Friday, April 29, 2011

Coconut Tilapia over Coconut Curry Island Vegetables with Mashed Yama Blanco and Pigeon Peas








Caribbean food, Mon!
  
     Many people have tried a classic coconut crusted shrimp entree in restaurants and liked it.  In Florida and the caribbean, coconut crusted fish is also a popular item.
     I chose to use tilapia instead of a snapper for this recipe.  Gulf red snapper, mutton snapper, mangrove snapper, lane snapper and yellowtail snapper are usually my first choice for this recipe.  Because of the lingering gulf oil spill contamination, I just don't trust gulf seafood.  Unfortunately it will be a long time before I do trust gulf seafood.  All snapper are listed as unsustainable these days, so this is an even better reason to choose an alternative fish.
     Tilapia is farm raised in brackish water ponds.  The farming technique for tilapia has improved over the years.  Tilapia used to taste muddy several years ago.  Now the flesh of tilapia has a nice clean flavor.  Tilapia actually is in the snapper family of fish.  A coconut coating on tilapia tastes delicious!
     The bed of vegetables is lightly sauteed and simmered with coconut milk and curry spices.  Jicama is one of the vegetables in the mixture.  Jicama adds a light sweet apple flavor to the curry.  Curry is very popular in the caribbean islands.
     Pigeon peas are served everywhere in the caribbean.  Pigeon peas have a sweet pea, lentil and bean kind of flavor that is quite interesting.
     This is a very nice caribbean style entree, Mon!  By the way, portions tend to be large in the caribbean for casual dining.  It is easy to work up an appetite when fishing and snorkeling all day!
   
     Yams,  Malanga, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes:
     I have given up trying to explain the difference between true yams, sweet potatoes and potatoes, because sweet potatoes are often marketed as yams.  Here we go one more time!  Because a root call white yam or yama blanco is called for in this recipe, it is important to know what this root really is.  Caribbean yama blanco is not a yam!
     Sweet potatoes and potatoes are native to the Americas.  A few yams are native to the Americas, but most are native to Africa and asia.  All three of these root vegetables come from three different plant species.  Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family of plants.
     To add to the confusion, there is both a white sweet potato and a white yam.  True white yam is large with a brown skin and it is native to Africa.  White sweet potato has a red skin and it is native to the Americas.  White sweet potato is usually called yama blanco in the caribbean, Mexico, America and South America.  The flavor of yama blanco is incredibly sweet and fruity.  Yama blanco is my favorite yam, even though it is really a sweet potato.
     There are purple potatoes, purple yams and purple sweet potatoes.  This is off topic as far as today's recipe is concerned, because purple root tubers of any kind are not traditional in the caribbean.  The exception is along the coastline of Central and South America.  A high percentage of purple yams used in asian cuisine are actually purple sweet potatoes that are native to the Americas.  True purple yams are also native to the Americas and they are also used in asian recipes.  Both are starchy and can be turned into a purple flour for desserts.
     Cocoyam (yellow yam) is another caribbean island favorite and it is not related to potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes.  Cocoyam is also called malanga, yautia or malanga yautia.  Cocoyam is actually the root of a certain species of elephant ear plant and it that is the species of plant that taro comes from.  So now you know four separate species of caribbean root vegetables that are mistakenly only divided into two species at markets as yams or potatoes.
     Just to add a twist, long yellow sweet potatoes are often called cocoyam by caribbean islanders.  Yellow sweet potatoes are called yellow yams by caribbean chefs who want to avoid confusion, which actually adds to the confusion.  To make it clear, malanga is called cocoyam because the skin of this root is brown, rough, fibrous and coarse like the fibrous hull of a coconut shell.  The flesh of cocoyam is ivory white.
 
     Mashed Yama Blanco  (White Sweet Potato):
     Yama Blanco is a red skin sweet potato that has a white flesh!  It is often call white yam.
     Boil a 6 ounce yama blanco in water over medium high heat, till it becomes tender.
     Remove the white yam from the pot and drain off the water.
     Hold the tuber with a dry towel and scrape the skin off, with the back of a paring knife.
     Place the soft white yama blanco flesh in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Add 1 small pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Thoroughly mash the yam mixture, till it becomes very smooth and thick.
     Place the mashed yam into a star tipped pastry bag and keep it warm on a stove top.
  
     Pigeon Peas:
     Place a portion of rinsed cooked dried pigeon peas or rinsed canned pigeon peas into a small sauce pot.
     Add just enough light chicken broth to barely cover the pigeon peas.
     Add 1 unsalted butter pat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Keep the pigeon peas warm over very low heat.
  
     Coconut Curry Island Vegetables:
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     When the garlic becomes aromatic, add 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of each of these vegetables that are cut into long strips:
     - jicama
     - peeled celery
     - carrot
     - green bell pepper
     Saute the vegetables, till they just start to become tender.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.  (Coconut milk will break and separate at a high temperature!)
     Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 2 pinches of garam masala curry powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add sea salt.  (Black pepper and white pepper are in the garam masala mixture!)
     Gently simmer and reduce, till the coconut milk thickens to a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Set the vegetables aside and keep them warm on a stove top.
  
     Coconut Tilapia:
     Heat a saute pan over medium  heat.
     Add about enough vegetable frying oil, so the oil is 1/4" deep.
     Add 1 tablespoon of clarified butter (ghee).
     Heat the oil to 360º.  (I can judge temperature by eye.  Use a probe thermometer if you are not sure!)
     Cut some tilapia filets into 6 medium size pieces that weigh 2 1/2 to 3 ounces apiece.
     Dredge the tilapia pieces in flour.
     Dip the tilapia pieces in egg wash.
     Mix some shredded coconut and fine bread crumbs together in a bowl.  (The breading mixture should be about 70% coconut and 30% fine bread crumbs.)
     Season the coconut breading mixture with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Lightly dredge the egg washed tilapia in the coconut breading mixture one piece at a time.
     Place each coated piece of tilapia into the hot butter and oil.
     Pan fry the coconut tilapia on both sides, till the coconut turns a golden brown color.  (Be careful not to burn the coconut!  It browns in only about 30 to 45 seconds of pan frying!)
     Remove each piece of coconut tilapia from the pan as they brown and place them on a baking pan.
     Bake the coconut tilapia in a 300º oven, till the fish becomes fully cooked.  (A probe thermometer should read 145º in the center.)  Tilapia cooks quickly, so the baking time is only a few minutes.  The coconut coating will not burn, if it is baked for a short time in a moderate temperature oven.
     Remove the coconut tilapia from the oven.
  
     Coconut Tilapia over Coconut Curry Island Vegetables with Mashed Yama Blanco and Pigeon Peas:
     Place the coconut curry island vegetables on the middle of a plate as a bed for the coconut tilapia pieces.
     Pour any coconut curry sauce in the pan over the vegetables.
     Arrange the coconut tilapia pieces on top of the vegetables.
     Pipe the mashed white yam onto the plate with the pastry bag.
     Spoon some pigeon peas onto the plate.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian parsley sprig and a couple of curled lime slices.
  
     This coconut tilapia entree is delicious, Mon!  Every item on this plate is caribbean style food.  Yum!  Ya Mon!  ...  Shawna  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Schnitzel Sandwich with Dijon Horseradish Sauce and Chile Guajillo Jicama







This is a yummy sandwich!
    
     Pan fried breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches were very popular in the late 1900's.  This sandwich is simply a pork tenderloin schnitzel on a toasted kaiser bun.  The horseradish sauce is served on the side.  Lettuce and tomato accompaniments are served on the side, because the hot schnitzel would wilt and brown the lettuce on the way to the table.  
     The french fry shaped pieces of jicama are seasoned with guajillo chile pepper and vinegar.  This style of chile jicama is very popular as a refreshing snack in Mexico.  Chile guajillo has a mildly spicy fruity classic chile pepper flavor.  
    
     Chile Guajillo Jicama Recipe:
     Cut 1 handful of french fry shaped pieces of peeled jicama.  
     Place them in a bowl.  
     Add sea salt and black pepper.  
     Add 2 pinches of ground chile guajillo.  
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.  
     Toss the ingredients together and set the chile jicama aside.  
    
     Dijon Horseradish Sauce Recipe:
     Place 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise in a small bowl.  
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of horseradish.  
     Add 1 teaspoons of dijon mustard.  
     Stir the ingredients together.  
     Place the dijon horseradish sauce into a small ramekin.  
     Set the ramekin aside.  
    
     Pork Tenderloin Schnitzel Sandwich Recipe:
     Cut a 4-5 ounce piece of trimmed pork tenderloin.  (About a 3 inch long piece of pork tenderloin is enough for this sandwich.)  
     Butterfly cut the piece of tenderloin open.  
     Place the butterflied pork tenderloin on a counter top.  
     Cover the pork with a piece of plastic wrap.  
     Pound the pork tenderloin flat and thin with a meat mallet or a wine bottle.  The tenderloin piece should be pounded to less than a 1/4 inch thick.  
     Dredge the flat piece of pork tenderloin in flour.  
     Dredge the pork in egg wash.  
     Dredge the egg washed pork in fine bread crumbs that are seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.  
     Heat a saute pan over medium/medium low heat.  
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.  
     Split a kaiser roll in half.  
     Grill the kaiser roll in the hot butter, till it becomes toasted.  
     Set the grilled kaiser roll aside.  
     Add 1 generous splash of vegetable oil to the hot pan.
     Raise the temperature to medium/medium high heat. 
     When the oil becomes hot, place the breaded pork tenderloin into the pan.  
     Pan fry the pork schnitzel on both sides, till it becomes a golden brown color.  
     Remove the schnitzel from the pan and drain off any excess grease on a dry towel.  
    
     Assembly:
     Place a piece of lettuce leaf on a plate as a bed for the jicama.  
     Set the jicama sticks on the lettuce.  
     Place a piece of lettuce and a few thin Roma tomato slices on the plate.  
     Place the bottom half of the grilled kaiser bun on the plate.  
     Set the pork tenderloin schnitzel on the bun.  
     Set the top of the kaiser bun on the schnitzel.  
     Place the ramekin of dijon horseradish sauce on the plate.  
    
     Simply delicious!  The pork tenderloin is pounded very thin, so it cooks quickly.  The flavor is like a classic pork schnitzel.  The dijon mustard flavored horseradish sauce is perfect for the schnitzel.  The Mexican chile guajillo jicama is so very refreshing and crisp.  Yum!  ...  Shawna         

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bulgarian Pork Chop a la Sliven










Bulgarian food!
  
     Pork is popular in Bulgaria.  In fact, Bulgaria produces some of the highest quality pork and pork products in the world.  Sliven is a very old Bulgarian community.  Pork chops in the style of Sliven is a nice comfortable plate of food!
     The pork chop and vegetables are sauteed and then slowly baked in a covered baking dish or pan.  A minimum of seasoning is used for this recipe.  Sliven cuisine has old Roman and Slavic influences.  Greek spices are not usually used for recipes in Sliven region of Bulgaria.  The key rich flavors of this pork chop recipe come from the aromatic mirepoix vegetables, tomato and mushrooms.  When the pork chop is done baking, the vegetables become the thick sauce that cling to the pork chop.
     These old Roman and eastern european cooking techniques are what the French later named Le Poeler and Le Braiser.  Many Bulgarian cooks that I have worked with are modest and they know that where a cooking technique was created or who created a cooking technique is really a matter of no importance.  The only thing that really matters, is that a traditional entree must be cooked correctly.  
     The attitude of placing no importance on the details of who is credited for creating a cuisson is not bad.  It does break down walls of pride, overzealous cuisine patriotism, claims of false originality and biased statements of one cuisine being better than another.  It also keeps arguments to a minimum in a professional kitchen.
     Eastern europeans can argue and debate over topic matter for days and weeks!  Two Bulgarians argued back and forth over one little item for over three weeks at a kitchen that I worked in.  A couple times a week, the chef would walk by and say "Are you two guys still arguing about that?"  The chef then just shook his head and walked away.  I asked what was going on and the chef said "Its a Bulgarian thing!"  Finally after three weeks, the chef walked by the Bulgarians and said "I see that you two are no longer arguing!"  The Bulgarians both turned to the chef and said "We came to a mutual agreement" and they just coldly stared at the chef, till the chef walked away!  I did not even bother to say a word.  I just shook my head and went back to work!    
  
     Bulgarian Pork Chop a la Sliven:
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Season a large 8 to 12 ounce Pork Chop with sea salt and black pepper.
     Place the pork chop in the hot pan.
     Pan sear the pork chop on both sides, till it gets some brown highlights.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced carrot.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced celery.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced onion.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Saute the mirepoix vegetables, till they start to become tender.
     Add 2 chopped small portabella mushrooms.
     Add 1 fluted or carved small portabella mushroom.  (This mushroom will be used as the garnish!)
     Saute till the mushrooms become tender.
     Add 1 diced ripe plum tomato.
     Saute till the tomato becomes tender.
     Add 1 pinch chopped parsley.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 3/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add enough water to almost cover the pork chop.
     Cover the saute pan with a loose fitting lid.
     Place the covered pan in a 325º oven.
     Bake the pork chop for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
     Note:  Allow the liquid to reduce to a thick sauce that can cling to the pork chop.  Only add water if the sauce starts to become dry, before the pork chop becomes tender.
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Set the pork chop on a plate.
     Spoon the thick sauce over the pork chop.
     Place the cooked fluted mushroom on top of the pork chop as a garnish.
     Serve with buttered boiled potato slices that are seasoned with sea salt, black pepper and chopped Italian parsley.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian parsley sprig.
  
     The flavors of Pork Chop a la Sliven are gentle yet hearty.  The pork chop is tender and juicy after baking with the vegetables and acidic wine.
     Use a good dry white wine for this recipe.  I used a French white burgundy chardonnay.  A table wine that you would be happy to drink, is the best choice for a cooking wine.
     This Pork Chop a la Sliven recipe is a must try!  Yum!  ...  Shawna        

Friday, April 8, 2011

Seared Sea Scallops on Cilantro Chila with Fenugreek Brandy Creme and Cardamom Purple Yam Rouille











Delicious modern Indian cuisine!
  
     Scallops go well with a wide variety of accompaniments.  The flavors of the sauces and the chila pancakes in this recipe are very nice with scallops!
     Fenugreek has a very nice mild maple flavor that is nice in a cream sauce.  Chila are Indian pancakes that are made with gram flour (chickpea flour).  Cilantro is a commonly used Indian herb.  These little chila are the size of a Russian blini.  Chila pancakes have a very light and fluffy texture, yet they are very filling.  Gram flour is naturally gluten free.

     Rouille: 
     A rouille is a rich accompaniment that is usually served with bouillabaisse.  A true classic rouille for bouillabaisse is made with potato or bread crumbs, garlic, red chile peppers, olive oil and lion fish liver.  There also is a rouille that is made like an aioli.  Potato rouille is made with potato that is cooked to a soft starchy state.  Potato rouille is a rich full bodied sauce.
     Lion fish liver is a very strong neurotoxin that can kill a human being in 25 minutes.  An expert master chef only uses a tiny amount of lion fish liver in a rouille recipe.  The lion fish toxin is the same neurotoxin that is found in fugu (puffer fish).  Fugu liver is the second strongest animal toxin that there is!  A proper amount of lion fish liver in a bouillabaisse rouille will cause a mild pleasant tingling sensation on every nerve ending in your body.  The wrong amount of lion fish liver will cause death!
     Lion fish toxin coma is the same as the blow dust toxin that is used in voodoo rituals to create the living dead zombies.  This is fact, not science fiction!  Puffer fish liver is the main ingredient in voodoo dust.  A correct amount of the puffer fish toxin in voodoo dust will cause a death like coma for a few days.  People in a deep coma have been buried alive in graves while under the influence of this toxin, only to be resurrected a few days later by a voodoo priest.
     Needless to say, lion fish liver is not an ingredient that an inexperienced chef should be playing around with!  There is no lion fish liver in this rouille recipe just like most modern rouille recipes.  Some imported French pre-made spicy red rouille does contain the lion fish liver.
     What is funny to me is that I used to swim and wade in tropical gulf waters that were loaded with lion fish!  I actually used to gently tease and play with tropical wild lion fish in the shallow tropical beach waters, until I was told that the sting from a lion fish fin spine can cause death in 25 minutes!  After that, I just stayed out of the water when lion fish were sighted.  It is interesting how being gentle, causes fish to become docile and playful.  Innocence or luck, it does not matter.  I was flirting with danger!
     Many modern chefs have changed the rules of rouille recipes to be more creative.  I learned how to make rouille from an Austrian born French chef who worked in a resort on the island of Barbados in the caribbean.  This French chef preferred to make his rouille with potatoes.  The chef used very little garlic or red chile pepper to flavor his variety of rouille recipes and sometimes he used none at all.  He said to me "This is modern French caribbean cooking.  The rules have changed!"  I liked what the chef said and I knew what he meant by that statement!
     Rouille can be textured like a mayonnaise, but better French chefs prefer their rouille to have more body.  To me, a good rouille is like a medium bodied starchy shiny paste.  A thick rouille will hold its shape when pressed out of a plastic squeeze bottle.  A thick rouille is a very nice sauce for "painting" plates!
     Purple yam is very popular in the Philippines, Hawaii, Malaysia and asia.  Purple yam is usually dried and ground into a powder.  In the Philippines, purple yam powder is used to make some very interesting cakes!  The flavor of purple yam is like a nice sweet white yam.  Purple yam powder can be found in most asian markets.  Fresh purple yam is easy to find in Las Vegas, because there is a large Filipino and Hawaiian population.
     If you look into the health benefits of cardamom and fenugreek, then you will see that this recipe has medicinal value.  When using cardamom, do not add too much!  A little pinch of ground cardamom goes a long way.
  
     Cardamom Purple Yam Rouille:
     Gently boil 1 1/4 cups of water over medium/medium low heat in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 crushed whole garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 of Thai chile pepper.
     Boil the liquid for 10 minutes.
     Strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the garlic and chile pepper.
     Return the infused water to a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of ground cardamom.
     Add 4 tablespoons of powdered purple yam, while stirring with a whisk.
     Gently boil till the liquid starts to thicken.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the rouille gently, till it becomes a thick smooth texture.  Stir occasionally.  This rouille should be a thick sauce consistency!
     Place the rouille into a plastic squeeze bottle.
     Keep the rouille warm on a stove top.
     
     Fenugreek Brandy Creme:
     Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground fenugreek.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Stir and simmer the fenugreek as it reconstitutes.
     When the water is reduced to a small amount, add 2 ounces of brandy.
     Simmer for 1 minute.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, while whisking occasionally, till it becomes a medium sauce consistency.
     Set the Fenugreek brandy creme aside and keep it warm.
  
     Cilantro Chila:
     Place about 1/3 of a cup of chickpea flour (Gram) in a small mixing bowl.
     Add just enough water while stirring to form a thick paste.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 3 pinches of baking powder.
     Add 1 pinch of baking soda.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 10 chopped cilantro leaves.
     Add a little bit of milk at a time while whisking, till a medium consistency batter is formed.  The batter should easily coat the back of a spoon and it should look like pancake batter.
     Heat a non-stick saute pan or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush the pan with melted unsalted butter.
     Use a spoon to pour the batter into the pan.  About 1 1/2 tablespoos of the chila batter is enough to make a silver dollar size pancake.
     Make 6 small chila pancakes.
     Let the pancakes cook firm on the bottom half, before flipping them.
     The chila pancakes should have light golden highlights when they are fully cooked.
     Set the chila pancakes aside and keep them warm on a stove top.
  
     Seared Sea Scallop:
     Season 2 large sea scallops with sea salt and white pepper.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter.
     Add the 2 sea scallops.
     Sear the scallops on both sides, till light golden brown highlights appear.
     The scallops should be medium/medium rare in the middle.
     Remove the scallops from the pan and set them aside on a dish on a stove top.  Let the scallops rest while the plate is being set.
  
     Seared Sea Scallops on Cilantro Chila with Fenugreek Brandy Creme and Cardamom Purple Yam Rouille:
     Place two groups of 3 cilantro chila pancakes each on a plate.
     Place a cilantro leave on each cilantro chila pancake.
     Spoon a generous amount of the fenugreek brandy creme sauce on the center of each group of the cilantro chila pancakes.
     Set a seared scallop on top of the fenugreek brandy creme on each group of chila pancakes.
     Place a few very thin sliced slivers of green onion on each scallop.
     Use the plastic squirt bottle with the cardamom purple yam rouille in it to randomly paint the plate with the purple colored rouille.
  
     This is a very nice tasting exotic recipe!  The ingredients are Indian, but there is so much Indian influence in caribbean cuisine that this recipe could be labeled as a caribbean recipe too.  This is actually the style of some of the finer food that I have cooked in tropical resorts.
     The small cilantro chila pancakes are very light and enjoyable.  The fenugreek brandy creme flavor is complimentary to both the little pancakes and the scallops.  The rouille adds an interesting color and a nice cardamom sweet purple yam flavor to the plate.  Yummy!  ...  Shawna                            

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beaujolais Poached Pear with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate Pear Puree







     I used to make a few fancy poached pear recipes in fine restaurants.  Poaching pears in red wine is a very nice way to prepare pears.  Pears poached in port wine, berry wines or sweet white wine like White Doe are fairly common desserts.  Dry wines impart a robust flavor.  Dry wines are usually only lightly sweetened when poaching pears.
     Beaujolais is a nice French red wine for poaching pears.  Beaujolais wine has a bare hint of licorice and berry flavors from the choice of grapes that are used to make the wine.  Gamay grapes are low in tannins, yet beaujolais wine can be fairly acidic.  The acidic nature of this wine allows the gamay grape flavor to easily penetrate a pear that is poached in this wine.  Winter spices and sugar are added to the beaujolais poaching liquid create a nice warm flavor.
     Half of the pear is poached and the other half of the pear is pureed in this recipe.  Adding a little bit of chocolate to the puree gives this dessert a very nice rich flavor.  Warm poached pear puree combined with melted chocolate produces a ganache like texture.  Water is the enemy of chocolate, so the pear puree cannot be loose or wet.
  
     Beaujolais Poached Pear:
     Peel 1 bosc pear, but leave the stem attached.
     Cut the pear in half.
     Leave the stem on one half.
     Use a spoon to neatly remove the seeds from both halves of the pear.
     Place the pear half that has the stem attached in a small sauce pot and reserved the other half of the pear for later in this recipe.
     Add 2 cups of French beaujolais wine.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of ground cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 3 cloves.
     Add enough water to cover the pear in the sauce pot with 1" of extra liquid.
     Heat the poaching liquid over medium heat.
     As soon as the poaching liquid begins to gently boil, reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer the pear half, till it becomes tender but not soft.
     Remove the pear half from the poaching liquid.
     Cool the poaching liquid to room temperature.
     Chill the poaching liquid.
     Return the poached pear to the chill poaching liquid.
     Refrigerate for 1 hour.
     The pear can be poached ahead of time and keep it in a refrigerator till it is served.
  
     Chocolate Pear Puree:
     Use the half of the pear that has no stem attached to make this recipe.
     Finely chop the seeded trimmed pear half.
     Place the chopped pear in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer the chopped pea,r till it becomes very tender.
     Add a splash of water as necessary if the liquid becomes dry.
     Pour the chopped pear and the liquid into a fine mesh strainer.
     Press the soft pear through the strainer with a spoon into a small bowl.
     Return the strained pear puree to a small sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of brandy.
     Simmer and reduce, till a thick puree is formed.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1 ounce of bitter sweet dark chocolate.
     Stir the puree as the chocolate melts.
     As soon as the chocolate melts and combines with the puree, remove the pot from the heat.
     The puree should become a medium sauce consistency.  Little bits of the strained pear should be visible in the puree.
     Keep the chocolate pear puree warm on a stove top..
  
     Beaujolais Poached Pear with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate Pear Puree:
     Chill a shallow dessert bowl in a freezer.
     Remove the pear half from the poaching liquid and place it on a cutting board.
     Bias slice the poached pear so it is fanned.  Leave the fanned slices attached to the stem end of the pear.
     Place the poached pear in the chilled dessert bowl and fan the pear open.
     Place a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream next to the fanned poached pear.
     Spoon the chocolate pear puree partially over the ice cream.
     Garnish the ice cream with a little bit of fresh lemon zest.
  
     The deep wine flavor of the poached pear is delicious with vanilla bean ice cream.  The chocolate pear puree is sinfully rich.  The chocolate has a fruity pear flavor.  This is a nice dessert that is fairly easy to make.  Yummy!  ...  Shawna        

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Brine Pickled Beef Tongue with Neon Remoulade







     Pickled beef tongue is a very popular delicatessen meat.  I used to serve hundreds of thinly sliced pickled beef tongue sandwiches at a nice deli that I worked in for a while.  Our sandwich menu had both poached beef tongue and pickled beef tongue on the menu.  The pickled beef tongue at that deli was pre-manufactured and it had that pink corned beef color.
     When pickling nitrates or nitrites are used in the pickling process, the meat will turn a pink color, instead of a gray brown color.  Gourmet style pickled beef tongue is not always pickled with nitrates.  Kosher salt and vinegar will pickle meat, but the meat will almost always turn a gray color.  Pickled beef tongue has more of a natural flavor, texture and color when no nitrates are used.  Without nitrates, pickle meat has a limited shelf life and it should be handled like Ready To Eat Food and consumed within 7 days.
     The problem with using nitrates to pickle meats, is that nitrates are not very healthy for the human body in excessive amounts.  Controlled specific amounts of nitrates are safe, but they are not necessary for short term pickling or natural pickling.  There are many different powdered nitrate mixtures and they can range from mild strength to a very strong strength.
     Charcutiers, butchers and sausage makers all have access to very strong nitrate pickling agents.  By law, no butcher or sausage maker can sell professional strength nitrates to a customer.  Nitrates are a Food and Drug Administration controlled substance.  This is a good thing, because too much nitrate can kill a human being.  In fact, too much nitrate in a pickled meat product or sausage is strong enough to kill an elephant!
     Professional nitrates are color coded, so they are not mistaken for salt or sugar.  I have used professional nitrates, while learning from an executive chef who was a professional butcher from Chicago.  This chef teaches butchering and meat fabrication at Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas and he does hold Saturday classes that are open to the general public.  If you want to learn the fine art of pickling meats or sausage making, there is no better instructor to learn from.
     Professional nitrates are measured in exact amounts.  The measurements of professional nitrates follow exact formulas.  Certification is mandatory for professional handling of nitrates in many states and countries.
     Small time chefs and home cooks can access weaker, safer nitrates for pickling or sausage making.  Outdoor sporting good stores, like Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops sell nitrates as sausage making seasoning mixes.  Some butcher shops and specialty food markets also sell sausage seasoning mixes as well as meat pickling spice mixtures.  These products can also be found at internet stores like Amazon and there is an Amazon search box at the bottom of this page.  Just follow the directions on the seasoning package and you will have a safe product to eat!
     Salt and vinegar meat pickling dates back before the age of ancient Rome.  Salt brine pickling is one of the oldest and safest methods for preserving food.  Salt and vinegar brine was used to pickle the beef tongue in this recipe.
  
     Brine Pickled Beef Tongue:
     This recipe makes 2 to 3 portions of pickled beef tongue!
     Cut the fatty base end of a whole beef tongue off and save that section for another recipe, like Lengua Barbacoa Tacos or a recipe that requires slow stewing.  The middle and tip section of a beef tongue is very lean and it is perfect for pickling!
     Use a thin skewer to poke 1 shallow hole, every 1/2", through the skin of the beef tongue.
     Place a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 3 cups of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of cider vinegar.
     Add 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of Kosher salt.
     Add 3 tablespoons of sugar.
     Add 6 bay leaves.
     Add 8 cloves.
     Add 6 dried allspice berries.
     Add 1 tablespoon of fennel seed.
     Add 1 tablespoon of mustard seed.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of crushed black peppercorn.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped dill weed.
     Add 1 teaspoon of marjoram.
     Add 5 whole garlic cloves.
     Add 1 dried hot chile pepper.  (chile japones)
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Remove the pot from the heat and let the pickling brine cool.
     Place a 12 to 14 ounce piece of the middle and tip section of the beef tongue in a non reactive container.  The container should only be twice the size of the piece of beef tongue.
     Pour the pickling brine over the beef tongue.
     If the beef tongue is not completely covered by the brine, then add enough cold water to cover the beef tongue with 1 extra inch of liquid.
     Cover the container.
     Pickle the beef tongue in a refrigerator for 2 days.
     Flip the beef tongue in the pickling liquid once every 12 hours.
     Place the pickling liquid and the beef tongue in a sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the beef tongue.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer the beef tongue in the pickling liquid, till the beef tongue becomes fully cooked.  A probe thermometer in the center of the beef tongue should read 165º.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the liquid and the beef tongue to cool to room temperature.
     Remove the pickled beef tongue.
     Discard the pickling liquid.
     Rinse the beef tongue under cold running water.
     Refrigerate the pickled beef tongue till it becomes thoroughly chilled.
     Carefully peel the skin off of the beef tongue.
     Trim off the base end of the pickled beef tongue and discard the end piece.
     Trim off any fat that may be attached to the base end of the beef tongue.
     Seal the pickled beef tongue in a container.
     The pickled beef tongue can be refrigerated for up to 7 days.
  
     Neon Remoulade:
     Neon Relish takes the place of capers, anchovy paste and cornichons in this recipe.  There is no substitution for Neon Relish.  Neon Relish is hard to find outside of the Chicago area.  Vienna Hot Dog brand does make a similar Chicago relish.  Chicago Neon Relish can be found at internet stores like Amazon.
     Place 3 ounces of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground horseradish.
     Add 1 small pinch of creme de tartar.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of chopped curly leaf parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of garam masala spice mixture.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Chicago style Neon Pickle Relish.
     Stir the ingredients together.
  
     Brine Pickled Beef Tongue with Neon Remoulade:
     Toast a couple slices of Bavarian black rye bread (or a bread of your choice) in an oven.
     Trim the crust off of the toast.
     Cut the toast into toast points.
     Cut about 4 ounces of the pickled beef tongue into thin slices.
     Boil some water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Place the pickled beef tongue slices on a fryer net.
     Dip the pickled beef tongue slices in the boiling water a few times for a few seconds, to reheat the pickled beef tongue.
     Overlap the pickled beef tongue slices across a plate.
     Place the toast points on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with pickles and a curly parsley sprig.
     The Neon Remoulade can be spooned over the edge of the pickled beef tongue slices or it can be served in a small ramekin on the side.
   
     Neon Remoulade is an interesting remoulade for pickled beef tongue!  Neon Relish has a very bright neon green color.  The flavor of this remoulade is perfect for the pickled beef tongue.  The lean pickled beef tongue slices are firm and yet very tender.  Brine Pickled Beef Tongue with Neon Remoulade is a very nice delicatessen style light lunch!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Children's "Spaghetti-O's" and Crispy Fried Fish Gourmet Snack Sandwich







Yummy kid stuff!

     Every parent and chef knows that children can be the hardest customers to please.  Children do have some strange sounding favorite flavor combinations.
     I do not watch television at home and I never want to own one of those things!  When I was being transferred from one job site to another, for the steel mill occupation that I am currently in, I had to stay in motels for several weeks at a time.  The motel room television was my only entertainment during that time.  I tend to watch nature shows or cooking shows when I do watch TV.  Unless I am waking up in Las Vegas.  Then I watch the Las Vegas entertainment channel to see the restaurant descriptions and to find out who is performing in town.
     During one motel stay, I watched a cooking show that featured a few great chefs who were cooking for the most demanding gourmet customers of all.  Children!  I once saw an Iron chef show where the Japanese Iron chef made a platter of modern children's food.  He created a hot dog bun sandwich with spaghetti and tomato sauce as a children's entree!  Nice idea!
     When I was a kid, I liked spaghetti on a hot dog bun with slices of hot dog.  There is something about creative children's food that touches a tender spot in us all.  Creative children's food must have some good nutritional value, but it is important to create an item that is appealing.
     This children's hot dog sandwich is made with simmered fresh tomato sauce and anelletti pasta.  Anelletti has the same circular shape as the canned Spaghetti-O's Campbell's Soup Company product.  I never have liked canned food products, but they are convenient.  Fresh is always much more nutritious.
     Children like crispy battered fish.  Ketchup is usually the children's favorite sauce for fish.  Tomato sauce and crispy fish is another combination that appeals to children.  Crispy battered fish is much better for a child than a hot dog.  A little bit of mozzarella cheese is part of this sandwich and kids like mild cheese.  Mozzarella is much more nutritious than low quality fast food American cheese.
     Only a very light amount of seasoning is needed when cooking for a child.  Beer batter makes the best fish frying batter.  Any alcohol that is present in the batter will evaporate during frying.  Ginger is my favorite spice for a beer batter.  A gentle ginger flavored batter is one of those flavors that children like!  Ginger ale or ginger beer can be substituted for beer when making a batter for a child.
  
     "Spaghetti-O's":
     The idea is to get the pasta to look like the canned Spaghetti-O's product that children are familiar with.  A small amount cream will give tomato puree that look.  A bechamel sauce is a little bit too rich for a child.  A corn starch slurry thickened sauce looks like gelatin or chaud froid, when it cools and it will not pass the child test!  Active children have no problem burning off the fat from a small amount of cream.  The sauce should be mild in flavor, but not bland. 
     Cook 1 small portion (1/3 cup) of anelletti pasta in boiling water, till the pasta becomes tender.  The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!
     Heat a small saute pan over medium low/low heat.
     Add 2 ounces of chicken broth.
     Add 3 ounces of tomato puree.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of cream.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped ripe fresh plum tomato.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 tiny pinch of oregano.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency.
     When the pasta becomes cooked tender, drain the water off of the anelletti pasta.
     Add the anelletti to the sauce in the pan.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of grated mozzarella cheese on the pasta.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Set the spaghetti-o pasta aside and keep it warm on a stove top.
  
     Crispy Fish:
     Make sure that no children are present when frying, for safety's sake!  Use the fresh caught bluegill, sunnies or bream that your children may have caught at the local fishing pond, instead of using tilapia if you prefer.  That makes little fishermen even happier!
     Heat 5" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360º.
     Cut a 3 to 4 ounce tilapia filet in half lengthwise.
     Place 3/4 cup of light beer, non alcoholic beer or ginger beer in a bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of powdered ginger.  (There is no need to, if ginger beer was used.)
     Add enough flour while whisking to form a medium thin pancake batter consistency.
     Dredge the 2 pieces of fish in flour.
     Dip the fish in the batter.
     Place the battered fish pieces in the hot frying oil.
     Deep fry the battered fish, till the batter coating becomes crispy.
     Remove the fish pieces from the oil and set them on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
  
     Children's "Spaghetti-O's" and Crispy Fried Fish Gourmet Snack Sandwich:
     Heat a poppyseed hot dog bun in an oven, till it becomes lightly toasted.
     Place the bun on a baking pan.
     Spread the "spaghetti-o's" over the open hot dog bun.
     Set the 2 pieces of crispy fish on the bun.
     Sprinkle a tiny amount of grated mozzarella cheese over the sandwich.
     Bake the sandwich for 1 minute in the hot oven to melt the cheese and to warm the sandwich.
     Place the sandwich on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with a pickle and a parsley sprig or fruit.
  
     Yummy gourmet children's food!  The small amount of cream mellows the tomato flavor of the pasta sauce.  The fish is crispy and juicy inside.
     None of the flavors of this children's sandwich are overwhelming.  This is a very yummy tame flavored children's sandwich!
     Weird adults, like myself, kind of like these kind of sandwiches too!  I am certain that stoners around the world, especially in Amsterdam, will take a liking to this "Spaghetti-o's" and fish sandwich!  "Spaghetti-O's and fried fish with cheese on a hot dog bun?  Oh Man!  Wow!"
     It could be fun to cook the ingredients and place them on the table, then let the kids assemble the sandwiches on their own.  Let them play chef!  Do not be shocked if the gourmet minded child pours ketchup all over the sandwich!  Yum!  ...  Shawna