Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
Ray being deceived by Katie to act foolish. This is a fairly normal thing for us.
Someone from work shared a link to a clip of the show Portlandia, with Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live, that makes fun of hipsters. That clip led me to this clip regarding local food. Enjoy!
A few weeks ago, I got to spend time with Mai, my old roommate from college. CPA studying really overtook my life. I made time for family and my best friends from Long Island. Beyond that, unfortunately many people fell to the wayside. That’s the bad thing about this test. It really puts some of your relationships to the test. It had been so long since I’d seen Mai and I was so glad we got together for a nice brunch to catch up.
Farmer’s Omelette – Leeks, Ham and Chunks of Potato with Gruyere
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Fresh Berries
Mai being the adorable girl she is, raved about the blog. I being the ridiculous person I am whipped out my Flip and had Mai give me a few words about Sarabeth’s on the Upper West Side.
My expectations had been compounding for the past year. Needless to say, I went into Saus having my imaginary frites, liege waffle, poutine experiences setting the bar rather high.
Though food and flavors are always the determining factors for me, I can appreciate simple and what I consider timeless interior design. The colors are fresh, the woodwork is lovely, the lighting is pretty good (important when you’re a nut case like me taking pictures). Seating is a bit cozy in Saus. With the capacity to seat 20 or so comfortably, you’re lucky to sit at the King’s Table, i.e. the tall table by the window. If you get this table, be ready to be the star of the Saus show as many passersby will just stand and stare at you eat. Major props to Brandon Graska, of Concise Design in Brookline for his contributions to the eatery’s interior. As soon as I walked into this place, I loved how easy on the eyes it was.
Now for the food — I tried to order as much as I could from the menu to give a fair review and ended up ordering the following over two separate visits:
March 1 – Opening Day!
Frites with truffle ketchup, ole chipotle, and the vampire slayer dipping sauces – I believe “perfect” frites is a debatable topic any day of the week. Like any comfort food staple, everyone has their idea of what perfect is. I’m not sure that this fry fit my perfect fry mold. Though I do believe the consistency of Saus’ fry was perfect for its purpose, which is to serve as a vehicle to consume a lot of very intense flavored dipping sauces. The fries come to you crisp and hot in a paper cone. If it’s not too crowded, you can stand at the counter and watch Chin fry them right in front of your eyes. No pressure, Chin. My sister and I agreed the sauces packed a lot of flavor. These are not your delicate “hint of” flavor sauces. These will slap you in face if you’re not careful. My favorite was the truffle ketchup which has a nice acidity to it, offsetting some of the richness of the truffle. $0.75 is a very small price to pay for a luxury like that. After I’d left the first time, I dreamt of this sauce.
Liege waffle with the homemade nutella, berry berry, salted caramel, and lemon cream sauces – Chin was kind enough to let us sample all of the waffle sauces even though we’d settled on the homemade nutella. Though the sauces for the frites may have been the star, the liege waffle here took the cake and the sauces were merely background noise (albeit delicious background noise). Liege waffles require pearl sugar, which like the name implies refers to the sugar being the size of small pearls. The size of the sugar lends to the caramelization on the waffle’s exterior. Because Chin brought over small cups of the sauce, my waffle only had a very light dusting of confectioner sugar. This was perfect as is. On my second visit, other parties in my group ordered the waffles. That time the sauces were drizzled atop the waffles. I thought that may have detracted from the waffle’s charm since the liquid may have started to break down the natural candy like coating on the outside.
Poutine – This was my first poutine, so go me for the cherry pop at 24. Took long enough, huh? From an experience stand point, the poutine delivered on its name. The fries and cheese curds and gravy end up making a warm savory amalgamation that got everywhere. This is not a healthy snack, but it could be the best thing to come from Canada (aside from Steve Nash — love you baby).
As I mentioned above, the frites are fried to crispy exterior perfection. You have a nice crunch to “mashed” potato ratio. That’s a very big plus in my book. I’d be impressed to see that kind of quality during the late night weekend rush. Bringing my point back to the poutine, the fries had the ability to stand up to the gravy without being too hard, yet maintaining the crisp outside for the better part of my eating. Only when I started to get full did I notice my neglected fries began to get a little soggy. Layered on top of the frites and gravy was the freshly made cheese curds. Without knowing anything about the famous “squeaking”, I can confidently say I noticed this quality. The curds on their own were nothing out of the ordinary as far as a flavor profile goes. As is the case with many simple ingredients, when combined with the crispy fries and the warm peppery gravy, the curds sang. Simply put, the poutine may have taken a few years off my life, but at least I’ll know I enjoyed my younger years. =)
Thursday, I found myself wandering around the poultry section in Whole Foods looking for something I’ve never needed before – chicken livers. My next recipe to make was frisée and chicken liver salad. I actually cheated a little bit and skipped a recipe. It called for about 15 different game birds and and served 10-12 people. I made an executive decision to save this recipe for when Ray and I are together and can pool our time and funds together.
Also, this post marks a first for the Cooking Agents!! It is our first video blog post:
First, I made the shallot confit. The best way I can describe making confit is pumping concentrated flavor into whatever it is you’re “confit-ing”. In this case, I chopped the shallots and cooked in white wine. Once the white wine cooks off, I added sherry vinegar and a bit of balsamic vinegar. The final product should look like a brown-reddish shallot jelly. This stuff is potent! It’s flavor explosion and the vinegar is so concentrated and acerbic, perfect to dull some of the irony liver taste.
After making the confit, I cleaned and trimmed the chicken livers of any gross stuff like fat and veins. I was kind of freaked out by the texture. It was gooshy but would snap back to its original shape. I also noticed a bit of a snap when I cut through the “skin”. That kind of creeped me out. After I prepped them, I seasoned with salt and pepper and threw them in the fridge.
I filled two small pots with water and got them on the stove top to start them boiling. In the mean time, I peeled 2 small yukon gold potatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch rounds. Then, I threw the potatoes in the boiling water with a sprig of thyme, sage, and salt. In the other pot of water, I reduced the heat right before the water looked like it was about to boil. Poaching eggs is an art. If you don’t get the temperature of your water right, your egg is going to take on a life of its own. If the water is not warm enough, the eggs kind of falls apart. The white hardly coats the yolk and it looks like some alien spawn egg. If the water is too hot, the whites are too tough and you run the risk of overcooking the yolk. After poaching I egg, remove with the slotted spoon and set aside and keep warm.
Finally, in a small skillet, I heated some olive oil on medium high heat and threw in the livers. When both sides were browned, I added a small amount of sherry vinegar and a healthy scoop of the confit. Once the liquid evaporated, I seasoned with salt and pepper. I threw the liver and confit into frisée cut into one inch leaves and mixed well.
To set up the plate, I placed three potato rounds on the plate and topped it with a poached egg. To add some flavor, I chopped fresh chives and sprinkled it on top of the egg. Then on the other side of the plate, I piled up the salad with chicken livers and put a little extra confit on top.
This dish was harmony on a plate. The vinegary confit offset the irony livers and the runny yolk of the poached egg added some richness to the vinegar. When you got a perfect bite of everything, I was immediately transported to flavor town. I’m not convinced I’m a chicken liver convert, but I did really enjoy it in this dish.