Dry Ice-Cream

I don’t enjoy ice cream the way you enjoy ice cream; let’s just get that out of the way.

I suppose there was a time in my life when I could sit down and eat an entire pint or two of Ben & Jerry’s without feeling like my body wanted to kill me afterwards purely out of spite. Or, that the mere whisper of a hint, the shadow of a promise of a scoop of Pralines ‘n Cream in my future would be a seductive bribe, the same way I currently use it against my kids. Fast forward to now, where just the thought of eating that much frozen sugar milk invokes a deep and premature sense of self-loathing that follows most binges of  wanton overindulgence

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love the stuff. I do. I mean, really, who doesn’t LOVE ice cream? If someone is actually sitting out there, reading this and thinking “I don’t know what he’s talking about. Ice cream is the worst,” I don’t think I’d have to go out on such a far limb to say such a person doesn’t have a soul. Sure, that may be a harsh generalization, but I think it’s pretty near accurate.

The reason I love ice cream, though, is for its magical balance of texture and temperature. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think back to the last time you were digging through your freezer, perhaps looking desperately for something to beat the summer heat, and you found an old, crystallized pint of some low-level, generic supermarket brand stuff. You may have forced yourself to eat it, forgetting what real ice cream is supposed to taste like, but there’s only so much self-delusion we can take before giving in to reality. Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between that, and say, a fresh scoop of Ben & Jerry’s? Did you even know there’s such a thing as “stale” ice cream?

Without quoting entire pages from Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” let me just briefly say that the major factors responsible for your enjoyment of a scoop of ice cream are the size of the ice crystals that formed during freezing (and thawing and refreezing), and how much fat is in that pint. When you get a product that is smooth (i.e. frozen quickly to prevent large ice crystals from forming) and creamy (good ice cream was not meant to be low-fat,) your tongue is happy. There are, of course, many other factors, but these two are among the most important, and relevant to the following recipe.

Sadly, I do not own a Dewar capable of storing liquid Nitrogen safely and securely. Those things are big and expensive to maintain, and more importantly, the powers that be have forbidden me from making any more kitchen equipment purchases until there is some more room in our kitchen. So no making liquid nitrogen ice cream for me. Thankfully, though, the geniuses over at ChefSteps.com (have you been there yet? No??? Why not?!) posted a technique for making ice cream using dry ice instead. Which is kind of embarrassing for me, because I had been using dry ice to make ice cream before, but instead of crushing it to a powder and mixing it in with my base like a smart person would do, I would stuff a block of it in the canister of my ice cream maker to get it colder than my wimpy freezer would allow, and then use that canister to make ice cream, provided that the base didn’t immediately freeze to the walls and ruin the dinky plastic churn that came with the machine. But why all the trouble with dry ice or liquid nitrogen? Because they’re COLD! And the faster you can freeze up your ice cream, the smaller those pesky ice crystals will be. And, most importantly, because my kids think it’s awesome and fun, and that I’m the coolest dad in the world. Oh, and did I mention that it’s super easy and quick?

I made two Modernist Cuisine/ChefSteps recipes. Strawberry Angostura sorbet, and Peanut Butter and Jelly Gelato (non-dairy, and no egg required). For those not familiar with alcoholism, Angostura is a type of bitters, or alcohol based infusions of herbs and spices that make many drinks taste better. It can be found in the drink mix section of your local supermarket. Here are the other ingredients:

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The malic acid provides a counterbalance to the sweetness of the strawberries (and, according to Chris Young, has also been scientifically proven to heighten our enjoyment of fruits). I also used honey powder instead of regular table sugar, as the recipe calls for fructose powder (table sugar is sucrose) which I was out of at the time. Guess what, though? If you don’t think it’s worth making an order at ModernistPantry.com, you can achieve a similar effect by substituting lemon juice for the acid, and sugar or honey for the fructose. Any special cooking techniques needed? Nope! Just toss in a blender–

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strain directly into your mixing bowl–

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and mix on medium high, while adding spoonfuls of dry ice at regular intervals.

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Disclaimer: DRY ICE IS VERY COLD! IT WILL CAUSE SEVERE BURNS IF YOU ARE NOT CAREFUL, AND SHOULD ONLY BE USED IN A WELL VENTILATED ROOM. Do not serve your ice cream if there are still visible chunks of dry ice in it, and make sure to grind up the dry ice into a fine powder before adding, using either a blender or food processor.

After about two minutes, this is what your finished product will look like–

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Not the greatest picture, but definitely the smoothest, tastiest sorbet I have ever eaten.

As for the Peanut Butter and Jelly gelato, it’s amazing what can be done to food these days with a little Walter White level understanding of food-science.

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In this recipe, the fat of the cream and eggs has been replaced with more fat from the peanut butter and roasted peanut oil, and the slightly chewy texture traditional to gelato is replicated with some tapioca starch and a bit of Xanthan gum (both available at your local Whole Foods). 

The tapioca, xanthan and a little sugar get blended together–

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and heated while stirring until they reach the thick consistency of a custard.

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Meanwhile, the peanut butter and roasted peanut oil are blended together–

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and finally, all ingredients are mixed together,

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and frozen just like the sorbet.

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(The finished product, from ModernistCuisine.com)

The kids especially love this one, because it tastes just like you’d think an ice cream version of the middle of your PB&J sandwich would. There’s no additional flavor to dilute the main stars, and the texture is just as rich and creamy as you’d expect a full-fat, dairy version to be. 

One thing I will not share with you in this post, are the actual recipes. If you are feeling adventurous enough to try making some of your own, I wholeheartedly encourage you to visit ChefSteps.com, where you will find amazing recipes, videos, and forums all dedicated to educating whomever may be interested in learning more about Modernist Cuisine, and all for free! Good food doesn’t have to be super fancy. But to make the best tasting food, often in the easiest, most foolproof manner, you can’t go wrong using the modern techniques and attention to detail they encourage. Check it out, and don’t be afraid to jump in and try something yourself!

 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

 

–Yehuda

 

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Citron and Rose: A Review

Occasionally, (and I mean truly occasionally) I am upset by the fact that I do not live in a big city, like New York or Los Angeles. I say occasionally, because at heart I am a small-town boy, and like all the space that the suburbs have to offer. However, small town Jewish communities such as Silver Spring or Baltimore (which really isn’t such a small town anymore) have had a hard time supporting the existence of kosher fine dining restaurants, and unfortunately, routine trips to New York do not fit into my current schedule. This translates into me not having had a nice restaurant meal in quite some time.

(Surprisingly, Washington D.C., with it’s large Jewish population, only has one fairly mediocre kosher deli. I’m as puzzled about that as you are.)

As much as I know that I am not a professional chef by any stretch of the word, I do however, know that I have made some pretty tasty things for others, some of which I have shared with you on this blog. I have cooked food that has truly wowed me, the same as I have made things that have fallen short in my own eyes. I am most often critical of food that I make, only because I have recreated dishes from some of the world’s best chefs, and know what perfect plate of food should taste like. I suppose this also translates into me not being the easiest dinner companion when going out to eat. In my defense, when I’m critical of a plate of food, it’s often not because I’m thinking, “Oh, I could do this much better.” Rather, I’m thinking “If I could do this, what could I do to make it better.” I am on the lookout for a restaurant that can wow me as do the mere printed recipes of my favorite cookbooks.

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to dine at Citron and Rose–Philadelphia’s newest (and lone) kosher fine dining establishment. I was intrigued to see how they would present classic Jewish home food in a new, exciting light. I will say right now that I am supremely jealous that Philadelphia gets this place, while Silver Spring, D.C. and Baltimore combined do not have anything remotely comparable. Citron and Rose does so many things right, and provided me an experience that I have not had at any other kosher restaurant. Please allow me to share my thoughts of this experience with you.

One would not be able to tell from the location alone that the restaurant would be of such a high caliber. In fact, if one were to judge from the location, it would be easy to forgive the suspicion that what lay behind those doors is nothing more than another greasy, mess hall of a restaurant. Thankfully, this is not the case. Instead, the sight greeting you behind those doors is that of a stylish and modern, but simplistically decorated space, with an inviting bar, and a beautiful open kitchen. The restaurant was clean, and the kitchen–organized and efficient, which I could clearly see, using the direct view I had from my table.

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This is the one picture I am comfortable sharing with you. The few others that I took with my camera phone did not come out too well, and for that, I apologize.

While at the end of the day, I did have a few critiques about the food (more on that later), I was, however, blown away by the quality of service and attention to detail which the front of the house staff, and particularly our server (whose name I have unfortunately forgotten) provided.

As I was eager to get as complete a picture of the dishes being offered in my one visit, my first question to our server was to see if a tasting menu was offered, even though one was not listed on the menu. Unsure about the answer, he left us for five minutes, during which time I assumed that he forgot about us, and would return with a response in the negative. To my surprise, our server informed us that he had been sitting with the chef and the manager, and they had worked out a five course menu, which, while sounding great, did not in my opinion reflect the dishes currently on the menu. I declined this option, in favor of ordering from the menu what amounted to be four appetizers, two entrees, one dessert, and three drinks (which turned into four.) I thanked our server for the effort, and was excited to see how I would be impressed next.

While we waited for our first course, two rolls were brought to the table, one challah, and one rye, along with a schmaltz aioli. Score one for the C & R kitchen staff. If you’re like me and enjoy mayonnaise on your warm challah, this treat was a great first impression, one that made me feel like I was going to be enjoying the best Shabbos meal I’ve ever had. Bear with me as I run through the courses one by one.

Salmon Gravlax– everything spice, walnuts, radish, smoked bagel

If you’ve been to a bris in the past year, I’m sure that the flavors here are nothing new. This was what many would call a “deconstructed” bagel and lox. The neat trick here, was the shuffling around of the original’s flavors. In place of a cured and smoked slice of salmon, the smoke was shifted over to the house made bagel, made with smoked flour. The fish itself, a beautifully marbled specimen, was lightly cured and coated in “everything” spice. You know, the stuff that gives an “everything” bagel it’s name. I think this little trick allowed the salmon to shine a bit more on its own, and added a measure of surprise to the all too familiar bagel. The texture of the bagel, however, wasn’t quite right. Lacking the shiny exterior and chewiness of say, a Goldberg’s bagel, it lead me to believe that they’re not using lye at C & R in the bagel making process. Not surprising, but slightly disappointing still.

Chopped Liver– sour cherry, chocolate, pumpernickel

While I desperately wanted to love this dish, with its interesting interplay of flavors, there was something I found to be slightly off-putting about it. Presented exquisitely,  the chopped liver was formed into spheres attached to toothpicks, coated with sour cherry glaze. They resembled cherries themselves, atop a bed of crushed cocoa nibs, with pickled vegetables to cut through the richness of the liver. Indeed, the liver was rich and smooth as butter, and to my delight, still faintly pink in the center. This richness became an issue as it was impossible to finish a single “cherry” in one bite, and they had difficulty maintaining their shape once a single bite was taken. While I did appreciate the pickled vegetables to cut through the richness, I felt that the tastes clashed slightly. Like I said, I wanted to love this dish, but only ended up really liking it.

Celery Root Soup– veal kreplach, pickled celery

The whole dish had a perfect balance, between the creaminess of the soup and the crisp but not oily kreplach. The soup was poured atop the kreplach at the table, which is a presentation touch I love. By the time the soup arrived, I had forgotten about the pickled celery component of the dish. They were smartly hidden beneath the kreplach, and getting one on my spoon was a lovely surprise, a burst of brightness to reinvigorate the palate before the next bite of the smooth and rich soup. Outstanding.

Beef Tartare– pastrami spice, bone marrow croquettes

I order tartare whenever I get the chance, as I expect it to be light and tasty, and this case was no different. The pastrami spice was a welcome addition, bringing a nuance of flavor that fit perfectly with the rest of the meal. And the marrow croquettes were like little breaded nuggets of heaven.

Sholet– braised lamb shank, kishke, haminado, flageolet beans

A regular guest at my parents Shabbos table was fond of theorizing that the word “cholent” is derived from the French “sho let” meaning, warm beans. Who knows. But Sholet was on the menu, and having theorized myself for sometime the best way to modernize cholent, I was more than curious to see how this dish fared. By far the best cholent you have ever had, the Sholet was good enough to stand on its own right, even without the Shabbos food nostalgia. I was impressed that our server could explain to me how the haminado egg had a brown exterior, which normally comes from overnight slow cooking, while still maintaining a custard like texture for the yolk (I’m sure I could have been the first to ask about that.)

Barley Risotto– chesnuts, wild mushrooms, kale, sweet peppers, pearl onions

As perfect as a risotto should be when made without cream and butter, the barley risotto was al dente and creamy, with expertly sauteed wild mushrooms. This was my favorite dish of the evening.

Pear Flodni– poppy, walnuts, pear sorbet

The obvious choice for dessert was either the chocolate babka or the mousse. I did not want the obvious smash hit, and instead opted for this curious combination, and was not disappointed. We needed something refreshing after this long and filling meal. I, for one, could barely walk when we were done. I have never been a huge fan of poppy, so my love for this dish either has to do with my getting older and beginning to lose my hair, or the fact that it was a better and more interesting, perfectly executed version of an apple cobbler a la mode. I did not know until then that parve puff pastry could be so flaky and rich, but I am dying to find out how this trick was accomplished.

I want to devote a separate post to the service at Citron and Rose, as it was even better than the excellent food. I hope you can tell that any critical comments I made regarding the food was me being exceptionally nit-picky, and only food with no other mistakes warrants that kind of scrutinizing. If you have the chance, I highly recommend paying a visit to the city of brotherly love, and checking out the newest, and one of the greatest, kosher restaurants anywhere.

 

 

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I’m back, baby. I’m back!

Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Seinfeld lately.

But yes, I am back. The fall semester of craziness is over, and Winter break has brought me life’s most precious commodity, time. Specifically, time to just sit down and have a moment with my thoughts, to actually consider the possibilities of what to do with my day, before the day gets started. Take away all of a man’s other luxuries; time is the one he cannot live without.

I can’t wait to start making a mess in my kitchen once more. It has been far too long since I have opened a cookbook with the direct intention of making something delicious for family and friends. That’s not to say I haven’t been reading up over the past couple of months. I have held volumes 1 & 2 of my good friend Dan’s copy of Modernist Cuisine hostage, and read them cover to cover, trying my best to retain all the glorious facts and figures contained within. (Incidentally, Volume 1 helped me tremendously with a research paper I wrote for my microbiology class entitled, “Microbial Growth in Sous Vide Cooking Applications.”) I cannot WAIT for Michael Ruhlman’s “Schmaltz” to be available on formats other than the iPad. And I am almost done working through the CIA’s “The Professional Chef.”

I have lots of stuff planned for the upcoming month of freedom, but for now I just wanted to say “Hi” and welcome myself back. Up next, I’ll be sharing with you my thoughts about a dinner I had at Philly’s newest kosher restaurant, Citron and Rose.

All the best,

Yehuda

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Welcome back! (He says to himself)

Well folks, I’m back.

While last summer was a busy time for CrazyTastyKosher, this year required me to take a hiatus from cooking and writing so I could focus my energies elsewhere. The past few months have been a tremendously transitional time for me. I am no longer a high school teacher. I am, once again, a student. I have four separate business projects that are all exciting, and all require a good deal of effort on my part. Add these things to a busy family life, and whats left on the other side of the equation is my free time in constant decline. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! I enjoy being busy with work, but these are a lot of balls to be juggling, and time management has never been one of my strong suits.

Lets talk about what I’ve been up to these past couple of months.

I am currently taking a full course load with the goal of enrolling in a Physician’s Assistant program, hopefully this coming Spring. This means that so far I have taken Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2, and still have the following on my roster: Microbiology, Chemistry, Psychology, Statistics, Medical Terminology and Biochemistry. As intense as these courses have been, especially the ones I took during the Summer semesters, I have thoroughly enjoyed them all. I have always been somewhat of a science nerd, and now have the lab coat and safety goggles to prove it.

On Monday, I returned home from what was likely the most grueling two weeks of work that I have ever done. I was asked to cater a retreat in upstate New York for close to two hundred people, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I knew that the job was not going to be easy, especially since I had been there before, and known that the kitchen looked like this–

As you can see, I had only the finest, most technologically advanced equipment to work with. This made my job sooooooo much easier. I really wished I had approached The Food Network beforehand to make a show about the worst kitchen in the world. I would probably have a movie and book deal by now.

The most fun was had two Thursdays ago. Thursday night is the time when we would start Shabbos prep, under normal circumstances. We did not have normal circumstances at hand, however. As we were making a very large BBQ for dinner on Thursday night, all of our meat dishes were dirty and in the sink, waiting to be washed. Luckily for us, we had the mother of all clogs brewing in the drain. Who knew that pure vegetable shortening was not supposed to go down there? Not me, apparently. It took three tries for my staff to come back with the drain cleaner that I wanted, but that didn’t stop me from trying the other two on the clog as well. After a half an hour of waiting, nothing seemed to be working, so we called Bob, the head of campus maintenance. More good news. Bob had just taken his wife to the ER to deal with a broken wrist, and wouldn’t be back until after midnight. So, after trying to manually drain what felt like 1000 gallons of disgusting grease water with buckets into a different sink, we were now forced to admit defeat and move these giant pots and pans to a smaller sink, and wash them there.

Time to get started? Not so fast! My right hand man in the kitchen managed to slice his finger open and needed stitches. This was at midnight, and we hadn’t cooked a single thing yet for the 180+ people that were coming for shabbos. My staff and I pulled it together, and when I finally went back to my room 3 A.M., we had a lot accomplished, and there were pots on the stove, and cooked food sitting out on the counters that was to be put in the fridge shortly.

When Bob got back, he immediately poured industrial strength cleaner into the drain, which turned out to be undiluted sulfuric acid, not knowing that there were already three different types of drain cleaner in there. This was a bad thing. Once that acid hit the sink, it caused some sort of reaction that filled the kitchen with noxious fumes, and required the whole building to be evacuated. I found all this out, by the way, with a knock on my door after climbing into bet at 3:00 for a few short hours of rest before getting ready for breakfast at 6:45. Needless to say, I was tired all through Shabbos.

An industrial potato peeler

After this experience, I needed to go somewhere and be waited on and cooked for, for a change. So, on our way back, we stopped in Teaneck, NJ, and checked out Etc. Steakhouse. Here’s what we ate–

 

oxtail corndog with plum ketchup and fried egg

crispy veal sweetbreads with corn puree and zucchini strips

beef cheek gnocchi with fava beans and cherry tomato

filet steak with smoky swiss chard risotto

BBQ ribs with Johnny cakes and summer salsa

“peaches and cream”– macerated peaches with caramel cream and marzipan crust

While I can’t say that I was “wowed” by anything in particular that we ate, overall, the experience was lovely, the food cooked perfectly, and the service impeccable. If you’re in Teaneck, I highly recommend stopping by and checking out etc. Steakhouse.

Well, now that all of this is behind us, lets talk about the future. I have a big announcement to make, one which I hope will be received with enthusiasm by you, my dear readers. So stay tuned for the next post, coming later today!

 

 

 

 

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Some pictures of food, with captions

So, the good news is that I seem to be a little bit ahead of the curve in my A&P class. As a celebratory gesture, and because many people actually want to know what they had been looking at in my recent post, I’d like to go back and give a brief description of those incredible dishes.

First, the hors d’oveures.

I think everyone recognizes the roasted asparagus. We tried to be very seasonal with this recent dinner. As such, we served asparagus, plainly roasted with sea salt and olive oil to showcase the difference between produce that is available year-round, and when the same produce is actually in season.

At the near end of the picture, are breaded and fried summer squash blossoms. A very generous friend who has a fantastic garden at the side of his house had these blooming, and wanted to share them with us. They were fantastic.

I confess that I do not know many of the intricate details of this recipe. Dan made this strawberry gazpacho from Modernist Cuisine, and it was incredible. Although strawberries (again, still in season) were the main ingredient, this was a very savory dish, had quite a bit of spice to it, and was balanced very nicely by the rhubarb sorbet pictured at the far end.

Conspicuously absent by way of photographic evidence is the dish of tuna with Kaffir lime marinade, chili oil and avocado. It’s a real shame, too, because that dish was a true work of art, both in presentation and taste.

Next, the salad of petite summer tomatoes, from the French Laundry cookbook.

The tomatoes were blanched and their skins removed, and tossed with a little salt and olive oil. Underneath the tomatoes is a brioche crouton, sitting atop sous vide infused basil oi. Above the tomatoes is a tomato sorbet, made with a hint of orange zest and red wine vinegar, a garlic tuille, and a basil flower.

This was my favorite dish of the evening. I love chicken, even though it gets a bad rap. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the reason most people are so ambivalent about this bird is not because of its ubiquity, but because so many people do not know how to cook it properly. I am happy to have roast chicken and pasta every shabbos–indeed, most weeks that is the Friday night menu.

This chicken, however, was not roasted. The breast was cooked sous vide, perfectly moist, and finished with a shallot and tarragon jus. However, the real exciting component was the “chicken nugget” on the left.

The genius of Grant Achatz’s brain decided it would be a good idea to render the fat out of some chicken skin, with some garlic and thyme added to the pan. Once the skin has crisped up, the rendered fat is powderized with N-Zorbit M Tapioca Maltodextrin, and the skin is ground to a coarse powder. These two powders are then mixed with freeze-dried corn powder, thyme leaves, and some minced truffle, and the resulting mixture is formed into a ball.

Grant Achatz is a genius. This chicken-skin and truffle chicken nugget is the proof. A chicken nugget on crack, or steroids, or maybe LSD. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t tried any of them, but I do know this was amazing.

Another Alinea creation, this little course was a lightly pickled cucumber strip wrapped around mango leather and topped with clove and coriander salt, and saffron threads.

We had to really push this course, as the dinner was running late. On the right is a 72-hour short rib with a tamarind glaze. On the left, a sous vide rib cap, atop honeydew slices with a soy pudding, lime sugar rocks and pink peppercorns.

Finally, the dessert.

At the center is a pliable chocolate ganache. Usually just chocolate, cream and sugar, ganache is not supposed to be pliable. Here, we added gelatin and agar agar to allow for an exciting twist in the presentation, literally. At the far ends of the ganache are cocoa crumbs, and at the near end, some mint pudding and avocado puree. To the left, a lime sorbet, with a dehydrated chocolate mousse tuille, and to the right, a toasted almond ice cream truffle and dehydrated lime curd. Another plate of Alinea perfection.

Well, that’s it for this evening. I want to say that I do appreciate the encouragement I have been receiving from you guys recently. I really do hope start putting posts up again with some regularity, but that will have to wait until my schedule settles a little bit. I was also asked to put up a recipe section. Do you think that’s a good idea? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll try to make it happen.

Until next time…

 

 

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Some pictures of food, and the people who cooked them

Sadly, my life’s a little too hectic right now to allow for a full write up about our most recent dinner, what with studying for A&P  and a zillion other things eating away at my time and sanity. I hope you enjoy these pictures of some of the courses we served. Hopefully next time, we’ll have a professional photographer (know anyone who will work for food?) If only my photography skills have progressed as much as my culinary knowledge…

 

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Why Homemade is Better

One recent evening, as I was making some popcorn for my kids, Akiva asked, “Why do you make popcorn when you can just buy it from the store?” Akiva is almost four years old, and has a very inquisitive mind. I love it. In this instance, he gave me a golden opportunity to start teaching him about the benefits of creating things yourself versus ready made items, when you have the ability to do so.

To be clear: Homemade food doesn’t always taste better, but it almost always is better. This is true for a few reasons, some more obvious than others. Cooking, when done properly, is a labor of love. When you cook for others, you are, in one of the most direct ways, nourishing them with your hard work. Perhaps this connecting effect of food is to what the Talmud was referring by telling us “gedolah l’gimah shemikareves es hab’rios“–literally, “Eating is great, for it brings people together.” True, a large amount of that camaraderie can be accomplished when dining out, but I think that it’s even greater when the food has been prepared specifically for that purpose.

In my opinion, there is nothing more comforting at the end of a hard day, than coming home to a house where there is a delicious aroma wafting through the front door, and a warm meal waiting for you at the table. When that meal has been crafted specifically for you, and not just defrosted and reheated, the love shines through. If you can be in the position to make others feel this appreciated, appreciate it yourself, and pass the value of it onto the next generation.

Of the more obvious reasons why homemade food is preferable over processed and store-bought, is the quality control issue. I like knowing what goes into my food. Yes, over the last year or so I have become much more familiar with odd sounding ingredients and their purposes (I’m talkin’ about you, N-Zorbit M,) but that doesn’t guarantee quality. Sometimes the only guarantee you can get is the one you give yourself.

Nowhere is this more true, than in the case of store-bought ground beef. Even if we’re talking about a butcher that you know and trust, and have no reason to fear that anything but edible meat (and fat, more on that later) is going through that grinder, there’s still the freshness issue. Meat, as we all know, can make us sick if it’s not handled properly. What many people are not aware of, is the fact that microbes and bacteria cannot travel very deep beyond the surface of a slab of meat (that doesn’t mean that meat cannot spoil on its own!) So, no, properly handled, fresh raw meat WILL NOT MAKE YOU SICK! But what happens once all that muscle tissue is run through a grinder? That’s right! Its surface area has just expanded exponentially, meaning it now has a much shorter shelf-life. I defy anyone to disagree with me at this point; grinding your meat at home is a better choice. If I freak out at least one person enough to buy the grinder attachment to the KitchenAid stand mixer, (you can also just use a food processor) I’ll consider this blog a success.

I don’t think there could be a better sendoff for some fresh ground than sandwiched between two halves of a bun, with some lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, banana pepper rings, pickle and of course, HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE! Helman’s, as good as it is, really, really doesn’t compare. Oh, and if you put mustard on your burger, consider yourself officially on my done-zo list. That’s right. Done-zo.

On the right, a chuck roast whose excess silverskin and tendons were removed soon after that picture. On the left? Yup. That’s a slab of extra fat. A good burger (may I take your order?) according to Ruhlman, should be between 20-30% fat. That chuck roast was far too lean for my liking, so I fattened it up, posthumously.

Notice how lean it looks now?

How about now?

What is the point of paying extra for a “Kobe” beef burger when you can make these yourself?

For the “fixin’s”–

And the finished product–

I really wish that picture came out as good as the burger itself.

At least Akiva got the message.

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