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Kane’s cuisine: Mission Im-pastable

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 – Some of you have been asking me to share an easy recipe. That makes me sound like a wannabe beauty influencer (nobody has been asking you for skincare tips, Stephanie), but it’s true! I swear. Be sure to “like” and smash that “subscribe” button. 

So, I was originally going to give you a scratch-made cherry cream cheese kouign-amann danish, but to be honest with you, it’s been a long week. This morning I woke up bleary eyed and dehydrated like I’d been partying with Madison Cawthorn (to be clear, I would never.) 

And besides, my most fervent wish is for this column to make cooking more accessible and lower the barriers to entry – which would not be accomplished by describing the complicated technique required to create buttery layers of dough that puff up like a croissant. 

Let’s get to it. Today, it IS about the Pasta! Pasta la vista, baby.

That gif was mostly for me. But I hope at least one of you share my taste for trashy reality TV and got a kick out of it. Moving on. 

We are making rigatoni with vodka sauce. Made with pantry staples, it comes together quickly and easily. The underlined instructions are techniques that should be used for literally every pasta dish you will ever make – so, in a way, I’m showing you how to prepare pasta rather than just rigatoni with vodka sauce. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Bring a stockpot of water to boil with a full handful of salt. Taste the water (before it reaches a boil, preferably). It should be salty. Note: you will not add the rigatoni until step number 7
  2. Finely chop an onion. White, yellow, red, it doesn’t matter. You can use a shallot, too. Smash four to six cloves of garlic and remove their peels. 
  3. Grate about four ounces of parmesan using the smallest holes of your box grater. This part is annoying. If you have children or a spouse, I encourage you to delegate – but make it sound like a good time.
  4. Using a Dutch oven or other cooking vessel whose sides are at least a couple inches high, cook the onion and garlic in olive oil for about five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally and seasoning salt and black pepper.
  5. Add a full tube or can of tomato paste, which should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 to six ounces. I like to sprinkle in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, but if you don’t care for spicy food, skip this step. Cook for five to ten minutes, stirring often, until the color turns a deep brick-red. 
  6. With a Pyrex measuring cup, take about a fourth cup of boiling water from your stockpot. Add three-fourths cup heavy cream to the measuring cup, and then pour it into your sauce, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. 
  7. Add 1 pound rigatoni to the boiling water (ziti would be good, too. Or penne, paccheri…any short, tubular pasta shape would work well.) Cook according to package instructions until a minute before al dente
  8. Use the Pyrex measuring cup to reserve a cup of starchy water and transfer, along with your pasta, to the sauce in your Dutch oven. Stir as you cook on low heat, gradually adding half the grated parmesan until the noodles are coated with a smooth sauce. Taste a noodle and season with more more salt if desired. 
  9. Divide among bowls and top with remaining parmesan, along with one or more of the following: a drizzle of olive oil, torn fresh basil leaves, more red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper

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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

Published

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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