Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Prune’s Cold Candied Oranges

Dessert -- Prune-style.

Dessert — Prune-style.

 

Some cookbooks possess that magical gift that makes you feel as if the author is actually speaking directly to you in your very own kitchen.

“Prune” (Random House) takes a different tack. In her new cookbook of which I received a review copy, Chef Gabrielle Hamilton, owner of New York’s beloved Prune restaurant, gives you the impression that she’s talking directly to her crew in the kitchen. The delightful part is that you feel as if you’re scrunched in a corner, ease-dropping on everything that goes on there, from the prep to the service.

prune-gabrielle-hamilton-cover

Possessing an MFA in fiction writing, Hamilton is a proven storyteller. Besides her singular voice, the recipes come with drip spots on the pages, as well as notes scribbled on torn pieces of tape that look as if they’re stuck to the pages.

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Lemon Marmalade — Not Just For Scones

Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.

Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.

 

Almost every morning, I slather jam or marmalade on toast.

I’ve also used it time and again for filling batch after batch of thumbprint cookies.

And I’ve warmed it to brush on fruit tarts to give them a dazzling gloss.

But “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade” (Andrews McMeel), of which I received a review copy, really opened my eyes to so many other ways you can use jam in everyday cooking. The book is by Rachel Saunders, founder of Blue Chair Fruit Company, a jam company that specializes in jams made from sustainable fruit grown in the Bay Area.

How about a vibrant beet soup made with red plum jam? Or prawn and squid paella made with nectarine jam? Or even tempeh stir-fried with mushrooms, bok choy and greengage jam?

You’ll find those recipes and other creative fare in these pages, along with recipes to make jam if you don’t want to just buy a ready-made jar from the market.

“My Roast Chicken” appealed to me because the whole bird is roasted with a lemon marmalade and fresh rosemary mixture slathered underneath its skin.

With a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in my backyard, I always end up with a steady supply of this fragrant citrus that’s a cross between a Eureka lemon and a tangerine. I use them to make pitchers of lemonade, all manner of baked goods, and Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade, a Bon Appetit magazine recipe that I’ve been making every winter.

My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.

My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.

I was curious as to whether the marmalade would make a real difference or if it would turn this chicken into dessert.

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A Meal of A Lifetime: My Dinner at Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine Laboratory

What would a Modernist Cuisine dinner be without a little liquid nitrogen action going on? Chef Naomi Pomeroy gets in on the fun.

What would a Modernist Cuisine dinner be without a little liquid nitrogen action going on? Chef Naomi Pomeroy gets in on the fun.

 

BELLVUE, WA — Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft chief technology officer turned maestro of modernist cuisine, has held less than a dozen invitation-only dinners at his Intellectual Ventures laboratory. The exclusive guests have included the likes of Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, David Chang and Jose Andres.

In June, I was lucky enough to join that illustrious list when I was invited to be part of a very special dinner. What made this dinner so epic was not only the fact that it was Myhrvold’s largest dinner party to date, but that all the guests were women.

The wizard-genius behind it all, Nathan Myhrvold, stops by each table to explain the dishes.

The wizard-genius behind it all, Nathan Myhrvold, stops by each table to explain the dishes.

The Modernist Cuisine team hard at work on the one-of-a-kind dinner.

The Modernist Cuisine team hard at work on the one-of-a-kind dinner.

Plating in action.

Plating in action.

A reminder that you are dining in an actual science laboratory.

A reminder that you are dining in an actual science laboratory.

Twenty-one female chefs and four female journalists sat down to a marathon 35-course dinner that lasted six hours. The guest list was as follows:

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Get Smitten With Smitten Ice Cream in Los Altos

Fresh Mint Chip made in seconds at Smitten Ice Cream.

Fresh Mint Chip made in seconds at Smitten Ice Cream.

 

If you haven’t yet heard, another delicious taste of San Francisco has made its way down to the Peninsula.

That would be Smitten Ice Cream, which opened its first location outside of San Francisco in late December 2013 in the Whole Foods in Los Altos.

Four years ago founder Robyn Sue Fisher gave up a life as a biotech consultant with a Stanford MBA no less to push a Radio Flyer wagon around the streets of San Francisco, pedaling her unique ice cream.

What makes it so unusual? It’s created to order right in front of your eyes in a patented machine using liquid nitrogen. The inert gas freezes the cream mixture in a flash at a super low temperature, resulting in smaller ice crystals, and therefore a smoother ice cream.

Smitten Ice Cream became such a sensation that Fisher opened an actual storefront, crafted out of an old shipping container, in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Now, there are plans to expand even more with a Rockridge location in the works.

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Chicken Wings: Low, Slow, Let’s Go!

Steaming soy sauce chicken wings -- straight out of the oven after a long, gentle bake.

Steaming soy sauce chicken wings — straight out of the oven after a long, gentle bake.

 

When it comes to cooking, culinary teacher Andrew Schloss wants us to take it low and slow.

How slow?

Think meatloaf that takes up to eight honors in the oven or a Black-Bottom Banana Custard Pie that bakes for as long as six hours.

Before you scoff, though, consider that all of that is fairly unattended cooking. Slide it into the oven and go about your day. Meantime, all that extended time under gentle heat does its magic by rendering food soft, supple and suffused with flavor.

You’re essentially turning your oven into a giant slow cooker. But unlike a slow cooker, which has a tight-fitting lid, oven-cooking allows for more evaporation. That means flavors get much more concentrated, Schloss says.

I’d have to agree after receiving a review copy of his book, “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More” (Chronicle Books). Many of the recipes intrigued, but I decided to try one already familiar to me to get a real sense of what a difference this style of cooking might make.

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