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Movin’ up to CNN!

March 29, 2013 2 comments

Hey Chef Bourdain;

Congrats on moving up to CNN!

Anthony Bourdain moves to CNN with “Parts Unknown”

Hope some of your good luck rubs off on me!

Davy

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Categories: Maundering

Luscious Lamb Livers

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Foie d'agneau Lyonnaise

Dear Chef Bourdain;

As I’ve mentioned, some of your French ingredients are a bit hard to find. Especially since I’m not best friends with a French butcher. Not that I wouldn’t mind, I think that would be great. My imaginary French butcher-friend is named Pierre, and he and I will drink tiny glasses of red wine while I lean against his counter and he throws giant chunks of meat around. We gossip like old hens, exchange crackpot theories about what scientists are doing and not telling us about, and make appreciative remarks about women who walk by his shop-front. Appreciative but not crass; after all I’m married and Pierre…well, he loves the ladies. I mean, really loves them, in a deep and respectful way. To him, the ladies walking by are like a parade of fine art prints. Of course you would remark on their beauty, but such remarks are intended as praise, not degradation. Pierre is fundamentally more conservative than I am, though, so sometimes we argue about politics, but it’s always with affection.

Oh, but right, Pierre doesn’t actually exist. So the six thousand cuts of veal your book calls for? I can’t get them. Not without great expense, and frankly Chef, I’m goddamn unemployed, so if you think I’m going to spend a fortune flying in rare cuts of veal, you and Pierre can just go fuck yourselves. Wait, sorry. I”m not bitter, I swear – I just need a job. Not for the veal, but because health care in America isn’t like healthcare in France. Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t also need a job in France…it would just be a little less life-and-death, you know? Not a free ride…just a little bit easier.

So back to veal. Couldn’t find any veal liver. But the local organic ranch has great lamb’s livers, along with other organs. Especially testicles. What’s up with that? I mean, they had a freakin’ freezer full of testicles! Pierre wouldn’t be so obsessed with testicles. So anyway, we got a fresh lamb’s liver. It was beautiful and firm and slappy. Know what I mean? That spankable, firm quality that really good meat has, that makes you just want to slap it a little? So we took this beautiful, slappy lamb’s liver home and had it for one of the best dinners of my life.

Now, liver of any sort fairly well calls out for onions, and your recipe does not disappoint.
Untitled

That there, is a slew of onions! As you might imagine, it smelled divine, which is fully half their purpose. It’s not reflected in this pictures, but as the onions were cooking, I sliced up some rashers of bacon into the closest thing to a lardon I can get around here. I threw it in with the onions, and let it cook over medium heat for a good long time.  Other members of the household became aware that something magical was evolving, and reported to the kitchen for their assistant-chefly duties.
Assistant Chef

Note the ducked head and hunched shoulder, the proverbial “hangdog” expression. It says, “No one has ever fed the dog. Ever! Do you think, just maybe, I might end up with a little bit of whatever that is up there?” Anyway, I cooked down the onions, and pre-heated a cast iron skillet for the liver. I put flour, seasoned with salt and pepper on a plate and dredged the liver through it. I improvised a little here – I feel like I’m allowed to do this now, Chef, since it’s obvious I didn’t complete the initial goal and at this point I’m just making stuff to eat for myself. Anyway, I added some truffle salt that I got for my wife last Christmas to the flour. It was a good call, though a very subtle gracenote under the powerful mineral flavor of the liver. So maybe that’s less of a good call, and more of a …pointless gesture? Story of my life.
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As per the usual method, I heated oil in the pan, added butter and waited for it to foam and subside, then browned the liver for a few minutes on both sides. My stovetop doesn’t get very hot, so I’ve been pre-heating my pans in a very hot oven. I don’t have a giant, fat hot gasline like my in-laws do, so I’ve got to make do, and getting a good sear can be challenging without a very hot stove. I have a little camp stove that gets absurdly hot, and I might actually try that with some cast iron pans next time, but this time, a 500F oven and the hob on high worked well enough.
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I set aside the liver and de-glazed the pan with vinegar. As per your suggestion, I had some demi-glace, so along with the onions, bacon and vinegar, I added that in to the cast iron pan, and let it soak and reduce for a while. I’ve noticed that the times on your official recipes are…optimistic. That or your stove is a fuckton hotter than mine. Hey, I just mixed measurements…a ton is not a way you measure heat. But then, a “fuckdegree” just doesn’t sound right either. Would “an hella” be more appropriate?
Untitled

It looks glorious, doesn’t it? And served over the liver, it really was. My lovely wife and I were fairly well enraptured by this liver – it was delicate and melt-in-your-mouth, but had a complex minerality that rewarded stopping and thinking a lot about what you were tasting. When we on our honeymoon, we had an amazing meal at a place in Glasgow callled The Butcher Shop Bar And Grill. I’ve even written about it here before, it was pretty magical. Like, flying-around-the-room magical. She had a lamb-liver steak there that was the best liver we’d ever had before; that is, until now. Lamb’s liver has the minerality of liver, but the lamby goodness of lamb. With good, fresh ingredients, it’s an experience not to be missed.

Honestly, this one goes on my short list of best Les Halles meals I’ve prepared. If I can get more fresh lamb’s liver, I will definitely, definitely make it again. This is the kind of meal you could serve to someone who says, “Yuck, I hate liver” – and like a kid in an after-school-special who becomes a raging addict after one taste of crack, they’d instantly swear liver was the greatest thing ever. This is the organ meat that seduces people into loving organ meats, even though they think they’re kind of nasty, like a heavily tattooed pornstar. You know it’s kinda dirty, but you can’t help loving it anyway.

And honestly, chef, after slugging down all the wine you recommend, I need a little extra liver, I suspect.

But fuck you and Pierre and your veal obsession.

Yours;

Davy

And by the way…

December 12, 2012 1 comment

Dear Letters To Bourdain Readers;

It’s always fascinating to see who actually reads these entries. While Chef Bourdain has told me, to my face “I’m aware of the project” to the best of my knowledge he’s never actually read any of the letters. But there is a passel of interesting cooks with similar ambitions to mine, plus various family members and friends.

So I’d like to make a standing offer – if any of you, from various far-flung corners of the world, or just down the street, are ever in LA and want to collaborate, or just enjoy, a Les Halles meal, drop me a line. I’ll be happy to play host, as long as you’ll help me with the cooking wine.

Keep adding heat to yer meat!

Davy

Friday night means fancy food at the Krieger house. And fancy food means cooking' with wine!

Categories: Maundering

Congratulations to Anthony Bourdain and the No Reservations Crew

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Emmy Award Celebration - I'm guessing drinking was involved.

Dear  Chef Bourdain;

Congratulations to you and your crew for winning the Primetime Emmy for “Outstanding Cinematography For Nonfiction Programming“! Given your propensity for mentioning the many awards you’d like to win, I’m sure this win was a happy moment for you and all the crew at Zero Point Zero. What’s next after Fellini-esque black and white and trippy shit with the Queens of the Stone  Age? Kabuki in Tokyo? (You’d look great in all that face-paint.) How about an all-pantomime episode in France?

Further congratulations on getting your own publishing imprint at HarperCollins! So you get to pick, edit and publish three to five books a year? Hey – who’s got a left arrow and likes to write?

This Guy. <—

Just sayin’, Chef.

Davy

Categories: Maundering

Anthony Bourdain’s Chacroute Garnie at a LARP

August 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Chacroute Garnie Les Halles ala LARP

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Appropriately, you’re live-tweeting hanging out with your friends in the desert, making amazing meals and rock-n-roll. And here I am, live-tweeting about hanging out with my friends in a desert, making amazing meals and….live action roleplaying? Ok, your friends are way cooler than mine. It’s ok, I’m not jealous.

Last weekend I went to a live-action role-playing game. Yeah, I know it’s nerdy, but man, I get to dress up like a viking and hit other nerds with an axe. If you called it “therapy” you could charge a fortune, and it would be just as gratifying. Still, I didn’t want to get too far behind on my project again, so I figured I better keep up and cook something while camping. I picked the Chacroute Garnie because most of the stuff I could pre-cook at home, and then just heat up on a grill at the campsite. This worked out very nicely, as it happens.

I couldn’t find any smoked pork tenderloin locally, so I just made my own. I’ve got a smoker in the back yard, so I got some pork tenderloin, brined it for a couple of days in salt, sugar, thyme and juniper berries, as per the recipe I found online. Unfortunately, I had neither alder nor ash to use for the smoking, so I just stuck with my usual hickory. (Mesquite is too strong for something like this.) I also spent a good chunk of the previous week making sausages, so I had home-made sausage to take for the “glistening pile of pork”, too. These particular sausages had chicken, pork, garlic, plum, ginger and soy – making them taste something like the inside of a dumpling. After getting cooked on a mesquite fire, they had a smokey flavor that balanced the Asian-ness of them so they worked just great. I’d also pre-boiled my potatoes.

So then, during a break in the action, I put the kraut and potatoes and salted pork belly in one pot, the sausage, smoke tenderloin slices in the other, and arrayed the frankfurters on the grill between the pots. This particular campground has an interesting history. It’s currently a Boy Scout camp, nestled into the hot, arid canyons North of Los Angeles; but originally in the 50’s, it was owned by, I kid you not, Nazi 5th columnists, who used it to train their insurrection forces meant to assist the Germans when they landed their invasion forces. Obviously that didn’t work out too well for them, neither the sympathizers nor the Germans, and so our shores remained cheerily Nazi-free. But it’s a great campground and a perfect site for epic battles of good vs. evil.

Campfire cooking at its easiest!

I started the whole thing with duck fat, onions and garlic – the aroma of which brought my hungry friends, starving after a hard day of hitting each other with foam weapons, sniffing around the pot for a taste. I have to say it was really excellent, and easy to put together in the field. Most of the work was front-loaded, and the assembly was just the sort of thing to accompany an ice-cold beer (and a bit poured into the kraut) and lounging in the shade for a while.Of course, sauerkraut does have a notorious side effect, and let me tell you, nothing is quite so embarrassing as noisily breaking wind while kneeling before the Queen of the Elves… but I can’t hold you responsible for that, Chef. Anyway, it was dark and no one knew it was me.

I’d call this one a hit – in fact, a MIGHTY BLOW PLUS FIVE! That’d make sense if you were a nerd, chef. Or at least a nerd that did Dying Kingdoms, which you totally ought to try.

Davy

P.S. that’s totally my wife, dressed like an elf, eating a glistening pile of pork. I’m a lucky dork!

Categories: Cooking, Eating, Maundering

Bourdain-a-thon: Carmageddon, The Aftermath

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Everyone looks clean and sober to start, at least...

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Carmageddon was greatly exaggerated, and turned out to be Y2K-like in its underwhelmingness. Bourdain-A-Thon, on the other hand, was better than expected, and featured drinking, cooking, vikings, dogs and lots of good food. We tried to kick things off with a nice responsible picture on the couch with Assistant Chef Bourdain.

The black blur is actually a dog.

It didn’t work, he was way too anxious to get cooking. We put on a marathon of No Reservations on Netflix and started off. With drinking. That seemed like a good place to get started. We cracked a beer, and warmed up the warhammer for making Veau Viennese.

Tenderizers are for pussies.

I had set a goal of completing 14 dishes during the weekend, and I actually got 13 of them knocked out. That puts me closer to actually completing everything in time, but given the difficulty in locating some ingredients, I am ever less confident of really finishing. But I won’t bullshit about it, if I don’t make it, I don’t make it.

Since the traffic for Carmageddon was so underwhelming, and the various tribes of barbarians roaming the wastelands remained in their traditional blasted, ruined hellscapes;  (the valley) people actually did drop by. Some of them were totally down to commit murder – Nathan from Ikillit.com adding to his repertoire;

"I KEEL you, mussels! I KEEL you FILTHY!"

…and since hand Cody were pre-gaming before they came over for even more drinking, dressing up like a viking and roaming the streets of Venice, challenging other lawyers to duels seemed like a good idea.

Bring it. And by "it" I mean another drink.

But aside from shenanigans, I did get a lot of cooking done – and consequently a lot of eating, too. By Sunday night, I really didn’t want to look at another pot, and my lovely wife sure as hell didn’t want to clean ’em. Proving to myself once again – I’m a hobbyist, and will never be a pro.

Here’s the list of what I actually made:

  • Whole Fish Basquaise
  • Soup au vin
  • Veau Viennese
  • Lapin Aux Olives
  • Moules Basquaise, Moules a la Portugaise, Moules a la Grecque
  • Pate de Foie Gras aux Pruneaux
  • Petatou
  • Daube Provencale
  • Cote de Porc
  • Celery Remoulade
  • Salad Nicoise

I had planned to make pommes fondant as well, but that one will wait for another day. Don’t worry Chef, I know you’re waiting on bated breath for each and every write-up, and I’ll deliver!

Davy

Categories: Cooking, Eating, Maundering

Carmageddon Bourdain-a-thon menu

July 12, 2011 1 comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

So I combed through the Good Book and came up with enough recipes that if I finish them all this weekend, I’ll be in a good situation to finish the rest on time. If you’ll recall, L.A. will be paralyzed by the horrors of velociraptors stalking the freeways the closure of the 405.

Here’s the list:

Soupe au vin 49

  • Salad nicoise
  • Celery remoulade
  • Moules a la portugaise
  •     ” Basquaise
  •     ” Grecque
  • Foie GRAS au pruneaux
  • Petatou
  • Fish Basquaise
  • Veal Viennese
  • Daube provencale
  • Cote de porc
  • Pommes fondants
  • Sauce béchamel
  • Lapin aux olives
The final one depends on my lovely wife actually getting out to Super King in the valley this week. If not, it may be replaced or removed. I know that’s a lot of cooking, but I tried to pick things that had similar ingredients for ease of prep.
For locals, stop by any time – there will be something on to try, and something to cook if you want to try your hand! Also, drinking. Also, watching No Reservations.
Davy
Categories: Maundering
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