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Cocktailia

Tentop has evolved in ways that my faithful readers never would have dreamed at it’s inception, at that is too cool for me to put into words. Our latest dinner however, was a little closer to the basic form we started with. To put it most simply, two guys cooking the food they wanted to cook. We had the fortunate benefit of having Nick Keane on board as our bar tender, and his drinks were the starting point for all the dishes that Michael and I came up with. While my liver may never forgive me for the R&D put in on this menu, I feel it was some of the best food Micheal and I have cooked, and it had to be; to stand up to Nick’s banging concoctions.

The whole menu and pairings were killer, as I hope you can imagine; but I’d like to focus on two dishes. Our entree, Delmonico Steak Frites is a good snapshot of how we approach dish design. Take a classic, in this case two classics, and jam ‘em into something new, something the same but different. Here we started with Steak Rossini, a classic even among the classics, basically filet and seared foie gras. With our typical “we can do better” attitude, we switched out the filet mignon for rib eye, (as we are, in fact, men;) and the seared foie for torchon, because it spreads like butter. We molded the torchon into a fancy flexible mold to get the cool shape. A full rib eye steak seemed a bit much for a multi-coursed meal like this, so at Michael’s suggestion we had it butchered in the Delmonico style by Ian of Tails & Trotters. I know better than to tackle a butchery project like this on my own, and Ian’s skill is widely known. He did such a good job that we ended up cooking the suckers whole, and then sexily slicing them at service. So we’ve got steak, we’ve got foie…how about truffle fries? So yeah, we jammed in yet another classic; Steak frites. Nick came up with the perfect pairing with this, a goose fat washed Manhattan, which had a lingering earthiness to it that rode smoothly underneath the profound richness of this dish. Fuck was it good.

My other favorite of the night was partially due to the pairing, and partially due to the fact that I literally dreamed this dish up. When we tasted through the cocktails the first time, I knew right away I needed to rethink my dessert. This cocktail (originally named the McRittenhouse before Nick settled on Bitter Vieux,) is one of the best I’ve tasted. Thick and syrupy, stirred of course, and perfectly balanced. This drink needed more than a slice of pie next to it. I’d been dicking around a bunch with the Milk Bar cookbook, with mixed results, and the answer eventually came from there…kind of. I had a dream one night, and my better half can verify this, because I woke up spouting gibberish about “the best ice cream sandwich” before rolling over to return to loudly snoring. The dream involved my combining Tosi’s milk crumb recipe with the age-old “crunchy layer” I learned from Chef Tony Martin. I made the crunchy layer, then covered it with the milk crumbs, covered both with a layer of parchment and weighted it down. After it was set I portioned it into rectangles and used it as the “bread” for an ice cream sandwich. In my dream, I did this process countless times. I just kept doing it and doing it until I woke up. Weird huh? Anyway, dreams do come true sometimes, and in this case, thankfully so. Here’s a recipe.

Milk Crumb Crunch

first, make the milk crumbs.

you’ll probably want to double the recipe, it’s a good thing to have around.

then you’ll need:

12 oz of chocolate (I use 64% cocoa barry)

3 cups of feuilletine (if you can’t get feuilletine, you can use an equal amount of ground nuts, corn flakes, potato chips, or any combination there of. Just some crunchy shit you think will taste good in chocolate)

1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Prepare a half sheet pan with a silpat.

2. When the chocolate is melted, mix in the feuilletine all at once. Quickly spread the mixture out onto the prepared pan using an offset spatula.

3. While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle an even layer of milk crumbs over it. Cover this with parchment and pile on a few half sheets on top to press the two recipes together.

4. Chill until fully set, at least one hour. Bring the pan up to room temperature before portioning into desired shape. How I used it is pictured below, as the cookie in a butter pecan ice cream sandwich. We served it with salted orange caramel and

Bitter Viuex by Nick Keane

1 1/2oz Rittenhouse Rye
3/4 Laird’s Applejack
3/4 Lillet Blanc
1/4 Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Benedictine
3 dashes Fees whiskey barrel bitters

  1. Fill a mixing glass half way with ice.
  2. Add liquors and other cocktail ingredients.
  3. Twirl a bar spoon to stir for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a well-chilled glass.


Your Moms Baked Goods.

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Hey did you every wonder about that magic?  That little light that helps you find your way home, to your heart of hearts?  That spark that keeps you going, in spite of it all?  That little magic that conjures itself, with nary a swish or flick, and serves to inspire you through your day, to keep you going?  I’m not magic, I don’t even profess to do magic.  What I do is barely science.  But I can tell you what gets me through my day.  Indulgence.  At the very least the promise there of.  That promise of that first cold beer, heads lifting and turning like meerkats at the tell-tale “shh-pck.”  Or maybe it’s that perfectly cooked burger, piled high with fixins’ and oozing mayo like you know you want it to, all sexy like.  Hell, maybe for you it’s peeing off the bridge on your walk home, but you know what I mean.  Something you do just for you, like a midnight cookie dipped into a cold glass of milk in the refrigerator light.

Speaking of indulgence, and cookies for that matter, why not satisfy your need for both with a few late night flicks of the wrist?  No, that’s not what I mean, you know; click the mouse.  Oh just buy my shit.

As faithful readers know, I’m a recent inductee into that elite club of high earning loafers, the select few paid to merely “look” for work. This sudden extreme increase of free time has got me thinking.  The not so distant past of my pastry chef profile, the state of fine dining in this economy and so forth, I mean Executive Pastry Chef? In Portland?  There’s like two. What if I could strip away all the smoke and mirrors of fine dining and using the hairy diodes of the internet and put my pastry right in your very hands?  Where to start? Would you buy it? Would you electronically transmit your hard earned money to get at that sweet indulgence that only I can provide, you faceless billions behind glowing screens everywhere?  I mean you could be eating my cookies right now, if they were available online.   This is how the idea for Your Mom’s Baked Goods came to me.

Why Your Moms?  The obvious mom joke is already hanging there, like ripe, low-hanging fruit.  Your Mom’s Cookies.  Heh heh.  Your Mom.  This kind of facile low-brow humor comes so easily to my faithful readers that uttering it would only cheapen it.  I thought, then why not make it also make it a tribute to Moms everywhere? I love my Mom, and you love yours, right?  What group, other than babies, are so universally loved worldwide than mothers?  And how many of them have inspired us to bake? My mother used to make us the most awesome birthday cakes.  She used a box mix most of the time, but would spend hours decorating mounds of cake into Spider Man or something.  I seem to remember an igloo cake at some point.  Yeah, moms rule.  So do my cookies.  So would you buy ‘em? Let’s find out!  This weekend at Tabla, where I was lucky enough to crash-land part time after losing my job; diners receive a free sample of my salted chocolate chip cookie. while supplies last.  Hopefully, a good amount of people reading this scored one of those samples, and will show their support and feedback in the comments.  Everyone else, let me know what you think of this whole venture.  Follow the progress on twitter @yourmomsbaked

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Such as a Simple Cookie.

I hear the phrase “the best thing I’ve ever eaten” thrown around,  and ultimately, I call bullshit.  I mean the notion of “the best” is a fake idea. With subject like food which is completely psychological, The best? Well how many tacos have you eaten, faithful readers? How many burgers have you consumed?  Have you eaten enough chocolate chip cookies to definitively say that that is the best?  The tradition of chocolate chip cookies is well documented, and who the fuck are you to say “this is the best.”  Who the fuck am I for that matter?

As I re-read that last paragraph I realize that I to, am full of shit.  Because you know what? Sometimes things are simply “the best.”  Like my chocolate chip cookies.  I know, I know. But they are.  It’s like the old adage says: “if one person calls you a horse, tell them he’s crazy.  If twenty people call you a horse, go buy a fucking saddle.” And so I have started to believe the hype about these little god dammits.  We give them away for free at the restaurant, as part of out mignardises program, if you have dinner.  I go through about three or four hundred a week.  People come back in to purchase the cookies for a dollar a piece, not bad for a nineteen cent cookie.

The recipe is based upon a now classic by the famous Jacques Torres. I first tasted these years ago,  brought to work for sampling by a very close friend of mine.  The most important step in this recipe is the aging the dough.  Jacques suggests between 24 and 36 hours, and up to 72.  I imagine that this process would improve upon almost any cookie recipe, the flavor and texture improved by hydrating the flour.  I have been told recently that even cake batters can stand to sit and hydrate for a while, a few hours in the fridge improving the quality remarkably.  But that guy also boiled gelatin with a snarky look and kept his sugar and eggs mixed together in the fridge.   These are things that i cannot bring myself to do, even if the pastry chef from Valrhona says I should.

I improve upon Jacques recipe in two simple ways.  I substitute muscovado sugar for half of the amount of brown, and I use both semi-sweet and milk chocolate pistoles. Almost as important as the aging the dough is the selection of chocolate.  Pistoles, disks, or feves are a must, as they create s sort of layering of chocolate unique to the texture of this recipe.  Think you might want to skip the sprinkling of sea salt on top?   Don’t.  These are the best for a reason, and salt is part of that reason.  I believe Jacques likes fluer de sel and I prefer Maldon’s but any quality, coarse sea salt would work.  Also, batters of this nature always come together nicer when all your ingredients are at room temperature, even the eggs.  A note on baking: I typically am baking these from frozen in a 300 degree convection oven.  I like to pull them when they just puff up, and just barely start to brown on the edges.  These are little guys too, maybe a tablespoon of dough.  At that size they take about 12 minutes, with one rotation halfway through baking.  If you make them bigger, they’re going to take longer.  Our Chef at the restaurant enjoys the dough frozen, and I always smile when he grabs a handful.  This recipe makes A LOT!! it’s a rim-rider in my 600 pro-series Kitchen Aid. You might want to cut it in half.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 lb all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp salt
1 lb 4 oz butter at room temperature
10 oz muscovado
10 oz brown sugar
1 lb granulated sugar
4 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 lb chocolate pistoles (64%)
1 1/4 lb milk chocolate pistoles (38%)
fluer de sel for sprinkling
Instructions:
• Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and set aside.
• Cream the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, at least ten minutes.
• Add the eggs on at a time, scraping after the second and final egg. Add vanilla.
• Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
• Add in the chocolate and mix until it is evenly dispersed in the batter.
• Transfer the dough to a sheet pan and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for 36 hours.
• Preheat the oven to 350. Scoop the cookies to desired size and place evenly on a parchment lined sheet pan. Sprinkle each cookie with a touch of fleur de sel.
• Bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.