Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup

We've made this soup a couple of ways lately. First using the hard hot house Roma tomatoes we have on hand for the ubitiquous salad and also canned San Marzano tomatoes. Roasting the tomatoes, onion, and garlic really helps intensify their flavors, and makes bland winter tomatoes as well as the canned ones more palatable. We garnished the top of the soup with a couple swishes of reduced Balsamic and Creme Fraiche. If using fresh tomatoes, I reccomend pureeing the soup with a food mill to extract the skins. If you use already peeled canned tomatoes you can use the blender, we used an immersion blender and left the soup a bit chunky.

Ten tomatoes, cut in half

1 large yellow onion, quartered

1 large red pepper

4 or 5 cloves of garlic

Freshly ground pepper

Fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/4 cup olive oil

Vegetable or chicken stock

Toss all of the ingredients, except the stock with the olive oil and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes-until the vegetables soften and begin to caramelize and char at the edges.

Place the roasted vegetables in a soup pot and cover with the stock.

Simmer for at least 15 minutes and puree-add salt if necessary, and serve with some reduced Balsamic and creme fraiche.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Orange Roughy Baked in Parchment
This was one of the weekend specials last weekend. We sold fifty orders of it, it was so easy and tasty, I don't know why I don't feature it more often. And it produces such delicious results.

Start with a large dice mirepoix of shallot, carrot, and celery.
Several Roma tomato slices
Several lemon slices
Sprinklings of salt, pepper, and thyme
Buerre Blanc

Lay out a sheet of parchemnt paper and in the center , place some of the mirepoix, about 1/3 cup, season it, and top with a fillet of fish (salmon, sole, or sea bass etc.all work well).

Season the fish and layer alternating slices of tomato and lemon across the fish. Sprinkle some capers on top and spoon some buerre blanc over it.

Fold the parchment over the fish and begin rolling and crimping the edges together to form a seal so that the fish and vegetables steam together.
Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. The waiters ripped open the bags at the table when they served them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Seafood Stew

Tradition has our new president's first meal served at the Statuary Hall in the Capitol. The menu was puiblished in the Times last week. It is based on the foods favored by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln favored scalloped oysters, so the inauguration committee chose a shellfish stew. The second course is duck and pheasant with wild rice and sweet potatoes whipped with molasses, and apple cake for dessert. All paired with California wines-a Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc with the stew, Goldeneye Pinot Noir with the duck and pheasant, and Korbel California "Champagne" with dessert. I think it's a faux pas to serve California "Champagne"-since I believe Chanpagne only comes from Champagne in France. Read the article here.
I didn't feel ambitious enough to complete the entire menu, but the stew was marvelous. Also the Apple cake sounds to me more like Apple Charlotte.
I started with lobster stock from the freezer. I poached all the ingredients separately, so nothing would be overcooked and rubbery.
2 lobster tails
12 shrimp
1/2 pound bay scallops
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup minced leek
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced potato
Salt and white pepper to taste
Poach all ingredients seperately. When all the items are poached, add 1 cup dry white wine to the poaching liquid and reduce by half, add 2 cups heavy cream and continue to reduce until it's sauce consistency and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Add the shellfish and vegetables to the cream sauce, add some salt and white pepper if you like, and ladle into oven proof crocks.
Top each crock of soup with puff pastry and seal. Eggwash and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry is puffed and browned.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pan Fried Gnocci with Shrimp and Lemon Gremoulata
I have to admit I used a packaged gnocci for this-but it was so good I thought I would post it anyway. Next week I'll make my own gnocci, I promise. Pan frying the dumplings result with crispy edges with a fluffy potatoey interior, just perfect to pair with some sauteed vegetables and shrimp flavored with garlic and lemon.
For the Gremoulata:
Zest of one lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons of minced fresh parsley
Finely mince these ingredients together and sprinkle sparingly over pastas and braised meats (used in the Italian dish Osso Bucco to top the veal shanks).
For the Gnocci:
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 pound of gnocci (enough for two)
1 Tablespoon of red pepper flakes (or to taste-depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup carrot, sliced into coins
2 Tablespoons of minced green onion
1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine
Salt to taste
Heat the butter and olive oil together add the red pepper flakes.
Add the gnocci, carrots, and celery to the hot oil, and saute over medium heat for several minutes until the edges are browned and crispy and the vegetables are tender.
Add the shrimp and toss to coat the shrimp with the flavors and oil. Add the lemon juice and wine and simmer one minute just until shrimp are done, add a little salt if you like.
Serve in pasta bowls topped with a sprinkling of gremoulata.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christmas Party

After providing celebratory feasts and parties for their clients, many chefs, like the shoe maker's children who have no shoes, neglect their own family and friends, not so at my house. So it was the Sunday after New Year's Eve I hosted a final holiday party in my home. It was one of the first Sundays I had off since Thanksgiving. I served some hors de ouevres, marinated vegetbles, Prime Rib with mashed potatoes, a whole pumpkin roasted with yams, parsnips, and turnips, and a glorious Pineapple-Raspberry Charlotte Russe for dessert.

I set up a small bar on my computer desk and served champagne sangria and non-alchaholic grape juice sangrias with chilled shrimp and candied bacon. I usually set the food up on my kitchen table and work table buffet style and then everyone can find a seat ot the dining table.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Eve at Gallagher's

We featured a prix fixe menu, live music, and a stand-up comedian. We limited the reservations, and only turned a few very early tables. We closed reservations a week ago, and we could have literally sold a couple of hundred more seats. Everyone had a great time. The food was very well received, the band played some exciting soul grooves, and the comedian was hysterical. Most of the "heavy lifting" was done by our wonderful staff, both front and back of the house.

Here are some behind the scenes pictures and a recipe for a new appetizer I did-Shrimp Pepperonata-it was my favorite dish of the evening.
Shrimp Pepperonata
1 pound shrimp, deveined with the tail on I used a 25 count sized shrimp.
Brush the shrimp with a bit of oil (to prevent sticking) and grill over medium heat
Grill the shrimp quickly-do not overcook them or they will be tough, brush with more oil to prevent drying out. Serve at room temperature with Pepperonata.
1 red pepper, cut into large dice
1 yellow pepper, cut into large dice
1 green pepper, cut into large dice
2 cloves if garlic, minced
1/4 cup capers
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh Basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Saute the peppers, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the olive oil over low until they are slightly carmelized, about 20-25 minutes.
Add the vinegar and sugar and cook one more minute to incorporate.
Off the heat add the herbs and taste for seasoning.