Saturday, May 28, 2016

More on Paired Pies and Ice Cream

I am continuing my experiments with paired pies and ice cream. This is apple. The pie is King Arthur's Secret Ingredient Apple Pie, made with boiled cider. The cider is rich and thick and makes the filling more intense in a very nice way. The ice cream is made with homemade apple butter. The intense spices of the apple butter go very well with the cream and add to the rich experience. The apples don't get lost in the ice cream and the cream helps to modulate the intensity of the pie. Everything works together perfectly. Vanilla ice cream on pie is a safe choice but these pairings are definitely worth the effort.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

EWR: Saison

As part of my layover at Newark Liberty, I picked up lunch at Saison in Terminal C. This location, like many in Terminal C, is part of the Cibo empire. Some of the independent spots seem to have given way to Cibo.

This restaurant uses the tablet ordering system that seems to be coming popular. Let me cast my small vote against this system for a simple reason---it dehumanizes the staff. With ordering taking place on an impersonal screen, this system reduces the staff to delivery agents. If you eat at one of these places, be sure to let the staff know that you appreciate them.]

I will say that my wedge salad was very enjoyable. I added on beef, which was tender on the inside and nicely charred on the outside. The bacon bits on the salad were similarly satisfying. The bleu cheese dressing was rich without being overwhelming. For some reason, I find the occasional wedge salad to be an enjoyable indulgence. This salad satisfied my craving for something savory but not overwhelming.


EWR; Green Beans Coffee

Green Beans Coffee has several locations at Newark Liberty. I tried the location at the exit from Customs in Terminal B---a very handy location. They stock plenty of baked goods and salads as well as coffee. The staff was very pleasant.

Here is my brew coffee. It really hit the spot after a long flight and big time change.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lausanne: Cut

My visit to EPFL let me try Cut.for.a pick me up my macchiato was very creamy. On another visit I tried a chocolate mousse that was very rich and creamy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lausanne:/Holy Cow

Holy Cow is Switzerland's answer to the custom burger craze. It doesn't offer as many options, instead posting a wide range of burger configurations.

This is my Big Cheese. They use one thick patty rather than the two thin ones common in the US. Great cheese (this is Switzerland, after all). Bun wasn't bad but a little more crust would have been good.

I do have one complaint---their constant use of the word "salad" in reference to stuff on the burger. No red-blooded American would use the S-word in reference to anything on a burger. And that is why the USA, land of the free and home of the brave, remains the world leader in burger technology.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Montreux, Switzerland: La Pechette

I found this little restaurant on a walk from Montreux to Vevey along Lac Leman. It is part of a lakeside camping area ensconced between the villas.

I pulled up a chair at a table right along the water. This was my beautiful view of the lake and France on the other side. Given that Montreux is the home of one of the biggest jazz festivals, it is no surprise that jazz serenaded us.

I started with this refreshing salad.

My main course was this lovely roast chicken. Afterward, I enjoyed some water and the peacefulness of the afternoon.

Monday, May 16, 2016

CDG: La Brioche Doree

My last post covered the food on my flight to Paris---enough to keep me going but nothing more. U was transferring at CDG so I didn't have time for a leisurely breakfast. I first grabbed a pain au chocolate at one vendor but it was both small and not very buttery. So when I made it to my gate area, I headed for an old favorite, La Brioche Doree.

My sandwich was called Me Metro as I recall: ham, cheese, and butter on a small baguette. (The little pig on the sign confirmed my grasp if French.) C'est marvellieux!

United transatlantic coach

Here is my report on United's coach food flying eastward across the Atlantic.

The first service was a cracker and piece of cheese. Sorry for the lack of a picture but I was hungry. Both were of high quality and tasty.

For my main course, I selected the chicken. I asked about the vegetarian option b t the stewardess could tell me what it was. The chicken's sauce was a very strong teriyaki. The bread was pretty good. No dessert, though.

The light breakfast turned out to be a croissant and strawberry jam.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Green Tea Pie

I spent some time trying to create a version of the excellent Earl Grey pie from my recent visit to LA's The Pie Hole. They explained the architecture of the pie to me: tea-infused white chocolate top, chocolate ganache on the bottom. It sounded different enough to be a good subject for experimentation. The white chocolate filling was the most intriguing part to me. As I ate the pie, I didn't think that the filling was a custard, but I couldn't figure out on my own what alternative made sense.

I decided to make a green tea pie; in my advanced age, I thought that's what I had eaten in LA. I had never tried this form of infusion before. I was a little skeptical of boiling tea in cream, but I gave it a try. To my surprise, after a minute the tea slowly started to turn green. I added two tea bags because I didn't want to boil the cream for too long. In retrospect, I should have added more tea bags for a stronger tea flavor.

The ganache was a classic recipe, with white chocolate, cream, corn syrup, and butter. I decided to whip it both for structural integrity and texture. Even after an extraordinary amount of whipping, the filling still wasn't quite stiff enough to stand on its own. A little less cream and a little more corn syrup probably would have helped. I did see the mixture turn more green as it mixed; the tea particles must settle quickly.

I blind-baked a crust and coated the bottom with some dark chocolate ganache that was left over from my earlier cake.

Here is the finished pie. To be sure that it didn't run as I ate it, I put it in the refrigerator. Given the huge amount of dairy, refrigeration was probably appropriate in any case. I ate a piece for breakfast the next morning. It was interesting, but not quite as satisfying as I had hoped. A little more tea flavor would help; the tea really cuts the fat in the cream. I think that letting the pie thaw a little before eating would make the texture less dense.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. This technique is similar to that of green tea ice cream, which I am now interested to try. A little white chocolate would be a great addition to the ice cream. And I still look forward to recreating the decadent richness of that pie from LA.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

In Defense of Cheap Bread Machines

As part of my occasional series on gratefulness, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the steadfast service of my Hamilton Beach bread machine. Here it is kneading a batch of brioche for a Mother's Day fig pastry. A few days ago, I used it to prepare a loaf of anadama bread that provided two breakfasts.

This machine has been integrated well enough into my life that I can't quite remember the details of its acquisition. I think that I bought it about four years ago for about $45. I have made bread occasionally for years using my trusty Kitchenaid mixer. At that point, breadmaking was a hobby, with most of my daily bread coming from the store. But eventually, I grew tired of paying high prices for bread that wasn't as tasty or as wholesome as what I could make myself. The only real problem with the Kitchenaid as a bread maker is managing the rising process. I had long been skeptical of the quality of bread produced by bread machines, based entirely on one or two samples early in the lifecycle of this product category, but I decided to give them a try. That's when I bought this machine. Not only did I not know enough about bread machines to know which machines I, as a modern consumer, should lust after, but I wanted to test out this process without spending too much money. The Hamilton Beach fit the bill.

Since then, I've baked a loaf a week using this machine. I use the machine only for kneading, then transfer the dough to a pan to bake in the oven. Once or twice, even the effort of that step has exceeded my available energy, so I've baked in the machine as well. The crust is both thick and uneven, not as nice as what I can do in the oven. But it was still nourishing and satisfying.

For several years, I lusted after a Zojirushi, having read many glowing descriptions of its abilities on the Web. A few months ago, I managed to overcome that greed and have come to appreciate the capabilities of my simple, cheap machine. I'm sure that the Zo makes a better crust, but that isn't a big priority for me. Many reviewers talk about the gentleness of its dough cycle, but I am not convinced that it is noticeably gentler than the cheap machines. The Zo does have two paddles, but that design choice was made by the desire to create a horizontal loaf that more closely resembles the traditional loaf. I haven't seen anyone compare to see whether two paddles make a noticeable difference in the quality of the bread.

My simple bread machine has helped me feed myself and my family. It has also given me a great deal of pleasure. I can't ask for more from a humble machine.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Update: Highland Bakery

An 8 AM final gave me an opportunity to try the tofu scramble at Highland Bakery on campus. It was decent but not as satisfying as the tofu scramble at West Egg. Highland's bakery has only a modest amount of tofu and doesn't emphasize umami flavor notes. I think that a good tofu scramble should double-down on umami. The grits were perfect and the toast was outstanding. The coffee was a deep dark roast but without a hint of bitterness.

Highland Bakery

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Freezer Harvest

Last summer, I bought two cases of Pearson Farm's delicious peaches. I am still reaping the benefits. One box went into the freezer for pie filling; the other became peach preserves. I eat pie for breakfast several times per week---if it was good enough for Edison, it's good enough for me. Mom plans to make some ice cream, which led me to consider making a batch myself. I realized that the peach preserves would make a great flavoring. So I made a half-batch of cream-only ice cream, let it harden overnight, and served it up the next morning on some pie. Now that's a breakfast.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Memories of Vermont

A conversation with Marie reminded me of a food-related Vermont experience from many years ago. One fall back in the 20th century, I went with several people for a fall foliage tour of southern Vermont and New Hampshire. Unfortunately, the weather decided to challenge us by dumping an early, very wet snow all over the landscape. The result was beautiful but also weighed down all the trees, still laden with their leaves, which in turn took down the power lines. The roads were impassable as well, so we had to spend an unexpected night in Brattleboro.

The first challenge was to find a hotel room. We were luckier than some and found a hotel with space. There weren't enough beds for all of us, nor was the heat working. But at least it had a roof and four walls.

The next challenge was to find something to eat. Most places were closed, but the local Chinese restaurant was open. The owner pulled his truck up to the front window, turned on his headlights, and kept the motor running to light the room. He then cooked what he could, which turned out to be a pu-pu platter. He brought it out complete with a Sterno flame in the middle of the appetizers. I have never been happier to see a pu-pu platter.

The next morning, things were slowly returning to normal. A local diner offered a good breakfast. Many of the visitors to town were there, including a New Yorker using the phone (this was pre-cell phone) to bark commands to someone back in the Big Apple. He loudly proclaimed that he didn't care how bad the roads were, he was going to drive back. He left in his car a few minutes later. And some people question the veracity of Natural Selection...

Chocolate Cake

I recently acquired a copy of The Guittard Cookbook which I have greatly enjoyed. The book was written by the Guittard family, chocolatiers in San Francisco since shortly after the Gold Rush. (Has any other historical event attracted so many chocolatiers?) The recipes are delicious and inventive. The book production is also of outstanding quality.

This is their Grandma's Chocolate Cake: dense chocolate cake, chocolate ganache filling, white chocolate buttercream icing. (I actually used Rose Levy Berenbaum's recipe for the icing.) Wow, what a cake! Given the intensity of the semi-sweet ganache and the cake, I expected this to be a little more intense, but the entire effect is very subtle. The white chocolate buttercream is very rich but in a very subtle way. All the elements work together perfectly.

Mckinnon's Louisiane

Grant and Marie invited me to join them for an evening at McKinnon's in Buckhead. This restaurant has been here for many decades and it gives one the comfortable, lived-in feel that reminds one of New Orleans. (Unfortunately, like many older buildings, they inherit poor access for the disabled.) The service was very gracious and welcoming.

The company was superb and the conversation sciltillating but the food, unfortunately, was disappointing. This is my crayfish etouffee. (The lighting gives you some idea of the ambiance of the place, by the way.) The sauce reminded me of canned soup in both taste and texture.

McKinnon's Louisiane