Monday, February 22, 2010

Lunch at Le Perroquet Circa 1977
Jovan Treboyevic, a particularly brilliant Chicago Restaurateur passed away on January 13th-he was 89. He also owned Jovan's and a private dining club Les Nomades. I never met him, but I did have lunch at Le Perroquet in 1977. It was one of those unforgettable meals that food obsessed people always carry with them. The restaurant was located on Walton Street in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast. It was pretty intimidating for me, but I was with two other people who knew their way around French restaurants and how to order.
You had to ride a beautiful old elevator of polished brass and scarlet velvet upholstery to the third floor where the restaurant was located. It was a hushed sanctuary of crisp white linens, gleaming and heavy silverware, and dining banquets upholstered in the same brilliant scarlet velvet as the elevator. There were also some tastefull and understated parrot motifs to reinforce the name.
I will never forget the cauliflour mousse that was my first course that day. It was revelatory to me to use a humble vegetable like cauliflour to make such an elegant and unusual (for me) dish. I have been thinking about this dish since reading Jovan's obituary. This is not his recipe, it is my own concoction-and not as silky smooth as his, and definitely not his carrot sauce-I'm pretty sure he would have considered that quite inappropriate. His mousse was sauced in a pristine white veloute.
Cauliflour Mousse with Carrot-Ginger Emulsion
1 head of cauliflour
1 shallot, minced
1 cup plus 1/4 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
Salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste
Blanch the cauliflour in salted water until tender-about 20 minutes.
Drain the cauliflour and return to the pan with 1/4 cup cream and continue to cook the cauliflour in the cream until it is totally soft and the cream is absorbed.
Cool slightly and puree the cauliflour.
Make a custard with the remaning cream and eggs, season and fold the cauliflour and custard together.
Ladel the cauliflour mixture into greased ramekins of timbales and bake in a Bain Marie in a 325 degree oven for about 30 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool slightly, run a thin knife around the ramekin's edge and invert to unmold the mousse onto a serving plate. Makes 4 to 6 servings depending on the size of your molds.
Spoon some of the Carrot-Ginger Emulsion around the mousse.
Carrot-Ginger Emulsion
2 cups of carrot juice
2 Tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup cream
3/4 pound butter, softened slightly
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Combine the carrot juice, the ginger, and grated carrot in a small sauce pan and 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 2 tablespoons at a time. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gumbo z'Herbes
I wanted to post one more New Orleans recipe I made recently, this was quite delicious. I didn't make a roux, so it's not a proper gumbo, but the flavors are superb and sometimes a lighter broth is more welcome than the thicker roux gumbos. This gumbo, also known as green gumbo has so many variations and greens that you can add-the more the better.
1 whole chicken
1 large ham hock
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1" pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 bunch collards, cleaned and cut into 1" pieces
1 bunch turnip greens, cleaned and cut into 1" pieces
1 bunch mustard greens, cleaned and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves
1 cup minced parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 cup long grain rice
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large stock pot, bring 1 1/2 gallons of water to the boil, add the chicken and the ham hock, stew gently for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the chicken and hock from the pot and let cool.
Add everything except the rice to the broth in the stock pot, when the chicken and hock are cool enough to handle, pick the meat and add it back to the stock pot.
Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour. Taste for seasoning, if the green are too bitter add the optional sugar.
Add the rice and continue to simmer unti the rice is tender.
Spinach, beet greens, carrot tops are other greens often used in this gumbo.

Happy Mardi Gras

I taught this menu twice this month at two different Dierberg locations, both classes were sold out, and several students said they were planning their own crawfish boils. I know I've posted about crawfish boils several times on Kitchen Inferno, but I don't know if I ever put up a recipe.
12 pounds of crawfish
3 pounds of shrimp-24-26 count
6 ears of corn, shucked and cut in half
3 pounds of red "B" potatoes
2 pounds of andouille sausage, cut into 1" pieces
3 lemons cut in half-squeeze juice into the broth
1 head of garlic cut in half crosswise
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup Louisiana hot sauce, such as Crystal
1/4 cup liquid crab boil seasoning-sold in most seafood departments and shops
1 cup dry crab boil seasoning, sold in most seafood departments and shops
1 cup Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Cayenne
In a large stock pot, bring 30 quarts of water to the boil. Add the crab seasonings, lemons and juice, garlic, onions, hot sauce, cayenne, and salt-bring to the boil and simmer 1/2 hour-taste for saltiness and spiciness-the liquid should have a salty and spicy bite to it.
Add the potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the corn and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Add the crawfish, shrimp, and sausage, bring to the boil, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the Crawfish boil steep in the broth for 1/2 hour before serving.
Serve with melted butter and spicy mayonaise dips.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Breakfast at Cafe Osage at Bowood Farm

I don't get to dine out that often, I'm usually working or cooking at home. This week I taught a class on Wednesday, prepared a wedding dinner on Friday, and a sold out prix fixe dinner on Saturday for Valentine'sDay. I was showing a little fatigue, so Sunday I slept in and we went out for breakfast. The Cafe Osage is a restaurant located in a greenhouse/nursery that is housed in an old automobile parts warehouse in the middle of an inner city neighborhood. The actual farm is located in Clarksville, MO. On their farm they grow most of the perennials, shrubs etc. that they sell-they also produce bison.

I enjoyed breakfast, but I was a little disappointed. The dining room is small and we were seated at an extremely small table for two next to the door. There were larger booths and tables that looked more comfortable for larger groups. The tablescape was plain-only a container of sugar and sugar substitute. In a restaurant located inside a warehouse filled with plants, I expected a small pot of herbs or ivy at least to center the table. Some tables were set with proper silverware and a nice cloth napkin, but our table only got napkins and forks. Cream was stirred into our coffee with the forks. Spoons and knives arrived after they were requested.

Cheese grits arrived luke warm with cold cheese shreds on top, which never melted. The grits had decent flavor with cheese already incorporated into them-they would have been better than the ones you get in most places if they had been a bit warmer.

I had corned beef hash with poached eggs. The hash was delicious and hot, but it arrived with one of my egg yolks already broken-at least the eggs weren't overcooked. Service was friendly, but they seemed a little stressed. The bill was presented rather cleverly in an old text book. It would probably be more festive to visit this place in the Spring when the outside areas and courtyard are filled with plants.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Dr Pepper BBQ Ribs for Superbowl
We're not really big sports fans here, but any excuse to make ribs and have people over is ok with me. These ribs turned out really good-they are sticky and sweet, but not as sweet as the popular commercial sauces like KC or Sweet Baby Ray's- which I find a little too cloying.
I soaked the ribs overnight in salted Dr Pepper, remove them from the brine a couple of hours before you grill them so that they can dry well before you grill them. I made a simple dry rub of cayenne, cumin, and ground pepper and applied it before I put them on a very low charcoal grill. You must keep all the coals off to one side of the grill and place the ribs on the side without the coals so that it becomes an indirect heat and smoke source. Add more coals to the fire as the old ones begin to extinguish. It took over three hours and I estimate the grill temperature to have stayed between 275 and 300 degrees. During the last 1/2 hour of grilling, I began applying the glaze. The ribs were sweet and sticky, but they were not swimming in sauce. They were also juicy, tender and succulent. I should point out that I bought the ribs at Soulard Farmer's Market, from a local grower-you can never over state the case for good, fresh meat to start with.
Dr Pepper Glaze
2 cups Dr Pepper soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup molasses
Mix all of the ingredients and bring to the boil, reduce slightly until the mixture is thick and syrupy.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

I'm not sure if this is Mexican or Tex-Mex, but I do know that Chiliquiles are probably now served in cities across the country. Maybe my cousin Kevin will read this and enlighten us, as he is an expert in all things Texan (he's an alum of Texas Tech, and a resident of Plano,Tx), since his wife is Mexican he's pretty knowledgeable about things Mexican. So Kevin, is it Mexican or Tex-Mex and what is the difference between Chiquiles and Migas?
Since I'm not an expert on Tex-Mex or Mexican, I just prepare things the way I want without regard to tradition or protocol. Here is my hands down favorite combination-no salsa, no tomato, and no sour cream-just onions, garlic, corn tortillas, chorizo, nopales, eggs, cheddar cheese.
First I crisp corn tortillas in a skillet with butter, I remove them and reserve them on paper toweling. In the same skillet brown the chorizo, add some chopped garlic and onion, add some beaten eggs and the crisped tortillas, add the nopales and stir cook until the eggs set, stir in some cheese. To serve, top with some more cheese and wrap the mixture in steamed flour tortillas-this is really simple and delicious.