TIRAMISU

Some things do not make much sense. Take Tiramisú, for instance. It is definitely one of our favorite desserts, up there with Crème Brûllée and Oeufs a la Neige. However, after almost 8 years of food blogging, I do not have a single recipe for it in the Bewitching Kitchen. How could that be? I’ve made it in the past, but during this stretch of 8 years we’ve only enjoyed it in restaurants. To be completely honest, one example totally ruined us for other versions. A small Italian restaurant in Paris, called La Trappola, very near our apartment in the 7eme had simply the best, the very best, the most awesome, delicious, luscious, fantastic, superbly addictive Tiramisú in the known universe. Before we left Paris, I tried to convince the owner to share his secrets, but no matter how much batting of eyelashes and smiling I did, he was unmoved. Acted like a real gentleman, but kept saying he wanted us to come back to his restaurant whenever we were in town. Yeah, as if Paris was a cab ride from Manhattan, Kansas. The humanity! Oh, well. I don’t have his recipe, but David Lebovitz shared his online, and I can tell you it made Phil and a couple of friends we had over for dinner very very happy. Oh, and me too!

TIRAMISU
(slightly modified from David Lebovitz)

makes 4 servings
1/2 cup (125 ml) espresso, at room temperature
2 tablespoons dark rum
2  large eggs, separated, at room temperature
pinch of salt
7 tablespoons (90g) sugar, divided
1 cup (250g) mascarpone
twelve 3½-inch ladyfingers (70g)
optional: 1 ounce (30g) bittersweet chocolate
unsweetened cocoa powder, for serving
 .
Mix together the espresso and rum. The mixture should taste strongly of alcohol. If not, add more until it does.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they begin to get stiff. Beat in half of the sugar until stiff. Scrape the egg whites into a small bowl and reserve.
.
Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until stiff and light-colored, about three minutes. Beat in the mascarpone (still cold from the fridge) until lump-free. 
Fold in half of the reserved beaten egg whites, then the remaining half, just until fully incorporated.
.
Submerge each ladyfinger in the espresso mixture for 3 seconds on each side, until soaked but not overly so. Layer them on the bottom of individual serving bowls. Top with mascarpone cream, grate semisweet chocolate on top. Add another layer of lady fingers, top with more cream. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight.
.
Right before serving, shower with cocoa powder and shave some bittersweet chocolate on top.
.
ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: At first I intended to make a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, but when I realized the huge amount it made, I quickly moved away from it, but kept some of their special tips in mind. One of them: contrary to what most recipes advise, do not bring the mascarpone cheese to room temperature before beating it. It has a tendency to separate. It will result in a perfectly creamy texture if you whip it while fridge-cold. Yeah, mind blown. So that’s what I did.  Worked like a charm. Also, I prefer not to over-soak the lady fingers, because I rather have a little bit of texture remaining in the cookie component. If you go by Lebovitz, he states “cut them in half to make sure they are saturated enough, they should be dropping wet.”  Decide how you like it best, and do it that way.

I wanted a recipe that would give us just enough for a dinner party with a couple of friends, and David’s version delivered exactly what I was looking for. I got the little glass dishes at Pier 1 Imports. They had only 6 left in stock, and by the time I left, their inventory dropped to two. It gave me a thrill to find exactly what I needed, one day before showtime. It’s not always the case, trust me on that.

Was it as good as La Trappola’s?  I am afraid nothing will match that version. Maybe being in Paris was part of it. Still, this was one spectacular dessert. At first I thought the portion was a bit too big. But next thing I knew, I was licking the spoon and staring at a clean little bowl. Such is life.  Woke up next morning and went for a nice jog. Order of the universe restored!

As I was composing this post, Phil found two photos from our past…
One at the entrance of La Trappola, and another of the Tiramisu of our dreams!  

(unfortunately La Trappola is not in business anymore)

 

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COOKING SOUS-VIDE: TWO TAKES ON CHICKEN THIGHS

I am still having fun and getting more and more comfortable with my Anova sous-vide gadget. Many recipes tried, some will go un-blogged due to photos that did not turn out well. A lobster tail, for instance, was quite spectacular cooked sous-vide, but the pictures did the recipe no justice whatsoever.  I shall re-visit that in the future to share the method in the Bewitching.  But here I am today to show you two ways to deal with chicken thighs. The first preparation uses boneless and skinless pieces, a departure from the classic Chicken Cacciatore that I found on this site, great source for sous-vide cooking tips and recipes. Before I share my recipes, I invite you to take a look at this recent post  from my friend Maureen, at The Orgasmic Chef.  Beautiful caramelized onions, without having to stand by the stove baby-sitting them.  She got her sous-vide toy not too long ago, so I guess we are both newbies at this. Sous-vide sisters!

chicken-cacciatore11

 

CHICKEN CACCIATORE
(slightly adapted from SVKitchen)
 .
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 can (28.2-ounce) cherry tomatoes  (or regular canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra for final garnish
4 tablespoons mascarpone
Salt and pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon each)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
 .
Preheat the water bath to 152°F (67°C).
 .
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the shallot and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes, being careful not to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tomatoes, stirring to combine. Gently stir in the basil and the mascarpone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.
 .
When the sauce has cooled, place about a third in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag. Add 3 of the chicken thighs. Add another third of the sauce, the other 3 thighs, and then the remaining sauce. Seal using the water displacement method.
 .
Cook for 2 to 4 hours.
.
If serving immediately, transfer the chicken and sauce to a oven-proof dish or ramekin large enough to easily hold all the ingredients. Heat a broiler to high. Place the casserole under the broiler for a couple of minutes, watching closely, just to brown the sauce.
.
ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served1

Dinner is served! Chicken sous-vide, spaghetti squash, and roasted asparagus…

And now, for a second method, in which the chicken thighs are cooked with skin and bone-in. As the sous-vide will cook the meat perfectly but leave you with mushy skin, all recipes include a final step to crisp the skin up. If you search the net, you’ll certainly stumble on a recipe by Michael Voltaggio that is described by many as “the best chicken thigh ever”. I tried it, I really did, and the mess it made on my stove left me on the verge of tears.  Plus, the whole house smelled like fried chicken for weeks.  Ok,  for 18 hours. Chicken thighs were not going to meet the Anova gadget for as long as I was in charge of cooking.  But, certain ordeals tend to be forgotten as time goes by.  Since I really liked the texture of the meat, I decided to give it another try, using a very hot oven for the final step of crisping up the skin.  Worked like a charm!  The inspiration came from this cookbook by Jason Logsdon, which I own in its Kindle version, but I modified the recipe quite a bit, so I feel ok about sharing it with you. In his version, he crisps the skin on a cast iron pan, evidently, I didn’t.

Neat-freak + Drama-Queen = Cast-Iron-Repudiation

RoastedTomatoSalsa

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH ROASTED TOMATO SALSA
(inspired by Sous-Vide Help for the Busy Cook)

for the chicken:
6 chicken thighs, bone-in
salt and pepper to taste
New Mexico chile powder
1 lemon, juiced

for the tomato salsa:
7 Roma tomatoes, very ripe
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dried thyme, about 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Prepare the roasted tomatoes in advance, they will keep for several days. Cut the tomatoes in half, mix them with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a 325 F oven for 2 hours. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

Set your Anova or other sous-vide apparatus at 148 F. Remove excess skin and fat from the chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle chile powder, and squeeze a little lemon juice over the flesh. Place inside plastic bags and vacuum-seal, three pieces of chicken per bag. Place in the water-bath and cook for a minimum of 2 hours. I like to cook chicken thighs for 5 to 6 hours.

Turn your oven to 450 F.  Remove the chicken pieces from the bags, pat dry.  Place in a baking dish and roast until the skin is brown and crispy to your liking. You can also run them under the broiler for a few minutes if you prefer.  As the chicken roasts, transfer the previously prepared tomatoes to a skillet, cook for a couple of minutes,  add the vinegar, brown sugar, and adjust the seasoning.  Mash the tomatoes lightly with a potato masher or a fork if you like it chunky.  You can also transfer to a blender or food processor, if so inclined.  I prefer my salsa to be on the chunky side.

Serve the crisped up chicken pieces with the salsa alongside.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Crisped

Comments:  So as I promised, here you have two completely different takes on the same type of meat using the Anova sous-vide. If you want to enjoy a saucy, stew-type meal, go for boneless chicken thighs, cooking them in liquid from the beginning. Obviously, in this case you’ll need to use the water displacement method, as vacuum won’t be feasible.  If crispy skin is more what you are looking forward to, season the pieces with dry rubs, and use your oven in the end. The meat will be perfectly tender, very moist, and the skin super crispy.

platedDinner is served!  Chicken sous-vide, cauliflower-spinach puree, and a salad…

I highly recommend Jason Logsdon’s book “Sous-Vide Help for the Busy Cook”.  The recipes are all geared for people who work all day and want to maximize the use of sous-vide to get a nice meal at dinner time.  The main advantage of this cooking method is the flexibility of timing: if you are late to arrive home from work, no problem, two or three more hours at the target temperature will not affect your dish.  Seafood is a bit more delicate and you should probably save that for weekends or weeknights in which you have a couple of hours to devote to dinner preparation.

compositetomatoes
I cannot resist including this photo of my oven-roasted tomatoes, they were absolutely delicious, with intense flavor, but not the unpleasant texture I find in most commercially available sun-dried tomatoes.   In Jason’s recipe, he uses a quicker method to deal with the tomatoes, so if you are at all interested, stop by amazon.com and click away!   😉

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