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Emu Egg Frittata in Bacon Cups

January 8, 2013 1 comment

Emu egg frittata in a bacon cup

Dear Chef Bourdain;

My first conscious act after a holiday party in 2013 was to blow the guts out of an emu egg, and turn it into frittatta in bacon cups. I think that’s a pretty good start, and probably as close to becoming Danaerys Targaryan as I’ll ever get. Mother To Dragons? I’ll have to settle for “Frother Of Dinosaurs.”
Emu Egg Blow

But wait, Davy, you must be asking yourself? (If you were reading this, so if you’re actually asking yourself that, something weird has happened. Perhaps something weird and magical, but anyway… let me not digress to much. Or give away the secrets of”Phase 2″…) Where did I get an emu egg? My friend and accomplished writer, Jesse Heinig delivered it as a treat from the North, from an ostrich farm near Solvang. My research revealed that emu eggs are about the equivalent of 10-12 chicken eggs, have a very similar flavor, and will keep for a week or two in the fridge. It’s a beautiful, vibrant and multi-hued teal color, so we wanted to be sure to preserve the shell for …some decorative purpose. (Or maybe part of phase 2? Wait and see!)

Getting into the shell was itself quite an endeavor. My wife and her father took turns delicately whirring away at it with a power drill, and switched out bits at least three times before they managed to get through the shell. In the hand it feels weighty and solid, and in fact it’s even thicker and stronger than it would seem. And it seems doughty indeed. Having created a small hole at one end and a slightly larger blowing-hole at the other, it then became a test of lung power to get the contents out and into a mixing bowl. This calls for a professional blowhard. Fortunately, no shortage of those in this family!
Emu Egg Meez

Next up was not fucking up my meez. The egg-violating took quite a while, so I had plenty of time to finely slice a couple shallots, dice up half a red onion, and dice four cloves of garlic. I also kept close to hand some salt, seasoned pepper, savory, and white truffle oil.
Emu Egg Mix
Once the egg was in the bowl, its secret places invaded by blown breath; I used an immersion blender to make it nice and frothy. I found I had to use a sort of jerking-off motion to get the blades up in the air for a fraction of a second to incorporate the air and substantially increase its volume. I also folded in the salt, seasoned pepper and about 2 tsp of truffle oil. When it was about half-again in volume, I folded in the garlic and shallots.
Emu egg mix

First thing in the morning I had already created bacon cups with a half-pound of bacon. That’s dead easy – just wrap the bottoms of a cupcake tin with foil. Cut a rasher in half, lay it crosswise over the top, and then wrap another piece around it. I let it cook slow in the oven with another tray underneath (and the tin foil curved up at the edge) to catch drippings. When the fat had rendered out, it made nice crispy bacon cups. I don’t have any pictures because…well, it was first thing in the morning after a holiday party. You can guess my condition. I wasn’t focused on photography. Fuck you if you don’t empathize. But to quote the immortal George Patton, “I’ve read your book, you son of a bitch!” So I know you feel me.

After that it’s easy. I’d pre-heated the same cupcake pan (with bacon cups removed and rinsed off) in a 400F oven. Put that on the range over heat to keep it hot, and poured the frittata over a little heated olive oil in each cup. Topped it with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and red onion. Into the oven it goes, and about ten minutes later, or at any rate when you jiggle it and the center is just set, you take it out of the oven. Sit for a minute or two, and pull the frittatas out of the cups, put them in the bacon cups, and serve to your hung over, curious and hungry friends and family.
Emu egg frittata

The flavor was nice; emu eggs really are like chicken eggs in flavor, but have a more dense, creamy texture. I think frittata was a good choice, though the solid ingredients sunk right to the bottom. A more experienced cook would have known that and stirred while pouring, but as it stands we got all the chunky and delicious bits in some of the frittata and less in the others. But it all tasted grand, as delicious as any dinosaur egg could reasonably be!

I’ll include the recipe after this, for completeness sake. Something tells me you won’t be making it though, chef.

Davy

Emu Egg Frittata in Bacon Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 1 emu egg
  • 2 shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp of truffle oil
  • 1/2 red onion finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 tbsp of savory
  • salt, seasoned pepper to taste

Method:

  1. pre-heat oven to 275F, invert cupcake pan and carefully wrap in foil.
  2. Cut a piece of bacon for each cup in half, and make criss-cross over top. With another piece, wrap each cup. Put it in the oven until the bacon fat renders out; about 20-30 minutes, maybe more. Can do ahead by a few hours. (Put a drip pan under to catch the fat!) Set bacon cups aside.
  3. Increase oven heat to 400F
  4. Make a large hole in one end of the emu egg with a power drill. Use a fine bit to punch through and a larger bit to widen the hole. Put a small hole in the other end, blow egg out into a mixing bowl.
  5. Put a cupcake pan (clean the first one if you re-use it) in the oven to pre-heat the pan.
  6. Add the salt, seasoned pepper, savory and truffle oil. With an immersion blender, use a jerking off motion to froth the egg until it’s substantially increased in volume, and nice and frothy.
  7. Fold in the shallot and garlic.
  8. Put the cupcake pan over high heat on the range. Pour a tsp or so of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom. Heat until it just shimmers.
  9. Pour half a cup full of egg mix in to each cupcake cup. Top with red onion and cheese.
  10. Put in oven. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the center is just set when you jiggle it.
  11. Remove, let sit for two minutes.
  12. Slide frittatas out of pan with a spoon or very small spatula. Place in bacon up – serve.

This recipe created by David Krieger. Enjoy, but credit!

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Failure: My cri de coeur de porc

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Cri de coeur (de porc ala Armagnac)

Cri de coeur (de porc ala Armagnac)

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Well, first, let’s be clear, I fucking failed. You specifically admonished me, that drunken night in Santa Barbara, to “really fucking do it” and I sure didn’t. I set out in Nov. of 2010 to cook every recipe in your book within one year. By Nov 1st 2011, I had done about 60-some out of your 118 recipes. So more than half, just barely – but by no means done. So listen Chef, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa – I didn’t do it. I’m not going to lie about it, as you demanded that Julie/Julia chick must have. And seriously – given how much time I spent on this over 2011, I can’t imagine how someone working a full time job could make over three hundred recipes. No way.

But I am going to finish. So I’ve kept cooking, and after a few people bitched at me for not writing about it, I’m going to write about it. My triumphant (dismal failure) return, as it were! I have quite a backlog of dishes to write about, so I’d better get started. Today? Coeur de porc ala armagnac. The long story short: kinda nasty. Is anyone surprised?Also, I think I failed at other stuff too, on this one.

But here remains one fundamental lesson I’ve learned from you, Chef. Don’t fuck up the meez. Heck, just last night I made some chicken parm, and because I had my mise en place all sorted out and unfucked, it came out as well as I’ve ever made anything, better than the many times I’ve made it before. And really, it’s a lesson for life, too – think through what you’ve got to do, get what you need to do it ready and available, and you’re a long way towards succeeding. Heck, if I’d not fucked up my meta-meez for this project – which is to say sourced the harder to find ingredients ahead of time – I’d probably have succeeded.

One meez, un-fucked, as per your advice

Really, the hardest part here was getting the ingredients. But my good friend (and groomsman) Sous Chef Big Daddy Poteete had stumbled upon pig’s hearts somewhere in the wretched hive of scum and villainy of the North Valley. I’ve tried Mexican butchers for pig’s hearts before – “Por favor, corazon de puerco?” And gotten only wall-eyed stares. Like I’d just asked for a pinata full of infants or something. The butcher look at me, shook his head like maybe I was some kind of pasty illusion, and said, “Que?” “Corazon de puerco? Err, cochon?” I patted my chest in a heart-beat pattern. He looks at me deeply skeptically and says, “Pig heart? No.”

So it was a happy day when Big Daddy Poteete found the pig’s hearts. We arranged to meet for dinner that night, and I picked up a bottle of armagnac from the local BevMo. That shit’s expensive, man. Big Daddy Poteete and I felt obliged to do some quality control on this expensive concoction, so I poured a healthy slug in some pretentious tiny glass cups I have, and threw it down my neck. It tastes like…vanilla kerosene. Which sounds worse than it is, eventually I decided I like it. Can you imagine some IRA players tossing molotov cocktails full of vanilla kerosene? It would be the classiest act of terrorism ever. And so delicious!

The only segue from a terrorism joke is a picture.

I had some really delicious pork jelly left from making one of Dave Chang’s Momofoku pork bellies. The rendered fat is as smooth as vaseline, and at LEAST twice as delicious. So I  used that to fry up the onions and herbs to stuff the hearts with. Having done so, I stuffed those hearts right up. Then I got the pan good and hot, and was really looking forward to exploding the crap out of some armagnac. Another failure – captured forever in this priceless video.

So that didn’t work. I cooked the hearts per your instructions, chef, but they didn’t look done by half. In fact, I was pretty surprised we’d be pan-frying the hearts – with a muscley, tough piece of meat like a heart, I figured we’d cook it low and slow to make it tender. Even after I threw it back in the pan for a few minutes, it was still a touch pink in the middle.

Anyway, it had a not-unpleasant mineral flavor like a lot of organ meats do. But the texture had a sort of snap to it, like a Pink’s Hot Dog that wasn’t completely fantastic. And now that I think about it, I suspect I know the secret to Pink’s success…

Basically I’m glad I made it, but I’m not too anxious to make it again. Hit or miss? I call it a hit, but only because I like the ‘de armagnac’ part and will probably make another dish using the same method, preferably with more flammable results. Because really, anything that’s fun is more fun when it’s flaming!

Flame on, Chef;

Davy

P.S. I’m really sorry I failed, Chef. Of course, I don’t think you’ve actually read this, and maybe only a half-dozen people know or care…so it’s not that big a deal. But still, I’d hoped to capture a readership, do something noteworthy, and learn to cook. I did manage that last one, at least!

Not-So-Whole-Fish Basquaise

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Whole Fish Basquaise (but not so whole fish)

Dear Chef Bourdain;

My lovely wife headed out to the hallowed halls of Super King, way up in Pasadena-ish territory. They are a purveyor of many fine and strange meats at very reasonable prices, so it was worth the trip to lay in the supplies for the Carmageddon Bourdain-A-Thon. This was the same place I got the offal for Tripes Les Halles on Guts Night. She had a big list, because it’s a pretty big menu, and I didn’t do the greatest job of being especially specific. So when I said “red snapper” in my head was this big ol’ gorgeous fish. But she got fillets instead, because she is not telepathic, no matter how often I expect her to be.

But ya know, fish is only going to keep so long, so I figured I’d just do it anyway – I know that your exhortations about fish being better on the bone are sincere. In fact I’ve cooked whole red snapper before anyway – just not in the Basquaise style. So I’mna say this counts, anyway, even though it’s not a real whole fish. If you disagree, let me know and I’ll do it over again. After telling you to go fuck yourself, ‘cuz what were you thinking with so many goddamn veal recipes?

Step one - don't fuck up the meez.

Bearing in the mind the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far – don’t fuck  up the meez – I proceeded to not fuck up the meez. An onion, a red pepper, a green pepper, four garlic cloves and thyme leaves, all set to go. I heated up roasting pan and olive oil, and browned the onions and pepper. This fills the house with an amazing smell, and so I bet the Basque people are both colorful and perpetually hungry. Judging by the recipes named after them. By that same logic, though, I am covered with cilantro and have avocado on my head.

After the veg was browned, I added the garlic and thyme. When that got hot, I poured in the white wine and scraped up the good stuff. I added some home-made stock (it really does make a difference) and brought it to a boil. On goes the fish fillets, and into the 400F oven. Your recipe is for a whole fish, which obviously would take longer to cook than just some fillets, so I kept a close eye on it. I also omitted the potatoes since we’re doing the low-carb thing most of the week. I managed to pull the fish out at just the right moment, so it was delicate, flavorful and very tender. Assistant Chef Bourdain also went nuts for it, and circled the table like a well-chummed shark.

Assistant Chef Bourdain Approves

I missed out on crisping the skin and the added flavor of the more delicate bits, but it was still really delicious. It’s also easy, and as you say, simple to improvise on, too.  I’m crossing this one off the list. I’m way behind, and the fundamental technique was still the same – and, I might add, something I’ll be using  a lot in the future.

Next time, the whole fish!

Davy

Carmageddon Bourdain-a-thon

July 8, 2011 3 comments

Los Angeles Carmageddon, July 16-17

Hey Chef Bourdain;

I don’t know if you spend much time in Los Angeles, but we’ve got this little thing going on the locals are calling ‘carmageddon’. It might be a little dramatic, but only by a skosh.  they’re shutting down the 405 on the weekend of July 16th, which basically means that all of Los Angeles is going to descend into a sort of cross between the Old Testament and Mad Max.  You know, where wandering tribes of scavengers evade the wrath of angry God? It’s like that, plus with smog.

So my plan is to stay the fuck off the roads. Since I’m pretty far behind on my schedule to finish every recipe in your book inside a year, I’m going to take this opportunity to make ALL  THE THINGS.

COOK ALL THE THINGS!

COOK ALL THE THINGS!

Well, all the things I can find ingredients for, anyway. So my plan is this – I’ll work from home on Friday and start cooking.  There might be some drinking, too.  We’re going to watch as many old episodes of No Reserevations as I can stream. Which is nearly all of them. For the entire weekend, I’m going to cook, cook, cook. I don’t know if I can catch up or not, but I’m going to give it the old college try. No, fuck that, Chef – my college tries were pretty half-assed. Well, except after the Army. But anyway – I’mna cook the shit out of ALL THE THINGS.

Anyone who is stranded by Carmageddon and doesn’t want to take their chances evading the wrath of an angry god and wasteland scavengers is welcome to come over for all or some of it – There will definitely be something to eat. Whatever we don’t eat, we’ll freeze or give away. This is probably a  make-it-or-break-it proposition, if I don’t get caught up, or at least mostly caught up, it’s going to be progressively harder to do so  before the deadline. (November 1st, 2011, for the record.)

So Chef – or any other neighborinos, stop on by for the Carmageddon Bourdain-A-Thon. Though, if for some strange reason you actually show up, we’ll just play loud punk music instead of making you watch your own show, ok?

Davy

I’ve been working on my mussels.

May 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Moules Marinieres.

Dear Chef;

Look at those gorgeous bastards. That’s some food porn, right there. Like a lot of fond summer memories, they’re beautiful, easy and smell vaguely of the sea. I think it was you that said if someone threatens to come over and take pictures of one of your fancy dinners, mussels is the way to go.

You famously advised people not to order the mussels at any restaurant in Kitchen Confidential. That, and my mother’s deathly allergy to them has always made me leery, but now I’m converted.  I know I can take care to make sure that the mussels are nice and clean, and my local Costco has them fresh out of the ocean. We can’t eat the local mussels in the Summer due to red tide – which I was crushed to find out is not really a throw-back Soviet plot. I would have been more than happy to shake an AK-47 at the sky and holler “Wolverines!” if that would make mussels safe for all Americans.

But hey, a little care and cleaning and these ones from Northern California are fresh, safe and delicious. I let them sit in fresh water for a few hours before I even start to think about cooking them. Periodically I change out the water, so even though they’re pissing on each other’s heads, it gets flushed. If I’m ever captured for the purpose of eating, I hope my captors extend me the same courtesy.

"Privacy, please? We're peeing."

An hour before dinner or so, I put them in a plugged-up sink, run water and scrub and beard them as I toss them back into the (re-scrubbed) pot. This is basically the most tedious part. Those little suckers do not want to give up their last little snack of seaweed.

The rest is dead simple – throw some butter, shallots and white wine in the pot. Let them get nice and moogly (that’s totally a word) and then toss in the mussels. Once the mussels are all open, put on the lid and shake.

Action shot!

I put them all in a nice color bowl, poured the liquid over top, and served with a loaf of rustic bread and soft butter. They were simple, fresh and delicious. I sort of outsmarted myself though – I was serving other stuff for dinner, so while my fiancee and friends sat down to eat some mussels and chat, I was still cooking.

I will definitely make this again, so it’s totally a hit, Chef. Moules marinieres was much easier than the moules normandie, and I think even better, to tell the truth. If I have one lesson learned, it’s that I should plan to serve them with plenty of time to go before dinner – what a fine bowl of deliciousness to share on the deck with some crisp white wine and  friends on a warm Southern California day.

Next time you come over, I’ll make some for you, Chef. The wine is definitely a key part of the experience, but I don’t think I have to explain that to you!

Davy

You’re invited to an upcoming feast!

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

This is totally just to make people hungry.

I’ll be seeing you next weekend. I’m pretty excited – my fiancee’s cousin and her chef boyfriend got tickets to see you and Chef Ripert next weekend, May 1st, in Santa Barbara. They’re bringing Pascale and I as their wedding gift to us. So hey, I’ll bring you a printout of the infamous guts-night to sign, and maybe one to keep for you, too! I know you’re excited to meet me at last, Chef. So the night before I’m going to make a dinner from your book. You’re totally invited – drop  me a line, ok?

For my other friends and readers, you’re invited too! But here’s the deal – I’m getting married in a few weeks. (Seriously. A few weeks. Ok ok, deep breaths…) and I need to save up for the wedding and honeymoon, especially since things have gone more than a bit sideways at work recently, and I’m not guaranteed to have the time off and pay I was expecting. So if you’d like to come, will you help me cover the cost of ingredients? That’s all I’m asking – and in return, you’ll get a really excellent meal. Here’s the menu:

Starter:  Moules a la marinieres (mussels in tomato broth)

Veg: Leeks vinaigratte

Mains: Filet of beef, sauce porto with roasted shallots

Side: pommes sautee au lard. (Potatoes sauteed in duck fat.)

Dessert: Charlottes de marrons. (A bit like tiramisu, it’s that beautiful bastard I enticed you in with up top.)

I figure I don’t really want to cook for more than six with this many courses, so that’s four open spots at the table. I have the luxury of not cooking for more than six, because this is a hobby, not a job, thank the gods. I figure most of that stuff isn’t terribly expensive, except for the filet, so about $20 a head will cover it. Now come on, that’s a five course meal for the price of what the sides would cost in a good restaurant! So please let me know if you’re into it, and how many. First come, first serve – it’s all going down Saturday evening, April 30th, probably around 6pm.

And Chef Bourdain, if you show up, I promise there will be plenty of good wine and a solid Venice freakshow on top of it all!

I’m hungry just thinking about it. The food that is, not the freakshow. Though that’s awesome too.

Davy

Steak Warhammer – Steak Au Poivre

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I have a tiny mortar and pestle. That’s not a euphemism. I mean the kitchen implement, and the one I have is a great size for say, crushing herbs or making almond dust. (Internet commenters, I have provided you with some excellent straight-lines here, I expect top-notch work!) But it’s too small to crack enough peppercorns for steak au poivre for six people. Sterner measures were called for.
So there were my peppercorns, crushed with the best tool I had for the job – a warhammer. Hey, it’s not just my weapon-of-choice for the zombie apocalypse, it’s also a handy tenderizer and whatnot!

I’m pretty handy with a steak, if truth be told. Knowing how to nicely pan-roast a good cut of meat was one of the skills I came into this project having if not mastered, at least journeymaned. But I was looking forward to this dinner – I found some really beautiful filets mignon at the local Costco. They were really thick, and a deep, dark red color. Like theater curtains. Of meat. Like you, I don’t think filet deserves the reputation it gets, it’s kind of bland. But it certainly has a buttery, toothsome texture, so kicking up its flavor with some pepper for spice, butter, cognac and to add some fat and flavor? Yeah, I’m in. And the prospect that the pan would flame up made it even more enticing!

I had two pans large enough to use, and six steaks to do. Because everyone was sitting down together, I couldn’t do them in batches,  per se, they all had to finish resting at the same time. So I got both pans ripping hot. Not as hot as I normally would, because your instructions call for a a little less heat, presumably because of the butter rather than oil – lower smoke point and all. I seared ’em up nice and brown, then transferred all six into the cast-iron pan in the pre-heated oven.

It was then that it was time to make the flame happen!

Action Shot! Only...without the action!

No flame.  I was excited about this, too – giant gouts of flame are ALWAYS fun, and when they’re combined with delicious meat and booze? That’s a fiesta, Chef.  A goddamn fiesta! But there was no flame here, just the steam and smoke. I realized why, after the fact – because this pan hadn’t roasted in the oven (the other one was doing that) it wasn’t as hot as it otherwise might have been.

So, the cognac didn’t flare up, but the resulting sauce was still pretty amazing. Hard to go wrong with butter, fat, cognac and seasoning though, right? I de-glazed the second pan with the sauce when it came out of the oven too, not wanting to waste any of that delicious frond.

I served up the resulting symphony of beast, flame, booze and warhammer-crushings with truffled pommes frites, sauteed asparagus, and love. That’s the secret ingredient.

The Secret Ingredient is...

HAHA. No, just kidding, the secret ingredient is definitely the booze.

Have some booze for me, Chef.

Davy

P.S. The leftovers the next day might have actually been even better, chef!

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