Thomas Keller’s creamy polenta

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was not my intention to make this a polenta cook-off between two of the best chefs in the world…  Adrià’s polenta is a very popular dish in this blog, and I get to cook it often. However, this polenta looked so creamy and fluffy, I had to give it a go…  The mobile calorie intake units  My guests got a bit worried about the extra calories, but ate it all without too much complaining. The general consensus was that it was indeed creamy – a bit too much even.

Creamy polenta (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad hoc at home)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 L (=6 cups) of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • salt to taste
  • about 500g of coarse polenta
  • 600 mL (=2.5  cups) of heavy cream
  • 170 grams ( =12 tablespoons ) of unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Method

Combine the stock, garlic and sprinkle with salt in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Pour in the polenta in stream and cook over low heat, stirring often, stirring often, for about 20min, until the polenta is quite dry and coats the bottom of the pan. The moisture must evaporate, because it will be replaced with fat.

In the meanwhile, warm the cream in a small pan

Increase the cream under the polenta to medium and stir in the butter. Add a cream, about half a cup at the time, and let the polenta absorb it all before adding more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Advertisements

Brined pork tenderloin with lemon and rosemary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A tribute to my rosemary plant, who sadly passed away after 4 years of loyally providing springs for many different dishes  It was a very long Winter and… sadly, it just gave up waiting for the sun and the good weather, leaving a big empty to fill in my kitchen.  I got it as a birthday present and, in the meanwhile, a lot had happened. It made my company during many hours of happy and unhappy moments, inspired and uninspired cooking, every day and festive meals…  Dishes like this chestnut with rosemary pesto, this roasted chicken or this fish wrapped in ham, to mention a few. How to better to celebrate her life but to use it in a Thomas Keller dish?

Brined pork tenderloin with lemon and rosemary  (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad hoc at home)

Ingredients

For the brine

  • 85g honey (app 1/4) cup + 2 tablespoons honey
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 3 fresh rosemary springs
  • bunch of fresh thyme sprigs (about 15g)
  • bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley springs  (about 15g)
  • 12 cloves garlic, crushed with the skin left on
  • 2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 150g  salt
  • 2L water

For the pork

  • 2 pork tenderloin, silverskin removed
  • Olive oil to taste
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic clove, crushed
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh rosemary spring
  • 8 slices cured lemon slices
  • sea salt

Method

Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a big pot, cover and bring to boil. Stir and let it boil until the salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

Put the pork tenderloin and brine in a bowl just big enough to hold them. Let sit in the fridge for 4 hours. Be careful about the time – otherwise the pork will be too salty.

Remove the pork from the brine, discarding the liquid. Rinse it & pat the meat until dry. Let the pork rest at room temperature for about half hour.

In the meanwhile, preheat oven to 175oC/350 F.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan until piping hot. Season the tenderloin for salt and pepper, add them to pan and sear until golden brown in all sides (about 6min).

Add the butter, garlic, thyme, rosemary and lemon slices. Let it cook for another 2min, tilting the pan and using a spoon to baste the pork with the pan juices. r two minutes basting the herbs, lemon & garlic with the juices in the pan.

Transfer the pork to a roasting pan with a rack set in it. Overlap the lemon slices down the length of the tenderloin, overlapping them a little. Top with the thyme, rosemary and garlic. Roast for 20 minutes, until the core of the pork is between 60oC-65oC. Remove from the heat and let it rest for 15min (it should be medium-rare to medium).

Slice the pork in diagonal unto 1 to 3cm thick slices. Arrange the slices on a serving platter and garnish with the garlic, rosemary and salt.


Chicken potpie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In short, this is such a good chicken pie,  it is totally worthwhile to endure cooking process. It is arguably one of the best I have ever had. It is hard to believe this dish actually start from, God forgive, leftovers…

A few shortcuts, though: I used pre-made pastry. I know – home made pastry is not that hard to do. But, I didn’t feel brave enough for it… and, the one in the supermarket is also perfectly fine for this purpose…  If you don’t have any chicken leftovers, and need to cook it from scratch, add some herbs and vegetables when boiling it (this recipe work just fine). Everything else is so tasty, it is a crying shame to put in some bland rubbery chicken.

Chicken potpie (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad hoc at home)

Ingredients

2 sheets of basic pie pastry

Chicken Pie Filling

  • 1 cup of potatoes cut in about 6cm  pieces
  • 1 1/4 of carrots cut diagonally in 6cm pieces
  • 12 white pearl onions
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 24 black peppercorns
  • 1 1/4 cups of 4-6cm of pieces of celery,  cut on the diagonally
  • 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken

Béchamel sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups of whole milk
  • 1 salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

Roll out the dough and line the baking tray with one of the sheets. Put the other one a plate. Refrigerate both.

Place the potatoes, carrots and onions in a saucepan with the bay, thyme and peppercorns.  Top with cold water to cover. Gently bring to a simmer. Cook  until just tender, about 8-10min (the original recipe asked for each vegetable to cooked in individual pans, but I just put everything together in the same one). Once cooked, drain the water and discard bay, thyme, and peppercorns. Cut the onions in 2 and set aside to cool.

Blanch the celery for just over a minute in a large pot of boiling salted water, until they are tender/crispy. Drain and let it cool in a bowl of iced water. Set aside with the other vegetables

You can now start the béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the mixture does not brown. Whisk in the milk, lower the heat to keep the bechamel at a gentle simmer, and cook, whisking ofter to ensure it doesn’t burn. It should take about 30-40minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, and cayenne.

Put the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 190 oC (about 375oF).

Remove the pastry sheets rom the refrigerator. Scatter the vegetables and chicken into the pie shell. Pour the béchamel over them. Moisten the rim of pie shell with some of the beaten egg. Cover the filling with the top crust and press the edges of the dough together to seal. Trim away the excess dough that overhangs the rim. Brush the top crust with the egg. Cut a small vent in the center of the dough with the tip of a paring knife to allow the steam to escape.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the crust is a rich golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If necessary, move the pie to the centre rack during the last 10 minutes of baking to brown the crust. On the other hand, if crust is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil.

Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes.


Coconut cake

 

Not my birthday cake, but close enough… G. and I share the same birthday, and it has become sort of a tradition to have a dinner party around this time of the year. After agonizing for a couple of days what I would be baking for the occasion, I ended up seeing this one on Thomas Keller‘s Ad hoc at home.  It was just not the flavors which caught my attention – there was also a very nice story attached to it. And, having read this was a very dear cake to him, I decided to go for it in less than heartbeat. Let me warn you, it is not an easy dish. But, it is so rich and velvety you end up forget all the cooking efforts once you start eating it.

In case you were wondering what sort extravaganza cake I baked this year, the answer is not 42…  I actually let myself be (very) spoiled my dear Zurich friends. All I can say is that it was chocolate, it was rich and it was dense. Very dense… which is always a good thing when it comes to chocolate.

Coconut cake (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad hoc at home)

Ingredients 

  • 500mL of coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 380g of flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking power
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • The whites of 6 large eggs
  • 400 granulated sugar
  • 180g of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups of drie shredded coconut
  • Sugar syrup (3 parts of water to 1 part of sugar).

Method

1.Pre heat the oven to 180oC (=350oF).  Coat a baking tray with baking spray (or butter and flour).

2.Prepare the coconut-vanilla mixture. Put the coconut milk a small pan and whisk to blend. Bring to a gentle simmer, keeping on whisking until most the water has evaporated. You should have the equivalent of 1 cup. Remove from the heat and let it cool down. When the coconut is at room temperature, add the vanilla extract and mix well.

3. Prepare the dry ingredients mix. Sift the cake flour and the baking powder. Stir in the salt and put aside.

4. Prepare the white egg sugar mixture. Whip the whites with a whisker until they begin to froth. Slowly add 150g of sugar and whisk you see medium peak forming. (the whisker should be put to slow when you start adding the sugar, and then put to medium-high). Put aside.

5. Prepare the butter and sugar mix. Put the butter on a bowl and mix with a paddle at medium-low speed until it starts to soften.  Add the remaining sugar. Mix until it is light yellow and fluffy.

6. Mix the dry ingredients, the butter and coconut mix. It is not important not to over mix the batter. Each addition doesn’t have to be completely incorporated before you add the next. Add half the dry ingredients and mix; then add half the coconut mix and incorporate it. Start all over again: half of the remaining dry ingredients, then the coconut milk. Repeat with what is left. Make sure you mix the bottom of the bowl.

7. Gently fold in the egg whites (1/3 of it at a time).

8.Put batter in the  baking tray and gently smooth the type. Put in the oven for about 30min, and check with the skewer if it done. When the skewer comes out of cake dry, take the cake and let it cool down for about 10min before you remove it from the baking tray. Let it cool completely.

9. Meanwhile spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast lightly – about 6 to 8min. Let it cool down.

10. Start working on the sugar syrup.  In a sauce pan, mix the sugar with the cold water and put to boil. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture is clear (app 3min).

11. Once the cake is cool, brush all the surfaces with the sugar syrup. Sprinkle with the roasted coconut.


Valencian salad

Have been many times to Valencia, and never saw this combination. Normally, what you get if you ask for an ensalada valenciana is a mix of tomato, lettuce, onion and olives, dressed with some olive oil, vinegar and salt. In any case, Thomas Keller’s take is absolutely worthwhile trying… A lot of flavors that seem that won’t go together, but compliment each other to perfection.

Valencian salad (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad Hoc at Home)

Ingredients 

  • Baby leafs ensemble by Migros (the original called for  frisée  and watercress, which I could not find).
  • Roasted red peppers (the original recipe called for piquillo peppers, a bit challenging to find in this part of the world; see bellow for a recipe of roasted red peppers )
  • Spanish olives
  • Valencia oranges
  • Marcona almonds
  • Roasted garlic vinaigrette (see below for recipe)

Method

Put everything in salad bowl, in a proportion that makes sense to your taste. Gently mix the vinaigrette. Serve.

Roasted garlic vinaigrette (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad Hoc at Home)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (=120ml) champagne vinegar
  • 2/3 spoons garlic puree (just blend the equivalent of 2 – 3 confit garlic cloves)
  • 1 1/2 cup (360ml) extra virgin olive oil

Method

Mix the vinegar and garlic puree.  Add the oil slowly, whisking until emulsified and smooth. Put in the fridge in a covered container until use.

Roasted red peppers (adapted from Ferran Adrià‘s The Family Meal)

Ingredient 

  • 2 large red peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper freshly ground

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Rinse the peppers, and then place in a roasting tin while still slightly wet.

After 45min, the peppers will be blackened and soft. Leave until cool enough to handle. Keep any juices that have collected in the pan.

Peel the skin from the peppers and remove the seeds. Do this over a bowl to catch any juices.

Cut the pepper flesh into thin strips. Put the peppers and the reserved juices into a pan and simmer over a low heat for 5min.