better late than never…

nearly a decade after this book came out, i finally picked it up. the movie popped up on hbo go the other day and i was tempted to watch, but i have this weird guilt-pang every time i think about watching a movie before reading the book. it sucks. it means i avoid a lot of movies.

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cold smoked salmon

i came home to the chef standing in the kitchen with a big, proud smile on his face. there he was, this mad scientist-looking lab set up on the counter, no “hello” or “I love you” — just a stammer of, “hey! look what I made! grab your camera, make a video! eat this!”

once he explained the tubes and the hookah and the burning coal it made sense. and to my satisfaction, it didn’t even make the house smell. that much. that chef, he’s pretty creative!

have you guys ever tried anything like this? or do you have any other DIY kitchen tricks?

homemade gravlax aka heaven

gravlax, lox, nova lox: we’ve come a long way from preserving salmon out of necessity. thankfully, the advent of refrigeration hasn’t killed the tradition altogether. the differences are subtle: do you add sugar to the cure or just salt? do you use aromatics like dill or juniper? do you smoke the fish after the cure? if you smoke, is the smoke hot enough to cook the fish, or do you cold smoke it?

in our case, we used salt and sugar with dill as our aromatic. initially, we decided not to smoke it (although the decision to eat without waiting to smoke may have been related to the fact that the girl was hungry for breakfast… and what the girl wants, the girl gets). later, with bellies full of gravlax, we decided to experiment with adding some smoke. stay tuned for a video.  in the meantime, follow the jump for our so-easy-anyone-can-do-it curing recipe.

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pain au chocolat

a cook’s croissant is a test of his technique. the ingredients are simple and the recipe leaves little room for spontaneity. an excellent croissant is largely the result of patience: don’t overwork the dough, don’t rush resting periods, have soft hands. the girl and i last had croissants in January at a small bakery in The Mission District, called Tartine.  that was almost 6 months ago. it’s been too long. so here is a recipe to help sate the fix. the ingredients are simple; the instructions are, too. don’t rush.Image

 

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cake cake cake

yikes! the chef turned 30 this weekend! i successfully pulled off a surprise party with his closest friends; that was the easy part. the hard part was baking the cake. it couldn’t be from a box. he’s a chef, for cryin’ out loud. so i rolled up my sleeves and found the best recipes on the internet (i’m still getting the hang of the kitchen, you guys. i can’t make up a cake recipe on my own). i wasn’t planning on sharing this — i took these pictures to send to his mom, who was just happy he didn’t have to make his own birthday cake this year — but all these recipes were really simple and super delicious, and ended up being totally share-worthy. especially the chocolate cake. if you try any of these, try that one. trust me!

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homemade donuts: raised & glazed

donuts make my knees weak. apple fritters, devil’s food cake, french crullers, custard-filled, maple-glazed long johns. the simplest of pastries, cloyingly sweet; a subtle crunch and a soft sigh giving way to a moist and delicate crumb. endless possibilities. one of my favorite pastimes while on vacation is tracking down the best donut shop in the area. it’s usually a hole-in-the-wall mom and pop bakery that’s been open since the 1950s with a veritable army of grandmothers bustling around behind the counter filling orders for customers that have been regulars for decades.

the girl and I found our favorite donut shop of 2013 after a day of swimming to beat the heat in austin, texas. we happened upon this little bar while looking for a late night bite — what we found was donuts. and i promise that you’ve never had donuts quite like these: the mother clucker (fried chicken and honey butter), the flying pig (bacon and maple syrup), and the funky monkey (grilled bananas and cream cheese).

an afternoon spent wistfully pining for donuts two thousand miles away inspired this post. we opted for more traditional toppings in more reasonable portions, but these donuts will get your parasympathetics flowing nonetheless.

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matcha shortbread cookies

so the chef and i have been lacking significantly in the culinary department these last couple months. third year of medical school is time consuming. he spent the last eight weeks on a surgical rotation (at the hospital nearly twelve hours every day. boo.) and i was finishing up finals and projects for my first semester of grad school. as soon as school was over we took off for two lazy weeks with the chef’s family in colorado – then a few days in california where i had the most delicious matcha shortbread cookies. like twenty of them in one day.

we visited the japanese side of the family in sacramento on new years day; think family potluck for forty plus. all the sushi, octopus, and cha siu you could imagine – and two recipes i had to save instantly: a cabbage/ramen salad (a post for another day) and these cookies. they’re so simple i made them all by myself. no chef required!

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