We decided to make our own burgers because we’re tired of eating hundreds of different cows at the same time. At Whole Foods we got some steaks ground into burger meat. We seasoned them and made them into patties. We cooked them on the stove, not the barbeque and served them with beefsteak heirloom tomatoes, avocado, caramelized onions, lettuce and the regular condiments. We also made two different kinds of french fries: thick, double fried russet potato fries and thin-sliced yukon gold strings. Both were amazing.
If you haven’t yet, it is definitely time to try making your own patties. They taste way better than most burgers you’ll eat at any fast food restaurant and probably any other restaurant.
Let me start by saying, Scott is the paella master. I’ve had a lot of paella and his is definitely the best. Check it out.
First you’ll want to prepare the ingredients for the Sofrito:
garlic – 4 whole, 1 chopped
1 brown onion, diced
1 big tomato, diced
Chop your chorizo and cook it. I like to use real Spanish Chorizo from Spain. It’s ridiculously tasty.
Next, use whatever stock that matches the kind of paella you’re making (if you’re making meat paella, use chicken stock, if you’re making fish paella, use fish stock). Pour about 6 cups into a pot, about enough to fill your paella pan. Heat the stock and add saffron and some smoked Spanish paprika. Once it boils, turn it down to a simmer. If you’re using mussels, add them to the stock and let them cook until they open and then remove and set them aside. Add some salt and pepper to broth while its simmering.
Put the paella pan on your barbeque, cover the bottom with oil and heat. Add the Sofrito and cook until its caramelized and mushy. Add the cooked chorizo.
After a few minutes, add the hot stock mixture and fill until the broth comes to within about a centimeter of the top of the pan. Heat the broth until its close to boiling. Add the rice (see the picture for the best brand). You want to add just enough so that it fills the bottom of the pan. Less is better because it will absorb more of the liquid. Don’t stir once you’ve added the rice. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed. You can add more hot water if it dries out and the rice isn’t finished cooking.
Add the shrimp when you think the rice is about 4 minutes from being done. You can also add some sliced red bell pepper as well. Serve it right out of the pan! Thanks to Mr. Lerner for this recipe.
Scott and I decided to continue our experimentation with molecular gastronomy. It has (apparently) been proven that blackberries and tobacco compliment each other very well. So we made this with cream, half and half, a broken down cigar, blackberries and sugar. It took two hours to make and the recipe can be found in the Alinea Cookbook.
Scott and I decided to try something new, real new. Spherification, part of the modern Spanish culinary art called Molecular Gastronomy. We settled on melon caviar for our first attempt. They call it caviar because it looks like the large fish roe you get on sushi with a similar consistency. A kind of thin skin surrounds a liquid inside that tastes like whatever you are spherificating – in our case, melon.
We started by blending the melon into a fine puree and then straining out the pulp. We then mixed it with Sodium Alginate. We prepared a mixture of water and Calcium Chloride that we injected droplets of the melon mixture into using a large syringe. The proportions for everything are very precise and require a scale. The amount of each chemical to use depends on the pH of the substance you are using. I will soon have an algorithm and hopefully a website that will help to calculate the proportions for common substances.
Our first attempt was a success: the little caviar balls tasted just like melon and the consistency was pretty cool. It’s kind of like boba except the inside is liquid. The possibilities with these things are endless. Stay tuned.
At some point we got the crazy idea to make tapas. I think we were just craving a little bit of everything. So we went for it. The menu consisted of figs with prosciutto, roasted beets with basil and buffalo mozzarella, pan fried baby artichokes, deep fried cauliflower, fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with anchovy and mozzarella, mussels in a white sauce, tortilla Espanola, and cheese and olives.
Everything was pretty easy to make. We used a little Cuisinart deep fryer for the cauliflower. Just break a full head into pieces and toss them into light canola oil at around 400 degrees for about 8 minutes or until they turn golden brown. For the baby artichokes, remove a few layers of the outer leaves and then steam them for about 12 minutes and then fry them in oil until they get crispy. The other recipes were a bit more involved.
Baked Beets with Basil and Burrata
4 medium sized red beets, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
salt and pepper
Place the beets on a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Sprinkle generously with olive oil, vinegar, salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover tightly with another sheet of aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the top foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes, depending on how juicy or crispy you want them. I like ‘em juicy so less time is better.
Mussels in a White Sauce
1 lb black mussels
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup cheap dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 shallots, diced
italian parsley, cleaned and torn
Soak the mussels in salt water for ten minutes and scrub them together to clean. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and let them brown for about 4 minutes. Add the white wine and let it reduce by about half (maybe 2 minutes) Add the mussels and italian parsley, cover and cook on medium until the mussels open. Remove from heat so you don’t over-cook the mussels. Serve with bread to soak up the sauce.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms
zucchini blossoms, cleaned with stamens removed
1 cup flower
1 cup cold water
1 egg, beaten
pinch of salt
mozzarella cheese, cut into strips
To make the batter, mix the flower and salt together and then add the water and egg and mix until the consistency is very thin. Stuff the blossoms with a small half inch piece of anchovy and a chunk of cheese. Heat about a quarter inch of oil in a pan. Dip the blossoms and cover completely in the batter and place into hot oil. Fry until light brown and crispy and then flip and repeat. Dry on a paper towel.