Monthly Archives: May 2012

I Chat With: Chef Alex Stupak

“So if it takes me ten or fifteen or twenty years or I never get to it, at least I’m trying to do it. I’m trying to reach for something that’s very far away.”

There are many things that make me curious:

People – in general.

Food – in general.

People – hard-working and humble ones, particularly.

Food – that is nourishing, creative, and well-thought out, specifically.

In doing my research about Chef Alex Stupak I read some rather bracing things: some writers and NYC eaters seemed to take his leaving wd-5o – where he was a highly acclaimed pastry chef – far too personally and rather irately. In my opinion Stupak dealt with the drama with much patience and class, putting his head down and working his ass off to build a restaurant in a cuisine (Mexican) that he was still studying. Yes, his opinions may read as ego-driven. But I saw very little ego in this chef.

We live in a world in which accomplishment in one’s field often comes with a level of social responsibility – to comment, to tweet, to sit down with inquisitive people such as myself and answer questions that could easily remain in the kitchen. Our world is smaller than it used to be. It’s harder to hide behind an apron.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, only that I feel fortunate to get to sit with some of the most admirable chefs in the city, to satiate my curiosity on what makes them excited about the food I get to eat.

Go to Serious Eats NY for my interview with Chef Alex Stupak.

Next week: Chef Harold Dieterle

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Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pizza on Rudi’s Gluten-Free Crust

Hi Bloggereaders!

There are times in one’s blogging life where it seems you just go from the kitchen to the computer, with a stop at a table with a camera and a fork in between. There have been some periods where I’ve blogged almost five times weekly. And I know at some point I’ll get back to that with gusto.

But, for now, my writing has mostly been devoted to Easy Eats magazine, Serious Eats NY and freelance work with my partner, the incredibly talented photographer Brent Herrig. I’ve also just finished a 10-episode gluten-free video series for EHow: Food and will be starting my new private chef job on Friday. Life is delicious, but I miss this good ol Dusty Baker dot com thang!

After this week I’ll have three new summer series for you though, premiering my new videos, a savory new summer salad I’ll be serving out in the Hamptons, and gluten and dairy-free marinades perfect for grilling all summer long.

Until then, head over to Easy Eats magazine this incredibly bright, crisp pizza recipe.

That I wish I were eating right now.

Gluten-Free Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pizza

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookies for Milk Bar Mondays!

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies by Avery Cooks (photo hers)

Um, you know when you’re so overworked, overjoyed, underslept and overscheduled that a facebook post, phone call, text or tweet makes you slap your head in “how the hell did I forget about that?!?!?!”

That just happened to me. I was tweeting something along and saw the #milkbarmondays handle.

Crap. That was this Monday. I had somehow deluded myself into thinking that my Chevre Frozen Yogurt post was only last week. Which is a laughable idea.

But, if you scroll down, you’ll see that the only posts I’ve done since then have been about my interviews for Serious Eats NY, of which I sometimes take 3 or 4 a week and which take about 7-10 hours each to complete.

If you look at Easy Eats magazine’s blog… yup, those are all my loading and much of my writing.

I went to the awesome TechMunch bloggers conference on Friday and elbowed my way through NYC’s first Great GoogaMooga food/drinks/music festival this weekend and got some great pieces that I’m now working to edit and build frantically before starting a new full-time private chef position on Friday.

I really need a cookie!

So, once again, I’m linky-linking up. My Milk Bar Monday gals have done an incredibly job with this recipe. Check them all out at their links below, and head to Avery Cooks for the full recipe, her awesome notes on the process and problems, and pictures that will make you scream like Cookie Monster.

Happy Milk Bar Mondays, folks. I’ll be more organized and coming back soon with three summer series – gluten-free luncheon salads, gluten and dairy-free meat marinades and my 10 new gluten-free baking videos for EHow:Food!

– Jacqueline

Audra from The Baker Chick

Cassie from Bake Your Day

Erin from Big Fat Baker

Krissy from Krissy’s Creations

Meagan from Scarletta Bakes

Nicole from Sweet Peony

Follow the Milk Bar Monday ladies on Twitter

I Chat With: Dave Arnold of Booker and Dax

Dave Arnold, perfectly chilling a coupe with liquid nitrogen, photo Brent Herrig

When I was a sophomore in high school, I foolishly decided to skip biology and go straight into chemistry: why they let me do so is a mystery. All I knew was that, if I worked my ass off and passed, I wouldn’t have to take any more science classes in high school. I’m good with words, not numbers. And so for that long year I scraped my way by and ended up with a C+, an uncommon grade in my book. But I passed.

Fast forward about 14 years and I’m watching Dave Arnold spin molasses in a centrifuge and hold up some sorta refractometer thing to his eye to check the separation level of blah blah blah. I am so curious about the science behind food, but it’s gotta be slowed way down for me to be able to understand it at such a level. Yes Dave insists what he’s doing is not science, “really, it’s just cooking”.

Right, Dave.

What follows the spinning centrifuge is the most fun interview I’ve done to date. And when I sip on one of Booker and Dax’s most simple cocktails – a classic Manhattan served in a perfectly-chilled bottle alongside the coupe – I don’t care about all that science stuff, anyway. Which is partially what Dave intended.

Head to Serious Eats NY for the interview. And then get to Booker and Dax for something scrumptious.

I Chat With: Chef Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti and Mehtaphor

Chef Jehangir Mehta at Mehtaphor, Photo Brent Herrig

Over some red wine and chicken satay, I chatted with Chef Jehangir Mehta about his passions, the state of Indian food and chefs in NYC, and the difference between an allergy and a fad. For a chef with so much on his plate – he’s been on the Food Network for several Iron Chef incarnations, has two restaurants, two kids, a book, a catering company and a smathering of classes – Chef Mehta is extremely focused and enthusiastic during our time together.

As Brent and I leave the restaurant, we turn a corner to be met with Chef coming out a side door – he had offered to let us sample an appetizer we had been talking about, and we had left without trying it. I went back inside to a raw oyster sprinkled with Pop Rocks and grapefruit granita. As this crazy explosion of flavors, sound and sensation took over every crevice of my mouth, I couldn’t help by smile and laugh, while Chef Mehta described how he wanted to bring back that childlike excitement of a day on the beach and the thrill of thunderous, crashing waves.

Well done, Chef, well done.

This meeting was one for my column We Chat With… on Serious Eats NY. The series has sat me down at a table across from some of NYC’s most celebrated chefs and creators.

For the full interview, head over to Serious Eats NY.

Thanks.

Chèvre Frozen Yogurt with Pistachio Crunch and Beet-Lime Ganache – Milk Bar Mondays!

Chèvre Frozen Yogurt on Beet-Lime Ganache with Pistachio Crunch

gluten free, cow-dairy-free

My roommate pulled me into the show “Fashion Police”, where Joan Rivers and her panel praise or destroy the fashion choices of the Hollywood elite for the week. Very unlike me to watch. I adore it. In the last bit of the show the panel tries to convince Joan which is the worst look of the week, and they have 10 seconds to speak directly to the offending starlette, pointing out what went wrong.

Inevitably, and to my absolute frustration, at least one of the three melodramatically says “oh my god, what were you thinking?” Unless you’ve seen the show and share my pain, there’s no way to fully convey how infuriating that phrase is.

It was running through my head all day while I composed this recipe.

“Oh my god, Jacqueline, what were you thinking?”

It’s my turn to host Milk Bar Mondays, where a lovely group of lady-bloggers is baking our way through Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cookbook every other week. The gluten-free and dairy-optional Compost Cookies, Carrot Cake Truffles and Apple Pie Layer Cake have been particular standouts, but all have been worth the time and effort.

Since I have unavoidable food allergies, I’m given a little leeway to adapt as I need, but in general we all stick directly to Tosi’s method on point. When glancing through to see which recipe I’d want to host, a chèvre frozen yogurt sounded perfect. I love making ice-cream, and while I can’t have cow’s milk, I’ve always been cool with other forms of dairy.

Damn me for not looking closing enough.

What was I thinking?

The end result was, of course, incredible. It was one of the prettiest desserts I’d ever plated, and once again I learned new techniques that I will apply to so many other recipes. But there was a lot of risk in adapting this recipe.

The full recipe for all steps is below, with my variations in italics and thoughts on the adaptation process there as well. This dessert is delicious: creamy, an intense contrasts of smooth / crunchy and light / rich. And, wow, what a plate.

Meet the Ladies!

Erin of Big Fat Baker

Meagan of Scarletta Bakes

Audra of The Baker Chick

Nicole of Sweet Peony

Follow the group on Twitter!

Chèvre Frozen Yogurt

Makes about a pint, enough for four desserts

I was psyched to try making an all-goat frozen yogurt. The first time I didn’t bloom the gelatin enough, and so had hard bits of it once it was spun a bit. I tossed it completely. The second time it also didn’t thicken in my ice-cream maker, but froze well in the freezer. I’m curious to see how the other ladies’ came out – mine was delicious but the consistency could have been whipped more.

Tosi stresses the importance of using citric acid specifically, and while I had been using corn syrup in previous recipes I gave in and bought glucose (since they’re nutritionally the same anyway, I discovered), and found the consistency definitely helps in this recipe. You can substitute the gelatin sheets with 1 tsp powdered gelatin and 2 Tbsp corn syrup instead of the glucose if necessary.

2 gelatin sheets

1/4 cup milk / goat milk

1/4 cup fresh chèvre
1/4 cup buttermilk / goat milk
2 Tbsp yogurt / goat yogurt
1/4 cup glucose
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp citric acid

Bloom the gelatin by placing it in a bowl of cold water for 2-8 minutes. It should be completely soft with no hard edges, but not falling apart.

Warm a little of the milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve.  Transfer to a blender and add the remaining milk, the chèvre, buttermilk/milk, yogurt, glucose, sugar, salt, and citric acid. Puree until smooth.

Pour the base through a fine-mesh strainer into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturers instructions. The frozen yogurt is best spun just before serving or using, but it will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two weeks.

Pistachio Crunch

The pistachio crunch requires feuilletine, which is essentially toasted crepes in tiny pieces. Some say these can be adequately be replaced with corn flakes or crispy rice cereal, but Tosi says it’s not the same. To make the crunch gluten-free, she suggests replacing the feiulletine with 1/2 cup additional pistachios. I made my own gluten-free crepes, over-toasted them and then processed them into bits. It was delicious, but went stale extremely quickly. Just so ya know.

It was really hard for us to find pistachio paste in our areas. We tackled this in different ways, I by using almond paste instead. Again, it was delish, but would have benefited more from pistachio paste. Still delicious.

1/2 cup raw, unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup pistachio paste
3/4 cup feuilletine
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

Heat the oven to 325°.

Put the pistachios on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Put the toasted pistachios in a clean kitchen towel and bash them into smaller pieces, at least 1/2 of their original size but not into nut crumbs.

Combine them with the remaining ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on medium-low speed for about one minute, until homogenous. The crunch can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Beet-Lime Ganache

I used dark chocolate instead of white, and coconut milk instead of heavy cream. While I could see how appropriate white chocolate would be, and how it would lighten up the flavors of the entire dish a bit, it was still delicious.

My blender couldn’t cut pureeing the beets, but my food processor made quick work of them.

2 medium beets, peeled and cut into chunks

1 lime
4 1/2 ounces (120g) white chocolate  / dark chocolate
2 Tbsp butter / Butter-flavored Earth Balance
1/4 cup glucose
1/4 cup heavy cream / coconut milk
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Heat the oven to 325°.

Wrap the beet chunks in foil and put on a sheet pan. Roast for 1-2 hours, or until the beets are on the mushy side of tender; give them additional 30-minutes intervals in the oven if they aren’t.

Meanwhile, grate the zest from the lime; reserve. Squeeze 2 tsp juice from the lime and reserve.

Transfer the beets to a blender and puree them (if your blender is giving you trouble, add up to 1 Tbsp milk to help get it going). Pass the puree through a fine-mesh strainer – it should have the texture of baby food. Measure out 1/3 cup puree. Let cool.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt them in the microwave and 15-second bursts, stirring between blasts. The result should be barely warm to the touch and totally homogenous.

Transfer the chocolate mixture to a container that can accommodate an immersion blender – something tall and narrow. Warm the glucose in the microwave for 15 seconds, then immediately add to the chocolate mixture and buzz with the hand blender. After a minute, stream in the heavy cream / coconut milk with the hand blender running. The result will come together into something silky, shiny and smooth.

Blend in the beet puree, lime zest and salt. Put the ganache in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Use a spatula to fold the lime juice into the ganache (do not do this until the ganache is set, or you will break the ganache). Put the ganache back in the fridge for at least 3 hours or, ideally, overnight. Stored in an airtight container it will keep in the fridge for 1 week. Serve cold.

Mexican Chocolate Madeleines with Spiced Coffee Glaze – gluten and dairy free

Cinco de Mayo. When Mexicans celebrated their victory over the French (sorta) and young white whippersnappers drink tequila and feel all proud of themselves for making homemade guacamole.

I’ll be reveling tonight with a lovely group of friends over some amazing food and killer cocktails. And to bring a festive offering, this is what I’ve put together. Fluffy, full of flavors and with just enough kick, they’re a tiny sweet treat appropriate for any occasion.

Mexican Chocolate Madeleines

Makes about 48

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca or arrowroot starch
  • 1/3 cup millet flour
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp coffee grounds (I used decaf espresso)
  • 2 tsp chili powder – adjusted to taste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp mesquite flour (optional)
  • 1 cup palm sugar
  • 2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond, rice or soy milk if needed

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray madeleine pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine cocoa and hot water. Whisk until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients, and whisk thoroughly to combine.

Beat eggs lightly and add to chocolate mixture along with vegetable oil and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Add to dry ingredients and stir thoroughly until smooth. If the batter is a tad thick, add milk by the tablespoon until it’s still a bit thick but loose (it should fall lightly off of a spoon but not be liquidy).

Pour into pan and bake for 12 minutes until just firm. Cool in pan for two minutes before removing to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

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Spiced Coffee Glaze

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened rice, soy or almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee
  • 1/4 cup ground spiced Mexican chocolate
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp chili powder (more or less to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk thoroughly while it comes up to a boil, and let boil for about 3 minutes, until it slightly thickens. Cool a tad before lightly dipping tops of madeleines. Put in the fridge to set the glaze before transporting anywhere, and consider topping with crushed nuts, cocoa nibs or cracked hot pepper.

Extra glaze can be poured into a squeeze bottle and used to drizzle if plating.

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