Tag Archives: Daniel Patterson

DEVILED EGGS

Deviled eggs seem to be enjoying a renaissance. They are on many menus these days. Sarah often makes them for catered dinners as well as for family occasions. Sometimes she stuffs them with smoked trout or other delicious fillings.

Sarah piping deviled eggs

Sarah piping deviled eggs

But in their simplest form, how difficult can deviled eggs be to make? Hard boiled eggs cut in half; yolk mashed with a little mayonnaise, mustard, lemon, salt and pepper; yolk mixture spooned or piped into the egg white halves; maybe a little garnish of paprika, snipped chives, or crumbled bacon. Simple is not always easy.

During this visit to California, deviled eggs have been on many menus. I have eaten many of them because I like them when they are good.

The best ones so far were served at the School Street Bistro in Lodi. My very minor quibbles were that the yolk filling was too runny (Too much mayonnaise?) and had too much mustard. Otherwise they were delicious, and their garnish of house-made French-fried potato straws was outstanding  I could have eaten a plate of the potato straws by themselves.

Sunday deviled eggs with potato straws at the School Street Bistro, Lodi, CA

Sunday deviled eggs with potato straws at the School Street Bistro, Lodi, CA

Some of the eggs have had a rubbery texture undoubtedly from the eggs being boiled too hard and/or too long.

The ones I liked the least were the ones that were supposed to be the fanciest. The word, “truffles”, seems to make something more luxe. Visions of pigs rooting up fungi at the base of a French hazelnut tree come into play, or a liveried waiter shaving little shards with his special knife onto a perfect French omelet. That’s not the same as truffle oil. This condiment has been banned from many a high-end kitchen. The well-known San Francisco chef and writer, Daniel Patterson, has written a great piece in the New York Times about why truffle oil does not find favor with professional chefs.

The main reason is that almost no commercial truffle oil contains actual truffles. The fragrance and taste of real truffles come from a complex array of compounds. The most prominent appears to be a chemical, 2,4-dithiapentane, that can be synthesized in a laboratory or factory. And that is the chemical that is added to truffle oil to give it flavor. Small wonder that foods which incorporate commercial truffle oil take on a chemical flavor; some would even say petroleum-like.

Deviled eggs with truffle oil

Deviled eggs with truffle oil

Here is a basic recipe for deviled eggs, perhaps of the Southern variety. If you don’t like it, experiment by adjusting the amounts of the basic ingredients and add any extras that sound appealing to you. Just – please – don’t add truffle oil.

RECIPE

Basic Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise for each egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard for each egg
  • few drops fresh lemon juice for each egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika

Method

  1. Pierce the large end of each egg with an egg piercer and place in a single layer in a saucepan with enough water to cover the eggs by at least an inch. Bring to the boil over high heat, just until large bubbles begin to appear around the eggs. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand, undisturbed, for 10 to 18 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs and the altitude.* You should work out the time beforehand. Transfer the eggs to a large bowl filled with ice and water. Chill for the same amount of time as you used for the cooking.
  2. Peel the eggs by cracking them all over and, starting at the big end, peeling them under a small stream of running water. The longer the eggs sit in the refrigerator before peeling them, the harder it will be to peel them and the more likely you are to get the dreaded green ring around the yolks, so it is best to prepare them immediately.
  3. Slice the cooled eggs in half lengthwise and gently remove the cooked yolk. Press the yolk through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer into a medium bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice. If the mixture is too stiff, very slowly stir in more mayonnaise by half teaspoonfuls until the consistency suits you.  Adjust the mustard and lemon juice to please you. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. Spoon or pipe the yolk mixture into the empty halves of cooked egg white. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and serve.

* At 7000 feet, a jumbo egg takes 18 minutes to cook; a large egg takes 16 minutes. Probably at sea level you should deduct about 2 minutes for each cooking time, but it is best to work out specific times for your cooking conditions.

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POACHED MIGAS

Sarah always has a lot of new cookbooks. She and Evan buy a lot, and on top of that they receive others from publishers. During our last visit, we spent a lot of time looking at recent selections. One, in particular, caught the attention of both Susan and me. I wound up buying a copy because I think that anyone who likes cookbooks would want this one on his or her bookshelf.

The name of the book is Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook. The book is written by Kristen Miglore, Executive Editor of the food website, Food52.com. It is filled with beautiful images by the author and published by Ten Speed Press, Berkeley.

Genius Recipes

Genius Recipes

Some critics complain that the recipes are not really “genius” and that some of them don’t work. They are partially correct. Some of the recipes, at least in my hands, don’t work and some of them I will not make again.

The real genius behind all of the recipes is that they contain tricks that you never knew or methods that make you think, “Now, why didn’t I think of that.” As well, there are recipes that have become classics. An example of that is Shirley Corriher’s Touch-of-Grace Biscuits that was daughter Carol’s first contribution to our family cookbook. Who would think that a wet blob of dough could turn into light Southern biscuits?

Another recipe that intrigued me was Daniel Patterson’s Poached Scrambled Eggs. Daniel is chef/owner of Michelin-two-star Coi where Evan and Sarah worked before they opened Rich Table. The story behind the recipe is that Daniel’s wife made him toss out his beloved Teflon-lined sauté pan, so he had to come up with a new way of scrambling eggs for his breakfast. The genius of the recipe – why didn’t I think of that – is based upon a common folly of cooks who have tried to poach the perfect egg only to have it break in the cooking water. Patterson simply mixed the eggs before he put them in the poaching liquid, and mirabile dictu, he had a scrambled egg.

This recipe takes that technique one step further. Migas are a great Tex-Mex dish which requires two basic elements – eggs and stale corn tortilla pieces – and whatever else suits your fancy. I first ate them at a cafe in Austin near the University of Texas campus. Since then they have become a family favorite that is always on the menu at family gatherings. One of the keys to this recipe is to have all of the add-ins prepped and ready to go before you cook the eggs.

RECIPE

Poached Migas

Ingredients

  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 4 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • 3 scallions, cut in ¼ inch slices, including green tops
  • 2¼ ounces sliced black olives
  • 3 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and then crumbled
  • ½ green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 snacking peppers, chopped
  • 4 ounces Hatch green chiles, diced (optional)
  • 1 medium tomato,  seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese (use a combination of the two if you wish)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • salt and pepper
  • salsa
  • sour cream for topping

Method

  1. Lightly coat the tortillas with vegetable oil. Cut into ¼ inch strips and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake at 200° F for about 20 minutes or until the strips are crisp. Cool and set aside.
  2. Sauté the mushrooms in about 2 tablespoons of oil. Set aside
  3. Gather the add-in ingredients on your work surface.
  4. In a medium saucepan, bring salted water to the boil. Turn off the heat, stir the water vigorously to create a vortex, and pour the beaten eggs into the vortex. Cover the saucepan tightly for a full minute. Remove the lid and drain the cooked eggs in a fine-meshed sieve, shaking to remove any excess water.
  5. Return the drained eggs to the saucepan along with the melted butter. Stir to loosen the eggs and incorporate the butter.
  6. Stir in the tortilla strips, mushrooms, scallions, olives, bacon, peppers, optional green chiles, tomato, cheese, and cilantro.
  7. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with salsa. Serve immediately while still hot. Pass sour cream for topping if desired.

 

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BOOK REVIEWS: COI, BAR TARTINE, AND FLOUR+WATER

For Christmas, Sarah and Evan gave us autographed copies of cookbooks written by some of their San Francisco colleagues and friends. They are all beautiful books, and certainly worth a place of honor on my cookbook shelves. Good and successful restaurants seem to go through the same sort of trajectory. First, there is the nervous anxiety after the opening and before reviews appear. Then, there are professional reviews, almost always glowing. Next come the Yelpers (I call them Whiners) with their smarmy comments: “Why do they charge so much; who do they think they are?” ” I could do better at home on my hot plate.”  “They seated someone else at my table even though I was only an hour late for my reservation.” ” When I told them I didn’t like the filet mignon after I had eaten it all, they refused to comp me.” After the whiners, the real customers take over, and the restaurant is wildly popular. Then there are demonstration tours, and finally a thick, beautifully illustrated cookbook appears so that the diner can try making the dish at home – ha.

Coi, Bar Tartine, and Flour+Water are three of the best, most popular, and most successful restaurants in San Francisco, so it is not surprising that they all have beautiful cookbooks. Here are some of my random thoughts on all of them. Cookbooks-3 Coi: Stories and Recipes by Daniel Patterson (Phaidon Press, London and New York) is really more of a memoir than a cookbook, and it is illustrated with lush images of the California countryside along with relatively few food shots. Daniel Patterson is an accomplished writer as well as a Michelin-starred chef. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Lucky Peach, Food and Wine, and the Financial Times among other publications. The photographer, Maren Caruso, clearly knows how to operate a camera. Besides all that, Patterson is gracious in recognizing many of the cooks who have helped to make Coi a success. To be sure, there are “recipes” although they do not appear in the typical format of lists of ingredients and the steps in putting them all together. In my view, you can reproduce some of the dishes only if you study the instructions very carefully and already possess a high level of cooking skill. The most engaging parts of the book are the personal stories and philosophical statements – meditations, really – that accompany each of the recipes. The feeling that the reader comes away with is that of understanding the author as a thoughtful person as well as an accomplished cook. Cookbooks-2 Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes by Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns with photographs by Chad Robertson (Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2014) is reminiscent of Chad Robertson’s already classic Tartine Bread except that there is a lot more color. If you have been lucky enough to eat at Bar Tartine, you know that Nicolaus and Cortney have fun with their cooking. It has the same precision that you expect in high-end food, but at the same time it is playful. The chefs delight in using ingredients you may never have heard of, or in ways that you have never thought of. And that’s sort of how Balla and Burns approach their cookbook. There are delicious recipes and gorgeous images aplenty, but the emphasis is on ingredients  The first sixteen chapters are devoted to topics like “Drying”, “Assorted Powders”,  “Spice Mixes”, “Sprouting and Soaking”, “Oils & Animal Fats”, “Vinegars”, “Pickles & Preserves” along with suggestions about how to use ingredients like dried strawberries (The two love their dehydrator), kefir butter, schmaltz, and even burnt toast. The recipes look accessible but you will definitely need to expand your pantry. For me, the book is more like a beautifully illustrated instruction book than a conventional cookbook, and there are detailed instructions about how to make all of the powders and dried foods that serve as the basis of or as seasoning for the fabulous foods of Bar Tartine. The images by Chad Robertson add greatly to the final product, and in the credits, Balla, Burns, and Robertson also do all of the food and prop styling. The book is beautifully done and truly a labor of love, just like a meal at Bar Tartine. Cookbooks-1 Flour+Water: Pasta by Thomas McNaughton with Paolo Lucchesi and photography by Eric Wolfinger (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA) is a detailed treatise on pasta, but it is fascinating reading and studying. There is a two-page spread immediately after the frontispiece showing the author intent on rolling out a length of pasta dough. From that single image you get the feeling that McNaughton wakes up and goes to sleep thinking of pasta. His descriptions about seemingly arcane topics such as the differences between Italian 00 flour and semolina flour turn out to be fascinating reading. And coupled with detailed, well-organized images, the narrative provides step-by-step instructions that even a tyro is willing to try. There is also an abundance of recipes for what to do with the pasta once you have made it. “Mouth-watering” does not adequately describe the images of some of the spectacular dishes: spaghetti with black trumpet, poached egg, and cured yolk; burrata triangoli with preserved lemon, summer squash, and mint. A bonus is the back story of McNaughton’s pilgrimage to Italy and his long, humbling hours of learning how to make pasta  under the tough guidance of a room full of Italian grandmothers. With that, the reader realizes that anything done well requires commitment along with hours, days, and years of practice.

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