Category Archives: Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller’s Marinated Skirt Steak

We recently had some friends over for dinner so we’d have an excuse to open up some wine that we received as a present.  Our friend Jesse’s parents, who live in Boston, were kind enough to send us some T-Vine Psychedelic Rooser Zinfandel-Petite-Sirah, so we invited Jesse to come and share it with us.  What goes well with such big, bold red?  Beef!

Skirt steak.  It certainly isn’t the prettiest of cuts- all scraggly and uneven- thin in some places and thick in others.  However, it’s one of the most flavorful, beefy parts of the cow and also happens to be J’s favorite, so when I was trying to figure out what to cook for the meal, J jumped all over the gorgeous photo in Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home cookbook and it was decided.  The unglamorous, unpopular kid in the class of steaks would be the main course.  Hmph.
I’ll admit that the amount of olive oil in Thomas Keller’s marinade made me gasp a bit…I mean, 2 CUPS?  I reassured myself that the cut of meat itself had little fat and that most of the marinade would be wiped off anyway, so I went ahead and used the entire 2 cups.  The oil is flavored with rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme before the steak bathes in it for a few hours.  Sounded good to me!  
I needed some pretty sides to go along with the steak, and found some gorgeous little heirloom potatoes at the Pasadena Farmer’s Market which I promptly picked up.  An array of colorful carrots and some fresh arugula also caught my eye, as did some apples and ruby grapefruit.  If you’re ever in a cooking slump,  just hit your local farmer’s market to get inspiration- it works for me every time!
So here’s what we had:
Beecher’s Honey Hazelnut crackers with gruyere cheese.  I’d never had these crackers before and picked them up since they were two for one at Whole Foods.  Holy cow- they are sturdy, nutty and really dangerous since it’s hard to stop eating them.  I like a nice, crunchy cracker and these went so well with the salty cheese.  Instant favorite.
Arugula, red onion and ruby grapefruit salad.  The combination of the spicy greens with the sweet, juicy grapefruit was a hit with the guests.
Salt roasted baby potatoes.  I’d seen this on many blogs before, and was intrigued by the idea of salt-baking, like you would a fish.  I mixed up some Kosher salt with rosemary, then set the potatoes in a bed of it.  My best friend said they looked like little, colorful stones, and the flavor of the rosemary really permeated the potatoes.
Roasted carrots tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I’m a total sucker for multicolored carrots, especially when they are smaller in size.  They are so visually stunning and make an easy side dish to pretty much any meat or fish.  
Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home Marinated Skirt Steak (with the potatoes!).  After wiping off most of the marinade, I just seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper, seared them for a minute on each side and finished them off in the oven for about seven minutes.  I skipped bathing them in butter part in the recipe because, after stewing in all of that olive oil for hours, I didn’t think it was necessary.  Not that I’d know anything about cooking better than Mr. Keller!  I just felt WE didn’t need it, let’s put it that way.  It was tender and tasty nonetheless.  After the potatoes were done I just tossed them with a little olive oil and chives.
French Apple Tart.  This month’s Saveur featured this recipe by Sara Moulton, along with a step-by-step pictorial on how to achieve the beautiful pattern.  It was actually really easy, and the only ingredients in this are flour, butter, apples and sugar.  Simplicity at its best.  
Everything turned out well, and the wine was amazing.  After a couple of hours eating and drinking, we called it a night, red teeth and all. 
Hope you all have a great weekend!

Brunch at Bouchon Bistro, Beverly Hills


Thomas Keller. The man is the God of chefs. Not godfather; I mean he is literally some higher non-human power whose touch makes food turn into something other-worldly. He is known throughout the universe for his perfect attention to detail and is revered by chefs, food journalists, food bloggers and probably even some carrots or cows hoping to make it into one of his famous creations one day. Like I said, the man is GOD. Chefs want to be him, food wants to be cooked by him.

Although I’ve never been to his flagship restaurant, The French Laundry, I have had the extreme pleasure of meeting Mr. Keller after spying him at Church & State one night. My sudden burst of liquid confidence was brought on by several (we don’t need to discuss exact numbers now, do we?) glasses of rosé and I didn’t think twice about grabbing my sister and practically chasing the poor man down the street. I latched onto him, told him I loved him and made him pose for several photos. Do I even need to tell you how profound my “morning after” shame was the next day? I mean, who cares if you wake up in bed next to a stranger, grab your things and sneak out? It hardly compares to making a drunken fool out of yourself in front of ThomasFreakingKeller. Talk about shame spiral.

You’d think a man so obsessed with perfection in the kitchen would have scoffed at two over-eager, inebriated fools; but in fact, he was quite the opposite. Warm and engaging, he laughed at our enthusiasm and posed happily for multiple, blindness-inducing flash photos while thanking us for our compliments. I mean, he was so suave yet so down-to-earth that my sister and I developed chef-crushes on him right away. Damn you Thomas Keller, you ARE perfect!

Well, I recently got my chance to dine at one of Mr. Keller’s restaurants since he finally opened one here in Los Angeles- Bouchon in Beverly Hills. It seemed impossible to get a table when it first hit the dining scene and I guess I just kind of put it out of my mind, so when J suggested we go for brunch, I happily agreed.

After parking the car downstairs, you walk through this beautiful courtyard to the restaurant entrance- I mean, we’re starting off pretty well if this is the first thing you see:

The restaurant was immaculate, and as we were given a table by one of the open French doors overlooking the courtyard, I felt myself getting excited!

J opted to start with a glass of champagne and oysters- I think he was feeling a little celebratory after having done a successful gig at Bass Player Live the night before. I opted for iced coffee, since I’m just one of those people who like the idea of drinking during the day, but simply can’t hang if I do. Me + daytime drinks = bed at 5:00pm. It’s too bad, but I’ve tried it enough to know that they outcome is the same every single time.

The Kumamoto oysters were sweet and briny, and I did manage to steal one.

For his main dish, J ordered the Croque Madam, and boy, it was a thing of beauty. The brioche was perfectly toasted and the proportion of cheese to bread to mornay sauce was just right- you could still get bites of the crisp brioche edges in addition to ones where the nutty (brown butter?) mornay sauce melded with the ham and cheese. Of course the egg was spot on- nice and runny but cooked in all the right places. J wasn’t as psyched about his fries but I thought they were delicious and probably ended up eating more than half.

My Ouef Poché Royale was less successful, and of course it pains me to even say that because well….I mean, it’s Bouchon. It’s Keller. My “house made English muffin” was just flat (Campanile’s house made muffins, in comparison, are tall and gorgeous and excellent!) and bogged down with too much butter, and the smoked salmon was both too salty and fishy. By the way, I always get the hollandaise sauce on the side and that’s why my plate doesn’t look as good as I’m sure an order of Ouef Poché Royale usually does. But I just couldn’t get past the fishiness of the salmon (and yes, I do realize fish is fishy, I eat a ton of it but this was oddly fishy) so I left one of the two on my plate. The light, fluffy hollandaise was excellent though!

Our waiter was very pleasant, and upon further thought I realized why he reminded me of someone- his phrasing and intonation when he spoke were exactly like those of actress Christine Branaski! Anyway, sorry that was random. He was a good waiter, but we were a bit confused since some of the patrons got bread service in the form of a Épi de Blé baguette placed directly on their table, while others (like us) did not. I thought maybe it was only for people who ordered more lunch-like items off the menu (?) although that would be odd. While we were waiting for our food, we decided to order a croissant, and it took so long that we didn’t get it until we got the rest of our meal. Although it was flaky and gorgeous to look at, the croissant just didn’t have that wonderful, buttery flavor of a good criossant. Strange.

So I guess all-in-all, I don’t have too many complaints. I guess maybe my expectations were ridiculously high after hearing for years about the perfection that is The French Laundry and reading endless blog posts of incredible meals at Bouchon in both Las Vegas and here in L.A. Maybe I thought my brunch would be perfect from start to finish because of Thomas Keller’s reputation. I do wonder if I’d be disappointed had I gotten the same food and service at a non-Keller restaurant….overly fishy-fish aside, of course. I mean, I kind of feel guilty even writing ANY complaints about a place owned by a man who has contributed more to fine dining than I’ll ever contribute to, well, anything, but I suppose I just felt I had to be honest. Regardless, there is no questioning the impact that Mr. Keller and his work have had on the culinary world, so I’m not going to let one miss on one dish discourage me from visiting as many of his restaurants as often as I ever get a chance to in my lifetime!

Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc Buttermilk Fried Chicken

…now that’s quite a mouthful, right? With a name like that, it has to be good. The fact that this is a Thomas Keller recipe pretty much guarantees it will be good….and maybe a bit complicated? Although the process of making this fried chicken takes about two days, it isn’t difficult since most of that time is taken up by chicken soaking in brine. That doesn’t require you to do anything but wait to eat this fabulous chicken.

My dad’s birthday and parent’s anniversary fall within a day of each other, so we always celebrate the “annibirthday” as a single occasion. This year we had it at our house, since my sister moved to Ireland (read about her adventures here).
I usually opt for Italian, but the recent wave of warm weather really gave me the urge to make something summery. My husband reminded me that we were barely into spring, but after a few days of 85 degree weather, it felt like summer to me! And what better to eat during the summer than fried chicken, cold tomatoes and sweet corn?
Luckily our local farmer’s market had some nice tomatoes, but I had to get the corn at Whole Foods since it’s just a bit too early for it in the markets. I picked up a couple of whole chickens at the store, cut them up and set them in the brine. After a 12 hour nap in the fridge, it was time to take them out.

This brine has lemon, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, kosher salt, honey….

Keller recommends you rinse the chicken off (a step I forgot), dry them off (done) and let them come to room temp before dredging and frying. I think this is of ultra-importance. Trying to fry (or bake, broil, pan-fry) any cold meat or fish is never a good idea because the outside cooks too quickly while the stone-cold inside remains raw. A coworker once asked me why his turkey didn’t cook all the way even though he baked it for more than the required time. I immediately asked, “Did you stick it in the oven straight from the fridge?” Sure enough, he had. I think the idea of letting raw meat sit on the counter for 2-3 hours freaks people out, but you’re going to cook it so it’s fine, and it isn’t like the meat is going to get warm. It just ensures even cooking.
The dredging process was a bit messy- you dredge the chicken in the dry mix (flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper) and then in buttermilk, then back into the dry mixture. Although Keller says to fry immediately, I let the coating set up for 20 minutes or so. I feel this helps the coating stay on while frying and while eating it, so it doesn’t come off in one, giant slab.
So here’s the result:

The chicken was super flavorful- moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside. We could taste the hint of lemon that was in the brine, and the crust was so savory and crispy. Truly the best fried chicken I’ve had….or made, for that matter.

Side dish of sliced tomatoes, topped with chopped green garlic, sea salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Baked buttered corn. I saw this on Ruhlman’s blog a long time ago and knew I had to try it. I realize it isn’t quite the season and I had to cheat it a bit (by pulsing half of my corn mixture in the food processor to get the “corn milk” necessary to thicken the dish) but it turned out so well. This dish is SO SIMPLE but so insanely good your guests will never believe it is literally 2 ingredients- corn cut straight off the cob, and a bit of butter to dab over the top. My version had three ingredients since I added some chopped tarragon to the mixture. You just put it in a dish and bake, and it comes out like a cross between a corn pudding and creamed corn. Deeeelicious. I can’t wait to make it again in late summer/early fall when the corn contains more starch.

The browned edges of caramelized natural sugar is the BEST PART!

I am looking forward to trying Keller’s brine and coating on little nuggets of chicken breast or maybe even on some thinly pounded chicken breast, a la Milanese. Definitely a keeper.

What’s your favorite warm-weather food?