Update

Even though I have not been posting I am still cooking on a very regular basis. I have, however, started a new blog that is more focused on photography. If you are interested you can find it at joshuafagans.com.

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Another year over

Joshua Fagans: Blog Photos 2012 &emdash;

It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since the big birthday blowout but the calendar doesn’t lie. Since this was not a round number birthday the event was a good bit more modest but of course I cooked and shared the event with good friends. After some cheeses on my baguettes we had a first course of Delicata stuffed pasta in a brown butter sauce with dates and almonds. This is from the SPQR cookbook (local restaurant in San Francisco). I would have never put these ingredients together but wow what an amazing combo.

Joshua Fagans: Blog Photos 2012 &emdash;
Next up another SPQR recipe this time braised short ribs which were braised for 22 hours in the sous vide before being finished in the oven. Served these with roasted rapini and polenta.

Joshua Fagans: Blog Photos 2012 &emdash; For dessert I created a ricotta donut and served it fresh market plums and a marscarpone cream. Not bad for something I made up but somehow not perfect. Probably should have piped them out long.

Ricotta Donuts (using Bouchon Bakery Pâte á choux)

250 grams H20
125 grams butter
2.5 grams salt
138 grams flour
250 grams eggs
225 grams ricotta
25 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste

Make standard Pâte á choux with first five ingredients. When cooled a bit add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Pipe into small rounds and freeze until ready. Fry for several minutes, until golden brown in 350 degree oil.

I got a number of awesome gifts (cooking related, go figure?) but this one is special:

Joshua Fagans: Blog Photos 2012 &emdash; I have been coveting this knife from a distance for a while but had so far managed to abstain. I made the mistake of picking on up at the cooking store and simply couldn’t put it down. I have never felt a knife better balanced and a handle better. I got some other interesting gifts as well but you will have to come back to the blog to hear about them ;)…

 

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Romanesco (aka Alien Cauliflower)

Spectacular heads of cauliflower are in season here in California. I couldn’t pass up this beautiful purple and my favorite, romanesco, which my son calls Alien Cauliflower. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is also one of the simplest: roasting.

Roasted Cauliflower

One head of cauliflower
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Butter

Preheat the oven to 425. Wash the cauliflower, core, and separate into bite sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a pan. It is best to place them in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Roast 20-30 minutes tossing occasionally until as tender as you desire. Toss with a little butter and check seasoning.

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Blowout!

 

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A few weeks ago I started hearing a strange sound and smelling a strange smell whenever I fired up the oven.  On inspection one of the gas burner ignitors looked like it was on fire. On closer inspection I noticed that one of the gas pipes had ruptured next to the ignitor. This caused it not to light and burn properly hampering the baking. I had worn out my Viking oven.

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A web search, an order, and a few days layer this is what a new burner assembly is supposed to look like! I have to say Viking’s are fairly easy to work on. Within a few minutes we had this beautiful site!

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The weekend wasn’t a total waste. I did get to help a friend with a party and made these cool rolls! Can’t wait to start the baking again next week!

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California Borscht

We have some Russian friends that make a mean Borscht. I thought it would be fun to make a lighter version that used the milder golden and chiogga beets that I found at the market and some turkey stock I had lying around. I started by roasting the beets though I’m not convinced that is necessary. The results were amazingly good, I decided to call it…

California Borscht

Two bunches large beets (golden and/or chiogga, save the greens!!)
Two large shallots sliced
One clove garlic sliced
Stock to cover (around 4C, turkey, chicken, or veggie)

Was the beets and roast in a 350 oven until soft. Peel the beets and slice. Warm the olive oil in a large pot and sweat the shallots and garlic. When softened add the beets and then the stock to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the beets are soft and the broth is flavorful. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Wash and roughly chop the greens and add to the soup. Stir a few times until tender and serve.

 

Also, still working on my bread which is still tasting good.

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Holding Court

Dungeness crab season began this week. I didn’t realize until I saw them at the farmers’ market stand. Suddenly I knew what we were having dinner. Dungeness is a crab not many have had off the Northwest coast of the United States. My understanding is that it doesn’t ship well which just means we get more ;). It is delightful if you ever get a chance to try. My favorite way to enjoy them is to cook them in a court bouillon, roll up your sleeves, and just be okay with the mess. We shared with some friends who chided me for “making stew” as I assembled the cooking liquid. I got the last laugh after we started eating…

Dungeness in Court Bouillon (adapted from Bouchon Cookbook)

1 Crab per two people works pretty well (I cooked four with below)
around 1 gallon water
one bottle dry white wine
two lemons cut in half and squeezed
two leaks cleaned well
bouquet garni (parsley, garlic, peppercorn, thyme)
handful of shallots cut in half
two fennel bulbs cleaned well and cut into quarters
some salt and pepper
some vinegar (maybe a cup or so)

I didn’t really measure much of the above so use as guidelines. Bring to boil and toss in the crabs. Boil for four minutes and then move pot of heat and steep for 30 minutes. Remove to platter. You can chill if you’d like but we just ate them when they were cool enough to touch. It was some of the sweetest, most delightful crab I have ever had and fortunately the children didn’t really eat their halves :).

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Mission Accomplished

A few years ago my wife and I were wine tasting in Napa Valley on a Monday. As often happens we got to talking with the tasting room staff and they asked us where we were having dinner. Ad Hoc we told them. “Is it fried chicken night?!” they asked. We told them we didn’t know. They looked it up for us. “It is!” Everywhere we went we heard the same thing: “Ad Hoc? Is it fried chicken night? They have the best fried chicken ever!” The excitement built. I was sure that no fried chicken could live up to the hype. It turns out I was wrong and to this day Ad Hoc serves fried chicken every other Monday night.

When the Ad Hoc cookbook came out I was excited to try the fried chicken out. It was good but not as good. The chicken came out a bit dry and somehow the coating wasn’t what I remembered. I was sad but fried chicken isn’t the kind of thing you can keep cooking until you get it right without repercussions so I put it on the back burner. This weekend felt like the right time to try again.

The market did not have the small chickens called for in the recipe which definitely made me nervous. I was worried that thick pieces would require cooking too long and burning the outside. I decided that rather than just cut the breast into two pieces like the recipe called for I would cut it into three or four based on its size and shape to restore balance. I remembered the pieces being fairly small at the restaurant. The chicken is then brined in a highly flavored bring for 12 hours (or 9 in my case) and then brought to room temp before coating with seasoned flour and buttermilk. The recipe has specifics for peanut oil temperatures and times that are different for the different cuts and then finish with a little salt and thyme. This time it was every bit as good as what I remembered. An amazing crunch that you can practically feel in your toes, moist flavorful meat, and a taste that keeps you eating long after you probably should. Mission accomplished. I was practically giddy.

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