Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kitchen Conservatory Cooking Class

Another really terrific evening teaching a class at Kitchen Conservatory last night. I really do get to know alot of interesting people. I seem to do alot of talking at these classes, everyone is just so congenial. I started with the French Laundry's recipe for "Peas and Carrots". Almost any dish from that cookbook is challenging to say the least. Chef Thomas Keller's wit is on display here with this over the top dish. His idea of peas and carrots is this chive crepe filled with lobster and mascarpone, served with a sauce of ginger and carrot juice underneath and topped with a salad of pea shoots.

Next up were lamb chops with red currant-mustard buerre blanc served with pear-parsnip puree. Cognac, walnuts and chocolate filled the pie with cognac flavored whipped cream.

I took some liberties with the recipe as Chef Keller wrote it. For example to get 2 cups of carrot juice he starts with 3 pounds of carrots, put through a juicer-I purchased a good quality carrot juice from the health foods store. So of course I didn't have the carrot pulp to dehydrate, pulverize and turn into carrot dust to garnish the plate rims with. So I will present my mere mortal's interpretation of this food God's masterpiece.

Here are the steps, it could be done in a two day period.

1) Make the crepes

2) Make the lobster filling

3) Make the lobster glace and add to the filling

4) Make the carrot ginger emulsion

5) Make the pea shoot salad

6) Assemble the dish


1 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons of melted butter

Place the ingredients in a blender and mix

Make the crepes in an 8" crepe pan, using about 2 ounces of batter per crepe

Place the crepes, presentation side down on parchment paper and cover until ready to assemble the crepes.

Lobster filling
1 pound cooked lobster meat-I used tails-chef keller used whole lobsters, but not the claw meat
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
1 cup marscapone
1 tablespoon lobster glace-recipe follows)
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Combine the ingredients and mix well
Lobster Glace
Lobster shells
carrots, onion, celery. parsley, bay leaf. thyme
3 to 4 cups of water
Simmer ingredients for at least 1 hour
Strain the stock and reduce the stock to 1 tablespoon-cool before adding to lobster filling
Carrot Ginger Emulsion
2 cups carrot juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup cream
3/4 pound butter, slightly softened
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taaste
Combine the juice, ginger, and grated carrot, simmer for ten minutes. Puree the mixture and return it to the sauce pan. Add the cream and reduce the mixture to about 1 cup. Slowly whisk in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Pea Shoot Salad
1 cup pea shoots-I found them at an asian grocery store or you can sprout your own
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Make a dressing with the zest, juice, oil, salt, and pepper
Wash and dry the shoots.
Toss the shoots with the dressing and let marinate 1/2 hour, drain before using.
To Assemble the dish:
Fill the the crepes with the lobster filling (about 1/4 cup per crepe), making a neat little package, lay seam side down on a buttered baking sheet. Brush the tops of the crepes with a little melted butter
Heat the crepes in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes
Ladle some sauce on the center of the plate, use the back of a spoon to spread the suce into a small circle. Place a heated crepe on the center of the sauce, and top the crepe with some pea shoot salad.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Champagne, Fried Oyster Tostados, and New Art
We acquired a new painting this weekend. It is titled "Woodlawn #5" by William Quinn. It was painted in 1979 by Mr. Quinn when he was a professor of art at Washington University. He now resides and paints in Europe. It is a compelling canvas in the post expressionist style with gorgeous explosive colors. We opened a bottle of sparkling wine and nibbled on oyster tostados as we got acquainted and decided to fall in love with each other.
Corn tortillas, cut into canape size, crisped in hot oil and lightly salted.
Remoulade slaw made with green and red cabbage dressed with remoulade dressing.
Oysters dredged in cornmeal and flour and fried until brown and crispy.
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup creole mustard
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 garlic clove
1 scallion
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Puree everything in the food processor.
Use some to dress the slaw, and reserve some to spoon on top of the oysters.
Garnish with sliced scallion and cilantro.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spaghetti For Breakfast
This was Sunday morning's breakfast, a take on the Italian Carbonara. Traditionally the eggs are just scrambled into the hot noodles and cooked that way. I fried the eggs in the bacon drippings and placed them whole on top of the pasta which had been tossed with the cooked bacon and a little cream. It was really luscious, with the yolk making a rich eggy sauce. Unbelievably I had no parmesan cheese-can you imagine a chef's refrigerator without parmesan?-scandalous! Definitely add the cheese if you have it, if not, it is still a most satisfying breakfast.
1/2 pound cooked spaghetti, with a couple tablespoons of the cooking water reserved
4 rashers of bacon, cut into chunks and cooked until crisped, reserve the drippings
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 or 2 sage leaves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Place the cooked spaghetti in a sauce pan, add a couple tablespoons of pasta cooking water, add the cream.
Add the bacon to the cream.
Saute garlic and sage in the reserved bacon drippings, strain the drippings and return the drippings to the saute pan. Add the cooked garlic and sage to the spaghetti mixture.
Heat the spaghetti until it begins to simmer, turn off the heat and let the noodles steep while cooking the eggs. While the noodles steep they will absorb the cream.
Fry the eggs in the reserved bacon drippings, basting until the whites are set, but the yolk is still runny.
Place the pasta in shallow bowls and top with a fried eggs, top with salt, pepper, parsley, and parmesan cheese.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Weiner Schnitzel , Spaetzle, and Apple Fritter

I'll be running this special in the restaurant for the month of October. German food isn't at the top of the food trends, which all seem to be fixated on Italy and Spain at the moment, but they seem to always be welcome this time of year. For this dish I bread crumbed some tender veal cutlets and quickly sauteed them. I paired them with some Spatzle and sauced the dish with a reduction of hard apple cider, veal demi glace, and bacon. I added some apple fritters for fun.

The cutlets were from the leg, trimmed and lightly pounded, then dredged first in flour, then egg, and finally the bread crumbs. Let the breading set for 1/2 hour in the refrigerator. Saute quickly in a hot saute pan with a bit of oil.

The spaetzle are really easy as well.

3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

Salt to taste and add couple gratings of fresh nutmeg

Mix up the ingredients and let them rest for 1/2 hour before pushing through the spaetzle cutter, a large holed colander will work if you do not have a spaetzle cutter. Just place the cutter or colander over boiling water and force the dough through the holes. When they float they are finished cooking. Remove them and hold for serving. When it's time to serve them just reheat with a bit of butter in a saute pan.

For the sauce:
4 rashers of bacon
2 tablespoons of flour
3 cups of hard apple cider
1 cup veal demi glace (can substitute rich chicken stock)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce I chopped up four rashers of bacon and cooked them in a sauce pan, add 2 tablespoons of flour and make a roux. When the flour is cooked, add 3 cups hard apple cider and 1 cup veal demi glace (you could use a strong chicken stock if you don't have the demi-glace, but the sauce will not be as sumptuous). Cook and reduce for a few minutes. Flavor the sauce with a combination of cider vinegar and sugar to taste. I start with a 1/4 cup of each and taste. Add more sweet or tart to get the right balance for you.
Apple fritters:
For the apple fritters, I cored and sliced the apples, battered them in my beer batter (I substituted the hard cider for beer in that recipe) and deep fried them.