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Posts Tagged ‘thomas keller’

The other day my husband was raving about a cookie he had tried in a cafe. He said they were called “Nutter Butters” and they cost $5 each. $5 for a cookie?!? I was pretty surprised that someone would pay that much for one. I knew I could easily make these for a fraction of the price. I found a few recipes online, one of them actually coming from the cafe where he first tried the nutter butters – but in the end I decided to go with Thomas Keller’s recipe. Making your own cookies at home results in a nuttier, yummier and I should add – cheaper cookie. The cookies look really impressive but there is really very little effort involved in making them. The recipe was such a hit that there was a serious argument between me and my husband about how we would allocate the 8 nutter butters (i.e. how many would he eat, how many would I eat and how many we could afford to give away!)… and resulted in me making a second batch the next day.

Nutter Butter Cookies

Nutter Butter Cookies

Nutter Butter Cookies

Makes 8 large cookies, recipe from Bouchon Bakery

  • 140 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 115 grams butter, softened
  • 80 grams peanut butter
  • 110 grams caster sugar
  • 95 grams brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 40 grams unsalted, roasted and chopped
  • 100 grams quick cooking oats

Peanut Butter Icing

  • 90 grams butter, softened
  • 105 grams peanut butter
  • 140 grams icing sugar
  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 175 c (fan forced). If conventional oven, heat the oven to 190c.
  2. In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the butter and peanut butter until light coloured and creamy, around 3 minutes. Add the sugars and continue to mix on medium speed for 5 minutes, scrapping down the bowl twice during the process. Add the egg and mix on medium until fully incorporated.
  3. Now, add the flour mixture and mix on low, around 1 minute then add the nuts and oatmeal, and mix on low just until combined.
  4. Using an ice-cream scoop, take some of the mixture place around 5 cm apart on a baking tray. Alternatively, you can use a spoon and roll the mixture into balls (using gloves makes it easier). Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. In the meantime, make the filling. Mix the peanut butter, butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
  6. Once the cookies are cool, take one cookie and pipe some of the peanut butter icing and cover with another cookie. Continue until all cookies are filled.

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Perfectly Cooked Roast Chicken

Perfectly Cooked Roast Chicken

There aren’t many hobbies where I can outshine my husband.  UnFortunately,  he seems to be naturally gifted at most sports and can beat me at every single board game.  His real talent however, lies in being able to keep the scores close enough that you’re motivated to keep on trying to win.  I remember a few years back we would spend some afternoons after work playing squash.  First one who scored nine points won.  The games were always pretty close.  One day, we were arguing about something, I can’t even remember what, but none of us was giving in.  After a while I finally said that we should just settle the argument on the squash court.

“You don’t want to do that.” he said.

I was confident though that given how close the matches had been in the past, my extra anger would surely give me an advantage this time.

So off we went to the courts.

He won the first game 9 – 0.  Then he won the second round, 9 – 0.

He was leading the third game 7 – 0 when I decided to throw my racket and walk off the courts.

I was beaten and humbled… and  we have never played squash since then.

Cooking has always been my domain.  The other day though, my husband expressed interest in learning how to cook something.   I told him that I would teach him ten dishes and/or techniques from a list that a couple of friends had put together after reading this list.  (Ma Po Tofu?  Really?  REALLY??)  We thought that we could surely come up with a much better list – but that a good roast chicken recipe should remain.    I chose Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken to start.

So here it is – Dan Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken.  It’s dead easy to make.  Get the best quality chicken (around 1.2 to 1.5 kilos in weight) you can find, pat the chicken dry, rub the chicken cavity with a generous amount of salt and pepper, truss the chicken and season with more salt on top.  Roast (breast side up) in a pre-heated 210c oven (fan forced) for  around 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow to rest 10 minutes, sprinkle with thyme leaves and serve.

Served with roast vegetables and dijon mustard, this chicken was hands down the easiest and most delicious roast chicken we’ve ever had.  Definitely a winning dish!

Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken

Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken

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Salmon Tartare Cornets

Salmon Tartare Cornets


This weekend we invited a few good friends for a last hurrah barbecue before it good to cold to cook outdoors. We decided on a surf and turf theme of steak and prawns, along with a salad of smoked duck breast (the recipe for another time), and mushroom soup. These little cornets were a last minute addition, inspired by the book I am reading now called Life, on the Line, by Grant Achatz of Alinea. While the story is an autobiography, the most interesting part of the book, at least for me, was reading about Thomas Keller. Achatz for a time worked at The French Laundry and he tells of his time in Keller’s kitchen and how Keller became his mentor. I have never (yet) been fortunate enough to eat at any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, but I am told that every meal at The French Laundry begins with a “cornet”. The story goes that Keller was about to leave New York and move to LA and he was unhappy about the move. One night, his friends took him to a Chinese restaurant and then to Baskin-Robbins after. The man at the counter gave him his order in a cone and that was his “a-ha!” moment. This is where he came up with the idea. These cornets are filled with a red onion cream and topped with a salmon tartare. For a vegetarian option, he suggests eggplant caviar and roasted red peppers. In his cookbook, Keller says that people always smile when they are served these.

These cornets are by no means the easiest things to make. First it took a while for me to decide on how to make the stencil, then, I had to buy the cornet molds. Finally, when I started baking the batter, I didn’t realize that we had to pick up the tuilles straight from the oven, still seeping in HOT butter, so that I could mold them to the cornets. On the first night I made it, I ended well past midnight just trying to get it right. It took two batches to make just barely enough for our guests this weekend.

But the smile on their faces when they ate the cornets, was of course, all worth it.

Salmon Tartare Cornets

Salmon Tartare Cornets

Salmon Tartare with Sweet Onion Creme Fraiche

From Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook” Where possible, I have converted the measurements into weights, which is how I made the recipe.
For the Cornets

  • 115 grams softened butter
  • 20 grams sugar
  • 65 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites, cold
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  1. First make the stencil which should be around 10 cm in diameter. A good guide to this can be found here
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 205c (fan forced)
  3. In a food processor, place the softened butter (make sure it is still cool to the touch) and sugar and mix on high until the sugar is fully incorporated and the butter has lightened in colour, a few seconds. Add the flour and salt and continue to mix again until fully incorporated, again, this should take no more than 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Add the egg whites, one at a time, after each time, mix the batter on high until the whites are fully incorporated. The batter should now be light and fluffy.
  5. Place the stencil on top of a silpat or baking baking paper and sprinkle some sesame seeds inside the diameter of the stencil. Using an offset spatula, spread around 1.5 teaspoons of the batter on to stencil (make sure there are no holes), removing any excess batter.
  6. Leave about 3 cm between each round. Place the silpat or baking paper on a baking tray.
  7. Place the baking tray in the oven for around 5 to 6 minutes, until the batter is set, the edges may start to crinkle slightly. At this time, open the oven door and take the tray out and place it on the counter. Working quickly and carefully (there is hot melted butter that you will notice seeping from the cookies, use gloves if you need to), place a cornet mold on one of the batters and fold the bottom of the cornet batter on to the cornet to form a cone shape. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue with the rest of the cornets around the mold. Arrange the cornet molds, seam side down and lean them against each other to prevent them from rolling.
  8. When all the cornets are rolled, return the tray to the oven and bake for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, until the cornets are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them rest for a minute or so and place the cornets on some paper towels and allow to cool.
  9. Wipe the excess butter from the silpats and allow to cool down before moving on to the next batch. The cornets will keep for up to 2 days in an airtight container.

For the Salmon Tartare

  • 115 grams sashimi grade salmon
  • 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon zest from 1/4 a lemon
  • 1.5 teaspoons finely minced chives
  • 1.5 teaspoons finely minced shallots, or red onions
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste

for the Sweet Red Onion Creme Fraiche

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced red onions
  • 125 grams creme fraiche
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh chives for garnish
  1. To make the salmon tartare, finely diced the salmon using a very sharp knife. Place in a bowl with all the ingredients for the tartare. Set aside until ready to use, but for a minimum of 30 minutes and maximum of 12 hours.
  2. To make the Sweet red onion creme fraiche, place the red onions in a strainer and place under running cold water for a few seconds. Dry them on paper towels. Set aside. Whisk the creme fraiche until soft peaks, around 1 minute. Fold in the red onions and seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, for up to 6 hours.
  3. To serve, pipe some of the red onion creme fraiche (you can use a piping bag to make it easier), next, spoon around 1.5 teaspoons of the tartare over the onion cream and mold it into a dome resembling a scoop of ice cream. Lay a chive tip agains one side of the tartare to garnish.
Salmon Tartare Cornets

Salmon Tartare Cornets

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Ad Hoc's Creamed Corn

Do you remember Susan Boyle?  She was the Scottish singer who auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent.  At the time she auditioned, she was 48 years old, unemployed and she had never been married, and never been kissed.  I remember listening to Simon Cowell interview her.  Simon asks Susan:

“What’s the dream?”

“I’m trying to be a professional singer” she answers

Then the camera flashes to a lady in the audience smirking.  You immediately know what she’s thinking “That frumpy lady on the stage wants to be a professional singer?!  As if!” (more…)

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Alone

Smoked Salmon "Tartare" ... for one

Smoked Salmon Tartare adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook

December and January were extremely busy months.  Between trying to spend as much time with my parents who were here on holiday, trying to finish work commitments and catching up with friends for the holidays, I still don’t know how I managed to get out a number of posts as well!  Then I spent last week away for work in Hong Kong and it was the perfect opportunity as well to meet up with the Blog Monster and my sisters and my Aunt for some long over due bonding.   I can’t remember the last time all the “girls” in the family went away together.   On the weekend we arrived for instance, we started at 10 am when the stores were just opening, spent most of the day in the malls around Central and Kowloon.  We’d break two or three times during the day for meals and gorged on roast goose at Yung Kee and dim sum at the Metropol restaurant.  At the end of our trip we were such familiar faces at Yung Kee that when I went there on my last day to meet the Blog Monster, I  thought they had not yet arrived so I asked for a table for four and the lady at the reception area told me “ah, your family is already seated upstairs!”

At night we’d have dinner, usually at a Chinese restaurant and then hit the night markets and come home close to midnight.    Both The Geisha and The Blog Monster had to put band aids to protect their feet from all the blisters that were forming from all the walking.  My arms were so sore from carrying so many bags that someone thought I had broken out in hives (I said it wasn’t hives, it was just the marks the shopping bags had made on my arms!).

As usual, the Blog Monster was hilarious as she tried to haggle with the shop keepers at the night markets.

“How much for the chinese tea pot?” she asked.

“120” the shop keeper replied.

I thought, “A bargain!” and was ready to pull out my wallet.

“120? Ahhh tooo expensive!  I’ll pay you 50 for it!” The Blog Monster said.

And back and forth went the Blog Monster and the Shop Keeper for at least 10 minutes.

“She’ll never get away with it!” I thought to myself.

But somehow, she managed to get me the tea pot for 50 HKD plus a ceramic brush for free!

So you can imagine, coming home on Saturday was pretty strange.  After more than two months of a constant stream of guests, parties and get togethers, I found myself… alone.

Smoked Salmon "Tartare" adapted from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Cookbook

While I do love the companionship of my husband, family and friends, I sometimes relish the thought of having my own quiet time.  Where there is no need to align my schedule to anyone else’s.   There is no need to worry that what I make for dinner will not be to everyone’s liking.   No need to share the box of my favourite mint chocolates with anyone else.

My husband had gone on a business trip to the US the same time I left and is due back mid this week.  So for now, it’s just me and of course the dogs, Baci and Bizou.    Times like this reminds me of the period in my life when my husband was studying his MBA in New York.  I was in the Philippines living with my parents but they would be away for months at a time visiting my family in Australia.   So very often I would find myself preparing dinner for one – myself.  One of the dinners I used to often have was a smoked salmon sandwich.  On a toasted baguette, with cream cheese, capers, red onions and some rocket – a simple and satisfying meal.

Salmon "Tartare"

Of course dinner for one doesn’t have to be boring.  In fact, one of the things I enjoy most is taking the time prepare a beautiful meal.  For once there is no one in the background saying “hurry up and stop trying to style our dinner, we’re hungry!” In fact, when I have the time, the ritual of preparing the meal is as enjoyable as eating it!

This Smoked Salmon “Tartare” was adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook.  As you can see, it’s not really a tartare (as I did not chop the salmon finely as a tartare should be done) but it has all the makings otherwise.  The recipe below is for one serving (of course!) but since this makes a very pretty starter, feel free to increase quantities if you are making it for guests.

Recipe

  • 50 grams smoked salmon
  • 1 hard boiled egg, white and yolk separated and finely chopped
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • a few capers, rinsed, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sour cream (or creme fraiche which is what is used in the Bouchon cookbook)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Smoked Salmon "Tartare"

  1. Lay the salmon on a large plate.  Use a sharp knife to cut the salmon into a circular shape, leaving at least 3 cm between the salmon and the rim of the plate.
  2. In a little bowl, mix the shallots and the chives together, add some olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Now lay the chopped egg yolks around the smoked salmon.
  4. Next lay half of the shallot and chive mix after the yolks.
  5. Add the egg whites around the shallot and chive mix and then finally another layer of the shallot and chive mix after the egg whites.
  6. Finally, lay a quenelle of sour cream over the smoked salmon.

Dinner for one...

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