Apex point - © Robert Sommers 2024

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Buon appetito!

I am still playing around in the kitchen. Leslie says that after 35 years, it is my turn. Fine, I enjoy it. I still have a lot to learn and possess pretty lousy knife skills but I believe that I am slowly improving. 

I was sick of our old 3 qt. saucepan and bought this one on Amazon. Nice steamer and a glass lid. The old one wasn't fitting right after thirty years. We were due. Picked up a nice purple thermometer too, pairs nicely with my wife's hair.

We trekked down to the Chefstoys shop in San Marcos a while back and checked out a bunch of stuff we didn't need but was cool to see. 

I have two legs of lamb in the freezer and wanted a dedicated boning knife to start breaking things down and ended up purchasing a Victorinox deboner for $29.  I got the slightly flexible one. 

Victorinox has been around for hundred of years, makes Swiss Army Knives and gets good reviews. 

But the store didn't have the saucepan we wanted (we ultimately bought on line) so we went to the restaurant supply on Grand in San Marcos where the antique mall used to be. All their saucepans were aluminum so no luck there either but we did buy a pizza stone for a fifth the price of Chefs Toys, twenty bucks. 

Afterwards we went to North Park Produce in Vista and bought hummus and baba ganouche and garlic paste and their incredible trash can lid sized iraqi bread for $1.99. Still warm from the ovens...  Such a wonderful ethnic market.

So what have I been cooking?

When I was banished from the kitchen thirty plus years ago, my infraction was an asian velveted chicken recipe that went drastically awry. I decided to revisit the scene of the crime and redeem myself after my culinary disaster. Would make a velvet beef stir fry. Nothing fancy but don't forget, this is all new to me. Baby steps...

I marinated thinly cut top round strips in soy, rice vinegar and corn starch for an hour or two. 


I cooked the beef, which gets a very nice smooth "velvet" quality and then cooked broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, mushrooms, cashews and sugar snap peas.

I made a garlic, soy, orange juice, ginger, sesame oil, brown sugar sauce and added more rice vinegar and corn starch.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to have it with noodles or rice and I ended up using neither, it was fine and perfect on its own. 

Added sesame seeds, didn't toast them this time because I was too lazy.

I love sugar snap peas, didn't overcook the vegetables and it turned out really tasty.

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I picked up four lamb chops at Grocery Outlet yesterday to cook for our dinner. 

Leslie was coming home late after a friend's birthday celebration and I wanted to have a nice dinner waiting for her.

I was going to do cornish game hens with an apricot glaze but decided that entree is instead coming very soon.

My russet potatoes were not getting any younger in the bag and I decided to roast them all up to accompany my lamb.

I bastardized a couple recipes but basically decided to follow J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's guidelines.

Kenji is an amazing chef with a scientific approach and I enjoy his writing and videos. 

He graduated from M.I.T. and majored in Architecture.

He also won a James Beard award this year.

Smarter than I am, so I took his advice. Put baking soda in the parboil water as he says that the alkaline water roughs up the potato exteriors which I guess professional potato cookers think is a good thing. Made sure the water was boiling before I put the spuds in as he has tested the difference in hot and cold water bathing for the vegetables.

He has tested everything, it seems.

I did a salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, red chili flake, garlic, oregano, paprika seasoning and drizzled everything with an olive oil, duck fat composite that I melted in a small saucepan. Lots of duck fat. Lined a baking sheet with parchment and let it fly for 28 minutes at 425°.

I wanted to have everything piping hot but Les showed up late from the party (like I have a million times) and I ended up eating a bunch of the potatoes before she got home, me now in a somewhat pissy mood.

The potatoes were just too damn good, with their crisp exteriors and fluffy centers. Perfectly cooked and seasoned.

Last time I roasted potatoes I actually added an additional step, frying after parboiling and before roasting but I think it is totally unnecessary.

I oiled up the extremely hot Le Creuset griddle pan that Kathy Witkoff gave me.

I cooked the chops for four minutes before I flipped them, then poured a minced garlic, rosemary and butter sauce on the tops and basted them for another four minutes in a new Italian butter that is fresh to our fridge.

I wasn't crazy about the flavor of the lamb but I think that is on the purveyor and not my cooking and preparation.

I like the lamb from Tip Top Meats and will try this with larger chops from there next time. 

Buon appetito!

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I made this Peruvian lemon chicken with aji panca before I left for Santa Barbara. My aji amarilla went bad but I improvised. 


Dialing this in pretty well. Dredge and broil the last ten minutes with the lid off the dutch oven.

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I sent this video of a brooklyn guy that cooks Thai food to a few friends in Thailand. They all say he is dead on and authentic. Too much onion for me but I learned a lot.

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Paella Valenciana

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