Tag Archives: Sarah Rich

SHIRO DASHI TUNA AND EGG SALAD

I have been away from my blog for a long time. We have been doing a lot of traveling, grandchild visiting and not much cooking, but frankly, I had run out  of new things to write about – especially recipes. However, on our most recent visit, Sarah introduced us to a condiment that I had never knowingly tried. It is a secret ingredient at Rich Table and RT Rotisserie, although it appears in the Rich Table cookbook. Sarah calls it shiro dashi vinaigrette, and she makes enough at one time to keep in the refrigerator to season salads, noodles, and whatever needs some added flavor. Shiro dashi adds the umami that the Japanese are so good at incorporating into their foods. Shiro dashi is actually a concentrated soup and sauce base. It may be available in your local large grocery stores, especially those with a section for Asian foods. In our vicinity we are fortunate to have Asian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Persian, Chinese, etc. supermarkets, so it is easy to find unusual ingredients. I found a bottle at the Korean market. The recipe for the vinaigrette is simple, so I have followed Sarah’s lead and keep a jar made up and in the refrigerator.

Now, on to tuna and egg salad. Who needs a recipe for that? I have made it for years beginning when I was a teenage short-order cook. The version at that café was homogenized so finely that it looked like – well, let’s just say it was not appetizing. BUT it kept well for a week on the shelf in the walk-in. To my way of thinking, in a well-prepared tuna salad the canned tuna should be in identifiable chunks as should the egg. (Fresh tuna salad is another story with its own guidelines for preparation.) There also must be chopped celery and scallions – again, identifiable. Then there needs to be something sour. I like chopped salad olives because the pimentos add color, but chopped dill pickles or capers also work. If you have other favorites, add them. Some folks add chopped nuts and/or apples. I am not a fan of those, but if you like them, add them, or whatever else pleases your taste.

Finally, there is the choice of dressing. The standard is bottled mayonnaise, but usually there is way too much, and before long it turns soupy. Homemade mayonnaise is delicious, but too much trouble for the little amount that you use. I prefer just enough French vinaigrette to moisten the mix. It brings great flavor and is light. That made it easy to take the next step and give shiro dashi vinaigrette a try. I am glad. In the future, I won’t use anything else.

You can complete things with a sandwich: your best bread, a leaf of crisp lettuce, a slice or two of fresh tomato, and some avocado. If you decide to go full steam, moisten the bread with shiro dashi vinaigrette instead of butter or mayonnaise. The perfect lunch.

RECIPES

Shiro Dashi Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  •  ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons should work)
  •  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons shiro dashi
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • salt to taste

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients in a quart Mason jar. Cover tightly and shake vigorously until will mixed.
  2. Use as you would vinaigrette. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week. Use on any dish that would benefit from some flavor – salads, soups, cooked vegetables, etc.

Shiro Dashi Tuna and Egg Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna (7 ounces), well drained
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped coarsely
  • 3 scallions, green part included, sliced finely
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped into 1/8-1/4 inch pieces
  • 3 small dilll pickles, chopped
  • 3 to 6 generous tablespoons shiro dashi vinaigrette, according to taste
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, mash together the tuna and eggs, using a table fork, until they are well broken up but still recognizable. Gently stir in the sliced scallions, chopped celery, and chopped pickles.
  2. Add shiro dashi just to moisten the mixture and according to your taste.
  3. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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TETE DE MOINE

A girolle has been on my want list since I first saw one in an excellent cheese shop in Santa Fe. The device is beautifully crafted of polished wood and gleaming stainless steel. The girolle was invented by Nicolas Croiviser in 1982 for one purpose: to shave a unique cheese into flower-shaped curls. The device is an extravagance but it is clearly a must-have for a kitchen gadgeteer who already has a croquembouche mold, a sausage stuffer, and a Swedish sardine grilling basket. Recently we visited a new cheese shop, The Cultured Slice, on Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach. There was a good cheese selection, and the cheesemonger was very friendly and helpful. But what caught my eye was a brand new, shiny girolle. I yielded to temptation and bought it.

Girolle

The next purchase, of course, was the cheese, tête de moine (monk’s head). Although they had one at Cultured Slice, I asked Sarah to order one from their cheese purveyor for our visit to the Bay Area. Expect to pay around $60 for a round cheese of about 2 pounds. That amount of cheese will likely serve at more than one gathering.

 

Last night was our big event. We planned to enjoy cheese curls before our dinner. First was the unveiling of the cheese. We admired the beautiful silvery foil wrapping and the seal on the top with an image of monks making cheese. The cheese itself was a perfect cylinder with a textured rust-colored rind. We cut off the top to reveal a smooth, sunshine-yellow paste that gave off an earthy fragrance that was much more subtle than I had come to expect from descriptions on the internet. Continue reading

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SHAMELESS COMMERCE

Our family has heard some exciting news from the Bay Area. Sarah and Evan have been working on a cookbook for well over a year. The process has included selecting recipes, testing them exhaustively, food styling sessions and long photo shoots along with extended conferences with editors. The book is due to be released on September 4. Amazon has it available for pre-order at $29.68. Of course, we have not seen the finished product or even the galleys. But we have heard all about the challenges, delays, deadlines, and disagreements that all go into the crafting of a book. Both Sarah and Evan have learned that book writing is a lot different from cooking. For them it is not as much fun.

The book features some of the foods that come out of the kitchens at Rich Table and RT Rotisserie, but it also includes comfort foods and accompanying family stories from childhood. Proud dad that I am, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy,

Here’s a look at the cover:

 

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ROASTED CHICKEN

At least in my neighborhood, it has become increasingly difficult to find a whole chicken at the grocery store. Nowadays, there are shelves and shelves of chicken parts – breasts, wings, thighs, and drumsticks – with increasingly processed sub-types – chicken tenders, boneless breasts, “drumettes”, skinless thighs, and ground chicken. You get the idea. When Ralph’s announced a sale of whole chickens, my menu-driven mind went into overdrive. Usually I boil a whole chicken for the resultant stock along with enough meat picked from the bones for gumbo or green chile chicken or something similar. This time I wanted to do something else that was also not too hard or tome-consuming. I flashed on roasted chicken, inspired by Jacques Pépin who wrote in his classic La Technique, “There is nothing as simple and as delicious as a well-cooked roast chicken.” He went on to say, “Unfortunately, to get it properly done in a restaurant is as rare as it is simple.” That sounds like an intimidating challenge from one of the most important cooking experts of our time.

Sarah knows about intimidation by Jacques Pépin and André Soltner, both very warm and generous individuals. They were deans at the French Culinary Institute in New York City when she was a student. Chefs Pépin and Soltner  provided instruction in their lectures and demonstrations along with kindness and encouragement in their personal interactions, but they were also involved in examinations. Roasting a chicken was one of the tasks in the final exam. Sarah was anxious, but she passed – with great relief and celebration.

This recipe is drawn freely from Pépin’s La Technique. If you can find a copy, you should by all means buy it. Published in 1976, it is out of print, but you can find it on-line. The book is a heavily-illustrated step-by-step narrative of French cooking techniques, and the photos are all of Pépin himself performing the actions required in each technique. On top of that, La Technique is an excellent cookbook in its own right. It goes without saying that my roast chicken is not in the league of Jacques Pépin’s, but hopefully it would pass the test.

RECIPE

Roasted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup water

Method

  1. Remove liver and other giblets that may be packaged with the chicken. Pat dry and sprinkle generously inside and out with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large cast-iron or other heavy, oven-proof pan, melt the butter. Place the chicken in the melted butter, and using a basting brush, paint the entire chicken with the butter.
  3. Place the chicken on its side in the pan and bake in the middle of a pre-heated 400° oven for 15 minutes. Turn on the other side and roast for another 15 minutes.
  4. Turn the chicken on its back and baste with dripping using a large metal cooking spoon. Continue to roast for an additional 30 minutes, basting every 5 minutes with scraped-up drippings and frond.
  5. Add water to the pan and roast for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile stir the pan gravy. Correct seasoning if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  8. Carve the chicken and serve immediately.

 

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PAIN PERDU – NEW ORLEANS-STYLE FRENCH TOAST

We have been spending several days in San Francisco, watching two of our grandsons while their parents are off to London and Paris for a cooking demonstration along with “professional observation and study” of some amazing restaurants in both cities. I have been in charge of packing lunches, and each evening I look at the lunch boxes to see what has been eaten. It is usually a big let-down but also a stimulus to pack something they will eat. Pirate’s Booty seems to be a sure-fire winner. Keep in mind that they are six and three years old. Still.

Susan and I have been sharing breakfast duties. Of course, there are always toast soldiers and dry (no milk!!) Cheerios to proffer, but that gets monotonous, even for the cook. So far, Susan has been the winner with plates that include maple syrup or – the kids’ favorite – Louisiana cane syrup from Shreveport. Taking a cue, and wondering what to do with a dried-out hard loaf of French bread that Sarah had left after using part of it for Thanksgiving dressing, I decided to make French toast.

“French toast” apparently got its name in England; there are other names for the dish in other countries. In France and New Orleans it is known as “pain perdu” i.e. “lost bread”. I’m not sure about Paris, but I am certain that it is a staple in New Orleans. Most of the cafes and bistros that are open for breakfast in the French Quarter feature it.

Honestly, I am not a big fan of French toast like my mother used to make. Slices of store-bought sandwich bread dipped in egg and fried always seemed like  a soggy egg and toast. But pain perdu is a totally different experience. Done properly the dish should be puffy and golden with a crisp outside and a custardy inside. The secret is to use good-quality dry bread and give it enough time to soak up the egg and cream bath.

RECIPE

Pain Perdu

Ingredients

  • slices of dried French bread
  • eggs (one egg for each slice of bread)
  • cream (½ cup for each slice of bread)
  • Vanilla sugar (1 tablespoon for each slice of bread) Note: you can make vanilla sugar by placing a vanilla bean in a covered container filled with sugar and letting stand overnight. Alternatively, you can substitute  plain sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • unsalted butter (1 tablespoon for each slice of bread)

Method

  1. Arrange bread slices in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer
  2. Beat the eggs well and then combine with cream, sugar, and if needed, vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the egg mxture over the bread slices, turning the bread once before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight. Turn occasionally to make sure both sides of bread absorb the egg mixture.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-low flame. Add butter and heat until the butter stops foaming. Add the soaked bread and fry until both sides are golden. Serve immediately with syrup or fruit compote.

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SLOW COOKER BRISKET

I have written about the family recipe for braised brisket before. The previous time, two years ago, I combined it with latkes in honor of a family celebration. This time, I have modified the recipe for the slow cooker. That requires essentially no modification, the difference being that you braise a smaller brisket in a slow cooker rather than a larger brisket in the oven. It works just as well, and the results are always the same. Cheers go up from the crowd when the brisket is sliced, and no one needs encouragement to go back for seconds. That’s the same reaction Sarah gets when she does a brisket for family meal in whichever restaurant she might be cooking.

A good friend of Susan shared the recipe over 50 years ago. That was an act of regard and true friendship, because the recipe had been passed down in that family for years and, in the custom of the day, was considered to be a “family secret”. Actually, that’s how we treated the recipe for many years.

There are only a few rules to follow in preparing brisket by this method.

First, you will need to have the butcher cut the brisket to order, as a whole brisket is way too large to fit in the usual slow cooker. If your pot is smaller, you probably only need a 2-pound piece.  If the pot is larger, a 3-pound piece is a good size. That presents the problem as to what to tell the butcher. One end of a full brisket is called the “first cut” or “flat cut”. The meat is leaner and may require longer braising. The other end has more fat and is called “second cut” or “point”. During braising, the fat will render and the remaining shards of meat will be tender and can easily be shredded.

Second, it is important to marinate the brisket over night. This recipe uses a marinade that includes liquid smoke and is then used as the braising liquid. If you have your own favorite marinade, by all means use it.

Third, lower is better, and so is slower. It is hard to get the temperature too low although you shouldn’t try for anything lower than 170°F. Keep in mind that you will need to cook the brisket longer the lower the temperature. At 170°F you should plan on at least 12 hours cooking.  If the cooking is not long enough, the meat will be done but not as tender as you might like. Fortunately, it is hard to ruin the brisket by cooking it too long.

When you are ready to serve the brisket, let it rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes and then slice it thinly on the diagonal with the grain of the meat and with a 45° angle with the cutting board. It should be fork-tender. Shred it, using two forks, if you prefer.

RECIPE

Slow Cooker Brisket

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2-3 pound brisket
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Combine the liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings in a metal pan. Add the brisket, and cover with aluminum foil.  You can use a large zippered freezer bag if you prefer. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
  2. Place the marinated brisket in a slow cooker large enough to hold it flat. Cover. Set the cooker on LOW (about 200°F in my slow cooker) or SIMMER (about 185°F in my slow cooker) and cook for at least 10 hours, turning frequently during the cooking process.
  3. When the brisket is done to your satisfaction, remove from the oven to a cutting board. Let rest for 5 minutes. Then slice on a diagonal with the grain of the meat. Serve immediately.

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SEEING STARS

Today is a celebratory event in our family. The announcements for the 2018 Michelin star restaurants in the Bay Area had been delayed because of the terrible fires in the Napa/Sonoma region. Sarah and Evan were on tenterhooks because Rich Table had been dropped from Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list from last year. That meant they were either going to get a star or they were going to get nothing. Originally the stars were to be announced one week after the Bib Gourmands, but on the eve of the announcement. Michelin decided to delay. That was a good decision because some of the restaurants were threatened by the fires, and those that weren’t were cooking food for the fire victims.  Sarah already had experience with that. In 2001, she worked at Bouley in Lower Manhattan a short way from the World Trade Center. The restaurant was closed for months after 9/11, and each day for weeks she helped cook meals and then transport them to the site.

Back in San Francisco, there was no further notice about when the list would be released until yesterday. The wait was agonizing, and the silence, of course, stimulated social media gossip including one person who allowed it would be March before the announcements came. No way! Michelin has books to sell.

All morning long I checked my cell phone. Nothing. Until I got a text message from Sarah that burst into a flurry of stars. There were no words, but the message was clear.

It’s official: Rich Table has been awarded one Michelin star. That matches Michael Mina where Sarah worked as sous chef. As well, Coi, where Evan worked as chef de cuisine, has gained its third and ultimate star.

I know that Sarah and Evan plan to celebrate this evening. We are also going to have our own little celebration.

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