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‘pieces parts’ Category

  1. Home Is Where The Hooker Is: White Bean and Confit Gizzard Cassoulet

    March 27, 2012 by David Bridges

    One of the most significant things we do in life is travel. Absorbing the smells, sights, sounds, noises and tastes of a foreign land during a sojourn can only be rivaled by sex. It all translates into a hand that completely guides the subconscious into slicing the onion that is our palate, revealing more layers than we thought we possessed. Show me a man that does not leave his immediate vicinity and I’ll bet his cooking is garnished with chopped curly parsley, he drinks Beaujolais nouveau in June and has quite the collection of tube socks.  A joke has a head and a butt, which are you?

    For every positive, there is obviously a negative, for every action, an equal and opposite reaction. The Yin and Yang if you will. That’s what life is about, balance. I have been fortunate to travel extensively in my post adolescence. That ability to travel was exactly how professional cooking got me drunk, lured me into her arms and took advantage of me—and still does. I must admit when it comes to traveling, I am a complete whore. I’m talking the nasty, addicted and living under a bridge type, not the cute Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s Pretty Woman kind. This addiction has transformed me into a better man and cook by ten fold!

    But there is a dark side to it all. What connection do I have to any particular physical place? I am very connected to my wife and Rooter and Tooter. I love and feel connected to cuisine and all that it represents as well the ideals held forth by The Southern Foodways Alliance. If I am indeed anything it is Creole. My food, demeanor, hospitality and liver all denote Creole. Just like Creole, my personality is a gumbo of many different values all put together out of a necessity to survive in the most practical and yet pleasurable way possible.  It’s that whole Yin and Yang thing again.

    Would I feel a sense of place or home in Barcelona, Provence or Bali? Probably. But New Orleans is a well-traveled Madame herself. I, like her, have become the sum of all my experiences. When you sit at either of our tables, your palate and your heart will savor all of our exploits. Traveling has built a piano for us to play that just happens to have a few more keys. You don’t really want to be considered a man that cooks with flat musical tendencies. After all, isn’t it our goal to “play” the piano like Richard and Julia?

    Cassoulet of White Beans and Confit Gizzards

    This recipe is simple, prepare the gizzards from this link: http://www.therootertothetooter.com/?p=161

    Then Prepare the beans from this link: http://www.therootertothetooter.com/?p=298

    Place the cooked beans in a proper cassoulet vessel and top with the gizzards. Sprinkle with some bread crumbs, I use brioche, of course. Bake until brown from the warmth of your friends and your oven at 375 degrees.

     

    “Only after 20 years of devoted professional gluttony can I possibly have an actual opinion”  ME

     


  2. Me, Myself, I and Marco Pierre White: Roasted Bone Marrow and Escargot Bordelaise

    March 15, 2012 by David Bridges

    Cooking goes far beyond melding relationships with friends, family and Earth. I often use it to reinforce a relationship with myself. The level of mental peace that I attain from the simplest things such as cutting a piece of Tuna with a sharp knife or making biscuits can not be matched by laying on any Psychoanalyst’s coach. Maybe if said analyst had a better collection of vintage Madeira and cave aged unpasteurized cheese, then this ramble would be headed in a complete other direction. But such is life. You can never expect the ones around you to hold forth such high standards of living as you do yourself. In that reason alone you can take comfort and even find another bit of peace in knowing that you are indeed BETTER.
    My idea of thinking you are better than the individual standing next to you may come with some of your own personal resistance. As kind and upstanding individuals, we are brought up with the theory that we are all equal. That is it wrong to assume you are above anyone or anything else. If in fact you do wander from the confines of these sociably acceptable parimeters you will be sentenced with a heavy penalty of guilt and ridiculed by the shaking fingers of society. Well maybe instead of judging us, they should take those nasty unmanicured fingers and use them to trim some of those nose hairs they all have.
    Ask yourself a few questions. Do you not deserve better than the person next to you? Do you not know more about the joys of the table and the pleasures it presents than the person next to you? Would you really wear those shoes with that coat just like the guy standing next to you? Point Proven
    All that being said, I know for a fact that I am no better than a post 40 year old Marco Pierre White. But maybe one day………..
    Strife bangs at my door often and my wife, a midnight stroll with Rooter and Tooter and slathering a savory beignet with bone marrow and snails is how I rise above society to realize I really do have it good.
    Snails, Green Peppercorn Bordelaise, Roasted Bone Marrow, and Rosemary Beignet
    Disclaimer: If you stare at the picture, I’ve imbedded a subliminal message into it that states “You Are Better Than Everyone around You except DAVE”
    Escargot with Green Peppercorn Bordelaise, Bone Marrow and Rosemary Beignet

    Serves 4 people sitting down to enjoy a few bottles of Burgundy on a Tuesday

    For the Beignets:

    ¾ cup water

    1 Tablespoon yeast

    1 egg

    1 5oz can evaporated milk

    3 ½ cups flour

    1 Tablespoon shortening

    1 Tablespoon sugar

    pinch of salt

    1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped

    For the Bordelaise Sauce:

    2 Tablespoons of olive oil

    2 shallots minced

    3 cloves of garlic minced

    1 cup of mushrooms minced

    1 cup burgundy wine

    2 Tablespoons of green peppercorns

    1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped

    1 bay leaf

    1 cup veal demi glace

    Butter

    2 dozen snails

    4 marrow bones

    To make those wonderful pillows of fried dough, mix the luke warm water with the yeast and let the yeast wake up for 5 minutes in the warm throws of the waters hugs. In a separate bowl introduce the egg and evaporated milk to each other with a firm whisking. In yet a third bowl, mix together the rest of the dry ingredients. Add the milk to the yeast by mixing. Then add the whole liquid mixture into a nice well formed in the flour. Stir the liquid around the well collapsing the walls of flour until a dough starts to form. Add a touch more flour if needed to keep the dough cohesive onto itself and not the sides of everything it touches. Knead the dough with the palms of your hands never opening your fist. The dough at this point is a young and impetuous thief and will snatch any ring right off your finger the moment you let it seduce you into opening your hand. Show your steadfast rules of discipline until you poke it and the dough springs immediately back at you. Cover the dough letting it rest, mature and double in size while you turn your attention to the sauce pot.

    For the sauce, place the olive oil into a small pot over a medium flame. Sweat the shallots for a few minutes while seasoning them with a pinch of salt the way any decent cook would. Add the garlic to the pot and cook for another minute. Place the mushrooms in the pot and cook while stirring every few moments for as long as it takes you to open the bottle of burgundy and taste a little. Be confident in your choice and confirm it with another taste. After satisfying your thirst for better things, add the wine to the pot along with the green peppercorns, rosemary and bay leaf. Let the sauce reduce moderately by 2/3rds. Stir the veal demi-glace into the pot and season with salt to taste. I have omitted the Tablespoon of Balsamic syrup from the above ingredient list. But I do indeed add it for many reasons. Just curious to see who is paying attention?

    To validate your friend’s adoration of your skills as a cook, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and turn the fryer on to 350 degrees at the same time. Season the marrow with some salt and pepper. Place the bones into a baking dish and roast for 10-12 minutes. The marrow should be brown and starting to slightly bubble. While the marrow is roasting, roll some of the beignet dough out to a ¼ inch thickness and cut into whatever shape fits your mood. If you have had enough Burgundy, that mood should yield whimsical and slightly abstract shapes. Fry the dough until golden and puffy delicious and set aside to stay warm with a sprinkling of salt. Place a pan over high heat and add a nice pat of butter. Swirl the bubbling butter around and add the snails. Saute for a minute and add the bordelaise sauce. Bring your pan to a simmer while you take the Bones out of the oven. Place the bones onto 4 plates and smother with the sauce. Creatively toss around some beignets with their wonderful aroma of rosemary. Present to your loved ones and toast the survival of yet another Tuesday. I pray that we all have enough couth to one day own marrow spoons.


  3. Sense and Sensibility: Crostini of Peaches and Home Made Ricotta

    July 22, 2011 by David Bridges

    After satiating my lust for the rich joys of Chinese black chicken, I decided to actually be sensible for once in my life. Being sensible falls solely on one’s point of view. There in lies the beauty of being sensible. It is only regulated by your own system of justification. It is completely sensible for ScottyRockYourBody to live in the Abacos and be forced to wrangle food from the ocean because he is broke and it is illegal for him to work there. Why does he insist on living a “sensible” lifestyle where he must tie a twine around his hand and pray a fish engulfs the lure he has set forth? Love, that’s why. To drop all for love could possibly be the most sensible thing that I have ever been witness to.
    Well, I love not being broke. So my next recipe took into account what was fresh and inexpensive. It serves as a great Hors D’oeuvres for some friends or a bedtime snack to share with who you are in love with. Unfortunately, you will need the slightest bit of income for this dish. Since it can’t be wrangled from the sea. How unromantic!

    Crostini with peaches, salumi, home-made ricotta and balsamic syrup
    Serves 2 in bed or 10 as an hors d’oeuvres for celebrating a military promotion

    For the Ricotta:
    ½ gal whole milk
    2 lemons juiced
    1T white vinegar
    kosher salt
    1T fresh chopped rosemary
    1T extra virgin olive oil
    For the balsamic syrup:
    12oz bottle of balsamic vinegar
    2T dark brown sugar

    1 loaf crusty sliced bread
    Olive oil
    A few local peaches
    High quality salumi such as Armandino Batali in Seattle
    Baby arugula

    To make the ricotta, place the milk in a pot and adjust your flame to medium heat. Raise the temperature of the milk to 170 degrees. Pour in the lemon juice and vinegar with a pinch of salt and stir for a brief second to just let it know that you haven’t abandoned its needs. Let the milk sit for a few minutes as the curds and the whey separate. Gently ladle all the curds into a cheese cloth lined colander and place that over a bowl to drip. Put it in your refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight to continue to drain a bit more. Remove the ricotta from the cheese cloth hammock and stir in the rosemary and olive oil. Taste the cheese and add some more salt as needed.
    For the balsamic syrup, place the 2 ingredients into a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the vinegar by half. The bubbles will turn large and thick. Set into a jar until needed.
    To assemble the Crostini, pour a generous amount of olive oil into a skillet and heat it on medium high until it starts to smoke. Place a few of the slices of bread into the skillet and brown on both sides. Keep repeating until all the bread is gone. Maybe drink a little wine to keep your constitution happy while you preform the mundane act of repetition. Pile all the crostini onto a plate and set aside. Peel, core and slice the peaches. Set them aside and lick your fingers confirming your sexuality. Slice your salumi as paper thin as possible and dress your arugula with some olive oil and salt. There is nothing sadder than a dry green that longs for a kiss of olive oil. Lather the ricotta onto the crostini, lay a peach slice or two, a salumi slice or two, some loved on arugula and a drizzle of the balsamic syrup. Repeat as much as you like or at least until you get bored b


  4. Look Ma, All Hands: Nam Prik Ong

    June 20, 2011 by David Bridges

    You can read all the issues of Saveur that you like. But a third hand experience is like eating with a knife and fork or making love through an interpreter. All five senses must be engaged to capture the essence of any escapade, or at least your original outlook of that escapade. I have no troubles or prejudices in eschewing the utensils in any restaurant. My fingers reach down and retrieve the food sensually or even barbarically. In the frenzy of the moment the two are often confused.
    On a few occasions I have mentioned how significant travel is to the development of your taste. I will save the details of that essay for the pages of a book. This bit of summertime inspiration came from a trip to a Las Vegas strip mall. The Lotus of Siam is considered to be the best Thai restaurant in all of the United States. After a glass of proper Alsatian, all five of my senses leaped to attention and my salivary glands started to gush upon reading the inscribed Northern Thai appetizer, “Nam Prik Ong (Red Chile Pork Dip)”. This dish has all the pleasure of one of the lesser sins. Its spicy, sweet, tart, it has pork times 2 and you unapologetically use your hands. Of course my version gets a shot of southern refinement with shrimp and okra. As beautiful as the Las Vegas “Strip” may be, I never wander too far from home.

    Nam Prik Ong: Red Chile Pork, Shrimp and Okra Dip
    Serves 8 as a snack that preludes a few hours of wagering

    3 shallots peeled
    1/3c garlic cloves
    10 Thai bird chilies
    2c grape or cherry tomatoes
    8oz fresh shrimp diced small
    8oz ground pork
    2c fresh okra cut into 2inch rounds
    1/4c fish sauce
    3T tamarind paste
    1/3c water
    1/2T sugar
    1 lime
    cilantro
    local vegetables such as cucumber, endive, cauliflower, carrots all cut to be able to scoop some dip.
    crispy pork skins

    Start off by placing a skillet over medium high heat. Dry roast and brown the shallots and garlic in the vessel. Remove to your motor and pestle. Do the same with the chilies, and then the tomatoes. Make a paste with the firmness of your pestle and forearm. Add the shrimp and pork into your roasting skillet that is set on medium high flame and cook for a few minutes. Then accommodate your sense of smell by adding your aromatic chili paste, okra, fish sauce, tamarind, water, sugar and the zest of your lime. Let the mixture cook until it becomes a thick sauce and when your wooden spoon parts the sea of flavor the walls stand and hold true. Add a pinch or 2 of salt if needed and stir in the juice of the lime. Present the warm dip to your friends by draping some cilantro over its crown. Slice some vegetables and pile on the pork cracklins to tip the scale back in the favor of justice.


  5. Kelly LeBrock and Ice Cream Sandwiches

    June 14, 2011 by David Bridges

    Because of the current over bearing heat, we hold a responsibility to bestow a reprieve by way of oral fixation. I recently went to the local farmers market and I couldn’t help but think that somebody there needs to be selling me an Ice Cream Sandwich. Of course as with all things, I will obsess over it until I get it. My mother is a huge blame for this. I didn’t pop into the world demanding that someone must coddle and spoil me for every second of every breath. I was just too darn cute for my life to turn out any other way.  “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” ,,,,,,,, and modest.

    I am a huge aficionado of salty-sweet desserts. It’s a fine play that isolates the best aspects of life. No life can be balanced without disappointment, for that I do appreciate bitter. But only in small amounts that I can pawn off on other people in the way any good friend would. This recipe for an ice cream sandwich has all the best life has to offer with none of the consequence that accompanies being bitter. Save that for the sullen souls who are resentful of your carefree upbringing.

    Lard Cookie and Salted Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches
    Serves 7 people and your dog

    For the ice cream
    1 14ounce can of sweetened condensed milk or the same amount of already prepared dulce de leche
    2c half and half
    1 1/2t Kosher salt
    1/4c dark brown sugar
    For the cookies
    1c rendered pork lard
    1/2c white sugar
    1/2c dark brown sugar
    pinch of salt
    1/2t vanilla extract
    1T fresh thyme leaves
    1 egg
    2c cake flour

    If you possess a “do it yourself” type of personality, then take the can of condensed milk and boil it covered in a pot for 2 hours. Just to have a properly stocked pantry you should probably do a few extra cans at the same time. Let your imagination run wild as to the reasons of “why”. Combine one can of the dulce de leche with the half and half, salt and sugar in a stainless steel saucepan. Place over some decent heat and stir until you are confident that the ingredients have become homogenous. Chill the ice cream base and churn in your machine as you feel is best. Does anyone actually read the instructions? Place the churned iced cream into a container and place in the freezer. Go ahead and lick the churned paddle. You shan’t let a drop of anything this good go to waste.

    To make the cookies: Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the lard, sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla and thyme in a mixer.  Mix for a minute then add the egg and flour to the mix. Continue to let the machine stir for you until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into 16 balls onto a couple of greased baking sheets. Slightly flatten the balls and bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Rotate the pans to ensure all the cookies get treated equally and bake another 12 minutes. Let cool.

    To assemble the ice cream sandwiches: Come on, really???

     


  6. Within Your Reach: Posole Soup

    June 4, 2011 by David Bridges

    Look beyond what I hold in front of you. If you begin to read between the lines, the true soul of TheRooterToTheTooter will be presented to you. Whether or not you can find a Turkey Tail will have no impact on your honest or even dishonest goals for the evening. These ramblings have little to actually do with recipes. It has everything to do with accessing life’s pleasures that seem to be out of reach for so many people. In my lifetime, cooking has been the easiest tool used to achieve or obtain anything I ever wanted. Both the tangible and the intangible pleasures are always within the grasp of anyone that uses the one common denominator that we all cannot live without—cuisine. I decided to put forth that exact ideal in this posting.
    Many of you caught on right away with brilliant displays of intelligence and open mindedness. Rosemary at CookingInSens tackled the Crawfish and Sweetbread terrine recipe by using her local French prawns and lamb sweetbreads. Sacrebleu!! Her guests insisted the recipe was from a Frenchman. While Lolita at WhatLolitaEats.com attained exceptional amounts of gratification in the fatty, crunchy, hot, salty, sweet and juicy chicken thighs that she substituted for the Turkey Tail recipe. Through cooking, these women’s goals and intentions were honest and pure. I do find that with some men, that may not be the case. If any man truly held your personal happiness above his own, He wouldn’t have cooked for you. He would have just sent some champagne, truffles and a Bradley Cooper movie over to your house.

    Posole Soup with Green Tomato and Brussels Sprout Salsa
    Serves 10 people not afraid of your artistic interpretations of recipes

    1# smoked pig tails
    2 pig feet
    3# pork butt cut into 2 inch cubes
    ½ large yellow onion diced small
    1/4c garlic very roughly chopped
    2 passila chiles stemmed seeded and torn
    1 ancho chile stemmed seeded and torn
    1T Kosher salt
    1T dried oregano
    1T dried chile powder
    2 limes
    2 15oz cans of posole/hominy rinsed and drained
    ½# pork skin
    1c radishes diced small
    1c Brussels sprouts sliced thinly
    ½ jalapeno seeded and minced
    2T chopped fresh oregeno
    1 green tomato diced small

    An exercise in simplicity of preparation is needed in order to preserve the classic style of this dish. Take all of the pig parts you intend to use, the ones listed were the ones I had around the house, place them into a large pot with the onion, garlic, chiles, salt, dried oregano, chile powder and the zest of the 2 limes. Fill the pot with water until it reaches 4 inches above the meat and place over high heat on your stove. As the broth begins to bubble, take a trusty spoon and remove any of the foam and fat that rise to the surface. Cover the pot and let it slowly simmer for 1 hours and 45 minutes. Add the posole/hominy to the pot to cook for another 30 minutes. Season with additional salt to taste if you sense that it needs it. Remove the feet and pick out the bones. Coarsely chop the meat of the feet and add back to the pot. You can either choose to do the same with the tails or not.
    While the broth is seducing the pork, bake the pork skins in the same manner as described in the “chilaquiles” recipe on a previous post. Its on this website, just look for it. Set them aside for later to be used as a garnish.
    To make the salsa: Toss the radish, Brussels sprouts, jalapeno, fresh oregano, green tomato, the juice of the 2 limes and a pinch of salt together. Let the “salsa” wait for the cue at room temperature.
    Ladle the P0sole soup into bowls for your guests and garnish with a heaping spoon of salsa and some strips of crispy pork skin. Then bathe in the success of your honest or dishonest intentions for the evening.

     

    I would like to introduce our new mascots straight from the local Humane Society. They have been a tremendous help these past few days. Rooter and Tooter. They are both mutt brothers that are half pathetic and half ridiculous!


  7. Give and Take: Pain Perdu Farci

    May 30, 2011 by David Bridges

     

    The most important meal of the day is breakfast. It is utterly impossible to become a productive man making sound intelligent decisions without starting off the day with sugar, caffeine and liquor. The thrust of these three social lubricants will not only make the sky open up from the sense of your well being, but you will find the annoyances of mankind more tolerable. Be mindful in not taking in so much lubricant to where you start to exchange “tolerable” with “excusable”. Bourbon may first give a sharpening of your tongue. But without any moderation it will then take away any compassion you have for the souls less fortunate than yourself—-and there are many. I am steadfast assure of this fact because you are reading my ramblings instead of watching Guy Fieri stick his gaudy jewelry all over some food he is preparing to seduce some poor soul’s wallet. Anyone looking to buy a Lamborghini?

    Tomorrow is the Bacon Jam Give away!!! Sign up or have a friend sign up to the email subscription list before its too late.

    Pain Perdu Farci: Bacon Jam Stuffed French Toast with Chicory Coffee Syrup
    Serves 4 people ready to persuade the world

    For the Bacon (Who’s your Umami) Jam
    3lbs bacon cut into random pieces
    ½ large yellow onion rough chopped
    6 cloves garlic
    1 1/2c white wine preferably a gewürztraminer
    1/4c soy sauce
    1/2c Louisiana cane syrup
    3 bay leaves
    2T shiitake powder (can be made with a coffee grinder and a few dried mushrooms from your local Asian market)
    2c water
    3/4c dark brown sugar
    For the Syrup
    1 1/2c Louisiana cane syrup
    1c chicory coffee
    To Assemble
    3 eggs
    1/4c milk
    1 shot or so, or so, of fine bourbon
    8 slices of French bread
    1 stick of unsalted butter
    Spiced pecans (recipe can be found in the chicken gizzard confit posting)

    Start by making the bacon jam. This will make 6 nice pint jars of jam to give to a loved one or to bribe a publisher to print your cookbook. Either way it is a score. Place a large pot onto the stove and put in all of the listed ingredients. Cover the pot and bring it to a confident simmer. Cook the jam for 20 minutes in the covered pot. Remove the lid, slightly turn up the heat and cook an additional 25 minutes or until the mixture has been reduced by half. When the jam starts to love on the bottom of the pot a bit too much, scrape it with a wooden spoon and be assured that you are done. Take off the heat and let cool a bit. Remove the bay leaves and process the jam in an electric food processor. Evenly divide the jam into your sealable jars and set in the cooler until needed.
    To make the syrup, bring the sole 2 ingredients to a simmer and reduce by half in a small pot for 10-12 minutes. Let cool and it will thicken on its own account.
    To finish the dish, whisk the eggs with the milk and bourbon. Generously spread some jam onto one piece of bread. Place another piece of bread on top entrapping the jam. I shouldn’t have to say it, but I will, repeat for the rest of the bread slices. Place the stuffed pain perdue into the egg mixture allowing it to soak in the pleasure of a freshly laid egg, not dissimilar to the way your loved one acts in a shower of your complements. Put a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat and place a common sense worth’s pat of butter into the skillet. Cook the Pain Perdu until it is wonderfully brown on both sides and warmed all the way through. If you tend to cut the bread very thick you might want to continue the heating in the oven. Place the Pain Perdu onto a plate and shower it with complements of syrup and spiced pecans. Don’t make the mistake of dusting with powdered sugar. That’s just uncalled for and too messy for the mid-morning.


  8. Equal To None: Pimento Cheese with Candied Jalapeno and Chicharron “Scoops”

    May 15, 2011 by David Bridges

    The most important man in any professional kitchen is the dishwasher. The dishwasher doesn’t wear a big hat or a monogramed coat. But his stature is equal only to the highest chef in the brigade. He dons the cloth of the peasant. A baseball cap with a white polyester shirt bound by metal snaps enrobes what is sure to be the most revered individual in the kitchen. Day after day preforming a sweaty unwanted job for the smallest of pittance commands 100% of respect’s attention.
    Sergio was my dishwasher. He was walking down the sidewalk when he saw me trying to paint the outside of my restaurant in preparation of a not so grand budgeted opening. He picked up a roller and started working. From that day on we would never be apart. He never took a break to partake in the daily lunch, “I eat later”. He was never late or did he ever miss a day of work. He never asked for a raise, so one year I bought him a van. To instill respect and equality to the cooks, I abolished the use of chef coats in the kitchen and we all wore dishwasher uniforms. Our joint tireless work ethic and preservation towards excellence afforded us a fair amount of success. There we were, a couple of downtown kids dressed up like social elitists, noses in the air ordering all the best Restaurant August in New Orleans could cast upon our table. Nothing was too extravagant or too expensive for the guys that felt equal to everyone. Although our hearts humbly whispered, that we had no equals.
    The next night we catered the GRANDEST wedding the French Quarter has ever had the pleasure of hosting. 250 miles from home, Sergio and I with OUR brigade walked into Latrobes and you would have thought we were mafia by the way we just assumed ownership of the city as our natural rite. No cost was spared, from the indoor snowball stand, the sushi station, the dessert buffet, po-boy profiteroles to the jazz marching band. We busted our ass and etched a memory that will last in 300 people’s hearts for the rest of their lives. Just like every night, as we wound down the evening and mingled with the guests that insisted on professing their love for us. I asked Sergio if he wanted a cerveza. He turned to me, “Si” with an apron that seemed to have blood splattered on the front. I asked him what had happened and he said “Nothing, cutting meat”. High from the constant adoration from 300 guests I didn’t question him. I knew he never butchered anything that day. The next day Sergio didn’t wake up. He passed from my life in the same way that he entered it.  Working hard to make our lives equal to none.

    This dish consists of 2 peasant foods in a silver cup. What else is there to say?

    Pimento Cheese with Candied Jalapenos and Chicharron “Scoops”
    Serves 2 indentured souls

    1# or so of pork skin
    1# sharp cheddar cheese in the block form
    1c red bell pepper stemmed seeded and diced small
    3 ounces of cream cheese
    1/2c mayonnaise
    2T lemon juice
    10 dashes of Tabasco
    1T olive oil
    1/2c candied jalapenos diced*

    Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay a piece of foil over a sheet pan. Take the skin of the pork and using your best knife cut the skin into 3 by 3 inch squares. Arrange the squares onto the sheet pan with the skin side down. Lightly salt the skins the way any sensible person with a decent amount of pride would do and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan after 15 minutes just in case your oven suffers from a small case of schizophrenia.  Make sure all of your “scoops” are golden brown and set them aside.
    One would have to really dislike their parents in making the conscious decision to spit on their legacy by constructing pimento cheese with pre-grated cheddar.  Make your family proud and grate the cheddar then set aside. Place a small pan over low heat and drizzle in the olive oil. Scatter the pepper into the pan, season with a touch of salt and cook until soft. Set aside to cool. Take a medium sized bowl and mix together the cream cheese and mayonnaise until it is smooth. Add the respect of your family’s name disguised as freshly grated cheddar along with the lemon juice, Tabasco, candied jalapeno and softened red pepper.  Add some salt if you believe it to be necessary and fold the mixture with a wooden spoon as a nod to tradition.  If you are kind enough with your stirring the pimento cheese will have the confidence to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best Europe has to offer. Place the Mexican “Scoops” onto the table accompanied by the Pimento Cheese in a silver cup. For this dip has no equal.

    “Truly great cooks never cook with people above them”
    Me

    *If you are unfortunate to live where candied jalapenos are not readily available or you’re just that much of a go-getter, make them yourself. Slice some fresh jalapenos and place in a pot to which you have 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar with1 Tablespoon of rice vinegar. Simmer a few minutes and set aside for a day or two or ten.

     


  9. The Battle of the Id and the Ego: Pork Skin “Chilaquiles”

    April 19, 2011 by David Bridges

    As I continue to preach the ways anyone can find luxury and couth in the most common of places. A runny egg served to a loved one is a certain indication of sincere intentions. To then present such a Godsend with crispy Pork Skins and you just may find yourself smitten with more admirers than the week and your ability to remember names with faces allow.

    My morning fantasies are always full of pastries bursting with sweet cream and air filled crispy waffles drowning in warm REAL maple syrup with that little pat of salted butter half melted like a young boy with his first crush. Then it comes time to eat and my hedonistic, or maybe even masochistic ego, pulls that sweet child that my mother still insists that I am aside and heaves him off of a cliff. I cook/order/eat whatever is the most savory spicy dish to be had at the moment. I would sit here right now and try to analyze what that speaks of my personality. But I really don’t want to know and I reject the thought of having to change in order to appease that little spoiled brat that I used to be. He has bathed in the guilt of triumph too many times for me to give up chiles, pork skin and the luxury of a runny egg at breakfast too.

    Serves yourself and 4 dates. Just have them all come at separate times or a quarrel over the spoils of the devotion of your deft hand may erupt in your kitchen.

    Pork Skin “Chilaquiles”

    1lb smoked pork skins cut into ½ inch strips

    1T olive oil

    ½ a medium yellow onion peeled and diced

    3 cloves of garlic smashed

    3 dried ancho chiles stemmed, seeded and roasted over a stove flame then chopped

    1 dried passilla chile treated the same way as the ancho

    1t ground coriander

    1t dried oregano

    1t dried cumin

    1/4t cinnamon

    1t Kosher salt

    a scant whisper of ground clove

    28 ounce can of peeled whole plum tomatoes

    1 cup of chicken stock

    more olive oil to fry the Huevos

    5 eggs

    Fresh cilantro, limes, queso fresco and sliced red onion to garnish

    Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay some foil down onto a couple baking trays and arrange the pork skins on the tray. Bake the skins until brown and crispy for 30 minutes. Remove the skins from the oven and hold them aside for their pending baptism.

    While the pork skins are being taught some manners by your oven, place a wide mouthed pot on the stove and ignite the flame to its fullest capability. Pour the tablespoon of olive oil into the pot and start browning the onion. After the onion is sufficiently browned, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the chiles, spices and oregano to the pot and cook for another 30 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Use the back of a wooden spoon and smash the tomatoes for a little therapy. If you feel you already display a calm and inviting personality, then just leave them be. Bring the pot to a simmer and cook until half of the liquid has escaped and dissipated into the air. Blend the mixture and season with more salt as needed. If you desire to test your guests threshold of pain and pleasure add some cayenne as needed and hold the sauce aside and keep warm.

    To assemble: Drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a skillet that has been placed on a medium flame. When the oil smokes add a couple of eggs and season them with a little salt. Stir the pork skins into the chile sauce until they are well dressed. Continue to fry the eggs until the whites are cooked completely. Place some of the well dressed pork skin “chilaqiles” onto a plate and top with how ever many eggs that make you feel comfortable. Garnish with some cilantro, red onion, queso fresco and squeeze the lime like it fell from the sky. Serve and savor all the adoration.

     

     

     

     


  10. Confit: The Lustful Braise

    April 15, 2011 by David Bridges

    Confit de Gesiers Panzanella

     

    Confit is one of mankind’s most luxurious cooking techniques. It is technically a braise, but we take liberty in substituting fat where liquid would regularly be our medium. In most of your travels you will run across this method in regards to poultry. But to confit something, like all things, has provided many a chef a bit of poetic freedom. Not to be pointing the finger in the mirror, I have “seen” lobster tails confit in bacon fat, tomatoes in olive oil, and even a whole leg of a boar was once catapulted into the heavens by some fat that had been used to make cracklins. It is by all means the best of every world. You get to use a piece of meat that tends to be tough when heat is applied with no regard and make it tender. All the while, you are also adding a deeper sense richness and devotion that could only translate to love later on at the table or at the very minimum, lust.

    We are all just humble Domestiques du Plasir. We are simply in search of ingredients and cookery that disclose our soul and our actions will reflect as such. This recipe takes the often over-looked chicken gizzard with the aid of confit to make tender and bring a little lust to what would have been an ugly and untouchable rendezvous, regardless of your level of sobriety.

    Serves 6 comfortably before another 2 courses

    1 ¼# chicken gizzards (1 pack from the market)

    1 1/2T Kosher salt

    10 sprigs of fresh thyme

    1T black peppercorn

    3 bay leaves

    2 cloves of garlic sliced thinly

    1 quart rendered chicken, duck or pork fat

    For the Spiced Pecans:

    2c pecan halves

    1T olive or canola oil

    3T sugar

    2t Kosher salt

    1/2t cayenne pepper

    1/4t cinnamon

    For the Salad:

    3c Brussels sprouts stemmed and cut in half lengthwise

    1 large sweet potato peeled and diced about ½ x ½ inch

    ½ loaf of stale artisan country bread

    2T extra virgin olive oil

    1 shallot peeled and sliced thinly

    2t Creole or whole grain mustard

    5T red wine vinegar

    2T Steens cane syrup

    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    All proper confit should start with a cure. Take the gizzards and rinse them with a little water. Gently pat them dry as you would your forehead while wagering on horses and place into a small bowl. Add the salt, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves and garlic to the bowl. Toss all the ingredients together and cover the bowl. Place the bowl into the cooler and let the gizzards embrace the cure for 8-12 hours.

    Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Remove the properly cured gizzards from the cooler and place all the ingredients into a colander and rinse with a slight bit of vigor. Pat the gizzards dry. Place a pot of medium size onto the stove with your fat of choice. Add the gizzards to the pot and turn your stove top’s flame to a medium-low. When the gizzards start to be nudged around a little by the increasing warmth of the fat, place the pot into the oven and let the mixture slowly roll around for 3 hours. Remove the gizzards from the stove and let cool in the fat.

    For the Spiced Pecans: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring another medium pot of water to the top of your stove and let the highest flame you have bring the water to a boil.  Line a baking tray with some aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. Slide the pecans into the boiling water and cook for 30-45 seconds. Strain the pecans from the water and place in a mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Let the pecans and spices fraternize together with several tosses in the air. Lay the pecans on the baking sheet and place into the oven. Roast the spiced nuts for 16-18 minutes or until they are golden and aromatic. Retrieve the pecans from your oven and let them cool just slightly before removing them from the pan.

    For the Salad: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a large skillet over high heat and add 2 Tablespoons of the liquid fat from your confit. When your pan starts to display its displeasure with some smoke, add a layer of Brussels sprouts to the skillet. Season the Brussels with a scant bit of salt and let the vegetable slightly char and brown by flaunting your amazing patience for not moving and fussing with the pan. Like a spoiled child that is crying, it’s best to just leave them be to get their respect. Repeat this process for all the Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and any adolescents that you feel need an attitude adjustment.  After each batch of vegetable gets browned, spread them out onto one baking tray. Place your tray full of all the Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and parental advice into the oven and roast the vegetables for 15 minutes. While the vegetables are roasting, add another 2 Tablespoons of confit fat to the skillet on high heat and place a layer of bread cubes into the skillet. These children need a little interactive encouragement. So every 30 seconds or so toss the bread around the skillet to brown and crisp as many sides of the cubes as possible. Place the cubes into a large salad bowl and repeat your actions until all the bread is toasted.

    Remove the vegetables from the oven and place into the bowl with the bread. One last time, introduce your skillet to the high flame and add 2 Tablespoons of confit fat along with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Lay the gizzards into the skillet with the shallot. As the gizzards take on a new personality with a touch of crispiness, add the mustard, vinegar, cane syrup and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Bring the skillet to a simmer and pour into your salad bowl with no hesitation. Grab the pecan from the counter and toss those in also. With a bit of revelry, juggle the salad by tossing it into the air to the delights and high-wire gasps of your friends. Place the salad into a large serving bowl or on separate plates if one of your guest’s hygiene is less than desirable.