herb omelette sausage subtlety. After making it a few times at home I figured out how to make it work and I thought this would be an interesting and modern palate-accessible alternative. Although limiting the class to eight people made that less accessible, I suppose, but I find that's about the top limit for this sort of class. Otherwise there's a lot of standing around and people can't help. Anyway, it was immensely popular. There were a number of foobs initially (I didn't know where my class was, then didn't get the supplies from the kitchen, and so forth) but we finished around our time limit and it was delicious. People commented that they'd make this for events themselves! I count that as a total win.

I felt a little bad for one teacher; I took his class and there were only two attendees. It wasn't anything I didn't know (food safety) but it was a good refresher, even if it was focused more heavily on the microbiology side than the practical how-tos.

The class coordinator gave out nice thank you gifts to teachers: a bit of waxed linen, a hand-written thank you note, and a jar of jam. Which TSA confiscated at the airport. I was peeved, but who knew jam was a verboten terrorist device?

The only downside to having gone, of course, is that there's a ten day event coming up this weekend. Oh well. Back to work.

madbaker: (joyful Wulfric)
I habe a code. I blame the petri-dish Hall of Justice, but apparently significant numbers of people also got sick from Crown last week. Who knows? I am feeling better today, but also trying not to push it. I may work from home tomorrow.
Coronet blah blah )

Today: dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, probably some exchequer stuff.

madbaker: (Gunnerkrigg me)
Yesterday's breakfast sounded like a great idea. Take a couple of leftover tortillas, some leftover housemade Spanish chorizo, some of the spicy Hatch chiles from the freezer, some leftover salsa, a fried egg and leftover yogurt... boom! Huevos Rancheros.

Let's unpack that culinary equation. Bland + spicy + very spicy + spicy + neutral = tasty. But too hot for the wife to eat the whole thing. And for me, a ring of fire today.

madbaker: (bacon is the new black)
On a happier note, we're having liver and onions for dinner tonight.
I am cooking the liver sous-vide (of course I am, but also because it will avoid making it tough). The onions are slow-braising in their own liquid for about three hours as if I am making onion soup.

madbaker: (Krosp)
One of the mildly intriguing promises of the sous vide recirculator is that enough time can tenderize a piece of chuck roast to the texture of ribeye, at 1/3 the price. When we were shopping on Saturday we found a nice big piece of chuck roast perfect for the three of us (going to see Dad on Xmas Eve). So, let's try that.

...it requires 24 hours of sous vide cooking. When you factor in the electricity and the motor burn, I suspect it's a wash. We'll find out how it works tomorrow as I started it before coming in to work.

madbaker: (KOL)
Monday: Holiday get-together with former cow-orkers in a bar.
Tuesday: Holiday get-together with current cow-orkers in a bar.
Wednesday: I get to go home on time.
Thursday: Holiday get-together with work group (taking one cow-orker), in a bar.

Mind you, I had two beers Monday and one beer last night. The 20- and 30-something cow-orkers stayed in the bar until nine. I was wise enough not to try to keep up. I expect I will have one beer, maybe two on Thursday. Still.

Getting home past 7 PM, when I leave the house before 6:30 AM, is a bit rough several days in succession. I didn't want to make much in the way of dinner last night. We're adults, so I cooked scrambled eggses. (With house-cured guanciale, cheese from the crawl, and some red onion and garlic. Because it doesn't have to be low-quality.)

I think I'm not going anywhere this weekend. That will be nice.

madbaker: (Krosp)
1) Place the eggses in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a low boil on the stove. Simmer for eight minutes.
2) Bring a very large pot of water to temperature using the sous vide immersion circulator. Place the four eggses in. Cook for 75 minutes.

Results: identical hard-boiled eggses.

...clearly the sous vide method is not always an improvement.

madbaker: (Gunnerkrigg me)
Ribeye steak has been cooked to medium rare using the sous vide circulator. Brussels sprouts also cooked at a higher temp. This means that tomorrow's dinner should take about 10 minutes of prep.
I like this.

madbaker: (fud)
We went to Rich Table last night for my birthday. The place has consistently gotten buzz since it opened a couple years ago; it was on my mental list of places to try, but I hadn't worked hard to get a reservation.

It's nice. They don't have a dress code and the tables are farmhouse wood. Nevertheless, I didn't feel overdressed in a blazer. The food was quite good. The porcini doughnuts were standouts (a not-sweet fried dough rolled in porcini powder), as was the grilled ribeye.

I wouldn't go back anytime soon; we did the tasting menu and it wasn't cheap. Worth it for an occasion though.

madbaker: (KOL)
I have a boneless chicken breast cooking with the Anova sous vide circulator.

madbaker: (Saluminati)
The upstairs neighbors were kind enough to get me a birthday present spot in last night's class at 18 Reasons. I had never gone to any of their classes; I'm not a member, although I believe the curvy upstairs neighbor is. It was fun. We made a bunch of porchetta-inspired dishes that are quicker and easier than making the real thing. Or even the semi-real thing that I've done, which is a pork tenderloin wrapped in a half belly. I haven't made that again because it feeds 20...

The starting menu for the nine of us: Pork tenderloin in bread; organ-stuffed roast chicken; porchetta-spiced roast rabbit; radicchio-anchovy salad. We also made some pasta with pan dripping sauce and a ricotta-almond pudding.

The class was good. I was on Team Chicken. That took 45 minutes longer to cook than the teacher intended, mostly because of the meat stuffing. It was okay - not spectacular, but fine. The rabbit was quite good. The salad was superb and the pork tasted like a (good) standard porchetta. I will be making the last two at home. I can't make rabbit, as the wife won't eat it. I don't think the chicken is necessarily worth doing.

It was a bit difficult to get up today, because I was awake for a few hours around midnight. The wine converting to sugars, no doubt. But I had fun and learned some things, as well as having good chattage with the other students.

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