Another Bourdain Dinner!

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment
Pork shoulder by aghrivaine
Pork shoulder, a photo by aghrivaine on Flickr.

Dear Chef Bourdain;

This noble beast is a lovely 6 pound pork shoulder. It’s going to become palette de porc a la biere. It will be accompanied by tomato and fennel soup, as well as pommes sauteed au lard.

If you’re in town for the Emmy’s tonight – stop on by for dinner! I’m just in Venice, and it’s a hell of a lot better than Trader Vic’s, am I right? Christ, I hope so!

Pork and beer – what could go wrong?
Davy

Categories: Cooking, Eating

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

Petatou ala Han Solo

August 26, 2011 1 comment

Petatou Les Halles. Yes, those are Tie-Fighters and the Millenium Falcon

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Have you ever dreamt of re-enacting the trench run scene in Star Wars in edible, delicious, cheese-encrusted potato snacks? Yeah, me neither, but what the fuck, I did it anyway.

It’s pretty easy to do, too. As in your recipe, I mixed up a vinaigrette and smooshed it into the boiled potatoes with herbs and whatnot. I only had two metal rings for shaping the mix, so I also used the Star Wars Sandwich Cutters that my wife and I got as part of a wedding present. I wasn’t sure this would work – how firm are these things, after all, and how well would they keep their shape? I had to work the potato into the smaller crevices of the non-circular molds with a little bit of vigor, then coat it with goat cheese. I tried to make sure the goat cheese didn’t overhang the edge of the mold.

A bit of a baking, and then out they come to be covered in a reduced heavy cream mix, and then into the broiler they go to brown up. When they were nice and caramelized on the top, I pulled them out and eased the metal molds off, very gently. It all stuck together nicely, and they took the shapes of the molds pretty well, as you can see.

I put them on little plates and set them aside to nibble on while I continued with the Bourdain-a-thon recipes, and I’ve got more to write about all that.

In other news, I’m having a hard time sourcing some of the ingredients that the more esoteric dishes called for in the last passel of recipes on the list. So I’m hoping at the Epicurean Festival this weekend to score some of the rarer stuff. And if not – well, surely just some of the good stuff!

Whatever the case, I’ll be making more good stuff soon. Probably not with the Star Wars cross-over though.

Davy

P.S. My wife saw you and your wife just a few blocks from our house at Venice Beach recently. Why didn’t she say “Hello!” and recommend the blog to you? I couldn’t say. Hope you stopped at Jodie Maroni’s while you were down there!

Categories: Uncategorized

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

Celery remoulade Les Halles

August 4, 2011 1 comment
Celery remoulade by aghrivaine
Celery remoulade, a photo by aghrivaine on Flickr.

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Here’s a classic French side, basically a pretentious version of coleslaw. I brought it to a family dinner one night, and it went qutie well with the barbecued chicken and carne asada – just like coleslaw might have.

I tired using a mandoline slicer as you suggested, and it made a hideous mess, and as always, left me in mortal fucking fear of slicing my fingers or a good portion thereof, right off. So I just julienned it by hand. This resulted in uneven, malformed slices as you can see above. Still, when dressed with the vinegar, mayo, white wine, salt, pepper and mustard, it tastes quite nice, doesn’t it?

I had covered the celeriac slices with lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing. Isn’t it odd to call it that? It’s like vegetables rust or something. Anyway, that was a lot of lemon juice, and maybe a little too much, in fact.

But the dinner guests who had been to France were nostalgic about it, and it was a nice, refreshing, and unassuming side that wasn’t too hard to throw together. I call that nearer a hit than a miss.

But seriously, I need better knife skills.
Davy

Categories: Uncategorized

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

Salad Nice Ooze

July 21, 2011 Leave a comment
Salad nicoise by aghrivaine
Salad nicoise, a photo by aghrivaine on Flickr.

Dear Chef Bourdain;

This one is really easy. Boil some potatoes, some eggs, some green beans. Put ’em in an ice-bath. Throw in some oil, red wine vinegar in a bowl you’ve rubbed with garlic. Toss in green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, plus the quartered potatoes and green beans. Top with tuna, olives and anchovies.

It was kinda nasty, to tell you the truth. But you know, that’s anchovies for you. Super salty. I brought it to a family dinner, and while it looked gorgeous, it clashed with the BBQ chicken and steak. And fish-on-fish is a little much one of the fish is super salty, like a mouthful of…

Seawater. Yeah. That’s what I was going to say, and I’m stickin’ to my story.

Thanks for an easy recipe though, Chef!
Davy

Categories: Uncategorized

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 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

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

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