In her Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, Christina Tosi describes a trip to France and her first experience with what she will later name a “Volcano” as follows:
We found a bench outside and unwrapped this mound of bread that looked like it had some sort of creamy gravy inside. Still half-asleep, we [Christina and David Chang] wrestled the filled bread ball out of the bag and bit in. When you are having a food moment, it’s like tasting food for the first time. Your eyes open wide and then close, as if in slow motion. You chew as if no food with flavor has ever touched your tongue before and what you are eating at that very moment is what will shape all future food opinions you will ever have… Neither of us speaks French, so we decided to call it what it was, a volcano – an explosion of potato, lardons and cheese like no other.
I see what you mean, Christina. I had one of those moments last night with a volcano of my very own, recreated by Shaun thanks to the recipe in her cookbook.
Instead of gruyere, caramelized onions and scalloped potatoes like she recommends, Shaun made an Italian twist on the French volcano. He stuffed Tosi’s “Mother Dough” with herbed tofu, tomatoes, garlic, onion and mushrooms. Rather than melting gruyere, he opted for an Italian equivalent: Sotoccenere with black truffles. Sotocennere is a fast melting, light cheese studded with black truffles and rolled in ash that came highly recommended by the staff at Whole Foods as the perfect Italian substitute for the ever-meltable gruyere. In my opinion, it was more than a substitute – it put gruyere to shame.
Talk about a flavor explosion. My initial reaction was, “Oh, s**t, Shaun.” The flavor was so powerful I almost didn’t want to swallow it. Then, I managed to exercise The Most Self Restraint I’ve Ever Had When it Comes to Food in my Life and went back into the kitchen to snap a photo after I cut one open:
I don’t know where to start. First: the bread. I didn’t realize when I bought the Milk Bar cookbook that Tosi includes some savory recipes, but thank god she did. This “Mother Dough” is used to make all sorts of treats: these volcanoes, bagel bites, etc. It was dense and doughy. The garlic in the filling seeped into the pores in the bread. It was like giant rolls of garlic bread filled with all the good stuff. And, the cheese. I think I’m addicted.
Shaun’s reaction was, “Well, Christina Tosi did it again.” But honestly, he deserves a huge chunk of the credit, too! This might top the first meeting of the JMU minds as the new best meeting of two JMU minds.
But what would one Milk Bar recipe be without a second Milk Bar recipe for dessert?
Please welcome back the uber-healthy [as desserts go] cereal milk panna cotta, this time made with Mom’s Best Honey Grahams. You can really taste the fact that the Honey Grahams were toasted – more so than with the bran flakes. Served with an after-dinner bourbon with honey and lemon, we had the perfect Milk Bar night. And there’s more Mother Dough leftover. What to do, what to do…