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November 03, 2009

Alinea Leftovers: Duck and butternut squash salad

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Some of you have asked what I do with the leftover ingredients and elements from the dishes I cook for this blog.  Some of the gels and puddings and sauces and juices, I try to use in other things.  Sometimes they work.  Sometimes they don't.  I'll start telling you more about those experiences the next time I have something like that to work with.  I've wanted to be better about that on this blog, and I've not been.  Sorry 'bout that.

Meantime, here's a little something I pulled together for lunch the day after I made the duck dish: a bowl of mache, with leftover grilled duck and butternut squash.  I sauteed the squash in brown butter, and made a lime vinaigrette (olive oil, juice from a lime, salt, pepper, tiny blob of Dijon mustard).  I also sprinkled a few of the curried pumpkin seeds on top.  And yes... sometimes I have a little nip of wine with lunch here at home.  That's a glass of Stag's Leap Sauvignon Blanc.  In all, a great lunch, and pretty typical of the way I cook and eat from day to day.

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Any chance I get to sit at my table outside for a meal, I'll take it.  Soon, the table will be tarped for the winter, and I won't see its loveliness again until after the spring rain subsides.

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Chef Achatz has been having his team post some really interesting real-time updates to the Alinea Mosaic forum.  One of the sous chefs in the kitchen is now doing a lot of R&D work for Grant and his team, and he's posting photos and write-ups of the dishes and elements he's working on on a pretty regular basis.

Check it out if you can; some pretty interesting stuff there.  Grant weighs in from time to time, and answers questions that forum participants have.  It's interesting to see how dishes come about, and learn from some of the smartest in the business.

Alinea Mosaic > Dish Development > Fall 2009 Dishes

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A few of you sent me the link to this interview, so I wanted to share it with everyone, because I think it's interesting:

For the last couple of months, Eight Forty-Eight food critic David Hammond has been using more than his palate to experience good dining in Chicago. The series, Soundbites, has taken you through a journey of the senses. His last stop is Alinea.  As you might suspect, controlling sound is a big part of the cooking and dining experience at this restaurant, which many consider one of the finest in the world.   Audio interview with Grant Achatz here.

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Lastly, a friend sent along this quote she read from an interview with fashion designer Isabel Toledo:

"Craft takes time, and therefore it is luxury. You cannot do an amazingly well-made garment without taking time—not just the time it takes to make something but also the time it took the maker to come up with the idea. That is all luxury, and that has been lost because we're trying to make things faster and faster, cheaper and cheaper. The consumer tends to lose track of what luxury is."

The same applies to food, don't ya think? And how sad that luxury (when it comes to food) is a dirty word. 

p.s. -- GO PHILLIES!!!!

Up Next: Pheasant, shallot, cider, burning oak leaves

Read My Previous Post: Duck, pumpkin, banana, Thai aromatics

January 08, 2009

Alinea at Home Extra: Share Our Strength Update, Other Miscellany

My most heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you who donated to Share Our Strength in December.  We raised $8,000, which was double what I had hoped for, and I couldn't be more thankful for your kindness and generosity.

The winners of the Alinea cookbooks and Under Pressure books are:

Brian Carmen
Colleen Carnley
Brad Detlefsen
Michele Grace
Heidi Guariello
Rachel Luxemburg
Steve Ortiz

Big round of applause for everyone, and again, thank you all so much.

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Jessa Crispin of Bookslut (a longtime favorite site) recently interviewed Grant Achatz (thanks to Drew for the heads up).  Around the four-minute mark they talk about this blog, and how my Cheese, in cracker DIDN'T SUCK.  To have Grant Achatz say that something you made actually looks like something he would serve at home is pretty damn cool, don't you think? Click here to watch the interview.


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Thanks also to the awesome team at Washingtonian magazine for including me in their 2008 Food Trends piece.  I'm honored to be included in a round-up that calls not only for an end to the ever-proliferating cupcake craze (ugh) and snarks on Barton Seaver's wardrobe, but also lauds the arrival of some much-needed butcher shops in town.   The full story is here.

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A few weeks ago, Chef Achatz emailed me a list of Errata in the first edition of the cookbook.  These are things they've corrected for the next print run, but I wanted to post the list here so that if you have the book and plan to cook from it, you'll have the most up-to-date corrections and additions to the recipes.  As always, you can check the Alinea Mosaic forum for ongoing updates and additions to this list:

Surf Clam (page 57) -- there's no recipe for the Lemon Pudding on the fork.  Refer to the Lemon Pudding recipe on page 269.  And, when assembling and serving the dish, add the following instruction as the last sentence: “Place a dot of lemon pudding on the back of the spoon.”

Pistachio Brittle (page 92) -- change second set of temperatures from 240F/116C to 342 F/172 C.

Whole-Wheat and Pine Nut Cereal (Page 122) -- In second paragraph, change second set of temperatures from 115F/45C to 320 F /160C.

Page 343 -- Lemon Marshmallow temps need to be changed to 254 F/123 C.

Page 209 -- Spun Sugar temp needs to change to 325 F / 160 C; and, Muscovado Candy temperature needs to change to 225F /107 C.

Page 223 -- In method, sentence 5 should read, “Season cubes on skewers to taste with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, tapping off excess.”   Sentence 9 should read, “Season battered cubes with salt and pepper to taste.”

Page 257 -- Cinnamon Tea; Change cayenne amount to 1 g.

Page 288 -- Pistachio Brittle; change second set of temperatures from 240 F/116C  to 342 F/172 C.

Page 367 -- In method, the last sentence in second paragraph should read, "“Season battered squares with mixture to taste.”

Page 182 -- Pineapple Glass; need to add in method, ”In medium saucepan, bring 350g of pineapple juice, sugar, saffron…..” Also need to change sugar amount to 25g, and salt amount to 1g, and amount of Pure Cote B790 modified food starch to 45g.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my much-needed, off-the-grid, closed laptop break over the holidays, and am now getting slammed with work this week.  As I'm sure you can imagine, Washington is throbbing with activity, what with the beginning of a new legislative session and the upcoming change in administration.  So, those of us who work in this arena are busting our asses and generally working around the clock to get done what we need to have in place to ensure a productive 2009.  However, to preserve my sanity (and to try and break my habit of watching the Real Housewives of Orange County when I'm stressed out), I've been spending what little free time I've had this week playing around with how to freeze some stuff without having to buy an antigriddle, and expect to have a food post up over the weekend.

See you soon....

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