No Recipes vol. 4

Hi! I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques while giving you the confidence and inspiration to cook without recipes too!

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It’s been a weird week. Now that I don’t have a job to go to I thought I’d have a lot more time to work on the blog, but job hunting is a lot more time consuming than you’d think. I did manage to get a new template up for the blog after the last

It's been a weird week. Now that I don't have a job to go to I thought I'd have a lot more time to work on the blog, but job hunting is a lot more time consuming than you'd think. I did manage to get a new template up for the blog after the last one died a horrible death upon upgrading Wordpress. If you haven't already, tell me what you think. Lisa from A Blog About Food was kind enough to Twitter me to point out that the font was unreadably small, so I've fixed that, but any other comments/suggestions are welcome.

I've also put up a store with reviews of some of my favourite kitchen items in case you were curious. Click the banner to the right or the Kitchen Shop link up at the top of the page.

Oh, and in case you've ever wondered about the face behind this blog, Peter of the fantastic Greek food blog Kalofagas has outted me in this post. We had a great time eating, drinking, and hanging out while he was in NY. Which reminds me, if any NYC food blogger's (or visiting bloggers) want to meet up sometime, drop me a note.

Here's a roundup of all the quickies I put together this week (along with some experiments)

Gruyere Yogurt Biscuits - I woke up Saturday morning famished. Wanting something quick and savory I found a simple cheddar cheese buttermilk biscuit recipe in Cooks Illustrated. Not having any cheddar or buttermilk, I swapped the grated cheddar out for gruyere peels (using a vegetable peeler), and the buttermilk out for 1 C yogurt and 1/2 C milk. The result was fantastic, I like using peels instead of grated cheese in baked goods because you actually get melted pockets of cheese. The yogurt made the biscuits a bit denser but that wasn't a bad thing, the extra body worked with the cheese and unlike most biscuits the leftovers (all 2 of them) tasted even better the next day.

Pumpkin Brulee - As a follow-up to my post on a Crustless Pumpkin Pie, I've discovered that it makes a fantastic pumpkin brulee. Just slice and cover (both the custard and pumpkin) with an ample coating of sugar then torch or stick it under a broiler. The caramelized sugar not only adds some depth to the flavour, but it also gives the bland pumpkin some more flavor. This actually gave me an idea. Next time I'm going to try making a creme caramel inside a pumpkin. Coating the inside of the pumpkin with a layer of caramelized sugar should fix the problem of the bland pumpkin and create a sauce that goes with the two at the same time.

Leftover Turkey & Stuffing Casserole - I've never actually made a turkey casserole with leftovers before. Given our non-traditional Thanksgiving this year I thought I'd try my hand at a more traditional leftover dish. I dug through the fridge and found some pepper cured bacon, shimeji mushrooms, carrots, peas and of course turkey. In the cupboard there was a wee bit of orecchiette pasta left at the bottom of a box in the very back so I boiled that very al dente (half the suggested cooking time) and threw that in as well. For the sauce I used a basic roux, turkey stock (from the leftover bones), and milk. And to top things off, I made use of the leftover stuffing which got layered on to form a crust. Despite it's humble roots and simple prep, it actually tasted fantastic with a rich velvety center and a crisp fragrant top.

Crispy Shitake Ravioli with Truffled Yogurt Foam - This is another one of those dishes that came to me in a day dream. I'll be blogging about it someday, but for now, let's just say it's not quite there. What I'd envisioned was little dumplings encased in a soft clear shell (think har gow) which burst open to reveal a gush of savory stock, creamy bits of ricotta and crisp bits of water chestnuts all swimming in a rich stock with a tart and pungent froth on top. So how did it go wrong? First of all, I couldn't make the dip and boil technique work with kuzu (arrowroot starch), so I'm thinking I need to figure out how to make a "dough" out of a non-Newtonian fluid (i.e. starch). I ended up just going with a standard hot water and flour dough, so while it tasted fine, it wasn't quite the texture I was going for (I wanted something less noodle like and more mochi like). Then there was the matter of the foam, I know it sounds a bit gimicky, but it's a great way to impart flavor without adding anymore substance. I used a milk frother, but being a bit of a newbie, I didn't realize I needed a stabilizer to make it froth properly. Oops. Anyway I like all the flavors and some of the textures, so I'm going to keep working on this one till I figure it out.

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