Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ancho Honey Paste

Hello Friends.
(Please read whole post before trying to make this)

As you may or may not know Amy and I both worked as line cooks and chefs in various capacities in restaurants for many years before running the bakery. Amy has worked in hotels, for Euro Disney, ran her own business catering lunches to corporate clients, and was a successful chef at Pollo Rosso. She has dined at some of the finest restaurants with some of the most cutting edge chefs of our time. I have worked in many restaurants, ran a catering business and plated over a million meals over the years. During this time we have learned from many fine chefs. We have incorporated some of their ideas and created many dishes ourselves.

I decided to share some of our cooking ideas on this blog. I wont follow any logical order as this is not a school but feel free to ask questions if you want to know how to cook something. If we do not know the answer we can direct you to resources that will most certainly be helpful.

Since I already have photos and information about this handy condiment on flickr I will start with Ancho Chili / Honey glaze. I will use glaze and paste interchangeably. First a bit of my history behind this recipe.

When working in Florida at Cafe Max in Pompano I learned about Ancho/Honey glaze from a talented chef by the name of Mennan Tekeli. Mennan hailed from Turkey and he inspired me with his well rounded knowledge of food and his tenacious work ethic. I forget the exact method that we used in the restaurant but basically the idea is you take Ancho chili peppers (dried pablanos) and rehydrate them by putting them in a pot with either water or wine or a combination. You want to slow simmer them until they are soft. You can put some chopped onion or halved cloves of garlic in the mix if you like but that is up to you. Once the peppers are soft you put them in a strainer (any kind will do and you do not have to freak your baker out by using her flour sifter like we did). Just use a wooden spoon or a plastic spatula and press the peppers through the sieve. Keep pressing and you will end up with the stems, seeds and firmer parts of the pepper in the strainer with the pulp from the body of the pepper coming through the strainer as a spicy paste. Because the peppers have been dried even after being softened by your simmering process they will be hotter then a pablano so be cautious with tasting.

Throw away the detritus or maybe add it to your compost heap if that works (I am a bit behind on my compost research). Scrape the paste off the bottom of your strainer and reserve in a metal bowl. Now you have a big bunch of paste. Pour honey into it and whip with a whisk until you get the right combination of sweet/hot that you want. When you taste it you will first get the sweet and then the heat will creep up on you and linger. The photos below will give you an idea of how I made it one day. Remember, cooking is about You. You decide what you are looking for and most of the time if it comes out wrong you will have learned something and generally you can fix it.

Why make this stuff you ask? I like the flavor pure and simple. Since this paste can be frozen I generally split the paste into three portions freezing two and only adding the honey to one. Once made this will last for several weeks in your frig. I think it will last longer since honey never goes bad but I rarely have it after several weeks.

I brush it on grilled chicken or fish. I put it into tomato sauce to give it a kick. I mix it with mayo to make another spread for burgers or hot dogs. I put it into BBQ sauce as a secret ingredient :-). I also add it to my corn fritter batter. Basically you can use this any way you like and you are only limited by your imagination. I have never done it before but I bet you could find a way to make sorbet with it. Hey, I have made avocado sorbet and have enjoyed Chocolate Pineapple Ice Cream by the very accoumplished pastry chef James Barret.

Food is for eating and you are the one who decides what is worth eating so use your imagination. Do not be afraid to mess up a dish. Keep trying and Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Beth Edelman Appreciation Dinner at Zahav

Beth Edelman or "Mother" as she is known to Night Kitchen staff has retired from the world of retail baked goods. Beth is a wonderfully generous and hard working person who is always willing to lend a helping hand or opinion. We will miss her but wish her luck in her new endeavor of working for the Barack Obama campaign. (voter registration forms are available at the bakery)
We celebrated Beth at a dinner for her at Zahav Restaurant in Old City. The food was beyond amazing and our server Zach was the most professional and gracious guy.
The title to this post will get you to a set of photos of that dinner on flickr. We love Beth, wish her well and know that we will see her often as she has a standing order for cake anytime she wants. Hey, Mom Rules!