Cooking like Keller, Part IV: Apple Fritters & Calvados Ice Cream

Apple Fritters with Calvados Ice Cream & Cajeta

Apple Fritters with Calvados Ice Cream & Cajeta

The fourth (& final) installment of “A Very Thomas Keller Thanksgiving”

If you’re wondering, my god, is she still posting about Thanksgiving when Christmas is only a few days away, the answer is (sadly) yes. Trust me, I know — I can’t believe it took me so long to plow through one meal! I’d be embarrassed but this is a crazy time of year and I’ve had a lot to deal with over the past 2 weeks so I’m keeping my head held high as we approach the finish line.

After eating oysters and caviar, scallops with endive, and seared quail in pomegranate, I wanted the final course in our Thomas Keller-inspired Thanksgiving feast to be just as impressive. After searching through several of his cookbooks I decided on hot apple fritters (from Ad Hoc) with Calvados ice cream (Bouchon).

This dessert would have been the perfect finale to our four-course dinner…if my husband and I had had the motivation. After cooking and eating three courses already, our ambition started to slip. We managed to make the Calvados ice cream but when it came time to set up a pot for deep frying, I admit I bailed out first.

“Maybe we should just eat the ice cream and call it a night,” I suggested.

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Cooking like Keller, Part Three: Pomegranate Glazed Quail, Caramelized Cabbage

Pomegranate Glazed Quail with Caramelized Savoy Cabbage, from the Ad Hoc cookbook

Pomegranate Glazed Quail with Caramelized Savoy Cabbage, from the Ad Hoc cookbook

The third installment of “A Very Thomas Keller Thanksgiving”

Over the course of this blog, I think we’ve established that my husband and I are practically professional eaters. There was the full lobe of foie gras downed in a single seating at Au Pied de Cochon and the time that we pre-gamed a 10-course dinner at an elegant Italian restaurant with back-to-back meals at two other restaurants…before heading to a serious pork-athon the next day.

Then there was our three-day road trip to Napa. We knew we needed to make the most of our time since we had no idea when we’d ever be back — this is always our excuse for gorging ourselves — so we planned to get in as many meals as our stomachs would allow.

We left Portland at 5 am on a Friday morning on a mission to drive nearly non-stop to San Francisco. I say nearly because we made a pit stop in Redding for my very first In-N-Out burger. Hours later, we suffered through an excruciatingly good meal at Incanto, followed by a two-course brunch at SPQR the following morning.

From there we went to Yountville where we pillaged the paté case at the Fatted Calf, a lovely charcuterie shop, before venturing on to our hours-long dinner at the French Laundry. The very next morning we hit up Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc for brunch, stopped at the Bouchon bakery for sweet treats and then started our 10-hour drive back home.

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Cooking like Keller, Part One: Oysters & Pearls

Thomas Keller's Oysters and Pearls, French Laundry Cookbook

A Very Thomas Keller Thanksgiving, Course 1: Oysters and Pearls, French Laundry Cookbook

The first installment of “A Very Thomas Keller Thanksgiving”

My husband and I like to make lists.

But instead of “things to do” or “places to go,” most of our lists revolve around food that we’ve already eaten. One list is the fullest we’ve ever been. For me, hands down, the winner is after our meal at the (now defunct) Incanto in San Francisco. I was so stuffed I almost cried when the kitchen sent us a complimentary dessert and champagne at the end of the meal. It felt more like a punishment than a gift.

We also talk about the longest meals we’ve had (the Herb Farm is definitely up there – so much food!) and, of course, the best things we have eaten. This list is constantly changing but for both of us the ultimate winner is the same — the Oysters & Pearls from our dinner at the French Laundry back in 2011.

This is one of Chef Thomas Keller’s most iconic dishes. The base is a custard made with small pearl tapioca, cream and oyster trimmings. The mixture is baked in individual ramekins and then topped with a gently poached fresh oyster, a silky butter sauce, a scoopful of caviar and a dusting of chives.

It’s perfection.

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Pork fried rice finds perfection, Pok Pok style

Khao Phat Muu (Thai fried rice with pork)

Khao Phat Muu (Thai fried rice with pork)

I’ve made a decent amount of fried rice in my life. On this blog alone, I’ve posted it three times — once made with farro, once with potato chips and again with pork and pineapple. And each time it’s delicious, but I’ve always felt like the seasoning wasn’t quite right. Often it would taste a bit flat and so I’d tinker with it — adding more and more things and then it would have too much soy or sesame or lime and yet somehow it would still lack “oomph.”

That all changed when I cooked my second recipe from the Pok Pok cookbook — Khao Phat Muu (fried rice with pork). Next to the fried egg salad, this is probably one of the easiest recipes in the book which brought it to the top of my “must make” list.  More encouragement came from a girl at work who kept telling me it was the best fried rice she had ever eaten.

And once I took a bite, I totally agreed. It was spot-on fried rice perfection and the best part was the amount of ingredients and fiddling is kept to a minimum. Simplicity is key — as is the great unbeatable umami flavor.

While I still think you should buy the book, I’ll give you a rundown on the basics of the recipe.

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Cooking my way through A Girl and Her Pig: Adobo à la April

I have really been in love with April Bloomfield this year. It started with her Lyonnasise-style vinegar chicken recipe. I was so blown away by it that my husband bought me her cookbook as a gift. The first thing I made was her lentil and chickpea salad because it sounded so wonderful. The second thing I made was this recipe — her chicken adobo.

I think I really wanted to make it because it calls for chicken braised with copious amounts of garlic and vinegar, much like her other chicken recipe. However, this one also contains plenty of ginger and soy sauce, thus it has an entirely different (Filipino) spin.

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