Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Raw ahi tuna with Citrus Marinade

Raw ahi tuna with Citrus Marinade

Incredibly quick, easy and healthy... be sure to use a high-quality ahi tuna, as you will be consuming said fish raw.

I simply marinated my ahi in 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, splash of lemon and lime, 1 tsp sesame oil, pinch of cayenne and sea salt. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (allowing the citrus to permeate and seep into the tuna).

While the tuna is marinating, cut supremes from an orange, as well as fresh jalapeño, raw red onion and green onion. Cut the green onion on a bias, meaning - the diagonal. This will allow them to display a more glamorous "diamond" shape, as opposed to a simple circle (more 'restaurant' presentation).

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup mayo, 1 tsp wasabi paste and sprinkle of sea salt... whisk together to form a wasabi-mayo.

When plating, carefully line the ahi tuna into rows - being sure to keep the lines clean and modern. Carefully spoon the citrus reduction atop the ahi, and allow to cascade to the bottom of the plate... creating a small pool for the tuna to rest. Top the ahi with a slice of jalapeño, orange segment, raw onion and green onion. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and dot the plate with the wasabi mayo.

Simple. Sophisticated. Healthy.

Love y'all dearly!! xo 

Ahi tuna

Ahi tuna.

I know - you're probably thinking sesame seed oil and more asian-influence, right?

#creativityfail

Such a versatile fish - allow yourself to be more expressive in terms of flavors.

One of my favorite dried herbs - herbs de Provence - simply a descriptive term referring to herbs typical of Provence (France). Generally a mix of: savory, fennel, basil, thyme and lavender.

Simply season ahi steak with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and generous crust of herbs de provence. Heat olive oil in a hot sauté pan, then simply sear the ahi one each side - for about 10 seconds. This will allow the herbs de provence to marry into the skin and slowly permeate throughout the fish. Yes, the majority of the fish will in fact be raw - and sparkling pink.

Accruements? Remember your peeler when working in the kitchen. I simply shaved carrots (into "faux noodles"), and red radish to thin slices. Combined with arugula and frisée, as well as a few julienne cuts of celery. Marinated with fresh lemon juice, sea salt, ground pepper and basil oil. The basil oil elevates the shaved roots by providing a subtle-herb complexity to the thinly-sliced vegetables.

To finish, using a serrated knife, carefully slice the ahi into thin stripes. Simply drizzle a touch of basil oil atop the ahi tuna and add a few edible flowers for a feminine touch.

Simple. Sophisticated. Healthy.

Love y'all dearly!

Goat cheese and beet mousse with roasted beets

Goat cheese and beet mousse with roasted beets...

I know, when I mention, "beets," most immediately snuff up their nose and dismiss the root vegetable. Why? Because many have only enjoyed beets when consumed from a can.

Trust me, canned beets are nothing like their roasted, sweet and savory counterparts.

#truestory

Where to begin:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub beets with soapy water (beets are root vegetables - essential to remove the grind and dirt from the skin). Place a large piece of foil on a baking sheet and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place beets on the foil and season again - olive oil, salt and pepper... then wrap the foil around the beets (like a little package) and place in the oven. Essential, this will steam and roast the beets at the same time.

Depending on the size of the beets, they will usually take about 40-60 minutes. They will be finished when tender to cut with a knife. Remove and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. At this point, if they are pink beets, I will use gloves... as the pink will stain your hands (and clothes too... be careful!) If golden beets, they will not stain your hands... Carefully remove the skin (beets will be hot, but always easier to remove the skin of the beets when warm).

With the roasted beets, we are going to serve the beets in three ways: one, simply roasted, as is; two, beet coulis; three, beet/goat cheese mousse.

Roasted - already cooked: simply toss with extra-virgin olive oil, touch of dijon mustard, crushed pepper, pinch of cayenne pepper and Himalayan sea salt.

Beet coulis - In a blender, puree 5 medium roasted (no skin) beets, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp dijon mustard, salt and pepper (to taste), pinch of cayenne pepper and about 1/4 cup olive oil. Blend until smooth. May add a little more olive oil (consistency should be slightly thicker than a soup... able to keep it's shape when spooned onto a plate).

Beet/Goat Cheese Mousse - Beat together 4 oz goat cheese and 2 Tbsp heavy cream in a mixer... before fully whipped, add about 1 tsp beet coulis. This will give the mousse a hint of beet essence, as well as brilliant pink color.

As far as presentation - if different beet colors are available, use that to your advantage. For example, I used pink beets for the beet coulis and beet/goat cheese mousse... and golden beets for the roasted beets. This will provide a brilliant color contrast for the beautiful August summer.

Simple. Sophisticated. Healthy.

Love y'all!

Lamb tenderloin


Lamb tenderloin

First off - hot sauté pan with smoking oil... I prefer almond or walnut oil. Season all sides of the lamb tenderloin, then carefully place into the pan. Gracefully tip the sauté pan away from you - slightly - allowing the meat to cook at the end of the pan. This will ensure a faster sear, as the meat is being cooked not only on the bottom, but side as well. As the lamb is attaining a brilliant crust, cut and entire head of garlic in half. Place in the sauté pan, with springs of thyme. After the lamb has been seared on all sides (including the side), place the thyme atop the garlic, then place the tenderloin atop the thyme. Add a few knobs of butter, then baste the lamb... ensuring that the garlic/thyme/butter seeps into the meat - locking in moisture and juices.

#droolmuch

Transfer the pan into a 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes. Depending on the size of the meat, the timing may alter slightly. Your best bet? Invest in a meat thermometer if you do not have enough experience to tell - by touch - the degree of doneness.

While the meat is cooking, sauté diced onions. Allow to caramelize on a medium/high heat (careful not to burn). Toss in small broccoli flourettes (raw) and continue to cook.

After the meat has cooked, remove from the oven and allow to REST - essential to allow the juices to be absorbed into the fibers, as opposed to cutting immediately and allowing that liquid gold to be disbursed onto the cutting board...

Remove the thyme and garlic from the sauté pan and deglaze with red wine. Pour the brownings into the sauté pan with caramelized onions and broccoli. Add boiled potatoes and allow to reduce.

When plating, keep it simple... a few potatoes, chopped spring onions, broccoli and lamb in the center.

Sophisticated, elegant, delicious.

C'est la vie. La vie en rose.

Love y'all!
sb
 

Short Ribs

Never feel guilty when purchasing an inexpensive cut of meat... magic can still be created in the kitchen. When challenging myself in the kitchen, I strive to create meals that 1) people enjoy a certain food that they have never enjoyed before and 2) using produce in season to create best flavors, as well as cut costs.

Enter in, short ribs.

Absolutely essential to sear the short ribs before throwing into the oven. Why? Because without the sealed crust, the meat will simply boil... not developing a caramelized, rich flavor.

#tears

Be sure to season the short ribs, then sauté in olive oil. Use a large roundeau (large, round pot with handles) to saute the meat. Slice an entire head of garlic in half, then add to pot. Add 1 tsp tomato puree and allow to disperse... this is known as "cooking out." If you simply add the tomato puree, then stick into the oven, it will create a bitter flavor...

#cringe

Add red wine and reduce by half. Then add either beef or chicken stock... about held-way up the meat. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan with tin foil and stick into the oven. Allow to slow-cook for about 2 hours... until falling off the bone.

For the garnish... fry up small slices of pancetta, then add mushrooms... any variety. Cooking the pancetta and mushrooms separately from the meat will allow them to have a crispy texture... which will compliment the fall-off-the-bone tenderness of the shot rib.

#heaven

Once cooked, remove the short ribs from the oven. Push the garlic head through a sieve and strain the entire sauce.

When plating... granted, yes... this is a "brown meal." But even though the neutral-theme is not a rainbow of vibrant colors... respect the ingredients. Rather than slopping it onto a plate, carefully spoon the mushroom/pancetta mixture onto the center of the plate... top with the braised short rib (carefully... it will be falling apart... in a brilliant way!) and gently spoon the sauce a top the entire dish. Rather than adding an edible flower (way too delicate for this dish), top with some fresh rosemary... bring a subtle hint of needed vibrancy and color.

Not too shabby, eh?

Love y'all dearly!
sb

Deconstructed desserts

Deconstructed desserts can be a fun and creative manner of plating during dinner parties... an "organized chaos" that features a myriad of different layers of dessert... allowing you, the consumer, to create your own flavors with each bite. Genoise imbibed with whiskey, crumbled sugar cookie, blueberry ice cream (creme anglaise base), blueberry meringue and sautéed blueberries... And copious amounts of love <3

Oysters and mussels

Oysters and mussels- with hearts of palm, artichokes, potatoes, pearl onions, caviar and fresh chervil... love y'all <3

French Sauces

Sup, Sauces

Antonin Carême, a brilliantly innovative French chef, codified all sauces in the nineteenth century. These "mother sauces" are the basic foundations on which all other sauces are formed... the foundations, if you will: sauce béchamel (which/milk/cream based), velouté (white/veal stock based), sauce espagnole (basic brown) and sauce hollandaise (sabayon based). Once mastered, you may even find yourself speaking French...

#sexyaccent

So basics:

Béchamel
4 Tbsp butter (unsalted)
1 3/4 oz AP flour
3 1/4 cups milk (whole)
Coarse salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg

Place 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter in a medium sauce pan and melt on low heat. When melted, add flour (sifted, to prevent clumps) and whisk stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the roux (equal parts butter and flour - thickening agent), becomes frothy and begins to bubble. Immediately remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the milk in a separate sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat when boiling. SLOWLY add the boiled milk to the roux, whisking constantly... added off the heat. If added too quickly, the mixture will "break."

Return the pan to a medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. This will allow the starch to achieve full "thickening-power."

Lower the heat and season with salt, cayenne and nutmeg. Continue to simmer rand stir for about 10-15 minutes, until the sauce thickening.

Again... no one said it was easy, but TIME is your best friend in the kitchen... allowing flavors to develop, sauces to thicken and magic to be created with your own hands.

#cookingpassion

Once thickened, remove from the heat and strain through a chinois (stainer) and keep in a bain-marie (double-boiler) until ready to serve. Using the remaining 2 tsp of butter, dot the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming over the top of the sauce.

If not using within 30 minutes, then place the sauce in an ice-water bath in order to chill quickly. Leave the wooden spoon in the sauce, as it is cooling. Stir the sauce every 5 minutes... this will allow the heat to be released, cooling the internal temperature faster. Be sure you have cooled the sauce from 140º F to 70º F in 2 hours and from 70º F to 41º F within 6 hours. Why is it important to cool a sauce quickly? Bacteria, or other germs, need time, food and moisture (or wetness) to grow; but they won't grow when the temperature of the food is colder than 41º F or hotter than 140º F. The temperatures in between 41º and 140º are in the "Danger Zone."

This is not Top Gun. We are not wanting to take the highway to the Danger Zone... that's what airplanes and motorcycles are for 

#needforspeed

In the kitchen, safety is number one. Always.

More sauce fun to come...

Love y'all! xo

Langostino

Langostino.

Prawns? Lobster? Crab?

Langostino are actually closely related to soft-shelled crabs, though are generally prepared in the same manner as shrimp and prawns. Cooked langoustino pair brilliantly with white wines (thin Chenin Blanc and Riesling), since they are light and sweet in flavor.

A few methods to cook...

Before any type of cooking, be sure that langostino wiped dry and resting at room temperature...

Broiling
Preheat broiler and place langostino in a large bowl. Toss in a mixture of salt, freshly ground black pepper, pinch of cayenne pepper or smokey paprika, lemon juice and either melted butter or extra-virgin olive oil. Spread the langostino out evenly on a baking sheet and allow to broil for about 3-4 minutes (until bright red). Serve immediately with fresh lemon juice and/or clarified butter.

Boiling
Fill a large saucepan half-way with cold water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Add the langoustine and boil for about three minutes (will turn a deep red-color). Drain and quickly transfer the langostino to a bowl of ice-cold water (will stop the cooking process). Pat the langostino well to dry, then serve.

Sautéing
Heat a few Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil or butter on a sauté pan, then add the langoustino. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing regularly to cook all sides. Season with salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Serve immediately with a side of lemon, clarified butter and/or freshly chopped chives/parsley.

When sauteing langostino, an easy sauce to accompany the dish:
After sautéing the langostino, remove from the sauté pan, then allow 1 Tbsp butter to melt. Add finely chopped shallots and allow to sweat until soft (about 5 minutes) on a medium heat. When no longer crunchy, turn the heat to high and deglaze with a white wine (about 1/4 cup of Chenin Blanc/Riesling). Allow to reduce by 1/2, then add 1/2 cup of stock - vegetable or fish. Allow to reduce by 1/2 again, then remove from the heat and add 1 Tbsp butter. Gently shake the butter into the sauce, then season with salt and pepper... serve with sautéed langostino.

Langostino fair well when tossed in pasta or quinoa. Ceviche is another brilliant use for the sweet faux-soft crabs.

A healthy and quick langostino salsa (guilt-free, mind you):
1 pound boiled langostino - rough chopped
4 roma-style tomatoes - seeded and small diced
1/2 purple onion - small diced (about 3/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 cup cilantro - freshly chopped
1/2 avocado - small dice
1 jalapeno - chopped fine (seeded if you want less heat)
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, taste
Smoked paprika - pinch
Cayenne pepper - pinch

Mix all ingredients together, then cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, in order for all flavors to infuse. Enjoy with tortillas, pita chips, atop fish or simply as is!

"All cooking is a matter of time. In general, the more time, the better." -John Erskine

Agreed... though I may substitute "love" for "time" -

"All cooking is a matter of love. In general, the more love, the better." - sb

Love y'all! 

You know ladies... You can still be feminine and know how to prepare meals... #realwomencook

You know ladies... You can still be feminine and know how to prepare meals... #realwomencook 

Healthier-lobster bisque


Healthier-lobster bisque 

Two 1 pound lobsters, steamed
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into medium dice
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp sweet paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup sweet white wine, such as Riesling
2 large tomatoes - remove skin, and dice - keep juices.
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups skim milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
Juice of ½ lemon
Few dashes of Tabasco sauce
Salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

Break down the lobsters... remove the claws, as well as tail - place in bowl and refrigerate. Pull the outer shells of the head off of each body and discard the shells... also discard the lung sacs, but leave the tomalley (soft, green paste). Finely chop the meat removed from the body shells.

In a large pot, heat extra-virgin olive oil and cook the onions, garlic and paprika until soft (sweating the onions... about 7-10 minutes). Add the chopped lobster and allow to cook until most of the moisture has evaporated (about 5 minutes) on a medium-heat.

Turn the heat to high and add the wine to deglaze. Reduce by 1/3 (about 3 minutes), then add the tomatoes and their reserved juices. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth and 1 1/2 cups of milk. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes (uncovered). The liquid should reduce by about half.

While the stock is simmering, remove the claw and tail meat that had been reserved in the refrigerator. Roughly chop the meat - leaving it large enough to enjoy chunks of lobster for the garnish.

After the stock has reduced for about 20 minutes, blend in a blender/Vitamix and pass thru a chinois (strainer). Return the strained-stock to a clean sauce-pan.

In another saucepan, heat the Greek yogurt and remaining milk. Bring the stock and the Greek yogurt/milk mixtures both to a boil, then slowly whisk in the Greek yogurt/milk mixture to the stock. Allow to reduce until a creamy-consistency.

Season with a splash of lemon juice, tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, sea salt and freshly-cut chives. Garnish with large chunks of lobster and a few micro-greens to add a more delicate touch.

Flavorful and a healthier option for the average-day consumption!

Love y'all 
 

Duck breast with cauliflower purée


Duck breast with cauliflower purée, caramelized onions and Brussels sprouts... Be sure to render the fat on the duck breast in order to make it crispy when pan-searing! Xo 

Crispy duck breast skin.

When dining out, one can easily order a perfectly cooked duck breast... but how does one replicate said technique at home? 

I promise... it is much less intimidating than one would fathom.

The secret to attaining a crispy duck breast skin is to score the skin, being careful not to pierce the meat. Season with sides with salt and pepper, then place the skin side down over a low-heat. The purpose of the "low and slow" heat? In order to render the duck fat, a low heat encourages the fat to melt away... thus creating an opportune environment for the skin to crisp. This will take about 8-12 minutes (depending on the size, etc.)

At this point, turn the breast over and allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the breasts to a 400 degree F oven and allow to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. The final internal temperature should be served around 165 degrees F. (I serve mine a little under... so French)

After removing from the oven, be sure to allow your duck to rest for about 5 minutes... allowing the juices to be absorbed within the internal proteins. If one were to immediately cut into the duck, the "liquid gold juices" would simply cascade from the perfectly-cooked protein.

Brilliant when paired with roasted endive, scallop potatoes, beet coulis and a red-wine reduction.

"Method is much, technique is much, but inspiration is even more." - Benjamin Cardozo

Love y'all dearly! 
 

Whiskey-infused sweet cherries

Whiskey-infused sweet cherries 
Rather than purchasing "fake" marichino cherries at the grocery store... infuse your own sweet cherries in rum, bourbon or whiskey... could even choose a cherry liquor or grand marnier/cognac. Simple create a simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and water. Bring to a boil, along with a splash of lemon, alcohol of choice, dash of salt and touch of vanilla. Allow to simmer and reduce for about five minutes, then pour over cherries (remove the stems and inner pith). The longer they infuse, the better they will be... so good and so much better than store-bought! 

Rum balls

Secret Baumert family recipe and favorite... Rum balls! Xo 

Purple cauliflower purée with filo-wrapped asparagus and caramelized pearl onions

Purple cauliflower purée with filo-wrapped asparagus and caramelized pearl onions 

Leg o'lamb

Sup, leg o'lamb... Roasted root veggies are a brilliant, easy accompaniment... Beets, fennel and onions, if you so choose... A dash of smoked sea salt, kick of cayenne and drizzle of lemon juice/almond oil help enhance the veggies with a nutty subtle flavor... Got to 

Scallops - simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

When cooking scallops, it is essential that the sauté pan is hot enough in order to achieve a sear on both sides of the shellfish. I generally use ghee (clarified butter), in order to develop a rich, sweet flavor. A sprinkle of sea salt, fresh pepper and lemon juice are the only seasonings needed when executing a perfectly-cooked scallop. Remember, "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication..."- Leonardo da Vinci. Love y'all! 

Greek Spanakopita

I found extra FILO dough in my freezer, so I decided to make Greek Spanakopita with low-fat feta cheese and steamed spinach... Why not?  Love y'all <3

Guacamole with hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, mango and balsamic reduction

Guacamole with hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, mango and balsamic reduction- tossed lightly in EVOO, lemon juice, Himalayan sea salt and turmeric. Fresh crab salad with lemon juice, cilantro and radishes... And a pinch of love 

Carrot, ginger and avocado purée

Carrot, ginger and avocado purée (the avocado aids in making the purée a bit "creamy) with paprika for a kick! Helps add another dimension to roasted polenta with root vegetables... Gluten-free, as well ad healthy and vibrant in color, texture and flavor! Xo 

Hand-made beet gnocchi

Hand-made beet gnocchi with roasted and shaved beets, peas, shaved radish, beet coulis and fresh herbs... Drizzle of lemon juice, EVOO and sprinkle of Himalayan pink sea salt 

Citrus love

Marinated orange and grapefruit, Granny Smith apple, shaved rutabaga, arugula, basil and shrimp with a sprinkle of Himalayan pink sea salt, lemon juice and olive oil... xo 

Nazca Kitchen

Brilliant lunch today at Nazca Kitchen in Dallas, TX with owner, Craig Collins. (http://www.nazcakitchen.com/). 

Nazca Kitchen is a mouth-watering take on South American food - with a healthy twist and play on presentation. From the clean, modern lines of the restaurant itself, to the friendly and educated service, I was thoroughly impressed. 

As a chef, individuals always ask me if I am able to enjoy dining experiences... or if I am too consumed in trying to critique food. To me, company is always the number one factor. I always remember whom I am sharing a meal with, as well as brilliant conversation. The food is literally just the "icing on the cake." And when fresh, perfectly executed and aesthetically beautiful, it is easy to create a reliable and consistent brand.

My favorite dish that I was able to sample today was the halibut ceviche (fresh halibut caught in Alaska by owner Craig Collins). All too often, chefs make the mistake of "over-doing" presentations. The ceviche was perfectly seasoned, vibrant in color and definitely left me wanting more. The mozzarella, gluten-free cheese balls literally melted in my mouth. Sautéed salmon and halibut had a beautiful spicy sauce to accompany the flavorful filets. Friend quinoa and cheesy quinoa enhanced the entire meal and added a wonderful accompanying play on texture. The acia-puree with maraculla drizzle, bananas, strawberries and granola was the perfect dessert to polish off said meal.

This evening I enjoyed roasting the NAZCA Kitchen coffee beans - brilliant blend of South American beans. Smooth, perfect blend.

Definitely a loyal customer... due in part to the ancient tradition of freshly-picked ingredients, rich flavors, authentic dishes, gracious staff and overall ambiance.

Highly encourage y'all to visit and enjoy!

Love yall dearly!
sb 

Hummus with red lentil purée and Granny Smith apples

Hummus with red lentil purée and Granny Smith apples... Kale salad with mandarin oranges, strawberries, avocados, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, lemon juice and love <3

Make today amazing!

Make today amazing!! Carrot/ginger/beet/kale/apple/lemon juice, roasted and shaved beets with balsamic dots, roasted pistachios and French whole grain mustard.  Love y'all! <3

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

So much more to being a chef than simply cooking meals... Ingenuity, creativity, health, nutrition, art, refinement, passion, logic, love... Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary... Xo 

Left-overs

Ok leftovers... I panicked. Mushroom duxelle, pickled watermelon, 0% Greek yogurt, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes... 

Random conglomeration for breakfast, eh? 

I was going more for more whimsy this morning, as opposed to a composed dish.

Love y'all dearly!! 

Seared ahi tuna

Seared ahi tuna with a sesame seed and herbs de Provence crust, apple and fennel slaw, edamame and mango coulis... Love y'all!

"Pretty protein"

Beef cheeks with cream corn and bell pepper coulis... I even like making meat look "pretty." Love y'all! #passion 

Food Art

Oh, you know... The usual Saturday afternoon shananagans... Beet coulis, cherry tomatoes and beets... Purple cauliflower: purée and roasted, with scallops and mache leaves...#experimentinginthekitchen #foodart 

Baking... and the "spoon"

When I was a child, my mother would always cook and bake wonderful creations in the kitchen. Now, the extent of my "lending a hand" in the kitchen would also be known as coming home from swimming/gymnastics/dancing/piano/flute/flying/tennis/golf/track (you get the picture, I was an athlete - still am) - and completely raiding the kitchen with my older brothers.

Though when it comes to cakes and any dessert with buttercream icing... nothing but pleasant memories exist.

I have two older brothers: Stephen and Michael. As a child, I would emulate their every move... sports, academic interests, video games, even clothing... just add a sparkle of glitter and call it a day. Since there were three little "Baumert cherubs," mom would always divvy up the extra buttercream icing in order for each of us to partake in the glorious sugary icing.

Enter in: bowl, paddle attachment and... spoon.

Yep. Spoon.

No one wanted the spoon, as the spoon was the natural pariah of the previously stated culinary tools. I mean, the bowl you can use your fingers to rhythmically swivel and swirl to grasp every last swipe of icing. The paddle attachment is just a party for your tongue... able to lick every nook and cranny. But the spoon? How much icing can you really get?

Really, mom?

"Please sir... may I have some more?"

I only kid of course... sorta. But in all honesty, my mother was and is a brilliant cook in the kitchen. Whenever I bake any type of cake, I remember the sweet smells permeating the home as a young child. As I said before, I never participated in the actual cooking/baking... but smells evoke nothing but jovial childhood memories.

"A great many things can be resolved with kindness, even more with laughter, but there are some things that just require cake."

Love y'all dearly!! 

Omelettes

Omelettes.

You know what they say about eggs... one of the hardest proteins to cook.

Why? Depending on the preparation, an egg can overcook within seconds... becoming chewy, rubbery, or chunky.

Fret not... the more you cook, the better you will become.

#experience #passion #joyofcooking

I have always been a huge proponent of egg white omelettes- loaded with healthy and colorful veggies, spices and herbs: high in protein, low in fat and rich in vitamins/minerals.

I try to eat as many raw fruits and vegetables - however, cooking some foods is essential in order to create more palatable flavors. For example, this morning I began by sautéing green onions, shallots, red bell peppers in almond oil, with a drizzle of lemon juice, sprinkle of cayenne pepper, smoked sea salt and dried oregano. The ingredients cooked quickly, then I removed them from the sauté pan. I simply wiped the same sauté pan with a paper towel (leaving a little of the oil to prevent the eggs from sticking). I poured in three egg whites on a medium heat, then wait for about 1 minute... I could see the bottom of the pan begin to turn white as the egg whites began to coagulate and cook. At that point, I stuck the sauté pan in the oven with the broiler on.

Why into the oven, under the broiler?

The bottom of the broiler already began to cook - hence the white bottom. Now, heat radiating from the broiler will cook the top of the omelette... this only takes a few minutes to fully cook. As soon as the omelette turns from translucent into white, remove from the oven and carefully slide onto a plate. In the center of the omelette, add the cooked veggie combination, as well as as many fresh, raw veggies as possible: tomatoes, asparagus, avocados, cucumbers, carrots, etc. Gently fold the omelette like a sandwich and enjoy with freshly toasted bread (gluten-free or whole wheat!)

"Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold - but so does a hard-boiled egg." - Author Unknown

Love y'all dearly!! 

The "wonder veggie"

The "wonder veggie."

The Japanese call it edamame, but for the none Japanese, it is also known as: sweet beans, vegetable soybeans, beer beans, green soybeans, garden soybeans, immature soybeans and even edible soybeans. 

Let's stick with edamame, shall we?

The soybean is a complete protein containing all of the amino acid building blocks. It also provides an antioxidant boost from plant chemicals called isoflavones.

Ok, fantastic. In laymen's terms... edamame are incredibly good for your overall health.

But how does one enjoy... aside from steaming them in their pods and sprinkling with sea salt?

Edamame puree.

Easy preparation and brilliant addition to a plethora of proteins/composed meals.

I generally will purchase a bag of frozen edamame (deshelled) and allow to boil for about 5 minutes. After rinsing with warm water, I transfer the warm beans into a food processor and allow to pulse until relatively smooth. In addition, I will add 1/4 cup roasted cashews, then thin the consistency with about 3/4 cup 0% Greek yogurt. A touch of sesame oil will add an asian hint to the beautiful green puree... sea salt, cayenne pepper to taste and the juice of 1/2 lemon... simply blend all ingredients together.

Using a peeler, I created thin strips of beets, then roasted them with coconut oil, smoked sea salt, cayenne pepper and a touch of lemon juice. I thinly sliced a gluten free bread that I had made earlier and toasted it to create a "crouton."

Fresh greens are the final brightening touch... basil, mache leaves and parsley should do the final trick... tossed with a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil... sprinkle of sea salt.

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Love y'all dearly!! 

Birthday Cake - Finished

Final product, y'all!

Anything worth having or doing possess one common element: time.

Regardless of race, religion, sex, gender, wealth, talent... no one person has more than, or less than, 24 hours allotted per day.

Celebrating my three year anniversary move to Dallas, I have naturally adapted to the infamous Texan motto... "go big or go home."

#dontmess

Most chefs focus on one culinary discipline: cuisine or pastry.

I do both.

Why?

Because to me, there is no greater gift that one can give than time... or something made by hand.

Creating flavors takes time, love, experience and absolute joy. For instance, caramelizing onions generally takes about 45 minutes in order to break down, create natural flavors and properly cook... a simple element, yet essential when necessary. A roast can take days when cooking low and slow.

Making and rolling cake fondant, baking cakes, decorating... time, time, time.

Whatever you talent, learn to share your gift with others... cooking, music, dance, flying, encouragement, art, business, advice, hospitality... even a simple smile can make all of the difference for one individual.

Each day is a gift. How bad do you want it?

Love y'all dearly!! 

Birthday cake

Birthday cake... Pre-final touches and assembled! Will post a final photo upon completion! Love y'all dearly!! Xo 

Crispy duck breast skin

Crispy duck breast skin.

When dining out, one can easily order a perfectly cooked duck breast... but how does one replicate said technique at home? 

I promise... it is much less intimidating than one would fathom.

The secret to attaining a crispy duck breast skin is to score the skin, being careful not to pierce the meat. Season with sides with salt and pepper, then place the skin side down over a low-heat. The purpose of the "low and slow" heat? In order to render the duck fat, a low heat encourages the fat to melt away... thus creating an opportune environment for the skin to crisp. This will take about 8-12 minutes (depending on the size, etc.)

At this point, turn the breast over and allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the breasts to a 400 degree F oven and allow to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. The final internal temperature should be served around 165 degrees F. (I serve mine a little under... so French)

After removing from the oven, be sure to allow your duck to rest for about 5 minutes... allowing the juices to be absorbed within the internal proteins. If one were to immediately cut into the duck, the "liquid gold juices" would simply cascade from the perfectly-cooked protein.

Brilliant when paired with roasted endive, scallop potatoes, beet coulis and a red-wine reduction.

"Method is much, technique is much, but inspiration is even more." - Benjamin Cardozo

Love y'all dearly!

Hazelnuts and portabella mushrooms

Hazelnuts and portabella mushrooms?

Ohhhhh yes, my friends... winning combination.

Incredibly easy, healthy and impressive palate teaser:

Sweat one small shallot in hazelnut oil (about 5 minutes, until translucent), then add thinly-sliced portabella mushrooms. Drizzle a splash of lemon juice (this helps the mushrooms retain a lighter color, as well as helps negate the "earthy" flavor of the 'shroom). Season with smoked sea salt, smack yo mamma seasoning (cajun), and a touch of cayenne pepper. Nothing more, nothing less. Allow to cook until the mushrooms are tender... then combine with fresh arugula, toasted hazelnuts, a few thin slices of freshly grated parm cheese and balsamic vinegar.

Basic execution... but flavors are spot on.

"Art is not what you seem but what you make others see." - Edgar Degas

Love y'all dearly! 

Mushroom duxelle

Mushroom duxelle.

What is it, how do I make it, why do I even care...

In the culinary world, mushroom duxelle is a chopped mixture of shallots, mushrooms, red wine and... love. It is often used as a filing for pastries (classic in Beef Wellington), as well as garnish for proteins. A small quelle of duxelle is often added as flare to a dish.

Duxelles made with wild porcini mushrooms will be much stronger flavored than that made with white or brown mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms are generally used more often than not; however, reconstituted dried varieties can also be used.

As far as preparation... I will generally sauté shallots and garlic in almond oil, then throw in the chopped mushrooms. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, then add 1 cup of red wine (Port, Pino, etc.) Drizzle a few drops of lemon and allow to reduce until all liquid has been absorbed. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Sometimes I will also add fresh rosemary.

At this point, you may choose to serve in this manner. Taking a step further, you can add the mixture to the food processor an gently blend into a chunky paste. Heavy cream may be used to "thin out" the consistency. Completely up to your discretion.

One simple preparation is baking off a few sheets of puff pastry, then layering the duxelle between the light sheets of puff. A sprinkle of parm cheese, microgreens and balsamic should do the trick.

“Creativity takes courage. ” - Henri Matisse

Love y'all dearly!!