Search this site:
Archive for the ‘eric ripert’ Category
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
My husband was away for a week on business. This happens regularly, it’s not unusual. My son and I have crazy busy schedules…well, he does…and the week flies by. One thing that is really different though is I cook less for that week. We’ll go out or I’ll make some simple pasta. Nothing that I consider real cooking. By Thursday I was depressed. I didn’t want to do anything. I had lots of things I could do, but I sat online, glassy-eyed, as my twitter feed rolled by. I tried retail therapy: got a really cute skirt on eBay for $10. I went to the thrift store and bought a big bag of things to rip apart and make new, cuter things out of. But still, I was just blah.
Then I realized what I was missing. Cooking! It’s my happy place. It’s what I do well and it makes me feel good about myself–as well as eating well which helps physically. Saturday night my husband got home but my neighbor and I were out seeing Eric Ripert and Tony Bourdain. I was inspired.
I invited the neighbors over for a fancy dinner on Sunday. I pulled out Eric’s A Return to Cooking and started flipping through. His are the only recipes I follow at all. I love them. Of course I still modify and cut some corners ;-)
I picked out Crab Salad with Chilled Gazpacho Sauce, Grilled Rack of Lamb and Cucumber Salad, and Pan-Seared Skirt Steak with Herbed-Butter Frites and Bitter Greens. I hit the store to stock up for the meal and they had no crab. They have had crab every day that I’ve gone in there until Sunday. They even had it when I went in two days ago. I had to go off script and decided to make my Green Curry Ceviche. The fish I bought was weird…possibly with parasites. First time I’ve ever gotten bad fish at my market…they refunded my money, no questions asked. I took that as a sign that I was trying to cook too much food.
I concentrated on the other two dishes. My husband took on dessert: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coffee Liqueur. It was inspired by the coffee infusion that he made about three months ago. We hadn’t tried it yet. It was a pound of Panama Gesha in Hangar One vodka. It better be good (it is!).
I also wanted to play with my Porthole infuser so put some ginger, lime and cardamom pods in there with some Oxley gin and let it sit. The plan was to mix up little drinks to go with the first course. Hubby took over that project when I was up to my elbows in lamb.
I cut the racks of lamb into chops and covered them in herbs and olive oil and set them aside. I put the skirt steak in the soy-based marinade from Eric’s book and set those aside. I sliced the potatoes into thin fry-sizes and put those in cold water. I made salad dressing. I washed the greens…I used regular lettuce, not bitter greens. I had a ton in my fridge from my CSA. I thinly sliced cucumber.
I tapped hubby for the infuser drinks. He muddled some cucumber, added lime juice, simple syrup and the gin and it was really good! The infusion was pretty strong even though it only sat for a couple of hours. The design of the Porthole works really well.
Then I started searing the lamb. I had to do it in two batches, the pan was too small. But that gave the first batch time to rest while I seared the second and the second batch time to rest while I plated the first! I sliced the lamb off the bone, tossed it with the dressing and piled it atop a nice little circle of cucumbers.
I had already par-fried (is that a word?) the fries and set them aside. So I fired up the oil again to bring it to 450° to crisp them up. I seared the skirt steak and set it to rest before slicing. I then sliced up the steak, tossed the salad with dressing and plated them. This was the best skirt steak I’ve ever, ever had. Eric is THE MAN. Yes, I cooked the food but the marinade was not my recipe.
The fries were also amazing, tossed with herbed butter and crispy as can be. I didn’t get a picture of those. I was too busy getting them on the plate and eaten while still crispy to take a photo!
The cake also ended up being rich and so incredibly good. Who needs flour when you have butter and chocolate?!
Needless to say, I was in a much better mood after 5 hours of intense prepping and cooking. Not many people would say that but I’ve always been odd.
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Sleeping in on Sunday morning was a welcome treat. We were on vacation, I didn’t want an alarm but on Saturday we had to catch the catamaran at 9am so we had to drag our butts out of bed (very worth it!!). Brunch on Sunday didn’t start until noon though so no alarm was necessary and we had a leisurely morning. We dropped our son off with every other kid affiliated with the cookout at the Kids’ Brunch where they’d make their own food and be maniacs. We headed to drink champagne and eat oysters. Sure, there was a lot of other food there….I did exactly what I did last year and hit the oyster bar at least 5 times (the plates are small!!).
I grazed at a few other tables too of course: sushi, charcuterie, oysters…oh, I said that already.
While all this is going on there’s real cooking happening on stage. Emceed by Spike Mendehlson and the same blonde who didn’t do a good job last year, the contestants cook with local ingredients and the curveball of pomegranate thrown in at the last minute. The judges sit in front heckling Spike and putting up with fangirls like me asking for photos.
They’re all so incredibly nice. Even Anthony Bourdain but don’t tell anyone.
Mo, who competed last year but got 2nd, won it this year. Her son is her sous chef. It was a feel-good moment.
Sunday is the laziest of the cookout days building up to the most stressful event which is the Gala Dinner. My husband attended, I bowed out this year. I can’t deal with the pressure and I’m not even cooking! He owes me a report, the menu looked amazing and it was printed on WOOD! Not even paper but WOOD! Crazy.
While he was Gala-ing, my son and I went to Periwinkle and ate in beach chairs while watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Much more relaxing.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
Vertigo runs in my family. I’ve always been prone to motion sickness but about six years ago I went on a ferry in Sydney and my head thought it was still on the ferry for about 5 days. I’d be standing in the kitchen pouring a cup of tea and the whole room would spin. Since then I can’t swing on swings, jump on trampolines or, I thought, go on boats. I’d never in my life been on a sail boat. Why would I do such a thing when I’d just spend the whole time heaving over the side?
Well, before we left for this trip, I got transderm scopolamine from my doctor. That’s the little patch that goes behind your ear and sucks all the water out of your inner ear so there’s no sloshing happening. I’m very sloshy. I had no idea if this thing would work or if I’d have side effects or anything. I just stuck it behind my ear, washed my hands really well so I wouldn’t touch my eyes and dry them up, and then headed to the dock. I’ll end the suspense…the patch worked! The water wasn’t smooth by any means, we were up and down and all around but I didn’t feel a single worble. I can go on boats!!! I also wasn’t worbly when I got back on land. Maybe I should wear these patches all the time ;-)
So, we got on this catamaran along with a couple of dozen other people and sailed about 45 minutes out to Stingray City. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve petted the manta rays at the Monterey Bay Aquarium but they’re small, don’t have stingers and half the time are huddled in the pool away from people. Stingray City was a whole other kettle of fish (*groan*). My son and I were the first down the ladder (well, he was first and I followed) and then he was the first to stop and get scared to jump down. The water was choppy and he wasn’t going to be tall enough to touch the bottom. So I passed him and jumped down first, tried to convince him to jump to me and then got doused by a wave and got about a quart of salt water up my nose. That’s a great start. But I recovered, got him down and then we were surrounded by stingrays! It was unsettling at first, and then really, really cool. They feel soft and a little slimy and have spent their whole lives at the sandbar where people come and feed them so they are really friendly…almost too friendly. We all had them swim up to either side and slap our legs looking for squid. It was CRAZY!
We spent about 30 minutes in the water with them then headed back up to the boat for some tequila drinks, lots of water, and a sail to Rum Point for some burgers. Since my husband’s foot is still healing from his accident in September, we always had to search out a place to sit first. We camped out in some beach chairs right next to the water, the margarita stand, and Eric Ripert’s station.
Sweeet. I had to pass on Spike Mendelsohn’s burger because it was lamb and I know how I am about lamb. I love rack of lamb. Let it grow up and it’s too lamby for me (I can’t overthink the baby-eating part of that). So I just wandered on and got one of Eric’s snapper sliders with spicy aioli. I actually got one for myself and my hubby and my son got one without the aioli. Then I went back and got another, and I’m pretty sure another. I scoped out the other burgers and taste-tested a few but always went back to Eric. To quote my son, “How does he make food taste so good?!”
Eric wasn’t overly busy, this was a small event, so I went up to attempt a conversation. I was doing really well! I was asking about the capers and the peppers on the fish from the Barefoot BBQ the night before. He said the capers were brined Spanish capers (they were amazing and unlike any caper I’d ever had) and the peppers were a local island pepper that he didn’t know the name of. I was commenting that I was surprised I liked them because they weren’t hot but they didn’t have the flavor of bell pepper at all which was great. See? Going well right?! Then I spilled champagne down my shirt. *sigh* It wasn’t sexy with me in a bikini, splashing champagne on myself in a hair-flipping, buxom, margarita-fueled craze (I was not in a bikini, nor am I buxom). I basically drooled. Someday I will manage to not look like a fool.
We had to finish up and catch the first catamaran back to get our son to his snorkeling camp before we went to see Eric and Tony Bourdain do their demo and talk. So we waltzed back to the catamaran and had a lovely sail back to the resort.
It’s always fun to listen to Eric and Tony razz each other. They didn’t do the Good vs. Evil routine (they’ll be on tour with that this spring) but they did a basics of cooking demo and Q&A session. They addressed things that people regularly screw up in the kitchen. First up, the omelet. Tony made a simple omelet, Eric acted shocked that Tony could cook. Their kids taste tested it and got the thumbs up :) Eric talked about how Tony has taken up meditation. Tony looked quite shocked and confused by this idea. And then of course Eric throws the punchline out which is a stack of photos he has taken, and I’ve seen him post them on twitter, of Tony sleeping on airplanes. This bromance can get catty!!
Eric then showed how to property tie up a chicken for cooking to keep its shape and juices in. He made scrambled eggs which were to die for! They passed them out in little egg shells. He cooks them through then whips in creme fraiche and chives. I am going to try this technique. Then they started going through the list of things people do not do right in the kitchen. First up, grill a steak. I was happy to hear them go through the list of do’s and don’ts and know that I was doing it all right! Let the steaks come up to room temp, salt them right before putting them on a not-too-hot grill (or you get raw inside, charcoal outside), DON’T touch them. Flip the steaks only once, don’t cut or poke them, leave them the hell alone. Then let them rest for about 8 minutes before serving. Yup, I do all that! For pasta: lots and lots of water, tons and tons of salt and don’t put oil in the water. It does nothing to keep the pasta from sticking. Oil and water don’t mix.
The funniest bit was when Sandra, Eric’s amazingly awesome, beautiful, funny wife, asked what they make when they cook romantic dinners for their wives. Eric replied with, “I’m not married.” Ouch! And then said they go out to eat. Poor girl’s never going to get a romantic home-cooked meal! That’s what you get for marrying a chef.
After it was over I got Tony to sign my Get Jiro! book and then we went and got our son from snorkeling and, yet again, spent the rest of the day in the ocean, on the beach or in the hot tub. It’s hard to be back home now!
Read about Thursday and Friday!
Friday, January 11th, 2013
In just a few days we’ll be flying back to the Cayman Cookout for year two of the once-in-a-lifetime culinary extravaganza. We justified it last year by it falling on my actual birthday and Eric Ripert being my favorite chef, blah blah blah. This year we found more organs to sell and justified it again by David Kinch (our local boy representing!) being a chef at the cookout. We asked Eric about having David there when we got our cookbook signed last year so I want to take at least a little credit! ;-)
So, I’ve mentioned this before but something strange happens to me when put in the presence of Chef Eric Ripert. I lose the ability to form coherent sentences. It is highly unusual. I pride myself on starting conversations with people I want to meet and setting up interviews, or at least potential interviews, with them for this site. Neil Gaiman was the first, we remain in touch to this day, 12 years later. Then there was Jason Webley, Sxip Shirey, Kim Boekbinder, Alan Anton, Mark Van Name….all people I admire and consider “celebrities” and none of them have the effect on me that Eric does.
This is why: Neil, Kim, Alan, Mark….even Tori Amos and Amanda Palmer….I’ve spoken with them all and I am in awe of all their talents but I don’t want to do what they do. I’m not a singer, I’m not a fiction writer, I love to cook and talk about food. I love listening to music but producing it isn’t my passion. Cooking is.
My husband is convinced I have a crush on Eric. It’s not that. I’ve been able to have coherent, intelligent conversations with “boys” I’ve had crushes on since I was 15. This is different. Eric has perfected something that I can only dream of doing. He has skills with seafood that I aspire to have.
Oddly, this is not something I want to do for a living. I don’t have the stamina to be a chef in my own restaurant, on my feet from 5am when the suppliers roll in until 2am when the last diners straggle out. I just want to cook the best food I can possibly cook in my kitchen. Eric not only does this with perfection but is a nice guy who is mellow, nice and Buddhist to boot! Every article I read or interview I watch with him makes me more giddy and awkward.
I’ve met his wife and she’s awesome, sweet, beautiful and smart. My son and his son were inseparable at last year’s cookout. All these things would make you think that I would be able to talk to Eric. Yeah…No. Maybe this year?
Grant me the strength and vocabulary to not be a bumbling fool. Give me the wisdom to form a sentence. Or at least not sound like a Brian Regan routine, “Yeah…take luck!!!”…argh!!
Sunday, February 5th, 2012
If she weighed the same as a duck… she’s made of wood. And therefore… A witch!
My first duck attempt was, well, it was edible. I overcooked it a bit. I tried whole roasted duck. I just went for it. It could have been witch…nearly wood…ok, not that bad. But not what I was going for. My son liked it, my husband and I ate it. I was ready to try that again.
For some reason, I followed an online recipe for my first attempt rather than going with my inspiration for this whole project, Eric Ripert. I know, I seem to be obsessed at this point, but he really cooks how I want to cook and the recipes work!
So, I didn’t make the sauce or any of the accompaniments. I just wanted the duck preparation from him. It was like making a steak: pan sear then finish in the oven. So simple. So perfectly cooked.
I cut the wings and legs off the duck and put them in the freezer for another time. I cut the breast off, leaving the bones attached. I seared the breasts skin-side down in a hot pan, on high heat, for about 6 minutes. I drained off the fat, turned the breasts over and put it in a 400° oven for 9 minutes. Took it out, let it rest for 8 minutes. Carved it off the bone, sliced it and served it over israeli couscous with pine nuts and parsley.
Now, full disclosure here…I have a cold. I can’t taste a damn thing. This is killing me. However, texture is everything right now. The texture of the duck was *PERFECT*. I will do this again when my sense of taste and smell returns (god, I hope that’s soon!). I do need to figure out how to render out the fat though, there was too much between the perfectly crispy skin and the meat. This duck challenge is fun.
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
The morning started with sleep! We didn’t have a 10am event, our son didn’t have a 9:30 camp. We got to wake when we woke, slowly get going then walk our son down to the Les Chefs Petits brunch. This was supposed to be the kids making their own brunch in the Seven kitchen. This was bad planning on someone’s part since the Seven kitchen has their regular Sunday brunch happening and they couldn’t pile 30 kids into the kitchen! So they set them up out at one of the event tents on the beach instead. I’m sure this was better for the kids anyway, they got to have great food and still be maniacs.
Meanwhile we headed in to the ballroom for an incredible Champagne brunch. I never have high expectations for brunches. Even the one at the Waldorf in New York City failed to impress me. This one however…WOW. The champagne never stopped flowing, I wouldn’t be surprised if I consumed an entire bottle over the course of the morning. The level in my glass never dropped even though I was sipping the whole time. I piled my plate high with every seafood bit I could find. I don’t think I’d recovered from the meat-heavy Friday night BBQ so sushi, oysters, caviar, they all sounded wonderful and rejuvenating and they were. I basically just kept hitting the oyster bar until the brunch was over!
As we are all joyfully noshing away, there is an intense competition happening on stage, Top Chef style. The two finalists from the Cayman Cookoff, Maureen Cubbon and Eric St. Cyr, are frantically putting together a dish and a drink (the twist added to the competition by Richard Blais) for an intense table of judges: Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, Jose Andres, Dana Cowin and the Governor of Cayman. I think I’d pass out from the stress! They are better prepared than me however and they completed their dishes and drinks and thoroughly impressed the judges. Eric St. Cyr came out on top and after the winner was announced, the crazy judge crew got on stage with bottles of Moet and a huge saber! Luckily, no blood was drawn, champagne just sprayed anyone in the vicinity. All we needed were some umbrella girls…the MotoGP of food celebrations.
We hung out on the beach with our son for some of the afternoon, perused the artisan market, picked up some cookbooks and got them signed by Eric and Tony, then had some time to relax before the Gala Dinner. Unfortunately, the evening didn’t go as planned. I gave my “Food Aversions” card to the restaurant manager. I knew this was going to be an intense, stressful evening for the kitchen and the waitstaff. I thought the card would make things easier for all involved, I mean, that’s why I have them. What it did was make them fuss over every course of mine and over me which I don’t deal with well at all. I did get to enjoy a little before I went into panic mode though.
The first course was Wahoo Sashimi, Ume, Garlic and Shiso by Laurent Gras. Wahoo is just the best fish around. I could have eaten nothing but this. The fish paired with Laurent’s grace was a perfect dish. This is actually where the stress began. They didn’t bring me this, they brought me some sort of veggie salad instead. I didn’t want to be a problem but I wanted the wahoo! I saw them take the dish back to the kitchen…the kitchen activity is being broadcast to the whole dining room…I saw Eric talk to my waiter, look at the card, eventually the wahoo came out. I was humiliated. It was exactly what I was trying to avoid. I was truly bummed that my chef-idol was being inconvenienced by me.
I ran into Eric’s wife Sandra in the restroom after this. She is so incredibly awesome, I love that woman (hell, she babysat my kid!!). Anyway, I told her what happened and she joked with me about it and I felt much better. Then the next course came out and I had a substitute where I should have. The dish was Foie Gras Mulligatawny and I don’t like Foie. I got a gazpacho-like dish just bursting with flavor. We were temporarily back on track.
Then the waiter kept coming up and checking on me, making sure everything was fine, over and over. The service was so incredible, I had an anxiety attack. I took my fabulous glass of wine and sat outside for the next two courses. I couldn’t deal. I was completely blowing an amazing dinner. Then I found out my son was having a meltdown upstairs with his babysitter. I guess it was in the air. This gave me an out. I switched from foodie-mode to mother-lion mode and went to my kid. I said goodbye to Sandra grabbed my wine and headed up to the room.
My husband stayed and said Eric’s Venison was the highlight of the evening and he doesn’t even like venison. I’m sorry I missed it but something wasn’t meant to be. It was too fancy and uptight and stressful for me. I loved that we could be sitting around the table with people we’d never normally associate with. They were from different generations, different occupations and very different political worlds than us but we found common ground in the food. Food can bring us all together. It is a leveling ground.
I wish I could have experienced the full Gala Dinner but I truly enjoyed the courses I had. If we make it back to the Cookout next year, I know the Gala isn’t for me. It was icing on an already sweet weekend, truly not needed to complete the adventure. It was a non-stop bacchanalian escapade. I really hope we can do this again!
Read about Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3!