Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Making Goat's Cheese

1 quart goats milk
1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar
Salt to taste

Heat the milk to 180 degree-I used my candy thermometer.

Add the vinegar or lemon juice, stir and et sit a few minutes to let the curds form-the curds ar small, not large like cottage cheese.

Stir in the salt and pour the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth.

After the whey has mostly drained of gather the ends of the cheescloth and tie it around the handle of a wooden spoon, let the cheese drain overnight in the refrigerator-be sure to keep a bowl under it to catch any more drips of whey.

I added some grated garlic, fresh chives, and hot chili flakes-very tasty.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Perfect Summer Dinner
Crab Louis on grilled asparagus, rotisserie game hens basted with garlic butter and fresh herbs, and a beautiful rose from Tavel.
Crab Louis Dressing
1 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup diced sweet red pepper
2 scallions, minced
Grilled corn, scraped from one ear (not traditional)
Mix thoroughly and chill until ready to use.
1 pound of crab
Romaine, tomatoes, grilled asparagus, and juice of one lemon.
To assemble the salad just lay the romaine out on a salad plate and top with the asparagus, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top.
Toss the crab with the dressing and mound on top of the asparagus, add chopped tomato and garnish with chives. The addition of corn to the dressing is not traditional, but I think corn and crab have such complimentary flavors that I often combine them-especially now as the corn is fresh and local. I also garnished the salad with Nasturtium leaves and flowers-they are edible and quite welcome in a salad. The flavor reminds me of arugula and peppery watercress, and I just happened to grown them on one of my flower boxes-they also make a really striking display in a flower box.
The hens were easy, I brined them a couple of hours and threaded them on a spit and roasted them while I brushed them with a garlic-herb butter-I used Tarragon, Rosemary, and Thyme. Serve the chicken over a fresh herb salad.
I've never been a big fan of rose wines, mostly because the ones I've had have been the sweet cheap ones from California. This rose from Tavel is another story. It is fruity with strawberry and watermelon flavors, but not sweet like those sickening "White Zinfandels"-Apologies to all the white zinfandel fans. but I usually hate your wine.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Spring Celebration

It has been such a busy Spring I haven't had the time to write this blog. Maybe now that Summer is here things will slow up a bit. Here is a dinner we had in May to celebrate some personal accomplishments.
We took some time out recently to celebrate some personal goals met. I've had this bottle of Calvados sitting around since Christmas and needed an event to open it. I grilled veal loin chops and sauced them with a reduction of stock, cream, and Calvados. On the side I served an apple stuffed with ham and rice-also very tasty to sop up the sauce.
We set the dining room table with all the good stuff and the women guests even got to wear tiaras.
First of all the Calvados was exquisite, the apple actually grows in the bottle-I can't imagine trying to do that-I always wonder what happens in a wind storm; I just see an orchard with broken tree limbs and glass everywhere. Of course I had to try a snifter of it-just to make sure it was good.
We also had a salad of oranges, radishes, and onions dressed with a little salt and olive oil.

History Museum Gala

Last week we hosted the Monroe County History Museum fundraiser. The museum rents out all three floors of the restaurant and we are closed to the public. My favorite hors douevre of the evening was this platter of cured Italian cold cuts with Focaccia bread made by Tim, one of th guys in the kitchen. Tim doesn't like his picture taken, but I did manage to sneak a picture of him while he was patting out the focaccia. On the meat platter I included Genoa salame, Mortadella, Coppacolo, Proscuitto, olive salad, and some Italian cheeses.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grilled Swordfish with Grapefruit Avocado Salsa

I'm on a grapefruit and avocado obsession lately. The textures and flavors are so complimentary-the rich and accomodating avocado a perfect backdrop for the assertive and sweet-tart grapefruit. Mixed with a bit of salt, lime juice, and cilantro it turns into an quick and easy salsa that I spooned accross grilled swordfish, which had been marinating in lime juice and a touch of honey.

Watercress, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

I picked up this homegrown incredibly fresh watercress this week at Farmer's market. I supremed the grapefruit, catching all the juices as I peeled and segmented the sections. I added a couple teaspoons of rice wine vinegar and some salt. pepper, diced scallion, and olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Toss the water cress in the vinaigrette and drain. Arrange the grapefruit segments and avocado slices over the cress and drizzle with additional vinaigrette.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stir Fried Noodles with Spring Vegetables

1 pound fresh Asian noodles

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

2 stalks of scallion, sliced

1 carrot, julienned

1 stalk of celery, sliced

1 red pepper, julienned

1/2 pound asparagus tips

1 cup small peas, I used sugar snaps instead

3 tablespoons of oyster sauce

2 teaspoons Maggi seasoning sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine (Mirin)

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

3 tablespoons sesame oil

Boil the noodles and drain, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Heat the wok and add the grapeseed oil.

Stir fry the vegetables, starting with the carrot, then the peppers, etc. cooking the sturdiest vegetables first.

Add the oyster sauce, Maggi seasoning, rice wine, and sugar, cook 30 seconds.

Add the cooked noodles and cook one minute. Add the sesame oil. Add the reserved water if needed. Heat through and serve.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bleuberry Coffeecake

I got this recipe from a large book called "Great American Baking"-there are no author credits. I bought it used from a disgruntled chef leaving the business. I have alot of blueberries for some reason and this looked appealing to me. Dough: 1 package dry active yeast 1/4 cup warm water1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup milk, scalded and cooled 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1/4 cup butter, melted 2 to 2 1/2 cups flour Dissolve the yeast in the water, let it sit for 5 minutes until it becomes foamy, add the sugar, milk, salt, egg, and butter. Begin adding the flour 1 cup at a time, knead until smooth and elastic. I just mixed it all up in my Kitchen Aid and left it on the dough hook for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn to coat and cover the bowl wtih a towel or plastic wrap, place in a warm place to rise until doubled-about 1 1/2 hours. Filling: 2 cups blueberries 3/4 cups sour cream-I used blueberry yogurt 1 egg 3 tablespoons brown sugar Combine the blueberries, sour cream or yogurt, and egg-reserve the brown sugar. To assemble the cake: Roll out the dough into a 13" by 10" rectangle, and place it on a greased baking sheet. Make 3" cuts at 1/2" intervals along the long sides of the rectangle of dough. Spread the blueberry-sourcream mixture down the center of the dough. Sprinkle the reserved brown sugar over the berries. Fold the short ends of the dough up over the filling. Criss cross the strips along the side up over the filling. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Cover lightly and let rise for 1 hour. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Party Gras

My Crawfish Boil class at Kitchen Conservatory. I met alot of new friends and got to see a couple of people who have taken some of my previous classes. Carnival season is over, time to repent and eat alot of fish and begin to get ready for Easter and the ham and lamb eating season.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Celery, Leek, and Carrot Mimosa
Sometimes some realy simple ingredients are what I crave. Here is an example. The celery and leek are julienned and blanched, the small carrots are blanched whole. The vegetables are arranged on ruby greens-does that sound oxymoronic?, because it is really just red lettuce. the vegetables are topped with chopped hard cooked egg and toasted Hazelnuts.
The salad is dressed with:
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
1/3 cup hazelnut oil
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
Stir well before drizzling over the salad
Mimosa doesn't always mean Champagne and orange juice and everyone's favorite breakfast drink. The Food Lover's Companion describes it thusly "A garnish so named because it resembles the yellow mimosa flower. Consisting of finely chopped, hardcooked egg yolk, it is sprinkled over salads and vegetables." I added the egg whites as well and the hazelnuts on my own.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Zucchini Pudding Souffle

This recipe has been on my to do list for quite some time, but it always just seems to get passed over. So finally in the middle of winter way past zucchini's shining hour in the Summer garden, I get it accomplished (better late than never). It comes from Richard Olney's book "Simple French Food", and it is a lovely little thing. Richard, in his beautiful prose recommends it as "a prelude to an amicable chunk of rare meat".

They are just twice baked souffles, but they must be baked in individual molds or a ring mold, not the traditional souffle pan. After the souffle is baked and collapsed, and cooled, it is unmolded, brushed with some cream, dusted with parmesan, and placed back in the oven for 20 minutes, until the souffles rise slightly again and brown nicely. I baked them the second time on top of a tomato sauce. They possess a delicate and fresh zucchini flavor.

1 pound small zucchini


Grate the zucchini and salt liberally, place it in a colander and let the excess water in the zucchini drain for 1/2 hour. Press all the liquid out of the zuchinni and rinse, tie the zucchini into a clean tea towel and continue to wring out all of the excess moisture.

Make the Bechamel

2 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of flour

3/4 cup milk

Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

3 eggs, separated

Butter, to grease the molds

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and stir in the flour. Stir cook for 3 to 4 minutes, the flour should not brown. Add the milk and continue to cook until the sauce is thick and bubbling. Let the bechamel cool slightly and fold in the zucchini and egg yolks. Taste and correct the seasonings.

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, stir 1/3 of the whipped whites into the bechamel mixture to lighten the batter, fold in the remaining whites.

Bake in a bain marie in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Let the souffles cool slightly and unmold.

Pour some tomato sauce into the bottom of an oven proof pan and place the souffles on top of the sauce.

Brush the souffles with heavy cream and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place the pan in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the sauce is hot, and the souffles are puffed and browned.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crepes Poulet Lyonnaise

Poulet Lyonnaise was a dish that was served to the first class voyagers on the Titanic the night it sank 99 years ago this April. In the original recipe the dish is an elegant bonelss chicken breast with a delicious tomato and onion sauce, but I don't care for chicken breast and I had some chicken thighs in the refrigerator, so I braised the chicken thighs in the same sauce components used for the breasts. When the meat was cool, I pulled it and strained the braising liquid. I stuffed some crepes with the pulled chicken and sauce. This is a very easy and tasty recipe.

6 chicken thighs

2 T vegetable oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/3 cup white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1 T tomato paste

pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to tastte

In a large deep ovenproof skillet, brown the thighs in the oil over medium high heat.

When the thighs are browned on both sides, remove from the pan and lower the heat. Add the onions and saute them, stirring often until they are golden brown and caramelised.

Add the tomato paste to the onions and stir to slightly caramelised the paste.

Add the wine and stock, bring it to the boil and reduce for about 2 minutes, add the sugar, salt and pepper.

Return the thighs to the pan and and baste them with sauce and place the pan in a preheat 350 degree over for 25 minutes until the thighs reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Serve the thighs like this with some potatoes lyonnaise or rice, and if there is leftover chicken, pull it and stuff it into crepes to get a second dinner out of this recipe.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Eckert's Country Store

I taught a class in the new culinary center at Eckert's in Belleville. The Eckert's began planting orchards and selling their crops in 1830. Today eighth generation Chris Eckert and his wife Angie oversee this multifaceted farm-to -table market. In addition to the grocery store, they sell plants and nursery items and there is a restaurant as well.

The beef case and the cheese case are especially enticing. The beef is locally grown and processed, some coming from the Eckerts herd. The cheese case is also remarkable for it's selection of artisinal and European cheeses.

My longtime friend Lana Shepik heads up their culinary and cheese programs.

Here are some pictures of the classroom as my assistants prep the stage and my recipes

The menu was "Steak House at Home":
Crab cakes with Roasted Pepper Aioli
Mayfair Salad
Grilled Ribe Eye Steaks sauced with Port, Buttermilk Blue Cheese and Pink Peppercorns
Cauliflour and Potato Gratin
The Eckert's bakery supplied cherry pies
The class also sampled a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Muscato'd Asti rom the wine department.
I want to thank Lana, Angie and my assistants Desi and Chris for all their help.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Keith Richard's Bangers and Mash

I just finished reading "Life", the recently published autobiography of Keith Richards. He is brutally honest, it's all there-the ridiculus amount of drug addiction, the egos and ambition, the obsession with American Blues-not so much about the sex, Keith isn't a kiss and tell kind of guy. My favorite parts of the book deal with his music, the drug interludes are pretty tiresome. The recording and concert stories are already legendary-we've been reading about them since the 1960's, but his telling of them makes for a fresh and fascinating narrative even if alot of it is rehash. His love of the guitar and creating a hard driving rock version of authentic blues is the true Keith Richards story.

I was just out of college in 1976 when the Stones played in Louisville. I was living with Aunt Shirley and Uncle Keith in Louisville, while looking for some kind of employment. I never got a good job in Louisville, but I had a great summer with my aunt, uncle and cousins. And I got to see the Stones live at Freedom Hall. It was their "Tour of the America's '75" and it was just thrilling. I wore a Hawaiian shirt and Elton John sunglasses-trying to look cool-I'm glad there are no photos. The Stones were controversial in this Bible thumping city-I remember people were up in arms about the song "Sympathy For The Devil" . People considered it downright Satanic, and of course the opening number featured the giant inflatable penis which Mick Jagger rode to the center of the stage. I guess I need to get off Memory Lane and get to the food.

On page 525 of the book he gives his recipe for bangers and mash-He enjoys cooking for himself.
I don't really want to copy his recipe here because you need to read it, but I will say he loves to add carrots, peas, and onions to his "mash". He also uses HP Sauce with it. HP Sauce is a tamarind based English bottled steak sauce. I also added my own touches to the dish, when I sauteed some onion and sweet pepper with the "bangers"-I also deglazed the pan with some sherry to make a little sauce. It is delicious-sometimes I don't know why English food gets such a bad rap.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Salmon, Peas, and Punxsutawney Phil

I'm getting tired of the heavy roasts and braises of Winter. Spring is 6 weeks away and despite all the snow and ice we're getting this year, I felt like making this salmon and pea dish. I think salmon and peas are pretty much a Spring classic. And just this morning Punxsutawney Phil has confirmed my early Spring thoughts, by predicting an early Spring.

This salmon dish has three parts;first I made a stirfry of pea tendrils and sugar snap peas, the roasted salmon sits on the stir fry, and a spoonful of sweet pea hummus tops the salmon, garnished with some crisped pita chips.

For the Stir Fry
2 cups pea tendrils, sliced into 1" pieces
2 cups of sugar snap peas, cut into 1" pieces
2 scallions, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil

Get the wok hot with the grape seed oil, add the cumin first to bloom the flavor, then add the scallion, garlic, sugarsnaps, and tendrils-two minutes at the most, you want the vegetables to retain some crunch.

Toss the stir fry with the hoisin sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, and sesame oil.

For The Salmon
Mix together equal parts of whole grain mustard and hot pepper jelly, I used a Habenero jelly.

Spread the mustard mixture evenly over the salmon, and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your piece of fish.

For the Hummus
2 cups of baby frozen peas
2 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 or 2 lemons-depending on how tart you like your hummus
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup of fruity green olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Put everything in the processor and puree together until smooth, scaping down the sides of the processor bowl as needed.

Taste for seasoning and adjust with more lemon, salt, cumin, pepper, or olive oil. If the hummus is too thick you can thin it with more juice, oil or a bit of water.

This is delicious served with pita bread cut into triangles and crisped in hot oil flavored with some ground cumin.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bluecoat Gin

This was a special Christmas gift. As a matter of fact I got alot of esoteric booze for gifts this year-I may not have to stock the bar for months (who am I kidding?). Here is a picture of the Christmas liquor presents. Bluecoat is a small brewery in Philadelphia, the product is not widely available-this particular bottle was shipped from California as it is not available in Missouri. It has an ardent cult following. Read the whole story here. This gin has alot of delightful citrus and the always present juniper. It is quite smooth with a depth of botannical flavors-it is the polar opposite of the overly flowery Tanguery. I made a martini to highlight Bluecoat's pronounced citrus qualities. In a shaker filled with ice, pour in some gin, a dash of dry vermouth, a couple dashes of orange bitters, shake and strain into a chilled glass and garnish with orange peel. Olives or pickled vegetables, which are almost always complimentary to gin, would be sort of clunky and inelegant in this martini. I think the cobalt bottle with gold lettering is gorgeous.

Asian Brussel Sprouts with Crispy Won Tons

This simple salad of brussel sprouts served on a crispy wonton are ridiculously addictive. I used this recently as a little hors de ouevre with cocktails. I just put out a big bowl of the salad with some wontons and let everyone chop stix a little salad onto to their chip. I sliced the brussel sprouts on my mandolin to get really thin shreds of brussel sprouts. Then I just tossed the brussel sprouts with the Asian dressing and let them marinate for 1/2 hour. In the meantime I fried some wontons and shook some martinis. I only made 1 pound and they were quickly gone, I wish I'd made more to keep some in the refrigerator for later.

1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed of outer leaves, cored, and thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoon sweet Thai chili sauce

1/4 cup dark sesame oil

Black and white sesame seeds to garnish

Mix up everything and let it sit a few minutes before serving.

I used chop stix to serve it with, but you could also use a tongs or spoon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chalet Suzanne and Christmas Beef Wellington

A friend of mine just returned from a trip to Florida. In addition to playing alot of golf, she likes to tour factories. Forget the beach, swimming, and sunbathing, she prefers the factory circuit. This trip included a stop at the Chalet Suzanne resort in Lake Wales Florida. Go here for a virtual visit. It wasn't really the spectatular pink resort and its renowned restaurant that attracted her, but it was their soup canning plant, located on the resort's premises.

They can and market their famous restaurant's famous soups. The most famous is the Soup Romaine, which is called moon soup because it went to the moon as part of the Apollo 15 and 16's astronauts diet. I was the lucky recipient of a couple of gift cans of soup. On Christmas morning I utilised my much neglected can opener and used the Chalet Suzanne French Onion soup to make sauce for Beef Wellington. It was beefy and oniony, not really too much different from the stuff in the ubiquitous red and white can. The resort also boasts its own air strip just in case you want to fly in and pick up a couple of cans of soup-I highly recommend it.

Christmas Fatigue

I am still recovering from Christmas fatigue. We celebrated with presents, of course, parsnip soup and Beef Wellington. This soup is so elegant and flavorful, sweet and slightly nutty-very warming and rich.

Peel and cut up 1 pound of parsnips
Peel and cut up 1 apple
cut up 1 small onion
two cloves of garlic, peeled
chicken stoch
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup heavy cream

Place the cut up vegetables in a soup pot and cover with stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

Puree the mixture and add salt and pepper to your taste. Bring the soup back to the simmer, thin with a little more stock if the soup is too thick, or reduce it if the soup is too thin. Stir in the sherry and heavy cream, simmer 1 more minute and serve.