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.