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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.


We Had a Great Run, Goodbye Ten-01.

We used to joke around in the kitchen about how nice it will be when someone finally writes a review for Ten-01 that didn’t mention it’s rocky start.  The highly anticipated opening followed by the complete panning, the splashy new place with kangaroo rump on the menu.  Fast forward to a year or so later, Jack Yoss shows up and starts throwing down some of the best food this town was eating.  In the following two years he builds a kitchen crew like none other that I’ve worked with, and turns the place around.  During the busiest times, it was fucking machine, churning out beautifully presented delicious food and serving amazing cocktails by Kelley Swenson.  The beloved Erica Landon and her remarkable wine list, a staff that cared about each other; about what they were doing, and it reflected in the service.  Some not to shabby pastries plated pleasantly by yours truly.  Oh, the salad days, the best of times at the best restaurant in town.  At least thats’s what we all thought.  We wanted to make a special place, and those who experienced it knew that it was.

Two and some odd years later the restaurant is closed, doors locked and shades drawn.  No one who survived those salad days was suprised.  At least no one who took a second to look around and think: how does this place stay open night after night while doing only sixty or seventy covers?  A place that size, in that location, serving the world class cuisine paired with an award winning wine list, killer cocktails by people who actually cared about what they were doing, that shit all costs money, folks.  Money that Portlanders weren’t willing to spend.  The two Chefs who followed Jack tried desperately to give Portland “Fine Diners” what they wanted, wondering why P.F. Chang’s up the street is packed for lunch and dinner day after day.  Wondering why mediocre burger joints have a line around the block as their cooks slave to brunoise veg that may never get eaten.  A Michelin trained chef making corn dogs and basket after basket of truffle fries.  The details of the closure are unimportant, at least in my eyes.  The best explanation I got was read not on the web, twitter, facebook, eaterPdx or Food Dude.  It was read it in the eyes of the hardworking owner.  A profound sense of loss and shame, a sorrow too deep for words.  His eyes groped for words that would not come, could not, but they searched the now empty, dusty corners of the place anyway, searching among piles of boxes amidst dejected looking cooks trying to find their pairing knife or quenelle spoon in the carnage.  It would be so easy to rage at the higher-ups, to point and shout “WHY?!”  But when I really ask why, I have to ask: Why was my paycheck paid every time?  Why did the powers that be dump money onto a project that was clearly flailing? Why did they see fit to keep the doors open in these impossible economic times?  Presented with those questions I can only look inside, as any staff member of Ten-01 should.  Why did we stay open?  Why did our investors keep paying us, month after month?  Because they believed.  The had faith in a solid, happy, loyal crew.  Ten-01 was a prodigy child raised by a mother that did not want it, a fine dining experience in a city overrun by food carts and happy hours.  You can’t get world class at a Busch league price, folks.  Most of you will never try Chef Michael’s sous vide tempura egg, or his fucking perfect charcuterie.  Wine that may never grace anyone’s lips collects dust in an unmarked warehouse.  One of the most beautiful rooms in the state now stands empty, a cavernous tomb being carved up for scrap.

To all the great people I worked with at Ten-01, I will truly miss you.  More of a family style work environment I will probably never find.  I wish you all the best in the days to come.  Let’s all pool our unemployment checks and throw a ripper of party.  Let us celebrate the closing of one of life’s chapters as we turn to the next.  I for one will look back on the past three years with a smile; I had it good in the Pearl and so did ya’ll.


Shameless Self Promotion. Again.

So as my true faithful readers know, I will self promote the shit out of myself, least ways as much as any lazy man would.  But this week, I don’t have to!! In yet another demonstration of this city’s undying and ever pounding lust for all things McCarthy, the Willamette Week Restaurant guide had some very kind words to say about yours truly in their review of Ten-01. Now lets take a look, shall we:

Ten 01’s secret weapon is pastry chef Jeff McCarthy, whose highbrow stoner desserts are addictive. His Valrhona chocolate trio—a light malted milkshake, crazy-rich bittersweet torte and dense sorbet decorated with rice puffs—is freakin’ ridiculous.

Upstairs it’s all about the soup, pork loin and anything McCarthy makes.

Kelly Clarke Willamette Week

Ah yes, the Willamette Week has been kind to me once again, and once again I will regurgitate their words onto this blog in order to make you all aware that someone out there, somebody gets what I’m doing, even if i don’t a good portion of the time.  Let’s see what was said about desserts at Tabla, where I also make the sweets in collaboration with Chef Anthony Cafiero.

…the dessert menu, which has options both rich (chocolate truffle cake) and perfect for summer (a lemon poundcake with blueberries and lemon mascarpone).

Michael Mannheimer Willamette Week

In all seriousness, it sure is nice to have a little validation, a little pat on the back, a little “Nice work, Champ!” every once in awhile.  Do I care that the description of the dessert was a little off? Not really.  The milkshake is not malted at all, the misuse of the word “torte” is flagrant, and the sorbet is garnished with toasted baguette, not “rice puffs,” but hey, do I care?  Not a single iota.  Fact is, the desserts are being enjoyed.  People are thinking and writing about them, so color me happy as shit folks.  Thanks to all who ate and enjoyed, and even to those who ate and criticized, for without you I would not get any better at what I do.   Also, ironically, the cover of this years WW Restaurant Guide is graced by none other than the lovely Miss Ingrid Chen, with whom I am in close relation.


Cake Donuts.

At the restaurant we call them Beignets but really they are simple donuts.  They fry up GBD with a thin buttery crust and a fluffy cakey center.  They can easily be adjusted to taste like gingerbread by subbing in molasses for some of the sugar, and using ginger, cinnamon, and clove in lieu of nutmeg and mace.  Those are  tossed in cinnamon sugar.  I recently switched from using melted shortening to olive oil as the fat and it made a noticeable improvement in texture and flavor.  I think these are best served with a cold, creamy sauce like creme anglaise; but would also work with caramel or chocolate sauce.  Tony over at Tabla once served one of these babies with a fat scoop of blueberry sorbet.  This is an easy, versatile recipe.
Cake Donuts.
4 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg (or 2 tsp ginger,1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp clove for gingerbread)
1/4 tsp mace (skip the mace if you’re doing the above)
2 eggs beaten
1 cup sugar (or 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup molasses)
1 cup buttermilk
5 tblsp melted shortening (or olive oil)
Instructions:
• Measure and sift the dry ingredients except the sugar.
• Whisk together the sugar and eggs. Whisk in the buttermilk and shortening.
• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook, combine all ingredients and mix on low speed to form a smooth dough.
• Rest the dough for fifteen minutes before rolling out and cutting into donuts. Deep fry at 350 until puffed and golden brown. Dust with granulated (or cinnamon) sugar to serve.

2010: The Future is Now.

Two thousand and motherfucking TEN?!? The future is now my faithful readers. I command the powers of the internet in my pants. I make ice cream base in an immersion circulator. As a race we fringe on symbiosis with technology; and I can’t wait to realize this next phase of evolution. Anyway, I been busy as shit.  The holidays kicked my ass; and with in-laws in town and hell of prep, plating and me plowing through it all it went by in a pop!  Shit 2009 was a pop, a bang, a blast, dice cast and rolled and truth be told past year was fucking fast. I turned thirty, I got married, I’ve become a half way decent pastry chef and an annoying blogger.  I’ve made some bad-assed desserts and also learned some killer savory food. Pretty standard actually.  Looking to the new year, I’m hoping to step up my game.  Turn it up to eleven so to speak.  I just need to work harder, cleaner.  The desserts will be smaller, more precise.  Flavors? Louder.  Here’s a recipe bitches.  I adapted it from one of the best recipes I’ve learned in a long time.

Graham Cracker Sponge Cake

250 g soft butter

375 g sugar

5 g salt

6 eggs

375 g fine ground graham cracker crumbs.

7.5 g baking powder

100 g A.P. flour

1.  Preheat your convection oven to 300 F.  Spray and line with parchment one half sheet pan.

2.  Cream the butter, sugar and salt light and fluffy in the bowl of a stand mixer.

3.  Weigh the crumbs, baking powder, and flour into a bowl and whisk them together well.

4.  Add the eggs 2 at a time, allowing the batter to fully absorb each addition of eggs.  Scrape the bowl twice during this step.

5.  Scape the bowl again and add the dry ingredients all at once.  Mix the batter on low speed until homogeneous.

6.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake 12 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown and springy.  Use as a base for a no bake cheesecake or serve it warm with a cream cheese ice cream.


Pootang 3.0.

It’s funny how one idea leads to another and sometimes the most obvious idea is the best one.  Looking at my Fat Spouse dessert, it was good; hell it was great even.  What it lacked however was a warm element.  Something to start melting that malted milk ice cream and pretzel bark.  Something rich and fatty.  Like pootangBREAD pootang. All peanut butter chips and compressed devil’s food cake stratifying a rich brioche custard.  There’s been some discussion of pootang technique in the kitchen as of late, and one thing again leading to another, I’m now pureeing my base.  It creates an even, dense, almost cakey texture.  The chunks of devils food are compressed in the vacuum sealer then diced.  Finally a good use for that bomber technique.  You can get cool potions this way, but a realized dessert was tricky. Now how about that fancy cruise ship garnish?  I got the idea from a dish wifey had dining when we dined at Spago Beaver Creek.  A simple piped lattice of tempered chocolate onto acetate, scored and bent in a PVC half pipe.  The other tile of tempered chocolate underneath the ice cream is a buffer between the cold scream and the warm pootang.  Cocoa nibs help it grip.  I brought back the dulce dessert Watchmen blood drip plate saucing technique for good measure.  This fucker gets oohed and ahhed every time it hits the table. Here’s the recipe for enjoyment of my faithful readers.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bread Pudding

6 oz butter at room temperature

6 oz sugar

2 oz dark chocolate

4 oz peanut butter

5 eggs

3 cups heavy cream

12 -15 brioche buns

2 cups diced compressed devils food cake that has been diced

1 bag Reeses peanut butter chips

1.  Cream the butter and the sugar with the paddle.  While they are achieving light and fluffy in your stand mixer, melt the chocolate and peanut butter over a double boiler.

2.  When the sugar and butter are light and fluffy, add the melted chocolate and peanut butter.  Mix until well incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary.

3.  Add the eggs one by one, scraping and incorporating.

4.  Switch to the whisk and add the heavy cream on low speed.  Keep the machine going while you prep the bread.

5.  Cut the bread into large chunks.  Take the custard off the machine, add the bread and mix thoroughly.  You need enough bread to make a messy paste.  Too much and your pootang will be dry, to little and it will be a custardy mess. Cover the mix and let it soak over night.  This is essential to chingon pootang.

6.  Next day pull the base and puree it in the food processor. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the chunks and chips.

7.  Prepare one half sheet tray with sprayed parchment.  Pour and spread the base into an even layer.  It should ride the rim of the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap, then cover with aluminum foil.  This will create a nice even top.

8.  Bake in a 300 degree convection oven for about 25 minutes, rotating once. It is normal for the pootang to souffle a bit while baking.  When it is done it should be dry (baked looking.)

9.  Cool completely before slicing to de-molding desired shape.  Reheat portions in the microwave for 20 seconds.


Toasted Hazelnut Cake

This here dessert is like a bong hit.  It’s all “Dude, It’ll be all hazelnut, banana and mascarpone, man!”  I based it on an excellent brunch item I had over at Belly Timber, a Stuffed French Toast. It combined house made Nutella, mascarpone, hazelnuts, and a specially made brioche.  It was the first time I ate with David and didn’t have the Chicken Waffle.  Anyway, I make a hazelnut sponge cake, the same recipe I used for the Grilled Almond Cake, I just switched the nuts.  This formula is moist and buttery; and works with any nut.  This dessert is selling well so far, no surprise considering the banana factor.   Maybe a certain Chef will see fit to add her recipe in the comments!  Thanks for your patience with this blog everybody who is still reading.  The web is bloated with food blogs, everybody’s cooking!! The ice cream recipe is one from one of my favorite Chefs, David Lebovitz; author of The Perfect Scoop.


Off Site Dish Up.

We found ourselves perched precariously with too tall speed racks in the back of a pick up.  As the truck’s engine revved ready to pop the curb my mind flashes through this pasts weeks events.  Moving tons of product, slaving mad and crazy hours.  Tarts.  Shit tons of little tartlettes.  Cookies.  Over five hundred; twenty some odd pounds of dough.  White Chocolate Panna Cotta.  Four hundred of them, forty eight at a time.  Cleaning and processing six flats of blueberies. The truck struggling to summit the curb forces me from my reverie, the speed rack tilting, threatening to spill its payload.  Perez and I look at each other, shaking heads.  Wham!! The truck nails a huge rock and we almost lose our shit.  The shits were up on two wheels, I dropped and tucked against our stacks of plates and dug in , gripping.  In that split second I knew I’d lost the load, that I’d blew the mission.  We braced against the rocking and steadied the racks, cussing and kicking and carrying on.  I felt in that instant…peace.  I’d known it was out of my hands, beyond me.  I couldn’t be more prepared for this event than I was.  I had my product, I had my boy, I knew we had this.  Right until it all was about to fly out of the back of this fucking truck, out of my control.  Thankfully, none of that happened.  The truck rocked back level, the speed racks clunked upright.  We rolled silently over the grass to the plating area.  We had a few hours earlier spread the custards out onto about a dozen sheet pans, each on a little square of acetate; easy to slide off onto chilled plates.  They thawed slowly in the fridge for about three hours, and finished perfectly in the spanking afternoon sun.  The entire plating, 275 plates in the end, took about eighteen minutes.  We had so many hands helping, I just poked around, answering questions and pulling fucked up plates off to be replaced with perfect ones. All said and done, we nailed it.  The silky custards were ice cold but not frozen, the compote thick and rich, the simple essence of blueberry.  We retreated from the heat to the cool of our dorm room to pound tall boys and take a nap.  I slumbered happily elated, stoked to be a chef that day.


That’s Fucking Delicious.

Why is this dessert going nowhere?  I love this dessert.  It’s a tasty refreshing and interesting treat.  I love this.  I love it almost as much as some other complete flops I’ve created. We all know what a float is; a frothy icy treat, simply ice cream and soda.  It’s just got a little twist, a little refreshing surprise.  It’s blackberries, and corn.  That’s right I said fucking corn.  Sweet corn ice cream to be exact, I learned it from a recent mentor.  It pairs great with the blackberries, the little corpuscles bursting and adding their juice.  Corn and berries, who new?  So yeah you plop some of the corn ice cream in a frosty glass, cover it with fresh blackberries and  homemade blackberry syrup, cover it with club soda or sprite, and Robert’s your father’s brother.  I garnish with caramel corn and white chocolate polenta cookies.  A good stir with a long spoon will froth it up and blend the flavors.  It’s not rocket scientist, it’s just good.  I thing people get turned off by corn in ice cream.  People want one flavor: vanilla.  I bet if I changed the ice cream to that specky pod I’d have a frenzy on my hands.  Maybe next week.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

3 cups half & half
1 cups heavy cream
8  egg yolks
8 oz sugar
2 oz glucose or corn syrup (optional)
6-7, corn cobs, just the cobs.  Slice off the corn kernels and use ‘em for something else, dogg.  You want enough cobs to pack the pot full.
1. Bring the dairy, half the sugar, glucose and the corn cobs to a boil in a pot.  Kill the heat and cover.  After thirty minutes, transfer the liquid, cobs and all to a bucket and chill in and ice bath.  Store overnight in fridge once cool.
2. Next day, strain the cream into a pot.  Bring to a simmer and kill the heat.  Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until light and frothy.  Temper together the eggs and cream.  Cook to nape.
3.  Cool the ice cream base completely and store it, again, overnight in the fridge.  Trust me it tastes better.
4.  Next day, spin the ice cream according to your maker’s specs.  Freeze an additional two hours in an airtight container in the freezer, enjoy!

Design Process.

I’m a bit of a hack, I must admit.  I mean sure, I got skills.  I’ve got brains. I have a strong undestanding of proper technique, yeah I’ve baked some shit.  I know custards, cookies, cakes, and muffins, I’m sure I could puzzle out a turkey stuffins. The chessecake hand is strong, the bread pudding, people don’t shut up about it. What I’m trying to say here kids is I’ve cooked a bit, I’ve spent some time baking.  Having said all that, I’m kind of a hack.  I hack my way through plated desserts.  I’m like a blunt instrument swung lamely; a dull machete rampage in a chandelier shop.  When it comes to innovation, creativity, style, I’ve got a lot to learn.  I don’t have an original bone in my body.  Most of the things I do are bit off someone else, twisted and forced through the filter of someone in the one to five years of experience demographic.  I’m getting better, I think I might be starting to figure it out.  I Google ideas. I read cookbooks, magazines.  I try and eat dessert when I go out.  I write shit down a lot.  Well these days, I just tap it in.  I’ll be on the bus or my bike or whatever and suddenly I’ll think: Grilled Zucchini Bread with Root Beer Ice Cream!!  Into myPhone it goes. I’ve always drawn plates, shapes and squiggles sometimes reverse engineering shapes into flavors.  I like to bounce my ideas off Kate because she has a keen eye for design.  She taught me “plan view;” brilliant!.  I try to come up with something that looks cool and eats well.  I shoot for ninety percent Damn That’s Good and ten percent How’d He Do That?  Most times, it works.  I’ve been hammering out a new summer menu, and I think these are some bad-assed desserts.  I’ve been working with a consultant who asked to remain anonymous, suffice to say this person is a also bad-assed.  One of the best pastry chef’s I have worked with, this person has forced me to create outside my comfort zone, deviate from my normal menu formula.  Oregon produce is so good right now, fruit is everywhere on this one.  Changing desserts this week; stay tuned for more my faithful readers.