Saturday, February 6, 2016

Huevos Rancheros

So I'm not entire sure where the inspiration and desire for making Huevos Rancheros came from - but I had a few sources of inspiration.  I know that I watched them make it on Cut Throat Kitchen - and it stood out for me because the one chef was baffled because they had no idea what the dish was.  But then of course the wonderful Alton Brown provided a bit of an explanation and I knew in that moment it would be something I would want to try and/or make. 

My limited understanding of the dish is this: it is basically a popular breakfast dish of Mexican origin or inspiration comprised of eggs (see Wikki for more info).  So because it is not a specific dish in of itself but more a style of dish it made making the dish very interesting.  Now if I had bothered to be thinking a little more (again this was late night cooking so brain not entirely functional) I would have checked the fact that I had a recipe flagged in one of my books books.  Nonetheless I set off with a general idea in mind.  I knew that I was going to serve a fried egg on tostadas - which by the way are incredible easy but difficult to buy. (I had to search through a box to find a  bag that was not broken and then had to treat them like babies on the way home ...) From there I googled...yes - let's not get into that - what traditional Mexican spices were so I could get my flavour profile. With the results showing that common flavours are cumin, coriander, chile powered and oregano I figured I knew what I wanted to do.

The first thing I did was cut down my meat into smaller pieces. Now I used stewing beef which was a bad choice in the long run as it was too tough next time I would go for a nicer stake and cut it down. I then made a quick marinade for the meat - half the juice of a lemon, half the juice of a lime, two minced garlic cloves, fresh cilantro, cumin, coriander and oregano.  I tossed the meat and set it aside while I prepared the guacamole.  I used two smaller size ripe avocados (which I now know how to properly select, ripen and then store thanks to Good Eats!), mashed those with the remaining juice from the lemon and limes, added some chopped garlic, salt and cumin.  The result was amazing.

I will admit given the time of night that this was happening and my overall tiredness I got a little lazy and I did use store bought salsa, refried beans and tostadas.  However, the next time that I make this I hope to be able to pull everything off from scratch! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fresh Shrimp Rolls

Fresh products from Youngs

So I have this wonderful tendency to talk to random strangers any place I go - and I am particularly bad (according to the husband) at doing this in the grocery store. I dunno - I have this thing that there are so many of us out there doing our own thing, in our own world just ignoring everyone else we walk by. Now don't get me wrong there are plenty of times that I've walked through the grocery store with my headphones on trying to ignore the world. However, there is an equal number of times when I'm confused or looking for something and I wish that the person who swoops in past me, knows what they are doing would stop and say "Hey you look confused - need anything" or something along those lines. I have done it in the past and will likely continue to do it (e.g. finding people trying to figure out how to make butter chicken, or looking for the stock cubes and pointing out the two places you can find them in the store and that one is in fact cheaper <- you can often find them in the ethnic food aisles for a lot less and trust me it is the same thing this also applies to spices but now I'm getting side tracked).  

My failed attempts at rolling
My inspiration for this dish originally came again from Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate home cooking course and then from his cookbook. However, when I was in the produce section checking out ginger and debating if I was going to get some - and I was frustrated because the store didn't have cilantro. Enter this amazing woman who started talking to me about the cilantro and highly recommended that I tried the chines food store in the city for a lot of the staples and produce as they tend to be cheaper and fresher because of the high turn over in the products.  She also gave me two recipes which even now I'm trying to remember as they sounded delicious!  In any event I did end up going to Young's in the city and the food and stuff they had there as amazing!  The prices were also unbelievable!  The two large trays (heaping trays) of cilantro in the top picture were $2 each and had nearly a pound of cilantro.  A huge bag of mint was under $2 and so fresh.

Almost entire success on rolling
After I contained myself with excitement I knew exactly what I wanted to try making when I got home - the Fresh Shrimp Rolls - and let me tell you they are amaze balls!  The first night I may have been working on them late into the evening and I may or may not have had some hard lemonade ...(did) so rolling was not happening for me - plus the directions in the book was like "oh, just roll like spring rolls..." and I literally looked at the book and said - "like that helps only if you know how to make spring rolls...."

In any event it still tasted amazing.  The husband wasn't keen (he has issues with textures of food) but as a unwilling victim participant he tasted them and was blown away. OMG SOOO good!  The next night I went back and watched the original video then tried rolling again. They aren't as tight as they probably should be but I am going to say they get a passing grade!  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Striped Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

My hands after dying the dough
So I have always wanted to make pasta as it seems relatively easy - and frankly once I figured out the basic steps it wasn't too hard.  The biggest issue I have is finding a recipe that is consistent or good to use.  I have found one site that basically pointed out that this is a fruitless endeavour as every person has a different method or directions.

I settled on a basic recipe - Flour, salt and Eggs.  Mix the salt with the flour. Form the flour and salt into a mound with a well in the middle.  Beat the eggs and Add to the centre.  Slowly work in the flower into the centre making sure the mixture is smooth. If a hole is formed in the wall of the flour move the flour to seal it up . I needed and needed the flour and then work it through the pasta roller.  I would take about 1/4 of the dough - on the widest setting and roll it out, fold it back in thirds and then roll it back through again kind of laminating the dough.  This worked the dough and made it really smooth.

After washing for 20 minutes....
 I then decided to try and make my food even fancier and was going to stripe the dough (inspired by Masterchef Canada).  Plus I had been working on my fondant and gum paste so I had my cutters laying around. The only problem is I didn't have a natural food die to use so I just ended up using my food colouring gel in black to die the dough. Now this was not my best idea - but I had just tinted a ton of fondant for class and managed to get my hands clean and back to normal afterwords so I figured I could use the same technique and be safe dying the pasta black. WRONG!  One big difference is flour - kneading and working out the pasta requires a slight amount of flour - fondant is sticky and smooth and moist - which means the colour on the hands doesn't dry out as quickly. So yes 20 minutes of scrubbing my hands later and they were a zombie like shade of grey.  I did have court the next day and was worried about the colour. I am happy to report that my hands did eventually return to normal colour.

Now given that this was getting later into the evening things could have gone better but over all i was really happy with the results.  The willing victim of my experiment said it was by far my best creation - both taste wise and in technical skill.

I am just going to say - next time I have everything ready to go I'll try and remember before cracking the egg into the first mound of cheese that it is egg YOLK ravioli so I don't have to scramble to dumb the egg whites somewhere.