Showing posts with label sausage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sausage. Show all posts

Friday, August 20, 2010

Croquer: Cochon

Once night fell over the French Quarter, the bayou heat took on a downright sultry character. Storm clouds broiled above as we approached Cochon Restaurant's glowing marquee on a dark corner of the warehouse district, the red hot sign seemingly scorching the thick air.
I had great expectations for Cochon... Following my last visit , I had heard nothing but raves about James Beard Award-winning chef Donald Link (Best Chef: South, 2007), the Cajun comfort of Cochon, and his first restaurant Herbsaint. I greatly regretted missing it, and thus it rose to the top of my to-do list for this trip.
The single-room concrete-floored warehouse was bursting at its bricks with a roar that translated a strong sense of community and much jubilant feasting. Diners filled every table and lined the open kitchen bar, a wood-fire oven blazing behind a roasted suckling pig, which was slowly being carved and served as the night's special.
Though the menu is only one page (same for both lunch and dinner), I found it difficult to focus at all on what to get, from the small plates to the boucherie to the wood-fired offerings... Everything sounded divine. Luckily our group of four decided to start with a handful of starters which eased my anxiety. As did the brisk Sazerac...
The fried Boudin balls arrived first, served with pickled peppers and Abita beer mustard. This Cajun variation on a Boudin Blanc, instead of using sausage casings, rolls the white pork and rice mixture into balls, batters and fries 'em up. Scrumptious!
The Crawfish Pie was only slightly underwhelming to me, but perhaps because I was inappropriately expecting a dish along the lines of Jacques-Imo's intense Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake (one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten). This was a personal-sized hot pocket-type pie, to its credit housing a nicely savory crawfish goulash.
My favorite dish of the night (dare I say, possibly the trip?) was Cochon's Wood-fired Oyster Roast. I don't know WHAT they slather on these bad boys, but sell me a bottle, we're talking serious umami. Spicy, creamy, and a touch sweet, the fat oysters are roasted until practically bursting, with a fresh clean flavor that says "aren't you GLAD you weren't foolishly afraid to eat me??" YES.
For my entrée I found myself (as tends to be the case in NOLA) attracted to the bunny dish. The Smoked Rabbit & Greens with Cornbread Dumplings came served in a cast iron pan, the "dumpling" dough (more akin to cornbread biscuits) spooned right on top and cooked in as the dish simmered. The flavors were deep, smoky and warming, my only reservation was over the water that was collecting from the greens, quickly consuming my dumplings and rendering them into liquid grits. I found I had to eat the dish quickly, which I suppose wasn't a terrible thing.
While the rabbit dish is classic Link, the Corn Flour Crusted Ham Hock with Maque Choux & Black Eyed Peas that Bruce ordered was the Big Guns. The rich intensity of the meat here proved to me that Link not only respects his meat, but that he's a true master at preparing it.
The restaurant's namesake Louisiana Cochon with Turnips, Cabbage & Cracklins was winning, as expected. Larry found his pork a tad on the dry side, but Michael seemed pleased with his plate. Like the other proteins, the pork's depth of flavor played center stage here, a monochromatic dish that didn't need any green to feel balanced.
Throughout the meal, mischievous heat lightning occasionally lit the warehouse window panes and by the time our entrée plates were cleared had broken into a torrential summer storm. The idea of battling the elements in our summer clothes (and with my case-less camera in tow) was  less than appealing, so as stuffed as we were two desserts were selected to "pass the time." The Lemon-Buttermilk Pie with vanilla whipped cream was classic and tasteful, but a little lackluster after such an incredible meal.
The Pineapple Upside-Down Cake however surprised us all. Suggested by our server, the cornmeal cake with coconut-lime sorbet & dulce de leche was elegant and tantalizing.
Once the rain subsided (and after I purchased a bottle of Cochon's house-made hot sauce and Link's 2010 James Beard Award-winning cookbook Real Cajun - check out some recipes here) we ducked out into the even more humid night, quickly checking out Cochon Butcher next door before heading back to the Quarter.
Butcher specializes in house-cured artisan meats and sausages - all made on site. The store also offers Cajun specialties like Boudin, Andouille, Tasso, and Cochon's line of condiments.
In addition to the sandwich menu (Muffuletta, Pastrami, Cuban) Butcher offers small plates and salami tastings paired with an eclectic list of wines selected by wine buyer Joe Brian, and seems like a relaxed overflow option for when the restaurant is packed... Which is often, and now I know why.

930 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130-3820
(504) 588-2123
Cochon Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 19, 2009

Croquer: The Golden State

This is why I would benefit from an iPhone.
Guess who keeps forgetting his camera when eating out? Hmmm!
No, instead I meekly accept my friends' offers to use their iPhones and email me the pics. Thank you friends!
The Golden State is a great place to go with good friends such as these. Inside this simple brick-walled storefront in Fairfax Village across from Canter's (but perhaps more akin to neighboring businesses Family Bookstore and Silent Movie Theatre), you'll find zero pretension, good beer, and a friendly family of local food providers under one roof. Whenever the owner is the dude behind the register suggesting the special and which beer to have with it, you know you're in good, humble hands. Such was the case when my last visit resulted in the tastiest lamb burger and Greek cucumber slaw I've ever had (a special sadly - that hopefully they will bring onto the menu!). Casual to the core and all about what tastes good, this is a cafe based around a philosophy of admiration and local pride:
The Golden State is a talent show for the best makers of food and drink in California. We love Samir's food. We love Scoops gelato. We love breweries like Craftsman and wineries like Topanga Vineyards. We think products like these deserve a stage of their own. California is an easy place to love. It's where we grew up. It's what we know. And it tastes very good.
It sure does! My sweet and juicy lamb burger was perfectly cooked, nicely balanced with drippy feta, roasted red pepper and supple brioche bun.. dare I say a slightly more substantial take on a flavor-packed Umami Burger? As a compliment, I dare! The crisp Persian cucumbers of the lemony Greek side salad were only trumped by my friend's side, a refreshing jalapeño slaw (shredded red and green cabbage, carrots, jalapeño, red wine vinaigrette). For the sausage lover, they serve CA's best Let's Be Frank dogs. I had a crisp Allagash White beer with my burger, and duh, they have the best beer float in town (Rasputin Imperial Stout and Scoops' Brown Bread ice cream - yes, we had one for dessert, and you should too).

426 N Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036

Photo by Cat

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Buvare: Crawford Malone Wine Tasting

Another great post from my sister Megan! This food-paired wine tasting in Tucson featuring some big California wines (including several from Santa Ynez haunt Fess Parker) made me extremely jealous!
Last Sunday I left the girls with my mother-in-law for a much needed afternoon break. I met Mom and Dad for a fun Sunday afternoon leisurely tasting wines and food pairings at a popular Sunday event at Elle Wine Country Restaurant, one of Tucson’s premier wine restaurants. The tasting was centered around a selection of Crawford Malone wines. Here's what we had!
Swanson Pinot Grigio (lychee, grapefruit, lemon zest, pear) – Paired with petite crab cakes topped with cream sauce and roasted red pepper coulis

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier (ruby grapefruit, pear, lychee, melon, spicy white florals) – Paired with a chilled chop salad of poached shrimp, sweet corn, black beans, red bell pepper and cilantro

Wente “Riva Ranch” Chardonnay (honey, graham, cinnamon, light floral notes) – Paired with a water cracker topped with a wedge of smoked trout with a sour cream aioli

Fess Parker “Ashley’s Vineyard” Chardonnay (pineapple, citrus, pear, vanilla, spice) – Paired with tender bites of spicy seasoned/breaded chicken thighs served with a sweet orange chili dipping sauce
Fess Parker Pinot Noir (black cherry, forest floor, cola, black currant, chocolate, nutmeg) – Paired with a shredded duck, crunchy wild rice, and slivered almond salad seasoned with a hint of Chinese 5 spice, served room temperature
Fess Parker “Frontier Red” (huckleberry, boysenberry, smoke, vanilla, cedar, spice) – Paired with a juicy angus beef slider topped with applewood smoked bacon and fried red onion rings
Wente “Sandstone” Merlot (blackberry, spice, licorice, tobacco) – Paired with slow roasted and caramelized onions and a home made basil chicken sausage
Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (blueberry, red cherry, coffee bean, caramel, baked fruit, black tea, toasty oak) – Paired with roulade of flank steak and sweet pepper chimichurri sauce, grilled medium rare

Elle Wine Country Restaurant
3048 E Broadway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85716-5314
(520) 327-0500

Monday, June 29, 2009

Croquer: Wurstküche

Kids in a candy store. That was me and Nicole when we stepped inside of Wurstküche in downtown Los Angeles, steps from Little Tokyo in the historic Arts District. Purveyors of exotic sausages with Belgian-style frites and 24 imported biers on tap, Wurstküche basically nailed the way to impress me with a business plan. Simple, to the point, flawless. The case of sausages at the ordering counter made my mouth water as much at the cooler case at Scoops. Behind the counter a fire grill roasted a heaping pan of spicy peppers, several sausages popping softly over the flames nearby. We painstakingly selected from the long list categorized by Classics (brawtwurst, knockwurst..), Gourmet (Filipino Marharlica, Louisiana Hot Link..), and Exotic (alligator andouille, rattlesnake & rabbit..). Picking condiments for the fries was almost as difficult. When we got stuck on the beer list, the very patient man at the counter gently let us know we could get our drinks at the bar in the dining area, and seeing the lunch time line mounting behind us, smiled sheepishly and paid him for our food.
Down a hall and around a corner is a large dining area with communal picnic table style seating and some small tables along the windows. An open door leads to sidewalk seating outside. The brick space is breezy and open, minimal and comfortable. A long bar with architectural stools has little behind it but a long row of stainless draught spouts and a line of Chimay Blue magnums. The amiable bartender helped us through the list of Belgian and German specialty ales, letting us taste several before we selected. I enjoyed the rich St. Bernardus - ABT 12, Nicole a lighter Belgian. The hazy sun filled the room through factory windows. I could see myself sitting here often, I thought.
By the time our food arrived, the high alchohol beer had already started away at my early afternoon head, and sausage never looked so good.
We got two varieties to share, the first a no-brainer: duck & bacon with jalapeño peppers, topped with spicy peppers and sauerkraut. Say what?? Yeah. Rich and fatty in flavor, juicy and satisfying with a hint of good spice. we also got the rabbit, veal & pork with white wine, topped with caramelized onions and sweet peppers. Softer and elegant, this was a tasty sausage, but the indulgent duck & bacon took the cake. The Belgian fries were thick and crispy, with spicy chipotle ketchup & pesto aioli. The chipotle ketchup was so good and seemingly simple, I immediately began to think about making it when I got home.
Probably the most satisfying overall lunch experience in quite some time, Wurstküche easily slid into my Summer Top 10. Check it out right away, but if you get lost trying to find it and need to stop for directions (it's a little tricky) just don't pronounce it phonetically, you may end up in a different part of downtown.

800 E 3rd Street Los Angeles, CA 90013; 213.687.4444

Monday, March 16, 2009

En Vitesse: Monday Night Dinner

Niman Ranch bacon-wrapped chardonnay-apple sausage on baguette with horseradish mustard; wild arugula and strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recettes Secrètes: A Perfect Poach

Last weekend I woke up on Sunday morning passably hungover to overcast skies, wanting nothing more than to enjoy a perfectly poached egg. Congruous was the realization that though poaching is my preperation of choice, I had never actually poached an egg myself. It was the perfect simple project for a day with such limited ambition!
I decided to do a simplified benedict (no drive or patience for hollandaise this particular morning), with english muffins, Niman Ranch apple wood smoked bacon and green heirloom tomatoes.
As much as I love my cast iron skillet, I've been enjoying my thick cut bacon prepared in the oven. It is far less greasy and a nice even cook. To do so, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a lipped baking sheet with tin foil, then place a wire cooling rack over the foil. Lay the bacon flat across the rack and cook for about 15 minutes or to desired crispness. Turn off the oven and let sit until your eggs are ready to serve.
Common Poaching mistakes I've learned are using too much water and with too much heat. The water shouldn't be rapidly boiling, rather a torrid simmer. I also remembered hearing that adding vinegar and salt to the water will aid in holding the egg white's form. My first pass was sub-par, overcooking the yolks. After a second pass, this is what I found worked best:
First, retrieve a medium-sized skillet or shallow pan that has a lid. Fill the skillet with only about 3 inches of water. Put the skillet on high heat and cover to speed up the heating time. Meanwhile, carefully crack each egg into individual measuring cups or small bowls.
When the water in the skillet boils, remove the cover. Add one tablespoon of vinegar (I use apple cider) to the water, and some kosher salt. Lower the lip of each egg-cup 1/2-inch below the surface of the water. Let the eggs ease out into the water. Immediately return the lid to the pan and turn off the heat. Set a timer for exactly three minutes for medium-firm yolks. More or less for runnier or firmer yolks. While the eggs cook, you have time to toast the english muffins and slice the tomatoes. When the timer goes off, remove the cover and lift each egg from the water with a slotted spoon. Lay the bacon and tomato slices on each piece of toast and then gently top with a poached egg. Add salt and pepper to taste. I like a little chipotle hot sauce on mine. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gala Parfait: Throwing a Perfect Holiday Brunch

Sunday brunch is, in my humble opinion, the best part of the week. Add the cozy rush of the holidays and you've hit my ultimate soft spot. Bright morning light, a crisp winter chill, steaming mugs, rich savory food, sparkling wine and merriment.
Last year I condensed all of these things I love so much into a successful holiday open-house-style brunch the Sunday before Christmas, where friends were invited to stop by throughout the morning for some good food, drink and conversation.
Due to a maxed-out calendar, my brunch is taking this year off, but follow this easy guide and you can throw a perfect affair, and even enjoy it while it's happening. The secret KEY to this menu is that you can make almost ALL of it the night before, with just light preperation in the morning before guests arrive.

Night Before:
1. Prepare both of the casseroles and refrigerate
2. Halve and segment the grapefruit
3. Peel and slice citrus for salad
4. Juice oranges and grapefruit for mimosas
Day of:
1. Broil the grapefruit, then set aside to cool
2. Lower the heat on the oven and bake the Sausage Egg Breakfast Casserole as directed
3. Mid-way add the French Toast Casserole to the oven and bake as directed
4. Prepare citrus salad and set table
5. Set up mimosa station (ice buckets for prosecco bottles and juice carafes)
6. Brew tea and coffee, and heat milk for café au lait on stovetop as guests begin to arrive

Panettone French Toast Casserole with Apples

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon water
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pounds granny smith apples
6 1-inch slices panettone
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (for serving)

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar and water until combined. Spread this mixture over the bottom of a 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon, set aside. Trim the bottom crust of the panettone. Starting at the bottom end of the panettone, cut it crosswise into 6 (1-inch thick) round slices (reserve the top piece for toast!). Peel, core and slice apples into 1/4 inch thick slices. Heat remaining butter over medium heat. Add apples and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until apples are cooked but not mushy. Spread apples over the bottom of the baking dish. Cover apples with the panettone slices. Pour egg and cream mixture over panettone, coating all slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat over to 350°F. Bake French toast uncovered for 35—40 minutes until lightly golden. Dollop the mascarpone atop French toast when serving.

Sausage Egg Breakfast Casserole

16 oz day old bread, cubed
10 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups light cream or whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1 pound sausage, cooked, crumbled and drained
1 bunch scallions, chopped

Butter 9 -by 13-inch baking pan. Place cubed bread in the pan. Sprinkle with cheeses. Combine wet ingredients, and pour over the bread and cheese. Top with sausage and scallions. Cover tightly and refrigerate over night.
In the morning, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the casserole, and bake for an hour, or until golden brown.

Bruléed Ginger Grapefruit

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 large pink grapefruits

Preheat broiler. In an electric coffee/spice grinder combine sugar, ginger, and vanilla and grind fine. Halve each grapefruit crosswise and run knife around each section to loosen membranes. Arrange grapefruits, cut sides-up, in a flameproof baking dish or baking pan just large enough to hold them in one layer and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Broil grapefruits about 1 1/2 inches from heat until sugar melts and tops begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve grapefruits at room temperature.

Maple Citrus Salad

4 navel oranges
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cinnamon

With a vegetable peeler remove a 2 by 1-inch piece of zest from 1 of the oranges, being careful not to peel off any of the white pith. Cut into thin strips and set aside.
Cut about 1/2 inch off of the top and bottom each piece of fruit. Remove the peel and pith from each piece of fruit by standing it on its end and cutting down along the curve of the fruit. Slice the fruit into 1/4 inch thick rounds and arrange on a platter.
In a small bowl combine the maple syrup, lemon juice and cinnamon. Pour the dressing over the fruit, garnish with the zest and serve.

French Market Style Café au Lait
Once you have brewed a pot of Cafe Du Monde Coffee and Chicory (available at World Market), just add an equal amount of steamy hot milk for Café au Lait.

1 part hot Coffee and Chicory or French Roast Coffee
1 part hot milk

To heat milk, scald over low heat in a sauce pan just until a thin film forms. Pour equal parts hot scalded milk and hot coffee into a large mug. Or, as in some New Orleans establishments, provide a pitcher of scalded milk and a pitcher of hot coffee on the table so that your guests can pour their own, exactly as they like it.

Prosecco mimosas with fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juices

Christmas Morning Tea

Ask your guests simply to bring christmas cookies or their other holiday baked goods and have a platter or tiered server available. Whole clementines are always a nice touch too, aesthetically as well for light snacking with tea after the meal.

Happy Brunching!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Recettes Secrètes: Beer Soup!

'Tis the season for hearty soups and packing on our winter layers (yes, I mean pounds). Beer piques our palates as the weather grows colder, and what better way to enjoy it than as added depth of flavor in seasonal stews?
Here are a few rich a tasty options, from Eastern Europe to Mexico to the Midwest.

Bratwurst and Beer Stew

3 (12-ounce) bottles dark beer
2 pounds fresh bratwurst sausage links
4 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into thin strips
4 cups sliced onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound small red potatoes, halved
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch sticks
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pour 2 bottles of the beer into a medium (oven-proof) Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Using a small knife or fork, pierce each sausage link several times. Add bratwurst links to the beer, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside to cool slightly. Reserve the sausage-cooking liquid. Slice the sausage links into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
Add the bacon to the Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add the sliced bratwurst to the bacon drippings and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring often, until lightly brown and wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Stir in the reserved sausage-cooking liquid, the remaining bottle of beer, chicken stock, potatoes, carrots, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaf to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil, and cover.
Place the Dutch oven in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Stir the crispy bacon into the stew and serve hot with crusty bread.

Sausage 'n Stout Cheese Soup

4 potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups water
2 (12 fluid ounce) bottles cream stout beer
2 pounds kielbasa sausage, sliced thin
4 green onions, diced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard powder
1 pound shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups milk

Bring potatoes, water, and beer to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the sausage, green onions, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, and liquid smoke. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are completely tender, about 15 minutes.
When the potatoes are tender, stir in the Cheddar cheese until completely melted, then add the milk. Heat through, stirring until cheese has melted but do not boil.

Mexican Sausage Stew

1 tb Canola oil
1 Bottle Mexican beer
1 lb Beef brisket; cut into
1 c Water
1/2 lb Hot sausage; cut into chunks
1 Sweet potato; peeled, sliced
1 c Sliced onion
1 Box (10-oz) frozen corn
2 Cloves garlic; chopped
2 tb All purpose flour
1 ts Ground cinnamon
3/4 c Shredded Monterey Jack
1/2 ts Ground allspice
2 tb Chopped cilantro
1 cn (13-oz) beef broth

Heat oil in large dutch oven. Working in batches, saute brisket and sausage until browned, approx. 10 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add onions and garlic to drippings in pot, cook until tender, about 8 minutes, being careful NOT to burn the garlic. Stir in cinnamon and allspice, cook 1 minute. Return meat and sausage to pot. Reserve 1/4 cup beef broth. Stir in remaining broth, beer and water. Cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Sitr in potatoes, cook until potatoes are tender, 15 minutes, stir in corn, heat through. Whisk flour and reserved 1/4 cup brothe in small bowl. Stir into pot. Cook stirring until thickened. To serve.... ladle stew into bowls. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese. Garnish with cilantro, accompany with tortilla chips.