Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hugo's: The Education of Rob Evans

From an article in the Maine Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010.

The Education of Rob Evans

He grew up in Southborough, Massachusetts. The men in his family were electricians. Evans went to vocational high school but never even considered working in the trade.

When he was 20, he sold his motorcycle, bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii, and found a cheap apartment right on Sunset Beach and a job cooking breakfast at a surf shop across the street. “That was probably the sweetest situation of my life,” he says. “I was out of work by noon, surfing and playing on the beach all day long. It was so good that it got boring, and I took a job in a cruise ship kitchen.”

On the ship, Evans worked three-month-long shifts with a month off between to travel. He did it for three years. As the ship sailed around the South Pacific, he worked through every station in the kitchen.

In the fall of 1998, Evans tried out for a line cook job at The Inn at Little Washington, the famously over-the-top restaurant and inn in Washington, Virginia. He got the job and went back to working 14 hours a day for eight dollars an hour.

A year later, Evans and his then-girlfriend, now wife, Nancy Pugh, moved on to The French Laundry in Yountville, California. At that time it was considered the very best restaurant in the country.

“Everything was different at The Laundry,” he says. “Everything was cleaner and better, and done its own way.” For his tryout, Evans spent the day in the kitchen doing prep work. During service, he stood in a corner of the kitchen and watched how it all went down. “Watching that food go out sent chills down my spine,” he says.

Evans and Pugh left Napa after six months to open their own place. For a couple months, they lived out of their pick-up. “Our stuff was all over the place,” says Evans. “We had no apartment, no money in the bank, nothing. And that’s when we heard about Hugo’s. The owner was willing to sell cheap.”

In the seven years that they’ve been open, Evans and Pugh have gone from total unknowns to totally famous in the food world.
In 2004, Evans was named one of the best new chefs by Food & Wine magazine. In 2009, he won the coveted James Beard Foundation award for best chef in the Northeast.

Read more.....

Hugo's in Portland, ME

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blog Bites: Madeleines


It was Sunday night, the actors getting awards, the people in haiti still getting not much, John Mayer was singing about heartbreak warfare, and I made my first batch of madeleines based on a recipe by the wonderful Heidi Swanson. Lovely!

1 stick unsalted butter (original recipes calls for 1 1/2 but I think it is too much)
3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
a pinch fine-grain sea salt
2/3 cups sugar
zest of one large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar
baking spray
Special equipment: A madeleine baking pan, regular or small
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the stick of butter in a small pan over medium heat until it's slightly browned and has a nutty aroma, (takes about 20 minutes on low heat). Strain (using fine mesh strainer) to leave out the solids. Cool the butter to room temperature. 

With the melted butter cooling, use a baking spray (the one with oil and flour) to spray the madeleine pan (I am a bit lazy here, you can also butter the pan and dust it with flour).

Using a kitchenaid is great for this recipe. First, put the eggs with the salt in the bowl. Use the whisk attachment, and whisk the eggs on high speed until thick and frothy (ca. 2-3 min). Continuing the mixer on high speed and slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whisk for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and ribbony. With a hand whisk gently add in the lemon zest and vanilla (just until mixed).

Sieve the flour on top of the egg batter, and also gently fold in with the hand whisk. Now fold in the butter mixture. Only stirring enough to bring everything together. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 -3/4 full.

Bake the madeleines for 14-16  minutes (8-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. They are rather fragile, but will get crisp once cooled. Immediately dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 3 dozen regular madeleines.

This post was featured on FoodBuzz's Daily Top 9 on Jan 20 2010.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My little Cooking Cat

The cooking cat

The winter is too long, and sitting next to the wood stove can get a bit boring, so Baby Cat has lately decided to check out what I am cooking. She patiently sits on the other side of the stove and seriously inspects all my moves, chops, pots, and baking. As long as she approves, it must be good!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wilted Winter Salad with Meatloaf Lunch

Wilted salad with meatloaf

Another variation of my new lunch: sauteed onion with cherry tomatoes, jicama, corn salad with wilted radicchio and arugula, a splash of black cherry balsamic vinegar and a slices of meatloaf.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Wilted Arugula Salad with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Bosc Pearc

Wilted arugula salad

Salad in the winter.... needs a little adjustment when it is 3F outside. In a heavy pan, I heated some extra virgin olive oil, added a few red pepper flakes, a small chopped red onion, a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes and a sliced Bosc pear. I let it all char slightly, and then added 2 large handfuls of arugula salad. I let it just wilt down, mixing it with the other ingredients in the pan. Once served on a plate, I added pine nuts, blue cheese crumbles, and topped it with a shot of Black cherry balsamic vinegar. ---