Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Helping" to Taste Test a New Cheese

Last Thursday after my CSA pick up I was able to sample a new cheese being created by Point Reyes Farmstead.  I have been selected as one of 20 cheese testers to give them tasting notes on the cheese samples we receive and post our experiences on the blog at Culture Magazine.  While I picked up my vegetables and socialized I day dreamed about the cheese that I would be tasting.  I also kept myself busy helping my friend Denise eat the spinach from her share.  If you want to read my impressions of the first cheese and the qualifications I have to help with this project head over the Culture Magazines's blog.

Here is a teaser:

My name is Robin Berger, you can find out more about me and what I like to cook on my food blog: http://blog.hippoflambe.com . There are no recipes for hippo on my site, I just threaten my children with serving it when I get tired of answering the question, “What’s for dinner?” Aside from being a foodie I have been a cheese lover all my life, happily eating from every category of cheese even when I was a child. When I was eight, a family friend once left me alone with an entire 10 inch wheel of Brie she was letting come to room temperature

Find the rest of the post here:  Sampling a New Cheese

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eggs Benedict with Whole Egg Hollandaise

When we go out for breakfast Lewis orders eggs benedict with the hollandaise sauce on the side.  Most of the time he takes a tiny taste of the hollandaise and then eats his eggs without it.  Which leaves me to happily eat my hash browns by dipping them in his hollandaise sauce.  So when I decided to make eggs benedict for Father's Day I really did not need to make hollandaise.  However without making it I felt guilty, like I was short changing the work needed for a special breakfast.  Plus, for me it is not eggs benedict without hollandaise and I was eating breakfast as well.

All the recipes I found for hollandaise called for a very simple list of ingredients and all of the them called for egg yolks only.  Personally I hate using only part of the egg, transferring the part you don't use to a container in the fridge where it will be forgotten.  Instead I used whole eggs that I pushed through a sieve before cooking.  One of the reasons to use egg yolks only, besides from the increased richness and fat, is the whites can cook up less smooth then the yolks on their own.  By straining the eggs before cooking the hollandaise you remove the chalazae, which is the protein strand that suspends the yolk within the white.

In the end the hollandaise I made had a light clean lemon flavor, was still rich and satisfying and even Lewis ate a very modest amount on his eggs.  Julian and Sebastian both declared it disgusting, so I know it retains its classic hollandaise qualities.

Whole Egg Hollandaise

2 whole eggs
1 Tbsp cold water
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (or to taste)

Strain the eggs through a fine mesh sieve into the top of a double boiler of a bowl placed on top of a pan of hot water.  Add the tablespoon of cold water to the strained eggs and turn heat the pan so the water is hot but not boiling.  Beat the eggs and water with a wire whisk continuously until the mixture is light and filled with tiny bubbles.

Add the butter to the mixture a tablespoon at a time and whisk until the butter is fully melted and incorporated.  Check occasionally to make sure the water is not boiling.  Continue to add the butter a tablespoon at a time, waiting until the last piece melts and is incorporates before adding more and whisking it in.

Add the salt and part of the lemon juice and taste to see if you want more lemon juice.  The sauce will thicken more once it is removed from the heat.  Turn the heat off and set aside while you make prep the eggs and english muffins.

Eggs Benedict
serves 4

8 slices good quality smoked deli ham (I used Vermont Smoke and Cure)
4 English muffins, split and toasted
8 eggs

1 recipe whole egg hollandaise sauce

Place the ham on each English muffin half and set aside.

bring a large pot half filled with water to the boil with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.  While the water is heating crack two eggs a piece into small ramekins or teacups.  When the water is boiling turn it off and add the eggs by submerging the side of the ramekin into the water and slowly tipping them in.  Once all the eggs are in the water turn the heat back on to the lowest setting and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place on top of the ham.  Serve with the hollandaise sauce on the side.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Popovers with Strawberry Butter

Strawberry season is not yet here and when it does arrive many farms will not have any.  The flooding this spring has washed out the strawberries at our CSA and our closest you pick farm.   Memorial day weekend we had visitors from New York City who snacked on local strawberries during their car ride.  When I woke up to a handful of perfectly ripe sweet berries there seemed to be only one thing I could do.  Popovers, hot from the oven with a crisp exterior and a soft custard like lining accompanied by strawberry butter.  The strawberry butter glides across the interior, melting in pools of summer sweetness accentuated by the richness of butter.

Strawberry Butter

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (if your food processor is in good condition it can be done with cold butter, it will just take longer)
2 Tbsp honey
4 large ripe strawberries (for local berries I figure 3-4 smaller berries equals 1 large one)

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor with the metal chopping blade or in a stand mixer.  Mix until the butter is light and fluffy and all the ingredients are emulsified together.  Serve immediately with warm popovers, good bread, pancakes, waffles...  Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container.  It is best served at room temperature but that is not stopping anyone around here from spreading it on bread, toast a spoon etc.

Adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook (although there are missing steps in the newest edition)
Yield 12 small muffin tin sized popovers or 6 large popover pan ones

Many popover recipes say you can skip the step of prewarming the tins in the oven.  From my limited tests you can skip this step but your popovers will not "pop" or expand as impressively.  Also after many years of making popovers I think part of the trick to getting them to pop so you don't need to serve them as egg muffins is whisking them enough for gluten to form.  The tenderness on the inside does not come from a delicate touch but the eggs.  You can make these in a regular muffin tin, once you are properly addicted I suggest investing in a popover pan.

4 eggs
1 cup milk (Lowfat, whole etc does not matter)
1/3 cup spelt flour (if you don't want to use spelt do 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup white)
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat
1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375°, with convection if you have it, with the empty muffin tin or popover pan inside

Beat together the eggs and milk in a large bowl, preferably one with a pouring spout.

Add the flour and salt and then beat vigorously with a whisk or fork until the mixture is uniform.

Brush the bottom and sides of the tin generously with the melted butter.  You need to do the buttering and filling steps quickly so the tin retains its heat.

Fill each hole evenly with batter, about 2/3 or a little more full.  Place in the oven.  If you don't mind a little fussing turn the oven up to 400° for the first 5 minutes.  If using convection after 5 minutes reduce the heat to 350° and continue baking for 30 more minutes, without convection lower it back to 375°

Do not open the oven while the popovers are baking for at least the first 30 minutes, if you do they will deflate.  When you remove the popovers from the oven pierce the popovers with the tip of a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape.  Serve immediately with strawberry butter or butter and jam.