Friday, December 26, 2008

Chessa and I were invited to do a cooking class for some friends (Dana Fallentine and Britney Gharring) down in San Diego focusing on brunch items. I love smoked salmon and we had just done these Thomas Keller Yukon Gold Blinis and I thought that they would go perfect together. I wanted a little action on the plate so we placed the blini over a sprinkling of chopped egg white, egg yolk, capers and shallots. I also ran a line of parsley oil across the plate for a little bright green color on the plate. (Ideally this would have been dill oil, but I had parsley oil on hand and decided that it would work just fine). Most women that I know (including Chessa) aren't big fans of smoked salmon, but I love it. I think that this would make a perfect breakfast on Sunday morning.

Yukon Gold Blini (Thomas Keller Recipe)
1 pound Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
2-3 tablespoons crème fraiche, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
Kosher salt

Place potatoes in a saucepan with cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked and tender.

Peel the warm potatoes and then press through a potato ricer. Pass them through a fine mesh sieve. Immediately weight out 9 ozs of the pureed potatoes and place them in a medium metal bowl. Working quickly, whisk the flour into the warm potatoes, then whisk in the 2 tablespoons crème fraiche. Add 1 egg, whisking until the batter is smooth, add the second egg, and then add the yolk.

Hold the whisk with some of the batter over the bowl. The batter should fall in a thick stream but hold its shape when it hits the batter in the bowl. If it is too thick, add a little more crème fraiche. Season to taste with salt.

Heat a griddle over medium heat. Spoon between 1 and ½ teaspoons of batter onto the griddle and cook until the bottoms are browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Then flip them can cook the second side for about a minute. The blini should be evenly browned with a small ring of white around the edges. Transfer the blini to a small banking sheet and keep warm while you make the remaining blini, wiping the griddle with a paper towel between batches.

To Complete
Hard boil two fresh eggs by placing eggs in medium sauce pan covered by 2 inches of cold water over medium-high heat. As soon as the water is at a simmer, turn the burners off and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. This will gently cook the eggs and make for perfect yellow yolks. When done, place eggs under cool running water to peel. cut the eggs in half and separate the egg whites from the yolks. Chop each separately.

Sprinkle a line of chopped egg whites in the center of a large plate. Top with a sprinkling of egg yolks, then chopped capers and finely diced shallots. Top with two warm blini and 2-3 ozs of sliced Alaskan Smoked Salmon. Mix a few table spoons of creme fraiche with about two table spoons of finely chopped dill. Place 1/2 tsp of the dill creme fraiche on the smoked salmon and top with a sprig of dill and you're done.... These potato pancakes go great with the salmon. They're very good on their own as well...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Friends Christmas Dinner - 2008

Every Christmas season, Chessa and I like to have one big dinner party. We normally don't go any higher than 14 total people because that's all the pot de creme pots that I have and all of our dinners finish with pot de creme (a favorite dessert of ours). This year, we got a bit aggressive and had 20 people for dinner. We had to sit everyone in three rooms and we hired Finley to stand at the sink and wash dishes all night so that we could quickly turn out each course. It was fun. We really enjoyed trying to painfully stuff everyone.

I normally like to try to get people to try something that they haven't had before. One year, we did truffle infused custards with shaved black truffles and chive chips. Another year, we had sauted baby octopus... But we kept it fairly calm this time around. The menu went as follows:

Black sesame cornets filled with smoked salmon tartare and whipped dill cream cheese or tomato tartare with shallots, basil and creme fraiche

Yukon gold blinis with eggplant caviar and sweet roasted red and yellow peppers

Spicy Artichoke Soup with handmade artichoke ravioli and Croatian cold pressed olive oil (I bought this oil from an old lady selling it from her cart in the heart of Dubrovnik. She pressed the oil herself at her family's mill). It was dang good.

Kalmata Olive and Rosemary Bread

Roasted Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Ravioli with butter glazed brussels sprouts with brown butter, sage and amaretti crumbs.

Cara Cara Orange Rolls (Chessa made these dessert-like rolls... They are awesome!)

Tilapia cakes (supposed to be cod cakes... but no one can tell) with sauteed tilapia, clam chowder vegetables and parsely oil

Pomegranate Sorbet with a Kiwi Jus (Brittney Gharring made this... went great with the sorbet)

Beef Tenderloin with Caramelized French Shallots on Crimini Mushrooms and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Micro Greens (my new favorite find at Trader Joes)

Triple-Cream French Cows Milk Cheese "Le Delice de Bourgogne" with fresh Orange Blossom Honeycomb, Turkish Figs, Blackberries and Red D'Anjou Pears

Passion Fruit Pot de Creme

Petite Meyer Lemon Chesse Cakes with Fresh Blueberries

It was fun plating up all these dishes. Chessa and Brittney Gharring were a big help in the kitchen (We acutally like to involve everyone platting these courses up). Brittney took these amazing pictures. It was fun, we only wish we could have invited more people. Our house isn't big enough and I need to buy more dishes....

I'll post the recipes as soon as I figure out how to post them on a different page.

Here are some of the pictutres. The rest of the images can be viewed here.

Chelsea Gharring preparing the sesame cornets with salmon tartare and tomatoe tartare

The "cones" ready to go in a jalapeno roaster (I bought this piece just for these cornets)....

Weighing out the potato puree for the blinis

Blini batter (these are the smoothest potato pancakes that you've ever tasted)

Yukon Gold Blini with Eggplant Caviar and Sweet Roasted Peppers

Spicy Artichoke Soup with Artichoke Ravioli

Finley and Maddyn helping make the pasta dough

Maddyn "painting" the pasta dough with water to seal the ravioli

Brussels Sprouts poaching in water and butter

My daughter Maddyn loves helping me make these Pumpkin Ravioli. The sweetness of the pumpkin goes perfectly with the slightly bitter taste of the brussels sprouts

Cara Cara Orange Glaze

Chessa's Cara Cara Orange Rolls. (our favorite orange)

Parsley Oil filtering through cheese cloth
Jon Billings being a bit "creative" with the parsely oil...

It's tough with only four burners... We need a bigger stove.

Sauteed Tilapia with Tilapia Cakes, Chowder Vegetables and Parsley Oil

Pomegranate Sorbet with Kiwi Jus

Sauteing the Shallots

Beef Tenderloin with caramelized shallots and roasted garlic mashed potatoes

The "fromage" course... I was excited to find the honey comb from the farmers market. The figs were cool too.

Passion Fruit Pot de Creme. We need to find more of these lidded pots.

Chessa's petite Meyer Lemon Cheese Cake. Perfect bite size dessert.

My cheat sheet... I love getting to the end of the menu!

Look at all of the beautiful women that I got to cook for....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Eggnog French Toast with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream, and Fresh Blueberries

Chessa and I are doing a cooking class for some friends down in San Diego in a couple of weeks and we wanted to try some Christmas brunch type items. I thought that eggnog french toast would be fun but then wanted to plate it up as a napolean with vanilla bean pastry cream and berries. We used blueberries and blueberry syrup. With a brunch there are normally several different menu options, so I wanted to keep this dish small. I used a round pastry cutter and kept the toast slices to about 2.5" wide.... I used three toast slices and piped a ring of pastry cream and filled the center with blueberries for each slice. I topped the napolean with more blueberries, blueberry syprup and then dusted with powdered sugar. All of my kids loved this one.

Eggnog French Toast

1 egg

1 cup eggnog
1/4 teaspoon cinnamin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Beat egg and add eggnog, cinnamin and nutmeg. Place batter in a shallow dish and soak bread for about 10 seconds each side. Cook on a non-stick griddle until golden.

Pastry Cream

1.5 cups half and half

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1/2 vanilla bean

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons Flour

Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into half and half. Bring half and half to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk sugar, eggs, egg yolk and flour in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot half and half. Transfer to saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to boil, about 5 minutes. Boil 1 minute. Pour into medium bowl. Stir in vanilla. Press plastic onto surface of pastry cream. Cover; chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)

Fin liked it and thought that we should have french toast like this every day for breakfast