Monday, September 30, 2013

Blueberry Grunt

Cobblers, Grunts and Slumps, Crisps, Crumbles, Betty's, and Buckles

My latest class at Kitchen Conservatory featured these great classic American desserts.  First I started with a definition of each.  Over the years they have sorted of morphed into the same thing we all call cobbler, but there are differences and different names to go with them.

On the most basic level they all contain fruit with a topping.  Most of them are baked, with the exception of the grunt and the slump, which are the same thing with two names.  The Grunt or Slump is done on the stove top, and the biscuit topping is steamed.

Cobbler-Biscuit topping dropped onto the fruit, when baked the top resembles a cobbled street surface
Grunt or Slump-Biscuit topping that is steamed, not baked-think chicken and dumplings
Pan Dowdy-biscuit or pie dough topping that is rolled out into a single layer, placed over the fruit and baked, the
       surface  is then broken up with a spoon and pushed into the fruit (dowding it) before finishing baking
Crisp-Streusel topping
Crumble-Streusel topping with the addition of rolled oats
Betty-Bread crumb topping, but also a layer of bread crumbs on the bottom as well
Buckle-a cake batter is poured into the pan, and the fruit is spoon over the top, as it bakes, the cake batter "buckles" up over the fruit.

Blueberry Grunt
1 quart of blueberries, cleaned
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups of flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of buttermilk
Combine the filling ingredients together in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.  Bring the mixture to the boil, lower the heat to simmer.
While the blueberries are heating, make the topping.   Stir the flour, sugar. baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture until pea sized clumps form.
Stir the buttermilk into the flour mixture.  Drop the batter by spoonful's onto the top of the simmering blueberries, cover with a lid and continue simmering until the dumplings are done-about 15 minutes.
The Grunt is probably the most rustic dessert of the lot, popular before ovens were available to most folks.  The dessert is named after the gurgling and grunting sounds the dish made while cooking over the open fire.  The dumplings are so light and fluffy-it is a really satisfying munch.  I served it with a glog of heavy cream.  It is the same dessert as the slump-I have no idea where the name slump came from,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Corn off the cob sauteed with duck fat and duck cracklin's

During a recent Iron Chef competition at Kitchen Consevatory my team and I were presented with a couple of ducks.  After breaking down the ducks, I rendered the fat and made cracklings.  My market basket also included some fresh corn on the cob. We cut the corn from the cobb and sautéed it with some peppers in the rendered fat and topped the corn with the crispy cracklings. 

Take the excess fat and skin from breaking down the ducks and trimming the parts.  Chop them into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a sauté pan with 1/2 cup water.  Bring the water to boil over medium heat, let the water evaporate and the skin will separate from the fat and the skin will begin to brown and crisp.  Strain the fat from the cracklings.  Season the cracklings with salt.  The fat is especially delicious used to sauté potatoes.

It is also delicious to sauté corn in the fat, add pepper or two and a bit of onion, and top with the cracklings.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Filipino Grilled Adobo Chicken

This month's (September 2013) Food and Wine cover photo is a grilled Filipino chicken.  I followed the recipe pretty much as written and it turned out delicious.  The main flavors of soy, garlic, star anise are supported by smokey charred grill marks.  I loved it and will make it again, probably add some kind of spicy dipping sauce and more red pepper flakes to the marinade next time.

3 cups of water
1 cup coconut or cider vinegar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
10 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
4 whole star anise pods
2 small (3 1/2 to 4 #) chickens cut into 8 pieces each
Oil to brush the grill
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley or basil

In a large stainless bowl or zip lock bag, combine all of the ingredients except the oil, salt and pepper.

Add the chicken pieces, making sure they are covered with the marinade.

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Drains the chicken and prepare the grill.  Brush the grate liberally with the oil and grill the chicken, skin side down over medium heat, turning occasionally until they are lightly browned and charred and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Salt and pepper the chicken and top with some chopped fresh herbs.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Great Peach Season

Great Peach Season for southern Illinois and Missouri.  Especially loving Eckert's and Calhoun County peaches this year.

I've been making this fresh peach salsa every week since the peaches have been coming in.  It is terrific with chips, but also good spooned on grilled fish, shrimp or chicken.

2 large fresh peaches, skinned
1 large ripe tomato, skinned
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 hot pepper-or to taste, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
a couple sprigs of fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Place all the ingredients in a process and rough chop, leave things a bit chunky for me, but if you prefer a smoother salsa, just keep processing until you get the texture you like.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Paella at Kitchen Conservaory

I had a great time at Kitchen Conservatory last night teaching a class on Tapas, Paella and Sangria.  Here is a picture of the Paella Valencia.

This is probably the most famous paella containing chorizo, chicken, and shellfish.  Paella takes its name from the pan in which it is cooked.  It is a wide shallow pan that is often cooked on a grill in Spain.  We did it on the stove top for this class.

Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients, it is a great party dish.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds large (15 to 20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound Spanish Chorizo, thinly sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 red pepper, roasted and chopped
2 1/4 cups short grain rice-Calaspara or Arborio
1 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon Saffron dissolved in a combination of 1 3/4 cups chicken stock and 1 3/4 cups clam juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt add to the stock mixture
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Additional stock, as needed
15 mussels, cleaned
15 small clams, cleaned, Manila if possible
1 cup green peas
Chopped fresh parsley and cilantro

In the paella pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, and briefly sauté the shrimp 1-2 minutes, remove the shrimp from the pan and reserve.

Add the chorizo to the hot pan and briefly sauté-remove and reserve.

Add the remaining oil and sauté the chicken.  Add the onion, garlic and pepper to the pan and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the rice and continue to stir cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, add the shrimp and chorizo back to the pan, add the cayenne and black peppers, and stir to combine.

Add the wine and let some of it evaporate, add the stocks and saffron.  Cover the pan with foil and bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the cover and push the clams and mussels (hinged side down) into the rice mixture, scatter the peas across the top of everything.  Add additional stock if the rice seems dry or is sticking.  Cover and continue cooking until the mussels and clams are opened.  Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro.

Let the Paella sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Thrill of the Grill

Grilled whole Grouper at Kitchen Conservatory yesterday.

These were about 3 pounds each-they took about 1/2 hour on a low grill.

1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
1 table minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup Nuoc Cham (recipe follows)
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into 4 inch lengths
8 thin slices of fresh ginger
Kosher or sea salt

Mix the lemongrass, ginger and nuoc cham.

Place the fish on a cutting board and generously salt the fish on the outside and the cavity.  Make four vertical cuts into the side of the fish.  Stuff the slits and the cavity with the lime and ginger slices, and the lemongrass.

Spoon the nuoc cham mixture over the fish and let sit for 10 or 15 minutes before grilling.

Place the fish (belly side to the front-this helps when you need to flip the fish) on the liberally oiled grill.

Let the fish cook for about 12 to 15 minutes per side for this size of fish-smaller fish take less time.  Also for smaller fish, you can use a hotter grill.

With a long fish spatula carefully roll the fish over to grill the second side.

Serve with lettuce wraps, fresh cilantro, mint, and lime wedges.

Serve Nuoc Cham and Thai Peanut Dipping Sauces on the side.

Nuoc Cham

1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar)

dissolve the sugar in the hot water.

1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Sliced Thai Bird's Eye or Serrano Chile-add as much or as little as you like depending on how spicy you like it.

Combine all the ingredients with the water and sugar, mix well and let sit for 1/2 hour before serving.  Can be refrigerated.

Thai Peanut Sauce

13 1/2 ounce can of coconut milk
2 tablespoons red curry paste
3/4 cup peanut butter-nothing fancy
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring the mixture to the boil.  Serve at room temperature, Can be refrigerated, but thickens a lot.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My 60th Birthday Party

Dan changed the chandelier into a balloon sculpture.

He also made some beautiful flower arrangements

We started with Crab Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Pepper Mayfair dressing

Pretty standard cobb salad, except I changed the usual chicken to crab, and added some diced mango to the mix.  The dressing is based on the one served at the historic Mayfair Hotel in downtown St Louis, where I worked for a couple of years about a decade ago.  I took the original recipe and added a couple of roasted red peppers to it.

2 roasted red peppers
1 small onion
1 stalk of celery
2 to 3 anchovie fillets
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Puree the vegetables with the anchovies, sugar, and mustard.

Fold the puree and the oil into the mayonaise.

Chill a couple of hours to let the flavors get to know one another.  Taste for salt and pepper.

This beautiful braided bread wreath came from Marconi Bakery on "The Hill"-St Louis' Italian neighborhood.

Next we had a GermanPotato salad-I used a recipe from "Cooks Illustrated"-and I didn't care for it.  It wasn't horrible, just not as good as my own recipe.

Everyone loved the golden beets.  I just roasted them and dressed them with rice wine vinegar, a bit of oil, candied violets, fresh mint and chile flakes.

I also grilled tenderloin fillets and topped them with a matre de hotel butter.

Judy brought her fabulous chocolate cake with 7 minute frosting and red sprinkles-which is always everyone's favorite, and I bought salted caramel ice cream from Serendipity.  I can't even begin to explain how crazy delicious Serendipity's ice creams are.

My new birthday grill

I am now looking forward to my next sixty years.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Golden Beet Salad with Orange, Sage and Buttermilk Dressing

Wash and roast your beets at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours-depending on the size of the beets.  Smaller or baby beets will take much less time.  You can roast the beets in  a coverd dish or just wrap them tightly with foil.  When the beets have cooled, peel and slice them.

Orange, Sage and Buttermilk Dressing

Zest and juice of one orange
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 cup of mayonaise
1 cup of buttermilk
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend, let sit, refrigerated, a couple of hours before using.

To serve, arrange some greens on your plate, I used some fresh spinach, place the sliced beets on the greens, add a couple of orange segments and dress with the buttermilk dressing.  Fresh chives are a nice garnish

Friday, May 03, 2013

Candied Violets

Violets are blooming out in the garden, so I candied a few to use later for salad or dessert garnishes.  It is a very easy process and works for rose petals too. 
Pick, wash and thoroughly dry your blossoms.

Whisk some egg whites until they're frothy, grab the blossom by the stem and dip into the egg white, then the sugar, covering the blossom totally.  Dry in a low oven (150 degrees) for a couple of hours.  Snip off the stems.

Store in a tin or container with a tight fitting lid.


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Thai Steaks and Chile Sesame Potatoes

4 fourteen ounce stripe steaks

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Shaoxing or sherry
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Sliced green onions and cilantro for garnishing

Combine the marinade ingredients, and marinate the steaks for at least 1 hour, but not more thatn 2.

Drain the steaks and pat dry, grill or pan sear the steaks over medium high heat for aabout 3 minutes per side for medium rare.

Let the steaks rest for 5 to 8 minutes, and carve into 1" slices.

Serve with Chile Sesame Potates and Thai Chile Sesame Vinaigrette.

Roasted Potatoes with Thai Chile Sesame Vinaigrette

1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered. (I used Russet, because I had them on hand, but prefer the red)
Canola oil

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh Thai chilies
2 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
Salt and papper to taste
Black sesame seeds, green onions and fresh cilantro for garnighing.

Lightly coat the potatoes with canola oil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 265 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are browned and tender.

While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the vinaigrette.

Toss the potatoes, while still hot, with the vinaigrette.

Garnish with the sesame seeds and cilantro before serving.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Reconsider the Trout

Reconsider the Trout

Living in a land locked state, we rely on seafood that is flown in.  In these times of eating local, and worry over the "carbon footprint" created by shipping all that fish, it is time to reconsider the trout.  Once a star on many menus, trout has been pushed aside and bullied by lunks of tuna, steaks of swodfish, and sexy branzino.  Here I'm presenting an updated version of the classic "Trout Amondine" and a simple grilled trout with Lemon Rosemary Butter, but trout is so versatile you can easily adapt it to your favorite tuna, swordfish, or branzino recipe.

Trout Amondine

2 boneless trout, leave whole or cut into fillets
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
4 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons of Amoretto or other almond liquer
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
minced fresh parsley

Pat the fish dry and dredge in the seasoned flour.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saute pan,  saute the fish for 2 to 3 minutes per side (depending on the size and thickness of the fish) starting with the flesh side down.

Wipe the pan clean and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, as the butter melts and begins to sizzle and brown add the almonds and brown slightly.

Add the Amoretto and turn off the heat.  Add the lemonjuice, zest and parsley.  Pour the almonds and sauce over the fish and serve with lemon wedges or wheels.

Grilled Trout with Lemon and Rosemary Butter

Four trout
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh Rosemary
6 tablespoon butter, cutinto small cubes and chilled
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice and pinch of lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Thoroughly clean the grill grate and brush liberally with oil.
Grill the fish 2 to 3 minutes per side over medium-hot coals, beginning with the flesh side down.  After the first 1 1/2 minutes,carefully, with a fish spatula (they are longer and wider to better support the whole fish), rotate the fish 1/4 of a turn clockwise to create the crosshatch grill marks, grill an additional minute to minute and a half.  Flip the fish to the skin side down and finish the cooking.
For the Sauce:
In a Saute pan add the wine and shallot, reduce to a glaze.
Swirl the butter into the wine reduction off heat to creat a "butter mounted" sauce.  Add the juice and zest, salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the sauce over the fish and serve with additional lemon.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey Dinner

My Valentine Class at Kitchen Conservatory this year was inspired by the steamy novel-eventhough I did not read it-way too steamy for this old man.  I read enough about it on Wiki to write a menu.

Asparagus and Mussel Salad with Remoulade
Spanish Sweet Pepper Soup Spanked with Almond Cream and Toasted Almonds
Splayed and Stuffed Tenderloin of Beef in Bondage
Spring Vegetables with Leek Restraints
Timbale of Rice, Peas, and Lardon
Red Velvet and Honey-whipped Goat Cheese Tiramisu with Berries and Silver Balls

Here is the beef recipe
4 eight ounce beef tenderloin fillet mignon steaks (center cut)
8 ounce ball of fresh moaazrella, cut into 4 slices
4 thin slices of proscuitto
4 lenths of string to tie the steaks after stuffing
Canola or vegetable oil as needed
for the Sauce:
4 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of veal stock
1/4 cup sweet marsala wine
1/4 cup tomato sauce
Wrap each slice of mozzarella with a slice of proscuitto.  Make a cut in the side of each steak large enough to accomodate the wrapped cheese, and insert the cheese into the steak.  Tie with the string which will help the steak hold its shape.
Heat a heavy bottomed skillet with a light film of oil.  Sear both sides of the steaks for 3 minutes on each side over high heat.  Sear the sides slightly as well.  Remove the steaks to a baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes (for medium rare).  The internal temperature should be around 122-125 degrees-let the steaks rest at leat 5 to 8 minutes befor cutting into it.
While the steaks finish cooking and are resting, make the sauce.  Add butter to the skillet the steaks were sauteed in.  Add the shallot and garlic and stir cook 1 to 2 minutes-do not brown.  Add the flour and continue to stir cook until you make a caramelly colored light brown roux. 
Add the wine and reduce by half, add the stock and tomato sauce and continue to cook and reduce until you reach sauce consistency.  Taste for any kind of seasoning adjustment.
Snip the strings off the beef and serve with the sauce.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tenderloin with Bacon-Onion Jam and Blue Cheese Butter

This was last night's steak special.  It didn't sell so well, and the restaurant was pretty busy.  We only sold 3 out of about 200 covers.  Usually the special will sell between 15 and 20 orders.  In spite of this, I am publishing and keeping this recipe-it really is delicious, smokey bacon, sweet caramelised onions and salty pungent blue cheese a perfect compliment to boring tenderloin.

Bacon-Onion Jam

4 rashers of bacon
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons sherrry
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste-very light salt because the bacon is already salty

Crisp the bacon in a saute pan.
Remove the bacon, and crumble.
Put the onion slices in the bacon drippings and stir to coat.
Cook over low heat to soften the onions-about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with the sugar and raise the heat a little to caramelise the onions.
After the onions turn a rich golden color, add the sherry and vinegar.
Reduce until the onnions are syrupy, add the bacon, and combine.
Taste for seasoning.

Blue Cheese Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a stand mixer, paddle the butter and worcestershire until well combined.
Fold in the blue cheese and pepper.
Chill until ready to use.


Grill or saute your steaks to desired doneness-for tenderloin I recommend medium rare.  Spoon some bacon jam on your plate and place the tenderloin on the jam, slice a couple tablespoons of butter to melt on top of the steaks.

This should be enough for about 4 steaks.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Patti Page - Old Cape Cod-RIP Patti

"..if you like the taste of a lobster stew..."      I just love the dreamy images this song evokes, it makes me think of one of my favorite old-fashioned lobster dishes-Lobster Thermidor.  Why not whip up your own favorite lobster dish, put on some Patti Page tunes and wish Patti farewell.

3 or 4 lobster tails
2 cups lobster stock, fish stock, or clam juice
1 cup white wine
2 Tablspoons minced shallot
1 cup heavy cream
Salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
cooked pasta
sauteed mushrooms
1/4 cup sherry or a couple tablespoons brandy

Combine the stock, wine and shallot and bring to the boil, lower the heat to barely a simmer.

Remove the tail meat from the shell, reserve shell for presentation, and poach both the meat and the shell in the stock mixture.

Remove the lobster and shell-cover them to keep warm.

Bring the stock back to the boil and reduce by 1/2.  Add the cream and continue to reduce by 1/2 again or until it reaches sauce consistency.  Taste for seasoning, add the sherry or brandy and cook off the alchahol.

Heat the pasta and toss with some of the sauce, place sauced pasta in a pasta serving bowl, top with the shell, filled with the lobster meat coming out of the top.  Garnish with sauteed mushrooms and a bit more sauce spooned over the lobster.