Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baked Egg with Potatoes, Sausage and Cheddar


This is more of a idea of what you could do for breakfast/brunch as opposed to an exact recipe (we all know I'm not too fond of those). One morning I opened the ice box to see what tasty concoction I could throw together to get the day started off right. In it I found some potatoes, sausage, eggs and cheese. I also had these ramekins I bought and was looking for a good way to break them in. Ta-Da! And there you have the inspiration for this meal. (I think the French name for this is "Oeufs en Cocotte" in case you were wondering.) You can mix and match whatever ingredients you want to throw in your breakfast ramekins, but all of them (aside from the egg) should already be cooked. Top it was an egg and some shredded cheese, and then bake in a 400 degree oven. I don't really remember exactly how long to cook it for (I actually left mine in for a little bit too long...), but the idea is for the white to be set while the yolk is still runny. I think I put my ramekins in for around 12 minutes, so let's shoot for less than that and say 8-10 minutes. Top with a little chopped parsley and enjoy with a (few) mimosa(s).


Monday, March 19, 2012

Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese, Blood Orange, Fried Shallots, and a Balsamic-Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Here's the first course of my menu project that I created for school. I got the idea for this salad from some random restaurant I ate at in the West Village. That meal was a salad with goat cheese, fried shallots, steak, and a balsamic dressing (yum!). It's amazing what just a few ingredients put together in the right combination can become. In my rendition, I nixed the beef and added the orange to give it a lighter feel. I didn't want to add just any random orange either - I wanted the blood orange! (No, there is no actual blood involved.) It tastes very similar to your standard orange, but looks so much cooler! Add the goat cheese (my favorite of all the cheeses), a tasty dressing, and fried shallots (pseudo mini onion rings) on top and you're ready to go.

Salad:
  • 4 shallots
  • flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oil, for frying
  • 5 oz mixed greens
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 4 oz goat cheese

Vinaigrette:
  • juice from blood oranges
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Procedure:

  1. Emincer (slice) the shallots. Separate the shallot rings and dredge in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Fry in the hot oil until golden, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Supreme (cut into segments) the blood oranges. Squeeze any remaining juice from the oranges in a bowl and combine with the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Taste and adjust.
  3. Toss the greens and orange segments in the vinaigrette and plate. Top with goat cheese and fried shallot rings. 

Yield: 8 appetizer portions or 4 larger portions.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Menu Project: Summer Barbecue Inspired Four Course Meal for Eight

Dear Readers,
Sorry I have been a little MIA recently, but it was all for a good cause. For school I had to create a four course menu for eight that is one of the big assignments of the whole program. It was due recently and in order to make sure I finished on schedule I needed to divert time away from the blog to focus on it. Now that it's complete, it's time to share it with you! First I'll start with the essay that introduces the concept and dishes, and then I'll add posts for the recipes (although the second course can already be found here). Enjoy!
-Aaron



In thinking about the type of menu I wanted to create for this project, I thought of a time filled with friends, flowing conversation, delicious food, and an overall sense of ease. This immediately caused my mind to drift to a scene of warm weather, a nice, gentle breeze, and the sun turning the sky a mystical mix of blues, purples, oranges, reds, and everything in between. Enter the late summer barbecue.

Unfortunately, when many people use the term “barbecue” what they are really referring to is “hot dogs and burgers cooked on a grill.” The menu I have conceived has a playful mix of flavors and textures rooted in a certain ease and air of casualness that I associate with that time of year. 


To start there would be a light salad of mixed greens, goat cheese, blood oranges, fried shallots, and a balsamic-blood orange vinaigrette. The plate has a delightful combination of tartness and creaminess provided by the goat cheese, sweetness and acidity provided by the dressing, the pop of juiciness as you bite into the orange segments, and something fried (which everyone loves) to top it off.




For the second course I chose a relatively straightforward corn and bacon chowder. Due to its simplicity and there really being only two ingredients, the importance of quality is that much more paramount. Corn, the star of the dish, is in its prime during the late summer/early fall, and such a dish as this really allows it to live up to its full potential. The corn’s ethereal sweetness is complemented well by the smokiness and saltiness of the bacon. Also, I decided to leave some of the kernels whole to aid the crisp pieces of pork in contributing to the contrast in textures.

In order to claim any meal as inspired by the realm of barbecue then it needs to include a succulent and satisfying piece of meat somewhere in the lineup. Enter the third course of pulled pork tacos served on corn tortillas and topped with an apple slaw. The main flavors I associate with barbecue are a careful interplay of smokiness (delivered by the cumin, paprika and chili powder), heat (provided by both black and cayenne pepper), and a touch of sweetness (thanks to the orange juice and brown sugar). In this course, the traditional barbecue flavors are also accented by the tangy crunch of the apple slaw. I paired this dish with a glass of Vinho Verde. The wine hails from Portugal and directly translates to “green wine” meaning “young wine.”1 Its effervescence and acidity helped cut through some of the fat inherent in the pork shoulder, making it a nice accompaniment to the dish. “It's usually, but not always, slightly fizzy, a little spritzy on the tongue, which contributes to its liveliness.”2



As I look at the dish now, my fourth course turned out to be sort of a riff off of a wine and cheese pairing. It started out as just the port-poached apples topped with fresh whipped cream (a dish I’ve actually made for a summer dinner once before). Thinking about the course more made me realize that something crunchy needed to be thrown in the mix to offset the tenderness of the apples and the airiness of the whipped cream – this led to the addition of the oatmeal crisp. Lastly, it wasn’t until I was actually cooking that I noticed some leftover goat cheese and thought of incorporating it into the whipped cream to form the mousse.

Port is a fortified wine that originates from the Douro Valley in Portugal.3 “The wine received its name, ‘port’, in the latter half of the 17th century from the seaport city of Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, where much of the product was brought to market or for export to other countries in Europe.”4 Although it is produced in a variety of geographic locations (I was first introduced to it while visiting a winery in Missouri a few years ago and have been a fan ever since), it is similar to champagne in that the European Union designates that only spirits produced in Portugal can be labeled “port” or “porto” and sold in the region.5 There are two main varieties – ruby and tawny. Ruby port is the most basic variety that is bottle-aged and tastes of “lush fruit and noticeable sweetness.”6 It gets its name from its red hue. Tawny port on the other hand is aged in wooden barrels, which impart “nutty” flavors to the wine.7 A tawny port’s intensity and color profile are determined by how long it has been allowed to age – sometimes up to 30 years or longer. I chose to use tawny port over ruby port in my dish because I didn’t want the end result to be overly sweet.

Overall, I believe the dishes work well together as a menu because of the continuity of ingredients throughout – orange (juice) in the first and third courses; goat cheese in first and fourth; pork and corn (tortillas) in second and third; and apples in third and fourth – which aids in the dinner’s fluidity and cohesiveness. Additionally, it possesses a good amount of variety with regard to including numerous flavors and textures to keep the diner’s palate interested and have it satiated by the end of the meal. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it tasted pretty darn good if I do say so myself. Bon appétit!

Sources
  1. Wikipedia Contributors. Vinho Verde. 31 January 2012. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 7 March 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Vinho_Verde&oldid=474165348> 
  2. Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. The BA Guide to Summer Wine, Pt 1: Vinho Verde. May 2011. Condé Naste Digital. 7 March 2012. <http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2011/05/what-is-it-vinho-verde.html> 
  3. Jason Brandt Lewis. Wine Seminar: A quick overview of Port wine. 1997. Wine Lovers Page. 7 March 2012. <http://www.wineloverspage.com/port/jbl030197.shtml> 
  4. Wikipedia Contributors. Port Wine. 29 February 2012. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 7 March 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Port_wine&oldid=479412920> 
  5. Commission Regulation (EC) No 753/2002: Labelling of wine and certain other wine sector products. 20 August 2007. European Union, Summaries of EU Legislation. 7 March 2012. <http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/other/l21303_en.htm> 
  6. Jason Brandt Lewis. Wine Seminar: A quick overview of Port wine. 1997. Wine Lovers Page. 7 March 2012. <http://www.wineloverspage.com/port/jbl030197.shtml> 
  7. Wikipedia Contributors. Port Wine. 29 February 2012. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 7 March 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Port_wine&oldid=479412920>