Tag: torte

Butternut Squash Polenta and Other Mayhems: Deadpan Restaurant’s Opening Nights

So much has happened in the last few weeks. Amin is now gallivanting in Dresden, and Judy has proven a valuable addition to our kitchen cohort. We at Deadpan Restaurant had our opening debut a few weeks ago, and then a repeat event this past weekend. It was, in a word, insane. Five dishes, 12 guests per event, hours upon hours in the kitchen, and I don’t think I’ll ever look a pot of polenta in the eye again.

Let’s talk about the menu. Since we’re new at this whole restaurant thing, we haven’t really figured out how to simultaneously serve a secret supper and photodocument it, so bear with us on the pictures!

We started with a red wine oxtail and beef tongue stew, served as chilled, jelly hemispheres, with a layer of homemade Momofuku pickles on a toasted baguette round.

Probably the most challenging dish of the evening, our tongue-and-tail amuse bouche was cast in a mold designed and cut by Amin. Pretty cool, huh? We value the use of all parts of the animals we eat, and wanted our guests to do the same. To our surprise and delight, nobody tried to escape the event while we described this dish, and everyone cleaned their plate! On a side note, those pickles are so addictive and delicious – definitely at the top of my these-are-so-easy-to-make-i’ll-never-buy-them-again list.

For our starter, we served the dish that has been our pride, joy, and near-undoing for the last several months: pork belly with butternut squash polenta. Cured for two days in a mix of brown sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and black pepper, and then braised for upwards of three hours in a pot of chicken stock and Delirium Tremens (famed as the best beer in the world), this local pork from Autumn’s Harvest Farm is tender, buttery, and melts in your mouth. The butternut squash polenta is cooked on the stovetop and then baked (or is it fried?) on cast iron with a lot of butter. We made our sauce out of a reduction of the braising liquid and some Cornell Orchards cider. This isn’t actually the pork belly we served, but an earlier incarnation that looks mostly alike:

We also served some cider mulled with the same spice mix that we cured the belly with. Still with us, even through the bad flash photography? Our other three dishes, after the jump…

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Man cannot live on bread alone. Cake and bread, however…

Hey guys, remember the summer? Remember that one time where we all went over to Daniel’s house to make food for his birthday?  Man, that was like…four months and one day ago. What’s that?  You aren’t sure that happened?  You don’t think you were invited, or maybe your invitation was lost in the mail a la the sarcastic qualification under the “parties” section of the Gossip Girl website on the intro to the hit teen drama “Gossip Girl”?

Well fear not, for I have pictures and intend to pair them with descriptions of the evening so, cruel social exclusion notwithstanding, you can tell all of your friends that you attended.  You can watch as their eyes, usually half covered by australopithecine lids, focused on nothing in particular as though staring at a television displaying a (marginally) lower primate wearing a party hat, and arrhythmically clashing cymbals together, begin to fill with tears of envy.

You’re welcome.

Moving backwards through the evening we begin with this espresso-chocolate flourless torte.

Chocolate Espresso Torte

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