Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Five Italian Cheese, Zucchini, Bermuda Onion and Tomato Frittata







     A Composed Frittata!
     Italian chefs take pride in making a composed frittata look nice.  In a culinary sense, the word "composed" means to present food with a sense of design.  Items are placed on a food creation with the goal of creating eye appeal, when doing a composed presentation.
     A sense of design and symmetry is all that is required to make a good looking composed frittata.  You have to think about the order of placing the toppings on a frittata.  If vegetables are featured, then place the cheese on the frittata first so the colorful vegetables can easily be seen.
     Thinking about the timing is essential too.  The vegetables have to be partially cooked before placing them on a frittata, because a frittata does not bake long enough to fully cook vegetables or meats.  A frittata is only baked long enough to soften or lightly brown the cheese and finish cooking the eggs.
      Zucchini, tomato and bermuda onion is a nice frittata flavor for the spring and summer seasons.  This combination of grilled vegetables goes well with a wide variety of Italian cheese.
     The word "grilled" can mean grilling on flat iron griddle and it can mean chargrilling.  A cast iron griddle is good for grilling the vegetables for today's frittata.  Chargrilling vegetables for breakfast is not traditional, because the dark chargrill marks can cause the vegetables to taste bitter.

     Five Italian Cheese, Zucchini, Bermuda Onion and Tomato Frittata:
     This recipe yields 1 frittata. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan or cast iron griddle over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Place a 1/4" thick slice of bermuda onion in the pan.
     Place 5 long thin slices of zucchini in the pan.  (3/16" thick slices)
     Grill the vegetables, till a few brown highlights appear  Only flip the vegetables once!
     Place the grilled onion slice and the zucchini slices aside on a platter.
     Leave the pan on the heat.
     Step 2:  Lightly grill 5 plum tomato slices in the hot pan.  (1/4" thick slices)
     *Do not try to brown the tomato slices, or the tomato slices will become very soft and lose their shape!
     After the tomatoes lightly grilled, set them aside on a platter.
     Lightly season the vegetables with sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
     Step 3:  Whisk 3 eggs in a mixing bowl, till they become a little bit foamy.
     Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the whisked eggs.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the frittata.
     When the eggs on the bottom half of the frittata are cooked firm and the top half is still runny, remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of a mixture of these grated Italian cheeses on the frittata:
     - Fontina
     - Provolone
     - Mozzarella
     - Parmigiana
     *One more cheese will be added later!
     Step 5:  Evenly space the grilled tomato slices on the frittata.
     Place the grilled zucchini slices between the tomato slices in a starfish pattern.
     Place the grilled bermuda onion slice on the center of the frittata.
     Step 6:  Sprinkle 2 to 3 pinches of coarse chopped Italian Parsley on the frittata.
     Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of finely grated Pecorino Romano Cheese over the frittata.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano over the frittata.
     Step 7:  Place the pan with the frittata in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the cheese softens and melts.  (Do not brown the cheese.  Browned cheese tastes bitter.)
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Slide the frittata onto a plate.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     This frittata looks good and tastes nice!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Breakfast Cook's S.O.S. with Yukon Bliss Home Fries






     The Wide World Of S-O-S!
     S.O.S. is not a usually an entrée that is offered on a restaurant menu.  Classic S.O.S. is Creamed Chipped Dried Beef On Toast.  Basically, any breakfast item that is placed on toast and topped off with white gravy or sausage gravy can be called S.O.S.  Wild game adds an interesting twist too.  I actually published an Elk S.O.S. recipe that ended up being very popular.

     I started my career by doing breakfast cooking, because in the old days breakfast cooking was the first skill that a chef learned.  Good breakfast cooks easily advance into chargrill or sauté cooking, because breakfast cooking develops lightning fast hand speed.
    Later in my career, every fine restaurant that I worked in selected me to work the Sunday brunch shift, because I was a sauté cook and saucier.  I could flip eggs, so I got overtime pay for doing brunch shifts!

     All I can say is that breakfast cooks are a different breed.  For a good breakfast cook, pumping out more than 300 orders of food is no problem.  The pace is ultra fast and there is no time for any mistakes.
     Breakfast cooks bark commands to other employees when they are busy.  Because a breakfast cook has no time to waste, the language is short sweet and direct.  A couple of slang words rolls off the tongue much faster than trying to speak a full proper and polite English sentence.  A few loud slang words are much easier to hear when barking commands in a noisy breakfast kitchen too.
      A breakfast cook's hyphenated slang names for food can range from totally gross to being outright perverted.  If you think that construction workers are the only people to curse and swear on a job site, then you have never experienced woking in a busy breakfast restaurant kitchen.

     Breakfast cooks do speak a lot of slang language in a kitchen and it is not all politically correct phrases.  Breakfast menu items like Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast or Sausage Gravy on Toast are usually referred to by a cook as S.O.S or just plain old "barf."  Its faster to yell S.O.S. or the word "barf" when calling off creamed chipped beef orders to other cooks, than it is to say the full name of the entrée.  It is funny sounding when a lead breakfast cook screams "I got 2 Barfs dragging on the rail!" 
     One of my favorites was a slang word that a cook from Detroit used to call "canned imitation butter flavored oil."  The cook called this imitation butter product by the name "Scummit" because the name of the company that made that stuff was named Summit.  When busy, it was easier and more effective to yell "Get me 2 cans of Scummit" than it was to try to communicate something about imitation butter flavored oil in a noisy kitchen.

     Managers appreciate sharp cooks that cook cheap cost effective meals for themselves in a kitchen.  Cooks that get fat by eating lots of expensive items in a kitchen usually do not get good pay raises.
     Every breakfast cook knows what the real purpose of an S.O.S. meal is.  S.O.S. is a traditional cheap meal for breakfast cooks that reduces restaurant food costs.  When a manager sees a cook eating a plate of S.O.S. they smile, because it only costs a restaurant about 25¢ to feed a cook a plate of S.O.S.  Often a cost conscious manager will ask the breakfast cook to whip one up for his meal too.
     A Breakfast Cook's S.O.S. is scrambled egg and a chopped leftover 4 ounce burger patty on toast with white gravy.  Some cooks prefer chopped leftover sausage patties.  The chopped burger patty can be scrambled with the eggs or it can simply be placed on top of the eggs.  A Breakfast Cook's S.O.S is always served with home fries.

     What does S.O.S. stand for?  To give you a hint, it does not stand for the maritime distress call.  S.O.S simply means "Shit On a Shingle!"  Breakfast Cook's Shit On A Shingle is a low cost employee meal and it is a very cheap and filling home cooked meal too.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 exquisite Breakfast Cook's S.O.S. entrée!
 
     Yukon Bliss Home Fries:
     The green onion will turn a dark roasted color and add a rustic flavor to the potatoes. 
     Step 1:  Cut 4 or 5 small Yukon Bliss potatoes in half.
     Cut the potato halves lengthwise into thick slices.
     Step 2:  Par boil the sliced potatoes, till they are less than halfway cooked.
     Drain the water off of the potatoes.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion.
     Add the blanched potato slices.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Sauté or grill the potatoes, till they are fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Keep the potatoes warm on a stove top.
 
     White Gravy:
     The yield is about 1/2 cup.
     Only a small amount is needed for todays S.O.S. recipe.  Double this recipe if you prefer extra gravy.
     Step 1:  Heat 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring to make a roux.
     Stir till the roux combines and it is a pale color.
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of milk while whisking.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.  (Nutmeg is optional.)
     Step 3:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, while occasionally whisking.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the white gravy, till it becomes a medium thin consistency.
     Keep the white gravy warm over very low heat.
 
     Breakfast Cook's S.O.S. with Yukon Bliss Home Fries: 
     *For the S.O.S. meat you do have a choice.  A chopped leftover ground beef patty is the classic choice.  Fresh ground beef, ground pork or a chopped leftover sausage patty are good choices too.  I used ground pork for the S.O.S. in the pictures above. 
     Step 1:  Trim the crust off of 2 slices of pullman style sandwich bread.
     Brush the bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the bread slices on a griddle or sauté pan over medium/medium low heat, till they are toasted golden brown.
     Keep the grilled toast warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan or griddle over medium heat.
     Add 1/ teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 4 ounces of ground meat or a chopped leftover meat patty.  (See the note above)
     Break any large clumps as it cooks.
     Season the ground meat with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté the meat, till it is lightly browned.
     Keep the cooked meat warm on a stove top.
     Step 3:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 whisked large egg.
     Sauté and scramble the egg, till it is fully cooked.
     Step 4:  Place the grilled toast on a plate.
     Use a spatula to place the egg and ground meat on the toast.
     Spoon a little bit of the white gravy across the S.O.S.
     Place the Yukon Bliss Home Fries on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with a sprinkle of small chopped green bell pepper.
     Serve with hot sauce on the side!
 
     Now this is a fine looking classic Breakfast Cook's Shit On A Shingle!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

South Carolina Shrimp and Grits









     Shrimp 'n' Grits!
     Shrimp and Grits is an old traditional South Carolina breakfast entrée.  Shrimp and Grits is on the menu at many restaurants near the South Carolina coastline, especially where there are fisheries.
     Shrimp and grits are popular in the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.  Each of these regions have their own variation of a Shrimp and Grits recipe.  Shrimp and Grits is even on the menu at a few Las Vegas restaurants.  Shrimp and Grits is breakfast fare, but it is sometimes served as lunch or dinner.
     The flavor of traditional Shrimp and Grits is unforgettably delicious!  South Carolina shrimp and grits is a spicy hot recipe.  The shrimp and sauce are spicy hot and this compliments the mellow flavor of grits.  Butter and cream are used to make the grits richer tasting.  Cheddar cheese has been a popular addition to the grits since early in the last century.  Cheddar grits are a good option for making Shrimp and Grits.
     Today's recipe has a small amount of cheddar cheese mixed in with the grits.  The cheddar acts as a seasoning, so the cheese flavor is not overbearing.  The grits mellow the spicy hot flavor of the shrimp in a nice way.  By themselves, the shrimp are fiery hot!
     Old fashioned stone ground hominy grits are best for this recipe.  Instant grits are considered to be taboo by traditionalists, because they are basically tasteless.
 
     Cheddar Grits: 
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.  (About 2 cups)
     Plain buttered grits are traditional for Shrimp and Grits.  Cheddar grits are optional.  Cream is also optional.  The butterfat in cream helps to keep thick grits from sticking together like a solid clump.  The grits have to be made thick enough to keep the shrimp from sinking into the grits.  
     Step 1:  Heat 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1 cup of shrimp stock.
     When the liquid comes to a boil, add 2/3 cup of stone ground hominy grits.
     Stir the grits with a whisk as they come back to a boil, so the grits do not become lumpy.
     Step 2:  When the grits start to thicken, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Stir the grits often.
     *If the grits become too thick too soon, then add a splash of water.  Keep adding small amounts of water occasionally, till the grits absorb no more.  
     Simmer till the grits are thick and soft.  The grits should be able to be gathered on a spoon.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of cream.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 4:  Whisk the butter and cream into the grits, till the grits become smooth and creamy.
     Add 1/3 cup of grated cheddar cheese.
     Step 5:  Stir the cheddar into the grits as it melts.
     *By the time the shrimp are made, the grits should be a thick rich consistency, but not too stiff.
     Keep the grits warm over very low heat.  Add water if the grits get to thick.
   
     Shrimp & Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Peel and devein 7 or 8 large size shrimp.  (16/20 per pound shrimp)
     Leave the tails attached to 3 of the shrimp and remove the tails from the rest.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 slice of hickory smoked bacon that is chopped into small pieces.
     Cook the bacon, till the bacon turns brown and crispy.
     Remove the bacon bits from the pan and set them aside.
     Step 3:  Leave the small amount of bacon grease in the pan.  (About 1/2 tablespoon.)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Lightly dredge the shrimp in flour.
     Add the floured shrimp to the pan.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Briefly sauté till the shrimp start to cook.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely diced green bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 1 thin sliced seeded small serrano pepper.
     Add 1 thin sliced white part of a green onion.
     Sauté till the vegetables start to become tender..
     Step 5:  Add 3/4 cup of shrimp stock.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of Spanish Paprika.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin consistency.
     Step 7:  Add 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco Pepper Sauce.  (Tabasco Sauce is the traditional hot sauce for this recipe!)
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it a medium thin sauce consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     
     South Carolina Shrimp and Grits:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Spoon a generous portion of the grits into a large soufflé ramekin or soup bowl, so it is a little more than half full.  (About 1 1/2 cups)
     Step 2:  Place the shrimp that have no tails on the center of the grits.  (These shrimp will probably sink into the grits, just like in the photos above.)
     Spoon half of the sauce over the shrimp.
     Step 3:  Stand the 3 shrimp that have the tails attached on the Shrimp and Grits as a garnish.
     Spoon the remaining sauce over the shrimp.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle the reserved crispy hickory smoked bacon bits over the shrimp.
     Sprinkle 1 some thin bias sliced green onion top over the shrimp.
     Set the soufflé dish on a doily lined serving plate.

     Once the sauce and shrimp are combined with the grits, the spicy hot flavor mellows.  This is a nice tasting bowl of South Carolina Shrimp and Grits!      

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Virginia Ham Steak & Redeye Gravy with Mushroom Eggs and Jalapeño Chihuahua Cheese Grits





     Virginia Ham & Redeye Gravy With South Of The Border Style Cheese Grits!
     Redeye Gravy is a quickly made ham jus.  Redeye Gravy is made by cooking a slice of ham in a skillet, then deglazing the pan with water, coffee or chicory.
    Spicy jalapeño pepper and Chihuahua Cheese add a nice South Of The Border flavor to grits.  Some chefs make gourmet style fancy grits.  Most chefs lack imagination in this department, because they were not raised on grits or they just do not like grits.  One might say that the world of gourmet grits recipes is a wide open territory.
     Mushroom scrambled eggs are delicious in the morning.  It was not that long ago, when the daughters of a southern family would gather wild edible mushrooms at daybreak.  Gathering wild edible mushrooms in the morning is a vanishing skill these days.  Most modern folks would probably stumble over a cliff while walking in the woods while texting on their smart phone.  Down to earth country folk have no problem leaving the phone behind, because a phone is nothing but a nuisance when in the great outdoors.
 
     If you use a slice Dry Cured Souther Ham for today's recipe, then it is necessary to soak the ham slice in water to leach out the excess salt.  Virginia Ham that is not dry cured, like a slice of Standard Cure Smithfield Ham, is ready to be cooked as is.  When selecting a slice of ham for making Redeye Gravy, the bone should be attached.
 
     Jalapeño Chihuahua Cheese Grits:
     This recipe yields 3 portions.  
     Chihuahua Cheese is a mild tasting fresh cheese that was originally made by Amish settlers in Chihuahua, Mexico.  This cheese easily melts.  
     Do not use instant grits.  They are better off used for wallpaper paste than food!  Stone Ground Grits are the best.  
     Step 1:  Heat 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of old fashioned stone ground hominy grits, while stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the grits just start to thicken.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 chopped seeded green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Step 3:  Simmer the grits and stir occasionally, till the grits are cooked tender and they are just barely thick enough to gather with a spoon.  (Add water if the grits get thick before they are tender.)
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of chopped Chihuahua Cheese while stirring.
     Stir till the cheese combines with the grits.
     Step 5:  Keep the grits warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.  Add a splash of water if they are too thick.
 
     Virginia Ham Steak & Redeye Gravy:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     A standard cure Smithfield Virginia Ham Steak is good for this recipe.  I will do a recipe for Dry Cured Southern Ham soon.   
     I used coffee to make the redeye gravy in the photographs.  Chicory Coffee is actually a better choice.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide cast iron skillet over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter or bacon grease.
     Add a 10 to 12 ounce piece of Standard Cure Virginia Ham Steak that is about 1/4" thick.  (The bone should be attached.)
     Grill the ham on both sides, till a few brown highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Add about 3/4 cup of water, coffee or chicory.
     Deglaze the pan, by using a fork to slide the ham steak against the bottom of the pan.
     Step 3:  Remove the ham from the pan after the liquid begins to boil.
     Set the ham on a plate and keep it warm on a stove top.
     Step 4:  Simmer and reduce the jus, till only a 3 or 4 tablespoons remain.
     Pour the Redeye Gravy into a ceramic cup.
     Keep the redeye gravy warm on a stove top.
 
     Mushroom Eggs:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Place 2 eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of milk.
     Whisk the egg mixture, till it is blended and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of sliced mushrooms.  (Small portobello field mushrooms are nice for this recipe.)
     Sauté the mushrooms till they are tender and a few brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  *If there is not enough butter in the pan to scramble some eggs, then add about 1/2 teaspoon.
     Add the egg mixture.
     Use a rubber spatula to scramble the eggs and mushrooms, till the eggs are fully cooked.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
 
     Virginia Ham Steak & Redeye Gravy with Mushroom Eggs and Jalapeño Chihuahua Cheese Grits:
     Place the ham steak on the front half of a large plate.
     Place the Jalapeño Chihuahua Cheese Grits and the Mushroom Eggs on the back half of the plate.
     Pour a little bit of the thin Redeye Gravy over the grits and the ham.
     Serve with fresh fruit and biscuits or cornbread on the side.

     Southern style breakfast food does fuel the body up for a hard day's work.  Even if the day's work only consists of dangling a bamboo fishing pole over a catfish pond! 

Salmon Tomato Cheddar Omelette with Cayenne Chips





     A Simple Omelette That Can Be Served Any Meal!  
     I used to always offer a fish item on a breakfast menu in Florida and Maine.  Restaurants in those regions have plenty of coastal fishing villages.  The locals often prefer fish for breakfast!  Fish is more healthy than fatty breakfast sausage or bacon.
     During an economic downturn, egg entrées can stretch the dollar.  Eggs still sell for a low price.  When other ingredients are added to make an omelette, 2 or 3 eggs can be turned into a hearty satisfying meal.
     Fancy dinner omelets are popular in the Philadelphia area.  I cooked many orders of gourmet dinner omelets in Philadelphia, when I worked in that town.  It seemed like every restaurant in Philly had a few fancy omelets on the menu back then.
     I cooked in one Philly restaurant that had 27 different omelette options on the menu.  This restaurant was only open during lunch and dinner hours.  This goes to show that omelets are not just breakfast food.
     Each omelette at the Philly restaurant was named after a township in the Philadelphia area.  Keeping track of 27 different toppings for omelets was not easy to do when cooking for over 1000 customers per night.  Fortunately the omelette toppings were fairly simple back in those days. 
 
     Cayenne Chips:
     About 4 ounces of raw potato yields 1 portion of chips.
     Step 1:  Very thin slice a medium size peeled russet potato.  (The slices have to be cut paper thin.  A French Mandolin is the best tool for cutting potato chips.) 
     Step 2:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil to 360ºF in a high sided sauce pot.
     Fry the potato slices, till they are crispy golden brown.  Use a fryer net to stir the chips occasionally so they do not stick together.
     Step 3:  Use a fryer net to scoop the potato chips out of the frying oil and place them on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Step 4:  Place the warm chips in a mixing bowl.
     Flavor the chips with a couple pinches each of:
     - sea salt
     - white pepper
     - cayenne pepper
     Keep the Cayenne Chips warm on a stove top.
 
     Salmon Tomato Cheddar Omelette: 
     This recipe yields 1 hearty omelette.
     Salmon scraps and belly meat are perfect for using in an omelette.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 1/2 ounces of 1/4" thick salmon pieces.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté the salmon pieces, till they are fully cooked but not browned.
     Set the salmon pieces aside and keep them warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Whisk 3 large eggs in a mixing bowl, till they are foamy.
     Step 3:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the whisked eggs.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette.
     Cook the eggs, till they are firm on the bottom half.
     Step 4:  Flip the omelette.  (Or place the pan in a 325ºF oven to cook the other side.)
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese on the omelette.
     Place the sautéed salmon pieces on the omelette.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of diced tomato on the omelette.
     Step 6:  Sauté till the eggs are fully cooked.
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Fold the omelette in half and try to expose some of the salmon filling.
     Slide the omelette onto a plate.
     Garnish with a sprinkle of thin bias sliced green onion top.
     Set the crispy cayenne chips on the plate next to the omelette.
   
      Crunchy spicy fresh warm potato chips go great with today's fish omelette!  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Poached Egg, Watercress, Black Forest Bacon and Parsnip Hash Brown Napoleon Stacks topped with Tomate Crème and Sauce Verte







     Gourmet Breakfast Food!
     Creating good new entrées with limited ingredients is standard practice for busy chefs and home cooks.  If a home cook can prepare a nice tasty new entrée with a few odd items in the refrigerator, then the home cook is thinking like a good chef!
     Today's recipe made use of an extra amount of two sauces that I had on hand.  To paint with sauce like in the photo examples, both sauces must be the same consistency.

     Mayonnaise & Sauce Verte Recipes:
     Follow the link to the recipe page in this website.
     • Mayonnaise & Sauce Verte 

     French Tomato Sauce:  
     This recipe yields about 3 to 4 small portions.  (about 1 3/4 cups)
     • There really is no strict recipe for a French Tomato Sauce.  The definition is fairly loose, but a tomato sauce recipe should not have a lot of extra items added, because it is a French Mother Sauce.  The idea is to only add aromatic mirepoix vegetables, vegetable stock and a minimum of herbs, so this Mother Sauce can be used to create hundreds of secondary sauces.
     • Canned Italian tomatoes or peeled seeded overripe fresh tomatoes can be used to make this sauce.
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of imported Italian canned peeled seeded whole plum tomatoes and a proportion of their own juices in a mixing bowl.
     Crush the tomatoes by hand and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of pomace olive oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped carrot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Gently sauté till the vegetables become aromatic, but do not let them brown.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved crushed tomatoes.
     Add 1 cup of vegetable stock.
     Add a cheese cloth sachet bouquet garni of:
     - 1 bay leaf
     - 1 sprig of thyme
     - 4 parsley stalks
     - 4 basil leaves
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 4:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the vegetables are cooked very tender and the excess liquid evaporates.  The sauce should look like medium thick stewed tomatoes.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat and let the sauce cool.
     Remove the sachet.
     Puree the tomato sauce with a blending wand, blender or food processor.  (Try not to aerate the sauce.
     Step 7:  Check the consistency of the sauce.  The sauce should be a medium thin puree consistency that can coat a spoon.
     *If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of vegetable stock.  If the sauce is too thin, simmer and reduce the sauce in a sauce pot over low heat.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat or refrigerate the sauce for later use.

     Tomato Crème Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 small portion.  (about 2/3 cup)
     Heat 1/2 cup of the French tomato sauce in a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  Add milk if the sauce is too thick.

     Parsnip Hash Browns:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a seasoned griddle or sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2/3 cup of a grated russet potato.
     Add 1/3 cup of a grated peeled parsnip.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Grill the parsnip hash browns, till they are fully cooked and golden brown.  Stir the hash browns occasionally.
     Keep the parsnip hash browns warm over very low heat.

     Poached Egg, Watercress, Black Forest Bacon and Parsnip Hash Brown Napoleon Stacks topped with Tomate Crème and Sauce Verte:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     American Black Forest Bacon is a German winter spice flavored sweet cured bacon.  
     Step 1:  Heat a skillet or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Cut 2 slices of Black Forest Bacon in half.
     Grill the bacon on both sides, till it is fully cooked and semi crisp.
     Place the bacon on a wire screen roasting rack on a drip pan to drain off any excess grease.
     Step 2:  Poach 2 large eggs in gently simmering salted water over medium/medium low heat.
     Step 3:  Use a 3" wide steel ring mold to make 2 equal size patties of parsnip hash browns on a plate.
     Place the grilled black forest bacon on each hash brown patty.
     Place a small mound of trimmed watercress sprigs on top of the bacon and hash browns.
     Place 1 poached egg on top of each stack.
     Step 4:  Spoon a small amount of the tomato crème sauce over each egg and onto the plate.
     Use the plastic squeeze bottle to paint the sauce verte on the tomato creme sauce.
     No garnish is necessary!
 
     Viola!  A tasty breakfast entrée that looks nice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Omelette Jardiniere avec Champignon Crème







     Gardener Omelette!
     A garden vegetable omelette with a mushroom cream sauce always sold well as a lunch special du jour at French cafés that I worked in back in the 1980's and 1990's.  As a sous chef, it pays to take advantage of niche market opportunities.  If there are a bunch of lousy breakfast restaurants in the area that sell the same old worn out breakfast food, then take advantage of the situation.  Offer a good omelette on the café daily special board each day.  Eventually a clientele base of omelette fans will be built up.
     I used this omelette marketing strategy at a French café in Florida, in an area where the breakfast restaurants were sub par.  After a short period of time, I was selling plenty of fancy omelette specials everyday.  As every chef knows, omelets are extremely profitable food items, because the food cost percentage is low.
   
     A mild cheese should be the choice for a garden vegetable omelette, especially if a rich mushroom sauce is part of the recipe.  A fresh cheese like mozzarella, provolone or string cheese are a good choice, because the mild flavor does not compete.
     Organic soil vegetables taste the best.  When making something like a Gardener Omelette, it pays to select organic vegetables, because they have a good color and a strong flavor.
     Mushrooms are another story.  In reality, there is no such thing as an organic mushroom.  Food markets that sell organic mushrooms for a higher price are committing deceptive marketing practice.
     Most mushroom mycelia biochemically converts harmful chemical compounds, heavy metals and soil toxins into edible substances.  Mushrooms actually clean up the environment.  Farmed mushrooms do not require pesticides or fertilizer.  Mushrooms are organic no matter where they grow or what they grow on.
     Of course not all mushrooms are edible and some wild mushrooms are toxic enough to kill a herd of elephants.  Wild mushrooms that grow on or near a dead animal should not be harvested, because they can be contaminated with dangerous bacteria.  Wild mushroom collecting is something that takes many years to learn.

     Garden Vegetable Preparation:
     Step 1:  About 1 cup of chopped garden vegetables is needed per omelette.
     The mixture of garden vegetables can be any assortment that you may prefer.  The mixture that I used for today's omelette recipe is a classic combination of:
     - asparagus
     - celery
     - carrot
     - haricot
     - string beans
     - green bell pepper
     - cauliflower
     - broccoli.
     Step 2:  Blanch a variety of large pieces of garden vegetables in a pot of salted boiling water, till they are cooked al dente.
     Cool the blanched vegetables in a container of ice water.
     Drain off the water.
     Step 3:  Place the blanched vegetables on a cutting board and chop them into small pieces.
     Set the garden vegetables aside.

     Champignon Crème:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 1 omelette.
     This is a simple cream reduction sauce.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 thin sliced small button cave mushrooms.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the mushrooms are tender and a few brown highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 2/3 cup of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Keep the mushroom cream sauce warm over very low heat or reheat the sauce to order.  (Add milk if the sauce is too thick.)

     Omelette Jardiniere avec Champignon Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 full size omelette.
     This omelette recipe is written for those that prefer not to flip eggs.  The omelette is finished in an oven.  
     Place 3 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add the chopped blanched garden vegetables.
    Add 1 small pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Whisk till the eggs start to foam.
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
     Add the egg mixture.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette.
     Sauté till the bottom half of the omelette just starts to become firm.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of grated provolone cheese on the uncooked eggs on the omelette.
     Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.  (This only takes a few minutes.)
     Bake till the eggs are fully cooked and the cheese melts.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Triple fold the omelette with a rubber spatula and slide it onto a plate.
     Pour the Mushroom Crème Sauce over the omelette.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.

     Viola!  A tasty French gardener style omelette!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Shirred Eggs and Portobello en Pomme Duchesse







     Parisienne Style Shirred Eggs!
     I had a small amount of Duchesse Potato leftover from another recipe, so I decided to put it to use.  Refrigerating Duchesse Potato poses many problems.  The best thing to do is to use a pastry bag to pipe fancy shapes with the potatoes, then freeze the unbaked duchesse potatoes for later use.  
     The extra Duchesse Potatoes were piped in a casserole dish and then the dish was placed in the freezer, till it was needed.  For an item like this, it is best to freeze the soft potatoes before covering them with plastic wrap, so the piped shapes are not damaged.
     A few days later, when it came time for thinking about making a breakfast creation, baking shirred eggs in the Duchesse Potato lined casserole dish came to mind.  Coquille St Jacques a la Parisienne requires the same kind of Duchesse Potato lined dish.  The French word "Parisienne" describes this style of food presentation.
     Fancy shirred egg entrées do impress guests.  Shirred eggs are easy to make.  Placing raw eggs and a few other ingredients in a buttered casserole dish and baking it in an oven is all it takes.  Shirred eggs are a nearly forgotten style of egg cookery and very few chefs offer shirred eggs on menus these days.

     Duchesse potatoes are a nice comfortable potato for breakfast and they are far less greasy than home fries or hash browns.  Duchesse Potatoes do take more time to brown, than the amount of time it takes to bake shirred eggs.
     If light golden brown highlights on the Duchesse Potatoes are desired, then par-bake the Duchesse Potatoes for about 5 minutes first, before adding the eggs and mushrooms to the casserole dish.  I just baked this entrée all at one time for the sake of convenience and the Duchesse Potatoes turned out to be a light color, yet they were fully cooked.

     I guess that I was craving the flavor of black pepper, when I baked today's egg entrée for the photo example.  Black pepper on a roasted item does taste nice, but obviously most folks would prefer less black pepper.  I usually leave room in my recipes for readers to season food to personal taste.  This is why I rarely specify an exact amount of salt & pepper in a recipe.

     Duchesse Potato:
     This recipe yields 3 petite portions.
     Step 1:  Boil 1 peeled large (about 8 oz) russet potato, till it is soft.
     Drain off the water.
     Thoroughly mash the potato.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 egg yolk while whisking.
     Step 3:  Place the dutchess potato mixture into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Set the Duchesse Potatoes aside

     Shirred Eggs and Portobello en Pomme Duchesse:  
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 small portobello mushrooms that are cut into petite wedges.
     Briefly sauté the mushrooms till a few light brown highlights appear.
     Set the mushrooms aside.
     Step 2:  Brush the bottom of an individual size casserole dish (6" wide) with melted unsalted butter.
     Use the pastry bag to pipe petite conical shape swirls of duchesse potato around the edge of the casserole dish rim.
     Step 3:  Place 2 large eggs in the casserole dish.
     Step 4:  Place the sautéed portobello wedges next to the duchesse potatoes around the eggs.
     Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of melted unsalted butter over the raw eggs.
     Season the eggs with 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 5:  Bake in a 350ºF oven, till the egg whites are fully cooked and the yolks are still soft.  (About 10 minutes.)
     Place the casserole dish on a doily lined serving plate.
     No garnish is necessary!

     This is an elegant looking shirred egg entrée!  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Broccoli and White Cheddar Omelette with Herbes du Saison Crème






     A Nice Café Style Omelette!
     Herbs du Saison is an herb mixture that classic French cuisine chefs are familiar with.  Herbs du Saison refers to a mixture of leafy early summer herbs that are commonly found at farms in Northern France close to the coastline.  The herbs should have mild savory flavors and the texture of the leafy herbs must be very tender.
     Parsley, chervil, basil and tarragon is usually what an Herbs du Saison consists of.  The proportion of parsley and chervil should be high and there should only be a small amount of basil and tarragon in the mixture.  

     *This entire recipe yields 1 hearty omelette entrée!
  
     Broccoli Preparation:
     Blanch 1/2 cup of small broccoli florets in boiling salted water for about 90 seconds.
     Cool the blanched broccoli florets under cold running water.
     Chop the broccoli florets into small pieces and set them aside.
   
     Herbes du Saison Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 accompanying portion.  (About 2 ounces of sauce)
     • This is a simple reduction sauce that should be served shortly after it is made. 
     • The herbs have to be fresh for this recipe and only the tender leaves can be used!
     Step 1:  Heat 3/4 cup of cream in a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley leaves.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced tarragon leaves.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced basil leaves.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced chervil.
     Step 2:  Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin cream sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  (Add a splash of milk if the sauce becomes too thick.)
   
     Broccoli and White Cheddar Omelette with Herbes du Saison Crème:
     Imported English White Cheddar or artisan White Cheddar is best for this recipe.  American style bulk yellow cheddar rarely has a good flavor these days, so it is a poor choice of cheese!
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add  of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 whisked large eggs.
     Add the reserved chopped blanched broccoli.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette.
     Step 2:  When the bottom of the omelette is cooked firm, flip the omelette.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of grated white cheddar cheese on the omelette.
     Step 3:  When the eggs are fully cooked and light golden highlights appear, triple fold the omelette while sliding it onto a plate.
     Spoon a generous amount Herbs du Saison Crème over the omelette.
   
     Herbs du Saison Crème sauce brings new life to the old familiar broccoli and cheddar omelette!