Sunday, February 26, 2017

Portobello Leek Crème Soup







     Rich Satisfying Crème Soup!
     The only time that cream soups do not sell well is when the outdoor temperatures are uncomfortably hot.  Even so, some people live or work in a chilly air conditioned environment and for this reason a rich crème soup can still be offered during the hot summer months.  On a chilly winter day, a rich chowder or crème soup is the perfect choice for warming up the palate.
     Leeks and Portobello Mushrooms are a nice for flavoring a cream soup.  Leeks have a gentle green garden bulb flavor that is perfect for a crème soup that is served in late winter.  Portobello are Italian Brown Field Mushrooms, which have a gentle, yet rich flavor that does not overpower the leeks.
     When featuring leek as an ingredient in a soup, it is best not to add shallots or onions, so there is no competing flavor.  The soup should also lightly seasoned, so the leek flavor is not masked.
     The mystique of puree soups disappeared with the advent of electric appliances.  Puree soups were labor intensive, before food processors, blenders and emersion blenders became standard kitchen equipment.  Puree soups often lack character in a way that is reminiscent of geriatric cuisine.  Precision cut ingredients add much needed character to a crème soup.

     Portobello Leek Crème Soup:
     This recipe yields about 4 cups.  (2 large soup bowl portions) 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped leek.
     Gently sauté and sweat the leeks till they become tender with no browning.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of light chicken stock.
     Add 2 cups of milk.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Bring the soup to a gentle simmer.
     Step 3:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk to make a roux.  (The roux should look smooth thick and shiny, not caky!)
     Stir till the roux is a pale whitish yellow color.
     Step 4:  Add the roux to the simmering soup while stirring with a whisk.
     Whisk till combined.
     *The soup should be a very thin consistency at this time.
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
     Add 2/3 cup of very thin sliced small Portobello Mushrooms.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme leaves.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.  (to taste)
     Briefly boil for about 1 or 2 minutes till the mushrooms are fully cooked.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the soup is a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.  Stir the soup occasionally.
     *The soup should be just thick enough to keep the ingredients in suspension.  The finished volume should be about 4 cups.
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat or in 135ºF bain marie.
     Step 7:  Remove the bay leaf before serving.
     Ladle a 2 cup portion of the Portobello Leek Crème Soup into a shallow large soup bowl.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     Portobello Leek Crème Soup has a classic gentle flavor that easily pleases guests!  

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Berlin Hassenpfeffer with Braised Red Cabbage, Potato Pancake, Baked Apple and Spaetzle






     Hassenpfeffer!
     Many people associate classic German cuisine with heavy rich food.  More often than not, a cuisine is acclimated to the climate of its origin, although in modern times, social pressure is a cuisine influence.  In recent years, German fine dining cuisine has favored lighter healthier food choices. 
     Even with all the social pressure and culinary influences of the mass media in the world, most people look forward to classic German food, because it is a hearty satisfying cuisine that presents good dining value.  The climate in Germany is like Pennsylvania or New York in America, so the winters can be long and very cold.  Rich heavy classic German food is a welcome sight on a cold winter day.
     Rabbit is a popular classic cuisine meat choice.  Just like the old saying goes, "They breed like rabbits."  Rabbits always seem to multiply wherever there is farmland and they are a vegetable crop pest, if there is an imbalance of natural predators.    
     With such an abundance of rabbit, it is surprising to see that rabbit is rarely offered at a regular grocery store.  This is because modern mainstream shoppers have been conditioned by the mass media to only look upon rabbit as being cute furry creature that lays eggs on Easter.  Less than 100 years ago, most people looked upon rabbit as being a free meal that was relatively easy to catch.  
     Other than for country folk that like to hunt and trap rabbits, this viable alternative healthy meat choice has nearly been completely overlooked by mainstream consumers in this modern age of worrying about how cattle flatulence is falsely blamed for the global warming scam.  Fortunately, rabbit can be found at good local butcher shops and Asian food markets.  Rabbit truly is a gourmet food item and there are great classic rabbit recipes worldwide.    
     Hassenpfeffer is a German style rabbit stew.  There are as many different ways to make Hassenpfeffer as there are German Potato Pancake recipes.  Hassenpfeffer recipes can be regional and they can vary from household to household.  Today's Hassenpfeffer is cooked in a style that is similar to Berlin Klein Fleisch Stew or a Hamburg style winter pork stew.  The rabbit is traditionally marinated ahead of time for any Hassenpfeffer recipe.  How the rabbit is stewed is what makes the difference.  Since this is a winter rabbit recipe, the stewing sauce is made with crème fraîche, prunes and pearl onions, which creates a gentle warm satisfying meal for a cold day.   
     German entrées are usually served with a few flavorful vegetable preparations that are placed on the same plate as the entrée.  During the winter season, comfort is the key to the vegetable selection and in a classic sense, only vegetables that can be stored in a cold root cellar should be chosen.  Braised Red Cabbage, Potato Pancakes and Baked Apple are classic choices.  Potato pancakes can be made with grated potato for a rustic look or they can be made very refined, like a flour pancake. 
     Spaetzle are quickly made dumpling noodles that are cooked in water first, then finished by pan frying in hot beurre noisette till they puff up.  There are several different Spaetzle making methods.  Spoon-drop style Spaetzle are one of the easiest to make, especially when only a few small portions are needed.  

     *Many of the food items in this entrée can be prepared ahead of time, cooked at the same time or kept warm till they are served.  The braising of the marinated rabbit, the braised red cabbage and the boiling of the spaetzle can be done well in advance.  These three items can be finished shortly before serving.  Rustic Potato Pancakes should not be made too far ahead of time or they will discolor.       
     
     Marinated Rabbit Preparation: 
     This recipe yields 1 whole boneless rabbit.  (2 portions) 
     Whole Rabbit is usually sold as a frozen product in butcher shops and Asian food markets.  
     Step 1:  Cut 1 whole rabbit into leg and back sections.
     Step 2:  Place the rabbit sections in a container.
     Add 1/2 cup of acidic Riesling Wine. 
     Add 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar.
     Add 1 whole garlic clove.
     Add 1/3 cup of coarse chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cracked black peppercorns.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Cover the container with a lid.
     Place the container in a refrigerator.
     Marinate for 8 to 10 hours.  Turn the rabbit pieces in the marinade once every 2 to 3 hours.

     Braised Red Cabbage:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 hearty portions.  
     Black Forest Bacon is an American product.  The bacon slab is coated with German winter spices during the curing process.  
     Step 1:  Heat a braising pan or a wide sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 strip American style Black Forest Bacon that is coarsely chopped.
     Gently sauté till some of the fat renders the bacon just begins to turn a light golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped celery.
     Gently sauté till the onions start to turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Raise the temperature to medium/medium low heat.
     Add 9 cups of thin sliced red cabbage.  (About 1/2 of a medium size red cabbage head.)
     Sauté and stir the cabbage till it starts to wilt.
     Step 4:  Add 1 peeled cored Gala Apple that is diced.
     Continue to sauté and stir, till the cabbage wilts.
     Step 5:  Add 1 cup of French Rosé Wine (or a full bodied Blush Wine).
     Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Add enough water to barely cover the cabbage with liquid.
     Step 6:  Add 2 pinches of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 3 spice cloves.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 7:  Stir the ingredients.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Cover the pan with a loose fitting lid.
     Place the covered pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Stir the cabbage once every 10 to 15 minutes.
     Braise until the cabbage becomes tender.
     *While the cabbage is braising, the roasted rosemary pork, vegetables and the baked apple can also be cooked in the oven.
     Step 9:  Remove the pot from the oven.
     Place the pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till no excess liquid remains.
     Keep the braised red cabbage warm over very low heat (or chill and reheat shortly before serving).
  
     Berlin Hassenpfeffer:
     This recipe yields about 3 1/4 cups.  (2 petportions)
     This stage of the rabbit recipe should be done shortly before serving.
     Step 1:  Drain the marinade off of the rabbit section pieces.  Discard the marinade.  Brush off any peppercorns or onions.     
     Step 2:  Place the marinated rabbit section pieces in a deep braising pan.  (Select a pan that is just big enough to contain the rabbit pieces.)
     Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Drizzle 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter over the rabbit.
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Braise till the rabbit is fully cooked and tender. 
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
     Remove the rabbit from the braising pan. 
     Pour the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a container and set it aside 
     Cut or pull the rabbit meat off of the bones.
     Cut the boneless rabbit meat into bite size pieces.
     Step 5:  Place the rabbit meat pieces in a sauce pot.
     Add 6 large pearl onions (or small boiler onions).
     Add 7 pitted prunes.
     Add the reserved braising liquid.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper. 
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till only about 1/4 cup of the braising liquid remains and the onions start to become tender.  
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3/4 cup of sour cream.
     Add 3/4 cup of cream.
     Add 1/4 cup of milk. 
     Gently simmer till the sauce reduces to a medium thin consistency that easily coats the ingredients.
     Keep the Berlin Hassenpfeffer warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     
     Baked Apple:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Core 1 Gala Apple.
     Trim the top and bottom of the apple flat.
     Step 2:  Place the apple on a roasting pan.
     Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of melted unsalted butter over the apple.
     Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of granulated sugar over the apple.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of cinnamon over the apple.
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the apple just becomes tender.
     Keep the baked apple warm on a stove top.

     Spoon-Drop Spaetzle:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion or 2 petite portions.  (About 1 cup)
     Spaetzle can be boiled ahead of time, but they are best when pan fried in the hot beurre noisette just before serving.
     Step 1:  Place 1 large egg in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of milk.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of melted butter.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add a little bit of flour at a time while stirring with a whisk, till a thick spaetzle batter is formed (about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup).
     *The batter should be a little thicker than a pancake batter.  The batter should be thick enough to slowly pour off of a spoon.
     Step 2:  Chill the batter for 20 minutes.
     Heat a large sauce pot of water over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Bring the water to a simmer.
     Adjust the temperature so there are no signs boiling on the surface of the water.
     Step 3:  Use a spoon to stream thick bands of the spaetzle batter across the surface of the hot water.
     *Do not stir!  The spaetzle will sink to the bottom of the pot.
     When the spaetzle noodles float to the surface of the hot water, then they are ready.
     Step 4:  Scoop the spaetlze out of the water with a fryer net.
     Place the spaetzle in a colander to drain off the water.
     Set the spaetzle aside or chill them for later use.
     Step 5:  *The spaetzle should be finished with butter just before serving! 
     Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Let the butter cook till it turns a golden brown color and a hazelnut aroma can be noticed (beurre noisette).
     Add the prepared spoon-drop spaetzle to the hot butter while gently shaking the pan.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté and gently toss the spaetzle with the butter.
     Sauté till till the spaetzle puff up and a few golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the spaetzle on a platter and keep them warm on a stove top.
   
     Rustic Potato Pancakes: 
     This recipe yields 2 medium size potato pancakes. 
     Step 1:  Place 1 large 8 ounce peeled russet potato in a sauce pot.
     Cover the potato with water.
     Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium high heat.
     Par-boil the potato till it is almost halfway cooked.   
     Step 2:  Cool the par-boiled potato under cold running water.  
     Coarsely grate the potato into a mixing bowl.  
     Add 1 whisked large egg. 
     Add 1/2 of a chopped green onion.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add just enough flower, while stirring, to form a thick batter that can be easily gathered with a spoon.  (About 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup.)
     Step 3:  Heat a wide non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.  
     Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Place 2 portions of the potato pancake batter side by side in the pan.  (About 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup each portion.)   
     Use a spatula to press the thick potato pancake mixture into a flat round shapes that are about 4" wide and about 3/8" thick.  
     Step 4:  Pan fry till the bottom of the potato pancakes are golden brown.
     Use a spatula to flip the potato pancakes.
     Pan fry till they are golden brown on both sides.  
     Step 5:  Remove the potato pancakes from the pan and set them on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan off any excess butter.
     Keep the potato pancake warm on a stove top.      
     
     Berlin Hassenpfeffer with Braised Red Cabbage, Potato Pancake, Baked Apple and Spaetzle:  
     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
     Step 1:  Place the Berlin Hassenpfeffer in a single portion size ceramic soufflé ramekin. 
     Place the ramekin on the front half of a serving plate.
     Step 2:  Arrange 1 Rustic Potato Pancake, 1 Baked Apple, 1 portion of Braised Red Cabbage and 1 petite portion of Spaetzle on the back half of the plate.  
     Step 3:  Place a small dollop of sour cream on the potato pancake.  (About 1/2 tablespoon.)
     Place a few thin slices of green onion on the sour cream.
     
     This is a great plate of hearty German food for a chilly day!     

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lemon Butter Frog Legs Sauté









     A Classic Frog Legs Entrée!
     Sautéed Frog Legs finished with a lemon butter that is made in the same pan is a popular entrée in Florida.  Part of the reason why this entrée is so popular is because Everglades Frog Legs are considered to be a delicacy in this state.  The Everglades is a remnant from the age of the dinosaurs and Bull Frogs grow extra large in this swamp.  Everglades Frog Legs are very large and I have seen some that are as big as turkey legs.
     Frozen frog legs from India, Nepal, China and Iran are good too.  Foreign frog legs tend to be a little bit smaller in size.  Imported frog legs do vary in quality and sustainability can be an issue.  Doing a little research to check for resource sustainability and environmental issues should be done before purchasing any imported frog legs.  Practicing sustainable shopping helps to prevent frog species from going extinct.  If the frog legs are imported from a reputable source, then checking the quality is all that needs to be done.  The frog leg meat should be a pale translucent whitish color, just like fresh fish.  There also should be no noticeable odor.  
     The flavor of frog legs is very mild.  Some people describe the frog leg flavor as tasting like chicken.  Frog legs actually have a milder flavor than chicken.  Frog legs taste like clean fresh whitefish with just a hint of chicken flavor.  Alligator meat has a similar flavor, because frogs are a main staple of this reptile.
     Today's Lemon Butter Frog Legs Sauté entrée was an item that I cooked at fine dining cafés and yacht clubs in Florida.  This tasty frog legs entrée nearly always sold out on a Friday or Saturday night.  Tourists and Florida residents both like this local specialty!

     Frog Legs Saute with Lemon Butter: 
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     For this recipe, "the simpler, the better."  No attempt is made to emulsify the butter sauce at the end of the recipe.  Some of the flour actually turns brown and pools in the sauce.  This style of sauté creates a broader range of flavor.    
     Step 1:  Select 3 pairs of medium to large size frog legs.  (About 8 ounces total.)
     Split the hip joint with a chef knife to separate the individual legs.
     Trim off any excess cartilage.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of flour in a shallow container.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Dredge the frog legs in the seasoned flour.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Place the floured frog legs in the pan.
     Sauté the frog legs till golden brown highlights appear on both sides.
     *The frog legs should only be cooked halfway done at this point.
     Step 4:  Remove the frog legs from the pan.
     Drain the grease out of the pan.
     Step 5:  Return the frog legs to the hot pan.
     Place the pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till only about 3 tablespoons of thin sauce remains.  Turn the frog legs occasionally, so they cook evenly.
     Step 6:  Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of Unsalted Plugra Butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Gently shake the pan till the butter melts and blends with the reduced lemon pan jus.
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     *The carryover heat of the pan will break the butter emulsion.
   
     Presentation:
     Step 1:  Place the frog legs side by side on the front half of a plate.
     *Fully cooked frog legs easily break apart, so use a long spatula to transfer them to a plate.
     Spoon the lemon butter and jus from the pan over the frog legs.
     Step 2:  Place a portion of rice and vegetable of your choice on the back half of the plate.
     *Saffron Turmeric Brown Rice and Sautéed Yellow Squash, Onion and Bell Pepper are the vegetables in the pictures. 
     Step 3:  Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig and a fanned lemon wedge.

     Viola!  A tasty light frog leg entrée!            

Monday, February 20, 2017

Chicken Fried Alligator Tail Nuggets with Cajun Gravy and Cheddar Grits











     Classic Louisiana Bayou Cuisine!
     Alligator is my one of my favorite wild game meats.  The first time that I had gator was in Florida at a friends house in West Miami by the Everglades.  Back in those days, Florida was just coming out of the dinosaur age and West Miami was an untamed wild area.
     The guy and his wife had a few chickens and a hog in the backyard.  A good size alligator was trying to make a meal out of the hog for a couple of nights.  For a big gator, a hog in a pen is easy prey.  Alligators are strong enough to carry a 300 pound hog back to the water.
     My friend heard the ruckus going on at night and he went out in his backyard to see what the commotion was.  He spotted the gator trying to get under the barbed wire around the hog pen, so he grabbed his shotgun and plugged the gator.  He had to defend his hog or he would have lost several good ham dinners!
     The hungry gator was a young adult that was only about 8 or 9 feet long.  My friend butchered the gator and cut some four inch thick gator tail steaks.  He cut the rest of the white meat into nugget portions.  The dark meat on the gator was run through a meat grinder for gator burgers.
     My friend's wife liked cooking gator and she really had a nice simple way of cooking the tail steaks.  She liked to chicken fry the alligator tail steaks!  I had never eaten gator before that visit.  We all sat down to eat 4" thick fresh alligator tail steaks that were chicken fried.  The chicken fried fresh gator tail steaks were delicious!  The flavor was remarkably light and clean tasting.  The meat was textured like large lobster tail meat and it easily flaked into tender large pieces.  The flavor of gator tastes like a combination of frog legs, chicken and monkfish.  One taste of alligator was all that it took to get me hooked!
     Fresh alligator meat still has the fat in the grain of the meat.  When alligator meat is frozen, the fats tend to be pushed out of the meat and the meat becomes a little bit tougher.  For frozen gator meat, stewing or braising is the best method for making the meat tender.  Alligator white meat is the most desirable gator meat.   Gator tail meat is the best of the white meat.  Alligator dark meat from the legs is better for ground meat recipes or stews.
     Later during my chef career, I cooked plenty of alligator meat recipes in Florida restaurants.  Florida is not the only place that alligators live.  Down home gator recipes are abundant in Georgia and Alabama.  Louisiana definitely is where the best alligator recipes can be found.
     For today's recipe, the gator tail nuggets are chicken fried, then briefly simmered in the sauce.  The sauce in this recipe is made with standard Cajun Gravy making methods.  A Cajun Gravy can be simple or it can be as complex tasting as Étouffée.  The Cajun Gravy for today's recipe is complex tasting and it is made with dark brown roux.  The rule of thumb for Gumbo and most Cajun sauces is;  For light color meat, a dark brown roux is required ... For dark meat, a light roux color is required.    
     For Cajun food, the amount of cayenne pepper is a matter of personal choice.  The Cajun Gravy for Gator Nuggets should be a bit spicy, but it should not be so spicy hot that certain guests will not enjoy the meal.  Serving a bottle of Cayenne Pepper Hot Sauce on the side is the best way to please everybody at the table.
     For a few years during the recent Great Recession, down home comfort food items found their way into trendy fine dining restaurants.  Both Cheese Grits and Shrimp 'n' Grits achieved gourmet status during those years.
     Rice would be the top choice of starch for accompanying a saucy recipe in Louisiana, but since grits have been en vogue, Cheddar Grits is a good choice of starch too.  Cheddar Grits is a popular breakfast side dish in Southern states and this specialty item does taste good with spicy saucy food.  Flavor is what Cajun cooking is all about and today's Pan Fried Cajun Alligator Tail Nuggets with Cajun Gravy and Cheddar Grits definitely has no shortage of flavor!
     
     Cajun Gravy (For Fried Alligator Tail Nuggets):
     This recipe yields about 2 1/2 cups.    
     Be sure to have all of the vegetables prepared ahead of time, before starting to cook the brown roux.  Once you start making a brown roux, you cannot stop stirring till the roux becomes a brown color.  When the vegetables are added, the hot roux will stop cooking and the vegetables will be instantly cooked. 
     *It is very easy to be burned by a brown roux spatter, so wear protective clothing!
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should look smooth and shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir the roux till it becomes a brown color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 cup of small chopped mixed red bell pepper and green bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of small chopped celery.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Briefly stir the vegetables with the hot brown roux.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 2 cups of shrimp broth.
     Stir the sauce as it comes to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 2 pinches of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 2 pinches of white pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Stir the sauce.
     Step 5:  Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     *The volume should be about 2 1/2 cups.
     Place the sauce in a container and set it aside.

     Cheddar Grits:
     This recipe yields about 2 1/2 cups.  (2 large portions.) 
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
     Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat.
     Add 2/3 cup of stone ground hominy grits.
     Whisk the grits as they come to a boil.
     Boil and whisk till the grits just start to thicken.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Place a loose fitting lid on the pot.
     Gently simmer the grits, till they are tender.  Whisk the grits occasionally.
     *The grits should be just thick enough to stand in a spoon.  If the grits are too stiff, then add a splash of water.
     Step 3:  Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1/3 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.
     Stir till the cheese melts and blends with the grits.
     Step 4:  Keep the cheddar cheese grits warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Stir the grits occasionally.  (Add a splash of water if they become too thick.)

     Chicken Fried Alligator Tail Nuggets:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Cut 12 ounces of alligator tail meat into large bite size nuggets.
     Step 2:  Place 2 cups of flour in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Stir the ingredients together and set the flour mixture aside.
     Step 3:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Whisk till blended.
     Set the egg wash aside.
     Step 4:  Dredge the gator nuggets in the seasoned flour.
     Dip the gator nuggets in the egg wash.
     Dredge the egg washed gator nuggets in the flour a second time.
     Place the coated gator nuggets on a wire screen roasting rack over a pan to sift off any excess flour.
     Step 5:  Heat a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil is about 3/8" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 6:  Place the flour coated alligator nuggets in the hot oil.
     Pan fry the gator nuggets on all sides till they are fully cooked and the coating is crispy golden brown.
     Step 7:  Place the Chicken Fried Gator Nuggets on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the Chicken Fried Gator Nuggets warm on a stove top.

     Chicken Fried Alligator Tail Nuggets with Cajun Gravy and Cheddar Grits: 
     This recipe yields 2 hearty portions.
     This entrée is served in the sauté pan, so select a fancy one that looks good.  A copper sauté pan adds classic style!
     Step 1:  Heat a large copper sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add about 2 1/2 cups of the Cajun Gravy.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Step 2:  Add the 2 portions of Chicken Fried Gator Nuggets.
     Stir and toss the sauce and nuggets together.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Use a spoon to push the Gator Nuggets away from the center of the pan, to make room for the Cheddar Grits.
     Mound 2 portions of the Cheddar Grits on the center of the pan..
     Step 4:  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of thin bias sliced green onion over the Cheddar Grits and Gator Nuggets.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Step 5:  Place the copper sauté pan of Chicken Fried Alligator Tail Nuggets with Cajun Gravy and Cheddar Grits on a hot pad on the center of the table along with serving spoons.

     This is a tasty down home Louisiana style gator entrée that is well worth trying!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dijon Crusted Roast Rack of Lamb with Cognac Glace Viande and Parsnip Chive Crème Potato











     A Classic Entrée For Special Occasions!
     Rack of Lamb is perfect for special occasions, holidays or when sheer decadence suits the mood!  I actually prepared today's Rack of Lamb recipe example for the Christmas Holidays while working in Chicago a few years ago.  At that time, the original goal was to cook a traditional goose entrée for Christmas, but goose was way overpriced.  As it turns out, goose is nearly always overpriced, because it only sells during the holiday season, so price gouging is part of the marketing scheme.  As an alternative, I found a rack of New Zealand Lamb that sold for a very modest price.
     As a chef or sous chef, I have always prepared Rack of Lamb for a special holiday menus in restaurants and private clubs.  Rack of Lamb is nearly required to be offered on Christmas, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day and Easter menus.  In fine dining restaurants, Rack of Lamb is always a customer favorite, especially on weekends.
     Classic table service styles dictate how a Rack of Lamb is served.  Classic Russian table service requires a prepared Rack of Lamb to be sliced and displayed on a platter, then offered to guests at the table along with accompaniments on platters carried by the other members of the wait staff.  Classic French table service requires the Rack Of Lamb and accompaniment to be presented on a cart and the rack of lamb is carved at the table side.  Classic English table service requires the host (lead guest) to carve plate and present the Rack of Lamb and all accompaniments.  Classic American table service requires the Rack of Lamb to be plated in the kitchen, then presented to guests.
     Today's Rack of Lamb entrée is a French entrée that is plated American table service style.  This means that the presentation is composed in the kitchen.  When plated this way, the Rack of Lamb should be presented in a way that tastefully maximizes eye appeal.  This means absolutely no excess garnishes can be used that are not integral to the recipe.  No carved vegetables, no frills, no micro sprouts and no flowers can be used, unless they are called for in the classic recipe.  Therefore, all of the focus should be placed upon making the required components of the recipe look as good as possible, then tastefully arranging them on a plate with the focal point, height, flow, color and symmetry in mind.  To accomplish this, a plating diagram is drawn ahead of time.      
     Dijon Crusted Rack of Lamb is a classic French preparation.  Many chefs gob a ton of Dijon Mustard, herbs and breadcrumbs on the Lamb Rack when making this recipe.  In fact, putting a thick layer of the Dijon topping on a Rack of Lamb is how I was originally trained to make this entrée early in my career.  It was not till I worked as a sous chef in a fine dining restaurant that was owned by a great French chef from Provence, that I found out that the Dijon topping should not be overbearing.  The senior French Chef said that the Dijon topping should be paper thin, so it only delicately flavors the lamb noisette meat.  When prepared this way, the Dijon topping is visually barely noticeable, yet the delicate flavor is present.

     Glace Viande:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Glace Viande

     Rack Of Lamb Preparation (Frenched Lamb):
     This recipe yields 1 Rack of New Zealand Lamb.
     There are several things to consider when selecting a Rack of Lamb.  Price is a chief concern, because in a fine dining restaurant, the profit margin on a Rack of Lamb is very small.  The best value is to purchase whole rib sections that are joined at the spine.  A whole lamb rib section requires a bone saw, heavy scimitar or heavy large cleaver to prepare.
     For home cooks and most restaurants, purchasing individual Racks of Lamb is the best choice.  Be sure to select a Rib Rack and not a "Loin Rack Section."  A Rib Rack has long rib bones.  
     Size is a prime consideration.  A New Zealand Rack of Lamb is the smallest and a full rack is considered to be one portion.  Today's recipe photo example was made with a New Zealand Lamb Rack.  Australian Lamb Racks are a little bit larger.  An Australian Lamb Rack yields enough for two fair portions, which is perfect for a multi course meal.  Colorado Lamb Racks are huge and meaty.  A half of a Colorado Lamb Rack is one full portion.
     A good butcher shop will prepare a Rack of Lamb any way that a customer requests.  How much the Lamb Rack is trimmed does affect the price.  An untrimmed Lamb Rack requires a cook to have some basic meat fabrication skills.  A partially trimmed or Frenched Lamb Rack has a thick fat cap over the loin meat and the bones are trimmed bare, so less trimming is required.  A fully trimmed Lamb Rack is usually ready to cook as is, but it may require a little bit of trimming to make it perfect.       
     Step 1:  Select a razor sharp boning knife.
     Remove the thick fat cap and the shoulder cartilage flap that covers the loin meat and rib bones, but leave a thin coating of fat on the loin meat.
     Step 2:  Cut against the sides of each rib bone.  The thin strips of meat and fat between the bones will now dangle loose.  Cut the scrap rib meat strips off as close to the loin section as possible.
     Step 3:  Use the back of a knife to scrape the bones clean.  (Frenching)
     Trim the thin fat coating off of the loin meat.
     Trim off all of the silver floss sinew, so the loin meat is clean and bare.
     Step 4:  Check the back if the loin section for small spine bone pieces that were not removed.  If any, then trim them off.

     Lamb Rack Marinade:
     This recipe yields 1 New Zealand Rack of Lamb (1 portion) 
     Step 1:  Place 1 prepared New Zealand Lamb Rack in a container.
     Brush the loin meat on the rack with a thin coating of blended olive oil.
     Rub the lamb loin meat with these ingredients:
     - 2 cloves of minced garlic
     - 1/2 tablespoon of rosemary,
     - 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper
     Step 3:  Chill and marinate for 2 hours in a refrigerator.
     Brush all of the garlic and rosemary off of the rack of lamb.
     Keep the lamb rack chilled till it is needed.

     Parsnip Chive Crème Potato:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.  (About 2 cups)
     Step 1:  *The parsnip can be cooked while the potato boils.
     Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoons of Unsalted Plugra Butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced peeled parsnip.  (About 3/16" thick)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Gently sauté till golden highlights appear and the parsnip is tender.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of water.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the water completely evaporates and the parsnip is very soft.
     *The butter will sizzle when the water is evaporated.  Repeat this step if the parsnip is not soft enough to mash.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the pan of soft braised parsnip warm on a stove top.
     Step 4:  Place 1 large 10 ounce peeled russet potato in a sauce pot.
     Cover the potato with 2" of extra water.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Boil till the potato is tender enough to mash.
     Step 5:  Drain off the water and leave the potato in the warm pot.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of cream.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Unsalted Plugra Butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin sliced chives.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Whisk and mash the potato and parsnip mixture till it is smooth and creamy.
     Step 6:  Load the Parsnip Chive Crème Potato into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep the pastry bag warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Cognac Glace Viande (with Pearl Onion Garnish):
     This recipe yields 2 portions.  (A little less than 1/2 cup)
     Step 1:  Place a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Add 1/2 of a minced garlic clove.
     Sauté till the shallots turn clear, but not browned.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of brandy or cognac.
     Add 1/2 cup of thin glace viande.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Add 1 pinch of rosemary.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a very thin consistency that can barely glaze the back of a spoon.
     Step 3:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a second small sauce pot.
     Add 10 small peeled fresh pearl onions.
     Add 1/4 cup of brandy or cognac.  (for second reduction)
     Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon and the pearl onions become soft.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Reheat the sauce to order over very low heat or keep the sauce warm in a container placed in a 135ºF bain marie.  (Add a small splash of beef stock if the glace sauce becomes too thick.)
     Step 5:  *Do this step later after the lamb rack finishes roasting.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Unsalted Plugra Butter to the warm sauce while stirring just before the sauce is served.
 
     Vegetable Garnish:
     This recipe yields 1 petite portion.
     Step 1:  Cut 2 to 3 strips of yellow squash, zucchini and carrot that are 1/4" wide and about 3" long.
     Step 2:  Blanch the vegetables in boiling salted water till they are al dente.
     Cool the vegetables in ice water.
     Set the vegetables aside.
     Step 3:  *Do this step shortly before the rack of lamb is served.
     Heat a small sauté pan over low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Unsalted Plugra Butter.
     Add the blanched vegetables.
     Add 2 to 3 feather cut snow peas.
     Gently warm the vegetables, till the snow peas are al dente.
     Keep the vegetables warm on a stove top.
     
     Dijon Crusted Roast Rack of Lamb:
     This recipe yields 1 New Zealand Rack of Lamb.  (1 portion)
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Place the lamb rack in the sauté pan.
     Pan sear the lamb rack till the loin meat section is lightly browned in all sides and still very rare inside.  Briefly sear the exposed rib bones, so they gain a little bit of color.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the seared lamb rack aside and let it cool to room temperature.
     Completely cover the lamb rack bones with aluminum foil, so the bones do not burn in the oven.
     Step 3:  Place 1/4 cup of plain fine French bread crumbs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of finely minced parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of finely minced tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of finely minced rosemary.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Spread a thin layer of Dijon Mustard on the lamb rack loin meat.
     Sprinkle a thin layer of the bread crumb mixture on the Dijon mustard.  (Any extra bread crumb mixture can be saved for another recipe.)
     Sprinkle a few drops of olive oil on the bread crumb coating.  (about 1/4 teaspoon)
     Step 5:  Place the prepared rack of lamb on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Roast the rack lamb till it is about a little more than halfway cooked to the preferred finish temperature.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Remove the aluminum foil from the bones.
     Step 7:  Return the pan to the 350ºF oven.
     Continue to roast the lamb rack till it is cooked to the desired finish temperature.  (The lamb rack in the photos was cooked rare/medium rare.)
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Let the lamb rack rest on the wire screen roasting rack for 1 minute.

     Dijon Crusted Roast Rack of Lamb with Cognac Glace Viande and Parsnip Chive Crème Potato:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Use the pastry bag to pipe a tall conical shape portion of the Parsnip Chive Crème Potato on the center of the back half of a plate.
     Place and press the prepared vegetable strips and snow peas vertically onto the crème potato.
     Step 2:  Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Cognac Glace Viande on the plate around the potatoes as a bed for the lamb rack chops.
     Step 3:  Hold each sliced Dijon Crusted Roast Rack of Lamb Chop by the bone.
     Set the loin meat end on the plate near the potatoes and lean the bone vertically against the tall mound of crème potato and vegetables.  Try to arrange each chop so it looks nice and so the meat end of each lamb chop lines up around the potatoes on the front half of the plate.
     Step 4:  Pour about 1 1/2 more tablespoons of the Cognac Glace Viande with 5 of the pearl onions around the lamb on the front half of the plate.
    No extra garnishing is necessary!

     Viola!  A very nice New Zealand Rack Of Lamb entrée for a special occasion!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cranberry White Chocolate Soufflé







    Soufflé!
    I once worked for a great French chef that was famous for his soufflés.  We both met each other while working at a Northern Italian restaurant for a short time, so the French chef felt confident about hiring me as a sous chef in a French café that he recently took over.
     Previous to our meeting, the French chef was running the kitchen of a very nice old fine dining restaurant.  That old restaurant had a change of ownership and the new owners decided to close the restaurant in favor of opening a retail shop.  During the final two weeks that the old restaurant was open, the chef ran a very interesting special du jour to liquidate the extensive food stock.  "Any kind of soufflé request for $5.00" was the special offer!
     Because of the $5.00 liquidation price for soufflé, that old restaurant did the most amount of sales that it had ever booked during the final two weeks of business.  The chef's idea was to offer sweet or savory soufflé at a rock bottom price, so he could sell all the remaining food stock before the doors were nailed shut.  Most customers came in for the cheap soufflé and ended up ordering a complete dinner with wine too.  The plan worked and nearly the entire food and wine stock was liquidated!
     Needless to say, I learned a few things about food marketing while working with the French chef at the French café.  As a lunch sous chef, I became adept at designing special du jour items that sold well.  I also learned the importance of offering savory appetizer soufflés and sweet dessert soufflés to maintain the French ambiance in a fine dining café.
     Soufflé basically means to "puff up."  An egg white meringue that is whisked to soft peaks is what makes a soufflé puff up.  The base of the soufflé is what contains the flavor.  The base can be made with a savory sauce, sweet dessert sauce or puree.
     Béchamel or Velouté Sauces are often used to make savory soufflé.  A Bleu Cheese Soufflé is a good example of a savory soufflé that is made with Béchamel.  The cheese is combined with the Béchamel before the soft meringue is folded in.
     Crème Anglaise or a Sweet Béchamel Dessert Sauce is often used as a base for a dessert soufflé.  Béchamel Soufflés are also called Roux Soufflé, because Roux acts as a stabilizer.  Crème Anglaise Sauce only requires egg yolks with no roux.  Egg yolks are a stabilizer and they can be used as a liaison to tighten warm cream, thin Béchamel Sauces or purees.  When purees are used as a base, the liquid is either reduced with sugar to a syrup consistency or the puree liquid is stabilized with starch or an egg yolk liaison.
     The soufflé proportion of soft meringue to flavor base can be varied to create interesting texture effects.  The consistency of the flavor base also can be varied to create interesting texture effects.  Adding egg yolks to the flavor base creates interesting changes in texture too.  The proportion of chocolate also affects texture.  As one can see, there is plenty to toy around with when creating a unique soufflé recipe.
     The soufflé shape can be uniform or it can be free-form.  Some say that every soufflé ramekin should have a parchment paper collar to prevent flowering, but some soufflés actually gain an interesting look when allowed to flower.  Using fancy soufflé molds is also an option.  Fancy silicone baking molds are perfect for creating a modern free standing soufflé presentations.
     The surface texture of a soufflé also varies.  Some chefs prefer a soft thin "custard skin" texture on the surface.  Other chefs demand a slightly crunchy crust texture.  Learning how to make a soufflé batter, so it yields a desired surface texture also only comes with experience.
     The only two things that do not vary when making soufflé is the oven temperature and baking time.  All traditional soufflés are baked for 20 minutes in a 375ºF oven, with no exception.  Basically the specific oven temperature and baking time is the arena that all chefs must accept as an even playing field.    
     This all may seem complicated, but in reality, soufflé making is as easy as playing with food.  The more experience that a cook gains with fiddling around with soufflé making ideas, the more that a cook will learn.  Starting with a classic soufflé recipe is a good place to start, but understanding the soufflé principle is more important!  The tiny air bubbles in a soft meringue cause a soufflé to puff up when baked and this is the best place to start, when thinking about making that first soufflé!              
     
     Cranberry White Chocolate Soufflé:
     This recipe yields 1 individual dessert soufflé portion. 
     This is a puree & crème liaison base soufflé that has a classic thin crust.  No accompanying dessert sauce is needed with this great tasting soufflé.  The flavor of fresh cranberry and white chocolate tastes nice on its own!   
     Try not to disturb a soufflé while it is baking.  A soufflé takes twenty minutes to bake.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/3 cup of sugar.
     Attach a candy thermometer to the pot, so the tip is well into the liquid.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Boil till the water evaporates and the molten sugar starts to bubble.
     Cook the molten sugar till the temperature reaches the hard crack stage range of 300ºF to 310ºF.  
     Step 3:  Immediately add 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cranberries.
     Allow the molten hot sugar to seize the cranberries as it cools and hardens.
     *Do not sir or the sugar will stick to a spoon like hard candy.
     Wait till the hardened sugar starts to heat and liquify.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of brandy.
     Gently simmer till the hardened sugar melts and the cranberries are soft.
     Step 5:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Press the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Step 6:  Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the puree sauce is a medium thin syrup consistency that can easily glaze a spoon.
     *The yield will be a little less than 1/2 cup.
     Set the Cranberry Puree Sauce aside and let it cool to room temperature.
     Step 6:  Heat 1/3 cup of cream over low heat in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 ounce of chopped white chocolate.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     *The yield will be a little less than 1/4 cup.
     Keep the White Chocolate Crème warm on a stove top.
     Step 7:  Lightly brush a 2 cup capacity soufflé ramekin with melted unsalted butter.
     Lightly dust the butter with flour and shake out any excess flour.
     Set the prepared soufflé ramekin aside.
     Step 8:  Separate the yolks and whites of 2 large eggs into separate mixing bowls.
     Step 9:  Slowly add the warm White Chocolate Crème to the egg yolks in the mixing bowl, while constantly stirring.
     Add the Cranberry Puree Sauce to the White Chocolate Crème Egg Yolk Liaison while stirring.
     Set the soufflé base mixture aside.
     Step 10:  Whisk the egg whites till medium soft meringue peaks form.
     Step 11:  Gently fold the Cranberry White Chocolate Crème Liaison Base mixture into the Soft Meringue in the mixing bowl.
     *Fold in 1/3 of the sauce at a time.  The mixture should not be thoroughly combined or the air bubbles will be knocked out of the meringue!
     *The total volume yield of the soufflé mixture will be a little more than 1 1/3 cups.  This amount will puff up and fill a 2 cup soufflé ramekin after baking, so no parchment paper collar will need to be attached to the ramekin!
     Step 12:  Immediately pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared soufflé ramekin.
     Place the souffle ramekin on a baking pan.
     Place the pan in a 375ºF oven.
     Bake till the soufflé puffs up and till a thin brown crust forms over the top of the soufflé.  (About 20 minutes.)
     Step 13:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Set the soufflé ramekin on a doily lined serving dish.
     Sprinkle a little bit of powdered sugar over the soufflé.
     Serve the Cranberry White Chocolate Soufflé immediately while it is still hot and puffed up!

     This Cranberry White Chocolate Soufflé is a great choice for a winter holiday dessert!

Filet of Sole Princess






     A Nice Valentine's Day Entrée For The Ladies! 
     Filet of Sole Princess is a modern fine dining recipe that was popular from the 1970's through the mid 1990's.  I have cooked Filet of Sole Princess at French cafés and yacht clubs as a special du jour and this entrée always sold well.  Filet of Sole Princess was designed to appeal to the ladies and it is a classic choice for a Valentine's Day menu.
     Filet of Sole Princess is a classic modern recipe that originated in the 1900's.  This entrée should not be confused with the classic French Veal Princess Veal recipe, that if my memory serves me correctly, was prepared by Escoffier for royalty in England about 100 years ago.  The classic French Veal Princess Entrée does not resemble the modern Princess preparation and the recipe is much more complicated.  The two Princess theme entrées are two completely different recipes.  The old Escoffier recipe was prepared and elegantly presented to a Royal Prince and Princess, while the modern recipe theme is designed to entertain a female guest as if she was a princess.  Either way, both Princess entrée recipes have elegance and sophistication as a central theme.  
     I made the Filet of Sole Princess for today's recipe photo example many years ago, when Lemon Sole was still available.  Since then, Lemon Sole has practically become an endangered species.  Today's recipe can be made with nearly any kind of whitefish filet and it can be made with salmon.  This is good to keep in mind, because many sole species are no longer sustainable.  Sole is the classic choice and it is best to check the sustainability status before purchasing any kind of sole.  Follow this link to a reliable seafood sustainability resource that offers good information about which kind of sole is the best choice:  Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch 
     There are two well known Hollandaise recipes and both have been published in this website.  The Le Cordon Bleu recipe that was popular through the early 1970's requires a cold start with chilled butter.  This recipe also requires Dijon Mustard as an emulsifier and extra flavors are added, like Worcestershire Sauce.  This recipe was sanctioned by Le Cordon Bleu for a few decades in the mid 1900's, then this French culinary institution reverted to the original classic Escoffier Hollandaise Recipe, which is better suited to be used as a Mother Sauce, because the flavor is less complicated.  The Classic French Cuisine Mother Sauce Hollandaise is made with only the basic ingredients and the butter is butter is clarified to a light amber yellow color before it is added while it is warm.      
 
     Classic Hollandaise Sauce: 
     This is the old Escoffier recipe variation that is the French Hollandaise Mother Sauce standard.  Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     Classic Hollandaise Sauce

     Filet of Sole Princess:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Peel and trim 5 White Asparagus Spears, so they are 4" to 5" inches long.  (Only peel the White Asparagus Spears if they are wide and have tough skins.)
     Set the White Asparagus Spears aside.
     Step 2:  Select 1 whole sole filets that weighs about 8 to 10 ounces.
     *A whole sole filet looks like 2 joined individual filets with a dividing lateral line, because sole is a flatfish.  One side of the filet will be much smaller than the other.
     Cut along the lateral line to separate the 2 filet sections.
     Lightly season the sole filets with sea salt and white pepper.
     Set the sole filet sections aside.
     Step 3:  Place 1 1/2 cups of flour in a shallow wide container and set it aside.
     Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk till blended.
     Set the egg wash aside.
     Step 4:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.  (The sauté pan must be seasoned or it must have a non-stick surface.)
     Add 1 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Step 5:  Dredge sole filets in the flour.
     Dip the sole filets in egg wash.
     Lightly dredge each sole filet in the flour a second time and place them side by side in the hot butter and oil.
     Step 6:  Sauté the sole filets till the bottom half is a light golden color.
     Use a long spatula to flip the filets in the pan.
     Sauté till the sole filets are a light golden color on both sides.  
     Step 7:  Add 3/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/4 cup of fumet (clear white fish broth).
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Add the reserved white asparagus spears to the liquid in the pan.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the sole filets are fully cooked and the asparagus is tender.  Allow the excess liquid to evaporate.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Presentation:
     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
     Step 1:  Place the sole filets on the front half of a plate, so they slightly overlap.
     Arrange the white asparagus spears on top of the sole filets, so the spears resemble the points on a royal crown.
     Step 2:  Spoon a generous portion of the hollandaise sauce over the asparagus spear stalk ends and the back half of the sole filets.  (About 1/4 cup)
     Step 3:  Serve with a vegetables and a potato of your choice on the back half of the plate.
     *The entrée in the photos was served with a buttered boiled medley of Yukon Gold, Yukon Bliss and Purple Peru Potatoes.  Braised Kale and a Baked Tomato topped with Cheddar Cheese are the vegetables.
 
     Filet of Sole Princess is a nice simple elegant entrée that tastes great! 
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