Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Good Juice

...is an amazingly versatile ingredient. We first started using juice on occasions where we didn't have any wine available to cook with. Then we started using it to add a more balanced sweetness to dressings and marinades. The list grew from there as we realized that good juice adds its own flavor to a variety of dishes and drinks. It is an easy substitute for wine, mirin or sugar in many recipes. While we occasionally indulge in high-end, super delicious juices like this pinot noir juice from Navarro Vineyards, we find that good organic juices of any kind are great go-to ingredients. We like to use it in dressings, to deglaze a pan, or as a mixer in Amaya's favorite fancy summer drinks. This week's beverage starts with a glass of ice, a slice of frozen peach, a splash of citrus syrup and a couple of ounces of pinot noir grape juice topped with seltzer. She stirs everything together herself and sips it in the sunshine beside the pool. It's amazing how a small thing like a bespoke drink can make even the smallest of us feel special.

Bull Brier

Bull Brier is new to our world. The tips, leaves, stalks and undeveloped thorns lure you in. It turns out it is quite an invasive plant. As cooks we are now interested in its potential. The tender shoots and leaves are sweet and succulent. The literature comparing the flavor to grassy asparagus is spot on. We are working with it in preparation for our dinner at a(Muse) tomorrow night. It would work in classic asparagus preparations topped with crab meat and hollandaise. While the beach environment has us looking in that direction we have a few other ideas up our sleaves.


It's funny, one of the first times I ever really appreciated a hamburger was at camp. It was my first summer at sleep-away camp and after my initial desolation I embraced the experience. Silver Lake quickly became one of my favorite places in the world. There was unprecedented freedom and late nights of whispering and reading with a flashlight while counselors played music and chatted behind the curtain to their room. It was swimming and crafts, campfires and color wars. It was a whole other world from the city I grew up in and I reveled in every moment. The first time we had a cookout it was enormous fun. The grill was outside of our cabin and our counselors were going to cook the meal. We were dispatched to collect sticks for the marshmallows and to pick up and organizes supplies from the dining hall. There were hamburgers and potato chips, with slices of lettuce and tomato alongside. I'm sure there must have been some sort of vegetable but if there was it escapes my memory. Eventually burgers began coming off the grill. I bit into a soft squishy bun layered with ketchup, the hot, smoky taste of the meat giving way to the softness of the tomato and the sharp crunch of the onion. At that moment it was easily the best thing I had ever eaten. Nothing was organic, the meat was well done, and the buns were generic but the flavor of the grill made everything taste wonderful. It was one of those moments that crystallize in your memory. Afterwards we roasted marshmallows for s'mores. To this day I prefer my chocolate firmly alongside my gooey marshmallow-graham cracker sandwich. Afterwards we told ghost stories and gossiped about the boys who had their own campfire far away from us. Usually one or two of them would wander down to see us, chaperoned by one of their counselors who always had some pressing reason to speak to one of our female counselors. We counted fireflies and watched the sun set over the water. It was paradise. Years later I became a grill cook. I always loved the heat of the coals and the unpredictability of the fire. Last year we roasted marshmallows in the big green egg but this year we've got the wood burning oven and a cast iron Tuscan grill that fits perfectly inside. It's only a matter of time till we make that first burger. I can almost taste it already.

Just Dried Watermelon

It is half dried. This time we didn't go through several freeze thaw cycles. We put logs of watermelon in the dehydrator set at 150°F and let them concentrate for 24 hours. We wanted an exterior skin with a tender sliceable interior.

Yeasted Vanilla Cake

white chocolate frozen yogurt, bennett blueberries, IBA caramel indian brown ale
This is the dinner from our most recent Dinner and a Workshop with Hari Cameron and his team at a(muse) in Rehoboth Beach, DE. The collaborative process allows for ideas to be connected and combinations to be explored. All beverage pairings were beers from Dogfish Head. These are seriously delicious brews. You may not get to taste our food but you should definitely seek out these beers.

sheep's milk cheese

beach plum sorbet, sheep sorrel

grilled ribeye, chicken fried & kimchi honey glazed tripe, tamarind bbq cheek

tomatoes, watermelon, sea bean salsa verde