pinche langosta

His name is Pinche. Pronounced "pinchey". Nevermind that "pinche langosta" in spanish pretty much means...well... it's not very nice. Or PC. But it's not at all an uncommon kitchen phrase.

We got this crustacean at QFC where they were having a sale. He's from Maine, and considering that a bunch of the seafood there comes from the Dominican Republic or Vietnam or Taiwan (gotta love the new origin labeling laws) this lobster is practically local!

He's also alive. I tried to get the cat to play with him but the cat was having none of it. Weird cat.

To dismember a lobster, you stab it in the back at the first tail joint and then pull the tail off. Supposedly the bits that emerge are tasty, but also potentially toxic. I didn't eat them.

When you flay the upper portion open, it looks like a dissection or a dinner place. Technically, it's both. The creepy part? The heart KEEPS BEATING.

My favorite sous-chef friend broiled half the tail, and we ate that on its own, and then he made some stock. Sautee shells in olive oil until bright red, deglaze with brandy. Add enough water to cover, add a pinch of cayenne and a pinch of saffron. Steam the shells over this stock. Pull a cup and a half of stock out to add to pasta water to flavor the pasta, and then cook the rest of the stock down to form a sauce.

Pasta + lobster meat + sauce + grated ewephoria cheese + bread to soak up the sauciness:


I spent the last two weeks on dough rotation, which was basically viennoiserie-- breakfast pastry. Viennoiserie combines bread and pastry by making sweet yeast doughs. We made danishes, croissants, cinnamon rolls and fritters, using laminated doughs (alternating layers of dough and butter) and sweet dough (for cinnamon rolls). This rotation is tough because laminated doughs are a pain in the ass, and we were always the last ones out of the bakeshop at the end of the day.

This is nothing like baking at home (if you don't own a sheeter--and you don't-- don't bother trying laminated doughs. You will hate your life.)

On the left there is my partner. We work in pairs or in threes on each rotation. It's nice to have company, and she's probably my favorite person. Good to have on the hardest rotation.

This is danish dough rising for pinwheels before it's eggwashed and baked. Look how puffy it gets! That means we didn't fail.

When they're filled (in this case with vanilla pastry cream and orange jam) and baked, they look like this:

This is another shape, but the same idea, filled with lavender pastry cream and orange-lemon marmalade:

This is what I was most terrified of, because all the baking books I have talk about how hard it is: CROISSANTS. It's true that there's a lot to be careful of, and a dough sheeter makes your life better, but overall they weren't that bad. And they turned out lovely. The worst part was obsessive-compulsively watching the convection oven, because that thing sucks and will burn your food just to spite you.

My personal favorite, pain au chocolat:

Bear claws, with a delicious filling of walnut cake blended with hazelnut franigpane and pastry cream:

And the final haul last Friday:

These are a "garbage pastry" in that they use leftover scrap dough (from croissants, danishes, sweet rolls or all three) and just add apples and cinnamon sugar, (and butter. lots of butter.) but I think they might be the tastiest thing we made-- fritters:

cinnamon rolls (these are rather easy and we did them once with vodka apples):


it's motherfucking HOLLANDAISE

I spent much of last summer drinking copiously with new friends, and was therefore in need of late-morning sustenance that was good for head pain and serious hunger and mild stomach unease. I discovered that Hattie's Hat in Ballard makes a great bloody mary, and I also discovered a dish I'd always feared due to my suspicion of egg yolks: eggs benedict.

Here's the thing: I have always hated hardboiled egg yolks. I assumed that this meant that the runny stuff was even worse and I wouldn't go anywhere near it. Poached eggs? Ecgh. Over easy? Yick. Get that goop away from me. Well, this summer, I was happily proved wrong and I spent a lot of time stuffing eggs sunny-side up and eggs benedict into my gaping maw. Eggs benedict is expensive, though, and I couldn't afford to out all the time. Moreover, some places make it from a powder and that's how it tastes-- and I certainly don't want to shell out $10 for a powdered version of my new favorite sauce.

Solution: make it at home! (requires one sous-chef who actually knows what the hell he's doing. then experiment at will.)

For a large batch (because you know you're inviting all your friends over for this) you will need:

3oz white wine
1 oz minced shallot
6 egg yolks
juice of one lemon
10 oz butter
cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste.

for the rest of the benedict, you know the drill: english muffin, some form of protein, poached egg.

We did ours with ahi:

Process explanation to follow, including some tips on poaching eggs, which is a bigger pain in the ass than actually making the sauce.



I'm terrified of shellfish. Not the consumption part- I adore clams and mussels and especially oysters, but buying shellfish strikes fear into my heart. I'm never sure how to choose them and I've got it in my head that one wrong move would mean gastronomical doom.

So, my friend scott bought them. I figure a sous chef should know how to choose shellfish.

Silly me, I thought I'd averted disaster. But no. Scott decided I should learn to shuck the little bastards, and handed me an implement that looked as though it would be used for prison escapes. Oh, and a towel. To protect my hand. As though a bar towel would prevent me from burying the short, brutish blade into my palm. It was a cute gesture.

Somehow I managed to get a couple of oysters open without too much damage to shell, meat, or my hand, and we had a place to put Scott's tangelo and shallot mignonette.

If you feel like tempting fate with an oyster knife, here's the mignonette:

juice of one tangelo
super fine diced 1/2 TB shallot
lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil

(Note: Scott says, "it's not a true mignonette because it doesn't have vinegar, but..." yeah. I don't care either.)



I had a friend who made this bread all the time, and I finally convinced her to translate it from the hebrew for me. So I can promise that it's authentic. And tasty. When it goes stale, it makes the best french toast ever.

Unfortunately, I lost the recipe. Seriously.

So all I can offer you are these drool-inducing photos, and perhaps someday, I'll get that recipe back. Don't worry, I mourn its loss more than you do.