Monday, February 13, 2012

Favorite Things #1

There are things that I just keep making over and over again.  They taste THAT good, and are THAT easy, really easy to make.  Of course, like with any other piece of food that you put in your mouth - it all depends on the ingredients.    
My go-to roast chicken is based on the one that I read about in Thomas Keller's cook book, "Bouchon".   The method for roasting this chicken wasn't even in the recipe section - instead it was explained in Keller's introduction to the book as an example of how he likes to cook.  This patted dry chicken, goes into a very hot oven and roasts quickly.  The skin immediately separates from the flesh allowing it to crisp up nicely and the meat to be lubricated by the gushing fat.  Keller adds thyme, I don't.  Keller likes to serve the just-out-of-the-oven bird with butter and Dijon mustard.  It's delicious that way - but gilding the lily a bit.  I try to resist.  I always roast in the chickeen in a cast iron skillet - it holds the heat very well.  I think this method is just about the only way to roast a chicken. 

I've loved pomegranate seeds for years.  I used to eat them for desseert when I lived in Italy.  At  ristoranti and trattorie they would be served in a glass coppa  with orange juice or red wine.   I was pleased when fresh pomegranates started to have a following in the USA and they could be found during the months of November and December in certain upscale markets. By now they are ubiquitous and their season has been prolonged.  To this day I can still find fresh pomegranates at my local Shoprite supermarket.  God only knows where they come from - they're not local, that's for sure.  But every now and then exceptions must be made.    I love fresh pomegranate seeds with my morning oatmeal.  Also added to the oatmeal; top quality butter, a splash of maple syrup and ground cinnamon.  What a way to start the day.

Remember those poached pears from my last posting.  Remember how I said be sure to make extras because they can hang around the fridge for at least a week.  Oh boy - was I ever grateful to have a couple of pears still sitting in their poaching liquid last Friday when my sweet tooth was aching to be satisfied.   Poire Belle Helene may be counted among my top three favorite desserts (other will be revealed in a timely way).   This simple dessert was created by the 19th century chef, Auguste Escoffier and is named after Jacques Offenbach's opera buffa - Belle Helene.  ( there are so many desserts that have musical themes - either named for a personality, Peches Melba, Pavlova, Tournedos Rossini - or like this one, a work).   Escoffier poached  pears in a simple sugar syrup and served them with vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce.   Mine are slightly more complex (partly because I like to poach the pears in wine, red or white, and spices) - but still very simple.
My  chocolate syrup - which may make some of you shudder in horror- simply involves melting, in a double boiler, top quality chocolate - milk, bittersweet, as you like (I used Callebaut milk) with some milk or heavy cream.  I used almond milk and a splash of Amaretto liqueur. Stir  1/4 pound broken pieces chocolate in the top of a double boiler until melted.  Add the milk and stir until thoroughly combined.  Add a splash of liqueur as desired.    Remove from heat and let cool - it will set up and thicken.   Split a poached pear, stem to stern, add a scoop of ice cream of your choice in between the halves (I used Jane's toasted coconut) and top with chocolate sauce.

Bloody Marys, Chocolate desserts, and Esopus Falls

On Sunday I attended, with my friends, Mark & James,  Chocolate Lovers Brunch in Saugerties, NY.  The event benefited a good  and (unfortunately) in demand organization FAMILY  which provides, as its name implies all sorts of family services.    Guests were invited to bid on a variety of items in both a silent and live auction.  We were treated to a variety of brunch offerings from chocolate chip waffles, to eggs benedict and all important chocolate desserts; pots de creme, brulee, mousse, Sacher torte, and on and on.  The geneorus brunch was offered by Diamond Mills in Saugerties


No comments:

Post a Comment