Categories
breakfast Filipino kulinarya recipes

Tocino and Blue Potato Hash

This is my first post for the Kulinarya Cooking Club, a collection of Filipino food bloggers that celebrates Filipino cuisine every month. This month’s theme was the “Colors of the Philippine Flag,” which doesn’t sound hard until you consider that there isn’t a lot of blue food from which to choose. The rules did allow for garnishes or dishes to be used to represent the color blue, but I wanted it to be a main component of the dish.

My original idea was to do tocino chilaquiles, but I thought that was a little too easy since I would’ve simply bought a bag of blue tortilla chips. The hash idea evolved naturally from there, and blue potatoes was a natural choice. I wanted to tocino to represent the color red, and I used Jun Belen’s tocino recipe. I’ve been experimenting with tocino recipes for awhile, but I wanted to try Jun’s recipe because I like its simplicity and his use of red beet powder as a coloring agent. I added red bell pepper at the end for a more “pure” red color, since the tocino’s redness would diminish a bit when cooking. To round out the colors, I used a sunny egg for the yellow and white, which also fairly accurately represents the sun on Philippine flag.

For the technique, I pretty much followed the steps for the corned beef hash at Simply Recipes. It’s really straightforward and easily adaptable. Thanks, Elise!

I think I should’ve maybe used some yukon gold or other light-colored potato to maybe help the blue potatoes stand out more, but in the end, it was delicious and that’s all that really matters. :)

Tocino and Blue Potato Hash

(adapted from Simply Recipes.)

1 lb. cooked tocino, finely chopped
1½ cups cooked blue potatoes, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat butter in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes, until translucent.
  2. Mix in the chopped tocino and potatoes. Spread out evenly over the pan. Increase the heat to high or medium high and press down on the mixture with a metal spatula.
  3. Do not stir the potatoes and tocino, but let them brown. If you hear them sizzling, this is good. Use a metal spatula to peak underneath and see if they are browning. If nicely browned, use the spatula to flip sections over in the pan so that they brown on the other side. Press down again with the spatula. If there is too much sticking, you can add a little more butter to the pan. Continue to cook in this manner until the potatoes and the tocino are nicely browned.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in chopped red bell pepper. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Top with fried or poached eggs for breakfast.
Categories
Ad Hoc bakeries breakfast Thomas Keller

Options, Affordability Highlight ‘New’ Ad Hoc Breakfast

If you’re averse to Ad Hoc’s rigid set menus, you might want to give their new Sunday breakfasts a try. I detailed the changes in my previous post, so I’ll just jump straight into the meal.

Shortly after being seated, a basket of Bouchon Bakery pastries arrived at the table…

Bouchon Bakery PastriesBouchon Bakery Pastries

The banana nut muffin was simple and great, and I think Bouchon Bakery’s croissants are as close to perfect as you’ll find. The pastries were accompanied by a spread of blood orange vanilla Jam, blueberry marmalade, honey butter.

Blood Orange Vanilla Jam, Blueberry Marmalade, Honey ButterBlood Orange Vanilla Jam, Blueberry Marmalade, Honey Butter

The first course was a choice of a seasonal fruit salad…

Seasonal Fruit SaladSeasonal Fruit Salad

or pineapple yogurt parfait.

Pineapple Yogurt ParfaitPineapple Yogurt Parfait

The four main course options included stone-cut oatmeal and sourdough waffles, but we opted for the other two. I had the “Classic American,” which was two eggs, any style, Fatted Calf sausage, scallion pancakes, and a couple slices of palladin bread.

Classic American BreakfastClassic American Breakfast

I joked with Ad Hoc general manager Nick Dedier that this could easily evolve into a Thomas Keller “Grand Slam,” and he said Keller would probably love that idea. Keller has said in the past that he’s a fan of In-N-Out burger and Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, so an appreciation of Denny’s signature breakfast isn’t too surprising.

My wife had the corned beef hash, which was similar to the hash served at Easter last week except the potatoes were soft and fluffy chunks instead of thin crispy strings. The only thing I would change about this dish would be to crisp up the potatoes before serving since I like them a little crunchy.

Corned Beef Hash and Poached EggsCorned Beef Hash and Poached Eggs

This dish was the “savory” option of the week and is the menu slot that will change the most every week, i.e. don’t expect a hash next Sunday.

The meal ended with some Valrhona Chocolate and Shortbread Cookies that were delivered with the check.

Valhrona Chocolate and Shortbread CookiesValhrona Chocolate and Shortbread Cookies”

The cookies were good, but they were soft and chewy, and my wife and I both prefer cookies that have a little more bite to them.

In addition to Ad Hoc’s standard beverage offerings, a selection of fresh juices was available, as well as a sangria cocktail and mimosas. I think Ad Hoc has found the right price point at $24 (sans drinks), down from the previous price of $39. If you’re looking for a good simple breakfast in Yountville, Ad Hoc is pretty hard to beat.

Categories
Ad Hoc breakfast Thomas Keller waffles

Ad Hoc Debuts New Brunch Format Sunday

Ad Hoc is changing things up for Sunday brunch, offering several options over two courses instead of the previous three-course set menu. It’s also going to be cheaper; the new brunch price is $24, down from $39.

The first course will feature pastries from Bouchon Bakery, as well as a choice of fresh fruit or a yogurt parfait. Next is a choice of an egg dish, sourdough waffles, stone-ground oatmeal, and a special for the day. The oatmeal will be served with a number of jams, syrups, granolas and sugars. There will be no dessert course, but cookies for the table will be delivered with the check.

The impetus for the brunch changes occurred when Thomas Keller came into Ad Hoc one Sunday for brunch with a pancake craving, but that morning’s menu didn’t really feel like breakfast. Keller felt simpler and more traditional breakfast options should be available for brunch and worked with the Ad Hoc team to make it happen.

We’ll be there Sunday to check it out and will report back. The sacrifices I make for my readers…I tell ya! :)

Categories
Ad Hoc breakfast reviews Thomas Keller waffles

Ad Hoc – 4/12/09 (Easter in Yountville)

It was another beautiful spring day in California, a perfect backdrop for Easter in Yountville. Of course for us, that means a visit to Bouchon Bakery to pick up some goodies before brunch at Ad Hoc. We really need to explore more of the area, but it’s hard when you can drop into Bouchon Bakery and get an Easter egg-shaped Thomas Keller Oreo.

We were also lucky enough to score one of the last chocolate doughnuts in the shop. It’s a brioche doughnut filled with chocolate custard and then dipped in chocolate frosting laden with crispy chocolate balls. These are usually gone pretty early in the morning, but apparently they did a second batch for Easter.

Ad Hoc is debuting a new brunch format next weekend (I’ll write a separate post about this soon) and Easter was kind of a “soft opening.” It started with a mixed berry yogurt parfait with warm banana bread. The banana bread was great…lightly toasted and topped with a really nice honey butter.

Instead of the whole main entrée being family style, every diner got their own entree, corned beef hash and poached eggs, but the waffles were served family style.

Two poached Alexandre Dairy hen eggs topped a hash made of perfect, crispy potato strands mixed with Snake River Farms corned beef brisket. The eggs were nice and runny and were great when mixed into the hash.

Dessert was a brownie with vanilla ice cream and salted butterscotch sauce.

Overall, it was another fabulous Ad Hoc brunch, and I’m excited to see how the new brunch format works out. We’ll be back in Yountville next weekend to find out. :)

Categories
breakfast Chicago reviews

Uncommon Ground on Devon

Uncommon Ground is a restaurant/gallery/music venue/bar/cafe that boasts Chicago’s (and maybe the nation’s) first certified organic rooftop farm, which helps supply the restaurant with seasonal vegetables. The roof also houses two beehives, which helps provide pollination in their community as well as honey for the restaurant. Quite simply, this is urban farming that works. In fact, for every tree-tini (a martini with organic ginger-infused Rain Vodka, Liquor 43, tart apple syrup and apple cider) you order, Uncommon ground will plant a tree. For more information about Uncommon Grounds environmental efforts, check out their Web site.

Of course Uncommon Ground’s environmental commitment deserves to be praised, but what about the food? Well, we went in with empty stomachs for a Saturday brunch and left with full stomachs and smiles on our faces.

I had been planning on checking out Nuevo Leon for some chilaquiles on this trip, but we never got around to it, so I ordered them here. It wasn’t the down-home chilaquiles I was craving, but this more refined version totally hit the spot. The blend of crispy tortillas, chorizo, salsa verde and sour cream was perfect. The home fries were perfectly cooked and a couple dashes of Cholula gave them a nice kick.

Chilaquiles

Of course, I got to sample everyone else’s dishes, which included some really good halibut fish tacos, a ground buffalo corncake skillet and a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, mixed peppers, chihuahua cheese, cumin créme, spinach tortilla and smoked chili sauce. Check them out here:


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157609319067432″]

We ended the meal with some Black Dog Gelato, which is made locally in Chicago. The flavors we selected were salted peanut, coffee cocoa nibs, and caramel goat cheese. The peanut ended up being our favorite because we liked the salty flavor, the slight sweetness and a nice coarse texture. The caramel goat cheese tasted like cheesecake (always a good thing), and the coffee cocoa nibs was good but still a distant third.

Uncommon Ground is one Chicago restaurant that would be welcomed with open arms in the Bay Area. Their use of fresh, local, organic ingredients, as well as a commitment to running a completely sustainable, green philosophy permeates every aspect of the business, means that Uncommon Ground is doing in Chicago what many Bay Area restaurants only wish they could.

INFORMATION
Uncommon Ground
1401 W. Devon Ave.
Chicago, IL 60660 map
773.465.9801
Web site

Categories
beef Best of Inuyaki chicken Filipino pork

Best Breakfast Ever – Silogs

Forget Belgian waffles, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, brioche french toast, omelettes, country sausage and whatever else most people eat for breakfast. In my book, there’s no better way to start the day than with a silog, a Filipino breakfast of garlic fried rice, topped with a couple over-easy eggs and your choice of sweet or salty meats.

Filipinos love to combine words and names (don’t you know someone somewhere named Marivic?). Silog is a suffix referring to the fried rice (sinangag) and the eggs (itlog), and the dishes are named accordingly: tapsilog (tapa, the original silog) tosilog (tocino), adobosilog (chicken adobo), longsilog (longanisa), SPAMsilog – (SPAM!), litsilog (lechon), friedchixsilog (fried chicken), etc. etc.



I normally go to Cherry Garden Filipino Chinese Restaurant when I get a craving. I always have a hard time deciding between the tocino (sweet cured pork) and the longanisa (sausage akin to chorizo or linguica). The first time we went, I found out they had two types of longanisa, sweet or garlic. I had never had garlic longanisa before, so I ordered that and fell in love with it. My wife likes the bangsilog, which features bangus, the Filipino milkfish. She’s also had the pusitsilog (dried fried squid), and the jefroxsilog (dried fried sole). As you can she, she’s much more adventurous than I am!

Categories
breakfast French New York reviews

Balthazar

There was only one reason I was eating at Balthazar this morning — brioche French toast. I had never had it before but Sooj’s raving about it during our regular IM sessions about eating got me fixated on trying it. I mean, does brioche really make the difference between good French toast and great French toast? The answer is “yes.”

Why Balthazar? Well, during my online research preceding our trip, it was one of the only places that served it as part of their regular breakfast menu and not just during Sunday brunch. I had no idea that it was one of those places where you might see a celebrity or two, or that it’s actually pretty famous on its own. All I knew was that they had what I was looking for, and it was walking distance from my friend’s place, so I made a reservation.

We were seated promptly on arrival at 10am and the restaurant was already bustling. It’s very loud and busy, even at breakfast, and it was everything I ever imagined a New York restaurant would be. I wonder what this place is like at dinner. We started our breakfast with an apple galette and a homemade doughnut. The galette wasn’t very big, but was the perfect breakfast “appetizer.” The apples were tart and the pastry was buttery and flaky. It would also make a perfect dessert. The doughnut was a light, cake donut with a bit of sugar sprinkled on top. This was also good, and I’m not normally a fan of cake doughnuts.


Scrambled Eggs in Puff Pastry

My wife ordered scrambled eggs with asparagus and wild mushrooms in a puff pastry. The scrambled eggs were perfect and you could tell that the eggs were very fluffy, a sign of fresh eggs. You could taste every buttery layer of eggs but it wasn’t heavy at all. The puff pastry was perfect, and my wife was happy because we had been having bad luck with puff pastry at restaurants in the last few months.


Brioche French Toast

My brioche French toast was great. The thick slices of light, eggy bread were topped only with powdered sugar and two slices of applewood smoked bacon and served with a side of syrup. One bite and I was hooked. the crust was super crispy but not burnt, and I proceeded to cut the corners off the French toast to maximize the amount of crust in each bite. The bread was soft and pillowy and soaked up the syrup nicely. I normally like my bacon crispy, which wasn’t the case with Balthazar’s bacon, but I didn’t care because the smokey flavor that permeated the meat more than made up for it.

This New York trip, coupled with my addiction to Yelping and eating out, has helped me understand why people pay a little bit more money for good food. The simplicity of Balthazar’s French toast paired with only a side of bacon may seem sparse and cost twice as much when compared to your typical American restaurant breakfast. I mean, I could have easily gone to IHOP or Denny’s for French toast with eggs and bacon/sausage and hash browns, etc. and that would have filled me up, but was it really satisfying? Even when combined with the galette and the donut, our breakfast at Balthazar was both excellent and extremely satisfying without putting us into a food coma for the rest of the day.

INFORMATION
Balthazar
80 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012 map
212.965.1414
Web site