Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kuku-ye bademjan










     Iranian Style Eggplant, Onion and Saffron Eggs!
     Kuku-ye bademjan is sometimes compared to an Italian Frittata.  In fact, many food historians state that the Frittata originally was created in Persia long ago.  Persia has a long history of great egg cookery and egg entrées from this region can be served for any meal.  Items like Kuku-ye bademjan can be one of many items offered in a large banquet style mezze spread or it can be prepared with a smaller pan for one or two guests.
     A small cast iron skillet or a casserole dish can be used to make Kuku-ye bademjan.  The cast iron skillet method yields more authentic finished product, because of the way that seasoned cast iron retains heat.
     For today's recipe, the eggplant, onions and garlic are caramelized to a light brown color and they are thoroughly mashed before the eggs are added.  The egg and mashed vegetable mixture is prepared like batter before being added to the hot cast iron skillet.  The Kuku will not stick to the skillet at all, as long as the skillet is very hot before pouring the eggplant mixture into it.  The Kuku-ye bademjan should be moist and fluffy after baking and not dried out or baked too dark of a color.
     The health benefits of saffron are well known.  Saffron Water is used extensively in Persian cuisine and this product is available in Mediterranean food markets.  Saffron Water can also be made by steeping Safflower Saffron in hot water.  Safflower Saffron sells for a very modest price and the flavor is mild.  Crocus sativa Saffron has a very strong flavor that is better suited for other recipes.  If Crocus sativa Saffron is added, then be sure to only add a pinch for flavor.
  
     Kuku-ye bademjan:
     This recipe yields 4 petite portions.  (8" diameter skillet size)
     Step 1:  Select 1 large eggplant that weighs 1 3/4 to 2 pounds.
     Use a knife to peel the eggplant.
     Step 2:  Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 3/8" thick slices.
     Stack the slices and then cut the slices in half.
     Step 3:  Place the eggplant slices side by side on a sheet pan.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of sea salt on both sides of each eggplant slice.
     Let the eggplant sweat for 15 to 20 minutes.
     Step 4:  Rinse the salt off of the eggplant under cold running water.
     Place the rinsed eggplant on a wire screen rack over a drip pan and let them air dry.  (Or pat the eggplant pieces dry with a pastry towel.)
     Step 5:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of blended olive oil.
     Pan fry the eggplant slices in small batches.
     Flip each eggplant slice, so they cook evenly.
     Pan fry till the eggplant is a golden brown color and it becomes soft.
     *Add oil as necessary, till all of the eggplant slices are cooked. 
     Step 6:  As each eggplant slice finishes cooking, place them in a mixing bowl.
     When all of the pan fried eggplant are piled in the bowl, let the bowl set for 10 minutes, so the carryover heat softens the eggplant even more.
     Thoroughly mash the eggplant till it resembles a coarse paste.
     Set the bowl of mashed eggplant aside.
     Step 7:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1 cup of julienne sliced onion.  (1/8" wide strips)
     Sauté till the garlic and onion is lightly caramelized.
     Step 8:  Add the caramelized onions and garlic to the eggplant in the mixing bowl.
     Mix the ingredients together and set the bowl aside.
     Step 9:  Place 3 tablespoons of Saffron Water in a second mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 2 large eggs.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 2 tablespoons of flour.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (About 2 to 3 pinches.)
     Whisk till the ingredients are combined.
     Step 10:  Add the eggplant, garlic and onion mixture to the saffron egg batter.
     Stir the ingredients till they are combined.
     Step 11:  Select a 7" to 8" wide seasoned cast iron skillet.
     Brush the skillet with blended olive oil.
     Heat the skillet in a 375ºF oven.
     Step 12:  When the skillet becomes hot, remove it from the oven.
     Immediately pour the eggplant mixture into the hot cast iron skillet.
     Step 13:  Return the skillet to the 375ºF oven.
     Bake till the egg batter is fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear.
     *The finished Kuku-ye bademjan should be fairly firm and moist like a French quiche.
     Step 14:  Set the hot skillet of Kuku-ye bademjanon a serving platter.
     Cut the Kuku-ye bademjan into pie shaped portions.
     Serve with pomegranate fruit and yogurt on the side.
  
     Viola!  A classic Persian Kuku-ye bademjan for those who seek something exciting for breakfast!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Five Spice Portobello and Leek Omelette with Ginger Crème Fraîche






     A Great Tasting Fusion Style Omelette!   
     Today's fusion style omelette recipe has a higher percentage of French cuisine influence than Asian cooking influence.  The Asian flavors are the Chinese Five Spice Powder and the ginger.  Ginger flavored Crème Fraîche is easy to make and it does not need to be prepared ahead of time, so this sauce is a nice convenience for breakfast.
     Chinese Five Spice Powder is a mixture of fine powdered star anise, cinnamon (or cassia bark), fennel seed, cloves and Szechuan Pepper.  Five Spice Powder is a classic spice mix that goes well with the flavor of eggs and savory vegetables.  Ginger also compliments the flavor of Five Spice.
     True Crème Fraîche is a rich half soured cream.  The old way of making Crème Fraîche involves leaving an open container of cream at room temperature for several hours to activate the enzymes.  The activated cream is then refrigerated overnight and it will gel to a half soured cream consistency.  The problem is that leaving cream in the 41ºF to 140ºF temperature range for several hours will often result in pathogen contamination.  From a safe food handling standpoint, making Crème Fraîche the old fashioned way is taboo.  This is why the modern method of making Crème Fraîche is best.  Mixing cream and sour cream together creates Crème Fraiche that is absolutely safe to consume.

     Five Spice Portobello and Leek:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.  (Enough for 1 omelette.)
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped leek (European Leek).
     Gently sauté and sweat the chopped leek till it is tender, but not browned.
     Step 2:  Add 2 small portobello mushrooms that are thin sliced.  (About 1/4 cup.)
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese 5 spice powder.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Gently sauté till the mushrooms are tender.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Five Spice Portobello and Leek warm on a stove top.
 
     Ginger Crème Fraîche:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (2 portions)
     Step 1:  Place a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced ginger.
     Gently sauté till the ginger becomes aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Add 1/3 cup of sour cream.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 4:  Place the sauce in a ceramic cup.
     Keep the Ginger Crème Fraîche warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
 
     Five Spice Portobello and Leek Omelette with Ginger Crème Fraîche:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     A petite omelette is made with 2 large eggs.  For a full size omelette, add 1 more egg.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Whisk the egg mixture till it is blended.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the egg mixture.
     Sprinkle the sweated Five Spice Portobello and Leek mixture over the loose eggs.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette.
     Step 3:  When the bottom half of the omelette is cooked firm, flip the omelette.
     Sauté till the omelette is fully cooked and firm.
     Step 4:  Triple fold the omelette while sliding it onto a plate.
     Pour a generous portion of the Ginger Crème Fraîche over the omelette and onto the plate.  (About 2 ounces.)
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     This fusion style omelette has an indescribably good flavor!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Scrapple Benedict Pronvencal







     Gourmet Scrapple!
     Scrapple is an Amish creation that is made with pork secondary cuts, organ meat and corn meal.  Basically, everything in a pig is used to make Scrapple, except for the squeal!  Scrapple is like a soft mushy meatloaf and it is usually grilled crisp for breakfast. 
     There are Scrapple fans in this world, so writing a few new Scrapple recipes is a good thing.  Creating simple recipes that make Scrapple more appealing is a good thing too.  Today's recipe is presented Benedict style, with a stack of toasted bread, meat, egg and sauce.  Wheat Bread replaces the Holland Rusk, Scrapple replaces ham and Sauce Provencal replaces Hollandaise.  This fancy Scrapple breakfast creation turned out to be rather nice!   

     Provencal Tomato Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups.  (3 or 4 portions)  
     There are hundreds of different Provencal style tomato sauce recipes, because this sauce can be tailored for whatever it is served with.  Usually the variations have to do with what kind of stock, wine or aromatic ingredients are added.  Today's Provencal Tomato Sauce recipe is well suited for breakfast.     
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced carrot.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of chopped peeled and seeded ripe Plum Tomatoes.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (About 2 pinches.)
     Sauté and stir till the tomatoes start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat. 
     Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.
     Use a food processor, blender or emersion blender to puree the sauce.
     Step 5:  Return the sauce to a sauce pot.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates and the sauce is a medium thin consistency.
     Step 6:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of chilled unsalted butter while stirring.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Grilled Scrapple:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     The goal is to grill the scrapple till it a crispy brown crust forms. 
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick griddle (or sauté pan) over medium low heat.
     Spread 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter on the griddle.
     Step 2:  Cut 2 slices of scrapple that are about 3/8" thick and weigh about 3 ounces apiece.
     Place the scrapple on the griddle.  
     Use a spatula to shape the scrapple into 2 round patty shapes as it heats.
     Step 3:  Grill the scrapple patties undisturbed till a brown crust forms.
     Use a spatula to flip the scrapple patties.
     Grill till both sides are crispy brown.
     Keep the scrapple patties warm on a stove top.

     Scrapple Benedict Pronvencal:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Trim the crust off of 2 slices of Stone Ground Wheat Bread, so they are 4" square shapes.
     Place the bread squares on a baking pan.
     Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the bread is toasted light golden brown.
     Keep the toast warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Poach 2 large eggs in gently boiling salted water in a sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Step 3:  Place the toasted bread side by side on a plate.
     Place the crispy brown scrapple slices on the toast.
     Place the poached eggs on the scrapple.
     Spoon a generous amount of the Provencal Sauce over each poached egg and scrapple stack.  (About 2 ounces to 2 1/2 ounces.)
     Step 4:  Garnish the plate with an edible fine herb of your choice.  (Vietnamese Perilla sprigs are the herb in the photos.)
     Serve with breakfast potatoes on the side.

     Viola!  A gourmet Scrapple breakfast entrée!        

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Poached Eggs and Hickory Smoked Bacon on Pepper Jack Sourdough Toast with Sauce Soubise






     A Combination of Rustic, Savory and Sweet Flavors!  
     Soubise is not a sauce that can be used on just any entrée that comes along.  Soubise is a semi sweet, onion flavored Béchamel Sauce that is enriched with cream and butter.  Soubise is classically used as a breakfast entrée sauce. 
     Toasted Cheese Bread actually is a traditional American breakfast entrée.  Sliced bread topped with sliced cheese that is toasted in an oven is as simple as it gets.  Pepper Jack Sourdough Cheese Bread has a slightly tangy tasting bread flavor and mild spicy chile pepper flavor that offsets the semi sweet character of Sauce Soubise.  The hickory smoked bacon adds rustic savory appeal.  The flavors work well together!

     Classic Sauce Béchamel:  
     This recipe yields about 2 cups.
     Béchamel is a French Mother Sauce.  Hundreds of secondary sauces can be made with Béchamel.  Béchamel can be refrigerated for 7 days and it should be reheated to order.
     An Onion Piquet can be used to flavor the sauce, but the sauce will still need to be strained.  It is easier to just place the piquet components in the sauce instead.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat. 
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. 
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk to make a roux.  (The roux should look shiny and not caky.)
     Stir the roux constantly till a very light hazelnut aroma develops and the roux is cooked to a pale white color. 
     Step 2:  Slowly add 3 cups of milk while stirring. 
     Whisk the sauce as it comes to a gentle boil and thickens.  
     *The sauce should be a very thin consistency at this point.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat. 
     Add 1/2 of a bay leaf.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 spice clove.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped onion.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce, till the béchamel is a medium thin sauce consistency that evenly coats a spoon.
     Step 5:  Pour the béchamel through a fine mesh strainer into container.
     Set the béchamel aside or chill the sauce for later use. 

     Sauce Soubise:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.  (3 or 4 generous portions.)
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low/low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of minced onion.
     Gently sauté and sweat the onions till they become tender and sweet.  Stir often, so the onions do not brown at all.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
     Add 3/4 cup of béchamel sauce.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of chilled unsalted butter while whisking.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a ceramic container.
     Press as much of the tender onions as possible through the strainer into the sauce.
     Discard the solid onion pieces that remain in the strainer.
     Keep the Soubise Sauce warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Poached Eggs and Hickory Smoked Bacon on Pepper Jack Sourdough Toast with Sauce Soubise:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Place 2 strips of Hickory Smoked Bacon on the griddle.
     Grill the bacon on both sides till it is crispy golden brown.
     Set the crisp bacon strips on a platter and keep them warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Leave griddle over medium/medium low heat.  
     Brush 1 slice of California Sourdough Bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the bread on the griddle
     Grill both sides of the bread till it is toasted golden brown.
     Step 3:  Place the grilled sourdough on a baking pan.
     Place 2 thin slices of Pepper Jack Cheese on the bread. 
     Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the cheese becomes softens and melts.  (Do not brown the cheese.)
     Keep the cheese bread warm on a stove top.
     Step 4:  Poach 2 large eggs in a pot of gently boiling salted water, till the eggs whites are fully cooked.
     Step 5:  Place the Pepper Jack Sourdough Toast on a plate.
     Place the 2 strips of Hickory Smoked Bacon on the cheese bread.
     Place the 2 poaches eggs on the bacon and cheese bread.
     Pour about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the Soubise Sauce over the eggs and cheese bread.
     Garnish the plate with a fruit of your choice.  (The fruit in the photos was large diced pineapple.)
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     Voila!  A tasty breakfast entrée with a classic French sauce!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Brie Cheese Dill Potato Eggs Cocotte with Gravlax, Grilled Tomato and Bermuda Onion









     Modern breakfast Cuisine!
     Many restaurants in Las Vegas take pride in serving good breakfast food twenty four hours a day.  Restaurants in casinos on the Las Vegas Strip always offer a high quality breakfast in the morning, especially at the finest buffets.  Many of the luxury casino resort buffets feature gourmet traditional breakfast cuisine.  During the last decade, modern Egg Cocotte entrées that are baked in silicone baking molds have taken center stage at the finest buffets.  The accompanying sauces and presentations of these modern baked egg entrées are superbly crafted.
     While working as a chef, I was never trained to perform the silicone baking mold Eggs Cocotte technique, so I had to figure the cooking technique out on my own.  What I learned is that if the eggs in the mold are baked without a bain marie, then you risk having dried out eggs or wrinkly looking eggs, if the eggs are baked for too much time.  When the eggs are baked in a mold that is placed in a covered bain marie, then you will have moist perfect looking baked eggs.
     Another trick involves preventing the ingredients in the egg mixture from settling to the bottom of the silicone baking mold.  Soft scrambling half of the egg mixture then returning the partially cooked eggs to the remaining raw egg mixture will keep the added ingredients in suspension.
     Baked scrambled eggs can easily oxidize, which results in discoloration.  When oxidation occurs, minerals in the egg yolks will cause the eggs to turn a grayish color.  To prevent discoloration, a little bit of lemon juice is added to the raw egg mixture.  After baking, the lemon flavor is not noticeable.  
     Gravlax and smoked salmon are traditional breakfast items in fine restaurants.  Gravlax is fairly easy to make and the entire process takes two to three days.  The result is fully cured salmon that is a sheer delight to eat.  Gravlax is a very healthy breakfast meat option too.
     There are a few herbs that taste excellent with eggs.  Basil, parsley, saffron, turmeric, oregano and dill all are nice with eggs.  Fresh dill weed goes well with eggs and potatoes and dill weed is required for making traditional Gravlax, so this herb is the best choice for flavoring the eggs in today's recipe.  The diced potatoes are baked in the mold with the eggs, but the potatoes have to be pre-cooked so they will be tender when the Eggs Cocotte id served.  
     Brie Cheese is a very nice mild cheese and it is perfect with dill flavored eggs.  Brie is a double cream soft cheese that has an edible rind.  Because Brie has a very high fat content, it easily melts.  When topping the eggs with Brie Cheese, the Brie topping should only be gently warmed for less than a minute, so this soft cheese remains intact.  
     Sushi quality fish goes through a deep freeze process to kill parasites and pathogens.  Sushi quality salmon is a good choice for making Gravlax, but it is not necessary if the salt curing process is complete.  Farm raised salmon that depend on a vast array of antibiotics and chemicals may not be a good choice for making Gravlax, because it takes heat to break many of these agents down.  GMO Farm Raised Salmon should be avoided for environmental reasons.  
     Good healthy smelling fresh wild caught Alaskan salmon is the best choice for making gravlax.  Salmon farmed in cold North Atlantic waters is a good choice too, because these salmon are less chemically dependant than fish that are farmed in warm waters further south.
     The heavy salt curing process will kill nearly any pathogen threat even if the salmon has not undergone the deep freeze sushi quality process.  I recently worked for a young chef that prepared Gravlax with a one day cure, which is absurd from a health standpoint.  Salt curing fish for one day will not effectively kill pathogen threats, because the fish meat will still be raw and uncured.  Two to three days is what it takes to cure salmon with the salt and sugar mixture, which in effect will chemically "cook" the meat.     
  
     Gravlax:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Gravlax

     Whole Grain Crouton Medallion:  
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Use a steel ring mold to cut a round shaped slice of whole grain bread that is the same diameter as a silicone custard cup baking mold.  (About 2 1/2" to 3" diameter.)  
     Place the bread medallion on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 325ºF oven till the bread is toasted golden brown.
     Keep the Crouton Medallion warm on a stove top.
     
     Modern Dill Potato Eggs Cocotte:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of diced russet potato a small sauce pot.
     Cover the diced potato with water.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Boil till the potatoes are fully cooked, but not too soft.   
     Drain the water off of the diced potatoes.
     Let the potatoes cool to room temperature.  
     Step 2:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.  
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill weed.  
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.  
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.   
     Whisk till blended.  
     Step 3:  Heat a small non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.  
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.  
     Add 1/2 of the egg mixture.  
     Add the boiled diced potato.  
     Sauté and stir till the egg is loosely scrambled.  (Soft runny scrambled.)
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add the half cooked egg mixture to the remaining raw egg mixture in the mixing bowl.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 5:  Select a custard cup shaped non-stick silicone baking mold.
     Lightly brush the silicone mold with melted unsalted butter.  
     Place the baking mold on a deep roasting pan.  (A pie tin is good.)  
     Pour the dill potato egg mixture into the silicone custard cup.  
     Add enough water to the roasting pan so the water comes one third of the way up the outside of the silicone baking mold.  (bain marie) 
     Place a buttered piece of parchment paper on top of the eggs.
     Step 6:  Place the bain marie roasting pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the eggs are fully cooked.  (A probe thermometer should read 148ºF.)  
     *While the eggs are baking, the rest of the ingredients can be prepared.    
     
     Grilled Tomato and Bermuda Onion Slices:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a seasoned griddle over medium/medium low heat.  
     Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter on the griddle.  
     Place a 1/4" thick slice of Bermuda Onion on the griddle. 
     Place 3 large Plum Tomato slices that are 3/8" thick on the griddle. 
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.  
     Grill the tomato and onion slices on both sides, till a few golden brown highlights appear.  (Flip the tomato slices and onion slice only once!)  
     Step 2:  Use a spatula to set the grilled onion and tomato slices on a platter.
     Keep the platter warm on a stove top.  
     
     Brie Cheese Dill Eggs Cocotte with Gravlax, Grilled Tomato and Bermuda Onion:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  When the Dill Potato Eggs are fully cooked, remove the bain marie pan from the oven.
     Remove the silicone custard cup from the pan.
     Let the cup cool for about 1 minute.    
     Invert the silicone custard cup mold with the eggs onto a cutting board.
     Remove the silicone baking mold.
     Step 2:  Place the Whole Grain Crouton Medallion on the center of a plate.  
     Use a spatula to place the baked Dill Potato Eggs on the crouton.  
     Overlap 2 small wedges of Brie Cheese on top of the eggs.    
     Place the plate under a broiler to soften and warm the Brie Cheese topping.  
     *This only takes less than 30 seconds.  Do not broil for too long or the soft cheese will disintegrate and the eggs will brown!  
     Remove the plate from the broiler when the cheese becomes soft.  
     Step 3:  Arrange the grilled Bermuda Onion and Plum Tomato slices on the back half of the plate so they look nice.
     Step 4:  Place 5 or 6 thin slices of Gravlax on the plate, so they overlap and fan out from the center of the plate.  (About 2 1/2 to 3 ounces.) 
     Step 6:  Insert a fresh dill weed sprig through the softened brie cheese into the eggs as a garnish.  
     
     Viola!  A healthy modern free standing Eggs Cocotte breakfast entrée with Gravlax!  

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Honeydew Melon with Ginger Honey Mint Yogurt





     Healthy and Refreshing!
     A fruit cup is a typical side dish for breakfast in many restaurants.  In cheap "Greasy Spoon" diners, a fruit cup is usually made with canned fruit.  At chain restaurants, fresh pack prepared citrus fruit from a container is used.  At nice casual restaurants and fine dining restaurants, a fruit cup may be more of tasteful experience, because fresh fruit is the standard.
     Whipped Cream or yogurt usually accompanies a fruit cup in a fancy restaurant.  In modern times, yogurt has become the healthy choice.  Yogurt is easy to flavor, so it is easy to create a yogurt sauce that goes well with a specific fruit.
     Goat milk yogurt and mint sauces are popular in the Middle East and North Africa.  Yogurt and mint is a very refreshing classic combination.  Ginger also goes well with yogurt and mint.  From a health standpoint, eating some ginger is one of the best ways to start a day.  Ginger is a strong antioxidant, it increases cardiovascular efficiency and an it is an anti cancer food.  Starting the day with some ginger definitely has its benefits.

     Ginger Honey Mint Yogurt: 
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  (2 portions)
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of goat milk yogurt (Greek style yogurt) in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of honey.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced fresh mint leaves.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place the Ginger Honey Mint Yogurt in a container.
     Chill in a refrigerator for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.

     Honeydew Melon with Ginger Honey Mint Yogurt:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Remove the rind from 1 Honeydew Melon.
     Cut the melon in half.
     Use a spoon to remove the seed pulp.
     Step 2:  Cut the prepared honeydew melon into bite size pieces.  (About 2 cups will be needed per fruit cup.)
     Step 3:  Select a shallow ramekin or custard dish that is about 4 1/2" to 5" in diameter.
     Mound the honeydew pieces in the ramekin.
     Step 4:  Spoon a generous amount of the Ginger Honey Mint Yogurt over the honeydew.  (About 1/3 cup.)
     Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

     This simple fruit cup is pretty to look at and it is a healthy way to start a day!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Finocchio Eggs Cocotte with Caramelized Onion, Parmigiana Cheese Crisp and Paprika Beurre Noisette









     Breakfast Food Does Not Have To Be Boring!
     During the past 50 years in America, breakfast has been overlooked as an opportunity for serving fine food.  Many modern fine dining chefs ignore breakfast cuisine altogether.  Most fine dining restaurants do not offer breakfast at all.  This is a shame because there is a large sector of the dining public that no longer wants the same old greasy spoon diner style breakfast food.  Fine dining breakfast food actually is in high demand, yet relatively few chefs are willing to take advantage of this opportunity.
     Las Vegas does have several fine restaurants and buffets that offer a fine dining breakfast experience.  Egg entrées that are baked in silicone baking molds with fancy presentations to match have become a recent trend.  I personally like creating this modern style of egg cocotte and the cooking techniques are relatively easy to master.
     Today's modern baked egg cocotte recipe features classic European flavors.  Florence Fennel (Finocchio) has a mellow anise flavor that tastes nice with eggs.  Caramelized onions add a naturally sweet flavor.  A delicate parmesan cheese crisp adds eye appeal and great flavor to match.  Paprika Butter it a classic egg accompaniment and it adds comfortable warmth to the breakfast entrée.  A modern breakfast entrée like this appeals to those who are absolutely tired of being offered the same old boring breakfast food at every local restaurant that they go to.
 
     Caramelized Onions:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 cup of diced onion.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté and stir till the onions caramelize to a light brown color.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the caramelized onions in a ceramic cup.
     Keep the caramelized onions warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
 
     Paprika Beurre Noisette:
     This recipe yields 1 ounce.  (1 or 2 garnish portions.)
     Paprika Butter can be made cold, like a compound butter and then melted over a hot food item.  Paprika butter can also be made with Beurre Noise for a more intense butter flavor.
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Cook the butter till it is light golden brown color with a hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Pour the Beurre Noisette into a ceramic cup.
     Allow the beurre noisette to cool to about 135ºF.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of Spanish Paprika while stirring.
     Keep the Paprika Beurre Noisette warm on a stove top.
 
     Parmigiana Cheese Crisp:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Place an 8"x 8"piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
     Lightly brush the parchment with melted unsalted butter.
     Sprinkle a thin layer of thin grated Parmigiana Cheese on the center of the paper.  (About 3 tablespoons.  Spread the cheese out in a random shape, so it is no more than 3/16" thick.)  
     Step 2:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the Parmigiana Cheese is a golden color.  (This takes less than 10 minutes.)
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Gently use a cake spatula to loosen and free the Parmigiana Cheese Crisp from the paper, while the cheese crisp is still warm and slightly flexible.
     Leave the Cheese Crisp on the baking pan.
     Set the pan aside where the Cheese Crisp will not be damaged.
 
     Modern Finocchio Eggs Cocotte:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée portion.
     Old fashioned Eggs Cocotte are baked in a ceramic baking ramekin.  Modern Eggs Cocotte are baked in a non-stick silicone baking mold, so the cooked eggs can be placed on a plate on their own with no ceramic baking dish.  This free standing Eggs Cocotte style presents an opportunity to create a fancy presentation.  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced Florence Fennel.  (Anise Bulb or Fennel Bulb)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the fennel starts to become tender and a few golden highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped fennel top leaves.
     Simmer and reduce till the liquid evaporates.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the braised florence fennel aside to cool.
     Step 4:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add the braised florence fennel.
     Whisk the egg mixture till it is blended.
     Step 5:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 of the egg mixture.
     Gently sauté and scramble the eggs till they are only halfway cooked and still very loose.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add the half cook eggs to the raw egg mixture in the mixing bowl.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 7:  Select an 8 ounce capacity non-stick silicone baking mold.
     *Any shape will do.  A Star shaped silicone mold was used to make the Eggs Cocotte in the photo examples.
     Brush the silicone baking mold with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the silicone mold on a baking pan.
     Pour the egg mixture into the silicone baking mold.
     Step 8:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the eggs are fully cooked and firm.  (A probe thermometer should read 148ºF.)
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the Finocchio Eggs Cocotte warm on a stove top.
 
     Finocchio Eggs Cocotte with Caramelized Onion, Parmigiana Cheese Crisp and Paprika Beurre Noisette:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Invert the Finocchio Eggs Cocotte silicon mold onto a cutting board.
     Remove the silicon mold.
     Spread the Caramelized Onions on top of the eggs.
     Use a wide spatula to transfer the Caramelized Onion topped Finocchio Eggs onto a serving plate.
     Step 2:  *This step must be done carefully, so the Cheese Crisp does not break!
     Cut a slit in the top center of the Eggs Cocotte that is barely long enough for the edge of the Parmigiana Cheese Crisp to fit in.
     Gently part the slot on top of the eggs with a paring knife.
     Carefully insert the Parmigiana Cheese Crisp, so it stands vertically.
     Step 3:  Garnish the eggs with fennel leaf sprigs.
     Use a spoon to paint and drizzle the Paprika Beurre Noisette on the plate around the eggs.
 
     This Modern eggs Cocotte recipe will keep a cook busy, but it is well worth the effort.  Breakfast should be an inspirational start of a day!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Conque Étouffée Omelette







     A Louisiana Style Omelette Smothered With A Rich Conch Sauce!  
     Étouffée basically translates to "smothered with sauce."  Crawfish Étouffée is the most famous of this style of entrée and it is always served over rice.  There are exceptions to the Étouffée over rice rule, like when a guest craves Étouffée for brunch.  For brunch, Étouffée can be served over biscuits, home fries or even an omelette, as long as everything is smothered with sauce.  Since an omelette can only soak up a portion of the sauce, offering biscuits, cornbread or toast as "gravy mops" is necessary.  Of course rice can be served with the omelette too, but using gravy mops to sop up every last bit of Étouffée on a plate is one of life's simple pleasures!
     I have never heard of any Louisiana chef making Étouffée with Conch or a black roux, but more than likely this has already been done many times.  Cajuns have a long history of culinary adaption and incorporating local ingredients into their cuisine.  Since Conch meat requires a long simmering time to become tender, it is a good choice for making Étouffée, because this sauce also requires plenty of simmering time.   
     Black roux is is what gives today's Étouffée its dark color.  The basic rule for roux in Cajun cuisine is, dark color roux for light color meat and light color roux for dark color meat.  Conch meat ranges from white to a light orangish tan color, so it qualifies for a sauce made with dark roux.  Conch also has a rich shellfish flavor, so a dark brown roux or black roux is a good choice.       
     One thing to keep in mind when making dark roux, is that the darker that the flour is cooked, the less thickening power it will have.  The flour in a white roux can absorb much more liquid than the flour in a dark roux.  If a large batch of today's black étouffée sauce is needed for guests, then it may be necessary to make a little more black roux than what the expanded recipe calls for.
     Black Roux is rich tasting and it has a burnt popcorn aroma.  The strong black roux flavor does mellow after the sauce simmers over a period of time.  For some odd reason, black roux accents the flavor of conch in a nice way.  For those who associate rich flavors with dark colors, today's Conch Étouffée will not disappoint!  Those who like food smothered with sauce are in luck today too!
     
     Conque Étouffée Sauce: 
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (1 generous portion.)  
     Conch meat is usually sold shelled, poached and frozen.  Fresh conch meat and fresh frozen conch meat are also available.  The average size of a frozen conch is about 3 to 5 ounces.  One conch is about enough for one portion of sauce.    
     *Prepare all of the ingredients before starting to make the roux!       
     Step 1:  Select 1 shelled conch that weighs about 4 ounces.     
     Cut 4 small thin slices of conch and keep them chilled.  (About 1/8" thick slices.  The conch slices will be used as a garnish.)
     Cut the rest of the conch into 1/4" thick slices.
     Tenderize the conch slices with a meat mallet. 
     Finely chop the conch meat and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Finely chop these vegetables:
     - 1/2 cup of onion.
     - 1/4 cup of mixed green bell pepper and red bell pepper.
     - 1/4 cup of celery.
     - 2 green onions.
     Place the minced vegetables in a bowl. 
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Set the bowl aside.
     Step 3:  *The roux has to constantly stirred or it will scorch!  Wear protective gloves, because hot roux can cause severe burns.
     Heat 2 ounces of unsalted butter in a sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should not be thick or caky.  It should look shiny and have a peanut butter texture.)
     Constantly stir with a whisk till the roux becomes darker than chocolate brown and it looks almost black.  
     Step 4:  *Use caution, because steam will be produced in this step!  Wear protective gloves!
     When the roux becomes a deep dark brownish black color, immediately add the reserved bowl of chopped vegetables.
     *The hot roux will instantly cook the vegetables and garlic in just a few seconds.
     Wait till the steam dissipates.
     Briefly stir the black roux and vegetables till combined.
     Step 5:  Add 1 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 2 cups of shrimp stock (or fumet).
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of canned crushed tomato.
     Add the reserved prepared conch meat.
     Stir the sauce as it comes to a boil.
     *The sauce will be a very thin consistency at this point. 
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low/very low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Step 7:  Add 1 or 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper. 
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Stir the sauce.
     Step 8:  Gently simmer the sauce for 1 hour.  Add broth if the sauce becomes thick.
     Step 9:  After 1 hour, allow the sauce to simmer and reduce till it is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Keep the Conch Étouffée Sauce warm over very low heat or reheat the sauce to order.

     Buttered Conch Garnish:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Conch will be tender if it is cooked for a very short time or it will be tender after simmering for an extended amount of time.  A few thin slices of conch that are briefly sautéed in butter are used to garnish the omelette.  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the reserved conch slices.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Gently sauté till the conch is fully cooked and it is still tender.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the pan of buttered sliced conch warm on a stove top.

     Conque Étouffée Omelette:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     No starch accompanies the omelette in the photos examples.  Breakfast Potatoes or Plain Long Grain White Rice should be offered with this saucy omelette. 
     Biscuits, French bread or Corn bread also should be served on the side with this omelette.  The bread can be used as a gravy mop to sop up the extra sauce!  
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.  (Use 3 eggs for a large omelette.)
     Add 1 pinch of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 teaspoons of water.
     Whisk the egg mixture till it starts to foam.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon 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 is firm.
     Step 3:  Flip the omelette.
     Sauté till the omelette is fully cooked.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Triple fold the omelette and place it on the center of a plate.
     Step 5:  Pour a generous portion of the Conque Étouffée Sauce over part of the omelette and onto the plate.  (About 1 1/3 cups to 1 1/2 cups is plenty.  Étouffée means to smother with sauce!)
     Step 6:  Garnish the omelette with the reserved Buttered Conch Slices.
     Garnish the omelette with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve with plain white rice or breakfast potatoes and a choice of bread on the side.

     Hoo Dawgy!  There is no shortage of good flavor in this Louisiana style brunch entrée!