Archive for the ‘Season 6’ Category

I didn’t really become a beer drinker until I was in my 20s. Growing up, the only beer I was really exposed to was what my dad drank, and he got on the microbrew bandwagon at the very beginning. I was pretty shocked when I had my first Budweiser at a wedding, as it was so thin and flavorless compared to the beer I had always known. I guess you could say I was destined to be a beer “snob” from the beginning. Since then, I have developed my beer palate substantially, and I enjoy quite a few styles of beer today.

Ted got into homebrewing before we were ever a couple. Over the years we have made several batches of beer together, some of which have been pretty good. Our worst homebrew was a blueberry beer that was my idea, and it involved infusing the beer with pounds of fresh blueberries. The beer was pretty terrible, and a complete waste of fantastic blueberries. Our kitchen was also a sticky, purple mess after bottling that beer, but the dog seemed to enjoy that part.

We also brewed a beer years ago for a local homebrew competition. This particular beer was infused with apricot kernels (again, my idea). We came home late one evening to find that the airlock on our glass carboy had become clogged with apricot kernels, leading to a beer explosion all over our bedroom. Yes, we kept the beer in our bedroom; our bedroom was the right temperature and we could keep the animals away from it. We spent hours that night cleaning beer and apricot kernels off of every surface. Our poor hardwood floors were just never the same.

Good Brew

Alton’s homebrew recipe from this episode of Good Eats was to be my first time brewing beer on my own (though Ted did help with some heavy lifting). This particular beer is made using malt extract, as opposed to all-grain brewing. All-grain brewing is more complicated because you convert the starches to sugars, while that step is done for you if you use malt extract. For this recipe, you will need to have the following hardware:  a 3+ gallon pot (actually, more like 5 gallon), a probe thermometer, a pair of nesting colanders/strainers, two lidded 7-gallon buckets with airlock holes (preferably with spigots), an airlock, plastic tubing, a bottle filler, bleach, bottles, and caps and a capper, if you are using them. For ingredients, you will need liquid pitchable yeast (I used a California ale yeast), 7 pounds of malt extract, 1/2 pound milled barley, 1 3/4 ounces of Kent Goldings hops, 1 ounce of Cascade hops, 7 pounds of ice, 4 gallons of spring water, and an additional pint of spring water. Note:  one gallon of the water, along with the pint, should be kept cold, while the rest of the water can be room temperature.

img_5786

Malt extract, milled barley, Cascade hops, Kent Goldings hops, and pitchable yeast.

To begin the brewing process, you will want to sterilize all of your equipment by pouring two ounces of bleach into your bucket, filling it with cold water. Dump all of your equipment (for today you will need your strainers, bucket lid, and airlock) into the bleach solution, letting it sit. The bathtub is a great place for this.

img_5785

Bucket and equipment being sterilized with bleach water.

Meanwhile, you can begin brewing by pouring two gallons of bottled water into your pot.

Add 1/2 pound of milled barley and turn the heat to high. Using your probe thermometer, monitor the temperature of your barley solution; you will want to bring the heat to ~150 degrees, then decrease the heat, allowing the temperature to continue to rise to 155 degrees. Maintain 155 degrees for 30 minutes. This part of the brewing process is called “mashing.”

When your timer has gone off, add another gallon of bottled water to the pot, along with your seven pounds of malt extract. Note:  Malt extract has the consistency of honey, so it is helpful to warm the malt extract in warm water to make it easier to remove from its container.

Increase the heat to high, bringing the mixture to a boil. If the mixture foams badly, decrease the heat until the foam settles, and raise it again.

Once you have reached a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer. Now it is time to add your flavoring hops, so add 1 ounce of Cascade hops and 3/4 ounce of Kent Goldings hops, cooking for 10 minutes.

After the flavoring hops, it is time to add the aroma hops (this is called dry hopping), so add the remaining ounce of Kent Golding hops. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the mixture sit for five minutes.

While your brew is sitting, thoroughly rinse your bucket and all of your equipment to get rid of any bleach. Dump your seven pounds of ice, along with your cold water (1 gallon plus 1 pint) into your bucket.

Nesting your strainers over the top of your bucket, strain your mash into the ice/water in your bucket. This strained mash is called “wort,” which is young beer.

Take the temperature of your wort with a clean thermometer. Your yeast packet will tell you the temperature at which it can be added to your wort. In the episode, Alton’s wort was cool enough that he could add his yeast right away, but this was not the case for me. Since I was brewing late in the evening, I had to wait until the following morning to add my yeast. In any case, when your wort is cool enough for your yeast, mix the yeast and pour it into the wort – there is no need to stir or shake.

img_5818

Adding my yeast the following morning once my wort was cool enough.

Place the lid on the bucket, fill the airlock with water, and place your bucket in a cool, dark place. The airlock allows the fermenting beer to release pressure, so your fermenter will not explode.

img_5820

Airlock filled with water.

After seven days, time the bubbles in your airlock; if they are more than a minute apart, you are ready for the next step. I proceeded to the next step after eight days. On this day, you will need to sterilize your second bucket and its lid, your plastic tubing (if using), and your bottle filler, which you can do again with bleach/water. You will also need to sterilize your bottles, which I did by running them through the dishwasher with some bleach. If you are using bottle caps, you can sterilize them by boiling them in water in a saucepan.

img_5832

Bottle caps being sterilized by boiling them in water.

When all of your equipment is ready to go, bring a pint of water and 3/4 C sugar to a boil, allowing it to cook for five minutes.

img_5834

Sugar and water to be boiled for five minutes.

Pour the sugar solution into the bottom of your clean bucket. Using your plastic tubing, or a spigot if your bucket has one, transfer your beer from its original fermenter to your clean bucket that is holding the sugar solution.

img_5837

Beer being transferred to second bucket containing sugar solution.

Finally, transfer the beer to your clean bottles, using your bottle filler.

img_5839

Beer being transferred from bucket to bottles, using bottle filler.

Cap the bottles and place them in a cool place for 7-14 days before trying.

I first tried my beer seven days after bottling, splitting a 22-ounce bottle with my brother. As I poured it, I was concerned that it would not have enough carbonation, but it was actually fine.

img_5890

A bottle of Alton’s homebrew.

This beer is a sure-fire easy-drinking beer that could be enjoyed by beer drinkers of all types. This beer is golden in color, light, and has citrus notes that would make it refreshing on a hot day. And, the carbonation seems to be just about right. Overall, I am pretty pleased with this homebrew, and I would recommend Alton’s method for anyone looking to try homebrewing for the first time.

The 73rd episode of Good Eats is all about tomatoes and different uses for them. Seeing that Ted is not a huge tomato fan, I was not sure what he would think of some of these applications, but worst case scenario would see me stocking up heavily on lycopene. Alton went over some tomato facts in the episode, stating that there are six types of tomatoes we can get commercially – globe, plum, cherry, pear, grape, and currant (in order of size from largest to smallest). A beefsteak tomato is a red globe tomato that is extra large in size. Oh, and never store tomatoes in the refrigerator, as temperatures colder than 50 degrees permanently stop a component of tomatoes that gives them flavor.

Stuffed Tomatoes

For six servings of Alton’s stuffed tomatoes, cut the tops off of six large globe tomatoes, using a serrated knife. Scrape the seeds and pulp out of the tomato, using your fingers or a grapefruit spoon.

Sprinkle the tomatoes liberally with Kosher salt and invert them on a rack for 15 minutes; this will remove excess moisture from the tomato shells.

While the tomatoes drain, combine 2 C sauvignon blanc and 1 C hot water; add 3 C dried mushrooms to the liquid mixture to rehydrate.

While Alton used a blend of chanterelles, morels, and shiitakes, I only used shiitakes. Next, heat a large skillet, adding 2 T olive oil, 1 T minced garlic, 2 T minced shallots, and 1 C finely diced onion. Cook the onion until translucent.

img_5763

Garlic, shallots, and onion, cooking in olive oil.

Using your hands, squeeze excess moisture from the hydrated mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan, cooking for five minutes over medium heat.

Add a cup of your reserved mushroom liquid to the pan and bring it to a simmer for five minutes. Follow this up with 1/4 t pepper and 1 chopped tomato. Finally, add 1 1/4 C panko breadcrumbs.

By this time, your tomato shells should have shed any excess moisture and you can use a measuring cup to fill the shells with the mushroom mixture.

For a final topping, combine 3 1/2 ounces of goat cheese with 1 T parsley, dividing this mixture evenly among the tomatoes. Place the stuffed tomatoes under a preheated broiler for 5-7 minutes, and enjoy!

We ate Alton’s stuffed tomatoes as a side dish to my mom’s hearty minestrone soup.

img_5783

Stuffed tomatoes alongside hearty minestrone soup.

Ted thought this recipe was just OK, as he didn’t care for the tomato shells. As a tomato fan, however, I thought Alton’s stuffed tomatoes were delicious. The tomato shells maintained their texture and were far from soggy, contributing a bright tomato flavor. The mushroom filling had a fantastic umami flavor and slightly crunchy texture, and, well, who doesn’t like goat cheese? This recipe is a great blend of textures and flavors, and could be served as a vegetable side dish or as a vegetarian entree.

Tomato Sauce

I was curious to see how this episode’s tomato sauce would compare to Alton’s canned tomato sauce that I made over two years ago when I was writing up the second season of Good Eats. This episode is all about using fresh tomatoes, and this recipe calls for 20 fresh Roma tomatoes. In addition, you’ll need olive oil, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, Kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and onion.

img_5708

Garlic, onion, oregano, and thyme.

Begin by halving/seeding the Roma tomatoes, placing them cut side up in two 13×9-inch glass baking dishes.

Spritz (or, in my case, drizzle) the tomatoes with olive oil, and sprinkle them evenly with 1 T each of chopped fresh thyme and oregano. Alternatively, you can use 2 t of each herb, dried.

img_5710

Tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano and thyme.

Sprinkle Kosher salt and 1/2 t black pepper over the tomatoes, along with 2 t minced garlic and 1 C finely diced onion (any type will work).

img_5711

Kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and onion added to tomatoes.

Stick the tomatoes into a 325-degree oven for two hours.

img_5714

Tomatoes after roasting for two hours.

After two hours, increase the oven’s temperature to 400 degrees for an additional half hour.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and run them through a food mill (I have my mom’s ancient one that she used to use for applesauce) to get rid of their skins/seeds; you can do this directly over a medium saucepan. It will take a while to push them all through the food mill and you will get very little yield.

Add a cup of white wine (Alton used “cheap Chardonnay”) and bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, decrease the heat and simmer the sauce for five minutes.

I served this tomato sauce over pasta, along with homemade lamb/beef meatballs (made by Ted) and Parmesan.

img_5732

Alton’s completed tomato sauce. with pasta and meatballs.

Honestly, I was disappointed in this sauce. This recipe made just enough sauce for a pound of pasta, and it was nothing special. The wine flavor seemed too prominent for my taste, so I would simmer it longer, if I were to make this again… which I probably will not do. I expected to prefer this sauce over the one from season two, especially since this one uses fresh tomatoes, but I would choose Alton’s canned sauce any day.

TBL Panzanella

The final recipe from this episode is for a TBL (tomato/bacon/lettuce) panzanella salad. In the episode, Alton demonstrates that this panzanella is a great alternative to a BLT sandwich, and that it showcases tomatoes very well. I love a good panzanella, or a good BLT for that matter, so I was enthusiastic about this recipe. Beginning the night before you want to eat this panzanella, cut a quart of 1-inch high-quality bread cubes, placing them on a pan to dry overnight.

The following day, cook six slices of bacon, saving the drippings. I used my bacon that I made from episode 59.

Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and place them into a large bowl.

img_5742

Chopped bacon.

In a separate bowl, toss the dried bread cubes with the warm bacon drippings.

img_5748

Dried bread cubes tossed with bacon drippings.

Next, sear 2 C of halved grape tomatoes in a hot pan, face down, for about five minutes. Add the seared tomatoes to the bacon bowl.

Halve 2 C of raw yellow pear tomatoes (I had to use yellow grape tomatoes), adding them to the bacon/tomato bowl. Next, add 2 C of chopped Romaine lettuce.

In a small lidded container, shake together 3 T olive oil, 1/4 C red wine vinegar, 1/4 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper.

img_5736

Olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper for the dressing.

Combine the bread cubes with the rest of the salad and drizzle on the dressing. Finish the salad off by adding a chiffonade of fresh basil and mint.

I thought this was a really good panzanella salad. The bread cubes stayed crunchy, the bacon added meatiness, and the tomatoes gave a super fresh flavor. I thought the vinegar-based dressing paired well also.This is also a very colorful, pretty salad. To me, this is more of a warm weather meal, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. I think this still had a few too many tomatoes for Ted’s taste, but I may make this again for myself and enjoy it on a sunny day on the deck.

Do you ever have memories from childhood that seem incredibly prominent, such that you feel like they occurred with regular frequency? For some reason, I have a very strong memory of my mom making cheese souffle when I was little; the odd thing is that my memory makes me feel that this happened regularly, when, in fact, it may have only happened once or twice. I think I will have to call my mom later and have her set the record straight about her cheese souffle routine. Whether it happened once or many times, I remember sitting at the dining room table with my dad and brother, eagerly anticipating my mom’s arrival from the kitchen with her hot souffle dish. Would her souffle successfully rise and puff above the top of the dish? I recall a beautiful orange souffle, golden on top, with a perfect puffy “top hat.”

Cheese Souffle

Though I had consumed cheese souffle when I was young, I had never made one before I set out to prepare Alton’s souffle for our Saturday breakfast. Per Alton’s instructions, I preheated my oven to 375, which is his temperature rule for any souffle. For a souffle vessel, he recommends a 1.5-quart round souffle dish, preferably with an unglazed bottom (for heat penetration) and fluted sides to increase surface area; it just so happens that we have a dish just like this. First, I greased my souffle dish with cold butter.

img_5663

Souffle dish, greased with cold butter.

Next, I added 1 T of grated Parmesan to the dish, covering it with plastic wrap and shaking to coat the inside of the dish. I found that I actually needed a little more Parmesan to coat my dish, so I added some extra and shook again. Lining the dish with Parmesan gives the souffle something to “hold onto” as it climbs the walls. The souffle dish goes into the freezer while you prep everything else.

Alton’s recipe then calls for making a roux by melting 1 1/2 ounces of butter over medium heat, allowing the butter to cook until it stops bubbling, which means most of the water has been cooked out.

img_5680

Butter, cooking until it stops bubbling.

While the butter cooks, in a lidded container combine 3/4 ounce flour, 1 t dry mustard, 1/2 t garlic powder, and a heavy pinch of Kosher salt, shaking to combine.

You will also want to separate 4 egg yolks (you will need 5 egg whites later, so save the whites here), grate 6 ounces of sharp Cheddar cheese, and heat 1 1/3 C milk in the microwave.

When the butter has ceased bubbling, add the dry ingredients to the pan, whisking over low heat until you have a nutty aroma. To the roux, add the hot milk, whisking and increasing the heat.

Beat your egg yolks until light in color and turn the heat off under the roux. Temper the egg yolks by gradually adding small amounts of the hot roux, whisking. Once you have added about half of your roux, you can whisk the egg yolks into the roux pan.

Keeping the pan off of the heat, whisk in the grated Cheddar until you have a smooth mixture, which will take a few minutes. Set the base aside to cool.

Note:  To cut down on preparation time the day you are making your souffle, you can make the souffle base to this point and refrigerate it for up to a week; just be sure to press a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface to avoid having a “skin” form. If you do this, you will need to bring the base to room temperature before using. While your base cools to room temperature (or warms to room temperature if you prepared it in advance), beat 5 egg whites in a metal bowl, along with 1 T water and 1/8 t cream of tartar until you have stiff peaks.

Stir 1/4 of your egg whites into your room temperature base, as this will lighten the base.

img_5691

Stirring 1/4 of the egg whites into the souffle base.

Gently fold the remaining whites into the base in three installments, avoiding deflating the foam by over-mixing.

Pour the souffle into the prepared dish and use your thumb to make an indentation all around the edge of the souffle, as this will help to form a nice “top hat.” Place your souffle dish in a pie pan (for ease of removal from the oven), and bake it for 35 minutes.

img_5697

Souffle in prepared dish.

After 35 minutes, use a sharp paring knife to peek into the middle of the souffle – if there is a lot of liquid, place it back in the oven for 5 more minutes. My souffle seemed to be done after 35 minutes.

img_5698

Souffle after baking for 35 minutes.

Serve your souffle promptly. The nice thing about a cheese souffle is that you could eat it for any meal, but we had ours for breakfast before an 11-mile run.

Honestly, I was worried that my souffle was going to flop, as I felt that I had over-beaten my egg whites, but it actually turned out quite nicely. I do wish my souffle would have had a better rise above the top of the dish, but it still was nice and airy, and had a light crust on the outside. The cheese flavor was really prominent in this souffle and it had the texture of super light scrambled eggs. Souffles can be intimidating, but they are really not difficult, and Alton’s recipe seems to be one that works.

Fresh Yogurt

Yogurt is one of those things that I always feel I should eat more of than I do. I tend to go in spurts with yogurt, eating it frequently for a while, and then not at all. Alton’s yogurt episode began with homemade yogurt. I made homemade yogurt once years ago when I was in grad school, as part of my food microbiology lab course. All I really remember from that experience was that I had a lab partner from Mongolia who called himself “Woody,” I could barely understand a word he said, and our yogurt was very pink. Needless to say, I was hopeful that my Woody-less yogurt would be more successful. When making Alton’s yogurt, you can use any type of milk that you choose, but Alton opted for organic 2% milk in the episode of Good Eats. Alton did say that whole milk will result in looser yogurt, while skim milk will yield yogurt with a grainy texture. In addition to a quart of milk, you will need 1/2 C of powdered milk, 2 T honey, and 1/2 C of plain yogurt, containing live cultures.

img_5475

Ingredients for homemade yogurt: plain yogurt with live cultures, dry milk, honey, and milk.

Begin by pouring your milk into a saucepan, adding the powdered milk and honey.

Meanwhile, allow your yogurt to come to room temperature.

img_5482

Plain yogurt, being brought to room temperature.

Using a probe thermometer, heat the milk mixture to 120 degrees over medium heat. Remove the milk from the heat, and pour it into a clean cylindrical container, allowing it to cool to 115 degrees.

Once the milk has cooled, whisk about a cup of the warm milk into the yogurt.

img_5488

About 1 C of warm milk whisked into yogurt.

Then, whisk the yogurt/milk mixture back into the cylinder of milk. Wrap the cylinder in a heating pad that will maintain the yogurt’s temperature between 100 and 120 degrees; you can test your heating pad first by filling your cylinder with water.

img_5489

Yogurt added to milk and wrapped with heating pad to ferment for 6 hours.

Allow your yogurt to ferment for three to 12 hours, depending on how you like the texture of your yogurt; a shorter fermentation will yield looser yogurt, while a longer fermentation will give thicker yogurt. Alton did an even six hours in the episode.

img_5491

Yogurt, after fermenting for 6 hours.

Refrigerate your yogurt overnight before using.

img_5493

Alton’s homemade yogurt.

I thought this yogurt was fine, but really nothing special. If anything, I would have liked this yogurt to have had a thicker texture, so I would possibly ferment it a little longer if I were to make it again. Honestly, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of making this again when I can easily buy yogurt that I like just as much.

Thousand Island Dressing

So, really, Alton calls this dressing “Million Island Dressing” in the episode, and it is a good use for some of his homemade yogurt. To make his dressing, whisk together 1 C plain yogurt, 2 T vegetable oil, and 2 T tomato sauce.

img_5523

Yogurt, tomato sauce, and vegetable oil.

Once combined, add 2 t lemon juice, 2 t dry mustard, and 2 t sugar.

img_5525

Lemon juice, dry mustard, and sugar added to dressing.

Next, whisk in 1 t Kosher salt and 1/2 t pepper.

img_5526

Kosher salt and pepper added to dressing.

Finally, fold in 1/2 C diced onion, 1 T relish, 1 T chopped green olives, and 1 minced jalapeno.

I enjoyed this dressing more than I thought I would. It has a really good kick from the jalapeno, tang from the yogurt and lemon, and bite from the onion. It also adds a lot of texture to a salad. We actually liked this enough that I made it a couple times in one week for us to eat on our lunch salads. This is a really good salad dressing.

Tarragon Yogurt Sauce

If you are looking for another savory application for plain yogurt, this tarragon sauce is one to try. This sauce is very versatile and could be served over many things, including fish, eggs, and vegetables; in the episode, Alton says that his favorite use of this sauce is over braised carrots, so that is how I opted to use mine. For this sauce, begin by heating a saucier over medium heat, adding 2 T olive oil, 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1/2 C finely chopped onion, and 1 1/2 t minced garlic.

img_5530

Olive oil, Kosher salt, onion, and garlic in saucier.

I did not have a saucier until recently, but I inherited my parents’ copper-bottomed Calphalon saucier when my brother and I finished sorting through our parents’ belongings; thankfully, my parents are still living, but they really do not cook anymore. Yes, I have learned that a saucier is a very nice tool to have for a job such as this tarragon sauce. While your onion and garlic saute, combine 2 T cornstarch and 1 C chicken stock in a lidded container, and shake to combine. This slurry will help to thicken the sauce, and will also prevent over-coagulation of proteins, AKA curdling. Cream-based sauces have enough fat to prevent curdling, but yogurt-based sauces do not. Anyway, add the slurry to the pan, increase the heat, and add 1 1/2 T dried tarragon, whisking.

Remove the pan from the heat and temper 1 C of plain yogurt by gradually whisking in some of the sauce mixture. Finally, add the tempered yogurt to the pan, whisking.

Heat the sauce over low heat, just until warmed through. As I said before, we ate this sauce over carrots as a side dish.

The tarragon flavor in this sauce is quite strong, giving a real anise-like flavor, and you also really taste the yogurt. This is a sauce you could make with other herbs too; I think a dill version would pair terrifically with salmon. Either way, this is an easy sauce to dress up veggies or protein.

Yogurt Cheese

What is yogurt cheese? Yogurt cheese is yogurt that has been allowed to drain, removing whey. While cheese has had its whey removed, regular yogurt has not. Allowing yogurt to drain results in a thick yogurt that has a consistency similar to cream cheese. To make yogurt cheese, line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, setting the strainer over a bowl. Add a quart of plain yogurt to the strainer, folding the cheesecloth over the top.

img_5593

A quart of plain yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer.

Weigh the yogurt down with the lid of a pot and a can, refrigerating it for four hours.

Yogurt cheese can be used plain as a spread, or in Alton’s recipe for frozen yogurt, which I will write about below. I tasted the plain yogurt cheese, but opted to use it for Alton’s other recipe; it tasted like plain yogurt… just much, much thicker.

Herb Spread

This herb spread is basically the same recipe as the one for yogurt cheese above, but with added seasonings. To a quart of plain yogurt (I used homemade) add 1 1/2 t cumin, 2 T chopped parsley, 1 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

img_5497

Cumin, parsley, Kosher salt, and pepper added to a quart of plain yogurt.

As with the yogurt cheese above, place a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl and add the yogurt mixture.

img_5499

Seasoned yogurt poured in cheesecloth-lined strainer to drain.

Weigh the yogurt down with a pan lid and can, allowing it to drain for four hours in the refrigerator.

The resulting spread is tangy and has a punch of cumin, and it is great with crackers or on sandwiches.

img_5504

Herb spread with crackers.

Talk about an easy hors d’oeuvre, and it is even easier if you use store-purchased yogurt!

Lemon-Ginger Frozen Yogurt

This recipe is the perfect use for Alton’s yogurt cheese. Combine in a bowl 4 C plain yogurt cheese, 3/4 C sugar, 1/2 C light corn syrup, 2 t lemon zest, 1 T minced fresh ginger, and 3 T lemon juice.

Whisk the yogurt mixture until smooth and freeze in an ice cream mixture per the manufacturer’s instructions.

In the last few minutes of churning, add 1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger.

Freeze the frozen yogurt in the freezer until firm.

img_5606

Alton’s lemon-ginger frozen yogurt.

This frozen yogurt is super refreshing and reminds me of warmer weather (as I type this, it is snowy outside and the Christmas tree is illuminated). The first time we ate this frozen yogurt, the crystallized ginger seemed too chewy, but after freezing the yogurt for a longer period, the chewiness went away. I definitely foresee making this again, as it is packed with ginger and lemon flavor, and is a relatively healthy treat. This is worth making.

 

Artichokes were the star of the 70th episode of Good Eats. Alton first prepped artichokes in a traditional way, serving them cooked whole. There is no online link to this particular recipe, but I will spell it out as well as I can. This was my first time eating a whole artichoke in quite a long time, as my parents went through quite a phase with artichokes when I was a teenager. Seriously, we ate steamed artichokes a couple times a week for quite a while, and my brother and I were eventually completely burnt out. Having Alton’s version of the whole artichoke has rekindled my adoration for the thistle (FYI artichokes are thistles), and I will be serving them periodically as a side dish.

When selecting artichokes to eat whole, pick ones that are about the size of a large orange, are heavy for their size, and that have tight, crisp leaves.

img_5431

Whole artichokes.

Alton recommends storing them in the refrigerator in a 2-liter soda bottle that has been cut in half and placed back together to form a capsule. Prior to cooking your artichokes, dip them upside down in cold water, swirling them to release any debris in their leaves. Using an electric knife, cut off the tops and bottoms of the artichokes, saving the stems. Peel the stems prior to cooking and cook them with the artichokes; cooking the stems was new to me, but definitely worth it.

img_5432

Artichokes, tops and bottoms cut off, and stems peeled.

To cook the chokes, put 2 t Kosher salt in a wide stainless steel of anodized aluminum pot (artichokes can react with other metals, producing off-flavors and colors). Add the artichokes, stem side up and cover them with cold water by at least an inch.

The artichokes will float, but you can weigh them down with a steamer basket insert and a weight.

img_5436

Artichokes, weighed down with a steamer basket insert and weight.

Bring the water, uncovered, to a boil over high heat. Don’t forget to throw in the stems! Artichokes contain both chlorophyll and acids, which are normally separate. However, when you cook an artichoke, the acids and chlorophyll combine, producing compounds that will turn artichokes brown; these compounds are volatile, so you can let them evaporate by keeping your pot uncovered. If you do not want to watch the pot, you can insert your probe thermometer, setting the alarm for 210 degrees. Once your water is boiling, decrease the heat and let the artichokes simmer for 10 minutes. Test the artichokes by inserting a sharp paring knife into the stem end – if the knife goes in with little resistance and comes out clean, the artichokes are done.

img_5437

Artichokes, after being brought to a boil and simmering for 10 minutes.

Drain your cooked artichokes in a foil-covered colander for at least five minutes before serving. To eat the artichokes, serve them next to lemon butter, dipping each leaf and scraping the “meat” with your teeth.

img_5441

Cooked artichokes, served with lemon butter.

Once you only have tiny leaves remaining, pull the leaves apart, exposing the hairy choke inside.

Pressing down on the choke with one hand, use a sharp paring knife to cut around the base, just under the dark green line.

img_5447

Using a sharp knife to cut around beneath dark green line.

Pull the top off and discard, and remove any remaining hairy tufts. Eat the remaining base of the artichoke, dipping it in lemon butter.

We really enjoyed Alton’s preparation of whole artichokes, especially since neither of us had eaten on in years. In fact, we liked them so much that we cooked them a second time last week. And, the bases and stems are totally worth eating – good eats for sure!

Broiled Chokes

Alton’s second artichoke preparation is for broiled chokes. For this recipe you will need a grapefruit spoon, a serrated knife (preferably electric), a vegetable peeler, two containers of acidulated water (water with lemon juice added), and a cutting board. Holding a whole artichoke, first pull off and discard all of its leaves until you have just a purple interior remaining.

Run a vegetable peeler down the sides of the choke and the stem. Also run the peeler around the outside until you have a smooth surface. To help prevent browning, dip your utensils in one container of acidulated water between uses.

img_5453

Artichoke, after being cleaned up with a vegetable peeler.

Once your choke is clean, use an electric knife to cut it in half. Use a grapefruit spoon to pry out the hairy choke, which will probably take a few tries. Place the cleaned choke in the second container of lemon water while you clean the others.

When ready to use, drain the chokes and wrap them tightly in paper towels. Toss them with olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper, and broil them, face-up, on a rack 5-6 inches below the heat for five minutes. Flip the chokes and broil for three minutes on the second side.

Eat the chokes as they are, or do as Alton did in the episode and marinate them in his herb oil, which I will write up below.

Herb Oil

According to what he says in this episode, Alton prefers to marinate his broiled chokes (above) in herb oil. His oil can be made by heating to 200 degrees a pint of canola oil with a cup of olive oil in a saucepan. While the oil heats, add to a mason jar:  the zest from half an orange, 1/2 C fresh parsley, 1/2 C fresh thyme, 1/2 C fresh basil, 1/2 C fresh oregano, 1 dried arbol chile, and 1 t black peppercorns.

img_5424

Ingredients for Alton’s herb oil: fresh thyme, black peppercorns, fresh oregano, fresh parsley, orange zest, fresh basil, and a dried arbol chile.

Pour the warm oil over the herbs, letting the oil sit overnight; my oil got a little cloudy overnight, but later cleared again.

The following day, strain the herb oil by pouring it through cheesecloth into a jar containing your broiled chokes. Let the chokes marinate for a couple days before using.

And, what is Alton’s preferred use for his marinated chokes?

img_5472

Broiled chokes, after marinating for a couple days.

He prefers to make a pasta salad with bowtie pasta, the marinated chokes, some of the herb oil, red wine vinegar, small tomatoes, herbs, Parmesan, and pepper (he did not actually prep a pasta salad in the episode). I took his advice and tried his marinated, broiled chokes in such a pasta salad.

img_5473

A pasta salad made with Alton’s marinated chokes.

While the chokes were good, I cannot say that they were honestly worth all the effort. Honestly, I think the bottled, marinated artichokes from Costco are just as good as Alton’s, and for zero effort. While I am glad I now know how to prep an artichoke, I won’t be making these again.

Clotted Cream

Though I heard of clotted cream, I had never had it before I made it for this episode of Good Eats. And, as recipes go, it does not get easier than this one. Place a paper coffee filter in a coffee filter basket, setting it over a bowl or measuring cup. Or, you can do as I did and use a Chemex coffee maker. Pour cream into the filter, filling it almost to the top.

img_5327

Cream poured into paper coffee filter, allowing whey to drain into container below.

The key here is to use cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. I actually used raw cream.

img_5325

Raw cream.

Refrigerate the cream for 6-8 hours, allowing the whey to drain into the bowl, while leaving the thickened cream in the filter. Scrape the sides of the filter every two hours with a spatula until you have cream that is the consistency of softened cream cheese.

img_5341

Cream after being refrigerated for several hours.

Serve the clotted cream with fresh strawberries.

img_5358

Clotted cream with fresh strawberries.

I thought this was fun and easy to make, and the unsweetened cream paired well with sweet berries. I think I will make this again when the weather gets warm. Next time, I will probably opt for pasteurized cream, rather than raw, because the raw cream had a bit of an animal-like flavor. I served Alton’s clotted cream with the following recipe for macerated berries.

Macerated Strawberries

My mom used to make macerated berries quite often, but her version was quite different from Alton’s. While Alton’s version is wine-based, Mom’s version simply used balsamic vinegar and a little bit of sugar and black pepper. Mom usually made these in warmer months, serving them as a light dessert after dinner. Trust me… balsamic vinegar pairs wonderfully with strawberries. For Alton’s macerated stawberries, pour a bottle of red wine into a large bowl, adding two pints of hulled/sliced strawberries.

Note:  Alton has an excellent trick for hulling strawberries – simply use the star tip for a decorating bag, twisting it into the top of the berry and pulling the hull out. Works great!

To the berries, add 1/4 C orange blossom honey, 1 t lemon zest, and 1 t black pepper. If you want softer berries, also add 1 1/2 C sugar (I added the extra sugar, as Alton indicated that you want softer berries for the next recipe).

Marinate the berries for two hours before serving.

img_5342

Berries after marinating for 2 hours.

I reserved half of these berries for the next recipe, while we ate the rest of these with Alton’s clotted cream. These berries were quite tasty, though I will say the dominant flavor was that of the wine. I have to admit that I would choose Mom’s macerated berries any day over Alton’s. So, if you want good macerated berries, try Alton’s. If you want great macerated berries, try Mom’s.

Strawberry Pudding

Of the recipes in this episode, this is the one I most excited to make. It just looked like it would be fun. For this one you’ll need 1/2 a recipe of Alton’s macerated strawberries and 16 slices of potato bread, with four of the slices buttered on one side (I halved this recipe since I only needed two servings).

You will also need four 13.5-ounce cans with both ends removed, along with four of their lids. Finally, you need four full soda cans and a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. To begin, use the empty cans to cut a round out of each slice of bread. Cut the buttered slices last, leaving the rounds in the bottom of the cans, butter side up.

Top each buttered round with ~2 T of macerated strawberries, topping with another layer of bread. Alternate the berry and bread layers, finishing with bread.

Place the can lids on top of the last bread layer and weigh the lids down with the full soda cans. Refrigerate the cans for eight hours.

Transfer each can to a plate, using a spatula. Carefully slide each can off, and remove the can lid. Pipe whipped cream or serve clotted cream on top of the puddings.

img_5383

Strawberry pudding after removing can/lid. Topped with clotted cream.

These were fun to make, super easy, and pretty. And, honestly, you could make this with any fruit. I am not quite sure why this dessert is called a “pudding,” but we really enjoyed it. This is one I will be making again for sure. We don’t have kids, but I would imagine kids would really have fun with helping to make this too.

Glazed Strawberries

This recipe is not posted online, but Alton prepped these berries in the episode. Using an unfolded paperclip, pierce the big end of a strawberry.

img_5411

Unfolded paperclip in a strawberry for dipping.

Dip each berry in 1 C of apricot preserves melted with 1 T orange liqueur.

Let the berries cool slightly. Devour.

img_5415

Glazed strawberries.

These were easy and really delicious. They are sweet and slightly tart, with just a hint of orange. They also look super pretty, as the glaze gives the berries a very nice sheen, enhancing their red color. These would be super pretty on a plate at a party. I highly recommend these.

Chimney Tuna Loin

After I watched episode 68, I realized I was going to have to do some serious hunting to find high-quality tuna loin to sear. We live inland, so it can be challenging (and sometimes expensive) to find certain ingredients. I decided to ask the resident ceviche expert of my town where I could purchase sushi grade tuna; his expression told me all I needed to know, and I realized I would have to give in and order some fish online. A few days later, a cooler arrived at my door with a pound of fresh tuna from California.

I was struck by one thing when I first looked at this recipe online – this recipe gets great reviews. Ideally, when preparing tuna, you want to eat it the day it is purchased, but you can store it for a day or so by wrapping it in plastic and placing it on crushed ice in a perforated tub; place the perforated tub inside a second tub to catch any draining liquid, and change the ice 1-2x per day.

To sear your tuna, you will need natural chunk hardwood charcoal and a chimney starter. Fill your chimney starter to the brim with charcoal and spritz some newspaper with canola oil, placing the newspaper under the chimney starter; the oil will slow the burning of the paper. Light the newspaper with a lighter and let the fire build until it is very hot and the coals have gone down about 50%.

While your fire is heating up, trim your tuna into blocks that are about 4x4x2 inches, removing any bloodline.

img_5386

My tuna, cut into two blocks for searing.

For a marinade, combine 1/2 C soy sauce, 1/2 C honey, and 1/4 C wasabi powder, reserving 4 ounces of the marinade for a dipping sauce later.

Place the fish into the marinade for 1-4 hours. Alton marinated his fish for an hour in the show, so that is what I did. When ready to cook, drain the marinade from the fish and roll the fish in sesame seeds, coating four sides.

Place an oiled grill grate over the top of your chimney starter and add your fish. You will want to sear your fish for approximately 30 seconds per side, scraping any burnt sesame seeds off the grate each time you turn the fish.

Place the fish on a clean plate and tightly cover it with plastic wrap for 3 minutes. You can serve the fish immediately, or you can wrap it in fresh plastic and refrigerate for up to three days.

img_5398

Seared tuna, covered in plastic for 3 minutes.

Slice the fish thinly just prior to serving, and eat with the reserved marinade as a dipping sauce.

img_5399

Seared tuna, thinly sliced.

This was kind of a special dinner for us since we paid more than we normally would for fish. My fish appeared to be cut as more of a steak, rather than as a center cut of loin, so it was tricky to cut the fish into a uniform block for even cooking. If anything, my fire was possibly a little too hot, as my sesame seeds were really burning, so I would maybe let my fire go a little longer next time before commencing cooking. The marinade/dipping sauce was really zippy, packing quite a punch of heat from the wasabi.

I was happy with the quality of the fish I purchased, as it had zero fishy flavor and a nice red interior. This is one I would really like to try again, but it would probably be reserved for special occasions since the main ingredient is expensive and difficult to find where I live. However, if you happen to live where you can easily find fresh tuna, I would definitely suggest trying Alton’s seared tuna. No matter what, it was fun to try!