Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kookoo Sabzi

     Persian Herbed Eggs!
     This is a very nice tasting egg recipe that can be served for breakfast or as mezze.   There are several different ways to spell the word "Kookoo."  "Kuku" is also a common spelling.
     Kookoo Sabzi is considered to be perfect when it has a green color.  As one can see in the photos, it does take a lot of freshly chopped herbs to make Kookoo Sabzi green.  By Persian standards, an even higher proportion of herbs can be added, to the eggs look dark green.
     The herb selection is usually is a high proportion of mint and Italian Parsley, but just about just about any kind of Middle Eastern green herbs can be added to the recipe.  Green fenugreek tops and tarragon are commonly used.  Fresh herbs are nice, but they are not always the best choice.  Dried herbs that are imported from the arid Middle East region are dried out so quickly that the bright green color is retained.  The same can be said about fresh herbs that I dry here in the High Mojave Desert.  Obviously, dried herbs are a better choice in arid conditions.  
     Minced dried fruit can also be added to Kookoo Sabzi.  Minced dried barberries add a unique flavor.  
     This egg recipe can be very easy to make in its simplest form.  A thin frittata style Kookoo Sabzi like the one in the photos only takes a few minutes to cook.  A thin Kookoo Sabzi can be served flat or rolled into a cylinder shape.
     A fancier thicker version of Kookoo Sabzi is also fairly easy to make, but a different cooking technique is used.  A seasoned cast iron skillet is heated and enough herb egg mixture is poured in the skillet, so the Kookoo Sabzi is about 1 1/2" thick.  The skillet is placed in the oven and baked like a pie.  The eggs are lightly browned and the herbs become very aromatic.   adding chopped dried barberries, raisons or dates.  The combination of herbs in this recipe is very comfortable for breakfast.

     Kookoo Sabzi: 
     This recipe yields 1 thin petite Kookoo Sabzi.  
     To make a thick Kookoo Sabzi, expand the proportion of the ingredients in this recipe.  Then follow the cast iron skillet method described in the paragraphs above. 
     If dried herbs are used, then the amount of herbs will need to be adjusted by eye. 
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of reconstituted minced dried barberries.  (optional)
     Whisk the egg mixture till it is thoroughly blended.
     Set the egg mixture aside.
     Step 2:  Finely mince a total of 1/3 cup of any combination of these fresh aromatic ingredients:
     - Italian Parsley
     - Tarragon
     - Fenugreek Leaves
     - Cilantro
     - Green Onion Tops
     - Dill Weed (optional)
     Step 3:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the finely chopped herb mixture.
     Gently sauté till the herbs wilt and become aromatic.  (Do not brown the herbs or cook them for too much time!) 
     Step 4:  Add the wilted herbs to the egg mixure in the mixing bowl.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Step 5:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the herb egg mixture.
     Even the edges of the Kookoo Sabzi, but do not scramble the eggs.
     Step 6:  When the eggs begin to cook firm on the bottom half, place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the eggs are fully cooked.
     Step 7:  Slide the Kookoo Sabzi onto a plate.
     Serve with goat milk yogurt and chopped fruit on the side.
     Kookoo Sabzi definitely is a very aromatic egg recipe!  

Green Pepper, Parsley and Harissa Omelette

     A Mediterranean Style Eye Opener!    
     Today's omelette has some North African style flavor.  Some folks picture all Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine as being highly seasoned food that always has complex spice mixtures.  This is not really the case.  Plenty of traditional recipes from these regions have delicate gentle flavors.

     Harissa is a blend of mild paprika peppers, smoked paprika and roasted red bell pepper that is turned into a paste or sauce.  Harissa is popular in North African, Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine.
     The word "paprika" can be confusing, because this word does not refer to a specific chile pepper hybrid.  Paprika refers to any number of fresh mild red chile peppers that range from a deep robust classic mild red chile flavor to a mild piquant flavor.  Paprika often refers to a blend of mild tasting ground dried red peppers.
     Hungarian Paprika is made with a different mild red chile pepper hybrid than Spanish Paprika.  Spanish Paprika usually is a blend of ground mild chile peppers.  Harissa is another blend of mild red peppers, but the selection of mild red peppers can vary from one region to the next.
     Everything is relative and this includes the sense of taste.  Some old world cultures are sensitive to chile pepper heat.  For example, a Harissa product label might say "Spicy or Hot."  For somebody in North Africa the flavor might taste spicy hot, but to those of us who live in the Mojave Desert, the flavor will taste very mild.   

     All I can say is that the mild red chile pepper flavor of Harissa is tasty with eggs!  The same goes for parsley.  Many cooks in the western world do not realize that parsley is used extensively in Persian, Arabic and North African cuisine.  There are a few Persian Kuku Sabzi style egg entrées that are loaded with minced parsley.  Parsley is digestif that benefits those who eat a meat protein rich diet.  Parsley also helps to prevent gout.
     Today's omelette features a simple combination of mild peppers and parsley.  This omelette is refreshingly light on the palate and it sits well in the tummy on a hot summer day!
     Green Pepper, Parsley and Harissa Omelette:
     This recipe yields a petite 2 egg omelette.  For a full omelette portion, use 2 large eggs and adjust the proportion of the ingredients.
     Harissa Paste and Harissa Sauce can be found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food markets.  Harissa Paste can be thinned with water to a sauce consistency.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Whisk the egg mixture, till it is foamy.
     Step 2:  Heat non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat. 
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. 
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped green bell pepper. 
     Sauté till the bell pepper is tender.
     Step 3:  Add the egg mixture. 
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette. 
     When the bottom of the eggs are cooked firm, flip the omelette. 
     Sauté till the omelette is fully cooked. 
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Spread about 2 tablespoons of harissa sauce over the middle third of the omelette. 
     Triple fold the omelette while sliding it onto a plate. 
     Place a dollop of harissa sauce on top of the omelette as a garnish. 
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs.
    The Italian Parsley adds a nice mellowing effect.  This is a simple omelette that tastes very nice!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pork Schnitzel & Sunny Egg with Jalapeño Monterey Jack Polenta

     Pork Schnitzel For Breakfast!
     Schnitzel Holstein is usually a traditional dinner entree.  It is great for breakfast too!  Especially if you are craving brunch food instead of breakfast food.
     Veal is the meat in traditional Holstein Schnitzel recipes.  Pork can be substituted for veal, but legally the entrée name on the menu must state that the schnitzel was made with pork and not veal.
     Austrian Wiener Schnitzel was originally made with pork.  A king that was served the original Pork Wiener Schnitzel thought that the meat was veal.  The king kept raving about the great veal dish named Wiener Schnitzel.  A person could not argue with a king back in those days, even if the king was wrong, so the original Wiener Schnitzel recipe was changed from pork to veal.

     At sometime over 100 years ago, a recipe called Schnitzel Holstein was created.  I have cooked Schnitzel Holstein at yacht clubs in the past.  Schnitzel Holstein is garnished with a fried egg, anchovy filets, lemon and caper butter.
     Fried egg garnishes were popular from the late 1700's through the early 1900's.  Fried eggs and schnitzel go well together.  The mild flavor of a plain old breakfast of pan fried Schnitzel & Egg is appealing.  Pork Schnitzel & Eggs tastes even better for breakfast.

     Farina, creme of wheat, oatmeal and several other grains are often served as hot porridge for breakfast.  Polenta can be made with any kind of grain.  Polenta is basically a flavored thick grain mush or thick porridge.  The original polenta was made with local native Italian Durham Wheat Semolina.
     Modern Corn Meal Polenta is actually a nice comfortable item for brunch.  It is made just like a thick mush or porridge.  Corn Meal Polenta for breakfast should be on the mild side.  For today's breakfast polenta, it is best to remove the jalapeño seeds and pulp, so the spicy heat is controlled.  
     Jalapeño Monterey Jack Polenta:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 accompanying portions.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely minced onion.
     Add 1 finely minced jalapeño pepper.  (Remove the seeds and pulp.)
     Sauté till the onions turn clear.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1 cup of light chicken broth.  
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Slowly add a little bit of corn meal at a time, while constantly stirring with a whisk.  (About 2/3 cup.)
     Stop adding the corn meal when the polenta first starts to thicken.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Constantly stir the polenta, till the texture is very smooth and the polenta is thick enough to gather on a spoon.
     *If the polenta is too thick, add a splash of water.  (The corn meal should not be grainy or gritty when the polenta is ready.)  
     Step 5:  Add 1/3 cup of grated Monterey Jack Cheese while stirring.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir till the cheese is combined.
     Step 6:  Take the pot off of the heat.
     Load the polenta into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep the pastry bag warm on a stove top or in a dry container that is set in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Pork Schnitzel:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée size portion.
     The original Austrian Schnitzel was made with buttermilk and not egg wash.  The original was fried in duck grease too.
     Step 1:  Pound a lean 5 or 6 ounce pork loin cutlet flat and thin with a mallet or a wine bottle.
     Dredge the cutlet in flour.
     Dip the cutlet in buttermilk.
     Dredge the pork cutlet in fine bread crumbs that are seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add enough duck grease or vegetable oil, so the level of oil in the pan is about 3/8" deep.
     Adjust the temperature so the oil is 360ºF.
     Step 3:  Pan fry the breaded pork cutlet on both sides, till it is golden brown and fully cooked.
     Set the cooked pork schnitzel on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to remove any excess oil or duck grease.
     Keep the pork schnitzel warm on a stove top.
     *Leave the pan on the heat for the next step! 
     Fried Egg:
     Pour off most of the grease or oil from the sauté pan into a heat proof container.  Leave about 2 tablespoons in the pan.
     Adjust the temperature to medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 large egg.
     Fry the egg sunny side up.
     Pork Schnitzel & Sunny Egg with Jalapeño Monterey Jack Polenta:
     Set the pork schnitzel on a plate.
     Place the fried egg on top of the pork schnitzel.
     Use the pastry bag to pipe the Jalapeño Monterey Jack Polenta on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with fruit of your choice.
     *Orange segments and pomegranate are the choice of fruit garnish in the photos.

     This is a simple old fashioned pork schnitzel and eggs breakfast entrée.  The Jalapeño Monterey Jack Polenta adds a little bit of zesty flavor to the plate!  

Andouille, Tomato and Green Onion Omelette

     A Simple Tasty Louisiana Brunch Omelette!
     Sometimes a simple omelette that has no cheese or sauce really hits the spot!  I thought about making a creole sauce for this omelette, but something simple was more appealing that morning.  Because of the higher than average fat content of sausage, many chefs prefer to not add cheese to a sausage omelette anyway.    
     Louisiana Andouille Sausage is highly spiced and lightly smoked.  The great flavor of Andouille is perfect for an New Orleans style brunch omelette.  Green onions and tomato add a nice light complimentary flavor.

     Many chefs say that eggs should never have any golden brown highlights, especially when the eggs are cooked as an omelette.  All I can say is that if this was a one dimensional world where only 1 egg cookery rule was followed, then things would be kind of boring.
     The fact of the matter is that most chefs never cook breakfast in a professional kitchen and knowing what the breakfast customers actually prefer comes down to a guessing game.  Some of us chefs relish the thought of cooking breakfast and experience sets the egg cookery rules.  The highest percentage of customers that like sausage omelets do prefer to see some color on the eggs.  The customer is always right!
     An omelette with light caramelized golden brown highlights does taste better with sausage.  Many breakfast restaurant managers knows this fact and they do ask cooks to cook the eggs a little more when a sausage omelette is prepared.  It is the flavor that customers prefer that shapes egg cookery rules in the end!  

     Andouille, Tomato and Green Onion Omelette:
     Use 3 large eggs for a full portion omelette or use 2 eggs for a petite omelette.  The omelette in the photos is a petite omelette.
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 4 ounces of sliced andouille sausage.
     Sauté till the sausage is lightly browned.
     Step 2:  Add 2 thin sliced green onions.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced plum tomato.
     Sauté till the vegetables just start to become tender.
     Step 3:  *Check the amount of butter in the pan.  Add a little more if there is not enough to cook an omelette with.
     Add 2 whisked large eggs.  (petite omelette)
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette.
     When the bottom half of the omelette is cooked firm, flip the omelette.
     Cook the omelette, till the eggs are fully cooked and golden highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Triple fold the omelette and slide it onto a plate.
     Garnish the plate with home fry potatoes of your choice and Italian Parsley sprigs.

     For an omelette that has only three ingredients, the flavor is very nice!  Smokey spicy Andouille Sausage creates a classic New Orleans omelette flavor.  

Southern Fried Chicken Eggs Benny

     A Modern Southern Style Eggs Benedict! 
     There are many Eggs Benedict recipe variations that have been marketed at restaurants during the last century.  Even the original Eggs Benedict has some controversy involved, because some say that the recipe was created by a chef in New York City, while others say that the recipe originated in New Orleans.
     In modern times, many chefs have marketed modern breakfast stack recipes in restaurants.  Often the word "Benedict" is used to describe a breakfast stack entrée, whether the recipe has any resemblance to the original Eggs Benedict or not.  Personally, I prefer to describe such a dish as a "Breakfast Stack" or "Napoleon Stack" because this avoids customer confusion.
     When customers hear the word "Benedict" an association is made with Hollandaise Sauce.  Things are a little different when customers hear the word "Benny."  "Benny" is a slang word or nickname, so all formalities are cast aside and the customer is more open to a chef's interpretation of a classic recipe, like Eggs Benedict.  
      Southern Fried Chicken Eggs Benny or Southern Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict is a recipe interpretation that has been around for many years.  Classic American diner restaurant chefs always offer one or two fancy breakfast du jour entrées.  Making Eggs Benedict with southern fried chicken and gravy is really nothing new.  The combination tastes great and it appeals to folks that like easy to recognize down home food.
      From a utilitarian standpoint, chicken gravy can be kept hot and ready in a steam table and it does not have to be made to order.  By modern health code regulations, Hollandaise Sauce has to be served within 45 minutes after being made.  In a busy diner restaurants where the cooks are pressed for time, offering a Southern Fried Chicken Eggs Benny on the daily special board saves a lot of headaches.

     Today's Southern Fried Chicken Eggs Benny recipe is different than how most diner chefs in the south make this entrée.  It also is different than the one made at the famous Hash House A Go Go restaurant in Las Vegas.  Gruyere cheese is added, Virginia Ham is preferred over deli ham, the velouté is creamed and grilled toast replaces English Muffin.  The end result is a modern gourmet Southern Fried Chicken Eggs Benny that tastes like no other!
     Chicken Velouté:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup of velouté.
     Chicken Velouté is a French version of chicken gravy.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while stirring with a whisk, to make a roux.  (The roux should be shiny, not caky looking.)
     Constantly stir, till the roux cooks to a golden blonde color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of chicken stock.
     Raise the temperature to medium/medium high heat.
     Whisk the sauce occasionally as it comes to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  When the sauce comes to a gentle boil, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add a tied bouquet garni of:
     - a 2" long section of leek
     - a 4" long celery stalk
     - 1 small bay leaf
     - 1 small sprig of thyme
     - 1 parsley stalk
     Step 4:  Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.  (There should only be about 1 cup of velouté sauce after the reduction is completed.)
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter, while whisking.  (Monte au beurre.  This will keep a "skin" from forming on the surface of the sauce veloute.)
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  Add chicken stock if the sauce becomes too thick.
     Crème Velouté: 
     This is not a pale white supreme sauce or allemande sauce.  It is a velouté with a small amount of cream added.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream to the velouté sauce.
     Simmer over very low heat, till the sauce reduces to a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Southern Fried Chicken:
     This recipe yields enough for one Benny style breakfast entrée.
     Sage is the most often used herb for Southern Fried Chicken.  Some folks call it Sage Fried Chicken, but this is not necessary.  Southern Fried Chicken is always made with buttermilk or plain seasoned flour and not egg wash. 
     Step 1:  Cut 2 pieces of chicken breast that weight 2 to 3 ounces apiece.
     Gently pound the chicken pieces flat with a mallet or wine bottle.
     Place 1/2 cup of buttermilk in a mixing bowl.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of ground sage.
     Whisk till blended.
     Step 2:  Dredge the chicken pieces in flour.
     Dip the floured chicken tenders in the seasoned buttermilk.
     Dredge the chicken in flour a second time, so the chicken is thoroughly coated.
     Step 4:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil, so the oil and butter is about 3/8" deep in the pan.
     Adjust the temperature so the oil is 360ºF.
     Step 5:  Pan fry the chicken pieces, till they are crispy golden brown on both sides and fully cooked.
     Place the fried chicken on a wire screen roasting rack on a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the fried chicken warm on a stove top.
     Grilled Croutons:
     Heat a griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Cut 2 slices of bread into medallion shapes that are as wide as a poached egg.  (About 3 1/2" in diameter.)
     Brush the bread medallions with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the bread croutons, till they are toasted golden brown on both sides.
     Keep the grilled croutons warm on a stove top.
     *Leave the griddle on the heat for the next step!

     Grilled Southern Ham:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 Benny stack entrée.
     Southern Ham is Aged Dy Cured Virginia Ham.  The only ham that has a similar flavor is imported Italian Prosciutto.
     Cut 2 pieces of Southern Ham that about the same width as a poached egg (3 1/2" wide) and less than 3/16" thick.
     Drizzle a few drops of melted unsalted butter on the hot griddle.
     Grill the ham slices, till the a few golden brown highlights appear on both sides.
     Keep the ham slices warm on a stove top:

     Southern Fried Chicken Eggs Benny:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     The eggs can be poached while the cheese is melted on the chicken.
     Step 1:  Place the 2 croutons on a baking pan.
     Place the Southern Fried Chicken pieces on the croutons.  (Cut the chicken in half and overlap it on the crouton, if there is too much overhang.
     Place a few thin slices of Gruyere Cheese on the chicken.
     Bake in a 275º oven, till the ingredients are reheated and the cheese melts.
     Step 2:  Poach 2 large eggs in salted water that is gently boiling over medium/medium high heat.
     Step 3:  Use a spatula to set the 2 crouton, sage fried chicken and Gruyere stacks on a plate.
     Place the Southern Ham Slices on the cheese.
     Use a slotted spoon to place a poached egg on top of each stack.
     Step 4:  Spoon a generous amount of the Crème Velouté sauce over each egg stack.
     *For a modern breakfast entrée presentation, serve with a thick slice of grilled tomato and a small mound of vinaigrette salad greens.
     Baby Mixed Lettuce Vinaigrette: 
     Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Stir the simple vinaegrette.
     Place 1 1/2 cups of mixed baby lettuce in a mixing bowl.
     Add just enough vinaegrette to coat the ingredients.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     The flavor of Southern Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict is warm, comfortable and inviting!  Just like good old fashioned southern hospitality! 

Peach Crêpes

     Peaches are a favorite summer time breakfast fruit.  Every summer nearly every roadside fruit stand in Georgia and most southern states have bushels of peaches for sale at a nice price.  If you like fresh summer peaches and you have a whole bunch of them, then this recipe is for you! 
     Crêpe Batter: 
     This recipe makes about 6 to 8 small 7" crepes! 
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 cup of milk.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1 pinch of fine grated lemon zest.  (Lemon prevents crêpes from turning a gray color after they sit for a while.)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter.
     Step 2:  Add a little bit of flour at a time, while whisking, till a very thin batter is formed.  The batter should barely coat the back of a spoon.  Crêpe batter should be much thinner than pancake batter.

     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat. 
     Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the pan with melted unsalted butter. 
     Step 2:  Pour just enough crêpe batter into the hot pan to form a crêpe that is 1/16" to 3/32" thick and about 5" to 6" wide.  (About 1 to 1 1/2 ounces.)
     Tilt the pan, so the batter covers the pan with a very thin layer of batter.  Tilt the pan to get the batter to form a round shape and to cover any holes in the crepe.)
     Step 3:  When the batter turns solid and is cooked firm, carefully use a thin rubber spatula to flip the crêpe.
     Cook the other side till light golden highlights appear. 
     Step 4:  Slide the crêpe from the pan onto a plate to cool. 
     Repeat these steps to make as many crêpes as needed.  (The crêpe batter recipe can be multiplied to make a tall stack.  Crêpes do freeze well.  For home, it is best to freeze 2 to 4 portions per package.) 
     Peach Sauce for Crêpes:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     • Always wear protective clothing when working with molten sugar.
     • Have all the ingredients ready, before starting this recipe.
     • Keep an eye on the molten sugar, so it does not burn.  Once the sugar goes from the soft ball stage to the hard crack stage, it is only a matter of seconds before the sugar starts to enter the caramel stage.  Yellow amber is the first color of the caramel stages.  
     • For one portion, it is better to judge the sugar stages by the color, rather than to use a candy thermometer.  For multiple portions, 315ºF to 320ºF is the temperature of light amber color sugar. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat.  
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
     Simmer and reduce till the water evaporates and the molten sugar starts to bubble. 
     Cook the molten sugar, till it turns a light yellow amber color.  
     Step 2:  Add 2 small fresh peaches that are cut into thin wedges.  
     Gently shake the pan, so the peaches make contact with the molten amber sugar.  
     *Do not stir with a spoon or the sugar will gather on the spoon.  The molten sugar will instantly cook the peaches and pull the flavor out of the peaches.  
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of peach liquor or peach schnapps.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.  
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin syrup consistency.  Stir occasionally.  (If the sauce is made quickly, then the peach wedges will not become too soft or mushy.)  
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter, while stirring, to finish the sauce.  
     Peach Crépes:
     This recipe yields 1 serving.
     Place 3 or 4 small crêpes in the pan with the peach wedges and sauce.  
     Toss the sauce, peaches and crêpes together.  
     Place the crêpes on a plate.  
     Spoon the sauce and peaches over and around the crêpes.  
     Place a dollop of chilled crème fraîche on top of the crêpes. 
     I used a nice Macedonian Sauvignon Blanc for the sauce.  Always cook with a wine that you would enjoy drinking.  
     Peach Crêpes have a nice eye appeal and they can be served for breakfast or dessert! 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Frittata di Spinaci e Portobello

     Spinach And Portobello Mushroom Frittata!
     At national chain restaurants and greasy spoon diners, frittatas are just thrown together and the presentation is not composed.  A sloppily thrown together frittata looks like plate of garbage.  When considering that the inflated price of a breakfast entrée at most casual restaurants is now over $10, there really is no excuse for a sloppy looking low quality omelette or frittata.

     It takes 5 seconds to make a sloppy looking frittata and it takes 20 seconds to make a frittata look great.  All it takes is a little extra effort.  Most home cooks are willing to make the extra effort.
     Personally, nothing pleases me more when I overhear a customer at a table next to me in a restaurant say something like, "This was a waste of money.  I can make a better frittata at home, than what the cooks in this restaurant make.  Not only that, I can make the same frittata for less than a dollar too!"
     Today's Italian Frittata recipe is simple, yet it is hard to beat.  The flavors are impeccably Italian.  Any home cook can create a nice looking composed frittata presentation with ease.
     The goal of a recipe like this is to inspire home cooks to create great breakfast food at home, so settling for sloppy overpriced breakfast food at a chain restaurant or greasy spoon diner is no longer a necessary evil.
     Sooner or later restaurant managers might just figure out that fine quality breakfast food is in high demand, especially if highly skilled home cooks barge their way into a restaurant kitchen out of frustration, just to show a hopeless lackluster pro cook how to make a decent looking frittata!  That would be a sight to see!

     *This entire recipe yields 1 frittata!
     A La Minute Marinara Sauce Garnish:
     A spoonful of tomato sauce is often used to garnish Italian Frittatas.  Italian restaurants always have tomato sauce on hand and so do many home kitchens.  
     A quick a la minute marinara style tomato sauce is fine for breakfast cuisine.  Italian San Marzano tomatoes require very little cooking time, so they are best for this simple recipe.  Only a tiny amount of sauce is needed! 
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic is a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 3 tablespoons of imported Italian Canned Crushed San Marzano Tomato.
     Add 1 small pinch of basil.
     Add 1 small pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Simmer the sauce for about 2 minutes, till the flavors combine and the sauce becomes thick.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.  (Add a splash of chicken broth or tomato puree if the sauce is too thick.)      
     Spinach Sauté:
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat. 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. 
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic. 
     Saute till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves. 
     Toss the spinach in the pan till the spinach wilts.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat. 
     Season with sea salt and black pepper. 
     Step 4:  Set the wilted spinach on a cutting board.
     Coarsely chop the spinach.
     Set the chopped sautéed spinach aside.
     Portobello Sauté:
     Return the pan that was used to saute the spinach to medium/medium low heat. 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 2 to 3 small portobello mushrooms that are thin sliced. 
     Sauté the mushroom till they become tender. 
     Set the mushrooms aside.
     Frittata di Spinaci e Portobello:
     Step 1:  Place 3 large eggs in a mixing bowl.  
     Add the reserved chopped spinach. 
     Whisk the spinach and eggs together. 
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat. 
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. 
     Add the egg and spinach mixture. 
     Even the edges of the frittata with a spatula. 
     When the bottom of the frittata is cooked firm with no browning, take the pan off of the heat.  The top half of the frittata should be loose uncooked eggs.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of fine bread crumbs over the frittata. 
     Arrange the portobello mushroom slices on the frittata, so they look nice. 
     Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of finely grated imported Italian Parmigiana Cheese over the frittata. 
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano over the frittata. 
     Step 4:  Place the frittata pan in a 325º oven. 
     Bake till the frittata is fully cooked, but not browned. 
     Step 5:  Slide the frittata onto a serving plate. 
     Place a little bit of the marinara sauce on the center of the frittata.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig. 
     The combination spinach, portobello, eggs and Italian Parmigiana Cheese with a hint of garlic is a classic breakfast frittata flavor!

The Mountain Omelette

     Hearty Enough To Satisfy A Mountain Of An Appetite!
     This is an old recipe from way back in the late 1970's when I was cooking in Philadelphia.  In Philadelphia at that time, it seemed like every fine restaurant offered three common menu items no matter what the theme of the restaurant was.  The three common menu items were French Onion Soup, Philadelphia Cheese Steak and Fancy Dinner Omelettes.  Omelettes were offered for breakfast, lunch and dinner back in those days.
     Philadelphia is a town where you can find some very nice dinner omelette creations on the menu.  Most omelettes that are on the dinner menu do have catchy names.  Today's Mountain Omelette is a good example.  This big beefy omelette was a popular menu item at a very busy upscale public house that I worked in.
     There is something that is very appealing about a rich hearty dinner omelette!  Number one, dinner omelets are usually the cheapest item on the menu.  Customers can get a belly full of good food for a low price.  Because the food cost percentage of a dinner omelette is low, they are a profitable item to sell.
     The name and theme of today's dinner omelette says it all.  Cold brisk mornings and evenings in the mountains give good reason to chow down on some hearty food, especially after hunting, fishing or camping all day long.  A Mountain Omelette is great for warming up after spending a day outdoors in chilly weather.
     Brown Gravy: 
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk to make a roux.
     Constantly stir the roux, till the roux is a brown color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of rich beef stock.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir the gravy as it heats and thickens.
     Bring the gravy to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the gravy, till it is a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Keep the brown gravy warm over very low heat.
     Mountain Omelette:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty omelette!
     Step 1:  Leftover roast beef is good for this recipe.  If none is available, then roast a seasoned top sirloin steak till it is about medium well done.  About 5 to 6 ounces of roast beef is needed for tis recipe.
     Cut the roasted beef across the grain into thin bite size pieces.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 sliced medium size portobello mushrooms.
     Sauté till the mushrooms are tender and brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved sliced roast beef pieces.
     Sauté till the beef is reheated and lightly browned.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Keep the beef and mushrooms warm on a stove top.
     Step 4:  Heat a non stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 whisked large eggs.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette.
     When the bottom of the omelette is cooked firm, flip the omelette.
     Step 5:  Place a few thin slices of Swiss Cheese on the omelette.
     Place the cooked the beef and mushrooms on the omelette.  (Set a few mushroom slices aside for later in the recipe, so they can be used as a garnish.)
     Spoon about 1/2 cup of the brown gravy over the beef and mushrooms.
     Step 6:  When the eggs are fully cooked, fold the omelette in half.
     Slide the omelette onto a plate.
     Spoon a generous amount of beef gravy over the omelette.
     Place a few of the reserved sautéed mushroom slices on top of the omelette as a garnish.
     Garnish the plate with a parsley sprig.
     Serve with a breakfast potato of your choice.
     This is a very nice tasting hearty dinner omelette that is not difficult to make!  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Portobello, Smoked Salmon and Gruyere Omelette Soufflé

     A Light Fluffy Omelette Soufflé!
     Omelette Soufflé is not only a breakfast item.  It can be a great dinner entrée too!  Dinner omelette entrées are popular in some areas of this country and Europe.  Dinner omelets used to be on nearly every restaurant menu in Philadelphia in the late 1970's and 1980's.  Dinner omelets are usually both fancy and affordable.
     Omelette Soufflé is different than a standard omelette.  The egg whites are whisked till medium meringue peaks are formed, before being folded with the egg yolks to create the omelette egg batter.  Very few chefs still make omelette soufflé breakfast entrées, because of the additional preparation time, but that is a poor excuse.  Overall, fine breakfast food is not really part of most modern chef's repertoire.

     For todays breakfast recipe example, I presented the omelette soufflé with scallion grits.  Flavored hominy grits can be like a nice polenta.  Some people do not like grits, because they have only experienced plain instant grits.  Instant grits are very pasty and starchy.  Old fashioned stone ground hominy grits have a much nicer texture, but they take just a little bit more time to cook.  Adding a flavor like scallions to stone ground grits makes them even more appealing.
     There actually is a difference between scallions and green onions.  Scallions are smaller and the have a richer flavor.  Scallions have a very short shelf life, so they are usually only available by delivery at a restaurant from a fresh herb supplier.  At home, true scallions can sometimes be found at farmers markets.  As kids, we used to pick wild scallions in northeastern America, so gathering a few scallions in a meadow is an option too.
     Green onions can be substituted for scallions in recipes.  Most recipe titles that chefs write often use the word scallion to refer to green onions, because scallion sounds better when spoken.
     Scallion Grits:
     This recipe yields 2 small portions.
     Step 1:  Boil 1 1/2 cups of water over high heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of old fashioned stone ground hominy grits, while whisking.
     Whisk for 30 seconds.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the grits are cooked soft.
     Whisk the grits occasionally to break up any lumps.
     Add water, if the grits become too thick before they are tender.
     Step 3:  Add sea salt, and black pepper.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 chopped scallions (or small green onions).
     Simmer till the scallions are tender.
     Keep the scallion grits warm over very low heat.
     *The grits should be thick, but they should not be so thick that they look like a solid mass!  Add water if the grits become too thick while they are being kept warm.  Grits do drink up plenty of water!     

     Portobello, Smoked Salmon and Gruyere Omelette Soufflé:
     This recipe yields 1 petite omelette soufflé.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped shallot.
     Add 2 thin sliced small portobello field mushrooms.
     Season the mushrooms with sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté till the mushrooms are fully cooked
     Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Slice 3 ounces of smoked salmon into thin strips and set them aside.
     Grate 2 to 3 ounces of gruyere cheese and set it aside.
     Step 3:  Separate the whites and yolks of two large eggs into separate mixing bowls.
     Whisk the egg whites till a medium soft meringue peaks appear.
     Gently fold the egg yokes into the meringue.
     Step 4:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted of unsalted butter.
     Pour the omelette souffle batter into the hot butter in the sauté pan.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the omelette, so it is a round shape.
     Place the mushrooms and smoked salmon on the uncooked eggs on top of the omelette.
     Sprinkle the grated gruyere cheese on the omelette.
     Step 5:  When the bottom half of the omelette is cooked firm and the eggs are a light golden color, remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the omelette soufflé pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the cheese melts, the eggs are fully cooked and the omelette soufflé puffs up.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Fold the omelet soufflé in half with a rubber spatula and slide the omelette onto a plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley leaves.
     Garnish with a curled smoked salmon slice.
     Spoon the scallion grits on the plate.
     The rich flavor of this omelette soufflé is elegant tasting!  The puffy light texture is what an omelette soufflé is all about.