Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tomato Parsley Oeufs Cocotte and Cheddar Leek Crisp with Petite Ham Steak and Serrano Potato Medley

     Modern Free Standing Cocotte! 
     The original Oeufs Cocotte was eggs or an egg mixture that was placed in a ceramic ramekin, the baked in a bain marie or steamed.  Oeufs Cocotte was served, by simply placing the ceramic ramekin of eggs on a doily lined plate.  Basically, Oeufs Coquette was an alternative gentle way of preparing Shirred Eggs, but Shirred Eggs are whole eggs baked in a small casserole dish.  Oeufs Coquette differs from Shirred Eggs, because Oeufs Cocotte can be made with either whole eggs or a complex whisked egg mixture.  Some of the classic Oeufs Cocotte whisked eggs mixtures were quite fancy, so Ouefs Cocotte was always looked upon as being more elegants than Shirred Eggs.
     During the last decade, a few kitchen equipment innovations have enabled chefs to modernize and redefine classic French egg recipes.  Non-Stick Silicone Baking Molds have changed the rules as to how Oeufs Cocotte can be prepared and presented.  Instead of serving the Oeufs Cocotte in the ceramic ramekin that it was cooked in, when using a non-stick silicone baking mold the Oeufs Cocotte can be popped out of the silicone baking mold after they finish cooking.  Because of the nature of silicone baking molds, baking the Oeufs Cocotte in a bain marie is not always necessary, so one step can be eliminated in the classic recipe.  The best part of using a silicone baking mold to make Oeufs Cocotte is the plated presentation.  The eggs or whisked egg mixture can easily be popped out of the non-stick silicon baking mold and the Ouefs Cocotte can be plated as a free standing presentation, with no ceramic baking mold to clutter the plate.
      Adding integral garnishes to a free standing Oeufs Cocotte increases the eye appeal.  A thin pastry crisp garnish or cheese crisp garnish increases the height of the Oeufs Cocotte presentation in an extravagant way.  A leafy herb sprig combined with a complimentary sauce is another way to garnish a modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte entrée.  A free standing Oeufs Cocotte can even be topped with a gourmet cheese and passed under a salamander (broiler) till the cheese softens and melts.  As one can see, modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte has opened the door for new presentation ideas.
     When plating a modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte entrée, it is best to design the plate presentation with a sense of order.  Arranging petite accompaniments, like potatoes, roasted tomato, sausage or ham on the plate should be done with uniformity and clean open space in mind.  Using a ring mold to confine and shape loose accompaniments will achieve a clean looking plate that does not look cluttered.
     Making a modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte entrée with a silicone baking mold may initially seem intimidating on a first attempt, but the entire procedure actually is fairly easy to do.  When I first saw a modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte at a high end buffet in Las Vegas, it only took a few minutes to figure out how the entrée was actually made, because the pastry chef was using silicone pans at a 5 Diamond resort in Florida that worked in way back in 2001.  I figured that the 36 individual cup silicone muffin molds were the only way that a modern Oeufs Cocotte could be prepared mass production style for an elegant Las Vegas buffet.
     When I back got home in Chicago, I purchased silicone baking molds and figured out the rest.  I actually made a perfect modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte on the first attempt.  I even anticipated a trick involved in the process when using a fancy whisked eggs mixture that prevents the solid ingredients from sinking to the bottom of the silicone egg mold.  The trick is to cook one half of the egg mixture till it is scrambled very loose, then recombine the extra soft scrambled eggs with the other half of the raw whisked egg mixture.  This step keeps the solid ingredients in suspension, so the solid ingredients are evenly distributed in the free standing Oeufs Cocotte.  To ensure that the whisked eggs do not oxidize to a gray tint, a small amount of lemon juice must be added.  

     Cheddar Leek Crisp:
     This recipe yields 1 cheese crisp garnish.
     The cheese crisp is delicate, so it must be handled very gently!  It is best to make the cheese crisp ahead of time, then set the pan where it will not be damaged.  
     Because cheddar is an oily cheese, the thin grated cheddar must be dusted with a small amount of flour, so it becomes crisp instead of flexible.
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 10 thin julienne sliced leek threads.  (Thin julienne = 1/6" x 4")
     Gently sauté till the leek threads start to become tender become tender and flexible.
     Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Place an 8" x 8" square sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan.
     Lightly brush the parchment paper with melted unsalted butter.
     Arrange the soft leek threads on the center of the paper, so they are scattered over a 4" to 5" area.
     Step 3:  Place 3 tablespoons of very thin grated cheddar cheese in a small mixing bowl.
     Add about 1/2 teaspoon of flour.
     Toss the flour and cheese together, till the thin grated cheddar is lightly dusted.
     Pick up the dusted cheese and leave any excess flour in the bowl.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle a thin layer of the flour dusted grated cheddar cheese over the leek threads that cover a 4" to 5" area.
     *The layer of cheese should be a maximum of 1/8" thick.  Leave a few small open spaces between the pieces of cheese to create a lacy effect when it is baked.
     Step 5:  Place the pan into the 325ºF oven.
     Roast the leek thread and cheddar crisp, till it is no longer moist and it becomes a crispy golden brown.
     *Keep an eye on the cheese crisp, because once it turns crisp it will start to burn if it is roasted for a few minutes too much!
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Use a thin metal spatula to gently loosen and scrape the cheese crisp free from the parchment paper, while the cheese crisp is hot and it is still slightly flexible.
     Leave the loosened cheese crisp on the pan.
     Set the cheese crisp pan aside where it will not be damaged.
     *As the cheese crisp cools it will become a brittle texture, so handle the cheese crisp carefully later in the recipe!     
     Serrano Potato Medley:
     This recipe yields 1 petite portion.
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of large diced (parmentier) peeled russet potato in a small sauce pot.
     Add a 2 1/2 to 3 ounce whole unpeeled purple potato.
     Cover the potatoes with water.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Boil till the potatoes are halfway cooked.  (blanched)
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the potatoes.
     Cool the potatoes under cold running water.
     Peel the blanched purple potato with the back of a paring knife.
     Large dice the purple potato.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the large diced purple and russet potatoes.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Gently sauté till the potatoes are tender and golden highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Korean style Red Serrano Chili Pepper Paste.  (sambal)
     Add 1 teaspoon of water.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Serrano Potato Medley warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Petite Ham Steak and Roasted Shallot:
     This recipe yields 1 petite portion.
     Step 1:  Use a 3" ring mold as a guide to cut a round ham steak that is about 1/2" thick.  (A 2 1/2 to 3 ounce portion.)
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Place the ham steak in the pan.
     Place 1 peeled small whole shallot in the pan.
     Gently sauté till a few golden highlights appear on the ham.
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Roast till the ham steak is hot and shallot becomes tender.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the petite ham steak and roasted shallot warm on a stove top.

     Tomato Parsley Oeufs Cocotte:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     "Modern Baked Eggs" is another name for the free standing Oeufs Coquette style.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of milk.
     Whisk the egg mixture till it is blended.
     Step 2:  Heat a small non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely diced tomato.
     Add 1/2 of the whisked egg mixture.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Briefly scramble the ingredients till the eggs are cooked loose and runny.
     *The eggs should only be partially cooked.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Return the partially cooked egg mixture portion to uncooked raw egg mixture portion in the mixing bowl.
     Stir the two egg mixtures together.  
     Step 4:  Lightly brush a non-stick silicone custard cup baking mold with melted butter.
     Pour the egg mixture into the silicone baking mold.
     Place the baking mold on a small roasting pan.  (pie tin)
     Add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan.
     Place a piece of parchment paper that is lightly brushed with unsalted butter over the eggs in the custard cup.
     Step 5:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the eggs are fully cooked and they feel firm to the touch.  (About 9 to 12 minutes.  A probe thermometer should read 145ºF to 148ºF.)
     Remove the pan from the oven.

     Tomato Parsley Oeufs Cocotte and Cheddar Leek Crisp with Petite Ham Steak and Serrano Potato Medley:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Remove the protective parchment paper from the Tomato Parsley Oeufs Cocotte silicone custard cup mold.
     Invert the eggs and silicone mold together as one, onto the center of a plate.
     Remove the silicone baking mold.
     Step 2:  Use a 3" ring mold as a guide to place the Serrano Potato Medley on the plate next to the eggs.
     Step 3:  Place the petite ham steak next to the eggs.
     Place the roasted shallot on top of the ham steak.
     Step 4:  Cut a 3/4" deep slit into the top center of the baked eggs.
     Gently part the top of the eggs open just wide enough to vertically insert the Cheddar Leek Crisp.
     Step 5:  Place 2 small Italian Parsley sprigs on top of the eggs.

     Viola!  A nice looking modern free standing Oeufs Cocotte breakfast!                              

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Venison Tenderloin Schnitzel with Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande, Rösti and Sunny Eggs

     A Gourmet Swiss Style Venison Breakfast Entrée!
     There are relatively few venison breakfast recipes on the internet or in book form.  Venison Sausage is just about the only breakfast offering.  Venison is a good choice of breakfast meat, because it is lean and nearly fat free.  When an organic high protein meat is combined with long acting carbohydrates, eggs, a small proportion of lipids and vegetable nutrients, the breakfast meal will provide strength and long lasting energy for outdoor activites on a chilly day in the mountains.  This nutritional goal is what hunting lodge cuisine is all about!
     European countries are great sources for classic wild game recipes.  Austrian Schnitzel is a popular method of preparing tender cuts of wild game in the Alps region.  Fried egg garnishes for wild game date back to the late 1700's and this combination is perfect for breakfast.  Rösti Potatoes are a popular Swiss breakfast item, especially when the weather is cold.  Sherry flavored sauces add warmth on a cold day.  Sherry flavors the Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande in today's recipe.  Glacé Viande was originally made with wild game meat and bones over 400 years ago, so it is a perfect choice for a Venison Schnitzel sauce.  Confetti Peppers are multi color tiny sweet bell peppers and they have an agreeable mild sweet pepper flavor.  It may be difficult to imagine how good this sauce tastes with the Venison Schnitzel and eggs, but one taste is all it takes to agree.
     Glacé Viande:
     This recipe yields about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of glacé viande.  A little glacé viande goes a long way!
     Step 1:  Place 4 pounds of veal bones, lamb bones, beef bones, pork bones and lean meat scraps in a roasting pan.
     Add 5 ounces of tomato paste.
     Add 8 to 10 ounces of rustic un-peeled mirepoix of carrot, celery and onion.
     Stir the mixture together.
     Step 2:  Roast the mixture in a 350ºF oven, till the bones and vegetables caramelize to a deep brown color.  (Stir the ingredients occasionally.)
     Step 3:  Place the roasted bones and mirepoix in a stock pot.
     Deglaze the roast pan with water and add the jus to the stock pot.
     Step 4:  Cover the bones with 2 " of extra water. 
     Bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat 
     Simmer for 4 hours.
     Add water occasionally to cover the bones.
     Occasionally skim off any fat and impurities from the surface.
     Step 6:  Remove most of the bones from the pot and discard them.  
     Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second pot.
     Discard the bones and vegetables.
     Skim off all of the grease that floats to the top.
     Step 7:  Place the pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Simmer the meat stock, till the volume reduces by a little more than half.
     The glacé viande should be able to glaze the back of a spoon with a thin coating.
     Step 8:  Remove the pot from the heat and cool the sauce to room temperature.
     Place the sauce in a container and chill till it is needed.  
     *Glacé Viande can also be frozen in portions for later use.  When the thin Glacé Viande is used in recipes, it will be reduced to a slightly thicker consistency.

     Potato Rösti:
     This recipe yields 2 petite Rösti.  (1 portion)
     The lightly blanched potato mixture must be cooked shortly after grating or it will oxidize and discolor.      
     Step 1:  Place a sauce pot of water over medium high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Step 2:  Select a large 8 ounce russet potato.
     Peel the potato.
     Place the potato in the pot of boiling water.
     Blanch the potato for 4 or 5 minutes, so the surface is still firm and the center just starts to heat up.
     Step 3:  Remove the potato from the hot water.
     Let the potato cool till it can be handled with bare hands.
     Step 4:  Grate the hard blanched potato into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 pinch of Herbs de Provence.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian Parsley
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 5:  Heat a wide non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Place 2 stainless steel ring molds in the pan.  (3 1/2" to 4" diameter ring molds)
     Divide the Rösti mixture into 2 equal size portions.
     Place the 2 Rösti portion in the 2 ring molds.
     Use a spoon to press the Rösti mixture flat and even inside each ring mold.
     Remove the ring molds.
     Step 6:  Sauté till the bottom half of the Rösti are light golden brown and crispy.
     Step 7:  Use a spatual to flip the 2 Rösti.
     *If the Rösti is damaged or it falls apart, it is okay.  Just use a spatula to pack the Rösti back into a petite pancake shape!
     Briefly sauté the second side of the Rösti for 30 seconds.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the Rösti Potatoes are fully cooked and golden brown.
     Step 9:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the 2 petite Rösti warm on a stove top.
     Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande: 
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.  (1 generous portion)
     The proportion of Confetti Peppers should be relatively high in this sauce.  Confetti Peppers are colorful tiny sweet bell peppers.
     *This sauce can be made while the Rösti finish baking!  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped mixed Red, Orange and Yellow Sweet Confetti Peppers.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté till the peppers start to become tender.  (Try not to brown the peppers!)
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of sherry.
     Add 1/4 cup of thin Glacé Viande.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can easily glaze the back of a spoon.  The finished volume should be a little more than 1/3 cup.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Place the Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande in a ceramic cup.
     Keep the sauce cup warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.  
     Venison Tenderloin Schnitzel:
     This recipe yields 2 petite Schnitzel.  (1 portion)
     There are two sections that are called tenderloin on deer.  The true tenderloin is small and it runs from the hip toward the ribs.  The back straps from either side of the spin are also called tenderloin.  Deer only use the back strap muscle section for jumping, so the back straps are as lean and tender as the tenderloin section.  A Deer Back Strap was used to make the Schnitzel in today's recipe.  
     Step 1:  Cut 2 medallions of venison tenderloin (or backstrap tenderloin) that weigh about 2 1/2 ounces apiece.
     Use a meat mallet to gently pound the medallions flat and thin.
     Step 2:  Lightly season the venison with sea salt and black pepper.
     Dredge the venison cutlets in flour.
     Dip the cutlets in egg wash (or buttermilk).
     Dredge the egg dipped medallion cutlets in plain fine French bread crumbs.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of rendered duck fat or lard.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the fat and oil is 1/4" deep in the pan.
     Adjust the temperature so the frying medium is 350ºF.
     Step 4:  Place the breaded venison cutlets side by side in the hot oil.
     Pan fry the cutlets till they are crispy golden brown on both sides.  (Try to only flip the cutlets one time.)
     Step 5:  Remove the 2 Venison Schnitzel from the pan.
     Place the venison schnitzel on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the Venison Schnitzel warm on a stove top.
     Venison Tenderloin Schnitzel with Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande, Rösti and Sunny Eggs:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     The eggs can be cooked any style that is preferred.  Sunny Side Up looks best!
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 large eggs.
     Cook the eggs sunny side up.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 2:  Place the 2 Rösti on the back half of a large plate.
     Place the 2 Venison Schnitzel on the front half of the plate, so they lean against the Rösti.
     Step 3:  Spoon a generous amount of the Sherry Confetti Pepper Glacé Viande over the Venison Schnitzel and onto the plate.  (About 1/3 cup.)
     Step 4:  Use a rubber spatula to separate the 2 Sunny Side Up Eggs in the pan.
     Place 1 Sunny Egg on each Venison Schnitzel.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     This Swiss style Venison Schnitzel breakfast entrée is a modern classic that will please guests! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Southern Ham Scramble with Jalapeño Home Fries

     A Great Tasting Ham Scramble!
     The Ham Scramble was a breakfast entrée that was once on the menu at nearly every classic diner in America.  The Ham Scramble was a customer favorite because it presented good dining value.  The Ham Scramble was also a favorite of restaurant managers, because it reduced food costs.    
     A classic Ham Scramble is made with 3 eggs and a good size portion of chopped ham.  Usually only broken eggs are used to make a Ham Scramble.  In a busy old fashioned breakfast restaurant kitchen, any eggs that break in the pan are scooped into a container, then saved for making Ham Scrambles.  Scrambling 3 partially cooked eggs with ham for a reduced price eliminates waste and keeps customer satisfaction high.     
     In modern times, cooks simply throw broken eggs in the garbage, but this brings food costs up and the increases waste cost is reflected on menu prices.  Managers now prefer to raise menu prices, rather than control waste costs with well founded managerial skills.  Overall, this lackadaisical managerial strategy results in inflated menu prices and lower customer flow numbers.  A breakfast restaurant depends on high volume sales and as can be seen at the majority of modern breakfast restaurants, sales are not as good as they should be.  This creates a vicious circle, because the first thing that a lazy manager cuts is labor costs when customer flow numbers are low.  Low pay cooks create more waste than well payed highly skilled cooks.  A breakfast restaurant that has high waste costs, high menu prices and low paid cooks is basically destined for business failure.  
     Once again, items like a Ham Scramble take some skill to make, they increase labor efficiency, reduce cost and increase dining value because of reduced prices.  Items like the Ham Scramble increase customer flow numbers and increase customer loyalty.  In an old fashioned diner restaurant, a Ham Scramble is a win-win proposition! 
     Local sourcing and sustainable food sourcing is more than just a restaurant marketing scheme.  Good restaurant chefs seek local crafted products, because the quality is higher.  For example, a local top shelf Virginia Ham is a far better choice than choosing the same old mass produced low quality ham that 95% of all breakfast restaurants sell.  Customers notice the improvement in quality, especially when it comes to ham and they will return for more.
     Dry Cure Virginia Ham is also called Southern Ham.  A good Dry Cure Virginia Ham easily compares to the finest European hams.  The large piece of Edward's Virginia Ham in the photos above is as good as it gets.  The salt cure is traditional and the ham is dry aged to perfection, just like Italian Prosciutto.  The result is a dense dry aged ham that has a rich strong flavor that lingers on the palate for quite some time.  When used in breakfast recipes, the high quality of this fine Virginia Ham is easily noticed.  Guests actually compliment a ham like this as being the best they have ever tasted.  Using a local sourced product like Edward's Virginia Ham will bring an old fashioned Ham Scramble up to a new high quality standard! 
     Today's recipe photo example started as a simple 2 Eggs Over Easy Breakfast Entrée.  The yolks broke on the eggs when they were flipped, because the eggs were too fresh.  Eggs that are aged for 3 days to 2 weeks are much easier to flip, because the excess moisture in the egg whites evaporates.  
      Instead of settling for broken eggs for breakfast, I remembered what the good old Ham Scramble theme was all about.  I placed the partially cooked 2 broken eggs in a mixing bowl and added 1 more egg, then I set about making a classic Ham Scramble just like back in the good old days.  The only ham in my kitchen was an Edwards Virginia Ham, which was a gift sent by relatives in North Carolina.  My only thought was that this Ham Scramble was going to be the best one that I ever made and I was correct!  A Southern Ham Scramble is the cream of the crop!  
     In a restaurant, a Southern Ham Scramble definitely is still a good cost cutting menu item, even though Dry Cure Virginia Ham commands a slightly higher price.  It is the quality that counts and customers will not balk at a slightly higher price if the quality is there.  The flavor does all the talking and a Southern Ham Scramble will give guests plenty to talk about! 

     Jalapeño Home Fries:
     This recipe yields 1 portion. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 3/4 cup of peeled russet potato that is cut into 1/4" thick bit size pieces.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the potatoes are a little more than halfway cooked and golden highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped Bermuda Onion.
     Add 1 small green jalapeño pepper that is cut into 3/16" thick slices.
     Sauté and stir till the potatoes are fully cooked and the vegetables are tender.  (Try not to brown the onions and jalapeños.)
     Keep the Jalapeño Home Fries warm over very low heat.  
     Southern Ham Scramble with Jalapeño Home Fries:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Broken Over-Easy Eggs are perfect for making a Ham Scramble, so save them if you got them!
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of hand torn bite size Dry Cure Virginia Ham chunks.  (About 3 1/2 ounces.)
     Sauté till the ham heats and a few golden highlights appear. 
     Step 2:  Add 3 large eggs.
     Immediately use a rubber spatula to vigorously scramble the eggs with the ham.
     Scramble and toss till the eggs are thoroughly mixed and fully cooked. 
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the Southern Ham Scramble on the front half of a plate.
     Place the Jalapeño Home Fries on the back half of the plate.
     Garnish with a curly leaf parsley sprig.
     *Serve with cornbread, toast or biscuits on the side.

     Viola!  The best tasting Southern Ham Scramble ever!