Day 17 (and Saturday) – Beef, Peaches and Tango, and Richard Blais

24 Jul

My awesome husband bought us tickets to “Peaches and Tango” at Farmer Al’s Frog Hollow Farm on Saturday night. Unfortunately, Carnet had to go out of town, so Bobbie was the lucky recipient of Carnet’s ticket. Peaches and Tango was a fundraiser for Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard, a project of the Chez Panisse Foundation in which school kids participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce. The event was spectacular. Richard Blais (pictured above, with me) put together a scrumptious menu (below), and Bobbie and I had an opportunity to ride around with Farmer Al in his golfcart and check out the peach orchards and olive trees on his farm. The beet tartare appetizer with candided wasabi was the bomb. The oyster presentation was very creative, but unfortunately there were too many horseradish pearls (think liquid nitrogen meets prepared horseradish = freezing, tapioca-sized pearls) on each oyster, such that the texture of the pearls overwhelmed the oysters. Bobbie and I were in agreement on this. The chilled Hiramasa with chicken cracklins and smoked aioli was definitely a winner, as was the caper/raisin/anchovy butter underneath the petrale cutlet. The wine from Bloomfield vineyards was lovely and they did a nice job pairing Bison Brewery’s IPA with the first course and Bloomfield wines with the remainder. We watched how the liquid nitrogen, plum ice cream was made, which was cool. However, it didn’t work for me, as it tasted like cherry bubble-gum to me instead of fresh plums. I believe kids would love it. We listened to a tango ensemble and watched some tango dancers rip it up in the middle of the peach orchard on a perfectly clear night with lots of stars. Farmer Al was a kick. He taught at Punahou School (where I also taught, many years later) and lived on Oahu, so we promised to stay in touch. What a great foodie event it was!

Oh yeah, and the day before at school we prepared two lovely beef dishes, which Carnet, Paul, Igor and I had as appetizers before laying into way too much food (and more oysters!) at Serpentine. One dish was a beef medallion with bordelaise sauce: The other was a grilled strip loin with compound butter (below).

I have pretty much always left the grilling to Carnet and to my mom and dad before that. So, I struggled a little bit with knowing when to take the meat off the grill. I was so nervous about over-cooking it that I took it off the grill way too early. Luckily, I had some time to finish it in a hot oven and the final product was delicious. But, the medallion….oh that lovely medallion. I’m not a huge beef lover, as I prefer lamb, but that medallion would turn anyone who is on the fence about beef into a true beef fan. It was about the cooking (I’ll take some credit for that), but it was really about the sauce. I could have bathed in it it was so delicious.

Below, I’m going back a few days to detail a few condiments I liked: 1) the orange gatrique we used with the roast duck, which I think would also be excellent with chicken, and 2) a mignonette topper for oysters on the half shell. The Orange Gastrique is simple and delicious to drizzle around the plate as a sweet/vinegar-y accompaniment for chicken. For the gastrique, you’ll need about 3 T of sugar, approximately 4.5 oz of white wine vinegar, zest of one orange, and a splash of orange liquor. Directions: 1) In a small saucepan, caramelize the sugar by bringing the pan up to med-high heat and shaking the pan a bit until the sugars break down into a carmel looking liquid. You can add a very small amount of water at the beginning so you don’t burn the sugar, but if you add too much water, you’ll turn it into rock candy. 2) Then, once your sugar is light-med brown and has liquified, deglaze the pan with the vinegar. 3) Add in the orange zest and orange liquor and reduce the glaze a bit more until it’s a thin, carmel texture. If it’s too vinegar-y or sweet for you, you can add in a bit of stock and further reduce. But, you want the bite of this condiment, as you’ll use it sparingly around the protein as a way to enhance it.  This whole process shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, but you’ll need to watch it. I also think that you could do the gastrique with peaches and peach liquor, and pair it with pork chops. Peaches are in season, so I think I’ll give it a try!

The basis of a Mignonette is red wine vinegar, shallots and ground black pepper. However, one of Chef Peter’s versions was stunning. He made a foam out of white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, red chilies, and shallots. Then he put it all in a Vitamix (if you have a great blender at home, you can do it) and the flavors were so much nicer, with a good kick from the red chilies. This would also be a great condiment on something like a cucumber or carrot salad.

Tomorrow is intro to pork and another test. And, Wednesday we have our first comprehensive for Level 1, which includes practical components. So for the next few days, I plan to practice deconstructing whole chickens, dressing fish, and tournage. Happy eating!

One Response to “Day 17 (and Saturday) – Beef, Peaches and Tango, and Richard Blais”

  1. Lucinda Byers July 25, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Hey Rach, I have just gotten with the programme – what a fantastic thing you are doing here! I am so excited for you and this new direction, one entirely after my own heart … good luck with the rest of the course and I will enjoy your updates (even if they leave me heading out for snacks more often than I’d like). Cannot wait to see you in the kitchen in Hawaii xxx

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