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I’ve seen many a great technique in this biz, I mean I hope so after almost 20 years. Every once and awhile thought I see something that really changes the game, a true face-palm-angels-singing-on-high kind of moment. Like the technique for cleaning chop bones with butcher twine, or the Mexican Egg Separating Method (MESP.) One of the finest examples of these types of techniques was demoed to me rather non-nonchalantly by the multi-talented and often elusive Chef Eric Suniga, with whom I worked with briefly at ten-o1. He saw me and my assistant laboriously struggling to make hundreds of tiny vol au vents late one night using this basic method. Off the cuff he mentions, “I’ve got a really fast way to do that,” which is the same method I’m about to show you, Faithful Readers. I have described this method to countless cooks and Chefs by drawing something similar on a piece of parchment or paper towel, now I’ll Just send ‘em a link.
Use this techinque as I often do as a vessel for mushroom duxelles,or smoked salmon salad. Make larger versions for a super clean tart tatin. There are really a thousand-and-one uses for this versatile pastry. Just Google it. Anyway, here’s a Photoshopped diagram of the technique which took me way longer to make than it will for you to make hundreds of vol au vents. FYI the Pear Tatin pictured at the top of this post uses the same method, just with a square cutter.
After almost a year hiatus, Michael and I got back into the kitchen and fucking slayed it. I don’t know how else to say it. It was the most thoughtful, portion appropriate menu we’ve put together to date. Start to finish, as we put up each course on the first night, I was very proud of what we had done.
We opened with an Oyster Po-Baby, a nod to the creativity of Chef Larry Piaskowy of Bar Jars, a dear friend of Kitchen Cru and tentop. It was cute and delicious, and a straight bite off his idea. Thanks Chef.
Second course closely related to my faithful reader’s interests. A play on the simple, rustic Turkish Egg; we did sage butter poached eggs and Ham Toast. That’s right HAM TOAST. For the yogurt element of the dish I scored some home made stuff from PDX Biryani. I blended confit garlic and paprika into it and holyeeee shit. Turkish Eggs 2.0.
Third we did an almost…standard dish. A straight take on Spanish flavors we had Black Cod seared in chorizo oil, bomba rice, baby clam nage. We gave it the tentop treatment with some deep fried chorizo slices. It went over quite well.
The entree course was one that people around me were probably just as happy to see come together as I was. I had been talking about doing a ponzu braised item with a crispy kale salad for way too long. We ended up doing it with Tails & Trotters pork cheeks. Michael had the genius idea to add a little hoisin to the sweet potato puree that blanketed the plate, and damn. This dish was a home run. Check the recipe below.
Our dessert that night was another one I had been wanting to try for awhile, essentially french fries dipped in a milkshake like you would get stoned off your gourd at your favorite drive-thru. We made pommes dauphine, piped ‘em into “fries” and froze ‘em solid before frying and serving with a shake. It’s a fun, interactive dessert that would work quite well on many menus. Basically…a fucking churro.
Ponzu Braised Pork Cheeks
8-10 pork cheeks, preferably from Tails & Trotters
vegetable oil as needed
1 cup white wine
2 cups lemon juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cups grape fruit juice
2 cups lime juice
1/4 cup soy
3 -4 chunks palm of sugar
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 medium white onions, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1. Trim off any excessive fat from the cheeks but don’t go crazy. You want some of that fat to render when you…
2. Sear the pork cheeks on all sides until golden brown. Remove from the pan and saute all the veggies in the rendered fat. Do not be afraid to get some color on them. Deglaze with the white wine.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine as you bring it to a boil. Add in the pork cheeks, cover tightly and braise in a 300 F oven until tender, about 2 1/2 hrs.
4. Let the whole mess cool to room temp before chilling it, overnight, in the pan it was cooked in.
5. Next day, scrape off and discard any fat that has solidified in the pan. Remove the pork cheeks and set them aside, preferably under refrigeration.
6. Strain the braising liquid and reduce it by half. Adjusting the seasoning with soy and palm sugar as needed. You are looking for the perfect balance between salt (soy) acid (citrus) and sweet (palm sugar.) If your reduction is not thick enough to coat the pork cheeks, thicken it with a little with cornstarch. Just be sure to bring to to a roiling boil to cook of any starchy taste.
7. Warm the pork cheeks up in the sauce, coating them evenly. Serve hot.
Feast PDX was quite simply insane. Anyone involved could at least attest to it’s grand scope if not it’s amazing content. So if your interested, ask any of those people to elaborate. Personally, I don’t need to relive it. The quintessential moment for me is pictured above. If you don’t know who that is standing next to me, then how the ever-loving fuck did you end up on this website? Faithful readers may recognize him from Iron Chef America, where he unabashedly gave his honest opinion, sometimes with eloquent rancor. Author of two of my favorite books and renowned judge of food (and people.) He also writes for this little known publication.
Anyway, it was awesome to meet him, and it was the cherry on top of a very long month. More blogging soon. Probably. Hopefully.
Whew. I mean motherfucking WHEW. So much has happened since my last post that I can’t figure out where to begin. I guess the biggest and most obvious thing to mention is the latest project that I’m involved in, Bowery Bagels. The story goes like this: My employer and friend Michael Madigan has a mean bagel recipe. I mean these things are REAL bagels, which where I grew up you didn’t have to clarify what that means. Out here in the Northwest however, the definition of that oh-so common torus shaped bread is much more nebulous; but I digress. Yes, this is a true bagel recipe; a simple, malty, glutenous dough which is formed, long fermented, boiled, seeded, and baked. Anything else just isn’t a bagel. And Michael’s recipe is a fine example. I first tasted this recipe about 10 months ago, Michael had made a batch to butter up a certain contact at a certain grocery store to hopefully get the products of one of Kitchen Cru’s clients onto the shelves at said grocery. The products were almost forgotten as the bagels were devoured, and the contact urged Micheal to go into production and make these bagels available to the masses. When he came back from that meeting, the excitement glimmered in his eyes, and the so catalyzed the meteoric rise of our bagel production and what would become Bowery Bagels.
We did R&D. We converted Michael’s recipe for 8 bagels to 16, 32, 64 and we outgrew our mixing options at Kitchen Cru. It was right around this time that we started development of one of our signature bagels, the Miso Soy Ginger (MSG.) The most significant milestone in this process, maybe the whole Bowery process in its entirety, was the hiring of my dear friend Kathy High, a Dough Whisperer of the Highest Order. She arrived to the party at about version 9.2 of the MSG’s development, and after touching the dough once, doing a little research, she dialed in the recipe to what it is today.
Fast forward to today. Kathy has kicked so much ass that there is little ass left to kick. 10,000+ bagels a week are pumped out of Kitchen Cru, and more and more are ordered every week from our numerous wholesale accounts which include Stumptown Coffee and New Seasons Market. After several pop ups at Cru, our store front has been opened across Broadway next door to the Gilt Club, and we already have a devoted crowd of local followers; served by a devoted staff of kick ass peeps. I’m working on my second sandwich menu for the shop, which has been delightfully fun thanks to another key employee, Erin Andrews. She preps all the food for the shop as a culinary ninja such as herself would do such things. And me…well…I just try to keep it all rolling forward. One day I’m ordering a pallet of high gluten flour, or picking up huge buckets of malt syrup, the next I might be scaling out ten batches of dough and corn-mealing 500 sheet pans. In the same week you’ll find me R&Ding new sandwich ideas, or showing Erin how to make foie torchon for our foie gras schmear. All the while running Kitchen Cru with my newly hired kitchen manager, Ingrid Chen.
In a nut shell, I’m doing great my Faithful Readers. Better than ever in fact. So as the dust settles a little bit, and the talented people I work with take more and more off my plate; expect a lest a FEW more posts than you’ve been seeing here. And no, I haven’t forgotten about tentop, and I hope you all haven’t either. So come eat a bagel for fuck’s sake, they’re damn good.
Chef’s and faithful readers the world over have had a long standing obsession with ramen, and not just the instant ramen that has fed countless generations of college students the world over. This Japanese comfort food calls more and more food lovers into it’s ranks yearly, but relatively few have taken the challenge of trying to make their own. David Chang’s expose on the topic in the first issue of Lucky Peach magazine recently has had many kitchens buzzing, and mine is no exception. I tried making his recipes verbatim soon after reading the magazine, and felt so armed to start fucking around with my own version.
The noodles for this ended up being Chang’s recipe, verbatim. I experimented with making potato noodles using potato flour; didn’t work. The noodles kept expanding then turning to mush when I went to cook them. After I had given up I was told that I should have worked in xanthan as a binder, which one day I may try.
For the broth, we did a traditional corned beef braise; wherein a beef brisket is brined for five days, then braised for four hours in a low oven. We strained off the broth, augmented it with a simple beef stock made from cows’ necks. We steeped in konbu and ground dried shiitake mushrooms, and reduced the broth by one third. The traditional seasoning for ramen broth comes from what’s called tare (tar-ay,) a rich syrupy stuff made from chicken backs, soy, mirin, sake, and bacon. We tweaked this by using hanger steak instead of the chicken backs, and smoked ham hock along with the bacon. The tare is blended into the broth right before it hits the bowl. Again, I adapted all of this from Lucky Peach, so I hope David Chang doesn’t sue me. However, I guess if he was going to, he would have already.
The idea behind this dish was to “fuse” corn beef and cabbage with ramen, and the garnishes reinforced this. We had baby carrots, roasted fingerling potatoes, raw shredded cabbage, pickled mushrooms, and a breaded and fried soft boiled egg. We made a radicchio chip that had the very similar texture and flavor to the traditional nori. The hunk of corned beef was pull apart tender, warmed through in a little bit of the ramen broth.
Overall, I was extremely happy with this dish. As my own toughest critic, I have a few critiques. Firstly, ramen should not be part of a multi-coursed dinner. Ramen IS a multi-coursed dinner. I did not have enough broth in relation to the other ingredients in the bowl because I was worried about over filling people, as is my custom. Ramen should be a huge satisfying meal unto itself, not just a stop on runaway fusion train.
It’s worth mentioning that PDX Eater did a little piece on this dish for their reoccurring Chef in the Kitchen feature. A big and warm thanks to Erin Dejesus for her great article and ongoing interest in KitchenCru, and as many thanks to the talented photographer Dina Avila for her beautiful photos. The article is cool in an of it self and all, all though I was so excited during the shoot I forgot to put the corned beef in it. The real joy of this article however, came the day after; when people started to comment. Check it out, it’s worth a good laugh.
Anyone who has visited me at Kitchen Cru more than likely now struggles with a deep seeded jealously. At the very least; they leave puzzled by my insistent smile, and my inability to explain what it is exactly that I do. The actual physical work includes such glorious and noble tasks as compost bin scrubbing, towel folding, and applying the occasional “How’s Your Father?” to various kitchen equipment. Truth be told, these everyday kitchen tasks seem few and far between over a forty hour week. That’s right, I said 40 hour week. Jealous yet, cooks? Did I mention vacation? Sick days? I had to look that last one up!
I remember when I was first coming up in kitchens, on the fringe of an era where Chef’s still hit their cooks. Part of the dogma back then used the term ‘Forty Hour Man’ as a dis for the uncommitted, the cooks who didn’t let “The Life’ rule their lives. Many of those early ideas have left me wanting, constantly striving to reach a balance between inside and outside, career vs. life. What I wanted from a kitchen and what I felt was “owed” them. I’ve come to realize, I have zero fucks to give for kitchen dogma. I mean sure, there are certain things to which I subscribe. I can’t deny that my personal spirituality, my ‘religion’ is balls deep in kitchen concepts, the catch phrases that repeat in my head as I stalk and hover around the kitchen. “Behind You” can mean ‘Get out of the way,’ and ‘Ive got your back’ in the same breath. Mise en place IS my religion, not to get all Bourdain on you. And if it did come down to taking sides, you know where I stand. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend 60-70 hour weeks breaking my back to make 35 K a year. It’s just not sustainable. That’s why I feel this kitchen was basically designed for me to run.
At Kitchen Cru no two days are the same. One day I’ll witness thousands of vegan pastries spring into existence; the sweet smells mingling with that of caramel smelling smoke from ham hocks; tight like apples. Across the kitchen a tasting at the counter sports smiles and it’s own crisp odors, and beyond, PIES!! Another day you might find a little whole animal butchery going on, a pig, lamb, or deer. And of course, yes; there is tentop. My infrequent posts to this blog are testament to my busyness with that project. I’ve gotten to cook with my baby again, too. Which has been nice, to say the least. Even taught a class with her. The event space will keep a kitchen manager busy as well, wine dinners and market places and beer tastings and what have you. In spite of being at a nexus of all things culinary, it’s another aspect of the job that truly satisfies: the community. This kitchen draws the best people, so much talent has passed through these doors in only eight months. I’ve learned so much, just from being there. ‘The right place at the right time’ has never rang more true to me. You probably can see through all this nonsense, my wack attempts at waxing poetic. The truth of the matter is that the constant shwag supply chain that I am at the end of. From the numerous “Can you taste this?” requests to the beloved “Want this?” as various cuts of fresh animal or boxes of produce are thrust upon me. I’m a fat ass, it’s widely known. My faithful readers know that mama never taught me how to say no to food. I should mention as well that a HUGE part of my love of KitchenCru has to do with my employer, Michael Madigan (pictured above.) I don’t want to get to into the details, he’ll give me shit about vying for a raise. Suffice to say he takes care of me, and he’s a blast to work with.
At tentop’s recent Offal Good dinner we served many of Chef Dunleavy’s creations; and one of the stand outs was this little goddammit here. A riff on the classic dish of Algeria; one seen throughout the Maghreb. An age-old sweet and savory combination, Pastilla combines a salty meat filling and a buttery sweet crust. Mark pushed the envelope a bit by replacing the traditional squab with veal sweetbreads, and the addition of a creamy carrot ice cream. The sweetbreads were seasoned with popular Moroccan blend of spices called Ras al Hanout, which kept me thinking of this guy, It all came together nicely with marcona almonds and fresh herbs. My faithful readers should take heart in the story of Chef Dunleavy, a real rags to riches story. Or in his case, a jizz-mopper to Chef story. I salute any who take on this recipe, the pay off is truly worth it.
Veal Sweetbreads Pastilla by Mark Dunleavy
2 lbs sweetbreads
1qt veal stock
1 T ras al hanout
1/8 c parsley, chopped
1/8 c chervil, chopped
1/8 c chives, chopped
salt & pepper
soak sweetbreads in a couple changes of mildly salty water overnight . drain and dry. Remove membrane. Season with ras al hanout and salt. Sear in a rondeau until golden on both sides. Remove. Add veal stock, ras al hanout and saffron. Bring to a simmer. Add sweetbreads cover and place in 350F oven for about 10 minutes, or until cooked with a minimal amount of pink remaining. Cool in braising liquid at room temperature and then press sweetbreads between two sheet pans. Reduce braising liquid by ¾. Clean sweetbreads and portion into popcorn size nuggets. Mix with a ¼ c of reduced braising liquid, 1 T crème fraiche, the chopped herbs and salt, pepper and ras al hanout to taste.
1 package of filo
½ c marcona almonds
1 T sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ c parsley, chopped
½ c melted butter
Prepare four layers of filo with butter and parsley spread between each layer. Crush marcona almonds and toss with sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Portion 1 ½ oz of filling and place on the filo. top with a covering of marcona mixture. Cut a rectangle 2” x 3” around the filling. Roll like a chimichanga, motherfucker.
Carrot I.C. (adapted from someone else’s recipe)
600 ml carrot juice
50 g glucose powder
40 g sugar
10 g glucose syrup
2 g ice cream stabilizer
5 egg yolks
300 ml cream
Reduce 300 ml of the carrot juice to a syrup. Add remaining juice, glucose powder, sugar, glucose syrup, ice cream stabilizer and salt. Scald. Temper into yolks. Cook to custard and strain into cream. Freeze
Bake filo pouches at 350 f until golden. Serve with carrot i.c and nut garnish.
My original idea for tentop was not to create a thematic supper club. I knew when I took the kitchen manager job at KitchenCru that i would need a creative outlet, a venue where I could experiment with food and write about it. I also thought I might be able to create a place for buddies of mine to cook; sous chefs or line cooks. Talented people who wanted to cook their own food, but worked under another Chef, so couldn’t. Not another venue to give the reach around to the usual suspects of the Portland food scene, but a place for the talented up and comers who make those Chefs’ celebrity possible. As noble as that all sounds, I also saw it as a chance to continue learning new techniques and biting ideas, the foundation of my culinary prowess. And the obvious benefit of doing half the work and receiving the same amount of glory was not unappealing, truth be told.
So, proud to say; our latest dinner showcased talented Chef Mark Dunleavy of Tabla on NE 28th. I met Mark at Ten-01, and I’ve written about him before on this blog. He picked a menu direction that turned out to be a hard sell: offal. I was a bit disappointed and surprised by this in Portland, with everyone preaching the whole “nose to tail” eating and all that farm to table shit. I figured people would be tripping over themselves to eat this stuff, but we didn’t fill the seats until the last minute. Chef Dunleavy created a menu both interesting and accessible, for the veterans of organ meats and noobs alike. The guests who attended were blown away, we had one couple tell us they wanted to buy a season pass to tentop; and they were visiting from DC.
After posting the pictures from this dinner on facebook, I’ve been inundated with requests from cook buddies in Portland who want to get in here and do a dinner with tentop; and I couldn’t be happier. Upcoming dinners will include themes like “Fusion,” because love it or hate it, it’s where innovation in food comes from. Also “Molecular,” because I know a talented Chef who can teach me some cool shit. And what about straight up Mexican? Everybody loves that shit, and I’ve got a guy for that. So stay tuned faithful readers, if there is still any of you out there. Here’s Mark’s menu, I handled the dessert, of course. I’ll be bugging him to hook me up with some recipes to post.
Chef Mark Dunleavy
foie gras mousse
“ants on a log”
pig heart rueben
house made rye, heart pastrami
confit lamb tongue
beets, watercress, horseradish
pig’s head, marinated mushrooms, pickled mustard seeds
deviled with potatoes, grilled hanger steak and parsley sauce
in the style of pastilla with carrot ice cream
“pig tail,” blood caramel, milk chocolate mousse
What’s more comforting to faithful readers like yourselves than a hamburger and hotdog? For me, I always want to eat one or the other of these invented elsewhere but perfected by America delicacies. I eat hot dogs or hamburgers more than anything else, Shorty can verify, and there are few things that I will argue more vehemently than the proper way to make/cook a burger. It’s my favorite food, there I said it. I am a simple man with simple tastes.
For tentop’s Junk Food dinner, we spun the old classics into something we could call our own, It’s just how we roll. The dog we did in the style of choucroute, the classic Alsatian dish of sauerkraut, sausage, pork belly, and sometimes potatoes. We followed through on the theme with a soft pretzel bun and whole grain mustard. We made our own smoked andouille sausage, a milestone for me. I’ve seen sausage piped into casings dozens of times, but have never done it myself. It’s easier than it looks, but it ain’t exactly easy.
The burger was a version of something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile, which I discovered here. It’s one of those “because fuck you that’s why” kind of dishes. We took truffle mac e chee, solidified it in the fridge, then cut out round discs which we stuffed into the burgers. The trim left over we breaded and deep fried as a side, and just called it “hamburger with truffle mac e chee,” making the stuffed part a surprise. The buns were a recipe I’m coming to lean on more and more from Ideas in Food. By the way, every time I say “Ideas in Food,” I think of something else. It’s a simple dough that is highly adaptable to many applications; foccacia, loaves, buns, etc. I even used it once as a spare tire on my car. Anyway, I stole it from one of the best books released this year, go buy a copy. But first make this bread.
Fail Safe Bread by Ideas in Food.
975 g AP flour
4.5 g dry active yeast
12.5 g sugar (or honey, or maple syrup, or brown sugar)
18 g salt
2.5 cups water, milk, tea, beer, etc warm like bathwater, not too hot
oil for brushing, semolina for tray.
- preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Oil a medium large bowl.
- Weigh all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix just until a ball of dough forms. cover the bowl and rest 15 minutes.
- After the rest, mix on second (medium) speed for 7 minutes. Mold the dough into a ball and transfer to the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise two hours, or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and let it rise again until not quite doubled in size, about one hour.
- Portion the dough into roll size (3-4 oz) divide in half and roll into loaves, or maybe a loaf pan? Or flatten onto a oiled sheet pan for foccacia. Bake for ten minutes at 400, then rotate the pan reduce the temperature to 325 and bake an additional 12 minutes
First and foremost, let’s get something out of the way here, faithful readers. What you see pictured above here in not a version of Toad in the Hole, which is a common misconception. This is a version of Egg in the Basket, or Egg in a Frame as it is sometimes known. Click the link above, Toad in the Hole is something else.
OK, moving on. My use of bread pudding is well documented, as well as my love of eggs. I have been brain storming how to get a poached egg onto a dessert for some time now, or any kind of egg preparation; and here finally achieved it at tentop’s Supfast. The first version had a coffee poached egg, which had an intensely delicious coffee flavor, but looked like a decaying fetus. I plated the pudding and then the poached egg, then covered it with candied nuts. It still looked like hell. The next version omitted the egg, and we rallied in the end with a true Egg in The Basket, as seen above. The finished dish had banana caramel, coffee salt, candied macadamia, and molasses whipped cream. I scored the bread needed for this from my friend Kathy a.k.a. adoxograph who works at Baker & Spice. She is a laminated dough master, and totally hooked me up. The bacon used was of the un-smoked variety from none other than Tails & Trotters.
Bacon Bread Pudding
6 oz soft butter
6 oz bacon fat
14 oz brown sugar
1 1/2 qts heavy cream
1 1/2 qts half & half
1 1/2 lbs bacon fully cooked drained, and diced
Day old croissants, brioche, or challah.
Add the eggs slowly, scraping three times during the process. Mixture will look broken.
Switch to whip attachment and on medium speed add the heavy cream and half & half.
Chop up day old bread into 2 inch chunks and add to custard. Add enough bread to create a wet, pudding like mass…not too dry. Store in an airtight container overnight.
Next day, add in your bacon.
Prepare a parchment lined, well greased hotel pan or silicon mold and transfer the pudding. Fill mold flush with lip of pan. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake at 300 F until edges are set. Remove foil and bake additional 15-20 minutes, until center is baked and top is golden brown.
Eat warm or chill thoroughly before slicing into clean shapes. 30 seconds in microwave at pick up.