Friday, September 28, 2012

Quiche of Fontal, Florence Fennel and Chinese Garlic Chives

A quiche with nice Italian flavors!

     The theme of an entree is always is always good to keep in mind when creating an entree.  For this quiche, three nice Italian flavors are married together to create a well balanced classic Italian flavor.  
     Even though Chinese garlic chives are not really part of Italian cuisine, they do fit nicely in this quiche recipe.  Chinese garlic chives are garlic top shoots and they are not true chives.  The garlic flavor is very mellow and gentle.  Chinese garlic chives do not overpower the other delicate flavors of this quiche.  The garlic chives actually accent the flavors of the florence fennel and fontal cheese.
     Florence fennel is often sold as anise bulb.  Both the bulb and shoots can be used for this recipe.  Florence fennel is a traditional Italian vegetable that has a very nice delicate anise flavor.  Florence fennel is often used in Italian tortas.  Some types of Italian tortas are similar to quiche.  Italian tortas with spinach and fennel are traditionally served during Easter and Christmas holidays.
     Fontal cheese is one of the great classic cheeses of the world.  Fontal is usually called fontina in most countries.  In Italy, the finer quality fontina cheese is usually referred to by its traditional name, fontal.  A very nice quality imported Italian fontal cheese was used to make this quiche.  Fontal melts easily and the flavor is perfect for a quiche.
     Free Standing Quiche Technique:
     Free standing quiche is not difficult to make.  A small pop-ring pan is all that is needed.  One important thing to keep in mind when shaping the pie crust in a pop-ring mold, is that when the ring is popped, it expands an becomes wider, so the ring can be removed.  The crust of the quiche cannot lay over the edge of the pop-ring, or it will be damaged when the ring is popped!  The crust has to be above the ring or contained within the ring, so it is not damaged by the expanding pop-ring when the ring it removed.  
     If the crust is over the ring, then the pop-ring must be removed by sliding the ring down past the base of the pop-ring pan, instead of raising the ring.  The quiche will have to be allowed to cool for a couple minutes and oven mitts must be worn when handling the pop ring and quiche.  A fancy roped crust like the one in the photographs is easily damaged, so care must be taken when handling the hot quiche.
     An easy method for dropping the ring down is to set the pop-ring molded quiche on top of a can that is smaller than the base of the pop-ring mold.  Gently pop the ring and drop it down, then the base of the pan and quiche can be moved together to the plate.  Use a spatula to slide the quiche off of the pop-ring mold base onto the plate.

     Pate Brisee Recipe:
     Place about 1 cup of flour into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of sugar.
     Rice the flour by adding a few drops of ice water at a time while stirring with a whisk.  (The flour should look like grains of rice.)
     Cut 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter into pea size pieces and drop them in a bowl of ice water.
     Gently add a few pieces of the chilled hard butter at a time to the riced flour.
     Work the dough lightly with your fingers and for a minimal period of time leaving exposed small pieces of butter.
     Chill the dough, till it becomes very firm.
     Roll the pate brisee into a thin sheet on a floured counter top.  (The sheet of pate brisee should show streaks of butter!  This is what will give the pate brisee a flakey crusty texture.)
     Refrigerate the sheet of pate brisee, till it becomes firm again.

     Quiche Pie Shell:
     Lightly brush a 5" pop-ring cake mold with melted unsalted butter.
     Cut 1 round shaped sheet of the pate brisee that is 10" wide.
     Drape the round sheet of pate brisee over the pop-ring pan and press it into place.
     Roll a rolling pin over the rim of the pop-ring pan to trim off the excess dough.
     Refrigerate dough lined pop-ring mold, till the roped crust is shaped.
     Optional Roped Crust:  
     Roll a 3"x14" strip of pate brisee.  Roll the dough, so it is a little bit thinner than the dough for the pie shell.
     Cut 3 thin strips that are 3/16"x14".
     Pinch the 3 strips together on one end.
     Twist the strips, so the look like a rope.
     Brush the top edge of the pate brisee in the pop-ring mold with egg wash.
     Set the roped pate brisee in place and trim it to length.
     Fill the pie shell with dried beans.
     Place the molded pie shell on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 350 degree oven, till the crust just starts to turn a very light golden color.
     Set the pie shell aside to cool.
     Carefully remove the beans from the pie shell.

     Quiche of Fontal, Florence Fennel and Chinese Garlic Chives:
     Heat a saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced florence fennel that is coarsely chopped.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Saute till the florence fennel starts to become tender.
     Set the florence fennel aside to cool.
     Place 2 eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 ounces of milk.
     Add 3 ounces of cream.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Whisk the ingredients till they are blended.
     Place the sauteed florence in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Chinese garlic chives that are cut into 3/8" lengths.
     Add 1/3 cup of grated fontal cheese.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the quiche filling in the par baked pie shell.  (Do not pack the filling in the shell!  Just leave it loose and fluffy.)
     Place the pop-ring mold and quiche on a baking pan.
     Pour the quiche batter into the pie shell, so is becomes full.
     Bake in a 375 degree oven, till the quiche rises and becomes fully cooked.  The top of the quiche should be lightly browned when it is finished baking.  A toothpick stuck in the quiche should pull out clean, when the quiche is fully cooked.
     Set the quiche aside to cool for 2 minutes.
     Note:  Follow the instructions at the top of this page for removing the pop-ring cake mold and placing the quiche on a plate.
     Garnish the quiche with 2 or 3 trimmed long Chinese garlic chive shoots.

     This quiche has a nice flavor combination that is quite appealing!  The roped crust adds a pretty touch.  Yum!  ...  Shawna

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ditali and Shrimp with Portobello, Chinese Garlic Chive Crème and Tomato Concassé

     A Nice Simple Ditali Pasta! 
     France and America seem to use cream for pasta sauces more than any other countries.  Since cream sauces for pasta do not have to adhere to traditional pasta sauce rules, there is plenty of room for creativity.  Cream has a way of carrying a featured flavor.  Cream can also become muddied up with too many flavors.  Simplicity is a good thing to keep in mind when creating a cream sauce for pasta.
     Garlic Crème is an standard sauce that is well liked.  For today's sauce, Chinese Garlic Chives were used in place of garlic.  Chinese Garlic Chives are not a hybrid of regular chives!  Chinese Garlic Chives are the green tops of a garlic plant or Chinese Leek Plant.  Chinese Leeks do not the common leek that can be found in French kitchens.  Chinese Leek Bulbs are just a little bigger than a large garlic clove.
     The Chinese Garlic Chive variety that I used for today's sauce came from the garlic plant.  Chinese garlic chives have a gentle mellow garlic flavor that is nice for flavoring a cream pasta sauce.  
     Portobello Mushrooms taste nice with Chinese garlic chives and they add rich flavor to the cream sauce.  The shrimp add a little bit of flavor to the sauce too.  Instead of simply adding tomato to the cream sauce, the tomato was prepared as a concasse, so a fresh bright flavor would lighten up this pasta entrée.               

     Ditali and Shrimp with Portobello, Chinese Garlic Chive Crème and Tomato Concassé:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     The simple cream reduction sauce can be made while the pasta cooks if the ingredients are prepared ahead of time!
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of ditali pasta in boiling water, tills the pasta is al dente.  Start the sauce!
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 3 or 4 small portabella mushrooms that are cut into small wedges.
     Sauté till the mushrooms start to cook.
     Step 3:  Dredge 12 medium size peeled and deveined shrimp in flour.  (Remove the shrimp tails.)
     Add the floured shrimp to the pan.
     Sauté till the mushrooms start to become tender and till the shrimp are a little bit more than halfway fully cooked.
     Step 4:  Add 2 ounces of dry white wine.
     Add 1 cup of cream.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of cracked black pepper.
     Add sea salt.
     Simmer and reduce the cream sauce, till it is a thin sauce consistency.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of garlic chives that are cut into 3/8" lengths.
     Simmer and reduce, till the sauce becomes a medium thin consistency.  (Add a splash of milk if the sauce becomes too thick.)
     Step 6:  *By now the ditali pasta should be al dente.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the pasta to the sauce.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 7:  Place the pasta in a shallow pasta bowl.
     Sprinkle 1 plum tomato that is prepared as concassé over the pasta.  (Concassé Precision Cut = peeled, seeded, tomato filets that are diced.  Dice = 1/4" cube shape.)
     Garnish with a sprig of Italian Parsley.
     Garnish with Chinese Garlic Chive Flowers.  (optional)

     The flavor of this pasta entree is gentle and nice!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Layered Puree Salads with Smoked Salmon

A modern salad that has a nice French flavor!

     I put some effort into creating a unique puree salad combined flavor that did not taste like gazpacho.  My goal was to create a French flavor instead of a gazpacho flavor.  It seems like every top chef that makes a puree salad only achieves a gazpacho flavor.  To me, that is a limited thinking process for a French chef, especially since gazpacho originated in Andalusia.  It was important to create four salad purees that would go nicely with salmon and not taste like a gazpacho.  I did achieve the flavor goal!
     The layering of my puree salad was not perfectly even layers, because I had the old colored sand in a glass art in mind.  Layered sand colors in a glass was a popular art form many years ago.  A thin stick was run between the glass and the sand to create patterns.
     Each puree is not as simple as the recipe title makes them sound.  Each puree was created like pieces of a puzzle that were waiting to be combined to create a peak flavor.  
     The layers of puree salads from bottom to top were as follows:
     - Sunburst yellow tomato and white wine vinegar puree
     - Watercress, chevre, onion, Chinese yellow chive and mayonnaise
     - Roma plum tomato, sea salt, white pepper and virgin olive oil puree
     - Cucumber, dijon, cream puree
     - Thin sliced cold smoke cured salmon was floated on top
     - A garnish of ngò om (rice paddy herb) and Chinese yellow chive strips
     When the flavors were tasted individually or combined, there was no gazpacho flavor!  The flavors combined to create a nice meld and contrast of familiar French flavors with ingredients that are not commonly used in classic French cuisine.  Some of the ingredients have found there way into fusion cuisine, but only to be masked by too much soy sauce and miso paste from heavy handed fusion chefs.  
     The amount of dijon mustard in the top puree was critical.  Too much dijon mustard would add a negative flavor, so a delicate dijon mustard zest was the goal.  
     When all the layers are combined, this puree salad tastes like a watercress tomato salad flavored with delicate mild chives, a little bit of fresh goat cheese and a white wine vinegar dijon vinaegrette!  French! 
     Layered Puree Salads Guidelines:  
     Each puree must be the same consistency as the one above and below it.  Each puree should be light, but it should not be thin.  Each puree should barely be able to stand in a spoon and it should be a medium thin mousse consistency.  
     All the purees must be chilled to the same temperature.  
     None of the layers should have any excess liquid weeping out of the puree.  
     No starch or gelatin should be used to modify the texture of the puree!
     The cream or creme fraiche should be aerated by whisking.
     Mayonnaise is only necessary to buffer the strong flavor of the watercress puree.  (Without mayonnaise, a watercress puree aroma is like black pepper sprinkled on fermenting green grass!  Mayonnaise corrects the chlorophyl displacement.)
     No ingredients should be blanched and shocked for a fresh puree salad!
     Each puree must be passed trough a fine mesh strainer!
     Exact measurements are impossible for a puree salad.  Each vegetable can have a variable amount of liquid or water.
     For example:
     - The puree of the yellow tomato was much thicker than the Roma tomato puree, even though I removed the seeds and juice from the Roma tomato.
     - The yellow chive acted like a thickening agent in the watercress puree.  The Chevre goat cheese actually thinned the watercress puree.
     - Cream helps to thicken a puree if it is whisked and aerated.
     - Cucumber is very watery, so only a small amount was used to add a delicate summer vegetable flavor to the dijon creme puree.

     Now that you see the guidelines above, it should be easier to adjust the consistencies of each puree, so they will match each others consistency!  The flavors are fine and they should need no adjustment, unless one of the ingredients that you select has an unusually strong or weak flavor.  The measurements below should only be used as a guideline.  
     I used a Swiss electric blending wand to puree.  For larger batches use a food processor.  Keep in mind that both appliances produce heat from friction, so puree with short pulses.
     The recipes below will fill one 6 ounce to 8 ounce glass to the serving level.  About 5 or 6 ounces total is one portion.  Keep in mind that each puree should have a medium consistency.   

     Sunburst Yellow Tomato and White Wine Vinegar Puree:
     Place 8 to 10 sunburst yellow tomatoes in a tall mixing cup.
     Add 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add sea salt and 1 very tiny pinch of white pepper.
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth medium consistency.
     Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Chill the puree till it is needed.

     Watercress, Chevre and Chinese Yellow Chive Puree:
     Chinese yellow chives are garlic chives that are shielded from light as they grow.  They have a nice light garlic flavor.
     Pluck the leaves off of 1 bunch of watercress and place them in a tall mixing cup.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of soft fresh chevre cheese.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced onion.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced Chinese yellow chives.
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth paste consistency.
     Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.  (The amount of mayonnaise depends on the moisture content of the watercress.)
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth medium consistency.
     Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Chill the puree till it is needed.

     Roma Tomato and Virgin Olive Oil Puree:
     Place 2 peeled and seeded small Roma plum tomatoes in a tall mixing cup.  Squeeze out any excess tomato juice!
     Add 1 small pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth medium consistency.
     Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil while pureeing.
     Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Chill the puree till it is needed.

     Cucumber Dijon Creme Puree:
     Place 1 tablespoon of peeled seeded cucumber in a tall mixing cup.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth consistency.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sour cream.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Use a blending wand to puree and aerate the ingredients by using short pulses.  (The puree should be a smooth medium thin consistency and it will thicken after it is chilled.)
     Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Chill the puree till it is needed.

     Layered Puree Salads with Smoked Salmon:
     After each puree is chilled, the layering of the puree salads should be easy.  Either a small plastic squirt bottle or gently roll the puree off of a spoon to create each layer.  Try to keep the squirt bottle or spoon close to the layer of the puree, that the higher level of puree is being placed on, so no mixing occurs.
     Layer the purees in any order that you wish, bit the cucumber dijon creme layer should be on top, because it matches with the smoked salmon.
     After the salad purees are layered, float a thin layer of thin sliced smoked salmon on top.
     Garnish with Vietnamese rice paddy herb leaves.
     Garnish with a few short sections of Chinese yellow chive.

     This salad takes a little bit of time to make.  It can be chilled after it is assembled and later served to guests.  Guests are easily impressed with layered puree salads!  Layered puree salads are usually eaten with the tip of a spoon, so take your time enjoying this salad too. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

San Gennaro Feast - September 2012 at the Silverton Casino, Las Vegas!

     This Article was edited on 8-62014.  A slide show was added!

     The San Gennaro September Feast is currently taking place in Las Vegas.  Saint Gennaro was the patron saint of Naples, Italy.  Saint Gennaro was famous for protecting persecuted Christians and preventing them from being caught around the year 400AD.  Three time a year, the faithful go to the Naples Cathedral to witness the miracle of his blood liquifying in a sealed ampule.  The San Gennaro Feast days are celebrated in September and April each year.
     The San Gennaro Feast is a big event.  The San Gennaro Feast is taking place outdoors at the Silverton Casino.  The weather has cooled down and it is a perfect time for feasting on great Italian food outdoors.  In places like Little Italy in Philadelphia and New York, the feast goes on for days.  The same thing goes for Las Vegas.  The San Gennaro Feast in Las Vegas runs from September 11, through September 16 at the Silverton Casino.  The Silverton Casino is located at Blue Diamond Road and Dean Martin in Las Vegas, just off of I-15.
     There is so much Italian food to choose from at the Feast!  Any kind of Italian American food that you can think of is offered.  Many of the vendors at the San Gennaro Feast only sell their food at the San Gennaro feast and nowhere else!  That is how big and important this event is!
     Feasting is what the San Gennaro event is all about.  Do not even think about going to the San Gennaro feast, if you are on a diet!  The aroma of great Italian food fills the air for miles when the San Gennaro Feast is going on.  My tummy began growling as soon as I got off of the freeway.  I could not wait for the stoplight to change on the way to the parking garage at the Silverton.  I was craving Italian food big time!
     After paying the small entrance fee, I did not even walk 20 yards, before my eyes gazed at fresh Italian sausage and peppers roasting on a grill.  I stopped and stared!  I was is awe, because the aroma of he sausage and peppers was so good!  My first bite to eat during the San Genarro Feast was a sausage and pepper sandwich.  I stood there munching the sandwich down and I desperately tried not to look like some kind of an animal.  It was no use!  I ended up with sausage and pepper grease all over my hands and mouth!  Italians appreciate when somebody goes nuts over their food.  It is like one of the best compliments in the world!
     After taking a few photographs and seeing some of the sights, I chose to eat a couple of great looking meatball sliders.  We never called little meatball sandwiches by the name sliders back when I was cooking in Italian restaurants, but it is a good name for these small single meatball sandwiches.  The meatball sliders were the bomb!  They tasted great!
     I finished my meatball sliders and I walked not even ten feet, just to see one of the best looking pepperoni pizzas that I have ever seen!  I had a slice of pepperoni before I knew it and I was then in seventh heaven!  The pepperoni pizza was great too!
     I had to get ahold of myself and try to get a grip on the fact that I could not possibly sample every item at the San Gennaro Feast, or somebody would have to carry me out of there in a wheelbarrow!
     I decided to walk around and see the sights, instead of overindulging even more than I already had.  There were plenty of things to do and see.  Plenty of circus rides and plenty of shopping.  Petting zoos and mechanical bull rides were there for kids of all ages.  A main band stage was located in the central dining courtyard and there was plenty of comfortable seating.  Of course the stars on stage were popular Italian entertainers.  Everybody was having a good time!
     Italian beer and cocktails were available.  I chose one of my favorite beers.  An Italian Peroni Lager was nice after dining on some tasty Italian food.  After walking around the shooting galleries, circus rides and funhouses, I got thirsty again.  Fresh squeezed lemonade is an Italian tradition.  Two girls were making a great sales pitch for their lemonade to draw in customers, as I walked by.  I liked the sound of their sales pitch, so I turned around and bought a nice cold glass of fresh lemonade.  The lemonade was squeezed to order!  The lemonade was refreshing and it was a great way to end the day.
     On the way to the parking garage, I stopped in the Silverton Casino to test my luck at a poker machine.  I was feeling good and sitting down spelled relief, so I was in no hurry to burn up money.  I played some 50 cent poker and after just a few hands I hit four deuces with an ace kicker on a bonus poker machine.  Winning a little bit of cash was like getting a discount on the day.  That was an even nicer way to end a good day!
     After getting home, I felt so stuffed from dining on good Italian food, that I laid down to rest.  Before I knew it, I fell into one of those heavy sleep comas that people get after overindulging on Italian food.  Five hours later, I woke up and I was still full!  Wow!  I sure got a full belly at the San Genarro Feast, but that is what its all about!
     I highly recommend attending the San Gennaro Feast, while it is going on in Las Vegas!  This event runs through September 16th and by the looks of things, there will be no shortage of great Italian food.  When Italians cook food for a San Gennaro Feast, they cook big time!  Yum!  Ciao Baby!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Filet of Sole Saute with Asian Pear Salsa, Chateau Potato and Tomato Concasse Loroco

A nice light refreshing entree!

     It has been a while since I have featured a salsa on fish.  Exotic salsas and fish go together in a nice way.  I worked with an executive chef from the caribbean and many of his entrees were garnished with salsa.  The fish entrees with fruit salsa on his menu were particularly nice!
     Papaya salsa and mango salsa are traditional for fish or chicken in the caribbean.  Asian pear is usually only seen at major resorts in the caribbean.  Sub tropical resorts in Florida often incorporate asian pear into the local Floribbean style cuisine or they feature asian pear in fusion recipes.  
     I cooked professionally in Florida during the heyday of the Floribbean cuisine trend.  Every Floribbean special du jour entree that I created had a mixture of classic european, Florida cracker and caribbean ingredients, with the cooking techniques of those styles to match.  The refreshing nature of asian pear was addition for everything from from caramelized asian pear hollandaise glacage on broiled fish filets to flavoring a green peppercorn demi glace for a shark steak.  Asian pear also was nice as a refreshing salsa accompaniment for sauteed fish, just like this filet of sole recipe.
     Chateau potatoes require precision knife skills.  A chateau potato is basically a whole potato that is tourne cut.  It is an elegant potato presentation for refined entrees.  The method that I used to fully cook this chateau potato and keep it white colored after roasting is easy to understand.  What is difficult to picture is the texture inside of a chateau potato that is roasted white.  The inside of this style of chateau potato has the texture of a mashed potato!  
     The potato is first simmered at a low temperature, so the starch does not become overheated and the molecular structure of the starch stays intact and it remains very moist.  After roasting, the outside of the moist chateau potato becomes sealed like a skin and the moisture is trapped inside.  It becomes very hard to brown a potato that is cooked with this method, but that is not the goal.  The soft mashed potato consistency inside the chateau potato is the goal!  A word of caution, is that this style of chateau potato must be handled very gently.  My white roasted chateau potato in the pictures above recieved a slight amount of damage from a clumsy moment.  It does not take much force to damage this style of potato!
     Loroco is a flower bud that grows on vines in southern Mexico and Central America.  Loroco is very nutritious and is has a fresh green wheat, green alfalfa and barley kind of flavor, with hops in the mix.  Loroco actually has hints of a green grain beer flavor.  Beer and tomato juice are nice together, so tomato concasse and loroco prepared like a ragout was a natural tasty choice!         
     Asian Pear Salsa:  
     Asian pear salsa must be made quickly, before the pear has a chance to oxidize and rust.  This salsa will turn mushy after a few hours, so it is better to make this salsa shortly before it is served. 
     Place 1 diced peeled and seeded medium size asian pear into a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced onion.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons diced green bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon diced roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped seeded green jalapeno.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin sliced green onion.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of finely chopped cilantro or Italian parsley.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the asian pear salsa, till it is served.   

     Chateau Potato Roasted White:
     Turn 1 whole russet potato, so it had 7 equal size sides and it is wide in the middle and so the width tapers to pointed ends.  (Refer to the potato in the photographs above!)
     Place the potato in a sauce pot.
     Cover the potato with plenty of salted water.
     Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Reduce temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer till the potato almost becomes tender.
     Place the potato on a wire roasting screen rack on a roasting pan.
     Brush the potato with blended olive oil.
     Season with sea salt
     Bake in a 350 oven, till the potato is fully cooked, very tender inside and roasted so it is white with no golden brown color.
     Keep the potato warm on a stove top.
     The tomato concasse loroco should be prepared while the potato is cooking!

     Tomato Concasse Loroco:
     Loroco can be purchased fresh only in its region of origin, because a certain type of beetle pest is a threat, if fresh loroco is exported.  Frozen loroco is available in Latin markets.  Frozen loroco is fine for this recipe.
     Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 of a minced garlic clove.
     Saute the garlic till it turns a golden color.
     Add 1/3 cup of trimmed fresh or frozen loroco flower buds.
     Toss and stir the loroco with the garlic flavored olive oil. 
     Add enough light chicken broth to barely cover the loroco.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the loroco and allow the liquid to reduce, till only about 1/2 cup remains.
     Peel and seed one plum tomato.
     Trim off the tomato core, so only the tomato filets remain.
     Dice the tomato filets.
     Add the tomato concasse to the the loroco.
     Simmer and reduce, till the liquid is nearly evaporated.
     Keep the tomato concasse loroco warm on a stovetop. 

     Filet of Sole Saute:
     Choose 2 small whole sole filets that weigh a total of 6 to 8 ounces.
     Split the sole filets in half lengthwise along the bone line.
     Dredge the sole filets in flour.
     Dredge the sole filets in egg wash.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Add 3 pats of unsalted butter.
     Note:  Allow the oil and butter to become hot, before adding an egg washed item of any kind!
     Knock the excess egg wash off of each piece of sole filet and place the sole filets in the hot butter and oil.
     Saute till each sole filet piece turns golden brown on both sides.  Only flip the sole filets once!
     Add 1 small squeeze of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Simmer and reduce, till the liquid forma small amount of thin sauce.

     Filet of Sole Saute with Asian Pear Salsa, Chateau Potato and Tomato Concasse Loroco:
     Arrange the 4 sole file halves on a plate.
     Spoon the thin wine glace sauce from the saute pan over the fish.
     Gently place the white roasted chateau potato on the plate.
     Place a small mount of the tomato concasse loroco on the plate.
     Spoon a generous amount of the asian pear salsa over the sole filet halves.
     Garnish the salsa with a sliced of lime.

     Welcome to the world of Floribbean and caribbean fine cuisine!  This is a nice light dinner entree that also is nice as a lunch special du jour.  The flavors are light and very refreshing!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chaud Froid Platter of Pak Chee Farang Roasted Chicken Breast, Turmeric Aspic and Fresh Ginkgo Nuts

Chaud Froid!

     Chaud Froid mean hot cold in French.  Chaud froid refers to a cuisson technique of preparing hot food with the intent of having it gel, when it becomes cold.  Chaud froid refers to a hot bechamel sauce which contains gelatin and the sauce becomes solid when cooled.  
     Chaud froid can be a technique lightly coating an item with edible gelatinized bechamel.  Edible chaud froid is made to be the same consistency as coating gelatin.  
     Chaud froid for platters is a hard gelatinized bechamel and it is considered to be non-edible.  Hard gelled chaud froid has the texture of rubber.  A chaud froid platter requires a platter that has a rim or border that is raised higher than the center flat surface.  A tray with a raised rim!  
     Plain hard gelatinized bechamel is poured on the center of the tray, where it hardens like rubber.  The rubberized bechamell can then be decorated. Clear hard gelatin is used like glue to place decorative items on the chaud froid "rubber mat."  Once all the decorations are set in place, a layer of clear hard gelatin is poured over the decorations and the chaud froid.  After the clear gelatin cools and hardens, the center of the platter looks like glossy rubber mat with an artistic design.  
     Canapes, hors de oeuvres, galantines, ballotines, pâté and terrines can then be placed on the hard gelatin rubber like surface.  A chaud froid platter is perfect for presenting hand passed hors de oeuvres at a formal event.  A chaud froid platter is perfect for presenting sliced terrine, pâté, galantine etcetera at a formal banquet or buffet.  A chaud froid platter adds a nice touch to a dinner party or cocktail party too.
     I will describe the guidelines of presenting loafs of pâté or whole terrines in a future blog article.  I will describe cookie cutter style techniques of creating patterned chaud froid designs at a later date.  There are techniques that involve food coloring tinted chaud froid that I will present at a later time.  
     Today, I wanted to introduce chaud froid to the readers of this blog in an easy way.  Just a simple pattern with clean lines is the goal for this chaud froid recipe.  If you are capable of doing more than just a simple design, then by all means go with it!  For a beginners chaud froid recipe, a simple presentation like the one in the photographs will not scare readers away.  You have to learn to walk, before you learn to run!
     Today's chaud froid platter blog recipe is a typical yacht club style lunch entree presentation.  This small individual size chaud froid platter is meant to be served to a guest at a table!  Imagine the surprised look of the guests that are invited to a luncheon at your home, when pretty choid froid platters are served!  Best of all, a chaud froid lunch platter like this can be prepared ahead of time, then refrigerated, till it is time to be served.  
     A sliced gelatin coated roasted meat is the entree.  A turmeric flavored chicken aspic is the bed for the chicken.  Gelatine coated vegetable garnishes decorate the platter.  Every item is placed on the decorative hard gelatin chaud froid surface.  The chaud froid platter is a work of art created by the host chef.  Every item that is placed on the chaud froid platter is a continuation of that work of art!

     Chaud Fraud Platter Instructions and Recipe:
     For this chaud froid platter, no food colors or patterned cookie cutters are used.  Only blanched vegetables are used to create the artistic design.  This style of chaud froid is easy to do and it is fun.  If the chaud froid platter has a few imperfections, do not let it get you down.  Instead, think of ways to correct the imperfections the next time that a chaud froid platter is made.  Practice makes perfect!
     Working Area and Work Surface:
     The working area, platter, sauce pots and all utensils must be spotless and clean.
     The work area must be dust free and draft free.  
     The room temperature must be about 70 to 78 degrees.
     The surface that the platter is set upon must be perfectly level, so the chaud froid platter gelatin settles in an even layer on the platter.
     Rubber gloves must be worn when touching any gelatin.  The oil from bare skin can cause imperfections in the gelatin.
     Have a bunch of toothpicks on hand to pop any bubbles that may form on the surface of the gelatin, before the gelatin starts to harden.
     Use long kitchen canape assembly tweezers, instead of fingers as much as possible.
     Use a thermometer to check the temperatures of the gelatin, aspic and chaud froid. 

     Chaud Froid Platter Design and Design Component Preparation:
     Think of where the protein entree piece will be placed and displayed on the platter.
     Think of where the garnishing vegetables may be placed.  
     Think of a pattern for the chaud froid decorative design, that will flow with the placement of the entree and garnishes.  It is no use creating designs on a simple chaud froid platter, that will be covered up by items that are placed over the artwork.  For this simple chaud froid platter, just try to fill in the open spaces of the platter with the artistic design.  I used a very simple southwestern New Mexico art design to decorate the open spaces on the platter in the photographs.
     After thinking of the design, draw the placement of the entree and garnishing vegetables on the paper.
     Take stock of the vegetables and fruits that you have on hand to create the chaud froid decorative artwork with.
     Very thin sliced carrot looks orange and they were cut to shape for the orange shapes on the platter in the photos.
     Long green onion slivers make nice long flowing flower or reed stalks and they were used for the green shapes on the platter in the photos.
     Thin lemon peel zest shavings were used for the yellow colored shapes on the platter in the photos.
     Basically, try to use vegetable skins, long thin vegetable slivers or fruit skins to create the colorful shapes of the pattern that you design!  
     Do not use vegetables that bleed color, like beets!
     Do not use acidic fruits like pineapple or citrus fruits!  Citrus skin zest is okay to use.  
     After taking stock of the colorful fruits and vegetables that you have on hand, create the chaud froid artistic design on the paper plan.
     Label where each color will go on the chaud froid design that you drew on the paper design plan.   
     Note:  A paper plan is good for doing several chaud froid platters that have the same design and it is good for just making one platter.  For beginners, the simpler the better!  Create an abstract design just to get the hang of this art if you wish.  Polkadots are fine too.  Even a simple smiley face pattern is good.  Southwestern art themes are simple and easy to do.  There is not much to look at, in some regions of the southwestern desert, so the artwork tends to be simple and clean looking. 
     Cut the colorful fruit and vegetable skin shapes that you will need for the chaud froid platter that were drawn on the paper plan.
     Note:  The fruit and vegetables skins, slivers and slices must be less than 1/8" to 1/16" thick or the surface of the chaud froid platter will be bumpy!
     Place each finished shape in a container of cold water, so the fruit and vegetable shapes do not oxidize and turn brown.
     Heat a pot of salted boiling water over high heat.
     Place all of the shapes in a fine mesh strainer basket.
     Quickly blanch the decorative shapes for 10 to 20 seconds.
     Immediately place the blanched fruit and vegetable shapes in ice water.  Place the container of ice water and decorative fruit and vegetable shapes in a refrigerator, till they will be needed later.

     Hard Gelling Non Edible Chaud Froid For Platters:
     The bechamel can be thickened with roux, or the bechamel can be thickened with cornstarch slurry, when making inedible hard gelling chaud froid.  I prefer cornstarch slurry.  There is no use in wasting butter and flour on making an item that is not going to be eaten anyway!  A cornstarch thickened bechamel will yield a whiter looking chaud froid color.
     Measuring The Platter Volume:  
     To measure how much hard chaud froid that you will need, follow these steps:
     Place the platter for the chaud froid on an even level surface.
     Pour enough water on the platter to fill the platter with a 3/16" to 1/4" thick layer of water.  
     Note:  The depth of the chaud froid layer, should be slightly less than half of the total depth of the serving surface of the platter.    
     Place a roasting pan next to the platter.  (The roasting pan will act as a water catch pan!) 
     Carefully pour the water from the platter into the roasting pan.
     Carefully pour the water into a measuring cup.
     Write down the liquid volume.   
     Add about 2 extra ounces to the water volume measurement number, to make sure that there is that there is enough hard chaud froid to cover the platter with an even layer.
     Discard the water.
     Wipe the platter dry and spot free.
     Cornstarch Slurry Bechamel For Hard Gel Chaud Froid:
     Measure enough milk to equal the final sum of the platter's chaud froid layer liquid measurement.
     Place the milk in a sauce pot.
     Bring the milk to a very gentle boil over medium heat.
     Mix about 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and 3 ounces of cold water together to form a slurry.  (You will have to judge how much slurry will be needed to thicken the milk!)
     Add a little bit of the slurry at a time, while whisking, till the milk thickens to a thin cream sauce consistency.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Simmer and stir the bechamel for 2 minutes.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the bechamel to cool to room temperature.
     Measure the total amount of bechamel sauce with a measuring cup and write the number down.
     Compare the number to the original water measurement for the amount of bechamel that is needed for filling a little less than half of the depth of the platter.
     Pour off any excess bechamel sauce or add water to equal the volume needed.
     Place the measured cool thin bechamel sauce back into the sauce pot.
     Hard Gel Inedible Chaud Froid For Platters:
     Use powdered gelatin for making chaud froid!  
     The proportion of powdered gelatin to water for a hard firm inedible gelatin is:
     12 ounces of powdered gelatin per 128 ounces (1 gallon) of water. 
     6 ounces of powdered gelatin per 64 ounces (2 quarts) of water.
     4 ounces of powdered gelatin per 32 ounces (1 quart) of water.
     2 ounces of powdered gelatin per 16 ounces (1 pint) of water.
     1 ounce of powdered gelatin per 8 ounces (1 cup) of water.
     The same proportion of powdered gelatin to water can be used for hard gel inedible chaud froid.  Simply use a proportion of 1 part powdered gelatin to 8 parts thin bechamel sauce.  
     Use the bechamel total measured volume number to calculate the amount of powdered gelatin that will be needed.
     Measure the amount of powdered gelatin.
     Slowly rain (dust) the powdered gelatin on the surface of the bechamel sauce.
     Do not stir!
     Let the gelatin bloom in the bechamel sauce for 5 to 10 minutes.
     Place the bechamel sauce over low heat.
     Allow the sauce to slowly warm to nearly 160 degrees.
     Reduce the temperature, so the sauce approaches 145 degrees.  
     Note:  These temperatures will kill any pathogen in the sauce!  Do not boil the sauce!  Boiling will cause the gelatin to weaken.
     Now the gelatin should start to liquify in the sauce.
     Very gently stir the sauce, till the sauce becomes smooth, without creating any bubbles.
     Gently remove the sauce from the heat and place it next to the the platter that will be used for the chaud froid that is placed on and even level surface.
     Carefully pour the hard gel chaud froid sauce into the platter, without creating any bubbles.
     Do not worry about what clings to the pan!  Just set the pan aside.
     Immediately use a toothpick to pop any bubbles, no matter how small, that may form on the surface of the chaud froid, before it starts to cool and gel.
     Let the chaud froid platter set undisturbed for 10 to 20 minutes, so the chaud froid has time to cool and becomes a solid gelled state.  Do not touch the pan or chaud froid as it cools!
     After the chaud froid becomes solid, place it on a cleared top shelf in a refrigerator, so the chaud froid chills and becomes solid and firm, just like rubber.

     Gelatin For Coating:
     Enough coating gelatin should be made for gluing the decorative blanched vegetable shapes in place and for coating the entree and the accompanying vegetables later in the recipe.
     Clear gelatin can be reheated to a liquid state, but it must not be overheated.  Clear unflavored gelatin is called gelatin and it is not called aspic!  Only flavored gelatin is called aspic.
     About 1 cup of coating gelatin will be needed for this entire recipe! 
     The proportion for making coating gelatin is:
     1 ounce of powdered gelatin per 32 ounces (1 quart) of water.
     1/2 ounce of powdered gelatin per 16 ounces (1 pint) of water.
     1/4 ounce of powdered gelatin per 8 ounces (1 cup) of water.
     Measure 1 cup of water and place it in a small sauce pot.
     Rain 1/4 ounce of powdered gelatin over the surface of the water.
     Allow the gelatin to bloom for 5 to 10 minutes.
     Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Allow the gelatin water to heat to 160 degrees, so the gelatin turns to a pathogen free liquid state.
     Very gently stir, without creating any bubbles.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Put on rubber surgical gloves.
     Remove the reserved blanched vegetable shapes from their ice water bath.
     Place the vegetable shapes on a lint free pastry shop towel to drain off the excess water.
     Place the cool hardened chaud froid platter on an even level surface.
     Set the platter design that you drew on paper beside the platter.
     Handle one vegetable shape at a time with rubber gloved fingers or canape assembly tweezers.
     Use a very small pastry brush to paint just enough of the coating gelatin on the vegetable shape, to glue it in its plate on the platter.
     There should be no lumps, drips or bumps on the platter!  Every vegetable shape should set flat and even.
     Assemble the design you created!
     Chill the platter on the top shelf of a refrigerator, till the hard coat of clear gelatin is made.
     Set the pot of coating gelatin aside and cover it with a lid till later in the recipe.

     Hard Clear Inedible Gelatin:
     Use the same measurement that was written down for the liquid volume that was used to measure the amount of the chaud froid layer on the platter.
     Measure the amount of water needed and place it in a sauce pot.
     Use the same proportion of gelatin to measure the amount of powdered gelatin that is needed.  (1 part powdered gelatin to 8 parts water)
     Rain the powdered gelatin over the surface of the water.
     Allow the gelatin to bloom for 5 to 10 minutes.
     Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Allow the gelatin water to heat to 160 degrees, so the gelatin turns to a pathogen free liquid state.
     Very gently stir, without creating any bubbles.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Set the pot on the even level surface and allow the liquid to cool to a temperature that will not cause the hard chaud froid on the chilled platter to remelt.  (about 140 to 145 degrees)
     Set the chilled decorated chaud froid platter on the even level surface.
     Carefully pour the liquid gelatin into the platter, without creating any bubbles.
     Do not worry about what clings to the pan!  Just set the pan aside.
     Immediately use a toothpick to pop any bubbles, no matter how small, that may form on the surface of the clear gelatin, before it starts to cool and gel.
     Let the chaud froid platter set undisturbed for 10 to 20 minutes, so the clear gelatin has time to cool and becomes a solid gelled state.  Do not touch the pan or chaud froid as it cools!
     After the clear gelatin coated chaud froid becomes solid, place it on a cleared top shelf in a refrigerator, so the chaud froid chills and becomes solid and firm, just like rubber.
     Keep the chaud froid platter chilled, till the aspic garnish, entree and vegetables are finished!

     Roasted Chicken Breast:
     Choose a 7 to 9 ounce chicken breast that has the skin and bones attached.  (The wing should be removed.) 
     Season the chicken breast with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of cayenne pepper over the chicken breast.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of garlic powder over the chicken breast.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 small splash of vegetable oil.
     Place the chicken breast in the pan with the skin side facing down.
     Saute till the skin starts to lightly brown.
     Flip the chicken breast.
     Place the pan in a 325 degree oven.
     Roast the chicken breast, till it becomes fully cooked.
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Set the chicken breast aside to cool to room temperature.
     Carefully debone the chicken breast.
     Trim any rough edges or pieces of fat off.
     place the chicken breast on a dish with the skin side facing up.
     Chill the chicken breast in a refrigerator to 41 degrees.
     Pak Chee Farang Chicken Breast Garnish and Ginkgo Nuts:
     Trim 4 to 5 pak chee farang leaves (sawtooth herb), so they can decoratively cover the skin side of the chicken breast.
     Cut 4 to 5 long strips each of red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper.  The strips should be 1/16" wide.
     Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.
     Place the shelled trimmed ginkgo nuts in a fine mesh strainer net.
     Place the the net in the boiling water.
     Poach the ginkgo nuts for 4 minutes.
     Add the thin red and yellow bell pepper strips.
     Add the pak chee farang leaves.
     Blanch for 5 seconds.
     Place the blanched pak chee farang and vegetables in ice water.
     Note:  From this point on handle the herb leaves and vegetables with canape assembly tongs or with rubber glove covered fingers.
     Remove the vegetables from the water after they have cooled.
     Drain off any excess water.

     Pak Chee Farang Roasted Chicken Breast:
     It takes time to apply the decorative coating to the chicken.  If the gelatin in the pot ever starts to set during the coating process, reheat the gelatin over low heat, till it becomes a liquid again.
     Reheat the reserved sauce pot of coating gelatin over low heat, till the gelatin becomes a liquid again.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Use a pastry brush to paint the chicken breast and immediately glue the blanched pak chee farang leaves in place, so the decoratively cover the skin side of the chicken breast.
     Chill the chicken breast in the refrigerator, till the gelatin sets.
     Place a toothpick in each ginkgo nut.
     Dip the ginkgo nuts in the gelatin.
     Place the ginkgo nuts on a wire rack or non-stick pan.
     Chill the ginkgo nuts, till the gelatin sets.
     Brush the chilled pak chee farang leaves that are glued on the chicken breast with the coating gelatin.
     Place alternating red and yellow bell pepper strips across the chicken breast in the opposite direction of the pak chee farang leaves.
     Chill the chicken breast, till the gelatin sets.
     Spoon a thin finish coat of the coating gelatin over the decorated chicken breast 
     Chill the chicken breast, till the gelatin sets.
     Save the leftover coating gelatin in the pot and keep it in a liquid state over very low heat.

     Turmeric Aspic Garnish:
     Heat 2 ounce of chicken bouillon over low heat in a sauce pot.
     Add 2 pinches of turmeric.
     Simmer till the bouillon turns yellow.
     Add the turmeric bouillon to the gelatin that remains in the pot.
     Gently stir the ingredients together.
     Place a sheet pan on an even level surface.
     Pour the turmeric aspic on the sheet pan to form a thin layer.
     Allow the aspic to gel.
     Place the sheet pan an aspic in a refrigerator and chill it till it becomes firm.

     Chaud Froid Platter of Pak Chee Farang Roasted Chicken Breast, Turmeric Aspic and Fresh Ginkgo Nuts:
     Place the decorative chaud froid platter on a counter top.
     Refer to the paper drawing of the platter's design.
     Cut 1/2" wide slashes across the sheet of turmeric aspic.
     Use a thin spatula to scrap the aspic free from the pan.
     Coarsely chop the golden colored aspic.
     Place a small bed of the aspic on the platter where the chicken will be placed.
     Bias slice the chicken breast, so the slices cut across the pepper strips.  The slices should be about 3/4" wide.
     Place the chicken slices on the bed of turmeric aspic, so they lean against each other.
     Remove the toothpicks from the ginkgo nuts. 
     Place the gelatin coated ginkgo nuts in their place around the sliced pak chee farang roasted chicken breast.

     Viola!  A nice simple chaud froid lunch platter.  It is simple if you follow the directions.  Although this beginner's chaud froid recipe is lengthy, it covers the details.  
     Let any uneducated guests know that they are not supposed to eat the platter itself!  The platter can be scraped clean after the the dining event is over.  Chaud froid is a temporary art medium, so take a picture of your masterpiece!
     A nice pretty lunch entree platter!  Yum!  ...  Shawna       

     * 11-25-2013 - A viewer left a comment about Grosse Piece in the comment box below this article.  The pictures below show the start of a chaud platter that has 2 grosse pieces.  A pastel finished chaud froid is also pictured.  A new chaud froid recipe will be posted this week!