Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fabrication des Fromages de Chevre


Begins with a beautiful drive over two mountains in the dark. Each day the sun rose just as I was entering Lairiere. The farm was just on the other side of the village.

As I arrived Wilko and Clamont would be milking the goats. The milk is then transferred directly to a big vat on the other side of the wall in the fromagerie for heating.

Once the milk has hit the proper temperature, its time to test the PH level. This will determine the amount of renet necessary. Renet is then added to each of four large plastic tubs and the milk is poured in. These tubs remain exactly like this with as little movement as possible over night.

While we fill the tubs for tomorrow's cheese Clamont takes the goats out for the day. They get dropped off at a different location each morning and are left free to roam until the evening.

In order to find them again, because they journey far and wide, little gps trackers have been placed on their collars.

While the goats are being placed to roam, its time for me to mold the chevre from yesterday's vats. Scooping the curd into little plastic molds to dry overnight.

Each day one or two of the plastic vats are reserved and placed in cheese cloth to dry for a few hours to make either a ricotta style cheese, a Buche (the rolled logs) or Pave (a triangle shaped molded cheese)

Of course, before today's cheeses can be molded, yesterdays must be removed from the molds and salted.

...And the cheese from the day before that needs to be turned and placed in a cooler with humidity and temperature control.

And on one special day we decided to try and make Mozzarella de Chevre. The flavor was spot on but keeping the temperature constant for stretching proved difficult without the proper equipment so the consistency was off.

Perfecting the Mozzarella is going to be my special project back in SF, more on that to come...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Arriver Paris

Ahhh, Paris...

Here I sit in my beautiful parisian apartment with rain hitting the skylight. Sipping a nice white wine and listening to TSF Jazz.

Life is good.

After a day of getting acquainted with my neighborhood, I can say I think I chose well.

Great little shops, brasseries and cafes abound. Interspersed by an array of very Missionesque hipsters. Or "bobo's" as I have learned they are called here. A very apt name that will be brought back to SF with me...

The route (NYC, Iceland) I took to get here was excellent. the Blue Lagoon is definitely a worthy destination for any lover of hot baths. Although I must say I was less enraptured by the idea of rubbing the clay on my face than my fellow patrons. Especially after picking up numerous clumps only to find a disturbing amount of other peoples hair trapped within. Definitely glad I sprang for the exclusive lounge and would highly recommended it to any visitor, the private changing room and shower alone were worth the admission price.

I post the above picture because I know Mike is a big fan of the "troll under the bridge" that I randomly captured, this ones for you dear.

Although I was told that the food in Iceland was horrible I did manage to find a little restaurant called Fiskfelagid (or The Fish Company in English) Apparently its about a year old and the chef has already won the prestigious best chef in Iceland award.

I thought the food was quite tasty although for the molecular gastronomy thing they are doing the portion sizes were HUGE.

This one here is the beer crusted Artic Char and dry crusted Salmon, with walnut powder, Salmon Roe, real mustard sauce and malt ice cream.

Its a starter, you should've seen the size of the main course! Then again I suppose Iceland was populated by Vikings, they are probably not used to normal fine dining portion sizes.

I mean just look at the difference in size when compared to this starter of Caviar Over a Crisp Poached Egg, Smoked Salmon from L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon in NYC.

Which I believe it goes without saying was absolutely fabulous!

The whole meal both food and company (being joined as I was by my BFF Katie) were awesome.

I mean really just spectacular....

Ok I suppose thats all for now -- I am planning to hit up this little taco stand (yes you read that right) around the corner from my apartment, if this rain ever lets up...

According to some Ex-Pat Missionite San Franciscan's it's like a taste of home and worth trying, I'll be the judge of that...

More pics and tales will follow, until then I bid you all a fond adieu.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

(Adapted from Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe)


1 (14 to 16 pound) Free-Range Organic Young Turkey (reserve giblets for gravy)

1 (5 Gallon) Brining Bag

The Brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon chopped candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

The Aromatics:
2 Clementines (you may substitute Tangerines), 1 Quartered; 1 Sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
2 T Butter – softened and combined with a ½ t. each, finely chopped, lemon-thyme, sage and rosemary

The Glaze:
½ Cup freshly squeezed Clementine juice (approx. 4 clementines)
1 small cinnamon stick
1 T sugar
1 t corn starch
½ t salt
½ t white pepper

The Brine:
Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Approx. 27-hours* prior to cooking time place thawed turkey breast side down into a large brining bag. Combine the brine with the ice water and pour over the turkey.

Tip: For a 6pm Thanksgiving dinner, 3pm Wednesday is perfect.

Close up the bag and store in a cool place such as your refrigerator or a large cooler*.

Tip: I generally store the turkey in a large cooler on my back porch w/ a couple ice packs.
However if there is room in your fridge that is ideal.

You will want to flip the turkey in the brine once, I usually do this first thing upon rising Thanksgiving morning, after making the coffee of course.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Combine the quartered clementine, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes (If you do not have a microwave you can you can combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer on med-high for 10 mins, just enough to bring out the flavors).

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.

Seasoning the Bird:
Place bird, breast side up, on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with the 1.5 T of the herbed butter.

Gently loosen the skin around the neck/ breast area to separate it from the meat. Once loosened gently rub remaining herbed butter directly on the meat under the skin, then insert the sliced clementine between the skin and the meat.

Cooking the Bird, step 1:
Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. While the Turkey is roasting prepare the glaze.

The Glaze:
In a small sauce pan combine clementine juice, sugar and cinnamon stick, heat on med-low until it begins to simmer. Whisk in the salt, pepper and corn starch and stir until just thickened, should just barely coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Cooking the Bird, step 2.:
After 30 mins. remove the turkey from oven and baste with the Clementine glaze. Cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.

After 90 mins. open the oven and baste* the bird again with pan drippings and glaze that have collected at the bottom of the roasting pan. And again after another 30 mins.

*I am well aware of how Alton Brown feels about opening the the oven to baste, I still choose to do so...

Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Don't forget to save those pan dripping for your gravy, mmmmm

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Black Quinoa Risotto
Originally uploaded by fromhils

4 C Porcini Stock (may substitute vegetable or chicken) I use Star brand Porcini Bouillon Cubes

1 C Black Quinoa

1 sm Shallot chopped

1 Heirloom Squash (Acorn, Winter, Butternut will also work)

2 T Chopped Toasted Almonds

1 T Chopped Toasted Sage

Salt & White Pepper

¼ t Cayenne

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Step 1:

Peel and cube Squash, cubes should be approx. 1” squares

Step 2 (make stock):

If using the Porcini Bouillon: in medium saucepan bring 4 C water to boil, add 1 porcini bouillon cube and dissolve. Reduce heat to low. If using prepared stock simply bring to a boil then reduce heat to low.

Step 3:

In separate large bottom saucepan with heat on medium-low add oil, shallots and a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally.

When Shallots start to become translucent add cubed squash to pan, add salt, white pepper & cayenne to the squash then stir to coat w/the oil and shallots. Cover and cook for approx. 2 mins.

Using a standard size soup ladle add 1 ladle full of warm stock to squash mixture, stir and cover for another couple minutes.

Step 4:

Add quinoa to pan, stir to integrate with squash mixture, add a ladle full of stock and continue stirring, as liquid is absorbed by the squash and quinoa add more a ladles worth at a time while stirring constantly. After 3 ladle worth of stock have been incorporated, add 2 additional and allow to cook covered until fully incorporated.

Continue adding stock until the quinoa reaches the desired consistency.

Step 5:

While Quinoa is cooking, chop almonds and sage.

To toast almonds: Cook In a dry skillet over high heat stirring constantly, remove to paper towel when browned

To Toast Sage: Add 1 t olive oil to small skillet, heat on high, add sage. Once it begins to brown remove to paper towel.

Plating the dish:

Scoop Quinoa Risotto into bowl, sprinkle the top w/ toasted almonds and crunchy sage.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegan Wild Mushroom Tacos With Almond Cream

INGREDIENTS, makes 4 tacos:

For Tacos:

8oz Mushroom Sampler Package (I used: MYCOPIA® Brand Chef Sampler,

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ t Cayenne

¼ t Cumin

1 T Ground Chipotle

1 T “Carne Asada” Seasoning (I use El Mexicano brand:

1 C Water


4 Organic Sprouted Whole Kernel Flourless Corn Tortillas, I used Food for Life brand

1 C Spinach (Arugula or Mache would also be excellent)

For Almond Cream:

1T Almonds Blanched & Slivered

½ C Plain-Unsweetend Almond Milk

¼ t Cayenne

¼ t Cumin

Salt as needed

Step 1:

Clean and Trim Mushrooms, Slice if needed.

Step 2 (prepare Mushrooms):

Add Olive Oil to a very hot large deep sided skillet (or cast iron pan), Add Mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Continue to cook on Med-High heat stirring occasionally until they begin to soften.

While mushrooms cook, mix together Cayenne. Cumin and Carne Asada Seasoning

Step 3:

Add seasoning mixture to mushrooms, stir to incorporate, reduce heat to med-low and add water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all water has evaporated.

Step 4:

While mushrooms simmer prepare Almond Cream. Place all dry ingredients in food processor and mix until the consistency of superfine cornmeal. When proper consistency is reached slowly add almond milk while continuing to process. Final product should have the consistency of crème fraiche. Note: there may still be tiny pebbles of almond.

Step 5:

Heat Corn tortillas in warm oven. Clean & Chop Spinach. Slice Avocado.

Plating the dish:

Place 2 warm tortillas on each plate, place 1/4th of the chopped spinach on each tortilla. Cover this w/ 1/4th of the braised mushrooms, then 1/4th of the sliced avocado. Spoon a dollop of Almond Cream over each taco. Season w/ additional cayenne or hot sauce to taste.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving: Holiday of Food

I love Thanksgiving, its one of the only times of year that my propensity to make WAY to much food is considered apropos.

This year I went a little crazy even for me. Today's pictorial post is a bit of the tasty tasty evidence of my insanity.

The dinner menu: Housemade Tofu Roast, 24hr Brined Clementine Glazed Turkey, Slow Roasted Tai Snapper w/ Wild Rice -Date Stuffing, Brioche-Sage-Cranberry Stuffing, Vegetarian & Turkey Gravy, Mashed Potatoes w/ Crispy Shallots, "Brown-N-Serve" Dinner Rolls, Cranberry Gelee

My cooking adventure began on the Saturday & Sunday before the big day, that vacuum sealer I got from Mike a couple years ago xmas really came in handy.

Sealed goodness includes: Almond-Peanut-Sesame Stick snackmix,
Garlic Sage Cashews, Honey Truffle Popcorn, Almond Butter & Cranberry-Cornmeal Cookies &
Homemade Brioche

Homemade Brioche Fresh out of the oven

Housemade Tuna Belly Rillettes w/ Ankimo (Monkfish Liver, the foie gras of the sea) Butter.
Served w/ the brioche, microgreens and truffle oil

Another use for the brioche, mixed w/ sage and dried cranberries for a buttery delicious stuffing.

Tried my hand at making baguette as well. While its wasn't pretty it tasted great.

And paired wonderfully w/ my housemade chevre.

A beautiful sight ready for guests, Not pictured the 2002 vintage Josephine brut champagne.

My take on crudite, w/ housemade chevre dip & truffle-cranberry dijon

The Table is set

Its time for the bird

And of course its not Thanksgiving if your not stuffed to the gills, wanting to sleep but wait wait wake up its time for dessert.

And lots of it.
(not pictured: Allison's delicious apple pie
and my homemade vanilla ice-cream w/ cinammon-caramel swirl.)

It was indeed a day of gluttony, and unfortunately I didn't get pictures of everything I prepared but I think you (whoever you are) get the gist.

Monday, June 8, 2009

fromhils' Quick Chicken Recipe (Submission to @fandw)

RT @fromhils: @fandw chix leg, rub thym, truffle mustrd, oil. Brown chix. Chix+wedge potato w/ garlic-shallot in oven 375, 20m. Deglze pan sherry+butter 4 sauce

This recipe is one of my favorite old standbys. It is quick, very easy and delicious. The best part is that the short active time makes it perfect for a weekday evening diner party.

Roasted Chicken w/ Fingerling Potatoes

(Prep to Table approx. 45 minutes, Active time 15)

Serves 4


4 P. Organic, Free-Range Chicken

(leg and thigh, attached)

4 T Honey Truffle Mustard (Far West Fungi makes a great one:

10P. Sm. Fingerling Potatoes

4T Chopped Thyme - Fresh

1 Sm. Shallot (finely chopped)

4 T Olive Oil

1 Sm. Garlic Clove (finely chopped)

3T Sherry

3T Butter

Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375°

For Chicken:

Clean and trim the Chicken as needed, leaving the skin intact

Mix together, Mustard & 2T each of the Olive Oil and Thyme.

Spread mixture evenly and lightly over the chicken (both over and under the skin). Salt and Pepper generously (preferably coarse kosher or sea salt & coarse fresh ground black pepper)

Heat a large deep-sided (at least 2") oven-safe skillet on high until just smoking. Place the chicken, skin side down to brown.


While the chicken is browning, slice the potatoes into small wedges and toss with remaining Olive Oil, Thyme, Shallot & Garlic. Salt and Pepper generously (preferably coarse kosher or sea salt & coarse fresh ground black pepper).

Once browned transfer chicken to a plate. Close the fire and deglaze pan w/ 1T of the sherry. Transfer the potatoes to the waiting pan and toss gently in pan juices.

Return chicken to the pan, skin-side up, placing directly on top of the potatoes, add 1T of the butter (cut into little pieces & spread throughout the dish) and approx 3T water (or white wine) cover and place in the waiting oven.

Cook approx. 25 minutes . Until potatoes are slightly softened and browned (a little bite should remain, the crunchy bits are delicious) & chicken is cooked through.

Transfer Chicken and Potatoes to a warmed serving platter.

Return pan to stove-top on Medium and deglaze with remaining Sherry, add butter and mix till fully incorporated. Pour sauce over chicken and potatoes.

Accompaniment: A simple salad of mixed lettuce w/ red wine vinaigrette

Wine: Serves well with white, rose and lighter reds. Such as: Elyse Rose 2006, Kistler “McCrea” 2006, or Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir 2006