Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream and Fresh Fruit

I doubt many of you have ever made your own puff pastry before - well neither had I before this lesson in school. I had never even used it before in fact. Surprisingly, it's actually pretty simple to make. Note that I said "simple" and not "easy" because unfortunately, it's also somewhat time consuming. There is a lot of rolling out the dough and letting it rest and rolling it out and letting it rest and rolling... I think you get the point.

Question: Have you ever wondered how pastry shops get their desserts to look so pretty and shiny?
Answer: Shellac.

Not actually, but close enough. The trick is this fruit flavored jelly like stuff. In this case we had apricot glaze to adorn our beautiful creations. Steps: Bake the puff pastry, top with pastry cream, assemble fruit, and shellac - done and done.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pulled Pork with Purple Potatoes and Corn

Warning: It is highly recommended that you not look at this post while hungry. The Hungry Hutch does not take responsibility for what happens to your stomach and the subsequent effect on your refrigerator (or wallet in the case of New Yorkers that have a penchant for ordering take-out).

Introducing the piece de resistance - about 12 or 13 pounds of some of the most delicious meat you've ever put in your mouth: the pork shoulder! I'll leave you two alone for a while so you can get acquainted...

Now I know this looks quite impressive and very intimidating, but I have to admit that it is pretty much fool proof. It's nearly impossible to over cook unless you decide to go on a vacation while it's in the oven.

Step 1: Cover with spice rub (see below).

Step 2: Put fat side up in a pan, pour in some orange juice, and cover with foil.

Step 3: Put in a 325 degree oven for 5-6 hours. (Trust me - it's well worth it.) 

Step 4: Find something to do for 5-6 hours. Here are some ideas for things to do to pass the time: wash a few loads of laundry, clean your room, watch a movie or two, catch up on your DVR recordings, or take a nap. Feel free to mix and match as you see fit.

Step 5: Remove foil for last hour of the cooking time and baste with your favorite barbecue sauce (I'm a fan of Sweet Baby Ray's).

And have you ever seen a purple potato before? I sure as heck hadn't. As soon as I saw it listed online (yes, I order most of my groceries over the internet) I knew I had to buy it for the novelty factor alone. 

The Spice Rub: 1/2 cup brown sugar; 1/4 cup salt; 1/8 cup each of chili powder, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ground ginger, garlic powder, and Hungarian (hot) paprika.

ADDENDUM: I almost forgot a key step! (My bad...) Reduce all of the wonderful juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the pan to make a delicious sauce for the pork.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pot au Feu

One of the many great things about taking cooking classes are the leftovers. There were some instances in which I brought home enough food to last me the whole week and then some! I think I brought home either 2 or 3 quart containers of this home with me one week and decided to freeze one so I didn't get too sick of it. And thankfully it survived the freezing process miraculously and tasted just as delicious as I remembered.

Pot au feu is a classic French beef stew and literally means "pot on the fire." The origins of making it really is that simple. People would put cheap/tough cuts of meat in a pot along with some vegetables and water and let it simmer for a few hours. Of course things are a little updated now, but it really hasn't changed much - in culinary school the water is replaced with a nicely flavored marmite or beef stock, and the vegetables are made to look all nice and pretty. There isn't much added in terms of seasonings, so it is usually served with coarse salt or horseradish or something on the side. The idea of boiled meat sounds unappealing to me too, but this just might cause you to question your stance on the issue.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Polenta Cakes, Eggs, and Turkey Bacon

The polenta has returned! This time it's in breakfast form accompanying an egg cooked sunny-side up and turkey bacon. I love that polenta is versatile enough to go with any meal of the day. I took the polenta cakes mentioned in the previous post and sauteed them in a butter to warm them through and brown the outside a little bit. And yes - this is turkey bacon here. My roommate tends to buy it over the pork variety so I'll have some occasionally. I think just about everyone would admit that calling it "bacon" is very misleading when compared to the original, but if you can judge it on its own merits then you would discover that it's A-OK.

Side-note: I recently learned about adjusting the color levels of a picture from a post I found on foodgawker and I'm kicking myself for just now finding out about it. I have a new camera AND now I know how to enhance the pictures further - watch out blogosphere!