Matt Zadorozny is my sous vide guru. I recently spent a few hours with him at his home on Nantucket Island, talking a blue streak while he prepped 50 pounds of mushrooms for his sister's wedding. Matt has worked in some of the finest kitchens in New York, including Per Se and WD 50, where sous vide cooking is part of the daily routine. He has his own immersion circulator and chamber vacuum sealer (I'm envious), and his passion for the technique is contagious. Matt has been very generous in sharing his extensive knowledge of cooking times and temperatures with me, and we're delighted to have him collaborate with us.
Summer is upon us and my thoughts have turned to berries, and cherries, and luscious stone fruits. I love to combine the sweetest fruit of the season with a simple yet elegant sauce such as Italian zabaglione (or sabayon, as it is known in France).
I am crazy for the sweet-tart, floral flavor of passion fruit. Although my garden produces just about every kind of fruit, it's a few degrees too cold during the winter months in Carmel Valley to grow this divine tropical fruit. I know, because I've tried and failed on two occasions.
Pears are one of my least loved fruits when eaten out of hand, but when they're poached in butter, sugar, vanilla, and spice, well, that's another story. Normally, you immerse the pears in a flavorful liquid, such as wine or sugar syrup, and cook them on the stove top. Then, after they're poached, the cooking liquid needs to be reduced to concentrate its flavors.
Although you can now buy lemon curd in most supermarkets, it is extremely simple to make in your water oven, and the homemade version doesn't contain any preservatives or artificial flavors. Traditional recipes require cooking the lemon-egg mixture in a double boiler until the curd thickens. This can be tricky, as one or two degrees can make the difference between success and disaster. With the sous vide technique, the curd cooks itself without any stress or stirring.
Caramel is my favorite thing, especially combined with chocolate, but I like it unadulterated, too, in all of its many forms.
Dulce de leche, Spanish for “sweet milk,” is on my list of must-have condiments. I always have a jar or two in my over-crowded fridge because it’s very versatile and great for last-minute desserts. Sometimes I’ll treat myself a spoonful right from the jar if there’s nothing else on hand to satisfy a sudden caramel craving.
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