Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Garam Masala Yellow Split Pea Soup

     A Nice Warm Comfortably Spiced Vegetarian Soup!
     Garam Masala is a North India is a complex mixture of spices that creates a gentle, comfortable, warming effect.  The best place to find Garam Masala is at an Indian market.  Indian markets sell such a high of a volume of spices, that the spices are always fresh and reasonably priced. 
     Yellow Split Peas are popular worldwide.  Yellow Split Pea Soup is popular in the Caribbean Islands and Indian spices are usually part of the recipe.  Split Pea Soup is popular with vegetarians in India, because it is a good source of protein.  
     To start this soup, a classic Indian cooking method is used to flavor the coconut oil.  Western chefs call this method "popping."  Coconut oil is heated, then mustard seeds and cumin seeds are added.  The pan is gently shaken till a popping noise is heard.  

     Garam Masala Yellow Split Pea Soup:
     This recipe yields 2 1/2 cups.  (1 hearty serving or 2 petite portions.)
     The soup cup size in the photographs above is deceptively large.  Many modern restaurants present soups in large oversize soup cups these days.  The extra large soup cup in the pictures holds a full 2 cup portion of soup!   
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
     Add 2 pinches of whole mustard seed.
     Add 1 pinch of whole cumin seed.
     Gently shake the pan, till a seed popping noise is heard.
     Step 2:  Add 1 minced clove of garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped carrot.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced seeded jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced tomato.
     Stir the vegetables till they start to cook and become aromatic.
     Step 3:  Add 3 cups of light vegetable broth.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of dried yellow split peas.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Garam Masala.  
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add sea salt to taste.  (About 2 pinches)
     *Do not add white pepper or black pepper!  Both white pepper and black pepper are already in the Garam Masala spice mixture.
     Step 4:  Raise the temperature to medium/medium high heat.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer the soup till the yellow split peas are very tender.
     Step 6:  Use a blending wand (emersion blender), food processor or a fine mesh strainer to puree 1/2 of the soup.
     Step 7:  Return the soup puree to the soup pot.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Step 8:  Stir the soup and check the consistency.  The soup should have a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  
     *If the soup is too thin, then simmer and reduce the soup.  If the soup is too is too thick, then add vegetable broth.  The finished volume should be about 2 1/4 cups.
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Ladle the 2 cups of the Garam Masala Yellow Split Pea Soup into a large soup cup or soup bowl.
     Garnish with very thin slivers of the white part of a green onion.  (petite julienne)
     Garnish with a few petite julienne roasted red bell strips.

     The Garam Masala spice mixture gives this soup a nice warm comfortable flavor that is slightly exotic!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Citrus Fruit Glazed Filet of Turkey

     Turkey Has Become An Italian Tradition
     Most home cooks make a huge roast turkey with all the traditional fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner.  There are few home cooks that are more adventurous and they do not hesitate to whip up a fancy gourmet turkey entrée instead of conforming to tradition.  Creating a great turkey entrée for a special occasion is fairly easy to do, because so many food items and sauces go well with poultry.
     Turkey is not just an American Thanksgiving holiday meal.  Turkey can be prepared in the same way that chicken, pork and veal can be prepared.  I once worked on a paddlewheel dinner cruise boat that had nice version of Turkey Marsala on the menu.  An item like Turkey Marsala appeals to those who do not consume veal.
     Today's turkey recipe is called Tacchino al Agrume (Turkey with Citrus Fruit) in Italy.  During the last two decades, turkey has become a popular meat option in Italy.  Many traditional Italian ground pork or pork sausage recipes have been adapted to turkey sausage, because turkey is a healthier choice.  For the same reason, turkey breast filet entrées prepared with traditional Italian veal sauces are now more commonplace.
     Italian Tacchino al Agrume is a popular recipe, but there are many recipe variations.  In all probability, the recipe has not been standardized, because it is relatively new.  Some recipes are as simple as a turkey breast baked with citrus fruit on top.  Some recipes are a reduction sauce flavored with a classic Italian liquor and citrus fruit.  Nearly every Italian recipe for Citrus Turkey requires a variety of citrus fruit to be used, but the choice of citrus fruit is up to the chef.

     Citrus Fruit Glazed Filet of Turkey:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  
     Step 1:  Cut an 8 ounce turkey breast filet steak that is about 3/4" thick.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add the turkey filet.
     Sauté the turkey filet on both sides till light golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Drain off the excess grease from the pan.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan.
     Add 3 ounces of Italian Grappa (or brandy).
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of Italian Galliano Liquor.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of raw sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Step 5:  Cover the pan with a lid.
     Place the covered pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Braise till the turkey is fully cooked and tender.  (The center temperature should be over 165ºF)
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Remove the lid.
     Place the pan over medium low heat.
     Step 7:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest to the sauce in the pan.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lime zest.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of tangerine zest.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 3 tablespoons of tangerine juice.
     Add 2 lime slices to the sauce in the pan.
     Add 2 lemon slices.
     Add 5 tangerine segments.  (Be sure to remove any seeds first.)
     Step 8:  Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 9:  Place the turkey filet on the front half of a plate.
     Remove the lemon and lime slices from the sauce and overlap them across the top of the turkey filet.
     Arrange the tangerine segments in a row across the the turkey filet.
     Spoon the citrus glaze over the fruit and turkey filet.  (About 2 tablespoons)
     Serve with vegetables and potato of your choice.
     *The vegetables in the photos are Pan Roasted Cumin Potato Medallion and Buttered Green Beans.  The plate was garnished with cilantro sprigs and papaya salsa.

     The flavor of the semi sweet citrus glaze is perfect with turkey!

Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast with Brandy Persimmon Sauce

     Appalachian Flavors! 
     Today's recipe was created for those who are interested in American wild game entrées.  People still hunt deer and turkey today with a rifle or shotgun, just like they did a few hundred years ago in the early American colonies.  Modern consumers that are interested in healthy alternative meats usually hunt for deer and turkey at a good butcher shop.  Either way, wild game meats offer an opportunity to cook some interesting food for the holiday season.
      I made today's recipe a few years ago when I was working at a steel mill in East Chicago.  A few coworkers had already bagged their limit of deer during the Indiana hunting season and they gave me some venison sausage and venison back-strap tenderloin steaks.  The venison sausage was dry cured like salami.  Cured venison sausage is cooked or smoked, so it is a ready to eat product.  Venison sausage is very lean and mild in flavor.  Hazelnuts add a nice complimentary flavor to the venison sausage bread stuffing.
     Persimmons are an early winter fruit.  There are many varieties of persimmons and I chose locally grown Indiana persimmons for this recipe.  The brandy persimmon sauce has a gentle flavor that does not overpower the flavors of the stuffed turkey.
     It can take more than two weeks to ripen persimmons.  Unripe persimmons are very hard and the flavor tastes chalky.  A persimmon is ripe when is becomes soft and the skin splits on a few places on the fruit.  The fastest way to ripen persimmons is to place them in a refrigerator and then forget about them for 1 to 2 weeks.  Unlike most fruits, persimmons ripen faster in cold air.

     Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffing: 
     This recipe yields about 3 cups of bread stuffing.  (Enough to stuff 1 whole small turkey breast.) 
     Many butcher shops and wild game shops offer dry-cure venison sausage.  Internet stores are another resource option.  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped celery.
     Sauté till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped dry-cure venison sausage.  (Remove the casing first.)
     Add 1 cup of light turkey broth or chicken broth.
     Simmer and reduce till about 1/3 cup of liquid remains.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 3:  Place 3 cups of French bread that is cut into small cube shapes in a mixing bowl.
     Add the cooked vegetables, venison sausage and reduced broth to the bread cubes while gently tossing.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped toasted hazelnuts.
     Add 2 pinches of ground sage.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped parsley.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Add 1 whisked large egg while gentle tossing the ingredients together.
     *Check the consistency.  The stuffing may be a little bit dry at this point.  It should be just moist enough to hold its own shape when pressed together.  If the stuffing is too dry, then add just enough chicken broth to dampen the stuffing while tossing the ingredients together.  Do not add too much broth or the stuffing will be soggy!
     Step 5:  Place the stuffing in a container.
     Chill the stuffing till it is needed.

     Brandy Persimmon Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (4 generous portions)
     The sauce should be started before the stuffed turkey breast is roasted.
     Step 1:  Place 2 trimmed (remove the stem core) ripe American Persimmons in a sauce pot.
     Cover the persimmons with water.
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Gently boil till the persimmons become very soft.
     Step 2:  Remove the persimmons from the hot water.
     Let the persimmons cool to room temperature.
     Peel the persimmon skin off.
     Step 3:  Puree the poached persimmons in a food processor or blender.
     The yield should be about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of persimmon puree.
     Step 4:  Place the persimmon puree in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 2 whole cloves.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 cup of brandy.
     Step 5:  Place the pot over medium heat.
     Simmer and reduce till about 1 1/2 cups of thin puree sauce remain.
     Step 6:  Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl to make a slurry.
     Add just enough of the slurry to thicken the sauce to a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.  (Discard or save any extra slurry.)
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Simmer for 2 minutes.
     Step 7:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a ceramic container.
     Keep the sauce warm in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast:
     This recipe yields 1 stuffed small turkey breast.  (3 or 4 portions)  
     The stuffed turkey breast can be trussed, so it retains a round shape or it can be cooked untrussed to create a presentation like the one in the photos above.
     Step 1:  Select 1 small boneless turkey breast (or cut a section of turkey breast) that weighs about 20 ounces.
     Leave the skin attached.
     Trim any fat and excess skin from the breast.
     Remove the tenderloin filet section and save it for another recipe.
     *The prepared boneless turkey breast section should be a fairly even thickness.  About 1/2" to 3/4" thick is good.  If one end is too thick, then butterfly cut the end open, so the entire breast cooks evenly.
     Step 2:  Place the turkey breast on a cutting board skin side down.
     Mound a generous amount of the Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffing across the length of the whole turkey breast filet.
     Fold the turkey filet over the stuffing.
     Step 3:  Brush a roasting pan with vegetable oil.
     Place the stuffed turkey breast on the pan, so the seam faces down and the skin faces upward.
     Press the sides of the turkey filet, so the stuffing is not exposed and the stuffed turkey beast is evenly shaped.
     Step 4:  Brush the turkey with melted unsalted butter.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of ground sage on the stuffed turkey breast.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of Herbs de Provence on the stuffed turkey breast.
     Add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan.
     Step 5:  Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.
     Slowly roast till the turkey is fully cooked and the skin is crispy golden brown.  (The internal temperature of the stuffing must be at least 165ºF for 15 seconds, so all pathogen threats are eliminated.)
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the stuffed turkey breast warm on a stove top.
     Allow the stuffed turkey breast to cool and rest for 5 minutes, before slicing. 
     Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast with Brandy Persimmon Sauce:
     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
     Step 1:  Pour about 1/4 cup of the Brandy Persimmon Sauce on a plate as a bed for the stuffed turkey breast.
     Step 2:  Cut 3 thick slices of the Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast.  (About 3/8" to 1/2" thick.)
     Carefully use a long spatula to place the stuffed turkey slices on the sauce on the plate.
     Step 3:  Spoon a little bit more of the Brandy Persimmon Sauce on the plate around the stuffed turkey slices.

     The flavors are comfortable and satisfying.  This is a nice gourmet Appalachian style turkey entrée for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Potage au Potiron

     Pumpkin Soup!
     When pumpkin is not sweetened as a dessert, it has a very nice winter squash flavor.  Pumpkin does have a light natural sweetness of its own, but it is not overbearing.
     There are many varieties of pumpkin.  The orange hybrid pumpkin that is associated with Halloween is the most popular.  Many lesser known heirloom pumpkin varieties are called calabaza.  Calabaza have been a native food staple since ancient times and most varieties were hybridized on a local or regional level.
     Calabaza tend to have more flavor than orange hybrid pumpkins.  I used a piece of Mexican calabaza to make today's recipe.  This calabaza had a tan color skin and the squash meat was a dark rusty orange color.  The ridges on the outside of the calabaza were "deep V" shaped.
     A potage originally was a peasant style coarse thick soup or stew of vegetables and grain.  Meat or fruit was sometimes added, but most were made with only vegetables that the indentured servants were allowed to keep.
     Vegetables and grain potage was what most peasants ate during the Middle Ages of European history.  When the unified modern French cuisine trend began in the late 1700's, many chefs refined the old peasant style potage recipes.  The addition of whole milk and using puree techniques resulted in a modern farm style potage that was more like a thick rich cream soup.
     Today's pumpkin soup certainly is thick and rich.  Potage au Potiron is a perfect choice for a chilly early winter day.  The crunchy cinnamon croutons add a nice touch!
     Potage au Potiron:
     This recipe yields about 4 1/2 cups.  (2 large bowls)   
     In keeping with its peasant heritage, a potage is usually prepared in one pot.  A modern potage can be thickened with roux or it can be left as is and served as a coarse thin puree.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Gently sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 3 cups of light chicken broth.
     Add 2 cups of minced peeled seeded pumpkin or calabaza flesh.  (The pumpkin can be minced in a food processor.)
     Step 3:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Gently simmer the soup for a few minutes till the minced pumpkin is tender.
     Step 5:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring with a whisk to make a roux.  (The roux should be shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir till the roux is a blonde color.
     Slowly add the hot roux to the soup while stirring.
     Stir till the soup thickens.
     Step 6:  Add 1 cup of milk.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the soup is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  The finished volume should be about 4 1/2 cups.
     Step 7:  Remove the bay leaf.
     Keep the potage warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Cinnamon Croutons:
     This recipe yields 2 garnish portions.  (About 3/4 cup)
     Step 1:  Trim the crust off of 1 or 2 slices of stale French bread.
     Cut the sliced bread into 3/8" diced cube shaped pieces.  (About 3/4 cup is needed for 2 garnish portions.)
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
     Add the bread cubes.
     Sauté and toss till the croutons are toasted light golden brown.
     Step 3:  Place the croutons in a mixing bowl.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of cinnamon on the croutons while tossing them in the bowl.
     Set the cinnamon croutons aside.
     Ladle 2 cups of the Potage au Potiron into a large soup bowl.
     Float about 1/3 cup of cinnamon croutons on top of the soup as a garnish.
     This pumpkin potage is comfortable, savory and rich tasting!  The buttery unsweetened cinnamon croutons add a nice texture.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ris de Veau et Aubergine Sauté aux Pennoni Pâtes Allemande

     Sweetbreads and Eggplant Sauté over Pennoni Allemande!
     Gourmet offal entrées have been trendy in recent years.  During the Great Recession of 2007, many fine dining chefs offered modern interpretations of classic offal recipes.  This is because when times are tough, the elite members of the dining public view secondary cuts of meat as being en vogue.     
     The resurgence of offal entrées during the recession helped to revive interest in classic French preparations of offal.  Classic fine dining restaurants nearly always offer a few offal entrées on the menu.  Veal liver and sweetbreads are probably the two most common offal offerings and they are usually prepared with classic presentation styles that appeal to senior members of the dining public or  young members of the dining public that have an educated palate.
     Adding a little pizzaz to an offal entrée helps to increase the appeal, when targeting novice members of the fine dining public.  By introducing an offal item along with a popular food item, it is easier to coax a novice gourmand to give the entrée a try.  Pasta is a great choice for introducing something new.  
     The French style creative pasta trend peaked sometime in the late 1900's, just before the fusion cuisine trend began.  French chefs were making unique stuffed pastas and adapting classic French sauces to pasta recipes, with no regard for Italian pasta tradition.  Basically, French chefs reinvented pasta recipes during those years and "the sky was the limit" as far as creativity was concerned.  
     Today's recipe reflects upon the style of pasta that was served at trendy French restaurants in the late 1900's.  A classically prepared protein often was featured on pasta that was coated with a classic French sauce.  This simple combination was quite profitable back in those days, because the choice of protein determined which sector of the dining public was targeted.  For example, if chicken or prawns topped off the fancy French style pasta, then the entrée appealed to a broad spectrum of the dining public.  When something like sweetbreads topped the fancy pasta, the entrée appealed to a few gourmands and senior members of the dining public.
     Designing menu items that only appeal to the masses will result in alienating niche sectors of the dining public.  By offering a few items that feature offal, a fine dining restaurant will retain customers that seek such options on a long term basis.  Long term steady income is a real asset in the fine dining restaurant business, especially when time are tough.  Then again, when time are tough, offal entrées are en vogue, so items like sweetbreads definitely deserve a spot on the menu!
     There is much more to a classic sauce Allemande than simply adding mushrooms, cream and egg yolk to a chicken velouté.  For today's recipe, either pale veal stock (white stock) or a pale chicken stock can be used to make the velouté sauce.  White stock will still be required for one of the classic allemande sauce recipe reduction steps.      
     Many chefs poach sweetbreads in milk.  That is okay, but it is a waste of milk.  Milk actually dilutes and masks the flavor of sweetbreads.  Gourmands prefer the sweetbread flavor to be accented instead.  Nearly every French chef and German chef that I apprenticed with used a court bouillon for poaching sweetbreads.  A light court bouillon combined with the "cold start" poaching method allows the transfer of flavors to take place.  Sweetbreads do taste much better when they are poached in court bouillon.    
     There are four sweetbread locations on a young calf.  Good butcher shops place all four sweetbreads in one package.  Each sweetbread type tastes the same, but the connective membrane tissue strength can vary, especially if the sweetbreads were overcooked during the poaching process.  Overcooking will result in the sweetbread pieces separating like little nuggets.  Poaching the sweetbreads properly, till they are fully cooked yet tender, will result in sweetbreads that remain whole and intact when they are sliced and sautéed.         

     White Stock: 
     This recipe yields about 1/2 gallon of white stock.  (or optional pale chicken stock)
     Since today's recipe is for veal sweetbreads, white stock is also used to make the velouté.  If only chicken is handy, then a pale chicken stock can be substituted.  To make pale chicken stock, use chicken bones and scraps, instead of  veal bones and scraps.    
     Step 1:  Place 2 pounds of veal bones and trimmings in a large sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped carrot.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped leek.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped parsnip.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 2" of extra liquid.  (About 1 gallon.)
     Step 2:  Add a sachet bouquet garni of:
     - 1 sprig of thyme
     - 6 parsley stalks
     - 8 black peppercorns
     - 1 bay leaf
     - 2 spice cloves 
     Lightly season with sea salt.
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Slowly bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
     Skim any grease or impurities off the top.  Add water as necessary.
     Step 5:  Remove the large bones from the pot and discard them.
     Pour the white stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second large sauce pot.
     Discard the solids.
     Skim any impurities off the top of the white stock.
     Step 6:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Return the stock to a gentle simmer.
     Simmer and reduce till 1/2 gallon of stock remains.  Skim off any grease or impurities.
     Step 7:  Stream 3 whisked egg whites into the stock.
     *The egg whites will cling to any impurities and this will clarify the white stock.
     Step 8:  Pour the white stock through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Discard the solids.
     Step 9:  Cool the white stock to room temperature.
     Chill the white stock to 41ºF in a refrigerator.
     The white stock can be refrigerated for 7 days or it can be portioned and frozen for later use.

     Mushroom Liquor:
     This recipe yields 1 cup. 
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of minced mushroom trimmings in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 quart of water.
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till 1 cup of liquid remains and the liquid is thoroughly infused with mushroom flavor.
     Step 3:  Pour the mushroom liquor through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Set the mushroom liquor aside or chill it for later use.

     Court Bouillon Poached Sweetbreads:
     This recipe yields 4 to 6 portions, depending on the size of the sweetbreads.
     Poaching all four sweetbread sections at one time best.  The extra poached sweetbreads can be chilled for later use.     
     Sweetbreads must be poached first, then cleaned and trimmed before slicing.  It is best to use the cold start method of infused poaching for sweetbreads.  The cold start method allows flavor exchange to occur.  Poaching at a low temperature will retain the desirable pinkish white sweetbread color.  Overcooked poached sweetbreads have a grayish white color.
     Step 1:  Place the 4 whole sweetbreads from 1 calf in a sauce pot. 
     Add 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped carrot.
     Step 2:  Add 6 Italian Parsley stalks.
     Add 1 crushed clove of garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3 laurel leaves.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 1" of extra liquid.
     Step 4:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Gently simmer the sweetbreads till they are fully cooked and firm.  
     *The sweetbreads should be a light pinkish white color when they are fully cooked.
     Step 5:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.
     Place the sweetbreads and poaching liquid in a container.
     Chill in a refrigerator to 41ºF till the court bouillon gels.
     Step 6:  Remove the chilled sweetbreads from the court bouillon.
     Discard the court bouillon.  
     Rinse the sweetbreads under cold running water.
     Step 7:  Use your fingers to carefully peel the thin outer membrane off of the sweetbreads.
     Pull or cut any thick rubbery membrane pieces off of the sweetbreads.
     Step 8:  Cut the sweet breads into 3/8" thick slices.
     Refrigerate the sweetbreads to 41ºF till they are needed.
     *Organ meat is easily contaminated by pathogens.  Keep the prepared sweetbreads chilled!   

     White Veal Stock Velouté:  
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup of velouté sauce.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should be shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir till the roux becomes a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 1/2 cups of the white stock.
     Raise the temperature to medium/medium high heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.  Whisk the sauce occasionally.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Add a 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 till the sauce is a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.      
     *The volume should be a little more than 1 cup of velouté sauce after reducing.
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter, while whisking.  (Monte au beurre!  This will prevent a "skin" from forming on the velouté.)
     Set the velouté aside or chill it for later use.   

     Pennoni Pasta Preparation:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     The cooling method in this recipe is the best way to cool pasta!
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Pennoni Pasta in boiling water over high heat till it is al dente.
     Step 2:  Place the pot under cold running water.
     Drain the excess water off of the pasta as it cools.
     Step 3:  After the pasta cools, use a colander drain off the water.
     Set the pasta aside.
     *Keep a pot of water boiling on a backburner, so the pasta can be reheated later in the recipe.   

     Allemande Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 generous portion for pasta.  (About 1 1/3 cups)
     Allemande sauce should be made shortly before it is needed.  This sauce is difficult to reheat without breaking the sauce, because it is tightened with egg yolk.
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of white veal velouté sauce (or chicken velouté sauce) in sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of white veal stock.
     Add 1 ounce of the mushroom liquor.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce till it is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 4:  Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice while stirring.
     Mix 1 large egg yolk with 1 ounce of cream in a small mixing bowl.
     Add the egg yolk cream liaison, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Step 5:  Remove the sauce from the heat as soon as the egg yolk starts to tighten the sauce.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter while stirring.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian Parsley.
     Place the allemande sauce in a ceramic cup.
     Keep the cup warm on a stop top or in a 135º bain marie.

     Ris de Veau Sauté:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/4 cups of flour in a mixing bowl.
     Lightly season the flour with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried thyme leaves.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Dredge 4 1/2 ounces of the prepared sweetbread slices in the seasoned flour. 
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Allow the butter to turns a golden color.
     Place the coated sweetbread slices side by side in the pan.
     Sauté the sweetbreads on both sides, till they are a golden brown color.
     Step 4:  Remove the sweetbreads from the pan and set them them on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.  
     Keep the sweetbreads warm on a stove top.
     *Use the same pan for the eggplant sauté!

     Petite Aubergine Sauté:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.   
     Step 1:  Place the sauté pan that was used to cook the sweetbreads over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the butter that remains in the pan.
     Add 1/2 cup of Parmentier cut eggplant.  (Parmentier is the French precision cut name for 1/2" dice.)
     Sauté till the eggplant starts to become tender.
     Step 2:  Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Continue sautéing the eggplant till it tender and golden brown.  
     Use a perforated spoon to place the sautéed eggplant in a container.
     Keep the sautéed eggplant warm on a stove top.

     Ris de Veau et Aubergine Sauté aux Pennoni Pâtes Allemande:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     Step 1:  Place 1 portion of prepared Pennoni Pasta in a pasta net and reheat it in a pot of boiling water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Step 2:  Place the pasta in a mixing bowl.
     Add enough of the warm Allemande Sauce to generously coat the pasta.  (About 1 1/4 cups)
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 3:  Mound the pasta on the center of a plate.
     Pour any excess sauce over the pasta and onto the plate.    
     Step 4:  Sprinkle the sautéed petite eggplant pieces over the pasta.
     Arrange the sautéed veal sweetbread slices on top of the pasta, so it looks nice.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of minced Italian Parsley over the pasta entrée.
     Garnish with a sprig of Italian Parsley.  

     Viola!  An elegant pasta entrée that is perfect for a chilly evening! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mussels Oreganata with Formaggi Piave Vecchio, Red Jalapeño and Crispy Leek Threads

     A Tasty Twist On The Classic Oreganata!
     Oreganata is a simple Italian style breadcrumb topping for seafood.  Oreganata is bread crumbs moistened with olive oil that are flavored with salt, black pepper and oregano.  Finely grated Parmigiana Cheese is often added to the Oreganata mixture.  Garlic is not in the original Oreganata recipe, but many chefs add garlic.  Lemon juice usually finishes Oreganata topped seafood as it comes out of the oven or lemon wedges are served on the side along with Oreganata.  The fresh lemon flavor adds a nice touch.  
     Oreganata was originally designed for clams, but this topping can be used on fish, shrimp or just about any shellfish.  Mussels are also a nice item to serve Oreganata style.   
     For today's recipe, the simple Oreganata topping is jazzed up!  Piave Vecchio Cheese is a classic aged grating cheese from Venice, Italy and it has a unique rich flavor that is slightly sweet.  Red Jalapeño is a mildly spicy chile pepper, as long as the seeds are removed.  Red Jalapeño adds an interesting spicy kick.  Crispy Leek Threads are a popular garnish and they add a rich caramelized leek flavor.  

     Oreganata Topping:
     This recipe yields enough for about 6 large Green Mussels.
     Good olive oil makes a difference, so use the best!  
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of plain fine ground Italian bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl.
     Slowly drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the bread crumbs, while stirring with a fork, till the bread crumbs become moistened with olive oil.  (About 2 to 3 teaspoons.  The bread crumbs should glisten, but not look saturated.)
     Step 2:  Season with 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the oreganata topping aside.

     Crispy Leek Threads:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Crispy leek thread cook quickly and the entire cooking process only takes about minute.  Because Crispy Leek Threads are so fragile, it is best to cook a little more than what is needed. 
     The entire leek can be used for making leek threads, but the middle and white section are best.     
     Step 1:  Cut a 4" long section of leek.
     Split the leek section in half lengthwise.
     Rinse the leek under cold running water.
     Dry off any excess water.
     Step 2:  Cut the leek section halves lengthwise into very thin julienne strips.  (About 1/32" to 1/16" wide!)
     Step 3:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 of the thin leek strips.
     Spread the leek strips evenly in the oil.
     Flip and stir the leek strips with a cake spatula.
     Pan fry the leek threads, till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 4:  Carefully use the cake spatula to place the fragile crisp leek threads on a dry lint-free pastry towel to drain off any excess oil.
     Step 5:  Repeat Step 3 to fry the second small batch of the leek threads.
     Leave the crispy leek threads on the dry towel undisturbed, till they are needed.

     Celery and Red Jalapeño Relish:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     A small amount of refreshing relish tastes nice with the mussels and it is refreshing for the palate.  The relish also helps to stabilize the mussels on the plate, so the mussels do not slide all over the place! 
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoons of small diced peeled celery in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of small diced seeded red jalapeño.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of small diced onion.
     Step 2:  Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 small pinch of ginger powder.
     Step 3:  Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the relish aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

     Mussels Oreganata with Formaggi Piave Vecchio, Red Jalapeño and Crispy Leek Threads:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer portion.  (5 large green mussels)
     Green Mussels are farm raised, so the size is consistent.  They are usually cleaned, poached and packaged on the half-shell.     
     Step 1:  Place 5 large green mussels on the half shell on a roasting pan.
     Spread a 1/8" thick layer of the Oreganata topping over each mussel.
     Step 2:  Sprinkle 2 pinches of finely grated Piave Vecchio Cheese over the Oreganata topping on each mussel.
     Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of brunoise diced seeded red jalapeño pepper over the Oreganata topping.  (Brunoise = 1/8" dice)
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the Oreganata topping is toasted to a light golden color.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Carefully and gently place some of the crispy leek threads on each mussel.
     Step 5:  Place a small mound of the celery and red jalapeño relish on the center of a plate.
     Arrange the finished mussels on the plate in a starfish pattern, with the pointed end of each mussel resting on top of the relish.
     Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

     Viola!  A modern variation of the classic Mussels Oreganata!