Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fegato di vitello alla Veneziana a Polenta al Formaggio di Capra

     Venetian Style Veal Liver with Goat Cheese Polenta!  
     Fegato di vitello alla Veneziana is a traditional Italian veal liver entrée.  Just forget about any tough, chewy liver you might have experienced in the past.  Today's recipe nothing like a typical overcooked strong tasting plate of liver and onions that customers endure at a greasy spoon diner.  Venetian style liver and onions is tender and light on the palate.  Fegato di vitello alla Veneziana is a delight to eat!
     Fegato di vitello alla Veneziana is usually cooked lightly with almost no caramelization of the liver or onions.  When lightly sautéed, the coating on the liver pieces have a velvety feel.  The Italian cooking technique word "delicato" accurately describes how this recipe should be prepared.  If the liver and onions are caramelized, the delicate lemon and sweet onion flavors would be lost.  
     Polenta al Formaggio di Capra translates to Goat Cheese Polenta.  The sharp flavor of Goat Cheese Polenta is a nice accompaniment for this delicate tasting Italian liver entrée.  In the Venice region of Italy, Polenta is a popular accompaniment.
     Fresh Chevre Cheese is what most American chefs choose for making Goat Cheese Polenta.  In reality, just about any kind of goat cheese can be used to flavor polenta.  Feta is a good choice, because it usually sells for a much cheaper price than soft Chevre.
     Because goat milk contains almost no fat, goat cheese will only soften when heated.  It does take time for Feta Cheese to soften enough to blend with the polenta.  
     Polenta al Formaggio di Capra:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 portions of polenta.  
     No broth is used to make this polenta.  Use only water.  The sharp flavor of the goat cheese is should be featured on its own.
     Corn Meal is used to make most modern polenta recipes.  Originally polenta was made with local old world grain.
     The exact amount of corn meal cannot be accurately measured, because the finished texture is a matter of personal preference.  Some prefer soft loose polenta and some prefer thick stiff polenta.  Polenta that has the consistency of creamy mashed potato will hold its shape on a plate.
     Step 1:  Boil 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Slowly add 1/2 cup of fine ground corn meal while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     As soon as the polenta thickens, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Constantly whisk the polenta till it smooth and creamy.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of crumbled Feta Cheese while whisking.
     Whisk occasionally, till the cheese softens and blends into the polenta.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian Parsley while whisking.
     Spoon the polenta into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep the polenta warm on the stove top.
     Fegato di vitello alla Venezia:  
     This recipe yields 1 generous portion.
     Thin sliced veal liver is required for this recipe.  Grocery store pre-packaged sliced veal liver is usually cut too thick.  A good butcher shop can thin slice a portion of veal liver on request.
     Adding sea salt to veal liver too early while cooking will cause the veal liver to become dry and tough!  Always add the salt last when cooking veal liver.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 3/4 cup of thin sliced onion.
     Gently sauté till the onions are cooked soft and they are clear in color.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the pan of sautéed onions aside.
     Step 2:  Cut 8 ounces of thin sliced veal liver into ribbon shaped strips that are about 1 1/4" wide.
     Lightly dredge the veal liver strips in flour.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
     Add the floured veal liver strips, a few at a time, till they all are in the pan.
     Sauté the veal liver strips till they are almost fully cooked and very light brown highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Drain off some of the excess olive oil.  (Leave a little in the pan.)
     Step 4:  Add 1 finely minced garlic clove.
     Add the reserved sautéed onions.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of beef broth.
     Step 5:  Simmer and reduce the sauce till it is a thin consistency.  The sauce should just be thick enough to lightly glaze the liver pieces.  (Some olive oil will seep out of the sauce, but that is the nature of this sauce!)
     Step 6:  Add 2 pinches of sea salt while tossing the ingredients together.
    Remove the pan from the heat.  
     Fegato di vitello alla Veneziana a Polenta al Formaggio di Capra:
     Pipe the goat cheese polenta onto the plate.
     Mound the Venetian style veal liver and onions against the polenta on the plate.
     Pour any sauce that remains in the pan over the liver.
     Garnish the polenta with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve with steamed sweet snap peas or a vegetable of your choice.
     Tender, delicious and no heavy liver aroma!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Schweinelende Schnitzel and Preserved Lemon Caper Cognac Butter with Bavarian Style Cabbage en Sweet Tomato Sauce

     Bavarian Style Pork Schnitzel!
     Bavarian cuisine is unique because tradition is a hallmark, yet this cuisine adapts many influences of neighboring cultures.  The Czech Republic is located on the east border of Bavaria, so Czechoslovakian cooking influences are naturally part of the local cuisine.
     Mild paprika and sugar often flavor savory recipes in Bavaria.  Stuffed cabbage in a mild sweet tomato sauce with a little bit of paprika is popular in both Bavaria and the Czech Republic.  This style of stuffed cabbage is commonly made in regions of America that have large German populations, like Pennsylvania.
     While working with German chefs at a yacht club in Florida, Bavarian style Cabbage en Sweet Tomato Sauce was often served as a vegetable du jour.  This vegetable recipe was usually quite saucy.  Often the Cabbage en Sweet Tomato Sauce was served with Breaded Veal Cutlets and lemon as a special du jour.
     By European law, if pork is used to make schnitzel instead of veal, then the word pork is required to be in the recipe title.  This law was set in place because many dubious chefs sold cheap pork as veal schnitzel for a high price.
     Years ago I never heard of Preserved Lemons (Pickled Lemons).  I saw pickled lemon listed in the ingredients of a French recipe and I asked a German chef, whether he had ever heard of such a thing.  The German chef responded by saying "Sure!  Pickled lemons are used in many cuisines, including German cooking.  We Germans pickle anything!"
     Since that time I learned that Preserved Lemons are commonly used in Persian and Arabic cuisines.  A large jar of Preserved Lemons in light brine sells for a reasonable price at a Mediterranean food market.
     Persian Pickled Lemons have an interesting flavor can be used in place of fresh lemon.  They actually are considered to be a gourmet item in modern times.  In the old days before modern food distribution came to be, Pickled Lemons were the means for having lemons, when fresh lemons were no longer in season.  

     Bavarian Style Cabbage en Sweet Tomato Sauce:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Make this recipe is saucy, because the excess sauce will accompany the pork schnitzel!
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small diced carrot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small diced onion.
     Gently sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 cups of cabbage that is cut into 3/8" wide ribbon strips.
     Stir till the cabbage just starts to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add 1/3 cup of chopped peeled seeded plum tomatoes.
     Add 1 1/3 cups of tomato puree.
     Add 1/2 cup of light chicken broth.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Step 4:  Add 1 pinch of mild Hungarian Paprika.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of ground ginger powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     *Taste the sauce.  The flavor should be more sweet than sour or savory.  Adjust the flavor balance with sugar if necessary.
     Step 7:  Simmer and reduce till the cabbage is tender and the sauce is a thin consistency that can cling to the cabbage.
     Keep the sweet tomato cabbage warm over very low heat or reheat it to order.

     Butter Whipped Potato:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Place a peeled 8 ounce russet potato in a sauce pot and cover the potato with cold water.
     Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat.
     Boil the potato till it is soft and tender.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the potato and leave it in the sauce pot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Plugra Butter while whisking.
     Whisk the potato till is smooth and creamy looking.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 3:  Place the butter whipped potato in a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep it warm on a stove top.

     Schweinelende Schnitzel:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     The original Austrian schnitzel meat was pork and not veal.  Veal became the top choice for schnitzel after a king mistook pork schnitzel for veal.  Nobody could argue with kings back in those days, so veal it was!  
     Schnitzel was originally breaded with buttermilk and not egg wash.  The original schnitzel was pan fried in duck fat.  
     Not everybody has those items on hand, so egg wash is okay to use for breading schnitzel.  Pork lard is a good substitute for duck fat.  As you can see in the photos above, a perfect golden brown color can be achieved by pan frying with lard or a combination of lard and butter!
     Step 1:  Cut 2 thin bias slices of pork rib loin that are about 3/8" thick and weigh about 2 1/2 to 3 ounces apiece.
     Trim off any excess fat.
     Step 2:  Use a meat mallet to pound the cutlets thin.
     Step 3:  Lightly season the pork cutlets with sea salt and white pepper.
     Dredge the pork cutlets in flour.
     Dip the pork cutlets in egg wash or buttermilk.
     Dredge the pork cutlets in plain fine French bread crumbs.
     Step 4:  Heat a wide sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add enough pork lard or duck fat, so the melted lard is about 3/8" deep.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter for flavor.
     Adjust the temperature so the lard is 360ºF.
     Step 5:  Place the breaded pork cutlets in the hot lard.
     Pan fry the pork cutlets on both sides, but try to only flip the cutlets one or two times.
     Pan fry till the pork schnitzel is golden brown.
     Step 6:  Use tongs to place the pork schnitzel on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess lard.
     Keep the pork loin schnitzel warm on a stove top.

     Preserved Lemon and Capers en Cognac Butter Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 garnishing portion. 
     This butter sauce requires very little time to make and it should be made shortly before serving. 
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 ounces of brandy or cognac.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rinsed capers.
     Add 1 Persian Pickled Lemon that is cut into thin slices.
     Step 2:  Rapidly simmer and reduce, till only 1 teaspoon of cognac remains.  (Flambé if necessary!)
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Immediately 2 tablespoons of chopped chilled unsalted butter, while constantly shaking and swirling the ingredients in the pan.
     Swirl the ingredients in the pan till the butter melts and emulsifies with the liquid to make the Beurre Cognac Sauce. (Stirring with a whisk would damage the sliced Pickled Lemon, so swirling the ingredients is best!)
     Step 4:  Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.

     Schweinelende Schnitzel and Preserved Lemon Caper Cognac Butter with Bavarian Style Cabbage en Sweet Tomato Sauce:
     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
     Step 1:  Place a generous amount of the Bavarian style sweet tomato cabbage on the plate as a bed for the pork schnitzel.
     Overlap the 2 pork loin schnitzel on top of the sweet tomato cabbage.
     Step 2:  Use a spoon to overlap the Preserved Lemon slices on top of the pork schnitzel.
     Spoon the capers and cognac butter over the preserved lemon slices and and pork schnitzel.
     Step 3:  Use the pastry bag to pipe the butter whipped potato on the plate.
     No garnish is necessary!

     A tasty Bavarian style entrée for any season! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Belgian Endive, Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Salad with White Truffle Oil Fennel Aioli

     Italian Mediterranean Style!
     Belgian Endive a delicate tasting crisp gourmet lettuce.  When Belgian Endive is a featured salad ingredient at a fine dining restaurant, a composed presentation is usually part of the plate design.
     Modern composed salad presentations tend to be a petite stack of ingredients on the center of a plate with Upland Cress sprouts sprinkled on top.  This design seems to be the standard these days, but all it takes is a little imagination to break the mold and let creativity flow.
     All one needs is a sense of focal point location, symmetry and flow to make a composed salad that has eye appeal.  Personally, my composed salads make use symmetric design, so the salad looks good when viewed from any vantage point on the table.  A salad that only looks good from one angle, like where the customer sits that placed the order, will rarely look as appealing from the seat across the table.  The idea is to use symmetry to spur the interest of every guest at the table.

     The roasted eggplant slices in today's modern Italian salad are topped with sliced tomato garnished with shaved Parmigiana Cheese.  Roasted Red Bell Peppers and toasted pine nuts add some old fashioned Toscana style flavors.
     The star of today's salad is the White Truffle Oil and Fennel Aioli.  Brands of White Truffle Oil do vary in quality.  Some brands have little or no flavor, while others taste intense and rich.  It pays to select a White Truffle oil that has plenty of flavor.  Good White Truffle infused oil is not cheap.

     Aioli is not difficult to make.  When making a small amount of aioli, using a small mixing bowl is necessary, so the ingredients are contained in one small area.  This makes the emulsion process easier to start.
     The texture and consistency of aioli can be customized by varying the proportion of oil to egg yolk.  One egg yolk that is whisked with just a few ounces of oil will create a pourable thin pale yellow colored aioli.  Some chefs prefer this style of aioli for certain applications.
     The standard recipe for a full bodied traditional aioli is the same as the mayonnaise proportion, which is one cup of oil to one egg yolk.  Since no vinegar or mustard is added, like for making mayonnaise, a traditional aioli will have a translucent pale white color, instead of looking opaque.
     Dijon mustard is often used to aid emulsification when making mayonnaise.  Garlic actually acts as an emulsifier when making aioli.  In fact Catalonian Aioli is made with no egg yolk at all.  Catalonian chefs use a mortar and pestle to muddle garlic with very small additions of olive oil over a very long period of time, to create a full bodied aioli emulsion.  The entire process can take a full day to do.        

     Fennel Seed Preparation:
     The idea is to soften the fennel seeds so they are more palatable when crushed.  The fennel seed flavor will also mellow. 
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of whole fennel seeds.
     Set the mixture aside for 1 hour.
     Step 2:  Place the small sauce pot over very low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till most of the liquid evaporates and less than 1/2 teaspoon remains.
     Step 3:  Remove pot from the heat.
     Drain off the excess liquid with a strainer and place the fennel seeds in a mortar.
     Coarsely grind the fennel seeds with a pestle.  Set the mortar and softened ground fennel seed aside.
     White Truffle Oil Fennel Aioli:
     This recipe yields a little less than 1/2 cup.
     A thin pale yellow color aioli is almost never used in classic Italian cuisine, but it is popular with French chefs when used for salad dressing applications.  To achieve a pale yellow color and a thin pourable consistency, less oil is added.    
     Step 1:  Place 1 egg yolk in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Step 2:  Measure 1/3 cup of pomace olive oil.
     Step 3:  Add only a couple drops of pomace olive oil at a time, while constantly whisking, till the egg yolk starts to combine with the oil to start the emulsion.
     Slowly add 1/2 teaspoon at a time, till all of the 1/4 cup of pomace olive oil is incorporated.
     Step 4:  *The amount of White Truffle Oil needed to flavor the aioli depends on how strong the White Truffle Oil flavor is.  Taste the White Truffle oil before adding it to the aioli.  About 1/2 tablespoon of strong tasting White Truffle Oil is enough.  For weak tasting White Truffle Oil 1 or 2 tablespoons might be required.
     Add a very thin stream of White Truffle Oil while whisking, till the desired flavor is achieved.  (The flavor should not be overbearing.)
     Step 5:  *If only a small amount of strong White Truffle Oil was added, it make be necessary to slowly add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of pomace olive oil.  Be sure to constantly whisk.
     Step 6:  Check the color and consistency.  The thin aioli should look pale yellow and it should not be full bodied like mayonnaise.
     Step 7:  Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add the reserved coarse ground softened fennel seed.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice while whisking.
     Step 8:  *The finished aioli dressing should have pale yellow color and a medium thin consistency that slowly pours from a spoon.  If the aioli is too thick, then add a few drops of warm water while whisking.  
     Chill the aioli till it is needed.  Allow the aioli to warm to room temperature before serving.
     Pan Roasted Eggplant:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 petite salad.
     Step 1:  Cut 4 thin lengthwise slices of small eggplant.  (About 1/8" to 3/16" thick)
     Step 2:  Heat a seasoned sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of pomace olive oil.
     Add the 4 eggplant slices.
     Briefly sauté both sides of the eggplant slices.
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Roast the eggplant slices till they just start to become tender, but not browned or mushy.
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Place the eggplant slices on a sheet pan to cool.
     Belgian Endive, Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Salad with White Truffle Oil Fennel Aioli:
     This recipe yields 1 petite salad.
     The design of a composed salad presentation is the choice of the chef.  Feel free to create your own design composition or use the presentation description as a guideline!
     Step 1:  Fold the eggplant slices in half.
     Set a thin slice of plum tomato on each eggplant slice.
     Shave 4 small pieces of Parmigiana Cheese.
     Set 1 piece of cheese on top of each of the tomato slice.
     Step 2:  Use a spatula to transfer the eggplant and tomato portions to a large plate.
     Arrange the eggplant on the plate symmetrically and so they point outward from center.  Leave a small empty space on the center of the plate.
     Step 3:  Place 4 trimmed Belgian Endive leaves between the eggplant portions on the plate, so they point outward from center.
     Step 4:  Place about 1 tablespoon of thin roasted red bell pepper strips on center of the plate where the Belgian Endive leaves meet.
     Sprinkle a few lightly toasted pine nuts on the roasted red bell pepper strips.
     Step 5:  Place 1 Italian Parsley leaf on top of the shaved parmesan on each tomato slice.
     Step 6:  Pour about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the thin White Truffle Oil Fennel Aioli dressing on the plate between each of the eggplant portions.
     Step 7:  Serve with warm sliced Italian bread in a basket.

     This is a nice Italian style Mediterranean salad!  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Walnut Leek Pork Loin Roulade Farci with Beurre Maitre D' Hotel

     A Stuffed Pork Loin Roast With Eye Appeal! 
     Roulade style of meat fabrication have its origins in classic French cuisine.  Roulade presentations of items like veal breast, chicken breast or flank steak were at a peak in popularity back in the 1980's and 1990's.  
     When the Fusion Cuisine trend took over many chefs abandoned classic French food preparation methods that bordered upon being comfort food.  This is unfortunate, because classic French comfort food is always in demand, especially when times are tough.  During the last 15 years there has been plenty of turmoil and disparity to go around.  Chefs that switched their fine dining restaurant venue to a gourmet comfort food theme faired well during the worst of economic times.  
     Making ordinary modest food items look and taste fancy is part of what gourmet comfort food is all about.  If one cannot afford veal breast, then select another cut of meat that will be suitable. Making a veal breast roulade farci (stuffed veal breast) is fairly easy to do, but it might take a little more ingenuity to create a similar roulade with something like a pork loin roast that has the rib bones attached.  This is where learning and practicing meat fabrication knife skills comes in handy.  
     Basically, the rules of meat fabrication are to minimize waste and improve eye appeal while maintaining quality and consistency.  Cutting a steak or deboning a raw chicken are good basic meat fabrication skills to learn first.  Making fancy roulades, galantines, ballotines and terrines requires learning some traditional French cuisine meat fabrication guidelines.  
     The more a cook learns about meat fabrication and the more practice a home cook gets, the better the end result will be.  One should never be discouraged if a first attempt at making a roulade does not look picture perfect.  It is better to figure out where the mistakes were made, then make the corrections on the next attempt.  
    When a pork loin roast section or veal rack roast section is prepared as a roulade farci, more of the flavor of the stuffing thoroughly infuses with the meat, because there is more contact area.  The stuffing also keeps the meat tender and moist.
     I have sold stuffed pork loin entrées that are similar to today's recipe in French cafés for both lunch and dinner.  Customers like the way this entrée looks.  Usually one stuffed chop is enough for a lunch portion or a petite dinner portion.  At formal fine dining restaurants, pork and chicken are rarely offered on the menu.  Boneless veal loin replaces whole pork loin roast for roulade farci recipes.  
     A stuffed pork loin roast roulade can be served with a wide variety of sauces.  It is all too easy to decide on a flavored velouté or demi glace of some kind.  Heavy sauces with a heavy entrée are good during chilly weather, but what about the rest of the year?  A light lemony butter sauce gives a heavy stuffed pork entrée a lighter feel on the palate.  
     Maitre D' Hotel Butter is lemony and full of flavor.  This compound butter compliments the favor of the walnut, leek and herb stuffed pork.  Compound butters do not only have to be applied as a chilled butter dollop that is placed on top of a hot roasted piece of meat, so it slowly melts when it is served.  A compound butter, like Maitre D' Butter, can be gently melted in a small pot and applied like a thin sauce.      

     Beurre Maitre D' Hotel:
     This recipe yields about 6 or 7 portions of compound butter.  (About 1 1/2 tablespoons apiece.)
     Any extra compound butter portions can be chilled or frozen for later use.  
     A chilled portion of maitre d' hotel butter can be placed on a steak or roasted meat of any kind, then it slowly melts.  Compound butter can also be whisked with a small amount of liquid while being warmed to make a thin butter sauce.
     Plugra Butter is a rich tasting European style butter that contains very little excess moisture.  If none is available, use standard unsalted butter instead.
     Step 1:  Cut 4 ounces of chilled unsalted Plugra Butter (or regular unsalted butter) into small chunks.
     Place the butter pieces in a small cake mixer with a paddle attachment or food processor.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of minced parsley.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of fine ground sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Whip and blend the butter till it softens and aerates.  The butter mixture will look pale white with stiff peaks.
     Step 4:  Place the Maitre D' Butter in a small pastry bag with a star tip.
     Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
     Use the pastry bag to pipe small conical shaped portions that are about 1 1/2 tablespoons in volume.  
     Step 5:  Chill the Maitre D' Butter portions in a refrigerator till they are solid.  
     Store the portions in a container in the fridge or freeze them for later use.  

     Walnut, Leek and Herb Stuffing:
     This recipe yields enough stuffing for a 2 bone pork loin roast.  (2 sliced finished roast chops)
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low/low heat.  
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped leek.
     Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped white onion.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Gently sauté and sweat the leek mixture, till the onions and leeks are translucent and tender.
     Step 2:  Place the contents of the sauté pan in a mixing bowl.  (The butter too!)
     Add 1/3 cup of finely chopped walnuts.
     Add 1/2 cup of fine plain bread crumbs.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 2 pinches of basil.
     Add 2 pinches of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of ground sage.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of whisked egg while stirring.
     Step 4:  Add just enough chicken broth to wet the mixture, so it is moist enough to retain its shape when squeezed.  (About 4 to 6 tablespoons.)
     Step 5:  Mix the ingredients together. 
     Chill the stuffing till it is needed. 
     Two Rib Bone Pork Loin Section Fabrication For Roulade:
     A 2 rib bone pork loin roast is good for 1 or 2 portions.  A boning knife is the best for this style of meat fabrication. 
     Step 1:  Select a small meaty Pork Loin Roast section that has 2 bones attached. 
     Step 2:  If a fat cap covers the pork loin section, trim the fat cap so only a thin layer a fat cap covers the pork loin section.  (About 1/8" is plenty of fat cap.)
     Step 3:  French the rib bones, so the bones are clean and bare.
     Step 4:  On the bottom of the roast, sometimes there will be thin blade shaped pieces of back bone that are still attached to the rib bones.  Trim off the thin back bone pieces and cartilage.
     Step 5:  Turn the roast upside down, so the rib bones are pointed at the cutting board. 
     The first cut should start at the bottom of the roast away from the bones, near the curved edge.  Cut a 3/8" thick flap from the start of the curve on the bottom of the roast, all the way around the roast to where the meat is attached to the rib bones on the top of the roast.
     Step 6:  Turn the roast so the bones are facing up.
     Lay the flap of meat that was just cut over the rib bones, so it is out of the way.
     Step 7:  The round shaped eye of the loin that is attached to the bone is the next part that is layer cut.
     Start the flap cut where the eye of the loin is attached to the bone.  (Do not cut the meat free from the bone!  Leave the meat attached to the bone.)  Cut a 3/8" thick flap, by rolling the eye of the loin outward.
     Step 8:  The roast should now look like two rectangle shaped flat flaps of meat, that are attached to the 2 rib bones.

     Applying The Stuffing:
     Step 1:  Spread a 3/8" thick even layer of the walnut leek stuffing on top of the second layer of pork loin meat that was cut.  (The inner eye of loin flap.)
     Roll the meat toward the bone, so it forms a coiled roulade shape.
     Step 2:  Spread a 3/8" thick layer of the walnut leek on the inner side of the other pork loin meat flap.
     Wrap the outer layer pork loin meat flap, around the stuffed eye of the loin.
     Step 3:  Gently press the stuffed pork loin, so no loose spaces can be seen and so the stuffed coiled roast holds its shape.
     Use butcher's twine to truss the roast, so it hold its shape. 

     Walnut Leek Pork Loin Roulade Farci:
     Step 1:  Place the trussed two rib stuffed pork loin roast on a lightly oiled roasting pan.
     Brush the roast with melted unsalted butter.
     Lightly season the roast with sea salt and black pepper.
     Wrap the bones with aluminum foil.  (The foil will keep the bones from burning!)
     Step 2:  Slowly roast the stuffed pork loin in a 325ºF oven.
     Baste the roast occasionally with melted unsalted butter.
     Step 3:  When the roast is about 3/4's fully cooked, remove the protective aluminum foil from the bones.  Allow the bones to lightly brown while the stuffed pork finishes roasting.
     The stuffed pork roast is fully cooked when the center temperature reaches 165ºF for 15 seconds.  
     Step 4:  Allow the roast to cool and rest for 3 to 4 minutes, before removing the trussing twine.
     Maitre D' Hotel Butter Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough for a two rib stuffed pork loin roast. 
     This simple sauce should be made shortly before the pork roast is served.
     Turning compound butter into a thin emulsion sauce is as easy as whisking butter with a small amount of liquid in a warm pan.  Do not overheat the butter sauce or the emulsion will break!
     Step 1:  Chop 2 to 3 portions of the chilled Maitre D' Hotel Butter into bean size nuggets and chill them in a refrigerator.
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauce pot over very low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water.
     Step 3:  Add a few pieces of the chilled Maitre D' Hotel Butter at a time, while constantly whisking, till a thin butter sauce forms.  The butter sauce should look almost like a beurre blanc.
     Step 4:  Immediately remove the pot from the heat.
     Keep the butter sauce warm on a stove top and stir occasionally.

     Walnut Leek Pork Loin Farci with Beurre Maitre D' Hotel:
     Parsley sprigs as a garnish may seem antique to some chefs.  Useless inedible garnishes that are not integral really do not belong on plates by fine dining standards, but parsley actually is useful and medicinally integral!  Parsley is a natural breath freshener and it aids digestion when eating a meat rich diet.  Parsley helps prevent gout symptoms.  
     Parsley is not a useless inedible garnish by any means and it does look good on a plate.  Especially Italian Parsley!  
     Cut the Walnut Leek and Herb Stuffed Pork Loin Roast in half between the bones.
     Place the two halves of Walnut Leek Pork Loin Roast Farci on a serving platter.
     Spoon the Maitre D' Hotel Butter Sauce on the platter around the stuffed pork loin roast.
     Garnish with sprigs of Italian Parsley.

     This is a very nice recipe for the fall season!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mozzarella en Carrozza

     Breaded Mozzarella Pan Fried In Olive Oil!
     Long before Fried Cheese Sticks were marketed by every casual chain restaurant under the sun, fried cheese actually was a classy appetizer.  Many cuisines in the Mediterranean region offer a specialty cooked cheese appetizer that is fried, sautéed, chargrilled or roasted.  Greek Saganaki and Italian Mozzarella en Carrozza are two famous examples.  
     Most modern low budget restaurants and chain restaurants market pre-manufactured Frozen Cheese Stick products.  Frozen Cheese Sticks tend to be very low in quality, because the cheese or coating is artificially modified to prevent the melted cheese from leaking out of the breading.  Frozen Cheese Sticks generally only appeal to customers that are not exactly gourmands and soused bar patrons that need to get some food in their belly.  
     Restaurants that bread their cheese sticks are more quality oriented.  Often the cheese is a gourmet selection.  For example, Stout Battered Brie Cheese is sometimes seen on fine pub menus.  

     Many classic Italian American fine dining restaurants offer Mozzarella en Carrozza as an appetizer for one or two guests.  In general, cheese appetizers are meant to be shared.  Sharing Mozzarella en Carrozza adds to the romantic ambiance of an Italian style dining experience.  Gooey breaded fried Mozzarella certainly can be sensuously entertaining!   
     Mozzarella en Carrozza is a recipe that I learned during my first Italian restaurant apprenticeship.  The Sicilian chef was an award winner from New York City and he exuded class in both his menu and persona.  All he had to do was visit guests at a table and start talking about the appetizer menu, then the guests were ordering everything in sight.  Mozzarella en Carrozza was an easy suggested sale, because the familiar ingredients were easy for guests to imagine.
     Uncomplicated ingredients cooked to perfection is what Mozzerella en Carrozza is all about.  The better the quality of Mozzerella and cooking techniques, the better the slice of pan fried breaded fresh cheese will be!
     Marinara Sauce:
     Follow this link to the recipe in this website:  
     • Classic Marinara Sauce

     Mozzarella en Carrozza:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer that can be shared by 2 guests.
     Breaded mozzarella cheese fries very quickly!  Be ready to flip the mozzarella when frying and be ready to remove it from the hot oil.  It only takes a few minutes to fry breaded mozzarella.  Do not fry for too much time, because the cheese will melt and leak out of the breading.
     Step 1:  Cut a round large ball of Italian Mozzarella Cheese into 2 thick slices.  (The slices should be about 3/8" thick and about 3 1/2" wide.)
     Step 2:  Place 2 cups of plain Italian bread crumbs in a mixing bowl.
     Lightly season with 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Mix the breading ingredients together and set it aside.
     Step 3:  Dredge the Mozzarella Cheese slices in flour.
     Dip the floured cheese slices in egg wash.
     Dredge the egg washed cheese slices in breading mixture.
     *Be sure that the cheese is completely coated with breading or the melted cheese will leak out when it is fried! 
     Step 4:  Gently warm about 2/3 cup of Marinara Sauce in a small sauce pot over low heat.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.
     Step 5:  Heat cast iron skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add enough blended olive oil, so the oil is about 1/2" deep.
     Adjust the temperature so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 6:  Use a slotted spatula to place the breaded Mozzarella slices in the hot oil.
     Pan fry till the breading is golden brown on both sides.  (Try to only flip the Mozzarella once.)
     *The object is to pan fry the cheese till it softens.  Frying for too much time will liquify the cheese.  
     Step 7:  Use a slotted spatula to remove the fried cheese from the hot oil.
     Place the fried cheese on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Step 8:  Spoon the warm Marinara Sauce on the center of an appetizer plate as bed for the fried cheese.
     Overlap the Mozzarella en Carrozza slices on top of the Marinara.
     No garnish is necessary, but a small basil or parsley sprig looks nice!

     Mozzarella en Carrozza is a delicious classic appetizer!

Classic Marinara Sauce

     Classic Marinara!
     Marina Sauce originated in the galleys of Italian merchant ships and fishing vessels.  The way that Marinara Sauce is made is similar to how meals were quickly put together for fishermen returning from sea back in the old days, before radio communications.  Fishermen worked at sea till the job was done or the weather started getting rough and there was no time schedule.  Home cooks ashore often had to wait till the boats could be seen returning to port, before getting the meal started.  Home cooks in fishing villages developed great recipes that take very little time to prepare.
     The same can be said about meals prepared at sea.  Less than 100 years ago, a galley cook performed far more duties on a fishing boat than just preparing meals for the crew.  If repairs or hauling in a catch needed to be done, the task took priority over preparing a meal.  Often a galley cook was faced with preparing a meal for a hungry crew in short order and this is where Marinara Sauce fits in.
     Marinara Sauce can be made in a matter of minutes or it can be simmered for forty minutes, depending on the quality of the canned tomatoes.  In the old fishing boat days, the time that that it took to make Marinara also depended on how hungry the crew was!  It was never a good idea to keep temperamental fishermen hungry for too long, especially if the crew depended on the Vitamin C in tomatoes for preventing scurvy.

     Marinara can also be made with peeled, seeded overripe fresh tomato filets.  I once worked with an Italian chef in Florida that went to a tomato packing plant just to get boxes of overripe fresh tomatoes that were unfit for shipping.  Tomato shippers prefer to pack only unripe fresh tomatoes, because they are more durable when boxed and shipped.  A tomato packing plant usually gives the overripe tomatoes away for free to farmers that need livestock feed or to anybody that wants them.  Since the Italian chef got the overripe tomatoes at no cost, his restaurant food cost percentage was very low!

A la minute Marinara
     A la minute Marinara
     Italian chefs also make an a la minute Marinara.  This style requires high quality tomatoes, because the preparation time is short.  Crushed whole tomatoes are summered with garlic and olive oil for 5 minutes.  The prepared tomatoes are then set aside.  When an order for sauce made with Marinara is needed, the chef then adds the prepared tomatoes to a pan and finishes the sauce to order (a la minute).  This style of marinara works well for making regional pastas like those found in Rome and Abruzzo.  Spaghetti al Piselli e Pancetta or Bucatini Amatriciana are examples.  
     Classic Marinara Sauce: 
     This recipe yields 3 to 4 portions of sauce.  (about 3 to 3 1/3 cups) 
     • The proportion of olive oil in a marinara sauce is about 20%.  Olive oil is the key to cooking this classic tomato sauce.  Without enough olive oil, a marinara will turn out to be "flat" like stewed tomatoes.
     • Only the best imported canned Italian tomatoes should be used to make Marinara Sauce.  This is because Marinara has evolved from a simple quickly made sauce to a sauce that shows off the best tomatoes in the house.
     • Canned whole peeled seeded San Marzano Tomatoes packed in their own juices are the best choice.  Another good choice is canned Italian peeled seeded plum tomatoes packed in their own juices.  If the imported can of Italian tomatoes also says "Con Basilico" (packed with basil leaves) on the label then that is good too, because basil sweetens tomatoes.  
     Step 1:  Place a 28 ounce can of imported Italian peeled seeded San Marzano Tomatoes packed in their own juices in a mixing bowl.   (Or use canned Italian peeled seeded plum tomatoes packed in their own juices.)
     Crush and squeeze the tomatoes by hand till no large chunks remain.
     Set the prepared tomatoes aside.
     Step 2:  Heat 3/4 cup of pomace olive oil in a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 8 thin sliced garlic cloves.
     Fry the garlic in the oil, till it cooks to a light golden brown color.
     Step 3:  Immediately add the reserved prepared tomatoes and their juices.
     Add about 12 whole fresh basil leaves.  (medium to medium large size leaves)
     Add 3 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, while stirring often.  (Do not over heat this sauce!)
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Gently simmer the sauce and stir the olive oil into the sauce once every five minutes.
     *The olive oil must be stirred into the sauce regularly, so the olive oil combines with the tomatoes and juices!
     Simmer the marinara for up to 40 minutes, till the excess tomato juices have reduced and the sauce becomes a medium thin tomato sauce consistency.
     Step 6:  Add 2 tablespoons of minced Italian Parsley.
     Remove the pot of Marinara Sauce from the heat.
     *Marinara is never kept warm.  Marinara Sauce is always reheated to order!

     This is the way that I was taught to make Marinara during my first Italian apprenticeship.  As one can see, it only takes a few select ingredients and good cooking techniques to make a great Marinara Sauce!  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Spaghetti Caruso

A nice pasta named after a great Italian opera tenor!
     A New York Italian chef informed that today's pasta recipe was a favorite of the great tenor Enrico Caruso.  It was explained that the chicken livers and pasta actually added resonance to the great tenor's voice.  This background information may be true, because there is substance to the story.  Offal items like liver do have a way of providing a feeling of enrichment, which in turn deepens the voice.     
     There is very little documented information about Spaghetti Caruso to be found in encyclopedic culinary resources, but then again not all culinary history is scribed in stone.  Chefs in many cultures prefer to pass along culinary knowledge in person via spoken means.  This is especially true in Italian restaurant kitchens.    
     It is not known whether Spaghetti Caruso is a traditional recipe from the old country or whether it is an Italian American recipe.  Spaghetti Caruso could be a chef's creation or it could have originated as a customer request from the great opera tenor himself.  All that really matters is that Spaghetti Caruso tastes great!  
     I learned today's pasta recipe while apprenticing with a couple of great Italian chefs who were absolute perfectionists.  Spaghetti Caruso was on the restaurant menu, but it was not a big seller.  Sometimes it is good to place an item on the menu that has limited appeal.  I noticed that the same customers returned to the restaurant time and time again just to order Spaghetti Caruso.  There was no other place in town that offered a similar pasta or any item made with chicken livers.  One might say that Italian pasta restaurant cornered the chicken liver market on a small scale. 
     About 5 years ago a gourmet offal trend started to take place in the restaurant industry.  Unfortunately this trend was limited to high end fine dining restaurants and there was no trickle down effect.  Most casual restaurants continued to avoid offering offals of any kind on the menu, so the gourmet offal trend faded into the background.  This is unfortunate because there is a niche marketing sector of consumers that seek something like a good liver entrée on a menu.  
     A restaurant that caters to niche markets easily inspires customer loyalty with a few clients that seek this venue, who in turn spread the good word to peers with similar taste.  Today's Spaghetti Caruso pasta sure does give chicken liver fans plenty to talk about!       
     Spaghetti Caruso: 
     This recipe yields 1 large serving or 2 small portions!
     Like most a la minute Italian pasta recipes, the chicken livers and sauce can be made in the same amount of time that is takes to cook the pasta.
     This is one of the few Italian recipes that requires a flour slurry to thicken the sauce.  Flour slurries should only be used for sauces that are made to order, because the slurry will separate after a short time.  Flour slurry also mellows the flavor of a sauce and this benefits a sauce that contains copious amounts of chicken liver.  
     A non-stick surface sauté pan cannot be used for this recipe, because the livers are sliced while the finish cooking in the pan.   
     Step 1:  Cook 1 large portion of spaghetti pasta in boiling water over high heat, till it is al dente.  (about 8 to 10 minutes)  The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 8 ounces of cleaned trimmed chicken livers.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté the livers till brown highlights appear and the livers are halfway cooked.
     Step 3:  Use a carving fork and a knife to slice the chicken livers into bite size pieces, while they are still cooking in the pan, so no flavor is wasted!
     Step 4:  Add 3 cloves of sliced garlic.
     Add 3/4 cup of julienne sliced onion.
     Add 3 pinches of oregano.
     Sauté till some light golden brown highlights appear on the onions and garlic.
     Step 5:  Add 1 1/2 cups of rich chicken broth.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Mix 1 about tablespoon of flour with 1/4 cup of water in a small container.  
     Add just enough of the flour slurry, while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a thin consistency.  (Only a small amount is needed.  Any extra slurry can be saved for another recipe.)
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced curly leaf parsley.
     Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil.
     Step 8:  By now the pasta should be cooked al dente!
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Allow the pasta to to stand for 45 seconds, so the heat and steam causes the surface of the pasta to become starchy white.  
     *Allowing a pasta to starch is not an Italian cooking technique that you see everyday!  Spaghetti Caruso recipe is one of the only Italian pasta recipes that requires the pasta to be starched.  Starching allows pasta to absorb more flavor from a broth sauce. 
     Step 9:  Add the spaghetti to the chicken livers and sauce in the pan.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 10:  Use a straight tine carving fork to twist the pasta while placing it on a plate.  Try to expose some of the chicken liver pieces on the surface.
     Sprinkle a little bit of chopped fresh curly leaf parsley over the pasta.
     Garnish with a curly leaf parsley sprig.
     Serve with fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the side.
     Make only enough sauce to coat the pasta with flavor is the golden rule!  Sauce is not meant to be a soup that is eaten with a spoon.  A good pasta sauce has plenty of flavor to go around!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Old School Muse Bouche pour deux ... Finnish Lappi Cheese and Bulgarian Lukanka!

     "Muse" is the root of the word "Amuse."  In the context of dining, the word muse means "a little something that entertains guests" or "a little complimentary item that provides cheer and enhances interest in the dining experience that is yet to come."  
     Muse Bouche is a complimentary tiny creative food item that wets the palate.  The theme of a Muse Bouche item often is an indicator of the chef's upcoming cuisine motif.  Each guest is offered a tiny creative morsel of food.  Muse Bouche can be served individually or on a shared platter.  
     Tiny Muse Bouche items can be quite complicated and they are often assembled with sterile tweezers and a magnifying glass.  Home cooks rarely think of entertaining dinner party guests with Muse Bouche items, because making tiny detailed morsels of food detracts from the comforts the humble abode.  

     In the old days and even in modern times, not every fine dining restaurant seeks winning some kind of a culinary award.  Serving complex tiny little gourmet bits of Muse Bouche food to guests would not only be considered to be showing off, it would be a waste of time.  Believe it or not, not every fine dining restaurant subscribes to the modern petite portion health cuisine trend. Yes, there actually are plenty of customers in this world that still go to an unpretentious fine dining restaurant to eat classic portions of food in a comfortable elegant setting till their bellies are full!  Offering a little Muse Bouche tidbit to such clientele would be like delivering an insult! 
     Many old school European chefs entertain customers with a traditional complimentary starter.  A traditional appetite wetter in an old fashioned relaxed fine dining restaurant is a petite platter of items like grapes, olives, cheese or specialty deli meats from the old country.  Reverence for the old country is the key.  
     A combination of fine traditional European deli meats and cheese offered at no charge to customers, with the intent of amusing the party as if they have VIP status, will instantly inspire the guests to request the wine list!  This is what amusing guests is all about.  Entertaining and making sales!  

     A small complimentary platter of fine European cheese and gourmet deli meats from the old world probably is the single most successful combination for making wine sales before the customers even look at the main menu.  Smart chefs and maitre d's do get the ball rolling early.  This strategy creates a more relaxed pace and customers become more likely to interests kindled by suggestive sales techniques.  
     For example ... The wait staff captain greets 4 guests and places a petite platter of Finnish Lappi Cheese, fruit and Bulgarian Lukanka on the table, then provides some background information about those items.  The captain then suggests a light bodied red wine to accompany the morsels of old world cheese and sausage to start the evening.  
     The wine steward serves the wine, while the captain returns to suggest a zuppa or appetizer that would pair nicely with the same wine, in order to keep the ball rolling.  After some appetizer sales are made, the captain then describes the chef's specialties of the evening and offers more wine pairings. 
     Before you know it, the guests trust the captain because the suggestions were good.  The happy guests decide to leisurely finish the dinner event with aperitifs and deserts, because they were thoroughly entertained and pleased with the great table service.  
     Voila!  Customer loyalty is created and this is like having money in the bank.  This is what is known as getting the most out of a simple complimentary muse platter, even if the platter consists of only modest old world cheese, fruit and deli meats.         

     Old School Muse Bouche pour deux ... Finnish Lappi Cheese and Bulgarian Lukanka!:
     Finnish Lappi Cheese and Bulgarian Lukanka are not usually available in common grocery stores.  The best place to find these items is at an Eastern European food market.  I found the these fine old world food items at the "Jones Market-Easter European" in Las Vegas.  
     Here is a hyperlink to the Jones Market article for Las Vegas shoppers:  The Jones Market - Eastern European, Las Vegas!
     Step 1:  Cut 8 petite thin triangle slices of Finland Lappi Cheese.
     Step 2:  Peel the white fungus covered inedible casing off of a piece of Bulgarian Lukanka that is about 2" long.
     Cut the Lukanka into 8 thin slices.
     Step 3:  Cut 1 thick slice of peeled Dragon Fruit.
     Step 4:  Center the dragon fruit on a glass appetizer plate.  
     Overlap the Lappi and Lukanka slices on both sides of the fruit, so they arc around the shape of the dragon fruit.  
     Step 5:  Use 2 teaspoons to gather a small amount of Russian Mustard and form a petite teardrop quenelle shape.  Place the petite Russian Mustard quenelle on the plate. 
     Garnish the plate with cilantro sprigs and petite lime wedges.

     An old school complimentary muse pour deux of old world cheese, fruit and deli meat is a classic way to start of an evening of fine dining in relaxed comfort!