there's something strangely familiar about this image... very close to home. not sure if it is the rice cooker, the kitchen counter or the fact everything is within arms length.
GUY and I were so excited about dinner at Irene's. The word is out: she makes THE BEST potato gratin EVER. To explain, let me back track to a cold, cold night a few days after the New Year... Everybody gathered for a potluck dinner at MoonDog Studio. Anywho... there I was geeking out about kitchens and kitchen gadgets with Irene, when we noticed ***it*** on the table next to us: watery potato gratin. Perhaps the chef was having a bad night, I don't know, but Irene was extremely perplexed. "I have NOOO problems with my potato gratin. In fact, I make the BEST potato gratin EVER." My eyes widened. "Can you make me some?" And there it was, I invited myself to dinner. How could I help myself? THE BEST? EVER? So, as promised, Irene delivered with the most perfect potato gratin, along with an amazingly rich saffron risotto (no words. none). What can I say? Irene Balmanoukian can cook like nobody's business.
Irene's Dinner Menu for 8
Fresh Cheese & Pate served with German Bread
Pistacio Goat Cheese Beet Root Salad
Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken
Italian Roulade on a Raspberry Soup and Hazelchoco Ice Cream
OCCUPATION: Food Production Stylist
COOKING PHILOSOPHY: Cook without discrimination. Cook with passion, dedication and peace.
so Irene, the master of Saffron Risotto and Potato Grain, tell me what excites you?
Experiment, new ingredients, work hard and choose what to cook for a party.
what spices/ herbs excites you?
Fresh herbs always, they are like a rose bouquet for me.
what taste combination turns you on?
Mexican chocolate sauce and chocolate nibs.
favorite markets in frankfurt?
Friedberglandstrasse Market, flea market, Kleinmarket Halle, Bornheim Market and etc...
the wildest food ever eaten?
Oh God! My grandmother use to have a maid that always brings Opossum with toasted yucca flour. It was delicious and we ate it as chicken.
what food has changed your life?
I discovered that baking calms my nerves whenever I have high anxiety... I bake.
kitchen tools you can't life without?
Secret is a secret, we are not suppose to tell.
what did you have for breakfast today?
Banana, papaya and soy cappuccino.
favorite activities in your kitchen?
Cooking dinner for friends.
favorite time in the kitchen?
what kind of music do you listen to when cooking for a guest of 10?
what is sexy?
Chocolate body therapy.
what satisfies your craving?
Chocolate and sushi.
serves 8 as appetizer or 3 - 4 as main dish
1 medium yellow onion minced
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups of risotto rice
4 - 6 cups of chicken stock simmering
4 pinches of 2 types of saffron
1-1/2 cups parmigiano freshly grated
1/3 cup / 75g butter
salt and pepper to taste
once you prep all the ingredients... make sure the stock is simmering then....
in a separate heavy base pot heat the butter over medium low heat, add the onion and garlic and fry very slowly for about 10 minutes with coloring, when the onion mixture as softened, add the saffron cook for a minute or two until fragrant, then add the rice and turn up the heat to medium high.
now, lightly cook the rice stirring nonstop with a wooden spoon until the rice start to look glossy and translucent about 2 - 3 minutes. add a 2 - 3 ladles of hot stock and a pinch of salt. turn the heat to low and cook slowly. stir nonstop. allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next. in about 15 - 20 minutes, taste and continue add the stock until the rice is al dente, and still a little soupy looking. when done remove from heat and stir in the parmigiano and a little more butter and stir briskly, then taste and adjust seasoning.
serve immediately. enjoy the BEST saffron risotto ever!!! thx irene...
don't worry if the risotto look a little soupy before you stir in the cheese. the cheese will thicken the rice. the rice will absorb most of the liquid by the time you plate it. notice there's NO white wine in this recipe, IRENE believes white wine will over power the delicate flavor of the saffron.
irene's potato gratin
serves 5 - 6 as side dish
2 lb / 0.9 kg red potatoes washed in peeled, cut into 1/8" round slices
1 medium yellow onion minced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of cream
1 cup of milk
salt and pepper
100g Gruyère cheese
mix the cream and milk together. warm it slightly but do not boil.
preheat the oven to 356F/ 180C. generously butter the baking dish or pot. arrange 1/3 of the potato slices in bottom of buttered dish, overlapping the potato slices slightly. sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and nutmeg. sprinkle 1/2 of the onion and garlic, then 1/3 of the cheese, then pour 1/3 of milk cream liquid on top. repeat another layer of potato slices, nutmeg salt n pepper, rest of the onion and garlic, 1/3 of cheese, 1/3 of milk cream... finish the top with rest of the potato slices, nutmeg salt n pepper, rest of the cheese and milk cream.
in the oven for 1 hour until golden brown.
red potatoes have less starch and more sugar and are therefore stickier, best for making potato gratin. they don't break so easily. use a mandoline slicer make your life easier when slicing the potatoes.
the cast iron dish irene used calls for 2 of the recipe above.
GUY & GAL: thank you for the lovely evening.
Irene Balmanoukian Supper Club
MoonDog Studio, Frankfurt Germany
March 3, 2009 evening
tags: :: WHOs
My sister and i are completely different. In fact, we are exact opposites, from out taste buds to fashion. However, there's one thing we have in common: we HEART my mom's Taiwanese pork chops! As children, this was our favorite lunch à la mom. As you may know, in Taiwan, the pork chop lunchbox is extremely popular. But not all lunchboxes are created equal, and even the humblest doorman is willing to travel out of his neighborhood to find the choicest chop. My sister and I? We gnawed on the bone at home! After all, mom's recipe reigns SUPREME. This family favorite is all the more relevant today, as the idea of eating anything fried in most restaurant's wok oil (i.e. last week's wok oil), can really creep a girl out. Also, MSG. Need I say more? Just try it, mom's Taiwanese pork chops... Enjoy.
will i make this again?
YES. all the time. i want to make this for my sister tina.
what would i do differently next time?
maybe add a dash of orange juice in the marinade and omit the mirin. and i would like to try it with bone in pork chops.
what did i serve the pork chops with?
perfectly cooked white rice, cucumber pickle, cabbage stir fry and tea eggs.
the fist time i made the pork chop i tried to dredge the pork chop in corn starch, but it didn't work too well due to the fine texture of the corn starch. it was almost impossible to get an even thin coating through out. the next time i tried dusting it with a strainer. worked much better.
how much was lunch for two?
lunch cost about 180NT / 4 €, and we had left overs.
DAD: this is also his one of his local favorite. he ate his chop and some of mine, he must of like it.
CHERRY LADY: super yummy!!!
taiwanese pork chop
2- 3 pork tenderloin slices each about 3/4" ( 2 cm) thickness (find the best pork your can find)
1 piece of 4 cm knob of ginger grated
1 large clove of garlic grated
1 orange zest
1 tsp 5 spice powder
1/2 tsp ground szechuan pepper (toasted the peppercorn before)
few turns of fresh ground black pepper
1 TB soy sauce
1 big pinch of sugar
1/2 TB mirin (if don't have mirin up the sugar x 2)
1 tsp sesame oil (light)
1 dash of olive oil
4 TB vegetable or canola oil for frying
4 TB corn starch for coating
1 tsp chinese black vinegar
hammer the pork chop to half of it's current thickness. make sure it's even through out.
mix all the ingredients together for the marinade in a shallow dish.
coat both sides of the pork chops with marinade and let the chops rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
in a shallow pan, heat the oil on medium high.
dust the corn starch on both sides of the pork chop. best way is to dust it like you would powder dust a cake with a strainer. see tips above.
immediately slide the pork chop into the hot oil, turn the heat to medium low.
prep the other chop with corn starch. slide it into the pan next to the other chop.
cook each side of the pork chop for 2 minutes. cook until golden brown (reddish brown).
remove the pork chop and cut into pieces.
drizzle a dash chinese black vinegar before serving.
Opened since 1956, Zen Ho Uang Uan-Nan Restaurant (人和園雲南菜) is gem in taipei. The dishes here are not as crazy spicy as the typical Uan-Nan(雲南) cuisine, so no worries about burning your
internal organs. Perfect place to grab a bite with 3 - 4 friends.
Don't miss the 過橋米線 (Crossing Bridge Rice Noodle), 破酥糖包(Broken Sugar Bun), 涼拌結頭菜 (Kohl Rabbi Tomato Salad), 酸菜肉末加花枝 (Chili Preserve Bitter Green with Pork and Squid), 干煸香菇 (Fry Mushrooms) and 雞油豌豆 (Snow Pea in Chicken Soup). Extremely popular by the Japanese (they always know what's good), so it's best to call ahead for a reservation.
GUY: One of my favorite restaurant in Taipei. Love, the potato pancakes... very similar to the German potato pancake.
GAL: Finding a restaurant in Taipei that doesn't shower the food with MSG is like mission impossible. Other then Ecoh, Zen Ho Uang
Uan-Nan Restaurant (人和園雲南菜) does not use MSG in the salads,
and very minimal dash in the pan fry dishes. You won't leave the
restaurant dying of thirst. Must try the Kohl Rabbi Tomato Salad.
The check? dinner for two was about 1,000NT / 23 €.
Zen Ho Uang Uan-Nan Restaurant 人和園雲南菜
1F, # 16, Fu Jin Avenue, Taipei, Taiwan
11:30 - 14:00 / 17:30 - 21:00