Archive for the ‘Season 3’ Category

Growing up, my family had a variety of animals – dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and lambs, among others. I had a bit of an obsession with the name Timothy, insisting on bestowing the name on each subsequent lamb. There may have even been a female Timothy in there somewhere! Though we had lambs as pets, we really did not eat much lamb when I was growing up, but I have come to really like it as an adult. My lamb consumption has been almost exclusively at restaurants, so I was excited to get to try cooking a leg of lamb to finish off the third season of my Good Eats project.

The recipe for Alton’s grilled leg of lamb can be found here. Unless you are cooking for 8-10 people, you will want to cook half a leg of lamb. The sirloin end of the leg (the end furthest from the hoof) is the portion you want to get, and you can often get your butcher to cut this portion for you. I went to good ol’ Costco to get my lamb, so mine came in a vacuum-sealed bag; Alton is not a big fan of this, as you end up paying partially for the liquid in the bag, but it was a convenient option for me. Once you get your lamb home, you want to unroll it into a flat slab.

Leg of lamb.

Leg of lamb.

Opened leg of lamb.

Opened leg of lamb.

Note that just because you get a “boned” leg of lamb, a portion of the joint may still be in place; if this is the case, you will want to remove the joint by cutting around it and pulling it out. My leg of lamb was truly boneless. Also trim off any huge chunks of fat or connective tissue, but you want to be careful not to over trim the meat, as the leg of lamb consists of several muscles held together by connective tissue. Flip the meat over so the skin side is up and trim off the fell, which is the impermeable membrane over the fat. The fell can be very tough, so you want to remove as much as possible, using the tip of your knife to get under the membrane.

Fell trimmed off.

Fell trimmed off.

Once your lamb is trimmed sufficiently, in a mini chopper combine 4 cloves of garlic, 8 mint leaves, 1 T brown sugar, 1 T Kosher salt, 2 t black pepper, 5 T Dijon mustard, and 2 T canola oil.

Ingredients for Alton's lamb:  Kosher salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard, mint, garlic, canola oil, and brown sugar.

Ingredients for Alton’s lamb: Kosher salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard, mint, garlic, canola oil, and brown sugar.

Four cloves of garlic in the chopper.

Four cloves of garlic in the chopper.

Chopped garlic.

Chopped garlic.

Eight mint leaves added to garlic.

Eight mint leaves added to garlic.

1 T brown sugar added.

1 T brown sugar added.

and 1 T Kosher salt.

and 1 T Kosher salt.

Plus 5 T Dijon mustard and 2 t black pepper.

Plus 5 T Dijon mustard and 2 t black pepper.

2 T canola oil added.

2 T canola oil added.

Mint/mustard mixture.

Mint/mustard mixture.

You will need to truss your meat, so cut five pieces of butcher’s twine that are 17-18 inches long. You will also need one longer piece of twine that is about 36 inches long. Flip the meat so the skin side is down and spread the mustard/mint mixture all over the meat, using all of the mixture.

Mint/mustard mixture spread over lamb.

Mint/mustard mixture spread over lamb.

Roll the lamb up into a neat tube shape and flip it so the skin side is facing up.

Lamb rolled into tube shape.

Lamb rolled into tube shape.

Starting in the middle of the meat, tie one of the shorter pieces of twine around the lamb, using a surgeon’s knot. You want to tie the twine tightly, but not overly so, as the meat will expand when it cooks.

Butcher's twine tied around the center of the lamb.

Butcher’s twine tied around the center of the lamb.

Continue tying the shorter pieces of twine around the meat, evenly spacing them.

Additional pieces of twine tied around lamb.

Additional pieces of twine tied around lamb.

Once all of shorter pieces of twine are tied, use the long piece of twine to tie the meat lengthwise, looping it around the shorter pieces of twine. Again, finish with a surgeon’s knot.

Longer piece of twine looped around the shorter pieces of twine.

Longer piece of twine looped around the shorter pieces of twine.

Alton used a charcoal grill to cook his lamb. We do not have a charcoal grill, so I used our gas grill. You will want to cook the lamb over indirect heat, and be sure to lube the grill grates with canola oil prior to putting the roast on the grill.

Lamb ready to go on the grill.

Lamb ready to go on the grill.

Place the lamb on the grill, skin side up, and throw some rosemary sprigs below the grates to act as a smoking agent.

Lamb on the grill.

Lamb on the grill.

Sprigs of rosemary added to the grill.

Sprigs of rosemary added to the grill.

Close the lid and allow the lamb to cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip the meat and turn it 180 degrees.

Lamb flipped and rotated after 20 minutes.

Lamb flipped and rotated after 20 minutes.

Insert a probe thermometer at an angle and set it to beep when the meat hits 135 degrees. In the episode, Alton’s lamb took only an additional 25-30 minutes to reach 135 degrees, but my lamb took considerably longer to be done.

Lamb after reaching 135 degrees.

Lamb after reaching 135 degrees.

Once your lamb is done, remove the twine and allow it to rest under foil for at least 15 minutes before serving. We ate the lamb as our entrée, simply slicing it.

Lamb after resting 15 minutes under foil.

Lamb after resting 15 minutes under foil.

Alton's grilled leg of lamb.

Alton’s grilled leg of lamb.

We shared some leftover lamb with my parents who used the sliced lamb to make sandwiches, which they said were really good. I used the remaining leftover lamb to make my grandma’s curry. Alton’s lamb was really quite delicious and tender, and the mint mixture really flavored the meat well. If you are looking for something different to grill this summer, Alton’s lamb is a great choice, especially for a group.

Shred, Head, Butter and Bread

Cabbage is not a vegetable we eat often in our house, aside from the occasional slaw to accompany fish tacos or the like. I was curious to see what we would think of Alton’s cabbage preparations in the 40th Good Eats episode. Alton says that the first recipe in this episode originated from his mother.

Ingredients:  butter, seasoned croutons, dry mustard, caraway seed, green cabbage, Kosher salt, and sugar.

Ingredients: butter, seasoned croutons, dry mustard, caraway seed, green cabbage, Kosher salt, and sugar.

5-6-2015 074 To make Alton’s mom’s cabbage, fill your biggest pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Big pot of water over high heat.

Big pot of water over high heat.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1/2 a stick of butter and add 1/2 C pulverized seasoned croutons.

Half a stick of butter in a large skillet.

Half a stick of butter in a large skillet.

Melted butter.

Melted butter.

Pulverized seasoned croutons.

Pulverized seasoned croutons.

Pulverized croutons added to butter.

Pulverized croutons added to butter.

To this crouton mixture, add two big pinches of dry mustard and 1 t caraway seeds.

Dry mustard and caraway seed added to butter/crouton mix.

Dry mustard and caraway seed added to butter/crouton mix.

Continue to cook this mixture, stirring over medium heat until the butter browns and you have a nutty aroma. When you have reached this point, take the pan off the heat, but leave the mixture in the pan for later.

Stirred until browned and nutty.

Stirred until browned and nutty.

Next, you want to shred a small head of green cabbage. Alton explains that he prefers small heads of cabbage because they are sweeter. To shred your cabbage, cut the head into quarters and cut the hard white core out of each quarter. Lay the cabbage quarters on your cutting board (curved side out), and slice perpendicularly to the board. If this is tough to visualize, there are lots of videos online.

Whole head of green cabbage.

Whole head of green cabbage.

Cabbage cut into halves.

Cabbage cut into halves.

Cabbage cut into quarters.

Cabbage cut into quarters.

Shredded cabbage.

Shredded cabbage.

When your cabbage is shredded, add 1 T Kosher salt and 1 T sugar to your pot of boiling water.

1 T Kosher salt added to boiling water.

1 T Kosher salt added to boiling water.

1 T sugar added to water.

1 T sugar added to water.

Why cook your cabbage in a lot of sugared/salted water? The large volume of water dilutes acid that seeps from the cabbage. The sugar preserves the cabbage’s cellular structure, while the salt increases the boiling point of the water to promote faster cooking. Add the shredded cabbage to the boiling water. You will notice an immediate color change in the cabbage, as it becomes a more brilliant shade of green; this is because the cabbage is releasing gas as it cooks, allowing the true color of the chlorophyll to show.

Cabbage added to water for 2 minutes.

Cabbage added to water for 2 minutes.

Cook the cabbage for a scant two minutes and drain. Alton used a salad spinner to drain his cabbage, but a colander works fine too.

Cabbage drained after cooking for 2 minutes.

Cabbage drained after cooking for 2 minutes.

Add the cabbage to the butter/crumb mixture in the skillet and toss to coat with tongs.

Cabbage added to skillet with butter/crouton mixture.

Cabbage added to skillet with butter/crouton mixture.

Final cabbage.

Final cabbage.

We ate this cabbage as a side dish and we both really liked it. The cabbage maintained a nice texture and color, avoiding looking like a “wet Army Jeep,” as Alton described. The caraway seed’s flavor came through, but was not overpowering, and the overall dish had a buttery, slightly sweet flavor. We both agreed that we would make this again as a vegetable side dish.

Home of the Braise

Alton’s second cabbage preparation uses red, rather than green, cabbage. This recipe involves braising the cabbage in acidic liquid, which the purple pigments (anthocyanins) in red cabbage love.

Ingredients for braised cabbage:  canola oil, Granny Smith apple, apple juice, caraway seed, Kosher salt, black pepper, red cabbage, lemon juice, and butter.

Ingredients for braised cabbage: canola oil, Granny Smith apple, apple juice, caraway seed, Kosher salt, black pepper, red cabbage, lemon juice, and butter.

To make this cabbage, heat a large skillet over medium heat, adding 2 T canola oil to coat the pan.

2 T canola oil heating in a pan.

2 T canola oil heating in a pan.

Add 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cubed, and toss.

Granny Smith apple added to the pan.

Granny Smith apple added to the pan.

Once the apple is lightly browned, add 1 pint of apple juice, preferably unfiltered. The acid from the apple and apple juice serves to keep the final cabbage red, rather than blue.

A pint of apple juice added to the apple.

A pint of apple juice added to the apple.

Increase the heat and add 1/4 t caraway seed, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, several grinds of black pepper, and 1/2 a head of shredded red cabbage.

Caraway seed, Kosher salt, and black pepper added to the apple mixture.

Caraway seed, Kosher salt, and black pepper added to the apple mixture.

Cabbage halved, and ready to be shredded.

Cabbage halved, and ready to be shredded.

Shredded red cabbage.

Shredded red cabbage.

Shredded cabbage added to the pan.

Shredded cabbage added to the pan.

Put the lid on the pan, shake the pan to get everything coated, decrease the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes.

Lid on the pan, heat turned to low, and left to cook for 20 minutes.

Lid on the pan, heat turned to low, and left to cook for 20 minutes.

To boost the pigment of the final dish, sprinkle lemon juice over the cabbage just before serving.

Lemon juice added to boost pigment.

Lemon juice added to boost pigment.

Alton also likes to add a pat of butter to cut the acid from the lemon.

A pat of butter melted into the cabbage.

A pat of butter melted into the cabbage.

The finished cabbage.

The finished cabbage.

5-6-2015 135

Why is caraway seed so often paired with cabbage? Aside from pairing well flavor-wise, caraway seed helps to limit cabbage’s production of hydrogen sulfide gas, which is what can make your house smell like cabbage for days. We ate this cabbage as a side dish last night and we liked it even better than the first cabbage recipe. While the first recipe was sweet, buttery, and mild, this dish was much more tangy and bold. Again, Alton showed that cooking cabbage properly can maintain the texture, flavor, and color of a vegetable that so often gets a bad rap. You cannot go wrong with either of Alton’s cabbage recipes.

Thanks to my little Good Eats project, our post-Boston Marathon week consisted largely of recipes for tofu. Considering that we were quite gluttonous for a couple of days after the marathon, I think we were ready for some tofu! I know many people who turn their noses up at tofu, but I happen to like the stuff, as does Ted. My first experiences with tofu were when I was in high school and going through a phase where I did not eat a lot of meat; somehow, I had convinced myself that I really didn’t like meat. My brother was out of town and my dad decided he would try to cook a few tofu recipes for he, my mom, and me. We affectionately refer to this week in our lives as “Tofu Week.” I don’t recall what the various tofu preparations were, but I remember whispered conversations between my mom and me where we both agreed the tofu was horrible, but did not want to hurt Dad’s feelings. Thankfully, Dad sat down at the table, took one bite, and said, “This is horrible.” This exact scenario played out several times during that week, leaving us all to think that tofu was pretty darn disgusting. While I later gave tofu another shot and really liked it, I don’t think my parents ever quite recovered from Tofu Week.

Fillet O’Fu

Alton’s first tofu preparation was his tofu fillet. For this tofu recipe, you want to use firm tofu, which has less moisture than silken tofu, and therefore has a higher concentration of nutrients. Firm tofu is like a sponge, so it will soak up any flavors you want to impart. When marinating meat, one purpose of the acid in the marinade is for tenderizing the meat’s proteins. Since tofu’s proteins are already coagulated, tofu marination is solely for flavor injection. To make Alton’s tofu fillets, slice a block of firm tofu lengthwise into four equal slices.

One block of firm tofu.

One block of firm tofu.

Block of firm tofu, cut into four fillets.

Block of firm tofu, cut into four fillets.

Wrap the tofu fillets in paper towels, weigh the tofu down with a sheet pan and some canned goods, and allow the paper towels to absorb the moisture for a good hour.

Tofu fillets wrapped in paper towels and weighed down.

Tofu fillets wrapped in paper towels and weighed down.

Tofu fillets after sitting in paper towels for an hour.

Tofu fillets after sitting in paper towels for an hour.

Meanwhile, make a marinade of 2 T sherry vinegar, 2 T Worcestershire sauce, and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce.

Marinade ingredients:  Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and sherry vinegar.

Marinade ingredients: Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and sherry vinegar.

Place the tofu fillets into the marinade for 15 minutes on each side. Alton explains that since the tofu is sponge-like, it is not necessary to do a long marination.

Tofu fillets into marinade for 15 minutes.

Tofu fillets into marinade for 15 minutes.

Tofu fillets flipped to marinate for 15 minutes on side two.

Tofu fillets flipped to marinate for 15 minutes on side two.

When ready to cook, fill a large non-stick skillet with 1/8″ of canola oil, and place over medium-high heat.

Canola oil in non-stick skillet.

Canola oil in non-stick skillet.

In a shallow dredging dish, crack two eggs and lightly beat them. In a second dredging dish, place 1/2 C flour.

Two dredging dishes:  one with flour and one with eggs.

Two dredging dishes: one with flour and one with eggs.

Eggs beaten with a fork.

Eggs beaten with a fork.

Blot the marinated tofu with paper towels to get rid of excess marinade and dredge the fillets lightly in flour, tapping to get rid of any excess flour.

Marinated tofu on paper towels.

Marinated tofu on paper towels.

Tofu dredged lightly in flour...

Tofu dredged lightly in flour…

After dredging the tofu in flour, dip the fillets into the eggs, and slide them gently into the hot oil.

...and then coated in egg.

…and then coated in egg.

Fry the fillets for two minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Tofu fillets into hot oil for 2 minutes.

Tofu fillets into hot oil for 2 minutes.

Tofu fillets flipped to cook on second side for two more minutes.

Tofu fillets flipped to cook on second side for two more minutes.

Pan-fried tofu fillets.

Pan-fried tofu fillets.

Coonhounds will eat tofu.

Coonhounds will eat tofu.

We ate these fillets as our entrée and we liked the crispy “skin” that coated the tofu. While you could taste the marinade, it was faint, so I wonder if a longer marination would result in better flavor injection. I think I will try this recipe again, but with a 24-hour marination, as that is what I have done with some other tofu recipes that have had more flavor. Texture-wise this was a good tofu dish, but it was a bit bland flavor-wise.

No Guilt Caesar

What better to pair with tofu fillets than a green salad with tofu Caesar dressing?

Caesar ingredients:  Parmesan, garlic, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Kosher salt, black pepper, and silken tofu.

Caesar ingredients: Parmesan, garlic, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Kosher salt, black pepper, and silken tofu.

To make Alton’s tofu dressing, grind 2 ounces of Parmesan cheese in a blender.

Two ounces of cubed Parmesan.

Two ounces of cubed Parmesan.

Cubed Parmesan in the blender.

Cubed Parmesan in the blender.

With the blender running, dump 2 cloves of garlic down the chute.

Garlic added to Parmesan.

Garlic added to Parmesan.

Once processed, turn the blender off and add 2 T Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 t white wine vinegar, 1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of Kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and 1 C of silken tofu.

Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Kosher salt, and black pepper added to dressing.

Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Kosher salt, and black pepper added to dressing.

Silken tofu added to blender.

Silken tofu added to blender.

Blend until smooth. Once smooth, slowly pour 2 T of olive oil down the chute with the blender running.

Olive oil drizzled into dressing.

Olive oil drizzled into dressing.

Finished tofu Caesar dressing.

Finished tofu Caesar dressing.

Tofu Caesar dressing over arugula.

Tofu Caesar dressing over arugula.

The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. We were pretty happy with this dressing, though it does have pretty intense garlic flavor. If using two cloves of garlic, I would recommend using smaller ones. I served my dressing over arugula because that is what we had in the house, but we will have to get some Romaine and make a true Caesar-style salad. This is a good, easy, healthy salad dressing, and you would really never know it has tofu as a main ingredient.

Moo-Less Chocolate Pie

The third recipe in this episode is for Alton’s tofu chocolate pie. As far as desserts go, it doesn’t get any easier than this one.

Ingredients for tofu chocolate pie:  silken tofu, semisweet chocolate chips, coffee liqueur, vanilla, honey, and a cookie crust.

Ingredients for tofu chocolate pie: silken tofu, semisweet chocolate chips, coffee liqueur, vanilla, honey, and a cookie crust.

In a blender, combine one block of silken tofu, 1/3 C coffee liqueur, 1 t vanilla, 1 T honey, and 2 C semisweet chocolate chips, melted. Blend until smooth.

Tofu in the blender.

Tofu in the blender.

Melted chocolate chips, vanilla, honey, & coffee liqueur added to the tofu.

Melted chocolate chips, vanilla, honey, & coffee liqueur added to the tofu.

Blended until smooth.

Blended until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a prepared chocolate cookie crust and refrigerate until firm. The online recipe contains a recipe for a chocolate wafer crust, but Alton used a purchased chocolate cookie crust in the episode, so that is what I used.

Prepared cookie crust.

Prepared cookie crust.

Filling poured into crust.

Filling poured into crust.

Pie after setting in the refrigerator.

Pie after setting in the refrigerator.

Dense tofu chocolate pie.

Dense tofu chocolate pie.

This pie is delicious, and I will absolutely make it again. The pie is super rich, full of chocolate flavor, and has a dense, smooth texture. You would NEVER guess that tofu is in this pie. I would say this is one of the best recipes I have made so far in this project.

Tall & Tangy Tofu Thangy

The final recipe in this episode is for a tofu smoothie. In advance of making this one, freeze a small can (8 1/4 oz) of fruit cocktail in light syrup. I actually could not find a small can of fruit cocktail, so I weighed mine out and froze it in a ziplock bag.

Smoothie ingredients:  frozen fruit cocktail in light syrup, lemonade mix, cranberry juice, and silken tofu.

Smoothie ingredients: frozen fruit cocktail in light syrup, lemonade mix, cranberry juice, and silken tofu.

When ready to have your smoothie, dump the frozen fruit cocktail into a blender, along with 1 t powdered lemonade mix, 6 ounces cranberry juice, and 1 block of silken tofu. Blend until smooth and drink.

Frozen fruit cocktail in the blender.

Frozen fruit cocktail in the blender.

Lemonade mix added.

Lemonade mix added.

Six ounces of cranberry juice.

Six ounces of cranberry juice.

Allison's camera 066

Silken tofu added to the blender.

Silken tofu added to the blender.

Blended until smooth.

Blended until smooth.

The finished tofu smoothie.

The finished tofu smoothie.

We had this smoothie for breakfast yesterday, and thought it was okay, but not outstanding. It is a pretty thick smoothie that is really more tart than sweet, and we both found that the flavor of the tofu really came through, which some people may not care for.

The Coonhounds got a little taste of the smoothie, and they thought it was pretty good.

The Coonhounds got a little taste of the smoothie, and they thought it was pretty good.

I probably will not make this one again, as I think my own tofu smoothie “recipe” (I don’t measure anything) is better; mine consists of a banana, frozen berries, silken tofu, honey, soy milk, and some yogurt.

I was not as excited for this episode of Good Eats as I have been for some of the others. While I recognize that poaching is a valuable cooking method to have in one’s toolbox, I just didn’t find the recipes in this episode to be super inventive overall. Still, I definitely did learn a lot from making the recipes in this episode, which is really what it is all about.

Poached Eggs

First up in the 38th episode of Good Eats was Alton’s technique for poaching eggs. There is no printable recipe for Alton’s poached eggs, but there is a video clip here. I have made poached eggs many times and some have turned out more successfully than others. I don’t really have a go-to formula, so I was hopeful that this method might become “The One.”

To poach eggs Alton’s way, fill a non-stick skillet with an inch of water, add a teaspoon of Kosher salt and about a teaspoon of vinegar, and bring to a simmer. The vinegar is added because the acid speeds the setting of the whites, which helps to prevent feathering.

All you need for poached eggs:  Kosher salt, eggs, vinegar. Oh, and some water.

All you need for poached eggs: Kosher salt, eggs, vinegar. Oh, and some water.

Water, vinegar, and Kosher salt being brought to a simmer.

Water, vinegar, and Kosher salt being brought to a simmer.

Simmering water, ready for eggs.

Simmering water, ready for eggs.

Crack each egg into a ramekin.

Eggs cracked into individual ramekins.

Eggs cracked into individual ramekins.

Starting at 12 o’clock in the pan, slide one egg gently into the water. Continue around the pan, adding eggs at even intervals. Using the clock method helps you to remove the eggs in the order you put them in, so they will all cook evenly.

Eggs at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock.

Eggs at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock.

Once your eggs are all in the water, put the lid on the pan, turn off the heat, and let the eggs poach for seven minutes.

Lid on the pan, heat off, and left to poach for seven minutes.

Lid on the pan, heat off, and left to poach for seven minutes.

To save poached eggs for later (I didn’t know you could do this), put the eggs in ice water immediately after cooking and refrigerate them for up to eight hours; when ready to eat, reheat in simmering water for one minute. Alton served his eggs over a salad, which is what I planned to do with mine anyway. I love how the eggs become part of the dressing!

Poached eggs over a lunch salad.

Poached eggs over a lunch salad.

Alton's poached eggs.

Alton’s poached eggs.

My eggs were pretty good, but I think I could have pulled them out just a little bit earlier and they would have been perfect. I will use this method the next time I make poached eggs, but I’ll pull them out a little earlier.

Ge Court Bouillon

Next in this episode was a recipe for court bouillon, which is a flavored poaching liquid composed of an acidic liquid, aromatic vegetables, and herbs. Poaching, FYI, is when you cook food in liquid that is just below a simmer. When poaching, you want to keep the liquid around the final temperature that you want your cooked product to be. Poaching is ideal for high protein foods that tend to dry out when they are cooked, such as fish and chicken, but it is also good for pears and stone fruit. My mom went through a phase of making poached pears years ago; it seemed like she tried a hundred recipes, but in reality it was probably only three or four. Alton recommends poaching fruit in ginger ale, so I have added that to my list of things to try. Poached fruit over ice cream = great summer dessert.

Ingredients for court bouillon:  water, white wine, lemon juice, onion, celery, garlic, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and bay leaves.

Ingredients for court bouillon: water, white wine, lemon juice, onion, celery, garlic, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and bay leaves.

To make Alton’s court bouillon, in a saucepan combine 1 1/2 C water, 1/2 C white wine, the juice of a lemon, a chopped onion, half a rib of chopped celery, a finely chopped garlic clove, 1 t black peppercorns, 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme, and 1 bay leaf.

All of the ingredients in a pan.

All of the ingredients in a pan.

Bring the mixture to a boil, decrease the heat, and simmer for eight minutes before poaching.

Court bouillon, brought to a boil before use.

Court bouillon, brought to a boil before use.

You can re-use the court bouillon, as long as you bring it to a boil before each use, and it also freezes well. If you plan to use it more than once, strain the liquid after the first use. I used my court bouillon as Alton did in the episode, which was for the following recipe.

The Frenchman’s Bass

As I said above, I used my court bouillon to prepare the next recipe in this episode, which was for poached sea bass. I brought my court bouillon to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and slid in two sea bass fillets, partially submerging them.

Beautiful sea bass fillets added to the simmering court bouillon.

Beautiful sea bass fillets added to the simmering court bouillon.

I put the lid on the pan and allowed the fish to poach until it was done. My fish took about 10 minutes to cook, but it was frozen when we got it (I thawed it under cold water prior to cooking).

Lid on the pan, and fish left to poach.

Lid on the pan, and fish left to poach.

Fish after about 7 minutes of poaching. I let it cook a little longer.

Fish after about 7 minutes of poaching. I let it cook a little longer.

My finished poached sea bass.

My finished poached sea bass.

We ate the fish for lunch, served simply with lemon wedges on top. It was horrible – so horrible that it was really inedible. There was a strong bitterness to the fish that was quite perplexing. Such a waste and such a bummer. I couldn’t stop wondering why my fish had turned out with such poor flavor. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to take a quick sip of the chardonnay I used in my court bouillon. Bingo. The chardonnay was horrible, with an intense bitter finish. I feel quite stupid for failing to taste the wine prior to using it in my recipe, but seeing as I was making my court bouillon in the morning, I didn’t feel up to some chardonnay. The saddest part is that I did smell the wine in the bottle before I poured it, and I had a slight inclination that it might be “off,” but I failed to listen to my gut. Lessons learned:  ALWAYS take a swig (or two), and I need to trust my wine “Spidey sense” a bit more. Needless to say, I really can’t fairly evaluate this recipe, as the recipe was not the cause of my ruined fish. Yes, I am quite embarrassed by this one.

Catfish au Lait

Moving on to better things, the final recipe in this episode was for catfish poached in evaporated milk.

Ingredients for catfish au lait:  evaporated milk, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, Kosher salt, onion, and catfish fillets.

Ingredients for catfish au lait: evaporated milk, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, Kosher salt, onion, and catfish fillets.

For this recipe, in a skillet, combine 12 oz evaporated milk, 1 t Old Bay Seasoning, 1 t ground black pepper, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, and half an onion, thinly sliced.

Evaporated milk in a skillet.

Evaporated milk in a skillet.

Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, and Kosher salt added to milk.

Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, and Kosher salt added to milk.

Onions added to pan.

Onions added to pan.

Alton used an electric skillet for this, but I do not have an electric skillet. Bring this mixture to a boil.

Mixture after being brought to a boil.

Mixture after being brought to a boil.

Once boiling, gently slide your catfish fillets (I used three) into the liquid, almost fully submerging them.

Catfish fillets added to milk mixture.

Catfish fillets added to milk mixture.

Spoon some of the liquid over the top of the fillets, decrease the heat to low, and cover.

Lid on the pan, heat turned to low, and left to poach.

Lid on the pan, heat turned to low, and left to poach.

Let the fish poach to desired doneness, which took about eight minutes for my fish.

Catfish after poaching for ~eight minutes.

Catfish after poaching for ~eight minutes.

We ate this fish for dinner, eating it just as it was, with some of the onions on top.

Catfish served with poached onions on top.

Catfish served with poached onions on top.

I thought this was really good. The fish was very moist, with a slight sweetness from the milk and a hint of Old Bay. The onions, too, were really delicious, and were great to eat with the fish. I will probably make this again. It was a fast, easy, inexpensive way to prepare fish. Ted liked this too, but said he would opt for a different fish preparation, such as fish tacos, if given a choice.

The Once and Future Beans

It only seems fitting that I was scheduled to make Alton’s baked beans now, seeing that I am heading to “Beantown” shortly to (hopefully) run the Boston Marathon. I have recently been plagued with another running-related injury, so I am still unsure as to how my marathon will go. Regardless, we have had our share of protein-loading this past week, in the form of beans.

I’ve only eaten a few baked bean recipes that have really wowed me, while the rest have been overly sweetened, slightly mushy piles of “meh.” As I set out to make them, I assumed Alton’s Good Eats baked beans would fall into the “wow” category, especially after reading the ingredient list.

Ingredients for Alton's baked beans:  Great Northern beans, bacon, onion, Jalapenos, tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, vegetable broth, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and Kosher salt.

Ingredients for Alton’s baked beans: Great Northern beans, bacon, onion, jalapeno, tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, vegetable broth, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and Kosher salt.

To make Alton’s beans, soak a pound of dried Great Northern beans in water for 6-8 hours, or until the beans split easily. You will want to sort and rinse your beans prior to soaking.

1 lb of dried Great Northern beans.

1 lb of dried Great Northern beans.

Beans, ready to soak.

Beans, ready to soak.

Beans, beginning their soak.

Beans, beginning their soak.

Beans after soaking.

Beans after soaking.

When ready to cook, into a heavy Dutch oven, over medium heat, add a pound of chopped bacon, a chopped onion, and two chopped jalapenos; stir until enough fat has rendered to soften the onion.

Chopped jalapenos and onion in the Dutch oven.

Chopped jalapenos and onion in the Dutch oven.

Bacon, jalapenos, and onion in the Dutch oven.

Bacon, jalapenos, and onion in the Dutch oven.

Onion softened.

Onion softened.

Add 1/4 C T tomato paste, 1/4 C brown sugar, and 1/4 C molasses. The acid in the tomato paste, along with the calcium in the molasses, helps the beans to maintain their structure, rather than breaking down during cooking.

Tomato paste, brown sugar, and molasses added.

Tomato paste, brown sugar, and molasses added.

Meanwhile, drain the beans, reserving their soaking liquid. If your liquid is less than 4 C, top it off with vegetable broth to make 4 C; my soaking liquid was exactly 4 C.

Reserved bean soaking liquid.

Reserved bean soaking liquid.

Once drained, add the beans to the Dutch oven, along with their liquid.

Beans added to Dutch oven.

Beans added to Dutch oven.

Soaking liquid added to beans.

Soaking liquid added to beans.

Finally, add 1/4 t cayenne pepper, 1 t black pepper, and 2 t Kosher salt.

Spices added.

Spices added.

Bring the beans to a boil over high heat, stir, put the lid on, and throw the beans in a 250-degree oven for 6-8 hours, or until tender.

Beans brought to a boil before going in the oven.

Beans brought to a boil before going in the oven.

I began soaking my beans early in the morning, so I could put them in the oven right before I went to bed. Let me tell you… the house smelled so amazing when we woke up. Ted said he woke up at 3 am and almost went down to sample the beans in the middle of the night. Alton’s beans definitely did not disappoint. I am tempted to say that they may be my favorite baked beans of all time. They are also probably the richest, but a pound of bacon’ll do that!

Alton's baked beans.

Alton’s baked beans.

4-7-15 024 The beans were al dente, not overly saucy or sweet, and had a good kick of heat to balance them out. They really were fantastic, and I will definitely be making them again.

Black Bean Salad

The second bean recipe Alton makes in this episode is for black bean salad.

Ingredients for black bean salad:  dried black beans, carrot, celery, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, onion, olive oil, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, Kosher salt, and black pepper.

Ingredients for black bean salad: dried black beans, carrot, celery, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, onion, olive oil, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, Kosher salt, and black pepper.

To make his salad, in a saucepan place 2 C of black beans, a whole half (that’s a bit ironic, isn’t it?) of an onion, and a tied satchel of 1/2 a carrot, 1/2 a celery stalk, some fresh thyme, some parsley, and a bay leaf. I like to think that we are fairly organized since moving, but I could not find my butcher’s twine anywhere, so I had to ditch the satchel idea and play “Go Fish.”

Beans in a pot with carrot, celery, onion, thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf.

Beans in a pot with carrot, celery, onion, thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf.

Barely cover the beans with water, bring them to a simmer, and partially cover.

Water just to cover the beans.

Water just to cover the beans.

Partially covered and left to simmer.

Partially covered and left to simmer.

After 30 minutes, add 2 t of Kosher salt.

Kosher salt added to beans after 30 minutes.

Kosher salt added to beans after 30 minutes.

Continue to cook the beans for an additional 30 – 90 minutes, or until al dente. My beans took a full two hours to be done. I had to add additional water a few times to keep my beans covered.

Beans after cooking for 2 hours.

Beans after cooking for 2 hours.

When the beans are cooked, drain them and remove the onion, carrot, celery, and herbs.

Drained beans in a bowl.

Drained beans in a bowl.

Toss the hot beans with 1/3 C olive oil and 1/3 C lime juice.

Cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, red onion, chili powder, and cumin ready to be added to beans.

Cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, red onion, chili powder, and cumin ready to be added to beans.

Beans tossed with lime juice and olive oil.

Beans tossed with lime juice and olive oil.

Add a small minced red onion, a handful of chopped cilantro, 1 t cumin, and 1 t chili powder. Toss to combine and chill for several hours.

Cilantro and red onion added to beans...

Cilantro and red onion added to beans…

...along with cumin and chili powder.

…along with cumin and chili powder.

Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Salt and pepper added after chilling.

Salt and pepper added after chilling.

Alton's black bean salad.

Alton’s black bean salad.

We ate this salad as a side dish and thought it was pretty good, but not mind-blowing. It would be a good, easy dish to bring to a potluck, but so would the baked beans, and those were so much better.

Turbo Hummus

Alton couldn’t really have a bean episode of Good Eats without including a recipe for hummus, could he? In this case, it was for his Turbo Hummus. I whipped this up when we were both really hungry after a hard workout.

Ingredients for hummus:  garlic, canned garbanzos, creamy peanut butter, parsley, lemon juice and zest, black pepper, Kosher salt, and olive oil. And... a parsley thief.

Ingredients for hummus: garlic, canned garbanzos, creamy peanut butter, parsley, lemon juice and zest, black pepper, Kosher salt, and olive oil. And… a parsley thief.

In a food processor chop 2-3 cloves of garlic; I opted for three and our breath was paying for it later, but it was good at the time.

Garlic into the food processor.

Garlic into the food processor.

Chopped garlic.

Chopped garlic.

To the garlic, add a can of drained garbanzo beans and half of their reserved liquid. Process until smooth.

Beans drained and liquid reserved.

Beans drained and liquid reserved.

Beans into the processor.

Beans into the processor.

Beans processed, along with half of their liquid.

Beans processed, along with half of their liquid.

Add 2-3 T of creamy peanut butter, a handful of parsley, the zest and juice of a lemon, black pepper, and a couple of big pinches of Kosher salt.

Peanut butter, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, black pepper, and Kosher salt added to beans.

Peanut butter, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, black pepper, and Kosher salt added to beans.

Process. Finally, drizzle in 1/3 C olive oil.

Olive oil drizzling into hummus.

Olive oil drizzling into hummus.

Alton's Turbo Hummus.

Alton’s Turbo Hummus.

We ate our hummus with pretzel chips, polishing off half of it pretty quickly. Having made traditional hummus with tahini before, I thought you could taste a difference with the peanut butter. To me, it wasn’t better or worse – just different. This hummus was a bit thinner than I prefer, but the flavor was good, and it was definitely super fast to make. If you’re looking for a super fast snack, this is a good one.

Pizza Pizzas

I distinctly remember watching the 36th episode of Good Eats when it originally aired. My dad and I watched the episode together in their TV room and I had a huge inkling to try Alton’s pizza recipe then and there. Fast forward, oh, 14 years and I finally got around to making his pizza last weekend. In the interim, I tried numerous homemade pizza dough recipes, finally stumbling upon a favorite a few years ago, which has been my “go-to” ever since; it is easy, fast, and produces enough dough for several pizzas. I was, therefore, skeptical that Alton’s pizza dough (or anyone else’s for that matter) could surpass the dough I regularly use. Still, though, after 14 years, I was excited to finally try that recipe I had intended to make for so long.

Ingredients for Alton's pizza crust:  sugar, Kosher salt, olive oil, instant yeast, warm water, and bread flour for bread machines.

Ingredients for Alton’s pizza crust: sugar, Kosher salt, olive oil, instant yeast, warm water, and bread flour for bread machines.

To make Alton’s Good Eats pizza, place the following ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer:  2 T sugar, 1 T Kosher salt, 1 T olive oil, 3/4 C warm water, 1 C of bread flour for bread machines, 1 t instant yeast, and one more cup of bread flour for bread machines.

Sugar

Sugar

Kosher salt

Kosher salt

Olive oil

Olive oil

Warm water

Warm water

Bread flour

Bread flour

Instant yeast

Instant yeast

More bread flour

More bread flour

Note:  instant yeast is NOT the same as active dry yeast. Instant yeast is used in this recipe because it needs no blooming in water, and therefore can be added directly to the dry ingredients. Also, you want to use bread machine flour because it has the highest protein content possible, which will result in maximal gluten development. Yes, I happen to belong to the seemingly endangered species of human who believes that gluten is, in fact, a wonderful thing. Anyway, using the paddle attachment on your mixer, start mixing on low until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the bowl.

Starting to mix with paddle attachment.

Starting to mix with paddle attachment.

Dough forming ball and pulling away from sides of bowl.

Dough forming ball and pulling away from sides of bowl.

At this point, spray your dough hook with non-stick spray and replace the paddle attachment with the hook. Allow the machine to knead the dough for 15 minutes at medium speed. Even with spraying my dough hook with non-stick spray, my dough still seemed to climb the hook, so I sprayed the hook a second time midway through the kneading.

Dough hook sprayed with non-stick spray.

Dough hook sprayed with non-stick spray.

15 minutes of kneading time by the stand mixer.

15 minutes of kneading time by the stand mixer.

Dough after 15 minutes of kneading.

Dough after 15 minutes of kneading.

After 15 minutes, tear off a small piece of dough, stretch it into a thin round, and hold it up to the light. If the dough is transparent and you can see your finger through it, your dough is ready to go; this is the windowpane test you hear about in baking.

Windowpane test.

Windowpane test.

If your dough tears, knead it longer. Once your dough has passed the windowpane test, form it into a nice, smooth ball, place it in a large bowl, add 2 t of olive oil, and toss to coat.

Dough formed into smooth ball.

Dough formed into smooth ball.

Dough in large bowl with olive oil.

Dough in large bowl with olive oil.

Tossed to coat.

Tossed to coat.

Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 18-24 hours. Allowing the dough to rise in the refrigerator results in a slower rise, which Alton says produces better flavor and more delicate structure.

Covered loosely with plastic wrap.

Covered loosely with plastic wrap.

The following day, when ready to bake, place a pizza stone or unglazed tile on the bottom of your cold oven; if you do not have coils on the bottom of your oven, you can literally place the stone on the floor of the oven and leave it there indefinitely. If you have coils on the bottom of your oven, place the stone/tile on your lowest oven rack. My pizza stone was too large to fit on the floor of my oven, so I put it on the lowest rack. Heat your oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes before baking. Turn your dough onto a clean counter and cut it in half, as Alton says, “like an amoeba on a blind date.”

Dough after rising in refrigerator for ~24 hours.

Dough after rising in refrigerator for ~24 hours.

Dough turned onto counter.

Dough turned onto counter.

Dough bisected.

Dough bisected.

Mash each dough ball with the heel of your hand to get rid of any bubbles, and reshape the dough back into its original ball forms, folding the dough under itself.

Dough reformed into balls.

Dough reformed into balls.

Barely wet your hands and rub them on your work surface, placing the dough balls on top. Roll the balls with both hands, not moving your fingers, until you have very smooth dough. Set the dough aside, cover it with a tea towel, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Or, to save the dough for another day, instead of letting it rest, place it in a ziplock bag sprayed with non-stick spray and refrigerate for up to 6 days. I opted to save half of my dough for a pizza another day.

Half of dough back into refrigerator for later use.

Half of dough back into refrigerator for later use.

One of Alton’s tricks in pizza making is to build your pizza directly on your pizza peel, which is something I discovered a few years ago. Alton uses a wooden peel, dusting it with flour. I have metal peel, so I use a sheet of parchment paper to ensure my pizza doesn’t stick to my peel.

Parchment paper on metal pizza peel.

Parchment paper on metal pizza peel.

Pizza to be built on peel.

Pizza to be built on peel.

There are four steps to forming your dough into a pizza:

  1. Flatten the dough into an even disc with the heel of your hand, turning the dough as you flatten.
  2. Pick the dough up, rotating it as you pinch a lip about an inch deep around the edge.
  3. Pass the dough back and forth between your hands, rotating it.
  4. Use your knuckles to spin, toss, and catch the dough. Or, alternatively, you can stretch/pull the dough on the peel.

If you find that your dough keeps shrinking, you can let it rest longer until it is easier to work with. At this point, you can choose whether you want a crispier or chewier crust; for a crispy crust, you will decorate/bake immediately, while you will want to let your dough rest for an additional 30 minutes to get a chewier crust.

Toppings for pizza:  olive oil, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, provolone, and crushed red pepper.

Toppings for pizza: olive oil, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, provolone, and crushed red pepper.

Either way, when ready to bake, brush the lip of the dough with olive oil.

Lip brushed with olive oil.

Lip brushed with olive oil.

To decorate a pizza Alton’s way, top the pizza with sauce, using as little as possible. Alton recommends that you use about 3 T of sauce. You can use whatever sauce you like; I used a homemade red sauce.

Homemade red sauce.

Homemade red sauce.

Sauce on pizza.

Sauce on pizza.

Over the sauce add fresh thyme, fresh oregano, and some crushed red pepper flakes.

Sauce topped with fresh oregano, fresh thyme, and crushed red pepper.

Sauce topped with fresh oregano, fresh thyme, and crushed red pepper.

Finally, sprinkle on a blend of shredded mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and provolone cheeses.

Pizza topped with cheese.

Pizza topped with cheese.

Bake your pizza for 7 minutes, and allow it to rest for 3 minutes before cutting.

Pizza in the oven.

Pizza in the oven.

Finished pizza.

Finished pizza.

We really did like Alton’s pizza dough, though I did think it was a little bit salty. If you read the online recipe, Alton has added a note about cutting back on the salt, but I made the dough as he made it on the actual show. Since Ted is a salt lover, he thought the dough was great, but I would cut the salt back slightly. We did both agree that Alton’s dough had more flavor than our regular dough, and the texture was great. The dough was crispy and golden on the outside, and chewy on the inside. I did find the dough to be slightly difficult to work with, as it kept shrinking on me as I tried to stretch it, but a little more resting time seemed to take care of that. We had the pizza again the next night, and the dough was slightly easier to work with. I am tempted to make this again, portion it out, and freeze it, as I think it would freeze nicely.

The Final Pizza

I happened to discover a few weeks ago that Alton has posted a new pizza recipe on his website, claiming that it is superior to the original Good Eats dough and that it is the only pizza dough he will “ever need.” So, although this recipe has nothing directly to do with Good Eats, I decided I had to make it to compare side-by-side with the original Good Eats dough. I won’t go into the step-by-step procedure in detail, but I will post photos of the process.

Dry ingredients for Alton's new pizza crust:  bread flour, active dry yeast, sugar, and Kosher salt.

Dry ingredients for Alton’s new pizza crust: bread flour, active dry yeast, sugar, and Kosher salt.

690 g of bread flour.

690 g of bread flour.

9 g of active dry yeast.

9 g of active dry yeast.

15 g of sugar

15 g of sugar

20 g of Kosher salt

20 g of Kosher salt

15 g of olive oil

15 g of olive oil

455 g of water. I used tap, rather than bottled, water.

455 g of water. I used tap, rather than bottled, water.

Dry ingredients in mixer.

Dry ingredients in mixer.

Wet ingredients added to dry.

Wet ingredients added to dry.

Dough just pulling away from sides of bowl.

Dough just pulling away from sides of bowl.

Dough after 5 minutes of kneading on medium.

Dough after 5 minutes of kneading on medium.

Formed into a smooth ball.

Formed into a smooth ball.

Into an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and into the refrigerator for 18-24 hours.

Into an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and into the refrigerator for 18-24 hours.

Dough after ~24 hours.

Dough after ~24 hours.

Dough turned onto counter.

Dough turned onto counter.

Dough flattened into rectangle.

Dough flattened into rectangle.

Dough rolled up to be cut into thirds.

Dough rolled up to be cut into thirds.

Dough portioned into three balls.

Dough portioned into three balls.

Two balls of dough back into refrigerator for later use.

Two balls of dough back into refrigerator for later use.

Dough on pizza peel.

Dough on pizza peel.

Dough after shaping/forming.

Dough after shaping/forming.

Lip brushed with olive oil.

Lip brushed with olive oil.

Dough topped with sauce, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, and crushed red pepper.

Dough topped with sauce, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, and crushed red pepper.

Pizza topped with cheese.

Pizza topped with cheese.

What are the differences between this recipe and the old one? This recipe uses active dry yeast, in contrast to the use of instant yeast in the original recipe, and everything for this recipe is weighed in grams. Also, Alton tells you to use this dough within eight hours after the 18-24 hour rise, while you had up to 6 days for the original dough. Oh, and this recipe yields three pizzas, while the original gives you two. The procedures for the two doughs are essentially the same, aside from the fact that this dough gets kneaded by the mixer for 5 minutes, rather than 15 for the original dough, and Alton goes straight to the dough hook for kneading, rather than using the paddle first. We literally ate this pizza three nights in a row, comparing it directly to the original dough the first two nights. This, too, was a good pizza, but I think we preferred the original dough. Why? The original dough was less airy and chewier. Also, it was just as good the second day as it was the first, whereas the new dough seemed to become too bubbly for the second and third nights. I also found the original dough to be smoother and slightly easier to work with when forming the pizzas.

Dough side-by-side:  original dough on the left.

Dough side-by-side: original dough on the left.

New dough on the right.

New dough on the right.

Day 1:  Original pizza.

Day 1: Original pizza.

Day 1:  Original pizza.

Day 1: Original pizza.

Day 1:  New pizza.

Day 1: New pizza.

Day 1:  New pizza.

Day 1: New pizza.

Original pizza, cut into slices on day 2.

Original pizza, cut into slices on day 2.

New recipe, cut into slices on day 2.

New recipe, cut into slices on day 2.

Alton's new pizza on day 3. Crust is awfully puffy and bubbly.

Alton’s new pizza on day 3. Crust is awfully puffy and bubbly.

While Ted and I agreed that both dough recipes were great, we would choose the Good Eats recipe (with slightly less salt) over Alton’s updated version. Either way, you can’t go wrong, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference. So, will I be giving the boot to my go-to recipe of the past few years? No, but I think I will be adding Alton’s original dough to my regular pizza repertoire.

Ah, butter, I have loved thee for as long as I can remember. Conversely, as a kid, my brother refused to eat butter, and would only eat margarine. Nuts, I know. I seem to remember something about him being disgusted by the fact that butter was animal-based fat. I think it is safe to say that the anti-butter trait is not genetic, as I saw my niece lick a stick of butter with pure delight last week when she was visiting. Thank goodness because butter certainly belongs on the list of “good eats.”

Raymond Beurre Blanc

Monday evening seemed like a good time to have the first recipe from this episode, which was for Alton’s beurre blanc. I have had beurre blancs in the past, but always in a restaurant.

Beurre blanc ingredients:  shallots, white wine, lemon juice, heavy cream, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and white pepper.

Beurre blanc ingredients: shallots, white wine, lemon juice, heavy cream, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and white pepper.

To make Alton’s sauce, add a couple of small chopped shallots to a pan, along with 8 oz. of white wine and 2 oz. of lemon juice.

Chopped shallots.

Chopped shallots.

Shallots and wine in the pan.

Shallots and wine in the pan.

Lemon juice added.

Lemon juice added.

Increase the heat to high, and reduce this liquid “au sec,” or until almost dry; you will have about 2 T remaining.

Shallots, lemon juice, and white wine.

Shallots, lemon juice, and white wine.

Beginning to reduce.

Beginning to reduce.

After a few minutes.

After a few minutes.

Reduced "au sec."

Reduced “au sec.”

Add 1 T of heavy cream to the pan, and decrease the heat to low as soon as the cream starts to bubble. The cream, as Alton says, is your “emulsion insurance.”

Cream added to pan for "emulsion insurance."

Cream added to pan for “emulsion insurance.”

Cream bubbling, so heat turned to low.

Cream bubbling, so heat turned to low.

Next, you will need 6 oz. of cold, unsalted butter, which you will want to cut into tablespoon-sized chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

You will add the butter chunks one at a time, first on the heat, and then off of the heat, until incorporated. If the sauce gets above 130 degrees, the membranes around the fat globules will collapse, so you do not want the sauce to get too hot.

First chunk of butter being added.

First chunk of butter being added.

Stirring the butter first on the heat...

Stirring the butter first on the heat…

...and then off of the heat.

…and then off of the heat.

To scale the sauce up or down, Alton explains that you want to use about a stick of butter per tablespoon of reduction. Once all of the butter has been added, season the sauce with Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste. You can serve the sauce as is, or you can strain it for a perfectly smooth sauce.

The finished beurre blanc.

The finished beurre blanc.

Since the beurre blanc will not hold well, you will want to serve it immediately or store it in a thermos for later use. We had the beurre blanc over steaks and asparagus for dinner, and it paired greatly with both.

Alton's beurre blanc over a steak and asparagus.

Alton’s beurre blanc over a steak and asparagus.

As someone who prefers to have some sort of sauce with steak, I really enjoyed this. I loved the slight sourness of the sauce, as it contrasted nicely with the richness from the butter. I will be making this one again for sure, as it would also be great over poached eggs or fish. This is a simple way to dress dinner up.

Compound Butter

Next up in Alton’s butter arsenal is a recipe for compound butter. I remember having compound butter at some restaurant when I was little, with my mom explaining to me that there were endless possibilities for flavor combinations you could achieve. Alton’s version is pretty straight forward.

Ingredients for compound butter:  olive oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salted butter.

Ingredients for compound butter: olive oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salted butter.

To start, cut a pound of salted butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and set it aside. Salted butter is used here because it has a longer shelf-life; the salt in the butter helps to prevent oxidation. This is why unsalted butter is typically wrapped in foil, while salted butter is not.

Butter chunks in mixer.

Butter chunks in mixer.

Next, pour 3-4 T of olive oil into your food processor, add 2 T of chopped chives, and chop.

Chives and olive oil in the food processor.

Chives and olive oil in the food processor.

Chopped chives in olive oil.

Chopped chives in olive oil.

To this, add 3 T of mixed herbs; Alton likes a tablespoon each of sage, thyme, and rosemary. Process this herb mixture until the oil is green.

Chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Herbs chopped in oil.

Herbs chopped in oil.

Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, starting on low and increasing the speed to high. The butter should be fluffy in 5-7 minutes.

Butter whipped until fluffy.

Butter whipped until fluffy.

Once fluffy, add the oil to the butter and mix until incorporated evenly.

Herb/oil mixture added to butter and mixed.

Herb/oil mixture added to butter and mixed.

Spoon the butter onto the end of a sheet of parchment, and pull the far end of the parchment over the butter.

Compound butter on one end of parchment.

Compound butter on one end of parchment.

Far end of parchment pulled over butter.

Far end of parchment pulled over butter.

Place the edge of a sheet pan against the butter (on top of the paper), hold the bottom piece of paper, and press the butter into a log shape. Roll up the ends of the parchment, secure with rubber bands, and chill the butter until firm.

Compound butter rolled into a log to be chilled.

Compound butter rolled into a log to be chilled.

Slice the butter and serve as a sauce for meat, chicken, fish, bread, vegetables, or anything else you can think of. I first tried the butter this morning on half a bagel, and I could smell the fresh herbs as soon as I unrolled the parchment.

Compound butter, sliced.

Compound butter, sliced.

Compound butter on a bagel.

Compound butter on a bagel.

I liked this particular combination of herbs because none of the herbs overwhelmed the others. The butter looks really pretty and is super flavorful, so it would be a great thing to serve to guests. I look forward to trying this as a simple sauce for many things in the coming weeks.

Honey Butter

For a sweet finish to the episode, Alton makes honey butter. This recipe is really similar to the compound butter recipe.

Ingredients for honey butter:  salted butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

Ingredients for honey butter: salted butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

To start, cut a pound of salted butter into chunks and beat it with the whisk attachment of your mixer until fluffy.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter beaten until fluffy.

Butter beaten until fluffy.

Once fluffy, add 1/4 C honey, 1/2 t cinnamon, and 1/2 t vanilla extract. Mix until evenly distributed.

Honey.

Honey.

Cinnamon, honey, and vanilla mixed into butter.

Cinnamon, honey, and vanilla mixed into butter.

Put the butter on parchment, use a sheet pan to push the butter into a log, and roll up the ends.

Honey butter on end of parchment sheet.

Honey butter on end of parchment sheet.

End of parchment pulled over butter.

End of parchment pulled over butter.

Honey butter log.

Honey butter log.

Chill the butter until firm, and slice to serve. Again, to first try this butter, I had it on half a bagel.

Sliced honey butter.

Sliced honey butter.

A pat of honey butter.

A pat of honey butter.

Honey butter on a bagel.

Honey butter on a bagel.

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of sweetness in the butter, as I was concerned it would be cloyingly sweet, but it was not. The flavor of the honey definitely came through, as did the vanilla and the cinnamon, but nothing was overpowering. This would be great on pancakes or waffles, and I think I will be trying that this weekend… with Alton’s pancake mix, of course!