Monday, August 14, 2017

Linguine alle Vongole Rosa

     Linguine with Red Clam Sauce!
     White Clam Sauce actually is the classic, but many people prefer Red Clam Sauce.  Even so, a traditional Italian White Clam Sauce has to be made before it can be turned into a Red Clam Sauce!
     A classic White Clam Sauce is made with olive oil, sliced garlic, lemon juice, white wine, parsley, seasoning, fresh clams and their own clam juices.  Classic White Clam Sauce is always made "a la minute" and the olive oil partially emulsifies with the lemon and clam juice when made properly.  The flavors are clean and bright with fresh clam flavor.
     Of course there is another White Clam Sauce variation that is not worth mentioning, because it is a bastardized recipe that is made at two bit diners and chain restaurants.  The sauce is made with canned clams and a milk sauce of some kind.  The creamy clam sauce version tastes more like a poorly made chowder and it usually is kept warm in a steam table for an extended length of time.  A clam sauce like this is not exactly a gourmet item and it definitely cannot be turned into an authentic Red Clam Sauce.
     Clams that are simply stewed in tomato sauce will only taste like clams that are stewed in tomato sauce.  Starting with a White Clam Sauce will create the best tasting Red Clam Sauce that you never had!  An authentic Italian White Clam Sauce is well balanced, just like the flavor of a classic Salsa di Pomodoro.  A classic Italian Tomato Sauce that is not flavored with roasted pork naturally marries with White Clam Sauce.
     A Marinara Sauce does not marry quite as well with White Clam Sauce, because the olive oil is not thoroughly incorporated with the tomatoes.  Marinara takes about 40 minutes to make and the course hand crushed tomatoes are not milled smooth after cooking.  Salsa di Pomodoro requires 4 hours of simmering and this sauce is usually run through a hand turned food mill to create a smoother texture, so the olive oil is thoroughly incorporated.    
     Salsa di Pomodoro:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Salsa di Pomodoro

     Linguine alle Vongole Rosa:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.  
     Manila, Razor, Little Neck Quahog and Large Neck Quahog Clams are good choices for making clam sauce.  Basically the choice of clams should be ones that are tender when raw, so only small to medium size clams should be used.  For the recipe photo example, I chose Large Neck Quahog Clams. 
     The sauce can be made in the same amount of time that it takes to cook the Linguine Pasta al dente (About 10 minutes).  This method results in the best texture, but it is necessary to work quickly.  
     For a little less stress while cooking, the pasta can be cooked al dente then cooled under cold running water ahead of time.  The cooled pre-cooked pasta will have to be reheated in boiling water before it is added to the sauce.     
     Step 1:  Thoroughly wash 7 to 9 whole fresh Large Neck Quahog Clams.
     *If the clams are extra muddy or sandy, then place them in a container of 1 gallon of water with 2 tablespoons of corn meal for 1 hour.  This step will purge any sediment out of the inside of the live clams.  Rinse the clams after they are purged. 
     Step 2:  Cook 1 portion of Linguine Pasta in a pot of boiling water over medium high heat till the pasta is al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off the pasta.
     Set the pasta aside till it is needed.
     Step 3:  Keep a pot of water boiling over medium high heat, so the pasta can be reheated later in the recipe.
     Step 4:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 2 cloves of thin sliced garlic.  (About 1 teaspoon)
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 5:  Add the whole large neck clams.
     Add 1/2 cup of Italian dry white wine.  (Pinot Grigio)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of crushed red pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Step 6:  Cover the saute pan with a lid.
     Allow the clams to steam till they open.  (About 90 seconds)
     *As the clams open, the clam juices will flow into the pan.  No flavor is lost when using this method.  
     Step 7:  After the clams open and release their juices, remove the pan from the heat.
     Use tongs to pick all but 1 clam out of the thin sauce.
     *Leave 1 whole clam and its shell in the pan, so it can be used as a garnish.
     Handle each clam one at a time and shake any liquid from the clams back into the pan.
     Hold each hot clam with a dry pastry towel and shuck the clam meat onto a cutting board.  (Discard the shells.)
     Chop the clam meat.
     Return the chopped clams to the sauce in the pan.  (Scrape any juice on the cutting board back into the pan.)
     Step 7:  Return the pan to medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce the sauce till about 1/2 cup of liquid remains.
     Step 8:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1 cup of the Salsa di Pomodoro.
     Add 1 coarse chopped large basil leaf.  (optional)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 9:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Use a pasta net to reheat the Linguine Pasta in the pot of boiling water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Step 10:  Remove the single whole clam that will be used as a garnish from the sauce and set it aside.
     Add the pasta to the Red Clam Sauce.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 11:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the Linguine alle Vongole Rosa on a plate.
     Pour any excess sauce over the pasta.
     Step 12:  Place the reserved cooked whole clam on top of the pasta as a garnish.
     Place 1 small Italian Parsley sprig inside the open clam.
     Place a thin sliced lemon curl on the parsley inside the clam shell garnish.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of minced Italian Parsley over the pasta.
     *Serve with finely grated Parmigiana Cheese on the side.  Serve with warm Italian bread or garlic bread on the side.

     By cooking the whole clams in the sauce, the clam juices stay in the sauce.  The ocean flavor of a fresh clam sauce is very satisfying!  The technique of cooking whole clams in the sauce is much better than adding bottled clam juice!

Friday, August 11, 2017


     A Simple Italian Antipasti!
     Carpaccio was originally created at a restaurant in Venice, Italy, by a chef for a loyal female patron.  Carpaccio is named after a famous Italian painter.  When putting two and two together, it is easy to see that Carpaccio was designed to classically romance a customer.
     The original Carpaccio was a petite portion of paper thin sliced lean raw beef draped on a plate.  The raw beef was lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper.  The original sauce was a combination of lemon juice, olive oil, seasoning and Dijon Mustard, which was made "a la minute."  A garnish of fragrant peppery greens, like arugula or watercress, is the classic choice.  Shaved Parmigiana Cheese always is sprinkled on the Carpaccio just before it is served.
     The flavors of the original Carpaccio were crisp and appealing, yet a sauce made with Dijon Mustard was not really Italian.  In fact, most Italian chefs from that period in history did not stock Dijon Mustard in their kitchen at all.  As far as that goes, France was the chief culinary competitor of Italy, so using French food items to create Italian food was pretty much deemed as being taboo by fellow chefs.  
     As the Carpaccio antipasti gained popularity, regional Italian chefs offered this item in their restaurants.  Because of the mustard discrepancy and the lack of stocking Dijon Mustard in an Italian restaurant kitchen, most chefs opted to leave the mustard out of the accompanying sauce recipe.  The result was a simple lemon and olive oil sauce that was a better representation of Venetian cuisine.  A simple sauce of lemon juice and virgin olive oil has been the standard for Carpaccio ever since.
     Many modern chefs are naturally drawn toward selecting a premium cut of beef, like the tenderloin section, when making Carpaccio.  The sad truth is that beef tenderloin has too bland of a flavor when it is served raw.  The original cut of beef for Carpaccio is the Eye Of Round.  The Eye Of Round is also called the "Mock Tenderloin."  For Carpaccio, this beef cut selection makes sense for a few reasons.  The Eye Of Round is very lean and it has a much heartier beef flavor than tenderloin.  Because the Eye Of Round is so lean, it is notoriously tough if it is overcooked, so serving this cut of beef as Carpaccio is a good choice.  
     Cutting the Eye Of Round into thin slices too far ahead of time will cause the beef to oxidize and the beef will lose flavor.  Cutting paper thin slices of Eye Of Round is also a challenging task in itself, but there is a little trick involved that will make the project much easier to accomplish.  If the Eye Of Round is partially frozen, then the meat can easily be cut into paper thin slices with a razor sharp chef knife or an electric meat slicing machine.  If a knife is used, apply downward pressure while rocking the blade back and forth on the partially frozen Eye Of Round.  With patience, each thin slice will be perfect.
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer portion.
     You will need a razor sharp chef knife or a good electric meat slicer machine to cut paper thin slices of Beef Eye Of Round.  If your knife skills are not adept or there is no meat slicer in the kitchen, then ask the butcher to cut the Eye Of Round into paper thin slices for Carpaccio.  Most butchers know what Carpaccio is.  Be sure that the butcher separates the paper thin slices across a piece of parchment paper, or the thin slices of beef will stick to each other.
     Step 1:  Select a section of Eye Of Round at a butcher shop.
     Trim off any fat or silver floss from the Eye Of Round.
     Step 2:  Cover the Eye Of Round Section with plastic wrap.
     Place the beef section in a freezer.
     Freeze till the beef section is very firm and almost solid.
     Remove the plastic wrap.
     Step 3:  Use a meat slicer machine to slowly cut very thin slices of Beef Eye Of Round.  (About 1/16" to 1/8" thick.)
     *If no meat slicer is available, then use a large razor sharp chef knife and follow this step:
     Grasp the partially frozen Beef Eye Of Round and firmly hold it against a cutting board.
     Press the blade firmly down on the partially frozen meat and rock the knife blade slowly back and forth.  The paper thin slices of partially frozen beef will curl off of the blade.
     Each slice of beef should be placed on the serving plate immediately after it has been sliced.
     Overlap the beef slices on a serving plate, till the plate is covered.  (A 3 1/2 to 4 ounce portion is plenty.)
     Step 4:  Lightly season the thin sliced beef with 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Place a small bunch of watercress or arugula greens on top of the thin sliced beef on the back half of the plate.
     Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil over the beef and watercress.
     Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice over the beef and watercress.
     Sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of thin shaved Parmigiana Cheese over the beef.
     Garnish with a thin lemon slice curl.

     Carpaccio is a simple delicious light antipasti that will impress guests!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Southern Fried Green Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato aux Sauce Lautrec and Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique

     A Gourmet Fried Green Tomato!
     When it comes to serving fine food, "presentation is nine tenths of the law!"  An ordinary Southern style appetizer, like Fried Green Tomatoes, can be jazzed up, just by applying a little bit of extra effort.  Applying a couple of tasty French sauces to the presentation can turn Fried Green Tomatoes into a classy food item.     
     Sauce Lautrec is a classic French mint cream sauce for savory food and it usually accompanies shrimp, lobster or lotte.  This sauce receives very little attention these days and few chefs remember Sauce Lautrec at all.  Sauce Lautrec was named in honor of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. 
     Sauce Lautrec can be made with Béchamel or a Velouté Sauce Suprême, depending on the application.  This sauce can also be made by simply reducing cream, but a cream reduction is costly and it is not exactly healthy.  The key to achieving a peak mint flavor is accomplished by adding the mint late in the recipe.
     Understanding the principal of a gastrique is essential to know, before making this item.  A gastrique is a digestif that can be used as a glacé sauce.  A gastrique contains the essence of herbs, spices, shallot, vinegar and seasonings that ease the digestive process.  A gastrique looks like a sugar syrup, but it is not sweet.  This is because the sugar is cooked to varying degrees of caramelization before the rest of the ingredients are added.  A gastrique also features an intense featured flavor and it takes on the color of whatever featured ingredient is added.  For example, a Strawberry Gastrique will be bright red and will have an intense strawberry flavor with undertones of digestif herb flavors, yet the glacé will not taste sweet.     
     Fine dining restaurants usually have a large wine cellar.  The sommelier manages the wine maturation process in the cellar.  Occasionally a good wine ages beyond its lifespan and turns into vinegar.  Good wine that has turned into vinegar is perfect for making vinaigrette or gastrique sauces.  White wine vinegar is best for making a gastrique, but red wine vinegar can be used for certain gastriques too.  If a great bottle of red wine turns to vinegar then making a gastrique is a good idea, because featuring the name of the great red wine in the gastrique title will impress guests. 
     Of course featuring a great red wine that has not turned into vinegar can be done too.  The addition of red wine accents the vinegar qualities in the gastrique.  The red wine tannins also act as a natural digestif.  When a great red wine is the featured flavor in a gastrique, using the name of the wine in the title of the gastrique will interest guests.  A combination of fresh raspberries and Italian Tormaresca Neprica Wine are featured in today's gastrique recipe, so the best choice for a name is Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique.  Simply calling this creation a "Raspberry Red Wine Gastrique" certainly would not be as effective for romancing the guests.
     For making a truly gourmet fried green tomato appetizer, selecting an organic heirloom green tomato is the best choice.  There is a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes to choose from and some taste great when they are an unripe green color.  For today's recipe, I selected an unripe Orange Amana Tomato.  Orange Amana Tomatoes are also called a few other names, so visual identification is the best tool.  Photos of a ripe and unripe Orange Amana Tomato can be seen in the pictures at the top of this article.   
     A green unripe Orange Amana Tomato will have some orange tint when it is cut open.  This heirloom tomato varietal is meaty, so it is perfect for frying.  A ripe Orange Amana Tomato tastes sweet, while an unripe green Orange Amana Tomato has a pleasant sweet tart flavor.      

     Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique:
     This recipe yields almost 1/2 cup.  (Enough for 6 to 8 garnish applications.)  
     A gastrique has a concentrated rich flavor, so a little bit goes a long way.  Gastrique has a very long shelf life if it is refrigerated.  A chilled gastrique will need to be warmed before serving. 
     *The sugar is cooked to a dark amber color for this gastrique.  Always wear protective clothing when working with molten sugar.   
     Step 1:  Chop 1 cup of raspberries into small pieces and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of sugar.
     Boil till the water evaporates and the molten sugar starts to bubble and foam.
     Cook the molten sugar till it turns an amber brown color.
     Step 3:  Immediately add the reserved chopped raspberries.
     *Do not stir or the molten sugar will harden on a spoon like candy! 
     Carefully and gently shake the sauce pot, till the molten caramelized sugar seizes the raspberries as it hardens.
     Cook for a few minutes, till the raspberry juices just start to melt the hardened sugar.
     Step 4:  *Steam will be produced in this next step, so be careful.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.
     Add 1/2 cup of Tormaresca Neprica Wine.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thyme leaves.
     Add 1 laurel leaf.
     Add 1 small pinch of whole fennel seed.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the gastrique is a thin syrup consistency that can glaze the back of a spoon.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Pour the gastrique through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     *Do not press the fruit pulp through the strainer!  Discard the spent fruit pulp along with the other solid ingredients.
     Step 7:  Let the Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique cool to room temperature.
     Place the gastrique in a plastic squirt bottle.
     Set the gastrique aside or chill it for later use.
     *A chilled gastrique must be warmed to room temperature before it can be used.

     Chicken Velouté:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup of velouté sauce.
     • A white roux is used in place of a blonde roux, when making a velouté sauce that will be used to make sauce suprême!   
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should look shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir, till the roux cooks to a pale white color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of chicken stock.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Whisk the sauce occasionally as it comes to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  When the sauce comes to a gentle boil, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add a tied bouquet garni of:
     - Leek
     - Celery
     - 1/2 of a small bay leaf
     - 1 small prig of thyme
     - 1 parsley stalk
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin sauce consistency that barely glazes a spoon.  (There should only be about 1 cup of velouté sauce after the reduction is completed.)
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter, while whisking.  (Monte au beurre.  This will keep a "skin" from forming on the velouté.)
     Set the velouté aside.

     Suprême Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups of sauce.
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of velouté sauce in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of mushroom peelings.
     Add 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of crème fraîche.  
     *Modern crème fraîche is a mixture of 50% sour cream and 50% cream.  Only add enough crème fraîche to turn the velouté into a white color. 
     Step 2:  Place the pot over low heat.
     After the sauce heats, simmer the sauce for 10 minutes.
     Whisk the sauce, till it becomes smooth.
     Step 3:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container. 

     Sauce Lautrec:
     This recipe yields 2/3 cup.  (2 generous garnish portions)       
     Step 1:  Place 2/3 cup of the Suprême Sauce in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/3 cup of dry white wine.
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced fresh mint leaves.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chilled unsalted butter while stirring.
     Step 4:  Place the sauce in a ceramic cup
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Southern Fried Green Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato:  
     This recipe yields 1 large appetizer portion or 1 lunch entrée portion. 
     Southern Fried refers to pan frying in a cast iron skillet.  A combination of lard, bacon grease or chicken grease and oil is used as a frying medium.  Buttermilk and seasoned flour is a Southern style coating.  
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk in a mixing bowl and set it aside.
     Place 2 cups of all purpose flour in a second mixing bowl.
     Lightly season the flour with 2 to 3 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Set the bowl of seasoned flour aside.
     Step 2:  Place a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of roasted lard, chicken grease or bacon grease.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil, so the level of oil is about 1/2" deep.
     Adjust the temperature to 360ºF.
     Step 3:  Select a green unripe Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato that is about 3 1/2" to 4" in diameter.
     Cut the tomato into 1/4" thick slices.  (5 or 6 slices will be needed.  Discard the end slices.)
     Step 4:  Dredge the tomato slices in the seasoned flour.
     Dredge the floured tomato slices in the buttermilk.
     Dredge the buttermilk coated tomato slices in the seasoned flour a second time to create a thin coating.
     Step 5:  Place the coated green tomato slices side by side in the hot oil.
     Pan fry till the bottom half is a golden color.
     Use tongs to turn the tomato slices over.
     Fry till the coating is crispy golden brown on both sides.
     Step 6:  Place the fried green tomato slices on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the fried green tomato slices warm on a stove top.
     Southern Fried Green Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato aux Sauce Lautrec and Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique:
     This recipe yields 1 large appetizer (or 1 lunch entrée).
     Step 1:  Use a spoon to pour and spread a 7" to 8" diameter bed of Sauce Lautrec on the center of a large plate.  (A little more than 1/4 cup.)
     Use the squirt bottle of Raspberry Tormaresca Neprica Gastrique to paint a simple spiral design outward from the center of the Lautrec Sauce.
     Drag the tip of a skewer from the center of the plate outward through the two sauces, to create a spider web visual effect.
     Step 2:  Carefully overlap 5 or 6 of the Southern Fried Green Heirloom Amana Tomato Slices across the center of the plate, on top of the two sauces.
     Garnish with mint sprigs.

     Viola!  Gourmet French café style Southern Fried Green Tomatoes! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

King Crab Remoulade Stuffed Artichoke Bottom with Belgian Endive, Arugula and Roasted Red Pepper Lemon White Truffle Oil

     A Nice Petite Salad or Appetizer!
     A King Crab Remoulade Stuffed Artichoke Bottom can be served as a light lunch salad entrée or as an appetizer.  I used to make a similar crab remoulade stuffed artichoke bottom salad at the first French restaurant that I apprenticed in way back in the early 1980's.  Back in those days, French restaurants still primarily focused on classic French cuisine.  Crab or shrimp with Remoulade or Sauce Louis was a popular item.  These mayonnaise based sauces soon fell out of favor when the modern French health cuisine trend began.  
     Many fans of classic French cuisine simply refuse to dine out these days, because modern restaurants no longer offer their old favorite food items.  The dining value is not what it used to be either.  Preparing the traditional French food favorites at home is the only choice, when classic food is desired.  Today's salad entrée recipe is a throwback to the good old days when French cuisine was symbolic of decadent rich tasting classic food items.  

     French Remoulade (White Color):
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.
     Remoulade can be refrigerated for 7 days.
     There are two kinds of French Remoulade.  White Color Remoulade is made with mayonnaise.  Yellow Color Remoulade is flavored with curry powder and this recipe variation was lauded by Escoffier.  Most chefs prefer the plain Remoulade recipe variation.  Horseradish is a popular optional ingredient for plain white Remoulade and it adds a zesty flavor.         
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard.
     Add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced shallot.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of fine grated horseradish.  (optional)
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of minced capers.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped Cornichon Pickles.
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of minced tarragon.
     Add 2 pinches of minced chervil.
     Add 1 pinch of minced dill weed.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 5:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Place the remoulade in a container.
     Chill the remoulade in a refrigerator for at least 1 hour, so the flavors meld.

     Artichoke Bottom Preparation:
     This recipe yields 1 artichoke bottom.
     Step 1:  Place 1 whole fresh large artichoke in a pot.
     Add 1/2 of a lemon.
     Add enough water to cover the artichoke.
     Weight the artichoke down, so it is submerged.
     *The artichoke must be completely submerged in the water when boiling.  Artichokes do float in water!  Placing a small dish or bowl on top of the artichoke like a weight will keep the artichoke under water in the pot.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Boil till the artichoke is fully cooked.
     *The cooking time depends on the size of the artichoke.  Usually 8 to 10 minutes is enough time for the artichoke to become fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Cool the cooked artichoke under cold running water.
     Step 4:  Cut off the stem.
     Gently peel off all of the artichoke petals, except for the thin petals that surround the artichoke heart.
     Step 5:  Use a sharp paring knife to trim off the thin petals and the hard purple color choke.
     Carefully trim the outside edge of the artichoke bottom, so it looks nice.
     Trim the stem side of the artichoke bottom, so it will be stable when it is placed on a plate.
     Chill the artichoke bottom till it is needed.
     *The thin artichoke heart petals and meaty scrapings from the large petals can be used to flavor sauces, like Bagna Cauda.

     Alaskan King Crab Remoulade:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (Enough to stuff 1 artichoke bottom.)
     Step 1:  Shell 3 ounces of Alaska King Crab Leg Meat.
     Coarsely chop the crab meat.
     Step 2:  Place the King Crab Meat in a small mixing bowl.
     Add just enough Remoulade to bind the crab meat together, so it will hold its own shape when squeezed.  (About 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons.)
     Gently mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the Crab Remoulade in a refrigerator till it is needed.

     Roasted Red Pepper Lemon White Truffle Oil: 
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Place 1 tablespoon of finely minced roasted red bell pepper in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of White Truffle Oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of coarsely ground black pepper.
     Step 2:  Stir the ingredients together and set it aside.

     King Crab Remoulade Stuffed Artichoke Bottom with Belgian Endive, Arugula and Roasted Red Pepper Lemon White Truffle Oil:
     This recipe yields 1 salad entrée.
     Step 1:  Place a small bed of Baby Arugula Leaves on the middle of a plate, so they fan out from center.  (About 2/3 cup loose packed.)
     Evenly space 4 large Belgian Endive Leaves on the center of the bed of Arugula.
     Set the artichoke bottom on the center of the plate over top the ends of the Belgian Endive Leaves.
     Step 2:  Use a scoop to shape the King Crab Remoulade into a ball shape.
     Place the Crab Remoulade ball on the artichoke bottom and gently press it in place.
     Step 3:  Use a spoon to drizzle drops of the Roasted Red Pepper Lemon White Truffle Oil on the lettuce and the plate.
     Garnish the Crab Remoulade with a lemon zest curl.

     Viola!  A classic French café style King Crab Stuffed Artichoke Bottom salad entrée!                  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Duck Breast Filet with Beech Mushrooms en Green Peppercorn Cognac Glace and Basil Tomato Polenta

     Savory Duck Breast For Any Season!
     How wild game and game birds are handled when butchering does affect the flavor of the meat.  The blood of wild game contributes to the strong flavor, so the quicker the blood is drained, the milder tasting the meat will be.  Commercial duck processing thoroughly drains the blood from the carcass and the meat is a much lighter color than duck that is dressed in the field the old fashioned way.  Lighter color commercial duck meat equates to milder tasting duck meat, which will please guests that prefer mild wild game bird flavors, but wild game bird hunters may be disappointed by the lack of flavor.  This is why Glace Viande Sauces are often used to reintroduce strong rich flavors to commercial duck breast filet entrée.  
     During most of the 1900's, fully cooked duck meat was the standard in restaurants.  During the last few decades, a trend of cooking a duck breast filet rare to medium rare has taken center stage.  Rare cooked duck breast meat is safe to eat, but there are arguments concerning whether rare duck meat is the best choice as far as flavor is concerned.  Classic duck breast filet preparations are usually cooked medium well done, which creates more flavor, but the texture will be firmer.  Rare cooked duck breast may be more tender, but it will have less flavor unless the duck was harvested in the wild.  Basically the finish temperature of duck breast is just a matter of personal preference and there really is no right or wrong choice.  As can be seen in the photos above, I personally prefer farm raised commercial duck breast to be cooked to a medium well temperature, so there is no shame in preparing duck however you may like it prepared!    
     The flavors of this duck breast entrée are classic.  Green Peppercorn Cognac Glace tastes great with duck.  The mild "nutty" flavor of White Beech Mushrooms add an interesting contrast to sauce.  The accompanying Fresh Basil Tomato Polenta adds a little bit of zesty flavor to entrée.  This is a tasty savory duck breast entrée that can be served any season and it is a departure from duck entrées that feature strong tasting fruit sauces.

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

     Basil Tomato Polenta:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 portions.  (About 1 1/2 cups.)
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of light chicken broth in a sauce pot.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 2:  Slowly add 1/2 cup of corn meal while stirring constantly with a whisk.
     Stir till the liquid looks like it is just starting to thicken.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Constantly whisk, without stopping, till the polenta is smooth and creamy.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Stir occasionally till the corn meal can absorb no more liquid.
     Allow the polenta to gently simmer till it becomes a medium stiff consistency that can be gathered with a spoon.  
     Step 5:  Add 1 tablespoon of chiffonade sliced fresh basil leaves.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter while stirring.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Place the Basil Tomato Polenta into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep the pastry bag warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Duck Breast Filet with Beech Mushrooms en Green Peppercorn Cognac Glace: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Select a duck breast filet that weighs about 6 ounces.
     Remove the skin.
     Trim off any excess fat.
     Lightly season the duck breast with sea salt.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rendered duck fat.  (If you have no rendered duck fat, then use unsalted butter.)
     Add the prepared duck breast filet.
     Sauté both sides till the duck breast is almost cooked to the preferred finish temperature.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the duck breast aside on a platter.
     Drain the excess grease out of the pan.
     Step 4:  Place the sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of finely minced shallot.
     Sauté the shallot turns clear in color.
     Step 5:  Add 12 to 14 trimmed small White Beech Mushroom caps.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Canned Green Peppercorns that were packed in brine.  (This item can be difficult to find.  The Amazon internet store is a good source.)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Gently sauté till the mushrooms start to cook.
     Step 6:  Add 1 tablespoon of thin Glace Viande.
     Add 1/2 cup of duck stock (or roasted chicken broth).
     Add 1/2 cup of cognac (or brandy).
     Step 7:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Simmer and reduce the liquid by half
     Step 8:  Return the sautéed duck breast to the sauce in the pan.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin glaze consistency.
     Step 9:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chilled unsalted butter to the sauce while stirring.

     Duck Breast Filet with Beech Mushrooms en Green Peppercorn Cognac Glace and Basil Tomato Polenta:  
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Use the star tipped pastry bag to pipe a small mound of the Basil Tomato Polenta on the center of a large plate.  (About 3/4 cup.)
     Step 2:  Arrange some buttered steamed zucchini strips, yellow squash strips and red bell pepper strips on the back half of the plate next to the polenta.
     Step 3:  Remove the duck breast from the sauce and set it on a cutting board.
     Thin slice the duck breast at a forty five degree angle across the grain of the meat.
     Overlap the duck breast slices on the front half of the plate, so they lean against the polenta.
     Step 4:  Spoon the Beech Mushrooms en Green Peppercorn Cognac Glace over the edge of the sliced duck breast and onto the plate.
     Step 5:  Garnish the polenta with a couple of very thin green onion top slivers.

     Viola!  A savory, yet light tasting duck breast entrée for summer!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Black Tip Shark Steak au Carambola Rum Butter Sauce

     Tropically Delicious!
     The light flavor of Carambola and rum tastes nice with black tip shark.  Unripe green Carambola tastes like limeade.  Yellowish orange color ripe Carambola tastes like sweet light citrus fruit.  I used green Carambola for today's recipe, because it adds a refreshing flavor that is suitable for hot summer weather.
     Black Tip Shark is a medium size reef shark.  Black Tip Shark Steak has a clean savory flavor and a firm texture.  The flavor of the meat tastes like Swordfish, Wahoo or White Marlin.  Shark Steaks tend to be very forgiving, because the tight grain meat retains moisture and it takes some severe overcooking to dry the meat out.
     Black Tip Sharks are fairly docile as far as reef sharks go, however they will become extremely aggressive during a feeding frenzy.  Wounded fish or blood in the water triggers the aggressive behavior.  These sharks also become aggressive during the spring mating season when they travel into bay waters to lay their egg sacks.
     The age of a shark affects the flavor and texture of the meat.  Old sharks tend to have tougher meat and a strong flavor.  Old large sharks also tend to accumulate more mercury during their lifetime, which can pose a health threat if consumed on a regular basis.  Yearlings tend to be milder tasting and more tender.  Yearling sharks also have a lower Mercury parts per million count.
     Once any large shark reaches a mature age, the meat becomes susceptible to ammonia contamination because of overexertion while being caught.  A large shark's urine can "back up" into the blood stream and leave an undesirable flavor.  If any size shark is not gutted quickly after it is killed, the urine will back up into the blood and the meat will have an undesirable flavor.  When purchasing a shark steak, it is best to ask to smell the steak before making the purchase.  If the shark meat is odorless and clean smelling then it was well prepared.
     There are some red blood meat strands in a shark steak, just like there is in Swordfish or Red Fish (Red Drum) meat.  The red meat in a shark steak will cook to a brown color and it has a nice beef steak kind of flavor, so do not trim off the flavorful red meat!
     On a serious note, shark sustainability is now a major issue.  In recent years shark populations of every kind have drastically declined in numbers, mostly because of the mythical belief that Shark Fin Soup increases longevity.  Today's recipe was originally published back when most shark species were sustainable.  Black Tip Shark populations are currently recovering from overfishing, so it is best to avoid this species altogether.  
     There are a few sustainable shark species that are good alternatives for Black Tip Shark.  Spiny Dogfish, Common Thresher, Shortfin Mako and Blue Sharks from well managed fisheries are currently listed as sustainable choices.  The list of sustainable shark species is subject to change on short notice, so it is always best to check the sustainability ratings before making a purchase.  Two good resources for shark sustainability are:
     • Environmental Defense Fund
     • Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

     Braised Sweet Pepper Dandelion Greens:
     This recipe yields 2 petite portions.
     Dandelion is a nice leafy green vegetable for the spring and summer season.  Dandelion Greens have a bitter flavor that can be tamed when braised.   
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped onion.
     Sauté till the onion turns clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/3 cup of ripe sweet red bell pepper strips.  (1/4" thick)
     Add 4 cups of trimmed dandelion leaves.  (loose packed)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté and toss till the dandelion greens start to wilt.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of chicken stock.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pan with a lid.
     Simmer till the dandelion greens become tender.
     Step 5:  Remove the lid from the pan.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till most of the excess liquid evaporates.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Braised Sweet Pepper Dandelion Greens warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Black Tip Shark Steak au Carambola Rum Butter Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     If Black Tip Reef Shark is still listed as an endangered species, then select an alternative sustainable shark species or billfish for this recipe.
     Step 1:  Select a 10 to 12 ounce Black Tip Shark Steak.
     Press 2 pinches of cracked black pepper and sea salt into the surface of the black tip shark steak.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
     Place the seasoned shark steak in the pan.
     Pan sear the shark steak both sides till golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Drain the excess grease out of the pan.
     Step 4:  Return the pan with the shark steak to medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Briefly sauté till the shallot turns clear in color.
     Step 5:  Add 7 thin slices of unripe green carambola (Star Fruit) that are 3/16" thick.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 cup of rum.
     Flambé till the alcohol is denatured.
     Step 6:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the shark steak is fully cooked.  (About 4 to 5 minutes.)
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Place the shark steak on a plate.
     Overlap the warm carambola slices on top of the shark steak.
     Keep the plate warm on a stove top.
     Step 8:  Place the pan with the thin rum sauce over medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till the sauce is thin syrup consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 9:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chilled unsalted butter to the glaze in the pan while stirring with a whisk.
     Pour the butter sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a ceramic cup.
     Spoon the Carambola Rum Butter Sauce over the shark steak.
     Step 10:  Place 2 vegetables and potato of your choice on the back half of the plate.
     *The entrée in the photos was served with Braised Sweet Pepper Dandelion Greens, Wax Beans and Dauphinoise Potatoes.  
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig and a lemon wedge.
     This is a nice tasting Caribbean style shark entrée for summer!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Balsamic Salmon Steak a la Griglia with Moroccan Spice Couscous

     Mediterranean Cuisine!
     Arabic culinary influences can be noticed in Italian, French and Spanish cookery.  European culinary influences can also be noticed in North African cookery.  The Mediterranean region has always been a haven for fusions of cultural cuisines.  Ancient trade routes, invaders, conquerors and civilizations that have long since disappeared have all influenced the cuisines in this region.  
     In modern times, the global mass media, tourism and international trade all influence Mediterranean cuisines and vice versa.  Chefs in North Africa and Southern Europe design food that will appeal to tourists.  Creating an entrée for visitors that has an easy to recognize featured ingredient that is prepared with local cooking techniques and accompanied by local food items, in essence is a means for introducing neophytes to a cultural cuisine.  
     A globalized Mediterranean cuisine entrée may feature a popular protein from a foreign land that is prepared with classic simple techniques.  For example, featuring something like salmon in a modern Mediterranean style entrée is not unheard of, because salmon is frozen and shipped worldwide.  Farmed salmon is abundant, so it can replace local Mediterranean fish species that may have sustainability issues, while generating interest in visiting tourists that long for something familiar to eat.   
     Every plate of food has a story to tell and this intangible factor generates customer interest.  Many countries from foreign lands have attempted to colonize and occupy Egypt and North Africa.  The culinary influence origins act as reference points to certain periods in history and a customer that is aware of these factors may look at a plate of Mediterranean food then read it like a history book.  One hundred years from now, the age of mass media globalization, international shipping and jet aircraft tourism will probably be looked upon as just another invasive cultural influence that left its mark in the cuisines of the Mediterranean region and vice versa.  
     Today's Balsamic Salmon Steak a la Griglia with Moroccan Spice Couscous recipe is a good example of globalized tourism cuisine that is designed to create interest.  The recipe actually is basic, so guests will find it easy to recognize.  This is a nice summer season entrée that has flavors that will inspire some interesting table conversation!           

     Marinated Balsamic Salmon Steak:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     The salmon should be marinated for less than one hour, or the Balsamic Vinegar will negatively change the character of the fish flavor.
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of Modena Balsamic Vinegar in a small container.
     Add 2 tablespoons of dry white wine.
     Add 2 tablespoons of water.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 2:  Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of rosemary.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 crushed garlic clove.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced onion.
     Stir the marinade ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Select a 6 to 8 ounce salmon steak. 
     Trim the belly flap sections off of the steak.  (Save the fatty belly flaps for other recipes.)
     Step 4:  Place the salmon steak in the marinade.
     Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Occasionally flip the salmon in the marinade.

     Moroccan Spice Couscous:
     This recipe yields about 3 cups.  (2 generous portions)
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of water in a small sauce pot. 
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced onion.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander. 
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of rubbed saffron.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch of mace.
     Add 1 pinch of clove.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of ground fennel.
     Step 3:  Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.  (optional)
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 4:  Place the pot over medium heat.  
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Add 3/4 cup of small fine couscous.  (Millet Grain Style Couscous)
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Return the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Stir the couscous.
     Place a lid on the pot.
     Allow the couscous to gently steam and absorb the liquid.
     Step 8:  Keep the couscous warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Balsamic Salmon Steak a la Griglia with Moroccan Spice Couscous:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  
     I always suggest cooking salmon till the center temperature is 145ºF (fully cooked).  Only salmon that has undergone the deep freeze process for sushi is safe to eat medium rare.  
     Step 1:  Heat a chargrill (or cast iron ribbed griddle) to a medium/medium high temperature.
     Brush the grill with vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Remove the salmon steak from the marinade and place it on the grill.
     Grill the salmon steak till it is fully cooked.  Try to flip the salmon, so it cooks evenly and cross-check grill marks appear.
     After the salmon is fully cooked, set it aside to rest for one minute.
     Step 3:  Use a 4" wide ring mold to place a generous portion of the Moroccan Spice Couscous on the center of a plate.  (About 1 1/4 cups)
     Use a spoon to press the couscous into the ring mold.
     Remove the ring mold.
     Carefully place the grilled Balsamic Salmon Steak on top of the couscous.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle 1 pinch of chopped Italian Parsley on the plate.
     Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of small chopped red bell pepper on the plate.
     Garnish the salmon with a thin sliced lime curl.
     Serve with a vegetable of your choice on the side.

     This is a great tasting Mediterranean style salmon entrée!