Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tomato Parsley Oeufs Cocotte and Cheddar Leek Crisp with Petite Ham Steak and Serrano Potato Medley

     Modern Free Standing Cocotte! 
     The original Oeufs Cocotte was eggs or an egg mixture that was placed in a ceramic ramekin, the baked in a bain marie or steamed.  Oeufs Cocotte was served, by simply placing the ceramic ramekin of eggs on a doily lined plate.  Basically, Oeufs Coquette was an alternative gentle way of preparing Shirred Eggs, but Shirred Eggs are whole eggs baked in a small casserole dish.  Oeufs Coquette differs from Shirred Eggs, because Oeufs Cocotte can be made with either whole eggs or a complex whisked egg mixture.  Some of the classic Oeufs Cocotte whisked eggs mixtures were quite fancy, so Ouefs Cocotte was always looked upon as being more elegants than Shirred Eggs.
     During the last decade, a few kitchen equipment innovations have enabled chefs to modernize and redefine classic French egg recipes.  Non-Stick Silicone Baking Molds have changed the rules as to how Oeufs Cocotte can be prepared and presented.  Instead of serving the Oeufs Cocotte in the ceramic ramekin that it was cooked in, when using a non-stick silicone baking mold the Oeufs Cocotte can be popped out of the silicone baking mold after they finish cooking.  Because of the nature of silicone baking molds, baking the Oeufs Cocotte in a bain marie is not always necessary, so one step can be eliminated in the classic recipe.  The best part of using a silicone baking mold to make Oeufs Cocotte is the plated presentation.  The eggs or whisked egg mixture can easily be popped out of the non-stick silicon baking mold and the Ouefs Cocotte can be plated as a free standing presentation, with no ceramic baking mold to clutter the plate.
      Adding integral garnishes to a free standing Oeufs Cocotte increases the eye appeal.  A thin pastry crisp garnish or cheese crisp garnish increases the height of the Oeufs Cocotte presentation in an extravagant way.  A leafy herb sprig combined with a complimentary sauce is another way to garnish a modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte entrée.  A free standing Oeufs Cocotte can even be topped with a gourmet cheese and passed under a salamander (broiler) till the cheese softens and melts.  As one can see, modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte has opened the door for new presentation ideas.
     When plating a modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte entrée, it is best to design the plate presentation with a sense of order.  Arranging petite accompaniments, like potatoes, roasted tomato, sausage or ham on the plate should be done with uniformity and clean open space in mind.  Using a ring mold to confine and shape loose accompaniments will achieve a clean looking plate that does not look cluttered.
     Making a modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte entrée with a silicone baking mold may initially seem intimidating on a first attempt, but the entire procedure actually is fairly easy to do.  When I first saw a modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte at a high end buffet in Las Vegas, it only took a few minutes to figure out how the entrée was actually made, because the pastry chef was using silicone pans at a 5 Diamond resort in Florida that worked in way back in 2001.  I figured that the 36 individual cup silicone muffin molds were the only way that a modern Oeufs Cocotte could be prepared mass production style for an elegant Las Vegas buffet.
     When I back got home in Chicago, I purchased silicone baking molds and figured out the rest.  I actually made a perfect modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte on the first attempt.  I even anticipated a trick involved in the process when using a fancy whisked eggs mixture that prevents the solid ingredients from sinking to the bottom of the silicone egg mold.  The trick is to cook one half of the egg mixture till it is scrambled very loose, then recombine the extra soft scrambled eggs with the other half of the raw whisked egg mixture.  This step keeps the solid ingredients in suspension, so the solid ingredients are evenly distributed in the free standing Oeufs Cocotte.  To ensure that the whisked eggs do not oxidize to a gray tint, a small amount of lemon juice must be added.  

     Cheddar Leek Crisp:
     This recipe yields 1 cheese crisp garnish.
     The cheese crisp is delicate, so it must be handled very gently!  It is best to make the cheese crisp ahead of time, then set the pan where it will not be damaged.  
     Because cheddar is an oily cheese, the thin grated cheddar must be dusted with a small amount of flour, so it becomes crisp instead of flexible.
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 10 thin julienne sliced leek threads.  (Thin julienne = 1/6" x 4")
     Gently sauté till the leek threads start to become tender become tender and flexible.
     Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Place an 8" x 8" square sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan.
     Lightly brush the parchment paper with melted unsalted butter.
     Arrange the soft leek threads on the center of the paper, so they are scattered over a 4" to 5" area.
     Step 3:  Place 3 tablespoons of very thin grated cheddar cheese in a small mixing bowl.
     Add about 1/2 teaspoon of flour.
     Toss the flour and cheese together, till the thin grated cheddar is lightly dusted.
     Pick up the dusted cheese and leave any excess flour in the bowl.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle a thin layer of the flour dusted grated cheddar cheese over the leek threads that cover a 4" to 5" area.
     *The layer of cheese should be a maximum of 1/8" thick.  Leave a few small open spaces between the pieces of cheese to create a lacy effect when it is baked.
     Step 5:  Place the pan into the 325ºF oven.
     Roast the leek thread and cheddar crisp, till it is no longer moist and it becomes a crispy golden brown.
     *Keep an eye on the cheese crisp, because once it turns crisp it will start to burn if it is roasted for a few minutes too much!
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Use a thin metal spatula to gently loosen and scrape the cheese crisp free from the parchment paper, while the cheese crisp is hot and it is still slightly flexible.
     Leave the loosened cheese crisp on the pan.
     Set the cheese crisp pan aside where it will not be damaged.
     *As the cheese crisp cools it will become a brittle texture, so handle the cheese crisp carefully later in the recipe!     
     Serrano Potato Medley:
     This recipe yields 1 petite portion.
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of large diced (parmentier) peeled russet potato in a small sauce pot.
     Add a 2 1/2 to 3 ounce whole unpeeled purple potato.
     Cover the potatoes with water.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Boil till the potatoes are halfway cooked.  (blanched)
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the potatoes.
     Cool the potatoes under cold running water.
     Peel the blanched purple potato with the back of a paring knife.
     Large dice the purple potato.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the large diced purple and russet potatoes.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Gently sauté till the potatoes are tender and golden highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Korean style Red Serrano Chili Pepper Paste.  (sambal)
     Add 1 teaspoon of water.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Serrano Potato Medley warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Petite Ham Steak and Roasted Shallot:
     This recipe yields 1 petite portion.
     Step 1:  Use a 3" ring mold as a guide to cut a round ham steak that is about 1/2" thick.  (A 2 1/2 to 3 ounce portion.)
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Place the ham steak in the pan.
     Place 1 peeled small whole shallot in the pan.
     Gently sauté till a few golden highlights appear on the ham.
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Roast till the ham steak is hot and shallot becomes tender.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the petite ham steak and roasted shallot warm on a stove top.

     Tomato Parsley Oeufs Cocotte:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     "Modern Baked Eggs" is another name for the free standing Oeufs Coquette style.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of milk.
     Whisk the egg mixture till it is blended.
     Step 2:  Heat a small non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely diced tomato.
     Add 1/2 of the whisked egg mixture.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Briefly scramble the ingredients till the eggs are cooked loose and runny.
     *The eggs should only be partially cooked.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Return the partially cooked egg mixture portion to uncooked raw egg mixture portion in the mixing bowl.
     Stir the two egg mixtures together.  
     Step 4:  Lightly brush a non-stick silicone custard cup baking mold with melted butter.
     Pour the egg mixture into the silicone baking mold.
     Place the baking mold on a small roasting pan.  (pie tin)
     Add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan.
     Place a piece of parchment paper that is lightly brushed with unsalted butter over the eggs in the custard cup.
     Step 5:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the eggs are fully cooked and they feel firm to the touch.  (About 9 to 12 minutes.  A probe thermometer should read 145ºF to 148ºF.)
     Remove the pan from the oven.

     Tomato Parsley Oeufs Cocotte and Cheddar Leek Crisp with Petite Ham Steak and Serrano Potato Medley:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Remove the protective parchment paper from the Tomato Parsley Oeufs Cocotte silicone custard cup mold.
     Invert the eggs and silicone mold together as one, onto the center of a plate.
     Remove the silicone baking mold.
     Step 2:  Use a 3" ring mold as a guide to place the Serrano Potato Medley on the plate next to the eggs.
     Step 3:  Place the petite ham steak next to the eggs.
     Place the roasted shallot on top of the ham steak.
     Step 4:  Cut a 3/4" deep slit into the top center of the baked eggs.
     Gently part the top of the eggs open just wide enough to vertically insert the Cheddar Leek Crisp.
     Step 5:  Place 2 small Italian Parsley sprigs on top of the eggs.

     Viola!  A nice looking modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte breakfast!                              

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Venison Tenderloin Schnitzel with Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande, Rösti and Sunny Eggs

     A Gourmet Swiss Style Venison Breakfast Entrée!
     There are relatively few venison breakfast recipes on the internet or in book form.  Venison Sausage is just about the only breakfast offering.  Venison is a good choice of breakfast meat, because it is lean and nearly fat free.  When an organic high protein meat is combined with long acting carbohydrates, eggs, a small proportion of lipids and vegetable nutrients, the breakfast meal will provide strength and long lasting energy for outdoor activites on a chilly day in the mountains.  This nutritional goal is what hunting lodge cuisine is all about!
     European countries are great sources for classic wild game recipes.  Austrian Schnitzel is a popular method of preparing tender cuts of wild game in the Alps region.  Fried egg garnishes for wild game date back to the late 1700's and this combination is perfect for breakfast.  Rösti Potatoes are a popular Swiss breakfast item, especially when the weather is cold.  Sherry flavored sauces add warmth on a cold day.  Sherry flavors the Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande in today's recipe.  Glacé Viande was originally made with wild game meat and bones over 400 years ago, so it is a perfect choice for a Venison Schnitzel sauce.  Confetti Peppers are multi color tiny sweet bell peppers and they have an agreeable mild sweet pepper flavor.  It may be difficult to imagine how good this sauce tastes with the Venison Schnitzel and eggs, but one taste is all it takes to agree.
     Glacé Viande:
     This recipe yields about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of glacé viande.  A little glacé viande goes a long way!
     Step 1:  Place 4 pounds of veal bones, lamb bones, beef bones, pork bones and lean meat scraps in a roasting pan.
     Add 5 ounces of tomato paste.
     Add 8 to 10 ounces of rustic un-peeled mirepoix of carrot, celery and onion.
     Stir the mixture together.
     Step 2:  Roast the mixture in a 350ºF oven, till the bones and vegetables caramelize to a deep brown color.  (Stir the ingredients occasionally.)
     Step 3:  Place the roasted bones and mirepoix in a stock pot.
     Deglaze the roast pan with water and add the jus to the stock pot.
     Step 4:  Cover the bones with 2 " of extra water. 
     Bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat 
     Simmer for 4 hours.
     Add water occasionally to cover the bones.
     Occasionally skim off any fat and impurities from the surface.
     Step 6:  Remove most of the bones from the pot and discard them.  
     Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second pot.
     Discard the bones and vegetables.
     Skim off all of the grease that floats to the top.
     Step 7:  Place the pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Simmer the meat stock, till the volume reduces by a little more than half.
     The glacé viande should be able to glaze the back of a spoon with a thin coating.
     Step 8:  Remove the pot from the heat and cool the sauce to room temperature.
     Place the sauce in a container and chill till it is needed.  
     *Glacé Viande can also be frozen in portions for later use.  When the thin Glacé Viande is used in recipes, it will be reduced to a slightly thicker consistency.

     Potato Rösti:
     This recipe yields 2 petite Rösti.  (1 portion)
     The lightly blanched potato mixture must be cooked shortly after grating or it will oxidize and discolor.      
     Step 1:  Place a sauce pot of water over medium high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Step 2:  Select a large 8 ounce russet potato.
     Peel the potato.
     Place the potato in the pot of boiling water.
     Blanch the potato for 4 or 5 minutes, so the surface is still firm and the center just starts to heat up.
     Step 3:  Remove the potato from the hot water.
     Let the potato cool till it can be handled with bare hands.
     Step 4:  Grate the hard blanched potato into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 pinch of Herbs de Provence.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian Parsley
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 5:  Heat a wide non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Place 2 stainless steel ring molds in the pan.  (3 1/2" to 4" diameter ring molds)
     Divide the Rösti mixture into 2 equal size portions.
     Place the 2 Rösti portion in the 2 ring molds.
     Use a spoon to press the Rösti mixture flat and even inside each ring mold.
     Remove the ring molds.
     Step 6:  Sauté till the bottom half of the Rösti are light golden brown and crispy.
     Step 7:  Use a spatual to flip the 2 Rösti.
     *If the Rösti is damaged or it falls apart, it is okay.  Just use a spatula to pack the Rösti back into a petite pancake shape!
     Briefly sauté the second side of the Rösti for 30 seconds.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the Rösti Potatoes are fully cooked and golden brown.
     Step 9:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the 2 petite Rösti warm on a stove top.
     Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande: 
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.  (1 generous portion)
     The proportion of Confetti Peppers should be relatively high in this sauce.  Confetti Peppers are colorful tiny sweet bell peppers.
     *This sauce can be made while the Rösti finish baking!  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped mixed Red, Orange and Yellow Sweet Confetti Peppers.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté till the peppers start to become tender.  (Try not to brown the peppers!)
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of sherry.
     Add 1/4 cup of thin Glacé Viande.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can easily glaze the back of a spoon.  The finished volume should be a little more than 1/3 cup.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Place the Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande in a ceramic cup.
     Keep the sauce cup warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.  
     Venison Tenderloin Schnitzel:
     This recipe yields 2 petite Schnitzel.  (1 portion)
     There are two sections that are called tenderloin on deer.  The true tenderloin is small and it runs from the hip toward the ribs.  The back straps from either side of the spin are also called tenderloin.  Deer only use the back strap muscle section for jumping, so the back straps are as lean and tender as the tenderloin section.  A Deer Back Strap was used to make the Schnitzel in today's recipe.  
     Step 1:  Cut 2 medallions of venison tenderloin (or backstrap tenderloin) that weigh about 2 1/2 ounces apiece.
     Use a meat mallet to gently pound the medallions flat and thin.
     Step 2:  Lightly season the venison with sea salt and black pepper.
     Dredge the venison cutlets in flour.
     Dip the cutlets in egg wash (or buttermilk).
     Dredge the egg dipped medallion cutlets in plain fine French bread crumbs.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of rendered duck fat or lard.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the fat and oil is 1/4" deep in the pan.
     Adjust the temperature so the frying medium is 350ºF.
     Step 4:  Place the breaded venison cutlets side by side in the hot oil.
     Pan fry the cutlets till they are crispy golden brown on both sides.  (Try to only flip the cutlets one time.)
     Step 5:  Remove the 2 Venison Schnitzel from the pan.
     Place the venison schnitzel on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the Venison Schnitzel warm on a stove top.
     Venison Tenderloin Schnitzel with Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande, Rösti and Sunny Eggs:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     The eggs can be cooked any style that is preferred.  Sunny Side Up looks best!
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 large eggs.
     Cook the eggs sunny side up.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 2:  Place the 2 Rösti on the back half of a large plate.
     Place the 2 Venison Schnitzel on the front half of the plate, so they lean against the Rösti.
     Step 3:  Spoon a generous amount of the Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande over the Venison Schnitzel and onto the plate.  (About 1/3 cup.)
     Step 4:  Use a rubber spatula to separate the 2 Sunny Side Up Eggs in the pan.
     Place 1 Sunny Egg on each Venison Schnitzel.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     This Swiss style Venison Schnitzel breakfast entrée is a modern classic that will please guests! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Southern Ham Scramble with Jalapeño Home Fries

     A Great Tasting Ham Scramble!
     The Ham Scramble was a breakfast entrée that was once on the menu at nearly every classic diner in America.  The Ham Scramble was a customer favorite because it presented good dining value.  The Ham Scramble was also a favorite of restaurant managers, because it reduced food costs.    
     A classic Ham Scramble is made with 3 eggs and a good size portion of chopped ham.  Usually only broken eggs are used to make a Ham Scramble.  In a busy old fashioned breakfast restaurant kitchen, any eggs that break in the pan are scooped into a container, then saved for making Ham Scrambles.  Scrambling 3 partially cooked eggs with ham for a reduced price eliminates waste and keeps customer satisfaction high.     
     In modern times, cooks simply throw broken eggs in the garbage, but this brings food costs up and the increases waste cost is reflected on menu prices.  Managers now prefer to raise menu prices, rather than control waste costs with well founded managerial skills.  Overall, this lackadaisical managerial strategy results in inflated menu prices and lower customer flow numbers.  A breakfast restaurant depends on high volume sales and as can be seen at the majority of modern breakfast restaurants, sales are not as good as they should be.  This creates a vicious circle, because the first thing that a lazy manager cuts is labor costs when customer flow numbers are low.  Low pay cooks create more waste than well payed highly skilled cooks.  A breakfast restaurant that has high waste costs, high menu prices and low paid cooks is basically destined for business failure.  
     Once again, items like a Ham Scramble take some skill to make, they increase labor efficiency, reduce cost and increase dining value because of reduced prices.  Items like the Ham Scramble increase customer flow numbers and increase customer loyalty.  In an old fashioned diner restaurant, a Ham Scramble is a win-win proposition! 
     Local sourcing and sustainable food sourcing is more than just a restaurant marketing scheme.  Good restaurant chefs seek local crafted products, because the quality is higher.  For example, a local top shelf Virginia Ham is a far better choice than choosing the same old mass produced low quality ham that 95% of all breakfast restaurants sell.  Customers notice the improvement in quality, especially when it comes to ham and they will return for more.
     Dry Cure Virginia Ham is also called Southern Ham.  A good Dry Cure Virginia Ham easily compares to the finest European hams.  The large piece of Edward's Virginia Ham in the photos above is as good as it gets.  The salt cure is traditional and the ham is dry aged to perfection, just like Italian Prosciutto.  The result is a dense dry aged ham that has a rich strong flavor that lingers on the palate for quite some time.  When used in breakfast recipes, the high quality of this fine Virginia Ham is easily noticed.  Guests actually compliment a ham like this as being the best they have ever tasted.  Using a local sourced product like Edward's Virginia Ham will bring an old fashioned Ham Scramble up to a new high quality standard! 
     Today's recipe photo example started as a simple 2 Eggs Over Easy Breakfast Entrée.  The yolks broke on the eggs when they were flipped, because the eggs were too fresh.  Eggs that are aged for 3 days to 2 weeks are much easier to flip, because the excess moisture in the egg whites evaporates.  
      Instead of settling for broken eggs for breakfast, I remembered what the good old Ham Scramble theme was all about.  I placed the partially cooked 2 broken eggs in a mixing bowl and added 1 more egg, then I set about making a classic Ham Scramble just like back in the good old days.  The only ham in my kitchen was an Edwards Virginia Ham, which was a gift sent by relatives in North Carolina.  My only thought was that this Ham Scramble was going to be the best one that I ever made and I was correct!  A Southern Ham Scramble is the cream of the crop!  
     In a restaurant, a Southern Ham Scramble definitely is still a good cost cutting menu item, even though Dry Cure Virginia Ham commands a slightly higher price.  It is the quality that counts and customers will not balk at a slightly higher price if the quality is there.  The flavor does all the talking and a Southern Ham Scramble will give guests plenty to talk about! 

     Jalapeño Home Fries:
     This recipe yields 1 portion. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 3/4 cup of peeled russet potato that is cut into 1/4" thick bit size pieces.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the potatoes are a little more than halfway cooked and golden highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped Bermuda Onion.
     Add 1 small green jalapeño pepper that is cut into 3/16" thick slices.
     Sauté and stir till the potatoes are fully cooked and the vegetables are tender.  (Try not to brown the onions and jalapeños.)
     Keep the Jalapeño Home Fries warm over very low heat.  
     Southern Ham Scramble with Jalapeño Home Fries:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Broken Over-Easy Eggs are perfect for making a Ham Scramble, so save them if you got them!
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of hand torn bite size Dry Cure Virginia Ham chunks.  (About 3 1/2 ounces.)
     Sauté till the ham heats and a few golden highlights appear. 
     Step 2:  Add 3 large eggs.
     Immediately use a rubber spatula to vigorously scramble the eggs with the ham.
     Scramble and toss till the eggs are thoroughly mixed and fully cooked. 
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the Southern Ham Scramble on the front half of a plate.
     Place the Jalapeño Home Fries on the back half of the plate.
     Garnish with a curly leaf parsley sprig.
     *Serve with cornbread, toast or biscuits on the side.

     Viola!  The best tasting Southern Ham Scramble ever!                  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Classic Eggs Benedict with Lyonnaise Potato Medley and Grilled Tomato

     Classic Eggs Benedict!
     Hollandaise can be easy or frustrating to cook on a first attempt.  Hollandaise is one of the five French Mother Sauces, so it is important to learn.  
     Many chefs take shortcuts when making Hollandaise and the result is inconsistent quality.  Using a blender or emersion blender usually results in a Hollandaise that easily breaks.  Instant Freeze Dried Hollandaise Mix products taste like chicken broth, so they should not be used at all.  Sous-Vide Hollandaise products (Vacuum Packaged Hollandaise Sauce) usually has a consistency that is too thin for many applications, because concessions must be made for packaging.  As one can see, shortcut Hollandaise products should be looked upon as a last resort.
     I use two different Hollandaise recipes that require two different cooking methods.  Each recipe can be tailored for specific applications.  Today's Eggs Benedict recipe requires an old fashioned Classic Hollandaise.     
     Some historians say that the original Eggs Benedict recipe was created in New York City, but this may not be correct.  Other food historians say the recipe was invented in New Orleans before the New York Eggs Benedict story took place.  The reason for questioning authenticity is because back in the late 1800's, news did not travel as fast as it does today.  In fact, mass media corruption was rampant back in that age and many news articles were fabricated.  Chefs in major cities actually laid claim to recipes from remote regions where news travelled slowly.  Many recipes that were created by lesser known chefs, were claimed by big city chefs that happened to be lauded by the local mass media companies.  In other words, a great recipe from New Orleans, like Eggs Benedict, quite possibly could have been claimed by a chef in New York City that had a corrupt relationship with a local news media company that only cared about promoting New York City as the top culinary city in America. 
     When looking at a list of great recipes created during the late 1800's, then it is easy to see that most originated in New Orleans.  Oysters Rockefeller, Peach Melba, Cherry's Jubilee, Strawberry's Romanoff, Omelette Alaska, Cocktail Sauce and many more great recipes were invented by the chefs of Antoine's in New Orleans in the late 1800's.  The Eggs Benedict that was offered at Antoine's was quite a bit fancier than the New York City version.  This gives credence to the originality claim.  Therefore, the Antoine's Eggs Benedict recipe is the guideline that I follow.   
     The original Antoine's of New Orleans Eggs Benedict recipe requires Beurre Anchois (Anchovy Butter) spread on Holland Rusk, instead of English Muffin or toasted bread.  It also requires ham instead of back bacon (Canadian Bacon).  A thin slice of Black Truffle on each egg was an optional garnish.   
     Making Holland Rusk is not too difficult, but most home cooks do not want to bother with lengthy baking projects in the morning.  Holland Rusk has an airy English Muffin texture and the dough is like a sweet Brioche.  Imported Holland Rusk is packed in cans to keep the rusk from breaking.  
     The definition of Rusk is crisp crunchy oven dried sliced bread that has no golden brown color.  Bread slices are baked at a very low temperature to make Rusk.  Nearly any kind of bread can be used to make Rusk, so making regular Rusk for Eggs Benedict is easy to do, if Holland Rusk is not an option.  Making Rusk with sliced Brioche will produce nearly the same flavor as Holland Rusk.     
     Beurre Anchois:  
     This recipe yields about 2 ounces.   
     The flavor of anchovy butter adds a classic subtle umami flavor that is not overpowering.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 tablespoon of anchovy paste in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 2 ounces of softened unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together to create a Beurre Anchois.  (Anchovy Butter)
     Step 2:  Place the Beurre Anchois in a container.
     Chill the compound butter for later use.

     Holland Rusk or Brioche Rusk:   
     This recipe yields enough for 1 portion of Eggs Benedict.
     *If Holland Rusk is available:  
     Select two slices of Holland Rusk and trim them so they are as wide as a poached eggs.  (3" to 4" wide.)
     Set the Holland Rush Medallions aside.
     *If no Holland Rusk is available:  
     Cut 2 slices of Brioche Bread that are about 3/8" thick.
     Cut each Brioche slice into a medallion shape that is about 3" to 4" in diameter.  
     Place the Brioche Medallions on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 275ºF oven till the bread is dried and crisp, with no golden brown color.
     Set the Brioche Rusk Medallions aside. 
     Classic Hollandaise Sauce:  
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups.
     • The clarified butter should be cooked to a golden color, so it has a hint of noisette aroma.   
     • Add about a 1/2 teaspoon of warm water per egg yolk.  The water acts as a buffer.  This will make the eggs easy to control while whisking.   The small amount of water will keep the eggs from congealing.  Too much water added to the yolks in the beginning, will later cause the whisking process to take way too much time.  
     • Do not add lemon juice at the start or the lemon flavor will be too strong.  
     • The proportion of butter to egg yolk is 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 ounces of butter per 1 egg yolk for a rich full bodied hollandaise.  A hollandaise that is too thick is much easier to adjust than a hollandaise that is too thin.   
     Step 1:  Melt 5 ounces of unsalted butter in a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Cook the butter, till the milk fats evaporate.
     Continue cooking the butter, till it becomes a golden yellow in color and till the butter first emits a light hazelnut aroma.
     Take the pan off of the heat.
     Pour the clarified butter through a fine mesh strainer into a heat proof container.
     Allow the butter to cool to a little bit less than 125ºF.
     Keep the clarified butter warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Place 2 egg yolks (large eggs) in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of warm water to the egg yolks while stirring.
     Place the mixing bowl on a double boiler over medium low/low heat.
     Constantly whisk, non stop, till the egg yolks become a pale yellow color and soft ribbon peaks can be seen.
     Step 3:  Add the warm clarified butter 1 teaspoon at a time, while constantly whisking, till the mixture starts to emulsify.
     Slowly add a thin stream of the remaining butter to the eggs while whisking constantly, till all of the butter is combined.
     Step 4:  Remove the mixing bowl from the double boiler.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Whisk till blended.
     *The sauce should be rich and it should have a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.  If the Hollandaise is too thick, add a few drops of warm water while whisking.      
     Step 5:  Place the Hollandaise in a ceramic ramekin.
     Set the ramekin in a 120ºF bain marie to keep it warm.  Stir the sauce occasionally.
     *The Hollandaise should be served within 45 minutes, so pathogen threats do not occur.

     Rustic Lyonnaise Potato Medley:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Leave the skins on all of the potatoes for the rustic effect.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add about 1/4 cup of 1/4" thick onion strips.
     Add 1/3 cup of 1/4" thick sliced small Purple Potato. 
     Add 1/3 cup of 1/4" thick sliced Red Yukon Bliss Potato.
     Add 1 small handful of sliced small Yukon Gold Potato.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme leaves.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper to taste. 
     Step 2:  Sauté till the the potatoes are fully cooked and the onions are caramelized.
     Keep the Rustic Lyonnaise Potato Medley warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Grilled Tomato:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.  
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.  
     Add 2 thick Plum Tomato slices that are about 1/2" thick.  
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.  
     Step 2:  Briefly sauté the tomatoes till they are lightly caramelized on both sides.
     Keep the grilled tomatoes warm on a stove top. 

     Grilled Ham For Eggs Benedict: 
     This recipe yields enough for 1 portion of Eggs Benedict.
     The original ham for Eggs Benedict was imported French ham that was lightly smoked and dry cured in a mountain cave.  A top quality piece of smoked ham is an acceptable substitute.  
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter to the hot pan.  
     Step 1:  Cut 2 slices of smoked ham that are 3/16" thick.  
     Trim the ham, so it is a medallion shape that is 3" to 4" wide.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the smoked ham medallions.
     Grill the ham on both sides, till light golden brown highlights appear. 
     Keep the grilled smoked ham medallions warm on a stove top. 
     Beurre Anchois Holland Rusk (Or Brioche Rusk) For Eggs Benedict:   
     This recipe yields enough for 1 portion of Eggs Benedict.
     Step 1:  Spread a thin layer of the Beurre Anchois on both sides of the 2 prepared Rusk medallions.
     Step 2:  Heat a griddle or sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Grill both sides of the Holland Rusk, till it is toasted to a light golden color. 
     Keep grilled anchovy butter rusk warm on a stove top.
     Classic Eggs Benedict with Lyonnaise Potato Medley and Grilled Tomato:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  
     Never add vinegar to egg poaching water!  Vinegar changes the texture of the eggs to a rubbery texture.  The difference is noticeable!
     Step 1:  Heat enough water to poach 2 eggs with in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add sea salt to taste.  (light brine)
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to medium heat, so the water shows no signs of boiling.
     Add 2 large eggs.
     Poach the eggs, till the egg whites are fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Place the 2 Beurre Anchois Holland Rusk Medallions on the front half of a plate. 
     Place the 2 grilled smoked ham slices on top of the rusk.
     Use a slotted spoon to remove each poached egg from the water.
     Place the 2 poached eggs on top of the ham and Holland Rusk.
     Step 4:  Place 1 portion of the Rustic Lyonnaise Potato Medley on the back half of the plate.
     Place 1 portion of the Grilled Tomato on the back half of the plate.
     Step 5:  Spoon a generous portion of the Hollandaise Sauce over the eggs and onto the plate.  (About 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup.)
     Garnish each Eggs Benedict stack with a thin shaved slice of Black Truffle or 1/2 teaspoon of Beluga Caviar.  (Optional.)  
     Viola!  Classic Eggs Benedict!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blackened Catfish Breakfast Stack a la Creole

     A Spicy Hearty Louisiana Style Breakfast!
     Modern Napoleon Stack entrée presentations have been popular during the last two decades.  The problem is that most fine dining stack presentations only offer a tasting portion.  Fortunately, casual restaurants that are known for hearty portions offer stack presentations too.  A stack presentation may not be as fancy at a casual restaurant, but good dining value is present.
     Today's recipe is presented casual American diner style.  The focus is on good flavors and a portion size that will not leave a guest hungry for a modest price.  Those who like Skillet Breakfasts will surely like today's Louisiana style breakfast entrée.

     Creole Tomato Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 2 1/4 cups of sauce. 
     Be sure to select the ripest red tomatoes for this recipe! 
     The Trinity in Louisiana style cooking is one part celery, one part bell pepper and two parts onion. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 teaspoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add 3 chopped garlic cloves.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of small diced celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of mixed small diced green and red bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 2 chopped green onions.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced seeded jalapeño pepper.
     Sauté till the vegetables start to become tender. 
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/2 cups of chopped ripe red tomato.
     Briefly sauté till the tomatoes start to become fragrant.  
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine. 
     Add 1 1/2 cups of shrimp broth. 
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of thyme leaves.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped Italian Parsley. 
     Add 1 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  (To taste.  Creole Sauce should be mildly spicy.)
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 5:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till most of the liquid evaporates and the sauce becomes a coarse medium thin consistency. 
     Step 7:  Place the sauce in a container and let it cool.
     *Creole Sauce will lose its fresh bright character if it is kept warm for an extended amount of time.  It is best to reheat the sauce to order.  Creole Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 7 days.
     Grilled Potatoes:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of 3/16" thick sliced peeled russet potato in a sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the potatoes.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Par boil the potato slices, till they start to become tender.
     Drain off the water.
     Set the blanched potato slices aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the par boiled potato slices.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sliced onion.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the potatoes and onions are fully cooked and light brown highlights appear.  
     Step 3:  Keep the grilled potatoes warm on a stove top.  

     Andouille Sausage:
     This recipe yields 1 petite portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 ounces of bias sliced Andouille Sausage.  (About 3/16" thick.)
     Gently sauté till the Andouille slices are hot and a few light brown highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Keep the pan of Andouille Sausage slices warm on a stove top.  

     Cajun Blackening Spice Mix: 
     This recipe yields about 1/4 cup.  (Enough for 2 catfish portions.)  
     Place 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of flour.
     Mix the ingredients together and set it aside.

     Blackened Catfish Filet:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Turn the hood fans on when blackening!
     Step 1:  Dredge 2 small 4 ounce catfish filet pieces in the Cajun Blackening Spice Mix.
     Step 2:  Heat a cast iron skillet (or sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Wait the butter begins to smoke.
     Place the Cajun spice catfish filets in the hot butter.
     Blacken the small catfish filets for 3 to 4 minutes on one side then 1 minute on the other side.  (Black highlights should appear on the fish!)
     Step 3:  Place the small blackened catfish filets on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess butter.
     Keep the blackened catfish warm on a stove top.  

     Blackened Catfish Breakfast Stack a la Creole: 
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Step 1:  Poach 1 egg in salted gently boiling water over medium heat.  
     Step 2:  Place the potatoes on the center of a plate as a bed for the stack.   
     Evenly space the Andouille Sausage Slices on the plate around the potatoes.  
     Step 3:  Set the Petite Blackened Catfish Filets on top of the potatoes.  
     Place the poached egg on top of the catfish.  
     Step 4:  Spoon about 1/2 cup of the Creole Tomato Sauce over the egg and catfish.
     Spoon about 1/3 cup of the Creole Tomato Sauce on the plate between the Andouille Sausage Slices.  
     Garnish with a curly leaf parsley sprig.  

     This plate of hearty Louisiana style breakfast food is full of flavor!  

Friday, February 3, 2017

Shrimp, Asparagus and Brie Omelette Soufflé

     Omelette Soufflé!
     The word Soufflé basically translates to "puff up!"  An Omelette Soufflés is not difficult to make.  The egg yolks and whites are separated, then the whites are whisked till soft meringue peaks appear.  The yolks are then folded back into the meringue and the omelette batter will have a light airy consistency that will soufflé when cooked.
     Omelette Soufflé is usually started on a stove top range and finished in an oven.  The standard omelette rule of not allowing the eggs to gain any golden or brown color does not really apply to an Omelette Soufflé.  Because the extra light texture of the soufflé egg batter takes extra time to fully cook, the surface will rarely remain a pale yellow color.  A savory Omelette Soufflé is usually cooked to a golden color.  A Sweet Omelette Soufflé contains sugar and the sugar will cause the surface to caramelize to an even darker color.  
     An Omelette Soufflé that is made with 2 large eggs will be so puffy and light, that it will look like the size of a 3 egg standard omelette.  This is great for folks that are dieting, because the meal appears to be much larger than what the ingredients would suggest!  Psychologically, a tiny looking portion of food creates no satisfaction when dieting to lose weight.  As a result, cravings for more food are likely to occur.  Making a small portion of food look bigger than it really is can psychologically curb between meal food cravings.
     Of course, today's Omelette Soufflé recipe is not a weight loss diet meal.  This is because Brie Cheese has a very high fat content.  Because the recipe is written for 2 eggs, the Omelette Soufflé still feels light in the tummy, even though Brie is the choice of cheese.
     When using Brie Cheese as an omelette topping, care must be taken when finishing the omelette in an oven.  All it takes is leaving the pan in the oven for a few seconds too long and the Brie will completely liquify, then only the rind will remain.  Because Brie has such a high fat content, just warming this cheese is good enough.

     Asparagus Preparation:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat.
     Add 6 asparagus spears that are about 4" in length.  (Peel the asparagus spears if they are thick or the skin is tough.  The stalks can be saved for making soup!)
     Blanch the asparagus spears till they are cooked al dente.
     Step 2:  Use tongs to place the asparagus spears in ice water.
     Cool the asparagus.
     Drain the water off of the asparagus.
     Set the asparagus spears aside.

     Shrimp, Asparagus and Brie Omelette Soufflé:
     This recipe yields 1 petite omelette soufflé!  (For a full portion, use 3 large eggs.)
     The Brie Cheese should be placed on the omelette late in the recipe, so the cheese does not overheat.  Brie has a high fat content and it will literally liquify if it is cooked for too much time.
     Step 1:  Separate the whites and yolks of 2 large eggs into separate mixing bowls.
     Step 2:  Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper to the egg yolks.
     Add 1/3 cup of pre-cooked popcorn shrimp.  (Be sure to squeeze the water out of the shrimp!)
     Stir till blended.
     Step 3:  Whisk the egg whites in the other mixing bowl, till medium soft peaks appear.
     Gently fold the egg yolk and shrimp mixture into the egg white meringue.
     Step 4:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Use a rubber spatula to assist pouring the soufflé batter into the hot pan.
     Briefly sauté the omelette soufflé, till the bottom of the omelette becomes firm.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the omelette soufflé pan in a 375ºF oven.
     Bake till the omelette soufflé puffs up and the eggs are fully cooked.
     *The surface of the eggs will be a golden color.
     Step 6:  Remove the omelette soufflé pan from the oven.
     Arrange the asparagus spears on one half of the omelette.
     Place 3 or 4 thin small slices of Brie Cheese on the asparagus.  (About 1 1/2 ounces.)
     Use a spatula to fold the bare half of the omelet over the asparagus.
     Place 2 thin small slices of Brie Cheese on top of the omelette.
     Step 7:  Return the pan to the 375ºF oven.
     Bake till the asparagus spears are warm and the brie cheese becomes soft.  (About 1 minute.)
     *Brie Cheese softens quickly, so take care not to overheat the Brie or it will melt like butter!
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Slide the omelette soufflé onto a plate.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs.

     Voila!  A light and fluffy golden omelette soufflé!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


     Scandinavian Gravlax is one of the greatest classic salmon creations that there is!  The salmon is cured with salt and sugar while it is pressed under weight for 3 days.  Many Swedes prefer a 2 to 3 week cure for a much stronger flavor.  After curing under pressure, the salmon becomes very dense and firm, so it is very easy to cut into thin slices.  Properly made Gravlax has a "dry cured salami" kind of flavor and it is not fishy tasting at all.
     The word Gravlax translates to "buried in a grave."  The original Gravlax was made by Scandinavian fishermen.  The fish was salted and buried underground on a beach just above the high tide mark.  The grave process applied weight and protected the fish from scavenger animals.  After about a week or two, the Gravlax was fully fermented and preserved for future use.
     The best salt to use for making Gravlax is Kosher Salt.  The curing properties of Kosher Salt are gentle, so there is less chance of "over-curing or burning" the flesh of the salmon.  Coarse Sea Salt is also traditional, but this type of salt can "over-cure" the meat, which results in a cellular breakdown of the flesh.  If Sea Salt is used, then add a little bit less.
     Sugar is a liquifying agent.  Sugar allows the salt to fully penetrate the salmon flesh, thus resulting in fully cured meat.  Sugar also balances the salt flavor.
     Scandinavian Dill Weed is a strong tasting variety of this plant.  Regular Dill Weed that is found in a common grocery store does not taste as strong, so more should be used.  Dill Weed imparts a very nice flavor to the finished Gravlax.        
     Gravlax is traditionally accompanied by a sweet mustard dill sauce called Hovmästarsås, especially when Gravlax is served with Raggmunk (Scandinavian Potato Pancakes).  Gravlax can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Gravlax most often is served as an appetizer and it can be used to make an interesting banquet style party platter.  
    Many modern chefs prefer a very light cure when making Gravlax.  Sushi quality salmon is a good choice if a light tasting 1 or 2 day cure is desired when making Gravlax.  This is because the curing salt will not have enough time to fully penetrate the meat and the center of the fish filet will be raw.  Sushi quality salmon goes through a deep freeze process to kill parasites and pathogens, so a light cure Gravlax will be safe to serve to guests.
     Classic fully cured Gravlax is best when made with healthy smelling fresh salmon.  Sushi grade salmon is not necessary for making fully cured Gravlax, because the heavy salt curing process will prevent pathogen or parasite contamination after 3 days of curing.  A very thick salmon filet will take a bit longer to fully cure.  
     This recipe yields 1 whole salmon filet.  An average whole salmon filet weighs about 24 ounces.     
     If the salmon filet is very large, then you can cut it in half or trim off a couple of portions for another recipe.
     Step 1:  Select a very fresh whole salmon at a fish market.
     Cut 1 whole salmon filet from gill to tail.  (About a 24 ounce whole filet)
     Leave the skin on the filet.  
     Use thin pliers to remove all of the pin bones.
     Step 2:  Select 1 flat long plastic tub or 1 shallow long plastic storage containers that is big enough to hold the whole salmon filet.
     Line the container with plastic cling wrap.
     Step 3:  Place a generous amount of fresh large dill weed sprigs on the plastic wrap as a bed for the salmon filet.  (About 1 1/2 bunches.)
     Step 4:  Mix 2 cups of granulated sugar with 1 cup of coarse ground Kosher Salt together in a bowl.
     *It may only take 1 to 2 cups of the sugar and salt mixture to coat a 24 ounce whole salmon filet.  Any extra curing salt mixture can be save for later use!
     Step 5:  Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of coarsely ground black pepper on the salmon filet.
     Generously coat the salmon with the sugar and salt mixture.  The salmon should look like it was heavily dredged in sugar and salt.
     Step 6:  Place the salted whole salmon filet on the bed of fresh dill weed in the plastic container.
     Sprinkle 1/3 cup more of the curing salt mixture over the salmon filet. 
     Step 7:  Cover the sides and the top of the salmon filet with a generous amount of large fresh dill weed sprigs.  (About 1 1/2 bunches)
     Cover the salmon with the plastic wrap.
     Step 8:  Select a second long shallow plastic storage container, that will fit inside the salmon container.  This container must be able to cover the salmon.  
     Place a few heavy items (like potatoes or onions) in the storage container that is sitting on top of the salmon.  (The potatoes or onions will act as a weight to press the salmon.)
     Step 9:  Refrigerate the salmon for 3 days.
     Flip the salmon over once every 12 hours.
     *Do not discard the salty brine liquid that develops in the container!  The brine is what actually cures the salmon.
     Step 10:  *After 3 days in the refrigerator, the gravlax is ready!  The gravlax will be completely cured by the sugar and salt.
     Remove the weights and the plastic wrap.
     Remove the gravlax from the plastic container and place it on a cutting board.
     Scrape off the dill sprigs and discard them.
     *The Gravlax can be served immediately or chilled for later use.  It is best to use the Gravlax within  5 days or the patina will cause the flesh to become slimy.  
     Step 11:  To cut thin slices of Gravlax follow these steps:
     • Place the Gravlax on a cutting board with the skin side facing down.
     • Slice the Gravlax at a 45º angle, but do not cut through the skin.
     • When the knife blade starts to touch the skin, turn the handle of the knife so it is parallel with the cutting board, then glide the side of the blade against the fish skin.  The slice of Gravlax meat will be separated from the skin.
     • Place the thin slice of Gravlax on a platter.
     • Continue with this slicing technique till the amount of Gravlax that is needed for a recipe is sliced.

     Viola!  Gourmet classic Scandinavian Gravlax!  More recipes that require Gravlax will be posted real soon!