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Kane’s cuisine: Choose your own baking adventure

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in a new weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

Editor’s Note: What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in a new weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – Has the spate of anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in statehouses across the country dampened your spirits? Does the phrase “Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy” make you want to open a vein? 

Well, neither of the following two recipes will fix these problems, but if avoidance is your thing and you’re currently eating carbs, this week I humbly present for your consideration: A very good and very pretty lemon cake that also happens to be very easy & A tasty sourdough loaf for readers who want to challenge themselves. 

Unlike, famously, most men on Grindr, this lemony turmeric tea cake is ready to back up claims about its “versatility,” and we celebrate that here at The Los Angeles Blade.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

The recipe below, adapted from Alison Roman’s cookbook, “Nothing Fancy,” reliably turns out a delicious baked good that can host or travel and is as welcome at a potluck or dinner party (or a Memorial Day barbecue!) as it is on your counter. This bad boy once traveled with me from Washington to Tampa, where it was such a hit that I was dispatched to the nearest Publix for lemons to bake a second one. 

Anyway, here’s the recipe. Credit to Alison Roman. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a standard loaf pan or 9”x9” baking dish with cooking spray or butter (Given the option, I will always choose butter.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk 1 tsp kosher salt (I prefer Diamond Crystal) with ¾ tsp turmeric, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1.5 c all-purpose flour (Flour is one of those ingredients whose quality varies tremendously, and I have therefore found it is worth buying more expensive brands like King Arthur)
  3. In another large bowl, grate two tbsp lemon zest (this will require two lemons. If you don’t have a microplane, peel the zest with a peeler or paring knife, being careful not to include the bitter pith, and then dice it very finely.)
  4. Add 1 c white granulated sugar and mix it into the zest with your hands until the sugar is yellow and fragrant. Whisk in 2 large eggs, 2 tbsp juice from zested lemon, and ¾ c of either sour cream, full-fat Greek yogurt, or crème fraîche (the latter being my preference)
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing just to combine. Fold in 1 stick melted unsalted butter (if you only have salted butter, that’s fine, but I would use ¾ tsp kosher salt in step 2.)
  6. Spoon the mixture into your pan, smoothing the top with a spatula (an offset spatula, if you have one). Slice another lemon very thinly – using a mandoline if you have one – hunting for and removing seeds after every cut, so as to avoid slicing through them, which will release their bitterness. Top your cake with the lemon slices (feel free to quarter and arrange them in the pattern pictured here, which is my little twist on the recipe.) 
  1. Bake until golden brown, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, which with my oven is about 40 minutes, but for you will probably be 50-60 minutes. To prevent your lemon slices from becoming too charred, tent the top with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. 
Photo by Dan Balinovic

A sourdough loaf from “Tartine Bread”: I have never been to Tartine, the restaurant in San Francisco whose bread is so popular that patrons begin lining up around the building before it opens (very early in the morning, I might add). Much like everything else in San Francisco, demand for the bread far exceeds its supply, so it regularly sells out – which, again, is pretty on-brand for the city. And even though I have not sampled it myself, I bought into the hype (speaking of things that are on-brand). 

In 2010, owner and master baker Chad Robertson published “Tartine Bread,” which has since become widely regarded as the essential manual for expert bread baking. So, I snagged a copy and created a sourdough loaf so delicious that it really blew my mind. It was not easy. 

I will not share the recipe here for the country sourdough loaf pictured in this article, partially because would not be able to include the photos and detailed instruction in “Tartine Bread,” which perform two essential functions: (1) helping to make the bread baking process a bit easier for home cooks who perhaps have not apprenticed under the finest artisan bakers in France, and (2) making for a cookbook that can also serve as a coffee table book.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

What I will say is this – the Anova Precision Oven is a fantastic tool for the job, as is the baking steel pictured. It’s become indispensable in my tiny urban kitchen. More on that in the future. 

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Food

Kane’s cuisine: Molecular gastronomy, three ways

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – I get it: molecular gastronomy is a bit passé. Gimmicky, even. At first it was fun when chefs in fancy restaurants started serving potatoes that had been transformed into puffy clouds of foam, artful accompaniments to a beautifully marbled six-ounce wagyu beef filet.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

But eventually, the novelty wore off. Or, perhaps, diners started boycotting expensive restaurants because their portions were small enough before it became trendy for their chefs to start puffing air into the food. A restaurant whose guests are still hungry after spending hundreds of dollars is a restaurant willfully jeopardizing its own longevity. 

Here’s the thing, though. Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party, serving your guests a side salad dressed with a balsamic-olive oil mixture that’s been transformed into burgundy-colored pearls that might be mistaken for caviar or salmon roe. Well, I don’t know how to do that, but I can tell you how to make a blue cheese foam that will have them gagging. It’s a flex. It’s a serve. It’s a vibe. 

I have become an evangelist for the use of molecular gastronomy in home cooking, and it’s easier than you might expect. The only equipment you really need is a whipping siphon, which you can purchase online for less than $100. 

I wanted to show you how versatile this instrument is, so this week I used it for a salad, a main course, and a dessert. And because molecular gastronomy is considered a trend that crested around the mid-2010s, I decided to use elements of the cooking style to put a spin on classic steakhouse staples: A wedge salad with (you guessed it) blue cheese foam dressing; a bone-in ribeye with truffle potato foam; and chocolate foam mousse. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. For the salad and foamed dressing, quarter a head of iceberg lettuce. Scatter chopped tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, flaky sea salt, and black pepper between the leaves. Then, blend a half cup sour cream with a half cup buttermilk, a fourth cup blue cheese, a clove of garlic, and a tablespoon red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Then, strain the blended mixture into the whipping siphon, charge it with one charger, and shake vigorously to distribute the gas before dispensing (either on top of the salad or next to it for a deconstructed look, as pictured.) Top with chopped chives
  2. For the potato foam, peel and boil about two pounds russet potatoes until they’re cooked through, about 40 minutes. Drain and combine them in a blender or food processor with one stick melted butter, a cup heavy cream, a cup chicken broth, and a teaspoon truffle salt, blending until completely smooth. Transfer to the whipping siphon, charge it twice, shake vigorously, and dispense. Serve with a nice cut of meat and garnish with parsley or more chives. 
Photo by Dan Balinovic

For the chocolate foam mousse, in a single-layer metal bowl, combine eight ounces chocolate (dark or milk, whatever you like to eat) with a half cup room temperature coffee, a half cup water, and three tablespoons granulated sugar. Fill a large metal bowl with ice and transfer to the freezer or refrigerator. Fill a straight-sided cooking vessel with an inch of water and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Put the bowl with your chocolate mixture in the simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally, until combined and smooth, about five minutes. Remove the bowl and place it inside your larger bowl with the ice, stirring continuously for about three minutes. Transfer to the whipping siphon, charge it once, shake vigorously and dispense into a champagne flute. Garnish with a mint leaf.

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Kane’s cuisine: Going hog wild over this pork dinner perfect for summer

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – I would never cast aspersions on barbecued pulled pork, no matter whether it’s prepared in the North Carolinian, South Carolinian, Texan, Tennessean, Missourian, Kentuckian, or Alabaman, or Korean fashion.

Over the years, human beings have devised so many ways to infuse deliciousness into fatty cuts of braised meat, and I say we should celebrate them all. 

Speaking as a North Carolinian, if I may make a clumsy analogy, the prospect of my swearing allegiance to the state’s vinegar-based style of barbecue was about as likely as my becoming a devoted Carolina Panthers or Duke basketball fan (which is to say not likely at all.) Folks, it’s simply too hot to get all worked up over some silly football game or argue over which regional variation of barbecue is best. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Anyway, pork shoulder, however delightful when bathed in a tangy sauce or smoked and massaged with a dry spice rub, is more than capable of shining bright all on its own. In the spirit of open mindedness, I present for your humble consideration a pulled pork dish that is an alternative to barbecue (in all of its forms and iterations). 

Apart from the simple fact that it’s delicious, making this dish will help you better understand and appreciate the pork shoulder’s flavor – an essential step toward becoming a master barbecue chef. 

  1. Season a three to four-pound pork shoulder with three to four teaspoons of salt and a generous amount of black pepper, ideally but not mandatorily 24-hours ahead of time
  2. In a large, lidded pot, brown the meat on high heat with a tablespoon vegetable oil, cooking on both sides for eight to 10 minutes starting with the fat side down. Remove and set aside the meat and then drain all but one tablespoon of fat 
  3. Halve an orange and cut two heads of garlic crosswise. Place them cut side down in the pan along with a handful of sprigs of thyme, a few bay leaves, a teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and two tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  4. Cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic and oranges are lightly browned. Then, add two cups water and one cup fresh orange juice (I bought mine from Whole Foods because I didn’t feel like juicing five oranges)
  5. Deglaze the pot with a wooden spoon, scraping up any fond from the bottom, and transfer to an oven preheated to 325°. Cook for three to four hours 
  6. Transfer meat to a cutting board and either slice or shred it. Add the juice and zest of two limes to the pot, along with the thick stems from a bunch of cilantro (reserving the tenderer stems and leaves for garnish)
  7. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients in the pot, and then pour the mixture over the meat using a strainer to catch the solid bits. Garnish with cilantro and serve with the oranges to squeeze over the pork if desired.
Photo by Dan Balinovic
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Kane’s cuisine: Honk if you’re horny. I mean proud!

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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on

Photo by Dan Balinovic

What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – What is it about Pride that makes me crave a big piece of meat? Just me? 

Anyway, fellow size queens, here’s the tea: if you like your beef nice and thick, you’re not going to find it in a grocery store. There are a lot of things you can pick up in a Trader Joe’s – a bottle of wine, a muscle daddy – but a package of meaty short ribs is not among them. 

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You’re going to a butcher. While you’re there, pick up some pork shoulder, too, because that is also hard to find in a grocery store. 

Generously season the meat (remember, one teaspoon of salt per pound.) Brown it on three sides (cooking on medium-high in vegetable oil for about two minutes per side), and then remove and set aside.

Without cleaning the pan, add one onion, diced, and three to six cloves of garlic, smashed, cooking for two minutes on medium and seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss in two stalks of celery and two carrots, chopped, along with a few sprigs of thyme and a couple of bay leaves, cooking for five minutes. 

Cook two tablespoons tomato paste until it turns a deep brick-red color, about three minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Add two cups dry red wine and two cups low sodium beef broth, seasoning again with salt and pepper. Emulsify with an immersion blender and strain. I forgot to strain the sauce, which is why it looks lumpy in the pictures. I would have fixed it, but I’m already late. Meeting friends at Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse tonight. (Yes, Brody, I know. Judge me if you must.) 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Pour your sauce, along with your short ribs, into a pressure cooker and cook until they’re done. Serve with mashed potatoes and leeks that have been charred with a blowtorch and cooked in the microwave (6 minutes on high). 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

A note on the presentation: Edible flowers make anything look gourmet AF. I don’t know why they’re not used more often. I really don’t. And while you do not have to plate it like I did, you could. Yes, you. Really.

Photo by Dan Balinovic
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