Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Smoked Salmon Crêpes with Brie Cheese and Wild Cherry Cabernet Glacé

     Gourmet Breakfast Crêpes!  
     This was one of the first recipes that I wrote.  In fact, it was one of the first recipes that I ever cooked at home or on an electric range.  Professional cooks do 99.9% of the cooking in professional restaurant kitchens.  A busy cook or chef usually prefers not to do any cooking during their time off, so the electric range in the apartment is rarely ever turned on.        
     It did take some time to get used to using an electric range.  I really do not like electric burners or electric ovens at all.  Most restaurant kitchens have gas burners.  Gas temperatures are easier to control and food can be cooked quicker with gas too.  
     Dialing in the correct temperature for making crêpes is kind of a trial and error process.  Usually the first crêpe made is an indicator of whether the temperature of the pan is okay.  If the pan is too cool, the crêpe will stick to the pan.  If the temperature is too high, the crêpe will scorch and dark brown highlights will quickly appear.  When the temperature is correct, golden brown highlights will gradually appear and the crêpe will not stick to the pan.     
     Crêpe Batter: 
     This recipe yields about 6 to 8 small 6" 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 juice 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.) 

     Cherry Cabernet Sauvignon Glacé:  
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.  (1 portion)
     Wild Cherries are also called Sour Cherries.  Dried Sour Cherries can be found in Mediterranean food markets and Eastern European food markets.
     The word "glacé" can be used to describe a translucent glassy looking sauce.    
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/3 cups of water in a small sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 15 dried sour cherries.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
     Gently simmer till the dried sour cherries are plump and the sauce is a thin syrup consistency.
     Step 3:  Add 1 ounce of cherry liquor (kirschwasser).
     Add 3 ounces of Cabernet Sauvignon Wine.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin syrup consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     Smoked Salmon Crêpes with Brie Cheese and Wild Cherry Cabernet Glacé:
     This recipe yields 1 petite entrée.    
     Step 1:  Place 3 crêpes on a counter top.
     Place 1 ounce of thin sliced smoked salmon on each crêpe.
     Place 1 thin slice of Brie Cheese on the smoked salmon.  
     Step 2:  Fold each crepe in half twice.  (quarter fold)
     Step 3:  Lightly brush a small baking pan with melted unsalted butter.
     Overlap the folded stuffed crêpes on the baking pan.
     Place a few thin slices of Brie Cheese on top of the crêpes.
     Step 4:  Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.
     Bake till the crêpes are warm and the brie cheese softens, but not browned.
     *Be careful not to bake for too long, or the double cream Brie Cheese will melt like butter and disappear!
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Use a spatula to place the crêpes on a plate.
     Pour about 1/3 cup of Wild Cherry Cabernet Glacé over the crêpes and onto the plate.

     This is a tasty crêpe entrée!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Basil, Tomato and Aged Provolone Omelette Soufflé

     Classic Italian Flavors!
     An Omelette Soufflé is fairly easy to make.  The preparation involves separating the yolks and egg whites, then whisking the egg whites till they are a medium soft meringue.  The meringue and egg yolks are folded together and the result is a light airy omelette batter that puffs up when it is cooked.
     For those who limit caloric intake when on a weight loss diet, an Omelette Soufflé is a nice choice.  An Omelette Soufflé that is made with two eggs will look as big as a regular omelette that is made with three eggs.  Making the plate look full will inspire positive visual perception, which increases the level of satisfaction, thus reducing cravings for more food.
     Fresh basil and tomato is a classic flavor combination that tastes nice with eggs and cheese.  Mozzarella is usually paired with basil and tomato.  Italian Provolone Cheese is a nice choice too.  Provolone is an aged cow milk cheese that is semi hard.  Provolone that is aged less than three months has a mild flavor and this version is called Provolone Dolce in Italy.  Provolone that is aged more than three months has a stronger sharp cheese flavor and the aroma is more pungent.  This version is call Provolone Piccante in Italy and in America it is usually marketed as Aged Provolone.

     Basil, Tomato and Aged Provolone Omelette Soufflé:
     This recipe yields 1 petite omelette soufflé.  (For a full portion, add 1 more egg.)
     Aged Provolone Cheese (Provolone Piccante) can be found in Italian delicatessens.  
     Step 1:  Separate the yolks and whites of 2 large eggs into 2 separate mixing bowls.
     Whisk the egg whites till medium soft meringue peaks appear.
     Gently fold the meringue into the egg yolks in the second mixing bowl.
     *Try to only mix till the batter is barely combined, so the batter is light and airy.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the prepared omelette soufflé batter.
     Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of coarsely chopped ripe plum tomato on the eggs.
     Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped fresh basil on the eggs.
     Briefly sauté till the bottom half of the omelette is cooked firm.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place a few thin slices of Aged Provolone cheese on the omelette.  (About 2 ounces)
     Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the omelette soufflés (puffs up) and a few golden highlights appear.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Fold the omelette soufflé while sliding it onto a plate.
     Garnish with a basil top sprig.

     Voila!  A tasty Italian style omelette soufflé!                  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Southern Fried Pork Chops & Eggs with Pepper Jack Grits

     Pork Chops & Eggs!
     Steak & Eggs is offered on nearly every breakfast menu out west.  A classic Steak & Eggs entrée usually features a thick cut Strip Steak or Top Sirloin Steak.  At finer restaurants and gourmet diners, the steak is dry aged USDA Prime Grade Beef.
     On the flip-side, a cheap family style breakfast restaurant or greasy spoon diner offers a thin cut low grade Strip Steak or a small Ball Sirloin Steak.  A small low quality steak for breakfast is not exactly worth waking up for.
     Other than Steak & Eggs, the next best choice at most restaurants is Ham Steak & Eggs.  Just like with Steak & Eggs, the price, quality and size can vary greatly, depending on the restaurant.  Las Vegas is famous for one pound breakfast ham steaks that cover the entire plate, while a greasy spoon diner in a big east coast city will usually only offer a tiny 4 ounce ham steak that looks more like Spam than ham.
     Not every restaurant offers Pork Chops & Eggs for breakfast.  Southern style restaurants, country style diners and big city diners that feature down home cooking or soul food will usually feature Pork Chops & Eggs on the menu.  Often this is the best deal in the house, because there are fewer quality, pricing and portion size issues, when compared to a breakfast steak or ham steak.
     Plain grill pork chops are nice, but many people prefer pan fried pork chops for breakfast.  Maybe it is because pan fried pork chops have more flavor or the coating fills the tummy up faster.  More than likely the reason is tradition.  Southern Fried Pork Chops & Eggs is breakfast comfort food at its best!

     Pepper Jack Cheese Grits: 
     This recipe yields 2 portions.  (About 2 1/4 cups)
     I used stone ground yellow grits for this recipe.  White stone ground grits are good too.
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 cup of milk
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Add 2/3 cup of stone ground hominy grits.      
     Stir the grits with a whisk, so the grits do not become lumpy.
     Bring the liquid back to a boil.
     Step 2: Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer till the grits are thick and soft.  (About 10 to 15 minutes)
     Stir the grits often with a whisk.
     Step 3:  Check the consistency.  The grits should be thick enough to be gathered with a spoon, but they should not be thick enough to stand a spoon in the pot.
     *If the grits become too thick, then add a splash of water.  If they are too thin, then simmer and reduce.      
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of cream.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Whisk till the grits become smooth and creamy.
     Step 5:  Add 1/3 cup of grated Pepper Jack Cheese.
     Stir the cheese into the grits as it melts.
     Keep the Pepper Jack Grits warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.  Add water if the cheese grits get too thick.

     Southern Fried Pork Chops:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (2 medium size pork chops)
     Step 1:  Select 2 pork chops that are about 3/8" thick and weigh about 5 ounces apiece.  (The bone should be attached.) 
     Step 2:  Place 2 cups of all purpose flour in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the seasoned flour bowl aside.
     Step 3:  Place 1 cup of buttermilk in a mixing bowl.
     Set the mixing bowl aside.
     Step 4:  Heat a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil (or lard), so the oil is about 3/8" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 5:  Dredge the pork chops in the seasoned flour.
     Dip the pork chops in the buttermilk.
     Dredge the pork chops in the seasoned flour a second time to create a thin coating.
     Step 6:  Place the coated pork chops in the hot oil.
     Wait till the coating is golden color on the bottom half before flipping the pork chop.
     Pan fry till the coating is golden brown on both sides and the pork chops are fully cooked.  Flip the pork chops occasionally to prevent excess browning.  (The center temperature should be over 145ºF for fully cooked pork.)
     Step 7:  Place the Southern Fried Pork Chops on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     *Leave the skillet on the heat, so the green onion garnish can be made!  

     Fried Green Onion Garnish:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Keep the frying oil in the cast iron skillet at 350ºF.
     Step 2:  Cut the green tops off of 8 to 10 green onions.  (Save the white parts for another recipe.)
     Cut the green tops into 4" to 5" lengths.
     Step 3:  Place the green onion tops in the hot oil.
     Pan fry till caramelized highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Place the Fried Green Onion Tops on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the green onions warm on a stove top.

     Southern Fried Pork Chops & Eggs with Pepper Jack Grits:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 or 2 eggs any style that is preferred.
     Step 2:  Place the eggs on the back half of a plate.
     Place about 1 cup of the Pepper Jack Grits on the back half of the plate.
     Step 3:  Place the Southern Fried Pork Chops on the front half of the plate, so they lean against the grits.
     Garnish the pork chops and grits with the fried green onions.
     Garnish the plate with a curly leaf parsley sprig.
     Voila!  Savory southern style pork chops with some tasty cheese grits!