Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Big Apple Steak

This was a clever suggestion from my sous chef William for a Saturday night special. It is a New York Strip steak topped with Apple Buerre Blanc. White wine, apple vodka, apple cider vinegar, shallot, and diced Granny Smith apple are combined and reduced to a glaze, whole butter is emulsified in the glaze and poured over a grilled New York Strip steak. We used some tempura onion rings to crown the dish and all the flavors worked very well together-sour apple, onion, and beef.

Strip prices are up again. I paid over $9.20 a pound wholesale, while Tenderloin was down just under $9 per pound. Go figure-What is a chef to do? You can't reprint the menu every time the market fluctuates. In this case I hope the increased food cost of the Strip is compensated by the decreased food cost of the tenderloin.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lobster Egg Royale

The title and provenance of this dish is perplexing. I came across it while reading Skillet Doux, an excellent blog from Chicago. This blog observed the dish on Iron Chef. My Escoffier cookbook has several recipes for Royales which are more like puddings-savory puddings, where forcemeats (chicken, fish, or vegetable) are sieved with eggs and baked in molds in a Bain Marie.

Skillet Doux's version is more like shirred or baked eggs. Browsing the internet for more "Egg Royale" recipes did not shed any more understanding of the dish. Castle in The Country Bed and Breakfast serves a dish they call "Royal Eggs and Cheese". In their dish eggs are baked with cheese and cream in ramekins.

Another recipe I found called "Eggs Royal" was reprinted from The New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook by Deirdre Stanforth. This dish has a layer of chicken liver pate with eggs baked on top. They add "demi-hollandaise" which is hallandaise folded with cream sauce flavored with brandy.

I followed the recipe-as much as I follow any recipe-from Skillet Doux. I started with one live lobster, briefly boiled-reserve tail and claw meat and make lobster bisque with the shells, reduce the bisque until thick, and add back the lobster meat. Ladle 1/4 cup lobster mixture into baking dish and crack and egg over the lobster, top with a couple tablespoons of bisque and bake. Visit to read about excellent Chicago dining.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fried Macaroni and Cheese

Another purloined appetizer, this one from Cheesecake Factory. I do not like the big chain restaurants as a rule, but last week I enjoyed an especially nice lunch at Cheesecake Factory. I ordered this appetizeer not because I wanted to eat it, but because I knew it would sell at the restaurant. It was quite tasty at Cheesecake Factory and it did sell well at the restaurant a couple nights later, when I sold it as a special.

There was a 15 minute wait for lunch on a Monday, mostly because it is located in the Galleria, a mecca of conspicuous consumption if there ever was one. My lunch date informed me I was not "dressed up" enough-I was wearing old jeans and a spiffy sweater from Macy's that was new last fall-I thought it was sort of casual dressy-oh well. Once seated, service was fast and professional-inspite of my tattered poverty struck appearance. I also enjoyed an excellent crab salad with Thousand Island dressing. One camplaint-the hard cooked egg was sieved, I would have preferred slices or chunks. It had a lovely presentation with whole romaine leaves, which did require knife and fork.

Cheesecake for Monday lunch dessert seemed a bit heavy, but how could you eat at a place named Cheesecake and not eat the cheesecake? All the cheesecakes are made in California and shipped to the restaurants-"to insure consistency", I was informed by the server. That sums up the cheesecake, consistent and borrring, homogenization is a very bad thing. In addition the crust was awful, and the whipped topping horrible and overflowing. The espresso was excellent, but I had to ask for lemon twist-Am I the only one that drinks espresso with lemon twist? It used to be standard service to serve lemon twist with espresso, or maybe it's just me.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crabby Pretzel

I'm always getting interesting ideas from the blogosphere. Most bloggers seem generous, but some bloggers seem more territorial. Some bloggers steal ideas and pictures and present them as their own, this is obviously deceitful and misleading. It is very difficult to copywright ideas and recipes, and most recipes seem to be variations on recipes, that are themselves variations on other recipes. I also know that if you give a recipe to three different cooks, you will get three distinctive-if not totally different -dishes. I seldon follow recipes-except when baking.

This rather long explanation is to say I got this idea of crabby pretzel from a fellow blogger. Please visit , which is where the idea came from. It has been a brisk seller when I put it on the restaurant menu as a special a couple of evenings.
I purchased a par-baked pretzel, slit it down the center and filled it with a spicy crab salad, topped it with a pizza-blend cheese and baked it. This is my take on crabby pretzel, but visit the Bicoastal Cook to see another.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stuffed French Toast

Pain Perdu in actual French-lost bread-one of my favorite breakfasts. I used a decent bread from the Bosnian bakery, soaked in a custard flavored with vanilla, I placed a stuffing of sauteed apples and slices of Brie in the middle and sauteed the toast very slowly. French toast cooked quickly over high heat turns tough and nasty natured instead of the luscious pudding it creates when done slowly. I topped it with a local maple syrup purchased at farmer's market.