Remember to get in our Quickies Noodle Challenge. Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create a fun, sexy, inventive noodle dish. The deadline for entry is midnight December 14, 2010.
The grand prize is a fantastic cookbook Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night written by my good friend the super talented Denise Fletcher.
Chickpeas are one of my absolute favorites. They are low in fat and most of it is polyunsaturated. Chickpeas are also high in dietary fiber and for people who are diabetic, like my little brother, a great healthy source of carbohydrates. Here they form the base of this course, cooked with onions, shallots, leeks, and red chilies.
To compliment and enhance the chickpeas, the next flavor layer is a matsutake mushroom ragout. Luckily, I received some fresh, wild, hand-foraged Matsutake Mushrooms from Marx Foods. Take this recipe and run with it, this matsutake ragout goes well with a plethora of dishes.
I’d like to offer a counterintuitive method for cooking beef tenderloin. Normally, we sear the exterior of the beef at a very high temperature and then finish cooking it in the oven at a lower temperature. Well, when we cook meat we lose “juices” or moisture. There is no getting around that. The key becomes can we minimize moisture loss? The theory behind this cooking method is to first cook the meat in a low oven for 40 minutes in order to gelatinize the juices in the meat. Then, sear it on a hot pan to caramelize the exterior and achieve the crusty exterior we love on a good steak. Now, I am no scientist, but I can report that the meat was succulent and moist.
For all my veggie loving friends I include a vegetarian version of this dish. Here, eggplant confit takes the place of the animal protein. Confit, pronounced “con-fee”, is a method of slow and low cooking submerged in fat. Traditional confit are made with rendered duck, pork, goose, or chicken fat. Our veggie version is cooked in liquid gold, high quality olive oil from Spain.
A big hug and thank you to my lovely and talented friend Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron. On her recent European adventure, she brought me back some Piment d'Espelette. This is my favorite pepper. Grown in the Basque region of France, it has become the cornerstone pepper in Basque cooking. It packs a beautiful pepper flavor without ever burning the tongue.
Beef Tenderloin, Chickpeas, Matsutake Mushroom Ragout, Mojo Jelly
Eggplant Confit, Chickpeas, Matustake Mushroom Ragout, Mojo Jelly
For the Chickpeas:
15 oz canned chickpeas – rinsed and drained
1 red onion – sliced thin on a mandoline
1 leek (white & light green parts only) – sliced thin on a mandoline
1 shallot – minced
½ red chili – seeded & minced
1 tsp Meyer lemon juice
Sea salt & white pepper
In a sauté pan, heat the safflower oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs butter. When the butter melts and foams, add the onions and cook for 8 minutes, get some good color on them. Add the shallot, leek, and red chili cook for 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and mix well to combine. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, season with salt, piment d’espelette, and white pepper.
For the Matsutake Mushroom Ragout:
1/3 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp matsutake mushrooms - finely minced
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 tsp white truffle oil
sea salt & white pepper
In a small saucepan, combine the stock, matsutake mushroom, and 2 drops vinegar. Simmer for 4 minutes. You want the consistency of a sauce. Swirl in the butter and truffle oil.
For the Eggplant Confit:
1 large eggplant
Spanish olive oil
1 shallot - small chop
2 tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp cane sugar
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs savory
Cut the eggplant into 11/2 inch thick rounds. Season both sides of the rounds with sea salt. Lay the rounds on a wire rack to rest before cooking.
In a saucepan, add the olive oil, shallot, coriander seeds, sugar, bay leaf, and savory. Heat over medium-low heat to 180 F. Add the eggplant rounds. Cook on one side for 12 minutes. Turn the eggplant. Cook on second side for 12 minutes. Try to maintain temperature between 180 and 165 F. Remove the eggplant to wire rack to drain excess oil.
Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the eggplant rounds and sear on one side for 1 minute. The goal is too get a crust on the outside. It is good to have contrasting textures within the eggplant, more interesting for the diner.
For the Beef Tenderloin:
Beef tenderloin roast
Fleur de Sel
Preheat oven to 200 F. Coat the beef tenderloin with the canola oil. Season with piment d'espelette, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook beef in the oven for 40 minutes.
When the meat is 10 minutes out, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add some blended oil to the skillet. Remove the steak from the oven. Sear the beef tenderloin on all sides to caramelize the exterior. Remove to a wire rack to rest for 20 minutes.
Cut into 1 1/2 inch thick steaks. Season with fleur de sel.
For the Mojo Jelly:
1 tbs water
1 tsp powdered gelatin
1/3 cup mojo
2 tbs orange juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbs cane sugar
Add the water to a small ramekin and sprinkle with gelatin. Lit it sit for 2 minutes. Put the ramekin in the microwave and cook for 20 seconds or until it starts to bubble. Be careful it will boil quickly.
In a bowl, combine the mojo, orange juice, sugar and salt. Add the melted gelatin, stir to combine. Cover and fridge until set.
Note: The Mojo Jelly melts quickly. Bring it to the table and serve last minute. Use it as you would a finishing butter. It is so packed with flavor.
That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!