Sunday, February 18, 2007

Smithwick's Ale

We have a new ale on tap at the restaurant. Smithwick's-pronounced smitticks-no h or w sound. The English language can so annoying sometimes-if you don't say the h or w, why put them in the word? Smithwick's is the oldest operating brewery in Ireland. Founded in 1710 by John Smithwick on the original Franciscan abbey, where monks made ale since the 1400's. Now it is owned by the same company that also owns Guinness and they are the two biggest sellers in Ireland-Guinness is first.

It is called a red ale, and it has a sort of red mahogany color to it. Irish red ales are made from roasted barley and hops. The roasting tints the color, which is not the case in American red beers which are tinted by adding color-like Coors Red Irish a poseur. It has a much mellower flavor than English Ale, which is too aggressive on the palate for me. Slightly creamy with a stable but not too big head.
Smithwick's has been available in the Missouri market for a long time, but it has only been licensed in Illinois (or at least in Monroe county) just recently. Smithwick's has a devoted following, and many have asked for it, and now we can serve it. Perfect with our house made chips.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Thai Green Curry Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is a culinary universal. It seems every culture has a chicken soup-its appeal is endless. With on-line shopping even hard to find ingredients are available to everyone. Here is a Thai inspired version.

2 T canola oil

2 T Green curry paste

1 T fresh Ginger Root-finely minced

1 t powdered Galangal (Galangal is similar to Ginger, some recipes call for one or the other)

1 clove of Garlic-finely minced

1 cup Japanese Eggplant-cut into 1 inch pieces

2-3 carrots-sliced into oblong slices

1 onion-diced

1 stalk Lemon Grass-cut into large pieces-Lemon Grass is for flavoring only, not eating

1 12 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1 T sugar

1 T Fish sauce

1 T hot Chinese chili paste-or to taste, I like a little burn

3 cups rick chicken broth

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Fresh cilantro

Lime wedges

1 package glass noodles-soaked, any pasta including cooked spaghetti could work

Saute the green curry paste in the oil, add the ginger, galangal, and garlic, saute briefly at medium heat.

Add the onion, carrot, and egg plant, saute over low heat until the vegetables are softened.

Add the coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, chili paste, and chicken broth, simmer 1/2 hour to marry all the flavors, taste and adjust flavoring if needed. Add the cooked chichen when the soup tastes balanced to you.

To plate, mound the glass noodles in the center of a large soup plate and ladle the soup over them (some people remove the lemon grass-I prefer to just eat around it). Garnish with fresh Cilantro and lime wedges.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Day '07

One of the biggest nights in the restaurant business. It has been called the most comercial of holidays, but in the doldrums of winter the chocolatiers, florists, and restaurateurs need this influx of cash. No one gets rich from this day, but it helps keep the bills paid and the key employees paid. We served about 180 guests, which was the most we could, all three floors were opened as well as the third floor bar. We sold a prix fixe menu rather than the regular menu-we have so many regulars that we wanted to give them something a little different from the regular menu choices.

The appetizers consisted of a trio of chilled shrimp "shooters"-we served chilled shrimp in shot glasses with three different cocktail sauces:traditional tomato horseradish, chipotle mayonaise, and wasabi. And stuffed mushrooms with peppercorn cognac sauce.

The salad consisted of field greens topped with grilled pears, candied walnuts and vinaigrette made with pear puree, white wine vinegar and olive oil.

For the entree there was a choice of hickory smoked beef tenderloin (smoked in-house) with 7 mustard sauce or a crumbed chicken breast toped with crab meat, provolone, and lemon sauce and red pepper coulis. Both entrees were accompanied by Haricot Verts and carrot ribbon bundles and Potatoes Dauphinoise. Both sides were time consuming to create. The little beans and carrot ribbons were all hand tied together in little bundles using chives. The Potatoes Dauphinoise consits of thinly sliced potatoes baked in parmesan custard, weighted and cooled, then cut into diamond shapes, and quickly reheated for service.

The dessert was Cherries Jubilee, flamed tableside served over both chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Amuse Bouche;Amuse-Guele

"French derivative for appetizer, typically referring to a small one- or two-bite portion to tickle the taste buds."-as defined by the "Food Lover's Companion". To that I would also add that it has evolved to mean something that the chef sends out complimentary. Paul Prudhomme in his book "Louisiana Kitchen" calls them Lagniappe-a little something extra. It is a Spanish derivative (la napa meaning a gift) that the Creoles and Cajuns Frenchified.

At Gallagher's we call them "Palate Pleasers"-I think Richard Perry coined that phrase. Often you hear the waiters asking the assistant waiters "Have you pleased that table yet?" Meaning is the freebie appetizer at the table. In a perfect world the "pleasers" arrive with the cocktails-in the imperfect world known as the "dinner rush" sometimes they never arrive-which is not pleasing to the chef.

Our Palate Pleasers are a spread of mayonaise, parmesan cheese, chopped onion, and parsley topping a thin slice of baguette slightly browned and toasted. Simple and easy and tasty, tables sometimes ask to buy a platter of them. But they can't, because they are complimentary.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Huevos Rancheros with Mole Coloradito

Here is my personal take on Huevos Rancheros-English translation is Eggs Ranch Style. The Spanish language is so much more poetic. I referenced (meaning :sorta followed) a couple recipes in Rick Bayless's first cookbook "Authentic Mexican-Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico" published in 1987 with his wife Deann Groen Bayless.

I used store bought white corn tortillas, which I toasted in a skillet. I followed two of Rick's recipes for the beans "Brothy Beans" and "Frijoles Refritos" combining them for an outstanding bean mixture that I spread over the toasted tortillas. I fried the eggs on the bottom only and placed them on top of the bean mixture. Boiling hot mole coloradito is ladled over the top of the eggs which cooks the top and finishes the dish.
The Mole was not the sauce reccomended by Rick, he reccomended a Tomato Chile sauce. The Mole Coloradito has all the components of the tomato Chile sauce but more. Toasted garlic, toasted bread, chicken stock, charred tomatoes, and Guajillo chiles-dried and reconstituted in chicken stock. Place all the ingredients in the blender and pulverize. Strain the mixture through a medium sieve into a hot skillet with a little lard and sautee the sauce for a few minutes, thinning with more stock to get the consistency you like. Assemble the tortillas and ladle the hot mole over the top.
This was a pretty simple Mole compared to the dark chocolatey ones. I have never tried to make one of those dark moles-the list of ingredients is daunting. This was a remarkably delicious breakfast with deep flavors.