Sunday, May 29, 2011

The 2011 $125,000 Las Vegas Barbecue Championship at the Orleans Casino Arena!

This article was edited on 8-13-2014.  A slide show was added!

     Hoo Dawgy!  The Las Vegas $125k BBQ Championship!

     I was at this BBQ event in Las Vegas last weekend.  The Las Vegas BBQ Championship was a two day event on May 21st and May 22nd 2011.  The Las Vegas BBQ Championship is the wildest, craziest barbecue event of them all!  Admission was free.  The weather was perfect.  Bright sunny skies and a comfortable 80º.  That is ideal BBQ weather!
     I attended the BBQ Championship on Sunday after checking my bags in with the valet bellhop at the Aria Resort Casino, in City Center.  I never bothered to settle into my hotel room.  I just immediately hopped into a taxi and went directly to the big Las Vegas BBQ Championship!
     The Las Vegas BBQ event was held outdoors at the Orleans Casino Arena parking lot.  BBQ is not an indoor event, because of smoke regulations.  Believe me, there was some serious BBQ smoking going on!
     Towards the entrance of the BBQ event, there were many concessions stands and beer tents.  This was going to be a beer and BBQ afternoon like no other.  A couple of live country music bands performed on stage during the entire event.  Las Vegas has some seriously good musicians and bands, so the music was really rockin' and jammin'!
     Music, beer and barbecue!  That is a good time no matter how you spell it.  Barbecue people usually "have a few screws loose"!  BBQ competitors are notoriously crazy, eccentric and fun.  The crazier the better is the BBQ rule of thumb.  The way that the competitors dressed and the way that they talked was all done with classic BBQ competitor style.
     The Las Vegas Barbecue Championship was open to professional BBQ competition teams as well as amateur BBQ teams.  Most of the competitors were from west of the Mississippi.  There were a few BBQ teams from Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama.  Most of the competitors were from Texas, Montana, California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Arizona and of course Nevada.
     Anything that even remotely had to do with barbecue was on display or for sale.  There were several secret recipe BBQ sauce stands selling some very nice BBQ sauce concoctions.  There were free tastings of sauces and BBQ at nearly every stand.
     I must admit, I do prefer southern styles of BBQ.  Most of the sauces for sale were sweet California style BBQ sauces.  I tasted as many as I possibly could!  That is a necessary requirement for BBQ spectators!
     There were so many custom stylish BBQ grills on display or for sale.  BBQ grills were customized in ways that were hard to believe.  The hot rod flame job grills, speed boat grills, custom painted BBQ wagons, and oddly shaped BBQ grills were fascinating to look at.  My two favorite custom grills for the day was a char grill that was customized to look like a big pink pig and the other was a BBQ grill that was customized to look like a big old western six shooter pistol.  The gun's cylinder opened up to the char grill inside and the gun barrel served as the smoke stack.  Smoke was literally pouring out of the barrels of the smokin' gun BBQ grills!  The smokin' gun grill was the coolest BBQ grill idea that I have seen in a long time.
      I did professional barbecue cooking for one year early in my career.  The restaurant that I worked in was the busiest BBQ restaurant in America.  Our BBQ won the Best Ribs In America Award several times!  Our barbecue was lightly smoked over white oak and hickory, before being slow roasted and sauced on an open pit or char grill.  That old BBQ company used to do the east coast BBQ tour.  The BBQ tour involves going to every BBQ tour event, then entering in the competitive BBQ events, as well as selling ribs to a massive sea of people!  Most of the BBQ events were held at county fairs.
     Our specialty was baby back ribs.  As soon as we opened the tent for business in the morning, we cooked and sold BBQ non stop till the end of the day!  We sold thousands of pounds of baby back ribs each day!  We made millions of dollars every summer on the eastern BBQ tour!  Our company never traveled west.  There is only so much ground that can be covered each summer.
     As one can tell, I know BBQ big time.  I have posted several styles of BBQ recipes in my blog that are worth checking out!

     At the Las Vegas BBQ Championship BBQ teams with wild themes and logos were everywhere at the event.  There was a few miles of BBQ stands and tents at the Las Vegas BBQ Championship!  All that walking creates a big hunger!
     The best competitors had plenty of BBQ for sale.  I decided to support the home BBQ teams.  The Sin City Smokers BBQ team and the University of Nevada Las Vegas BBQ team were my two favorites!  The Sin City Smoker BBQ team was the crazier of the two!
     After a couple of beers and lots of walking, I sat down to have a UNLV style BBQ pulled pork sandwich.  The sandwich was piled a mile high with delicious barbecued pulled pork!  The sandwich was way too big for me to eat, so I left the bun on the plate and ate all the barbecued pulled pork!  I was stuffed and full for several hours after the BBQ event!  The UNLV BBQ sauce tended to be on the sweet spicy side.  The flavor was addictive!
     Walking from one BBQ team tent to the next, I had plenty of great BBQ conversations.  The local Las Vegas BBQ teams liked talking with me about the town and the event.
     My favorite BBQ menu by a competitor went to one of the Florida teams.  The menu board used duct tape to cover old menu changes and new items or prices were written on the duct tape!  Now that is an authentic Florida redneck style BBQ menu.
     Comical comments that were along the lines of the old "Deliverance movie cliches" were heard everywhere at the event.  "Squeal like a pig!" is a commonly used phrase at a big BBQ competition!
     Every kind of BBQ style was cooked at this competition.  Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Japanese BBQ were popular styles at the championship.  One of the local favorites in Las Vegas is Memphis Ribs.  There are several Memphis Ribs restaurants in the Las Vegas valley.  Memphis Ribs specialized in dry rubbed BBQ with the sauce on the side.

     Every kind of BBQ cooking method and style was on display at the championship.  If you do not like one BBQ style, move on to the next tent.  You will eventually find your favorite BBQ style at an event like this.

     I can imagine this Las Vegas BBQ Championship event growing in size in the future and drawing in even crazier BBQ acts.  The $125,000 Las Vegas BBQ Championship was an incredibly wild and crazy fun time!
     This annual $125,000 Las Vegas BBQ Championship is well worth planning a vacation around.  Highly recommended by yours truly!  I'll be there next year.  $125,000 is a lot of prize money.  Yummy Las Vegas Barbecue!          

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Salad of Steamed Curry Vegetable Ling Cod, Artichoke and Capelin Caviar Dressing

     I gave this idea some thought for a few days.  Today, I decided to give this recipe idea a try!  This turned out to be an interesting lunch salad!
     This recipe involves a couple of easy to learn techniques.  The cod curry is steamed in a parchment paper tube.  Just a minimal amount of egg holds the curried cod and finely grated vegetables together.  The cod vegetable roll has a soft moist texture.
     The dressing is mayonnaise based.  You can make the mayonnaise fresh or simply use a dab of quality store bought mayonnaise.  Capelin caviar is more commonly known as masago.  Masago is a very nice mellow caviar that is used for garnishing sushi.
     One artichoke is all that is needed for this salad.  A store bought high quality artichoke heart in a jar is a nice choice, but if you prefer to cook a fresh artichoke that is good too.
     Salads are best if they are not extensively garnished with items that just do not belong.  Sometimes I present the basic idea or just concentrate on a featured ingredient for a salad recipe and leave plenty of room for readers to add their own finishing touch.  If the food presentation in the pictures looks simple, then think of a tasteful way to finish off the presentation.  In French restaurant kitchens, the base element of an entree may pass through several cook's stations and planned ingredients are added to the entree at each of those stations.  The finishing nod of approval and the final sauces or garnishes are applied by the sous chef, who often mans the aboyeur position or expediting station.
     Spouts, reductions, pastry straws, cheese crisps, leek threads, edible flowers or any number of items are nice choices for adding a finishing touch to this salad.  A minimalist presentation of serving this salad is fine too.
     Steamed Curry Cod Roll:
     Finely grate 1 tablespoon of zucchini into a small bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely grated carrot.
     Add 1/2 of a finely minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced green onion.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 4 ounces of finely chopped cod.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala.
     Add 2 pinches of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1 pinch of Szechuan pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of whisked egg.
     Add 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of gram flour (chickpea flour).  Add just enough to thicken the mixture, so it will hold its own shape when pressed.
     Mix the ingredients thoroughly.
     Cut a 12"x12" sheet of parchment paper.
     Place the paper on a cutting board.
     Lightly brush the parchment paper with virgin olive oil.
     Place the cod mixture on the center of the oiled parchment paper.
     Form the cod mixture into a long thick sausage shape.
     Fold the parchment over the ends of the cod roll.
     Pull the parchment over the roll and gently press the cod mixture into a round long cylinder shape as you roll the paper and cod together.
     Place a 12x12 piece of plastic wrap on a counter top.
     Roll the parchment cod tube with the plastic wrap, so the parchment tube is sealed and it retains its cylinder shape.
     Heat a few cups of water in a pot over high heat with a steam basket set in the pot.
     Place the cod roll tube on a steamer rack in the basket.
     Cover the steam basket with its lid.
     Steam the roll, till the cod roll becomes fully cooked.  (A probe temperature of 155º is required for any item that is made like a stuffing.)
     Remove the cod roll from the steamer and allow it to cool and gel.
     The cod roll should just be above room temperature when it is served.
     Leave the cod roll in the parchment paper tube till the salad is set up.
     Capelin Caviar Dressing:
     Place 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise into a small bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of capelin caviar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add  just enough warm water, while stirring, to thin the dressing to thin sauce consistency.  (About 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon.)
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Salad of Steamed Curry Vegetable Ling Cod, Artichoke and Capelin Caviar Dressing:
     Place 4" to 5" wide ring mold on the center of a plate.
     Arrange layers of mixed baby lettuce inside the ring mold, till the lettuce is about 1" thick.
     Cut 1 large artichoke heart in half.
     Place the artichoke halves on top of the lettuce in the ring mold.
     Carefully and gently unwrap and unroll the plastic wrap and parchment paper that was holding the curry vegetable cod roll together.
     Cut the cod roll in half.
     Use a spatula to set the cod roll halves on top of the artichokes and lettuce in the ring mold.
     Place thin sliced plum tomato halves around the ring mold.
     Place long thin bias cut slices of green onion between each tomato slice.
     Carefully remove the ring mold.
     Spoon a little bit of the capelin caviar dressing over the curry cod roll and salad.
     Sprinkle a few capers over the dressing and cod roll.
     No garnish is necessary.
     There is no shortage of great flavor in this Salad of Steamed Curry Vegetable Ling Cod, Artichoke and Capelin Caviar Dressing!  The capelin caviar dressing has light and delicate flavor.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moules Poulette

Mussels in poulette sauce!
     Classic French cuisine can be a little bit demanding.  The main thing to keep in mind when making a classic French sauce is accuracy and authenticity.
     As a saucier, I simply do not take short cuts.  Most of my cooking knowledge is what I have learned through French and Italian apprenticeship.  When researching a French recipe, I rely on the two most famous French cook books.  Escoffier and Gastronomique.  Escoffier and Larousse set the standards and defined French recipes over 100 years ago.  The information provided by Escoffier and Larousse is  priceless.
     Moules poulette is an old classic French recipe.  Poulette sauce is made with a modified allemande sauce.  Allemande sauce is secondary sauce made from veloute.  Veloute sauce is a rich reduced thickened white veal, chicken or fish stock.  Now that the sauce is explained, this recipe is not quite so scary!
     Veloute is a French mother sauce that hundreds of secondary sauces are made from.  The five French mother sauces are hollandaise, espagnole, tomato sauce, veloute and bechamel sauce.
     Poulette sauce requires very little cream.  Many internet recipes and second rate can opener style recipes make it sound like a poulette sauce is a mushroom cream sauce.  Just forget about it!  The allemande sauce is where the small splash of cream is added.  There really is not enough cream in the allemande sauce to call it a cream sauce.  Allemande is an egg yolk cream liaison finished modified veloute sauce.  Allemande is part of sauce poulette, but there is much more.
     Many of my casual recipes are toned down for home cooks who just want a good meal that has a great new flavor to try.  Many traditional international cuisine recipes that I write are selected because they are unique and they have a moderate difficulty level.  These recipes are good for people who want to learn a new cuisine.  Many of my classic traditional fine dining recipes are a bit more challenging.
     This moules poulette recipe is by the book.  This is a French classic traditional recipe.  This moules poulette recipe is correct except for one missing item.  That item is a French timbale for the presentation.  A timbale is a metal cooking vessel that is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.  This recipe is usually served in a fancy serving timbale.  All that I currently have in my kitchen is a few metal serving platters.  My classic moules poulette recipe presentation would probably be rated with 1 Michelin star or less at a restaurant, because it was not served in a French timbale!  That is how exacting fine French cooking really is.  A chef plays by the traditional rules when preparing classic French cuisine or the chef loses Michelin stars.
     Many chefs have chosen to go with modern creative cuisine, because it is less demanding than classic French cuisine.  That is too bad, because a high percentage of the old established big money clientele still prefers classic French cuisine.  Teeny portions of artistically presented asian food, that is sold as modern French food, does not provide the level of comfort that classic cuisine provides.

     The stocks, veloute and mushroom liquor can all be cooking at the same time or made one at a time, just as long as they are made ahead of time!  
     White Fish Stock (Fumet) Oven Method:
     This method of making whitefish veloute is much older than the Escoffier fumet method of gently simmering whitefish scraps and aromatics for 45 minutes.  The whitefish stock roasting method produces the richest tasting whitefish sauce.  The stock becomes very rich, because of the increased rate of evaporation.  Adding water as it roasts is necessary.  
     Place 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of whitefish carcass pieces and whitefish meat scraps in a deep high sided roasting pan or a braising pot.
     Add 1 chopped peeled onion.
     Add 3 ribs of chopped celery.
     Fill the deep roasting pan with enough water to cover the fish.  A yield of 1 gallon to 1 1/2 gallons of light fish stock (fumet) will be needed.
     Roast uncovered in a 350º oven till, all of the flavor of the fish becomes infused with the liquid.
     You may have to add water occasionally to keep the fish covered with liquid.  Do not let the fish brown!
     This stock takes almost 2 hours to bake and this include the time it takes to heat the ingredients.
     When the stock gains a rich whitefish flavor, then it is ready.
     Strain the fish stock through a fine mesh strainer into a stockpot.
     Skim any impurities or grease off of the top of the fish stock.
     There should be 1 to 1/2 gallons of clean clarified fish stock in the pot.
     The rich fumet can be refrigerated for 7 days or frozen in portions
     Whitefish Veloute:
     Place 4 cups of whitefish stock (fumet) in a saucepot.
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Note:  In the next step, a sachet is a cheese cloth bag that is tied in a knot!
     Add 1 bouquet garni sachet of:
     - 1 bay leaf
     - 1/4 cup of chopped leek
     - 1 sprig of thyme
     - 1 sprig of marjoram or oregano
     - 6 parsley stalks
     - 2 crushed garlic cloves.
     - 1 chopped shallot
     - 12 black peppercorns
     Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped mushrooms and mushroom peelings.
     Bring the stock to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the stock, till about 2 cups remain.
     Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Stir the roux, till it emits a light hazelnut aroma and it become a light golden blond color.
     Add enough of the blonde roux to the stock, while stirring with a whisk, to thicken the stock to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till the sauce becomes a rich thin sauce consistency.  There should be about 1 to 1/2 cups of sauce.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 1/2 pats of unsalted butter while stirring.
     Pour the whitefish veloute through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Stir the veloute occasionally as it cools.
     Now you have a basic very rich tasting white fish veloute!
     White Stock:
     Place 1 pound of veal, beef and chicken bones and meat scraps in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped celery.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped onion. that is studded with 2 cloves.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped leek.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped parsnip.
     Add 1 chopped shallot.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 2" of extra water.  A yield of 1/2 gallon is needed.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Simmer for 2 hours.
     Skim any impurities and grease off of the stock as it simmers.
     Pour the white stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Skim off any grease or impurities.
     Simmer and reduce the stock, till 1 quart remains.
     Whisk 3 egg whites with 1 ounce of water.
     Slowly stream the egg white into the stock while gently stirring the stock from the bottom up.
     Simmer for 1 minute.
     Pour the white stock through a fine mesh strainer into a container and set it aside.
     The white stock can be refrigerated for 7 days or frozen in portions.

     Mushroom Liquor: 
     Place 1/2 cup of mushroom trimmings and scraps in a small sauce pot.
     Add 2 cups of water. 
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat. 
     Simmer and reduce till, 1 cup remains and the liquid becomes thoroughly infused with mushroom flavor.
     Strain the mushroom liquor through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Set the mushroom liquor aside. 
     Mussels Mariner:
     De-beard and scrub the shells of 18 to 24 mussels.
     Heat 4 cups of water.
     Add 1 crushed garlic clove.
     Add a bouquet garni sachet of:
     - 1/4 cup of leek
     - 2 pinches of thyme
     - 1 teaspoon of minced shallot
     - 8 black peppercorns
     - 4 parsley stalks
     - 1/2 bay leaf
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Bring the court bouillon to a boil over medium high heat.
     Add the mussels.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     As soon as the mussels open, use a fryer net remove them from the hot broth and set them aside.
     Rapidly reduce the mussel broth, till 1 1/2 cups remains.
     Pour the mussel broth through a fine mesh strainer into a container and set it aside.
     Remove one shell half from each mussel and discard the empty half shells.  Each mussel should be attached to the remaining half shell.
     Set the mussels aside.

       Note:  The key to this poulette sauce and the allemande sauce is to not heat the sauce to a temperature over 140 degrees after the butter pats and egg yolk liaison are added or the sauce will break!  The sauce will curdle the egg yolks if the sauce is heated over 140 degrees.  With that in mind, this sauce should turn out perfect on a first attempt.
     Allemande Sauce:
     This is the starting point for making the poulette sauce and for finishing this recipe.  The method of finishing the veloute with liaison is how the allemande sauce gets it's creamy color.
     Place 1 1/2 cups of the veloute sauce into a deep saute pan or sauteuse pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 cup of the white stock consomme.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 ounce of the mushroom liquor.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency.
     The allemande sauce should be reduced to about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups at this point.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Mix 2 egg yolks with 1 ounce of cream.
     Add the egg yolk liaison, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Remove the sauce from the heat as soon as the egg yolks start to tighten the sauce.
     Continue to whisk till the allemande sauce as it cools down.
     Now the allemande will look like a cream sauce, but it really is not a cream sauce!  The egg yolks have more to do with the creamy color of this sauce than the tiny splash of cream does.
     Keep the allemande sauce over very low heat and immediately start the poulette sauce!

     Sauce Poulette:
     Raise the temperature of the 1 1/2 cups to 1 3/4 cups of allemande sauce in the sauteuse pan to low heat.
     Stir the sauce occasionally!
     Add 3 tablespoons of of the mushroom liquor.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoon of minced Italian parsley.
     When the sauce begins to gently simmer, remove the sauce from the heat.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter pats while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Now you have a poulette sauce!
     Immediately start making the Moules Poulette!
     Moules Poulette:
     The poulette sauce in the saute pan should be over low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of the reduced mussel broth.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     When the poulette sauce starts to gently simmer, add the reserved poached mussels on the half shell.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, with the mussels in the sauce, till the mussels become hot and the sauce reduces to a thin consistency.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the mussels and poulette sauce in a serving timbale or arrange the mussels on a serving platter and pour the sauce over the mussels.
     Sprinkle a little bit of chopped parsley over the mussels.

     Note:  Any leftover or extra sauce, stocks and mushroom liquor can be used in other recipes.  Refrigerate or freeze in portions. 
     Viola!  Moules Poulette made the classic French way!  Now you should understand why classic French cooking is the highest rated cuisine in the world.  Sure it costs a few dollars more to dine at a good French restaurant, but it is well worth it!  The flavor of this moules poulette recipe is impeccably good!
     I made this recipe by the book with no short cuts, so the readers could see what a real moules poulette looks like.  Moules poulette is not simply mussels with a mushroom creme sauce.  A champignon creme can be made in a few minutes time.  A mushroom crem sauce is not a poulette sauce!
     Moules poulette sauce does take some time, effort and skill to make but it is worth it.  The flavor of the sauce is deep, rich, lemony and savory from the mushroom and seafood flavors.  The sauce barely has any cream in it.  The egg yolks and butter make this sauce look creamy!  The veloute was seasoned early in the recipe, so there is no need to season the veloute based poulette sauce again later in the recipe.  Poulette sauce is layered with additions of lemon juice.  This creates an incredibly good tasting lemon flavor!
     This mussels poulette can be served as an appetizer or light entree during a multi course formal meal.  Moules poulette is rather pricy in a classic French restaurant and rightly so.  Authentic classic French cooking is a real challenge for a chef.  That why I like classic French cuisine!  Yum!  ...  Shawna          

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grilled Walleye Pike with Cilantro Sun Dried Tomato Hollandaise

     Sometimes I do post a very nice modern French presentation of an interesting creative entree.  Centered stack presentations are called Napoleon stacks.  Stack presentations can be very complex.  Some stack presentations are effective with well thought out flavors.  Some complicated stack presentations look like the chef should have gone to art school instead of chef school, because the flavors really did not create a thematic effect.  The simplest stack is starch, vegetable protein, sauce and garnish, just like the one in the pictures.  Every flavor and texture in a stack presentation has to compliment the featured ingredient and no flavors or textures should clash.
     I seriously doubt that any other chef has ever made this recipe.  You might say that I created this walleye pike recipe on the spur of the moment.  Walleye pike is by far the most desirable fish in the pike, muskellunge and pickerel family of fish.  Walleye pike are northern fresh water predators.  Walleye pike have a very nice rich clean tasting white meat.  Walleye pike are one of the most sought after hard fighting game fish in the Great Lakes and in lakes throughout Canada.  Many fisherman gear up specifically to catch walleye pike and nothing else.
     Walleye is always cooked with the skin on.  As with most pike there are a line of pin bones that run laterally.  Removing the bones does take a little bit of patience.
     Hollandaise is one of the French mother sauces.  Many say that both hollandaise and mayonnaise originated in Spain.  The recipe for hollandaise sauce never changes.  The flavor of hollandaise should be rich with good butter flavor and it should have a hint of lemon.  Second rate chefs add far too much lemon to a hollandaise sauce.  A perfect hollandaise should have a delicate balance of flavor.
     There are classic French names for secondary hollandaise sauces.  If here is no specific name for a flavored hollandaise, then the ingredients that are added become the prefix name.
     It does take some skill to make a perfect hollandaise sauce that can be used as a glacage without breaking.  Perhaps that is one reason why you do not see hollandaise on many menus these days.  Many chefs make hollandaise with a blender and that style of hollandaise always breaks when it is heated.  
     The main reason that hollandaise is not offered as much as it used to be, is because modern health codes require hollandaise to basically be made to order.  Hollandaise cannot be kept at a Servsafe 135º to 140º without breaking.  In restaurants, hollandaise has to be made in small batches and discarded after 45 minutes by modern health code standards.  Practice and guidance are the keys to learning how to make this sauce.  Hollandaise is a sauce that I can make blind folded.  I have made over 5,000 gallons of hollandaise sauce in my lifetime.  Practice makes perfect!
     The second reason hollandaise is not popular these days, is because the health conscious clientele will not touch hollandaise sauce.  Butter and egg yolks are not exactly a healthy combination, but if a gooseneck ramekin of hollandaise sauce is sat it in front of a health conscious person, they simply cannot resist!  Moderation and balance is the key to a healthy diet.  Hollandaise sauce is not meant to be eaten everyday.
     Minced reconstituted sun dried tomato and chopped fresh cilantro are added to the hollandaise mother sauce in this recipe.  The flavor is incredibly good with walleye pike!
     The presentation of this recipe is one that the Cordon Bleu chef schools are famous for.  A simple stack.  I will be attending the Cordon Bleu chef school in Las Vegas this fall to be accredited as a chef, even though I have over 20 years experience.  That chef certificate will be the first step to change to a career of teaching culinary arts.
     Classic Hollandaise Sauce:  
     On a note, in a recipe article I posted in 2013, I wrote a much easier hollandaise method that used to be taught at Le Cordon Bleu of Paris.  Today's recipe is the new La cordon Bleu method and it is the modern standard.  This is the classic original hollandaise and it is made by the old Escoffier definition.
     Melt 4 ounces of unsalted butter in a sauce pot over medium low heat.  
     Cook the butter till it turns a gold color and till it gives off a light hazelnut aroma.  The water will evaporate and the milk solids will lightly brown on the bottom of the pot, when the butter is clarified correctly.  
     Pour the butter through a fine mesh strainer and discard the milk solids on the bottom of the pan.  
     Keep the butter warm over very low heat or just set it on a stove top over an oven. 
     Place 2 egg yolks in a small mixing bowl. 
     Add 1 teaspoon of warm water to the egg yolks while stirring.  
     Note:  Add about a 1/2 teaspoon of warm water per egg yolk.  This will make the eggs easy to control while whisking.  Too much water added will later cause the whisking process to take way too much time.  Do not add lemon juice at the beginning of making a Hollandaise Sauce.  The sauce will be disproportionately lemon flavored if you do so.  That is the mistake many chefs make.
     Whisk the egg yolk and water in a mixing bowl over a double boiler set on low heat.  
     Constantly whisk, non stop, till the egg yolks turn a pale yellow shade, till they souffle (puff up) and till ribbons appear in the egg yolks from the whisk. 
     Remove the mixing bowl from the double boiler and immediately whisk the eggs while adding the warm butter one teaspoon at a time, till the eggs start "grabbing" the butter.  
     Return the start of the hollandaise to the double boiler.  (You cannot stop whisking at this point!)  
     Thin stream the melted butter into the eggs while whisking, till the egg sauce is formed.  
     Note:  The proportion of butter to egg yolk is 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of butter to one egg yolk!  Many chefs say 4 ounce of butter to one egg yolk is best, but the butter flavor starts to become disproportionate and the hollandaise becomes too thin to be used for glacage applications.  When adding moist ingredients, like reconstituted sun dried tomatoes, a tight textured hollandaise is best.  A loose buttery hollandaise will become too loose!    Most chefs never weigh the butter and they just add butter, till the sauce looks right.  That is not bad!  
     Remove the mixing bowl from the double boiler and continue whisking, so the hollandaise cools evenly.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. 
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt. 
     The sauce should have a hint of lemon flavor and not taste like a lemon sauce.  The cayenne pepper flavor should be barely noticeable.   
     Place the Hollandaise in a ceramic ramekin.  
     Set the ramekin in a bain marie that is set on very low heat and stir the sauce occasionally. 
     Hollandaise is a French mother sauce that is used for hundreds of recipes.  The basic hollandaise recipe never changes, unless you use the old Le Cordon bleu recipe.
     Cilantro Sun Dried Tomato Hollandaise:  
     Simmer two sun dried tomato halves in 1 1/2 cups water in a small sauce pot over very low heat, till they become tender.  
     Remove the reconstituted sun dried tomatoes from the water and set them on a dry towel to remove any excess water.
     Set the sun dried tomatoes on a cutting board and finely mince them.  
     Add the minced sun dried tomatoes to the reserved hollandaise sauce.  
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced cilantro leaves to the hollandaise.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Continue to keep the cilantro sun dried tomato hollandaise warm over very low heat in a bain marie.  Stir occasionally.  
     Purple Potatoes:  
     Boil 4 to 5 ounces of small purple potatoes in water over high heat in a sauce pot, till they start to become tender.  
     Remove the potatoes from the water and cut each one in half.  
     Place the potatoes in a bowl.  
     Toss the potatoes with a little bit of melted unsalted butter.  
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.  
     Keep the potatoes warm on a stove top.    
     Green Beans:  
     Trim the ends off of 7 or 8 green beans.  
     Par boil the green beans in hot salted water over high heat, till they become cooked al dente.  
     Drain the water off of the green beans.  
     Toss the green beans with a little bit of melted unsalted butter.  
     Season with sea salt.  
     Set the green beans aside and keep them warm on a stove top.
     Grilled Walleye Pike:  
     Heat a cast iron ribbed griddle or char grill to a medium/medium high temperature.  
     Brush the griddle ribs with vegetable oil to season them, so the fish does not stick.  
     Cut an 8 to 10 ounce walleye pike filet in half.  Leave the skin attached.
     Cut a few very shallow cross-check slashes through the skin, so the filets do not curl.
     Brush the filets with melted unsalted butter.  
     Season the filets with sea salt and black pepper.  
     Brush the griddle lightly with oil one last time.  
     Place the walleye filet halves on the griddle with the meat side down and the skin side facing up.
     Grill the walleye filets for about a minute.  
     Flip the walleye filets over and grill the skin side.
     Grill both sides of each filet twice, for just a minute or so.  Walleye filets are usually not too thick and the meat cooks quickly.  
     When the grilled walleye becomes fully cooked, set the filets on a wire screen roasting rack to let them rest while the serving plate is being set.
     Grilled Walleye Pike with Cilantro Sun Dried Tomato Hollandaise:  
     Place the purple potato halves together on the center of a plate, so the cover an area that is the same size as the walleye filets.  
     Place the green beans on top of the potatoes.
     Criss-cross the grilled walleye filet halves on top of each other on the stack.  
     Generously spoon the cilantro sun dried tomato hollandaise over the grilled walleye.
     Garnish the hollandaise sauce with a couple of cilantro leaves.
     This walleye pike entree has such an outstanding flavor!  The cilantro flavor and sun dried tomato flavor are thoroughly infused with the hollandaise sauce.  The sauce is compatible with every item in the stack presentation.  The sauce is perfect for the fine flavor of walleye pike!  
     This is a very nice elegant modern entree that features one of North Americas finest fresh water game fish.  This plate of food is pretty to look at too.  Yummy!  Bon Appetite!  ...  Shawna        

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pina Colada Shrimp with Pigeon Peas and Rice

Caribbean food, Mon!

     Pineapple, coconut milk and rum is what a pina colada cocktail is made with.  Pina colada was one of my favorite drinks for relaxing at a beach chiki hut, while watching a sunset.  There are many recipes that combine coconut and pineapple throughout the tropics worldwide.  Good rum adds a nice caribbean flavor.  The flavor of pina colada is very nice with chicken, seafood and pork.  Shrimp is my favorite for a pina colada sauce.
     By the way, this is not the only pina colada style that there is.  There must be over 100 different entrees and appetizers that are called pina colada.  Some are fried with no sauce.  Some are baked.  Some are made with pate a choux.  Do not think that there is only one way that a pina colada flavored recipe should be cooked!
     Pigeon peas and rice are popular on nearly every island in the caribbean.  I learned some caribbean cooking from a few european and American chefs who ran the kitchens in tropical resorts.  I also learned from caribbean island locals.  Most of the locals who live on the islands eat plain simple tasty food.
     I worked with an Austrian chef who ran a restaurant in Barbados resort.  His food was the most interesting French caribbean food that I have ever seen.  I also worked on Marco Island was another caribbean chef who ran a resort in the Bahamas.  He liked to garnish each plate with 2-3 fine creative salsas.
     Anyway, I have not posted many caribbean recipes in this food site so far, but I will be posting more.  Caribbean cooking is some of my favorite cooking.
     Pigeon Peas and Rice: 
     Bring 2 cups of light chicken broth to a boil in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1 cup of long grain white rice.
     Add 1/2 cup of rinsed pre-cooked or canned pigeon peas.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of turmeric.
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Let the rice mixture simmer for almost twenty minutes, till the rice becomes fully cooked and tender.
     Keep the rice warm on a stove top.
     Stir the pigeon peas and rice before serving.
     Pina Colada Shrimp: 
     There is only one true pina colada flavor, but there are hundreds of different caribbean and Floribbean pina colada cooking recipes!  This recipe is one style of many.
     Peel and devein 8 large shrimp, but leave the tails attached.
     Dredge the shrimp in flour.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add the floured shrimp.
     Saute the shrimp, till they become halfway cooked.
     Add 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pineapple.
     Saute to golden highlights appear on the pineapple.
     Add 3 ounces of amber rum.
     Flambé!  (optional)
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground ginger.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Stir the sauce.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Pina Colada Shrimp with Pigeon Peas and Rice:
     Use a ring mold to place the pigeon peas and rice on the middle of a plate.
     Place the shrimp on the plate around the rice.
     Spoon the pineapple rum coconut milk sauce (pina colada sauce) over the shrimp.
     Garnish the rice with an Italian parsley sprig and a couple of thin lime slice curls.
     Sprinkle some thin sliced green onion over the shrimp.
     Coconut milk cannot be heated at a high temperature or it will break and separate.  The flour on the shrimp helps to thicken the sauce.  The nice tropical flavor of pineapple, rum and coconut is perfect for the shrimp.  Pigeon peas and rice is a classic accompaniment for this recipe.
     Just close your eyes, take a bite of the pina colada shrimp and pretend that you are in a tropical island paradise!  Ya Mon!  ...  Shawna