Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Amuse Bouche - Lobster-stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Let's face it... dining can be intimidating when one is not versed in Français or a seasoned gourmand.

Roll play, shall we?

Valet opens your car door and you gracefully enter though opulent doors of a reputable restaurant in your favorite city. Greeted by the handsome host, you follow his/her lead as all eyes gaze upon your entrance. ...

{walk slowly, gracefully... do not fall... do not fall...}

Charmingly bid the host a subtle "thank you" as your Victorian-chair is pulled for you to enjoy the forthcoming evening. A dazzling candle-lit atmosphere cascade gentle shadows on the billowing curtains.

Gently open the grandiose menu and begin to peruse the delicacies offered...

Amuse Bouche.

Excuse me?

"In America we speak American. Shake and Bake."

Mood-killer. I know... I was doing so well until that Ricky Bobby reference.

Back to the Amuse Bouche. Literally "to tickle to palate."

To those who do not deem themselves as a "foodie," fret not. Just because you do not necessarily dine as a "hobby," your taste buds will always enjoy a tasty morsel of nourriture. The purpose of an amuse bouche is to prepare your taste buds for the upcoming meal... a foreshadowing of flavors wrapped into one small bite, if you will.

An amuse bouche can literally be anything that your little heart desires. Remember to marry the themes of your courses when serving a multi-course dinner. For example, if mushrooms are being served for one course, perhaps use mushrooms in your amuse bouche. If rosemary is a star herb for the multi-course meal, then use rosemary in the amuse bouche. Again, the purpose is to "kick-start" the meal with a "hint" of what is to be expected.

One example... Lobster stuffed portabella mushrooms with creme fraiche, caviar and cheritaki sauce.

Cheritaki sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp rice wine
8 large Bing cherries - pitted
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp minced ginger
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of cayenne pepper

Combine ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved...then blend on high in Vitamix (or blender) in order to incorporate the cherries into the sauce.

Portabella Mushrooms
Do not run mushrooms under water when cleaning, as they will absorb too much water in the process. However, be sure to thoroughly clean the baby bellas with a paper towel or a soft brush; otherwise, the dirt will ruin the entire meal. Simply toss with extra virgin olive oil, pinch of cayenne pepper, squeeze of lemon juice, sprinkle of Herbs de Provence and dash of smoked sea salt. Allow to roast in the oven at 400 degrees F until tender with a fork (cooking time will vary, as mushroom sizes vary - the smaller the mushroom, the less time needed to roast).

Caramelized onions... Caramelizing onions, by slowly cooking them in a little olive oil until they are richly browned, is a wonderful way to pull flavor out of the simplest of ingredients. Slice off the stem ends of the onion (I generally use white onions) and place them cut side down on the cutting board. Peel the onion, then cut into thin slices. Coat the bottom of a non-stick saute pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (may add butter, if desired. Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn... should take about 15-20 minutes. Add chicken/vegetable stock or water if the onions stick too much. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the onions have caramelized, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Beurre monté... An extraordinary culinary vehicle that infuses butter into meats and fish (in our case, lobster). Essentially, poaching the lobster tail in butter. In a saucepan, bring 1 tablespoon of water to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to low and begin adding the chunks of butter (a little at a time) whisking constantly to emulsify. Once the emulsion is started, more butter may be whisked in (1/2 cup total). Hold the temperature of the beurre monté between 160 and 190 degrees F for poaching... IMPORTANT - Do NOT allow the mixture to boil... otherwise, it will "break" and no longer be of use.

Such a shame.

Ergo, place the raw lobster (raw, sliced into small chunks) into the prepared beurre monté and allow to poach... the lobster will turn a brilliant orange color and be warmed through (no longer translucent).

Once cooked, combine with caramelized onions and stuff into the roasted baby bellas.

Finishing touches and plating. My favorite part!

Since the multi-course meal incorporated a fusion of flavors from around the world, I paired the Cheritaki sauce as a garnish on the bottom of the plate, to enhance the buttery richness of the lobster. Simply spoon a dollop of sauce on a white plate, then use the back of a spoon to drag across the plate, creating an "artistic" line. Place the lobster-stuffed portabella near the sauce, then top with creme fraiche and caviar; this elevates a simple mushroom from 'earthy' to 'sophisticated.'


Finally, lightly sprinkle the plate with crushed fried kale... gives a needed "pop" or green color to the final plate.

And love, of course.

"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection" - Michelangelo

Love from OHIO!

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