Steve’s Sous-Vide Salmon Adventure

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[Back in December, Craig was shooting his movie in New York and Craig’s parents came to visit the set. While we were hanging out, I received an e-mail from a company called Sous Vide Supreme offering to send me a “demi” Sous Vide machine to write about on my blog. I politely refused (don’t have the space for it in L.A.) and mentioned it to Craig’s dad, Steve. “Oh gee,” he said, “I’d love to try some sous vide cooking at home.” “Well,” I said, “I could have them send the machine to you if you’d agree to do a guest post?” Julee, Craig’s mom and Steve’s wife, interjected: “Now Steve, do we really have room for that?” Steve brushed off her worry: “Let’s do it!” What follows is Steve’s account of cooking sous vide for the first time. Hopefully this is the first in a series of Steve’s sous vide cooking adventures. Take it away, Steve!]

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Alone With Your Ramen

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[Recently, at the wedding of our friends Jenny and Cliff, we met a delightful woman named Yuko Uchikawa who began telling me about this fascinating ramen joint in Japan where you sit in little cubicles so you can be alone with your noodles. I asked if she would write a guest post and she kindly agreed. What follows is her ramen story.]

My acupuncturist in Nagoya is from Fukuoka, and Fukuoka folks are passionate about their ramen. When I asked where I should go to get Fukuoka ramen in Nagoya, he replied “Fukuoka.” When pressed, he said, “there is a place, downtown, that comes close. It’s a chain, but it’s good. It does express our passion. There are dividers.” Dividers? “So you are completely alone with your ramen.”

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A Sweetbreads Po-Boy

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. While he hasn’t actually met Scott Gold, The Shameless Carnivore (check out his book!), he is connected to Scott through Scott’s friend Brandon who is the brother of Rena, Craig’s childhood friend who you’ve met many times on this blog. Therefore, Adam is friends with Scott and deeply honored that Scott made a sweetbreads po-boy for his blog. Let the thymus frying begin!]

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A story: When I was in college in St. Louis, I decided to have a hamburger in the mall’s food court at a place called — I kid you not — Flamers (apparently, the proprietors were oblivious to the hilarious connotation there). The menu was pretty basic: hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon cheddar burger, etc.. Then I spied something called a “cajun burger.” Being a New Orleans native, I couldn’t help but wonder what a St. Louis fast food joint in a shopping mall would consider “Cajun.” So I asked the girl working the register what it was all about. “It’s like a reg’lar hamburger,” she told me, indifferently smacking away at a gob of chewing gum, “but it, uh…it have Cajun on it.”

It have Cajun on it.

I’ve never heard a single sentence that more accurately and efficiently sums up the way most folks above the Mason Dixon consider Louisiana cuisine: anything with a bunch of red pepper on it, usually fried and/or drenched in butter. For shame.

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Let’s Make Raclette

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. You remember Adam’s friend John Kaslauskas as the friend he went to Paris with three years ago. John had such a fantastic time that now he’s living in Europe for three months, where he’s eating, marathon training and writing screenplays. Right now he’s in Geneva, staying with his brother, sister-in-law and nephew. In this post, John’s Nephew, Nico, teaches him all about raclette–a traditional Swiss dish.]

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When Adam asked me to do a guest blog about some of my food adventures in Europe, I immediately jumped at the chance. As if I needed a reason to go to an amazing Swiss restaurant or spend a weekend at a vineyard sampling local wines. I didn’t. Hearing me talk about possible food adventures, my 7-year old nephew Nicolas perked up and said, “If you want to eat some really good food, I can make you something!” I asked him what he’d make and he shrugged: “I could make Blue Cheese mashed potatoes. They’re really good.” I told him that I needed to eat something a little more…well, Swiss. Unfazed, he said, “I’ve lived in Geneva for almost my whole life. I can make you something Swiss, if you want. Maybe Raclette?” I asked what raclette was and he said, “Basically, it’s just cheese on potatoes. “ “So it’s sort of like fondue?” I asked. “It’s a bit better than fondue,” Nico explained, “I think fondue tastes like wine. I’ll make you a really good raclette, Uncle John. You’ll like it,” he promises. Raclette it is.

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Great Late Summer Bake: Zucchini and Sweet Corn

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. Last year, Adam met Emily Farris when she asked him to be a judge at her Annual Casserole Party in Brooklyn. You can check out her blog Casserole Crazy or pre-order her book, also called Casserole Crazy, which comes out October 7th! Here’s a quick summer casserole to enjoy before it’s truly fall.]

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I’m probably one of the few crazies who bake in the summer time. The idea is made even crazier by the fact that I have no air conditioning in my tiny kitchen. Luckily I have some friends who indulge me in my desire to crank up the oven to 400 degrees in late August, and are willing to have impromptu dinner parties on my less-than-glamorous roof.

Last summer, one friend, who lived Uptown, stopped by the Union Square Greenmarket on her way to my Brooklyn apartment every Friday and called to tell me what was available. At that point, I would make up the bare bones of a casserole recipe.

Unfortunately, that friend has since moved back to California, and I’ve been in New Hampshire working at a camp for the past five weeks, but last August this Greenmarket charade, and an abundance of sweet corn and zucchini, led to one of my favorite seasonal recipes. The result was an amazingly fresh, savory—yet sweet from the corn—simple summer casserole.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

the corn of two cobs

1 large white onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

8 oz. sour cream

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp sea salt

2 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 400º.

In a 2 to 2 1/2 qt casserole dish, mix the zucchini and corn.

In a mixing bowl mix the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture over the casserole, cover and bake 35-40 minutes. Remove the cover, stir and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Attack of the Cucumbers!

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. Patty Jang, a playwright who lives in Brooklyn where she is working on her play “Yellow Peril 3.0,” somehow sneaked her way into the mix. For the sake of not making her angry, let’s listen to her whine about cucumbers!]

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We’ve all heard that the best way to eat is to eat locally, organically, and seasonally, but when you’re making a fruit tart that calls for out-of-season cherries shipped in from California, it’s hard to be a saint. To force ourselves into eating more responsibly, Lauren and I decided to join the Washington Square CSA, which gets produce from Norwich Meadows Farm in upstate New York. After fighting the hordes that swarm the Union Square Whole Foods, picking up our produce at the CSA is an absolute pleasure. While weighing out our share of stunning organic tomatoes, beets, and delicate salad greens, I congratulated myself for being a conscientious citizen of the Earth… until I saw the overflowing bins of cucumbers. For the last nine weeks, we have been bombarded with cucumbers. I’m talking pounds and pounds of cucumbers. Every week. I hate cucumbers.

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A (Butter) Rose By Any Other Name

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. His old friend Mark Blankenship, who writes for The New York Times and Variety and has his own blog called The Critical Condition, talks to us today about a butter rose.]

Before I begin, let me thank Adam for the invitation to transform from a pop culture critic into a foodie. The world looks different over here. And more delicious!

When Adam threw open the doors of The Amateur Gourmet, I started paying a lot more attention to what’s happening on my plate. Or more specifically, I went to a wedding last week and got really interested in the food.

As usual, I was impressed by the fancy touches, like this rose made out of butter. Butter! I know, right?

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But this time, I did more than just admire the butter. I started to think about why it impressed me in the first place.

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Mercadito Cantina is Better Than Sex

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. Today is a post from one of Adam’s closest friends, his old roommate Diana Fithian! You know Diana, you love Diana, and now you get to read a post written by her just for you. Aren’t you excited? Oh, and just so she fits in with all the mighty guest posters here on the blog, Diana is the author of “Girls on the Clock” which was recently performed at Brown University as part of their Playwright’s Rep. Take it away Diana!]

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Really good Mexican food is hard to come by in New York. My boyfriend Mark is from Santa Fe, New Mexico and finds most NYC Mexican mediocre at best. I’m from Virginia so I’m maybe not quite as good a judge, my town didn’t even have a Taco Bell until I was in high school, but his high standards have rubbed off on me. One Mexican restaurant we both approve of is Mercadito on Avenue B between 11th and 12th, but the steep-ish price keeps us from going too often.

The Mexican gods must have heard our prayers because just a few weeks ago a new spot opened literally across the street from good old Mercadito: Mercadito Cantina, basically Mercadito’s cheaper, prettier, more fun younger sister.

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