Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Classic Eggs Benedict with Lyonnaise Potato Medley and Grilled Tomato

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blackened Catfish Breakfast Stack a la Creole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 3, 2017

Shrimp, Asparagus and Brie Omelette Soufflé

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

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

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

     Voila!  A light and fluffy golden omelette soufflé!