Day 15: Coffee and Cocoa Braised Short Ribs, Mashed Russets, with Portobello and Pickled Radish Salad

When I arrived at work I started slow braising the short ribs in the oven. I used coffee, red wine, cocoa powder, cola, salt, onions, and carrots in the braising liquid. However I forgot to sear the ribs before starting, which truly ended up costing the dish in the end. After the shift, the ribs were extremely tender.

I made some quick and honest mashed potatoes with cream, butter, green onions, and salt. I made a pickling solution of white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, star anise extract, and ground coriander, then threw some thinly sliced radishes in. I sautéed both the portobello mushrooms and radish greens with butter, salt, and pepper, then turned them into a warm salad with the pickled radishes on top.

The ribs turned out amazingly soft and tender, but were lacking punch that some more salt and maillard reaction would have given. The mashed potatoes were great, and the salad was tasty, but by far the surprise of the plate was the pickled radishes. The sweet and tart balance that they brought to the plate was excellent with the after-taste of anise pairing well with the coffee short ribs.

Day 14: BLT Terrine wit Mayonnaise Foam and Brown Toast

I made some fresh bacon yesterday and felt like eating some. It was no longer breakfast time, so I decided a BLT would be a good choice. This posed a problem of how to get creative with a BLT without messing with the perfect balance that has made this sandwich a classic. In the end I drew inspiration from Ferran Adria and messed with the BLT's form (also took some direct advice from him for manipulating mayonnaise).

I cooked up some bacon strips, sliced some tomatoes, tore up some romaine, layered them in a terrine mould, poured in some gelatine water (which ended up taking on some bacon flavour) and put it in the fridge to set up.

Then I tackled the mayonnaise foam (I heard about this somewhere and wanted to give it a try). First attempt involved putting mayo into a whip cream siphon, charging it, shaking and spraying out nothing but gas leaving the mayo at the botom of the siphon. Then I went researching, read a Ferran Adria article http://chezpim.com/uncategorized/top-cooking-tip and decided to thin out the mayo with both some good olive oil and some milk. The much thinner liquid mayo foamed up nicely but in the end could have used some stabiliser to maintain the foam texture over time.

Finally I cut crust off a piece of brown bread, pressed it flat, and toasted it.

The whole dish turned out better than I was expecting/fearing. The flavour profile of the classic BLT was all there, the texture differences were actually nice, the decrease in bread was enjoyable, and most of all the fun aspect of the plate was huge.

Day 13: Smoked Back Ribs, Sautéed Greens, and Fresh Bacon

Today was a wonderful day of smoking on the barbecue. I had been curing some fresh bacon for the past week (with a caraway and juniper berry cure) and it was time to hot smoke it, so I really didn't have any other choice but to include a rack of ribs in the smoker.

I rubbed the ribs with a large mix of ground spices: chipolte, grains of paradise, thyme, bay leaves, paprika, cayenne, mustard, coriander, oregano, and salt. Both the bacon and the ribs spent two hours in hot hickory smoke (~210F). In the end, the ribs turned out medium rare, juicy and delicious, but slightly tough (another few hours would have eliminated the toughness, but the game was going to start so practicality won out).

The sautéed greens were spinach and kale with a touch of salt and pepper along with some butter. Delicious compliment to the ribs.