Tuesday, December 23, 2008

eggnog

i love eggnog, but am not a big fan of the raw egg most recipes call for (or for that matter, the separating of the whites and yolks ... seems like unnecessary work!) i like simplicity.

eggnog
1 qt milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp nutmeg, freshly grated
pinch salt
3 cups sugar
1 cup whiskey
4 ea eggs

heat all ingredients, except eggs, to a light simmer. in bowl, whisk eggs. slowly drizzle in, while whisking eggs, half of the heated milk mixture (tempering). pour egg and milk mixture into the pot with other half of heated milk. heat on low heat whisking constantly. keep mixing until mixture thickens lightly. remove from heat and chill immediately.

serve either cold or warm.

tip: if you cook the mixture too long and the eggs start to curdle, dont worry, act fast. blend the whole mixture well in blender or with immersion blender. chill

to spruce it up:
serve chilled with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and bacon streusel.

make a dessert out of it:
serve it with french toast and apple jam.

or better yet, come to gravitas and try it this week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

bon bons


bon bons
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
a selection of our bon bon tray at textile:

bittersweet chocolate truffles, pumpkin truffles, guanaja, white chocolate truffles, pistachio "tootsie rolls", shortbread and smoked brownies

Thursday, December 11, 2008

sweet potatoe beignets


sweet potatoe beignets
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
sweet potato beignets, spicy bacon honey, pecan streusel, cinnamon pudding

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

back to classics

well, this isn't really a classic. i did a version of it about 10 months ago for the america's in the woodlands. and well. its a good dessert, but it needed something else.

soon to come to textile.

sweet potato beignets, bacon honey, pecan streusel, spicy cinnamon ice cream

Thursday, December 4, 2008

gianduja "frosty" in potato cone

a play on wendy's french fries and frosty.

gianduja "frosty", potato cone.

i wonder what kind of effect would bacon have ...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

what's worse than a health inspector on a really busy night?

a food blogger.

frosty and french fries

tonight i sent out an early version of frosty and french fries to our guests. they loved it! tomorrow i will finalize the presentation and preparation. so come and try it! in the meantime, here's my frosty recipe:

gianduja "frosty"

1 lb gianduja
2 Tbsp valrhona cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3 cups milk
1 qt heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

potato ice cream cones:
i use michel richards method of making potato baskets. in japanese vegetable slicer (attached with julienne blade) make long "noodles" of potato. wrap the potato around a cornet mold. place inside another cornet mold (to keep its shape). bake at 350 for 10 minutes. check for doneness. continue cooking until golden brown and crisp.

[picture soon to come]

Monday, December 1, 2008

wendy's

i never quite understood my friends fascination with wendy's frostys and french fries. it quite disgusted me. i mean, why dip a french fry in a frosty?! it sounded really absurd until the day i accidently tried it.

after a long day of work, i stopped by the local wendys to pick up a combo and a frosty. put a fry in my mouth and at the same time took a sip of the frosty. didnt event think twice about it. continued eating my food until the last fry was gone. then it finally hit me!! i have just been eating wendy's french fries and a frosty together. it tasted great! i guess the only thing that really inhibited me with the dipping was the dipping. i could not get around dipping my fries into a frosty, but if there was a way around it, i would be ok. funny.

few weeks after the opening of textile, i was wondering what new desserts to make. one night i was asking erika of what stuff she grew up eating. foods that would make people think about their childhoods. foods that would bring back happy memories. we spoke about peas and carrots (now on the menu) and she finally said i should do a wendy's french fries and frosty dessert. i was excited, but how do i do it?

i thought about doing the inverse. chocolate fries with french fry ice cream. though this may sound really interesting, how do i make it presentable? would people be okay eating french fried chocolate? what about potato ice cream? after a few more weeks, i think i've settled on a fun and playful presentation. i am hoping to put it on our seven course tasting menu this week.

ice cream cones! gianduja frosty, potato cone, salted potato flakes

Thursday, November 27, 2008

pet peeves

allison cook posted a blog a while back about foh customer pet peeves. so now i thought i create an open forum for boh to post their customer pet peeves.

here is mine:

to go orders:
as chefs, we search every nook and corner for the perfect china. a search that will never end. we love plates. its our canvas because we are artists. the way we plate our food is done on purpose. the location of the foods is premeditated. the colors we use, the cuts we make, the molds we use, the temperatures we use, it all comes to play in our presentation. so when a to go order comes in, its all thrown out the window. everything that we work for has to be placed in a plastic container. a container where it will (in no doubt) be thrown and messed about on your commute home.

how do you want me to plate hot foods with ice cream in a to go box? how do you expect to have the same experience?

ice creams:
ice creams are nothing more than a frozen sauce. a sauce accompanies food, not muffles it. so why, as a pastry chef, am i expected to give you a GIANT scoop of ice cream with your dessert. the ice cream accompanies the dessert. it is an element of the dish, not the dessert. it is a sauce.

would you like the sauce that goes with your steak to weigh more than your steak? no? than why do you expect my frozen sauce to weigh more than the dessert?

fruits and berries:
really? really? do you really want fruits and berries (a summer abundance) at the end of fall? do you really want to pay for out of season produce that tastes like nothing?

sorry to sound like a whiny brat, but this is my open forum. this is my passion, this is my career.


kitchen: what are some of your pet peeves?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

peas and carrots



pea sphere/ carrot cake/ pickled carrot/ yogurt/ peppermint/ ginger foam

Sunday, November 9, 2008

sweet peas

after watching the kitchen make wasabi caviars for their strip, i had an idea. the caviar resembled peas ... wasabi caviar ... wasabi peas ...

but thats just a snack that i'm not sure i want to turn into a dessert. instead i'll play off the idea of making pea caviars.

peas and carrots?

"peas and carrots"
sweet pea pearls, carrot cake, minted yogurt, molasses crunch

Saturday, November 8, 2008

alinea and under pressure


i've been so busy at work that i barely had time to read these new books. when i was at the bookstore and saw them (i didnt pre-order them like everyone else, i know. i'm lame.) i was giddy and hopping. i felt like a kid at a candy store.


but looking through them, neither book mentions jordan kahn and alex stupak. why? maybe they do, but you have to read the really fine print.


i think jordan kahn is one of the absolute best pastry chefs around. from what i understand he created liquid sable (as he describe on a food arts magazine). under pressure has a sesame oil sable that reads exactly like jordan's liquid sable, yet no mention of jordan kahn. but maybe jordan developed this recipe when he was working with sebastian at the french laundry.


and alex stupak. i havent seen his name in the alinea cookbook, yet there are pictures of him and jordan.


well. maybe i havent read too much into it, but i highly admire these two pastry chefs and hope they get proper acknowledgements

Friday, November 7, 2008

new at textile


pb & j
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
some new things to look for at textile. today, chef scott tycer has launched his 7 course tasting. it's incredible, you must come try his food. its solid and beautiful, but please leave some room for dessert.

pictured is my take on a pb & j:

peanut butter terrine, quince jelly, quince butter, peanut butter powder, candied bread

(visit the flickr site for more pics)

some changes. due to a post on b4ueat, i have tried to minimize the use of the pumpkin fondant. its a solid dessert, but i agree, a bit simple for what is expected at textile. the pumpkin is now only found on the 5 course tasting. it has been replaced by the pb & j (pictured) on the a la cart menu.

new items for the seven course tasting menu:
intermezzo: carbonated citrus, coriander syrup, watermelon
pre-dessert: apple and celery lollipops, peanut butter
dessert: gianduja ganache, curried popcorn, maduros foam, chicory soil

Sunday, November 2, 2008

savoy truffle

shortly after finding out about this event (and also finding out from the website that gravitas was participating), i started planning on what to do. what are you doing?

i could do something traditional, but none of you are expecting that.

i coud do something with savoy cabbage as a play on the name, but ...

and well, for the last 2 years i have been playing around with smoke, chocolate, bacon and bbq without any success. not until recently.

at noe i tried smoked chocolate cake, bbq sauce, candied cherry-tomatoes. i tried the similar at soma. and at americas i tried smoked chocolate cupcakes, bbq buttercream and candied bacon. none worked very well.

at my tenacity dinner, i made smoked brownies as part of my mignardises. success!! they all loved them.

shortly after i was at gravitas pondering on how to make a brownie better. i searched for the perfect recipe before landing on elizabeth faulkner's brownie recipe. i loved it! i changed it up, i add a little more brown sugar and omitt the baking powder. i like my brownies to be very dense so that you dont need to put them in the oven. (pet peeve: hot brownies? you had to do that because the brownies were like a brick. you needed to warm them up to soften them. but mine have so much chocolate and sugar, that they are amazing right out of the cooler.) so i made smoked brownies, spiced peanuts and vanilla ice cream.

the interplay of the spiced peanuts and chocolate reminded me of mole. the only thing missing was the chicken. but how to do that?

so here are some thoughts on my savoy truffle ... and because we are in texas, there has to be texan influence.

smoked brownie on a stick! white chocolate bbq, crispy chicken skin

smoked brownie on a stick! white chocolate bbq, bacon streusel

smoked brownie on a stick! white chocolate bbq, spiced peanuts

smoked brownie on a stick! white chocolate bbq, crispy chicken skin, spiced peanut

i like the 'on a stick' sch-tick. because we all know we cant refuse food on a stick. but i am not sure how many people will be ok with bbq, chicken and pork being introduced as dessert form.

but we will see ...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

just messing about

here's a few ideas i have been messing around with ...
(i think im just trying to use sam mason's peanut butter powder and homaru cantu's fizzy grapes/citrus techniques all in one dessert)

pb & j
brioche ice cream/ peanut butter terrine/ peanut butter powder/ fizzzy grapes/ quince jelly

pb & j
bread pudding/ peanut butter powder/ fizzy grapes/quince jelly/ peanut crumbles

quince
celeriac cake/ quince sorbet/walnut cream/ carbonated ruby reds

quince
celeriac terrine/ quince sorbet/ candied walnut

quince
celeriac terrine/ quince sorbet/ peanut butter powder/ salted wafer/ carbonated ruby reds

oh. and i have been getting alot of compliments on my brown butter ice cream, so i thought i share my recipe with you. actually, my recipe is a play on barbara lynch's salted butter ice cream.

brown butter ice cream

12 oz butter
1/4 cup milk powder
3 cups milk
4 cups heavy cream
3 cups sugar
4 oz light corn syrup
pinch sea salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

heat butter on high until milk solids separate from fat.
add milk powder and keep cooking, the point is to brown the milk solids.
(the addition of milk powder intensifies the flavor and adds a nice brown color)
once its riche deep and a dark brown, add all of the remaining ingredients.
whisk and bring to a boil.
blend on high for a minute and cool for an hour.
then its all left for your ice cream machine to do its magic.

enjoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

dessert menu at textile



some desserts for the fall at textile.


liquid pumpkin pie/ pecan shortcrust/ brown butter ice cream


manjari "torchon"/ cranberries/ cocoa nib brittle


lemon blancmange/ candied fennel/ pistachio gelato/ yogurt croquant


apple jam/ pound cake/ butterscotch/ blue cheese ice cream


"coffe & milk"/ iced milk/ milk jam/ french toast/ coffee foam/ bacon streusel

a few things ...

it has been some time since i've written anything on here. to be honest, i dont have any spare time. i work in the mornings at gravitas and then go finish the day off at textile. it's busy work being a full time pastry chef at two of houston's top restaurants. on top of that, ive spent the last weeks trying to find steady help at gravitas.

what is it about the majority of culinary students thinking that out of school they will be making the wages of a sous or pastry chef? this is a very tough and demanding field. its very hard and requires you to put all your effort forth for little pay. its the nature of the beast. it separates the chefs from those who were lured by the stardom and celebriti-ness that recent tv shows have elevated this blue collar field into.

i had a tough time getting to where i am at now. after a week stage at a hotel i will not name, all the sous and executive chefs sat me down in an office. each then took turns telling me why i would not and could not be anything in this field. why they were so high and mighty and why i will never be like them.

since then i went to work for joseph sanchez at rickshaw. he is an amazing chef and friend. after a few months there he promoted me to his sous. i loved working at rickshaw. i learned alot from joseph and it introduced me to the flavors of asia. while at rickshaw we participated at the cesar salad competition. i competed against the afor mentioned hotel and came out victorious. i won for best presentation while they won nothing.

with my background there i went to apply at noe. mike potowski (sous then and former exec chef at rickshaw) immediately took me in with open arms. noe was an amazing experience and i still refer back to the beginning of my career as my noe days. it was amazing working along side robert gadsby and mike potowski. i admire both chefs highly. unfortunately we all had a falling. but the memories of an amazing team will always be there. at noe i really learned to branch out from the normal pastry chef routines. at noe i started developing my style.

a year into noe, chef gadsby was invited to participate on iron chef america. to this day i am very shock and honored gadsby decided to take me along. he had other sous in la and chicago. so we went. we fought hard and lost to mario batali. a few months after we taped, the episode aired. we had a viewing party at the omni hotels. i invited all the sous from the afor mention hotel, but non showed. to this day, i know none have seen the iron chef battle.

then i had short stints at a little bakery, soma and the americas in the woodlands. their i created new and profound friendships with jonathan jones, justin bayse and randy rucker. we all talk, hang out and talk all things about food. 'its a groovie thing'

and now i am working double time with jason gould and scott tycer at gravitas and textile, respectively. i am now working for two of the cities top chefs. its incredibly intimidating, but i push forth to keep up. its alot of work and i'm constantly having to question everything i do and why i do it and how it affects my product and when to do it and on and on and on. its a great experience and i'm learning alot about food and why i am in this field.

and on my spare time i read and write about food. and some of you read my ramblings. thanks.

well. come see me gravitas in the am and textile in the pm. if im not there, i am more than likely grabbing a beer at beavers, hanging out with justin or lending a helping hand at randy's tenacity dinners.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

art culinarie

for those who dont know what art culinaire is, or are not subscribed to it, do it now.

i was flipping back a few issues and looking at the pictures. food is very visual to me. i first look at the ones that catch my eye. the ones with colors, textures, unique china, chocolate, modern techniques, etc. its where i get inspiration on flavor combinations and how to plate my food.

one night i was looking throught art culinaire #78 fall issue 2005. i was reading a bio on jason carter and flipping through his food. then i came upon a pastry chef who does indian desserts. honestly, his presentations are horrible and i can see why i ignored him for the last 3 years. but this time i trekked on and read his recipe for curry-filled chocolates with saffron mehendi. as i read, his description read very similarly to my torchon! the pastry chef is jehangir mehta and he has been doing my torchon since fall of 2005 (or earlier, the magazine was published then). what i thought as original, is no longer.

my torchon was inspired by the foie gras torchon with beet filling i had at wd50.

i was a bit disappointed, but i got over it. the last time this happened was when i thought i was being original by making pastry cream in the microwave for 10 minutes. a month after i bought happy in the kitchen by michel richard, i read his happy kid pudding. as well as his reconstructed lemon egg (which i did a mango version of it on iron chef).

i was upset to find out i wasnt the first. but jj eased my pain. he said it makes sense. sharp minds think alike ... or something like that.

anyway. the whole point of this entry is to share ideas like the ones my mentors do. so without further ado, here is my torchon recipe:

2 1/2 lbs guanaja chocolate (valrhona 70%)
6 cups heavy cream
1 tsp sea salt
16 ea gelatin sheets (bronze)
20 ea frozen liquid filling (1 oz, any flavor, thickened with xanthan)

bring cream to a scald, pour over chocolate. whisk until chocolate has melted. (ganache)
add salt.
bloom gelatin in cold water. melt in microwave and whisk into ganache.
let cool at room temp for 15 or so minutes.
meanwhile, prepared 2x2" molds.
spray molds with nonstick spray.
line the inside of molds with acetate strip.
pour ganache into mold and fill halfway. freeze for 5 minutes.
remove from freezer. place frozen liquid filling in center and fill with remaining ganache.
freeze overnight.
the next morning place torchons in cooler and let thaw for 3 hours before use.

there you go. ENJOY! or come see me and ill make you one.

Monday, October 6, 2008

my table awards

congratulations to all the winners!

it was really exciting to finally meet all the chefs i talked to erika so highly about. it was an honor being nominated. better luck next year, no?

oh! and please come by gravitas!
jason continues pumping out amazing food. im trying to keep up. this is my current menu

gravitas favorites
smoked brownies/ spiced peanuts/ vanilla ice cream
buttrescotch bread pudding/ butterscotch ice cream
caramel and chocolate/ gianduja mousse/ salted caramel ice cream

fall
pumpkin fondant/ brown butter ice cream/ streusel
goat cheese cheesecake/ tarragon anglaise/ walnut brittle
pear tart/ grapefruit creme fraiche/ balsamic gastrique/ vanilla ice cream
lavender pot de creme/ braised figs/ orange sable

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

cafe con leche


cafe con leche
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
now at gravitas for this week only.
evolutions of american cuisine: spain

dark chocolate 'torchon'/ coffee milk liquid center/ cocoa nib brittle/ almond orxata/ coffee 'soil'

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

evolution of american cuisine: japan


9.22 - 9.28 at gravitas.

dessert course
ginger cake/ azuki cream/ citrus/ shoyu sorbet


shoyu sorbet (soy sauce sorbet)

3 cups sugar
3 cups water
0.5 cups shoyu (soy sauce)
0.5 tsp xanthan gum
1 oz light corn syrup
2 ea gelatin sheets

Saturday, September 20, 2008

pumpkin fondant


pumpkin fondant
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
when in culinary school, i used to love this dessert. i was amazed by it! but after years it got boring that no one did anything different. its like it became an unspoken rule for restaurants, you must offer a warm chocolate cake/ fondant/ coulant/ molten cake/ lava cake, whatever you want to call it. if you must, why not do something different?

i first tried this at noe with good sucess. i havent seen or read about anyone doing a pumpkin fondant, so i guess this would be one of my signature desserts.

i am now offering this as part of my fall menu at gravitas. its selling like hot cakes!! literally!

come try it.

pumpkin fondant/ brown butter ice cream/ walnut brittle/ pecan streusel/ caramel

Friday, September 12, 2008

crispy chocolate

the name implies two sensations brought on by this brittle. its crispy and while you masticate, your teeth make a paste from the sugar and cocoa nibs thus creating chocolate.

cocoa nib brittle

2.5 cups sugar
0.5 cups light corn syrup
3 oz butter
8 oz water
0.75 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp salt
1 cup cocoa nibs

heat sugar, syrup butter and water until caramel color.
remove from heat. add baking soda, salt and cocoa nibs.
return to heat and stir to disperse dry ingredients. 5 minutes.
pour brittle onto silpat mat.
cover brittle with another silpat mat and roll out thin.
cool and store in air tight container.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

manjari "torchon"


manjari "torchon"
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
this has become my signature dessert. it's very versatile to every season and it satisfies every chocolate lover. thank you wiley for the foie gras torchon!

like the others, the center of this "torchon" is a liquid. cranberries to be exact. cut the torchon right down the middle and await a glorious red sauce ooze out.

my favorite part about this one is the cocoa nib brittle. as you masticate the brittle, your teeth grind together the sugars and the cocoa nibs creating chocolate. while you chew you make chocolate in your mouth. how cool is that?!!?!?!?!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

a question ...

i was making ice cream bases today. i use the same recipe for vanilla and burnt caramel. the only thing i do different is caramelize the sugar until its almost burnt. it tastes amazing, trust me! oh, its also salted.

as is my habit (and every chef in the world) i taste my food as it progresses. when all the bases where finished and cooled, i stirred and gave them one last taste. i noticed something different.

the vanilla ice cream was sweet. the caramel ice cream tasted like caramel, but it was no where near as sweet as the vanilla. how could this be (aside from the salt)? its the same recipe. its the same amount of sugar ...

does sugar loose its 'sweetness' as it caramelizes? why? what happens?

Monday, September 1, 2008

who likes corndogs?


tried this tasty treat while at americas, but it wasnt the right venue. maybe jj could use this at beavers ...

corndog batter
yields 2 quarts

3 cups Cornmeal
1.5 cups AP Flour
1.5 tsp Baking Soda
0.75 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1.5 cups Buttermilk
1.25 cups Water
1 ea Egg


Banana Mustard
yields 2 quarts

4 cups Pastry Cream
1 cup Honey
1.5 cups Yellow American Mustard
8 Tbsp Banana Extract


Pastry Cream
yields 3 quarts

12 ea Egg yolks
2 ea Eggs
1 qt Heavy Cream
2 cups Sugar
0.5 tsp Salt
1 ea Vanilla Bean
8 oz Butter


Banana Ice Cream
yields 3 quarts

12 oz Butter
3 cups Milk
4.5 cups Heavy Cream
0.5 cup Light Corn Syrup
0.5 cup Milk Powder
3 cups Sugar
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
2.5 Tbsp Banana Extract

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

marco pierre white on the corporate world

"... it was my first experience of the corporate world and i thought it was horrible. you think blue-chip companies are run perfectly, but in my opinion they are worse than private companies. board meetings are painful. we'd have an hour-long meeting about the price of coffee, with them wanting to produce coffee for five pence a cup and spending sixty minutes talking about how every penny counts. "you can get spectacular coffee for twelve pence a cup," i'd say, and then emerge from the meeting brain dead. it was all about percentages rather than working out what's going to make the customer happy."

breakdown

after a night a drinking, whats better than a late night frito pie??







Sunday, August 3, 2008

newfound respect: mario batali

i was bitter over losing to him on iron chef. i mean, mario batali?!! but really, how much did i know about the guy before meeting/battling him? nothing. absolutely nothing. all i knew is that he had 2 shows on the food network before being an iron chef. i knew nothing of his past. i knew nothing of his encounters with marco pierre white.

i am reading 'the devil in the kitchen' by marco pierre white. the more i read, the more i like mario batali. its like im being introduced to an awesome mario batali. and now i feel bad for being ignorant and not researching history on who i were to battle. why didnt i? arrogance. because ... well, what else do you learn from an egocentric chef. you learn not to be like him. i like mario batali and i feel incredibly honored to have met/battled him.

here's excerpts from marco pierre white memoirs:
'sturdy mario, whit his mass of red hair, was an interesting and special guy, but not half as interesting as he would later become. after getting a degree in sealttle, he came to london to train at le cordon bleu, but he got bored with the college course and chucked it in - cordon bleu's loss was my gain. he used to work hard during the day and play hard during the night and the he couldn't get out of bed in the morning. so he loved his sleep and he loved joy division (he'd incessantly hum "she's lost control"), but he also loved his food.

which makes me wonder ... what do you listen to in the kitchen?

Monday, July 28, 2008

beat up. tossed and torn. finito.

so i was wondering. what cookbooks do you have that are at the end of their run. cookbooks whom pages are falling out.

mine
the professional pastry chef, bo friberg.
the french laundy cookbook, thomas keller.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Table 2008 Houston Culinary Awards

i just received an email from fred espinoza (vp of marketing for cordua). in it was this link

http://www.my-table.com/section/news/4.html

i am flabbergasted. wow!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

tenacity's supper club, 07.14.08

a few shots of last night's dinner

shaved kampachi painted with ketup manis & cold smoked, lime, powdered caramel & brown butter


amberjack tiradito, coco, yuzu koshu, sour orange & crunchy rice


santa barbara abalone, hijiki, yaegaki nigori sake, fresh thai chili & macerated citron


santa barbara abalone, hijiki, yaegaki nigori sake, fresh thai chili & macerated citron


guest enjoying dinner and engaging in conversations

Friday, July 11, 2008

"SOS, we need help. SOS"

well not really, but randy has 5 spots left for his dinner on monday. a dinner i will be the guest chef at providing dessert goods.

sos - save our soire

contact randy for more information rrucker79@hotmail.com

Monday, July 7, 2008

growing trends


growing trends
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
there has been a growing trend where chefs are growing what they eat. why does it sound absurd to some? to most?

there is a reason why there are seasons. there is a reason why vegetables are named after their seasons (winter vegs, fall squashes, etc!)

so under much influence, and just trying to keep up, i too have began growing my own plants, fruits, vegetable and herbs.

this actually started a little over a two years ago. jennifer bought a bunch of plants and seeds; planted them in the backyard and cared them patiently. i look from inside the house (it was way to hot outside!) half intrigued, half bored. i didnt get it. why go through so much trouble (and money!) to grow something you can easily buy at the grocery store. why?

i asked that question for months! slowly the plants started budding, baby peppers started growing, the seeds started blooming. it was an awesome sight! i was very intrigued, yet still a bit bored. i'm impatient!

day after day jennifer would be in the backyard taking care of her little plants. babying them.

then the day came. picking time. now i knew why go through so much trouble. its not trouble actually, its passion. the hard work, the long time, the heat, all for a moments pleasure. the taste of ripe fruits/vegetables picked seconds back from your garden. this was food.

in the french laundry, thomas keller mentions taking his chefs to butcher shops. makes his chefs watch the animal while alive and being butchered. it may seems gruesome and cruel, but you must understand where your product comes from. what your animal goes through to get to the table and into your belly. it makes your respect the animal. i never experienced that, but would like to.

growing plants and fruits may not be as intense as killing your food, but the principle is the same. respect what you eat. from seed to fruit is a long but worthwhile wait.

when i was at soma i did a citrus dessert, all the citrus fruits came from my backyard. it was a meyer lemon pudding cake, candied kumquats, lime-yuzu sorbet and keffir lime leaves spritzer. fortunately, misha dined with us on one of those few nights.

so as i was saying earlier. there are reasons i dont use some ingredients in my kitchen. all mostly due to personal reasons, chefs are a very vain and egotistical breed. heres a small list of my blacklisted items:

strawberries - why are they available year round?! their flavor is extremely bland and their sizes are unreal. i've only had one good strawberry and it was at dai due supper club.

coconut - im just not a fan of the stuff.

mango - im still a bit bitter about losing to a soggy nasty mango tart tatin on iron chef. i made a beautiful 4 part mango tasting - cheesecake brulee, souffle (made in the microwave!), parfait, lollipop (fried custard)

almonds - very common nut with bland flavor

liquors/alcohol - once you open a liquor bottle, every single person in the restaurant is all over you. watching you. its creepy. liquors also sometimes drown or mute the flavor of the main ingredient. if i do use alcohol it would be champagne or sake.

food coloring - if your food isnt naturally that color, why use food colorings? you can achieve color with natural ingredients. saffron - yellow/orange. herbs - green chlorophyll. annatto - deep orange/red. squid ink - black. beets - deep purple.

artifical extracts - they taste like alcohol and are nasty! get the pure stuff, its only a few dollars more but well worth it.

back to my original point. chefs should have the utmost respect for their food. they should know how it was grown, how it was kept, how it traveled and how it is handled in the kitchen before it goes out to the diner. what better way to control all that then to do it yourself.

as for my plants and fruits. in due time they will be featured in tastings.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

summer dessert menu

summer menu

guanaja "torchon"/ liquid acai/ spiced pop rocks/ creme anglaise

picarones/ aji amarillo honey/ peanut butter powder

texas state fair banana corndog/ banana mustard/ banana ice cream

torta de lucuma/ chocolate biscuit/ hazelnut frangipan/ pistachio cream

summer citrus curd/ tarragon syrup/ macaroons/ pitahaya sorbet

tres leches/ meringue

"raspados"/ lucuma/ pitahaya/ chocolate soy/ coconut/ banana

new dessert items

this is my homage to the texas state fair where, as we all know, the corndog was invented. this is my take.

texas state fair banana corndog/ banana mustard/ banana ice cream

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

summer citrus curd


summer citrus curd
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
this dessert is due to heavy influence by jordan kahn, alex stupak and sam mason.

summer citrus curd/ macaroon/ hazelnut streusel/ tarragon syrup/ pitahaya sorbet

Friday, June 20, 2008

hello/goodbye

due to a high demand from loyal americas guests, the tres leches has been restored. misha you were right.

hello


goodbye

Thursday, June 19, 2008

summers almost here!

in two days it will be summer. time to change menus. heres a proposed summer dessert menu

tres leches/ sponge/ meringue

guanaja "torchon"/ pop rocks/ acai/ creme anglaise

smoked chocolate cake/ bbq/ cherries/ bacon

lucuma chiffon/ honey/ lucuma sorbet/ summer citrus fruits

platanito corndogs/ banana mustard/ vanilla ice cream

"raspados"/ pitaya/ coconut/ chocolate-soy/ lucuma/ vanilla

roasted stone fruits/ piloncillo/ buttermilk ice cream

Thursday, June 12, 2008

monotony evokes creativity

i measured out my flour, sugar and butter. i was cutting my butter into the flour. all by hand, because we all know no machine can replace your hands in cooking.

so there i was. bored. just cutting butter into the flour. making a pie dough. and i started thinking ... i have butter and flour. what else is made with flour and butter?

BEURRE MANIE!!

now i would skip out on beurre manie and go for either xanthan gum or methocel. but then i started thinking about roux. roux is flour and butter. when i think roux i think gumbo. i love to browning of the flour and butter. its creates an amazing aroma and taste.

so. what if i made a roux, like for gumbo, seasoned it and let it cool. once cooled bake it in the oven like a cookie. gumbo cookie?

what else uses roux ... bechamel??? bechamel cookies?

not just cookies. streusels, powders, liquid sable (i have the utmost respect for jordan kahn)

its an idea now. i'll play around. look for upcoming posts

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

my poor baby!


my poor baby!
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
wednesday night i got hit. this is what my car looked like in daylight.

i wasnt in a good mood that night. i thought about drinking, but an amazing and very caring friend told me i should go home. get rest, be safe.

so i went home. my light turned green and i advanced. i didnt see anything, i didnt feel anything. but when i opend my eyes, my car was in the middle of the road. i was facing in a southern direction (i was driving north). my airbag went off and my door would not open.

im lucky to be alive.

my poor baby.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

flips and flops

it tasted amazing yesterday. why not today?! it was sweet, tart and smoky. what happened?! it was tart today and lacking in flavor. the only thing that helped today was the bacon. but even the almighty BACON was not enough. what happened?!

you're probably wondering, "what is he talking about?"

well obviously. a cupcake!!

tonight was our first night of the food and wine event in the woodlands. our event was called 'it's a guy thing.' the host was master sommelier guy stouts - its a guy thin - get it? so tonight we had a bunch of guys come taste wine and mingle (teehee!)

fortunately the gentleman were stuffed to their gills before dessert came out. there was no room for dessert. its a good thing because i was not happy with my cupcakes. they tasted fine, but they were not up to my standards.

smoked chocolate cupcake/ BBQ buttercream/ bacon streusel

my idea was to try recreate a very manly activity in a not very manly fashion. it was humorous. tonights event was referred to as guys night out. and well, drinking wine and mingling, you get the point. hence the cupcake.

yesterday they were amazing. the smoke level was right, the sweetness of the tomatoes shined in the buttercream, bacon was smoky and salty. it was a great balance of sweet tart salty and smoky. it was very reminiscing of a summer bbq. but today it was very tart.

i have no idea what happened. i'll have to revist that cupcake later.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

misha and tasty-bits.com

misha was to come last night for dinner with his wife and friends. unfortunately they could not make it because americas does not offer vegetarian options.

i did not speak to him early enough. we had 350+ reservations. included were a wedding, birthdays, etc. we did, however, out of some miracle find time to make 2 vegatarian plates, plus my desserts (all vegetarian friendly)

anywho, misha was able to come this afternoon for lunch. we were slow today and i was able to do a dessert tasting for him and his two companions. it was a delight for me to have a chance to do one, as much as it was for him to eat it. win win, no?

i'm looking forward to your pics and blog!!

i had a sesame "granola" on your cheese course. after reading your blog about desserts at 17, i was a bit worried!

oh! i didnt realize i did not have you on my list of blogger friends. im adding you, do likewise!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

dessert tasting and elvis costello

seems every blog has been dormant for weeks, mine included. what, with mothers day, private grand opening party, beos, its been a bit hectic to find a second to write. alas, i write once again.

on a recent post on allison's blog, she wrote about pet peeves from both sides of the restaurant industry. i said that i do not like to go orders. when food is presented as art and with different temperatures and textures, the end product in a box does not do it justice. it's just not right!! i'm sure randy would agree with this. his food is incredibly beautiful and extremely artistic. it does not do any justice to put it in a box.

aside from that, yesterday i had two great friends come to america's to try my desserts. i treated them with a 6 course dessert tasting. i love doing tastings. its exciting and spontaneous. if you want to do a dessert tasting, please let me know. i will gladly do it ... actually, i would beg you to let me do a dessert tasting. (next time i do a tasting i will take pictures) this was their dessert tasting:

picaron/ pb powder/ aji amarillo honey/ brown butter ice cream

tres leches/ vanilla fluff/ creme fraiche

lucuma souffle/ bacon streusel/ apple-yuzu spritzer

texas goat cheese/ white truffle honey/ blueberries

annatto ice cream/ vanilla croquant/ sesame granola

guanaja "torchon"/ acai/ creme anglaise/ spiced pop rocks


they loved it! i had fun. win win. OHHHH!! and afterwards they reminded me that they were in the neighborhood for the concert: the police with elvis costello. I NEARLY FORGOT!! im a huge elvis costello fan. i have not missed any of his shows in the last 4 years, and i wasnt about to miss this one. i had to leave work early. i had to. im sorry. but i've been working 12-15hour days with half day off since we opened. i needed a break. i needed to do something for myself.

and so it was. i was waiting in line at the cynthia woods mitchel pavillion. it was a short walk to get there (YES! a walk. we are literally that close to the venue) bought my ticket, sat down on the lawn and enjoyed an amazing 45 minute set.

once elvis was done i announced to my friends i would be leaving. they insisted i stay for the police, i gave in. i had a bad feeling about it. i was right. i was bored out of my mind during the police. i was completely dissapointed with their performance.

they played everything extremely technically. great skills, not one missed note. but with so much technicality, they lost all passion ... or so it seemed to me. i just wanted to see them play their hits as they were 20+ years ago. they didnt. instead they dragged each song out. everything she does is magic was extremely mellow. what happened?! when i was in college, my band covered that song. we did a ska/punk cover because thats what we listened to and because its easy turning everything into ska/punk. the song dragged out for what seemed hours. it was slow. there was no foot stomping beat. it didnt make me feel like skanking. or even singing along. it was slow and dull. same goes for the following songs, don't stand so close to me, roxanne, doo doo doo da da da, etc. the only song that fit their new jazz/jam style was every breath you take. but even that song dragged on.

i love the police as much as the next guy, but this new sound they are trying to do is not befitting of the police i new; the police i grew up listening to.

Monday, May 12, 2008

wine cheese and crackers


wine cheese and crackers
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
after a long weekend all you need is something familiar and comforting.

i miss wine, cheese and crackers with my friend.

(pictured: riesling, camembert, whole wheat crackers)

Friday, May 9, 2008

cutting corners

why do chefs shun modern cookery? i was told that i cut corners and that it disrupts the quality of the product. i beg to differ.

you can only cut corners when you understand the science behind your ingredients; why food reacts the way it does. i do extensive research before i introduce anything new. i dont just throw things together without thought.

classic french cookery seems like an orthodox religion. whereas, if they are not doing it, it's wrong. if one doesnt follow their strict guidelines, that one is wrong. where if anything is done outside their proxy, it's wrong. i dont get that ego!

so back to cutting corners. if a new technique using a modern vessel improves the speed of production, is it wrong? to a point. i am very passionate about bread. i love bread. i do not use instant yeast, active dry yeast. i use fresh yeast. i use starters. i dont you s500 or whatever that agent that speeds fermentation is called.

so. the french custard. does it have to take an hour to make? what if you could make it in 10 minutes? what if you could pour into holders that are otherwise impossible to bake in? what if it is cutting corners but without destroying quality? would you do it?

i made a classic creme brulee for the escoffier society. i used modern cookery and they never knew. i made 100 creme brulees in 10 minutes. i made 100 souffles in 10 minutes. and they didnt know the difference. so if i can fool the escoffier society, i think job well done.

yet im being told i cut corners.

what about the chawanmushi? its a custard and it is made in 12-15 minutes. its traditional. its been done for years. so how are they able to make it in such a short time, yet the french need hours?

the japanese use the steamer.
i use the microwave.

microwaves are amazing cooking equipment. ferran adria uses microwaves. what about that? the chef with the number 1 restaurant in the world is using microwaves. what do you say to that?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

tasting voice: voice tasting

i'm out to have dinner at voice with friends. i got my camera ready. i got paper and pad ready.

if any of you kiddos feel like joining us, please do! even you mg.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

whatever happened to the four seasons?

its spring. its been spring for a while. its soon to be summer. so why are chefs still serving winter soups? at that, winter food? what happened to cooking seasonally and locally.

so what is it with butternut squash soup and braised short ribs in late spring?

it just doesnt make sense. come on!

be passionate about your produce, meats, location and their seasonality. cook for your guests, dont cook for yourself.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

they call me p-nasty

for some unknown reason my two favorite runners have nicknamed p-nasty. i find it amusing!

one day i was out doing something for a second. when i come back to my station they posted this sign:


a cacophony of booming laughter came out of me like never before. it totally made my day. so that sign will forever be in my pastry station. after that it goes into my portfolio.

the littles things always amuse and constantly make you smile.

thank you adam and corey.

*this picture is courtesy of katie

Saturday, April 26, 2008

fun fun

my friends came by last night to have dinner at our soft opening. i am really glad they came. whats better than cooking for friends? really, what is?

katie posted a pictures on her flickr

Friday, April 25, 2008

you are invited

to our soft opening.

keep it quiet, its a soft opening. shhhhhhh!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

cupcakes


cupcakes
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
so here they are again.

as much as i hated making them everyday at the bakery, i enjoy making them at the restaurant. this time its at americas and i am super excited about it.

smoked chocolate cupcake, dulce de leche buttercream.

id like to constantly change the cupcakes. keep them fresh. keep them creative.

apple cupcake, foie gras buttercream, candied bacon
peanut cupcake, jelly buttercream, banana chips
onion cupcake, duck confit buttercream
lucuma cupcake, goat cheese buttercream, basil

send me ideas!

top chef pastry challenge

its always upsetting watching cooking shows where they have pastry challenges. why do they all fear it? what's there to fear?!!

oh i know, for some reason people view pastries as being effeminate.

ay! hey chefs, do you know what desserts are? do you?! its food. you cook food, you like food. so damnit! cook desserts. its not hard. its actually tons of fun. its incredibly creative. it requires lots of technique and skill. and foremost, its just food!

food food food food food food food food food!

i was a chef before a pastry chef. i had an initial fear for pastries. ill admit it, i too found pastries to be very effeminate. but i dated one of the prettiest pastry chefs ever. she literally smacked my head for having such an obtuse view towards pastries. after a few months of working with her i completely turned around.

as chefs what drives us is our passion for food. pastries are food. dont forget pastries!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

fun with agar


custard pearls
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
ive been playing around with agar for a little over a year and the stuff still fascinates me!

about 2 months ago i decided to try sam mason's technique of spherification with agar and oil.

after a week of playing, i came up with a recipe that works with my custard dessert. luckily i had this done before my tasting with the cordua group. it blew me (as much as them) away! so here it is:

agar agar solution
16 oz water
12 oz sugar
1 oz agar agar

combine water and sugar. bring to a boil. sprinkle in agar. whisk vigorously until agar is fully incorporated. continue boiling for 2 minutes.

custard
12 ea egg yolks
2 ea eggs
2 cups sugar
1 ea vanilla bean
pinch sea salt
1 qt heavy cream

place all in 4 qt container with lid. whisk to combine. place in microwave (home use) for three minutes. remove from microwave. whisk. top with lid. microwave for 3 more minutes. repeat but now for 2 minutes. repeat but now for 1 minute. repeat until mixture gets thicker (consistency of creme anglaise). remove and place in ice bath to stop cooking.
(for beads, use custard mix that is hot)

custard beads
2 lb custard, hot
12 oz agar agar solution, hot
vegetable oil, as needed

combine both in blender, strain and fill squeeze bottle.
drip custard mix into cold oil.

have fun!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

late night dinner


late night dinner
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
whats a chef to do for food late at night and only with a few bucks?!

thats right! dos tacos por 99 centavos

Sunday, April 6, 2008

why aren't i fat??

i get asked this, NO! i get dismissed as a pastry chef because everyone envisions a pastry chef being over indulgently fat. so i started thinking about it ...

i base my career around fat (butter, eggs, cream, chocolate, sugar, etc.)
i constantly snack on/taste my desserts.
i eat desserts at every restaurant (at least once) to gauge the chef (and if money permits, the pastry chef).
my night cap consisted of valrhona guanaja chocolate (70%) and a glass of baileys.
i love foie gras!
i love brioche!
i love pork belly!
recently i admitted that my last meal would be a braised pork belly and foie gras slider on a rich mans brioche (peter reinhart)

so why am i not fat?
good metabolism? yes, but ...

as a pastry chef i am sick and disgusted by what people consider dessert. i hate the idea of dessert. people think something super rich, super sweet, super heavy and super fat. when i think of dessert i think as the perfect end of a meal wether it be sweet or savory. i think a few pastry chefs agree with me on this.

with that in mind, i am on a mission to change peoples perspective of dessert. it will prove almost impossible in texas (everythings bigger in texas) but i will continue on my quest. join me!

ingredients and gums


ingredients and gums
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
a few hyrdocolloids and gelatins i use regularly. dont worry, you wont even know its in your desserts!

if you've had my desserts, you've had these already!

Friday, April 4, 2008

we have light


we have light
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
this picture captures by far one of the most important days in my life. we (the chefs) have been in agony for months cramped up in office hour after hour. this site is as beautiful to us as is the first time a mom sees her baby.

this is our baby and it is alive!!

wow! i cant wait to see what comes forth those flames. we are going to ignite the woodlands.

i'm way too excited! i think i need a drink ... i've been told that jagermeister is the drink of drink for up and coming chefs ... or the demise of chefs. i'm not fan of the stuff, but if you're buying. i'll take 2 or 300! haha

Monday, March 31, 2008

iron chef america

hey!! did you watch iron chef this weekend??

if you did then you saw me! i was pastry chef for the challenging chef.

if you didnt, theres no need to worry. the show will broadcast the rest of the week. check the food network for times.

watch it!!!

OH! and this weekend the challenger will be Ken Oringer (Clio). i am super stoked about this battle. i cant wait!

Friday, March 28, 2008

lavender


lavender
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
i found these babies growing in my backyard. jen planted them, i enjoy the fruits of her labor.

so i'm confused. it smells like rosemary. it looks like rosemary. but its lavender. i guess all thats left to do is to taste it.

either way, its very pretty.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dai Due Supper Club

this weekend i ventured out to austin to visit friends and support tyson and philly on their iron chef battle against morimoto. my friends had a surprise for me on saturday. they informed me about a farm in austin that has dinners weekend nights. their dinners are composed of all local ingredients. working with jj, i have become an avid fan of local products. this was my dinner at rain lily farm.

Fennel and Lemon Blossom Ratafia
i've tried some ratafias at tafia's, but none were as clean and smooth as this one. i hate fennel, so i was completely surprised i enjoyed this so much. i asked for thirds.

Gruyere and Apple Butter on Grilled Bread
the cheese was my favorite. it comes from Veldhuizen Farm. i hear we are getting lots of our cheeses and dairy products from them. the apple butter gave the canape a nice mellow sweetness.

Ham, Sweet Potato and Kale Soup
light and hearty ... seems an oxymoron or a bad way to describe food, but i stand by my description.


Grilled Spring Onions with Green Garlic Sauce
i like my onions fully cooked. i cannot stand the flavor of raw or barely cooked onions. these spring onions were barely grilled and were absolutely delicious.

Grilled Quail with Lettuces
the quail was delicious, but for me the lettuces (especially the arugula) were the highlight of the evening. the quail rested on a nest of lettuces. the jus dripped from the quail and seasoned the lettuces. the smoky flavor, the saltiness and oil from the quail jus mixed incredibly with the bitterness of the arugula.

Grilled Pork Shoulder with Cabbage & Celery Root
i found the meat a bit tough. the celery root was outstanding.

Spit Roasted Lamb Shoulder
that was some tasty lamb shoulder!

Grilled Asparagus and Mushrooms
mmmm ... the tips of the arugula were crisp and tasty, but the best part was the stems. as soon as you bit into it, it melted in your mouth. they used oyster mushrooms and i loved them. my favorite were the bits that were small and slightly over cooked. they had a nice texture and concentrated flavor.

Beef Ribs with Beets and Beet Greens
i dont quite remember this one. im not a big beef fan.

Strawberry Sorbet with Fresh Cream
soon after eating this i received a phone call (or i called her. im not sure) from my best friend jennifer. she trained me. she would spent hours literally holding my hand showing me how to make pastry cream. (my custard dessert is my culinary ode to her) everything that i am and will be is because of her. she is my inspiration and motivation in life. so she called (or i called her. im not sure) and the first things i said were, "this is the best dessert i have ever had in my life!" it was a simple delicious strawberry sorbet topped with unpasteurized unsweetened whipped cream.


Dai Due is having another dinner this saturday evening, the focus will be seafood. i heard that tyson cole would be the guest chef. im headed back with a group of chefs from houston.

i highly recommend and invite all to come out. its simple and delicious food. all local. all grown with passion and with love.

call and make reservations (512)769-7261
Dai Due Supper Club

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

where have i seen this??


oh yeah! Nobu West cookbook.

desserts at japanese and asian restaurants

ive been criticized for not being diverse with my desserts while at soma.

a week ago or so, i was at a bookstore looking at Nobu West cookbook. and guess what i saw?! a dessert that is not asian! this is Nobu West description:

Whiskey Cappucino

"this dessert is layered with a wonderful array of textures and flavors, from an intense coffee brulee and a cocoa crunch through to iced cream and milk, and then the luxurious topping of whiskey foam"

ok. about the only thing in this dessert that is asian is the suntory whiskey.

Monday, March 17, 2008

somethings out of place ...


somethings out of place ...
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
so i was at fiesta last night and this caught my sight. i laughed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

lucuma bavarois


lucuma bavarois
Originally uploaded by fuzzzycatt
lucuma is a fruit native to peru. its flavors are very similar to that of maple syrup.

i was very excited in making this dessert. i had never tried lucuma. i ask my mother if she had (we are from bolivia). she said yes and she said she loved it. so this dessert was made with my mothers palette in mind.

lucuma bavarois / hazelnut shortbread / smoked hazelnuts / basil syrup / texas goat cheese

more on my flickr