Resolution: Resolved!

This may be the first year I have ever kept a New Year's resolution. Although, since I rarely even make one, I can't say that there has been much competition. Regardless of years past, I'm really glad I kept this one. I had resolved to work on this blog more: at least one post per calendar week. While I was hoping to get a few more in, I'm still rather satisfied with 59 posts. There have been weeks where I easily threw up two posts without even flinching. And there have been weeks where even doing one post felt like a chore. But I'm okay with that. This year saw a fair amount of change at 6CD. Between moving and adjusting to a new kitchen, a lengthy jury duty stay, the loss of my grandparents, and helping to start and run a DIY dining space, I am definitely in a different space than I was this time last year. But I am ready for more and eager to see what 2010 will provide!

I'd also like to take this space to briefly thank the people who voted for me for a Homie Cooking Award (sponsored by The Kitchn)! I'd tell you all to go and vote for me, but even I realized this too late. The first round of voting is in and I didn't make the final cut, but it was just really nice to see that people (even though they were only two people) gave me a vote. So thanks again! It means a TON to know I'm not just talking to myself out here. Trust me.

Anyway, I'm just relaxing here; prepping some food for a potluck New Years party this evening. (I'm making a Kale and Gorgonzola Gratin with a Panko crust.) So, as I sign off for the last time this year, I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year! Happy New Year, everyone!

kale and gorgonzola gratin


Truffles '09

truffles 09

This years truffles are finally completed. I make them every year as gifts for the people I work with. While they are easy to make, they do take some time. In addition to that, rolling a few dozen lumps of ganache into spheres with my "hot hands" guarantees some chocolatey mess as well. But that's just me. Anyway, here are this years flavors:

Smoked Fleur de Sel
Sesame Seed
Hazelnut Rosemary
Cocoa and Cayenne
Pistachio Fennel

As much fun as they are to make, I still prefer making them only once a year. It just makes things more special. so, how about you? Any special holiday gifts being made in your kitchen this year? I want to hear about 'em!


Snow Day!

green bean soup

So far we have somewhere between 4 and 8 inches of snow here in Baltimore, depending on where you measure. But I'm all for snow. The city looks so much better and peaceful under a thick coat of the fluffy stuff. And when things get nice and quiet (Baltimore pretty much shuts down in the snow), there is not a whole lot to do except make some food. So I decided to make a simple soup featuring some green beans that were sort of on their last legs. This is actually a pretty quick soup to make, depending on whether or not you have some vegetable stock on hand (like i had).

2 quarts homemade vegetable stock
1 lbs green beans, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried herbs de provence
salt and white pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat vegetable stock to a slow simmer. In a large skillet, heat butter and gently saute the green beans with the lemon juice and herbs de provence. When just tender, remove the beans from the heat. Place green beans in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the mixture to the stock, along with the cream, and stir to combine. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. When done, get outside and shovel!


Horseradish Aioli

horseradish aioli 2

Aioli is not quite the same as mayonnaise, but still very similar. It is also one of those things that people would usually shy away from making at home. Making it is dead easy and will make your forearms look just like Popeye. Here, we've added horseradish instead of the traditional garlic. The amount of searing heat in horseradish can differ from one horseradish root to another, so add as much as you can stand!

1 cup neutral oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp mustard
4 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
as much finely grated horseradish as desired
salt and pepper

Grate as much horseradish as desired and combine with 1/2 the lemon juice. In a large bowl, mix egg yolks, 1/4 the lemon juice, mustard, and a little salt. Whisk thoroughly to combine. From a squeeze bottle, gently pour in a drop or two of the neutral oil. Whisk this into the yolk mixture, only adding a few more drops when the oil has been fully incorporated (and NOT before!). After 1/3 of the neutral oil has been incorporated, you can add a little more oil at a time, but never stop whisking. When the neutral oil is all incorporated, add the remaining lemon juice and the horseradish. Whisk well to combine, and start the process again with the olive oil. Taste for salt, pepper, and horseradish and adjust properly.

Letting the aioli sit covered and overnight in the fridge will intensify the horseradish flavor a little bit. Consider making this the day before you need it to allow time to either add more horseradish, or another egg yolk and some oil to tame the heat if it is too powerful.

horseradish aioli


Smoked Cocoa Nib Ice Cream

One of the benefits of working in a woodshop is having unbridled access to hardwood sawdust. And if you read the last two words of that sentence and instantly knew where I was going with this: give your self a firm pat on the back. That's right: smoking. Hardwood sawdust is ideal for smoking as it requires no pre-soaking. Check out Alton Brown's do-it-yourself smoker for more info.

This is just a quick smoke. One change of sawdust should do it. But, I guess you could cheat and just use liquid smoke if the weather isn't cooperating (say maybe some sort of wintry mix, perhaps?).

2 cups crème anglaise
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
2 tbsp bourbon

Set up you smoker with hardwood sawdust (maple in my case). Smoke the cocoa nibs in a cheesecloth pouch for one change of sawdust. This should take about an hour or so. Mix with crème anglaise and bourbon and place in the freezer. Stir every one in a while and refreeze until desired consistency is reached.