I’m always thinking about opening my own restaurant. I have so many ideas that I’m not exactly sure which one I would go with. I LOVE coming up with restaurant themes and creating fun menus and dishes that would be featured. So when Restaurant Startup, the super fun CNBC show, asked me to come up with a restaurant idea, kind of like I would be a contestant on the show, I jumped at the chance.
The format of the show is: two potential restaurant teams present their restaurant ideas to Joe Bastianich, Elizabeth Blau, and Tim Love. They pick one winning team to launch their restaurant with 36 hours and $7500. After they check out the decor, observe customer service, and eat at the pop-up, they decide if they want to invest. Since they base their investments on both the business side and the food side, I asked Mike to team up with me to be my numbers guy. Then I just focused on the fun part: the food!
Mike and I came up with our restaurant concept together and I had a blast thinking of what would be on the menu. We were thinking a sort of Japanese-Asian influenced snack bar, with lots of fun drinking snacks, kind of like an izakaya. I love the idea of names that proclaim what they are (kind of like how I named this blog, come to think of it!) so we decided on: Snack Bar.
Of course, every good restaurant needs a signature dish. This is Snack Bar’s: Potato Snack. It’s a 64° sous vide egg on top of the smoothest, butteriest mashed potatoes, served with grilled sourdough toast. It’s a combination of all the things I love: eggs, potatoes, and toast. I just love the texture of mashed potatoes with soft eggs on crunchy toast.
Since this is a restaurant dish, and a signature one at that, I played around a little bit with the cooking methods. Instead of just a regular boiled egg, I went with a sous vide egg, which is basically the most perfect poached egg you’ll ever have. To go along with that I sous vide the mashed potatoes as well.
I based the mashed potatoes on Heston Blumenthal’s mashed potatoes, which are the smoothest that I’ve ever eaten. He sous vides his potatoes at 72°C, which locks in the starches and ensures that the potatoes are smooth, but not gummy. Basically, the starch in the potatoes gelatinizes and the granules that contain the starch also firm up, making it harder to rupture and gum up during mashing.
After the sous vide, the potatoes are finished cooking in regular boiling water. They’re placed through a ricer and folded with butter and milk that’s been steeped with potatoes skins for some extra potato-y flavor. It’s a long process but completely worth it when you taste the end result. Definitely signature dish material.
I wish you guys could all come eat at my restaurant. Although I’m really not sure I’d be a good chef – I don’t think I have the time management skills and I’m not very good under pressure. But if you’re okay with the dishes coming out a little bit slow and with me chatting over with you while I’m cooking – I would totally do an open bar/kitchen concept – then we’re good!
Speaking of open kitchens and bars, I had fun shopping for decor items for Snack Bar. Because Mike is a designer, I had extra money to spend on cute stuff. I even made a little mood board so you guys could get a good feel for what I’m going for: a natural background palette with pops of metal and color, some fun dishes, and lots and lots of light fixtures so everyone can Instagram to their hearts content.
I like to think that Joe and Tim would totally invest in Snack Bar. Maybe one day I really will open a restaurant. In the meantime, I’ll be watching the new season of Restaurant Startup on CNBC. It premieres January 6th and to get you in the mood I’m giving away a Restaurant Startup prize pack full of cookbooks and tasty treats. To enter, just leave a comment letting me know what you’d order from Snack Bar. And don’t forget to check out the show!
Potato Snack: 64° Eggs, 72° Potatoes, Toast
yield: 6 servings
- 6 medium eggs, from the fridge
- 1 lb potatoes, scrubbed and peeled, peels reserved
- 1/2 cup full-cream milk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced
- fresh thyme, flat leaf parsley, or other herbs
- flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- sourdough toast, to serve
To sous vide the eggs: Fill a large pot with water and set the sous vide machine to 64°C. When the water reaches 64°C, gently place 6 eggs, straight from the fridge, into the water. Set a timer for 43 minutes. When the 43 minutes are up, remove the eggs from the water bath and plunge into an ice bath.
To make the mashed potatoes: Bring a saucepan of unsalted water to 72°C over a medium heat. Or use a sous vide machine to bring water up to 72°C. Cut the peeled potatoes into equal-sized pieces, rinse for 5 minutes and put into the pan and bring the water temperature back up to 72°C. If using a sous vide machine, place the potatoes in a vacuum sealed bag. Hold the potatoes at 72°C for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the cooked potatoes and rinse under cold running water.
Bring a saucepan of fresh salted water to the boil and add the potatoes. Cook until extremely soft and falling apart.
Meanwhile, add the potato peels to the milk, bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Allow to steep for 20 minutes before straining and discarding the peels.
Drain the potatoes, and return to the pan over a very low heat to dry out slightly.
Use a ricer and rice the potatoes onto the butter in a bowl, and fold together, push the mixture through a fine sieve add the warmed infused milk and salt to taste. Heat up the eggs by placing in very hot tap water. Crack the eggs into a small dish and tip the dish slightly to pour any loose whites.
Place a small dollop of potatoes in a bowl and gently slide the egg on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with fresh herbs. Serve with hot grilled sourdough toast.
Notes: Potatoes based on Heston Blumenthal’s Perfect Mash.
For the eggs, if you don’t have a sous vide machine, you can try this slow-poaching method.
Giveaway: CNBC is giving away a Restaurant Startup prize pack featuring cookbooks, a chefs coat, and tasty snacks.
To enter: Let me know what you’d order off my sample Snack Bar menu! Open to US residents only. Contest closes Friday, January 8th at 12pm PST. Good luck!
Update: This contest is closed! Keep your eyes out for the winner, I’ll post their name here and send them an email shortly.
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