Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Pig's Beer Cheese Soup

My brother Alex, you may remember his previous work Stacked Fried Green Tomato with Plantain & Colossal Crab Meat, absolutely loves this soup.  By this soup I mean his version.  He makes a mediocre magnificent beer cheese soup.  The only other time I partook in this delicacy was at a God-awful chain restaurant, I think they filmed the movie Waiting..., there.  The soup hit like a nuclear bomb in the gut. Which then lead to the unfortunate bathroom explosion and inevitable colon cleanse.

Now, when conceptualizing my vision I decided to omit any roux and cream.  The combination of pureeing the soup and the cheese gives me a thick enough consistency.  Obviously the cheese is paramount here, and luckily, the Great State of Wisconsin produces some of the best cheese in the world. Here, I used two exceptional Wisconsin products...

1. Aged-Cheddar Cheese
2. Black Truffle Sheep's Milk Cheese

Beer is the next important component.  I decided to keep the Wisconsin theme going with a classic, Pabst Blue Ribbon, or PBR.  What?!  C'mon, this beer works well in the soup.

Who is the pig? And why did you steal his soup? If you read this blog then you know that LC got to puree and garnish all his soups. The pig is the wonderfully happy, organic, free range animal that gave its life to be my garnish. To honor it, I decided to use my favorite cut from the animal, the pork belly, and serve it 2 different ways.

Finally, my piece de resistance is a super serious and complicated molecular gastronomy “foam.” It is sure to blow your mind.

Enjoy...

Roasted Pork Belly & Pan-fried Bacon Garnish

Beer Cheese Soup, Thyme Flowers & White Truffle Oil Drizzle

Beer Foam

The Pig's Beer Cheese Soup



For the Beer Cheese Soup:
Safflower oil
12 oz carrot - diced
12 oz white onion - diced
12 oz celery - diced
2 leeks (white & light green parts only) - chopped
3 cups organic homemade beef stock
2 cups Pabst Blue Ribbon

5 cups Wisconsin Aged-Cheddar cheese
2 1/2 cups Black Truffle Sheep's Milk cheese
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt

Note:  Please be very careful with how much salt you add to the soup.  Remember that the pork belly garnish will add saltiness and flavor to the final product.

In a stockpot, heat the safflower oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add the leeks, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard.  Cook for 12 minutes.  Add the beef broth and beer.  Lightly season with sea salt. Simmer for 30 minutes.  Puree the soup using an immersion blender.

Off the heat, slowly blend in the cheeses.  Return to the heat.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

For the pork belly:
3 lbs pork belly - skinless
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tbs smoked pimenton
1 tbs curry powder

In a bowl. thoroughly mix the spices.  Rub the spice mix into the pork belly both sides.  Put into a covered container.  Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Put the pork belly in an ovenproof dish - (skin-side up).  Roast for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and baste with rendered fat.  Roast for 30 minutes.

Turn the heat down to 250 F.  Roast for 65 minutes.

Pork belly should be quite tender but not falling apart.

For the Beer Foam:
Pour yourself a nice ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Then quickly spoon some of the foam over the soup.  Voila.

Here's to hoping that my soup will not lead you to have an unfortunate bathroom explosion and colon cleanse.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Chicken Experience

This is one of my favorite dishes I have made recently.  We start with a wholesome organic chicken stock.  Make it at home.  Pretty please?!  Do not buy that sodium loaded crap from the store.  Making a chicken stock is simple, rewarding and relatively inexpensive.  Use only the best ingredients.  The stockpot is not the kitchen bin.

Throw in a stockpot, bacon, onions, Yukon gold potatoes, fennel, leeks, shallots, black peppercorns, thyme, and organic free-range chicken legs. Bring to a simmer, DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL. After 2 hours, the connective tissues will naturally break down. At this time, remove the chicken legs and scrape off all the meat clean. This is the first dish our stock yielded.

Poached Chicken Salad with Frisee and Ginger Carrot Vinaigrette


Cut the bones into three-inch pieces to expose as much surface area as possible, to aid the extraction of cartilage. The stock will simmer at a constant temperature for 8 hours. Strain through a China cap.  Now we have our stock. Time to go next level.

This next course is a playful riff on a childhood favorite of mine, Arroz con Pollo.  Obviously, this isn't the traditional version, this is me playing in the kitchen.

I tried to work as much chicken as possible into this dish.  Did I succeed?  I think so.  Do not skip out on the crispy chicken skin, this is a flavorful component.

Chicken and Rice

Stuffed Chicken Leg, Basmati Rice, Crispy Chicken Skin, Chicken Demi-glace

Saffron Puffed Rice
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups chicken stock
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch Spanish Saffron
Sunflower oil

In a saucepan, bring the rice, stock, and sea salt to a simmer. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Strain the rice thorough a fine mesh strainer. Preheat the oven to 170 F. In a glass bowl, mix the rice with the saffron. Spread the rice in one thin layer on a parchment lined sheet pan. Dry the rice in the oven for 50 minutes.

In a heavy bottom pan, bring the sunflower oil to 375 F. In batches, fry the rice. It should puff as soon as it hits the oil. Allow the puffed rice to completely cool and set aside.

Stuffed Chicken Legs
Organic chicken legs – boned and skinned. (skin reserved for garnish)
Lazaro Made ground chicken sausage
Granny smith apples – peeled and cored
Thyme
Center cut bacon

In a food processor, pulse the apples finely. In a glass bowl, mix the chicken sausage, apples, and thyme.

Put down a piece of aluminum foil on a cutting board. Lay down four strips of bacon side-by-side. Next lay down the boned chicken leg. Now spoon some of the chicken sausage mixture. Finally a layer of puffed saffron rice. Roll the chicken leg into a nice tight log. Twist the ends of the foil. Fridge for 30 minutes to set.

Remove from fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Preheat oven to 400 F. Add the chicken skins to one sheet pan. Place into the oven.

In a sauté pan, brown the bacon on all sides. Transfer to the oven. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Using an instant read thermometer, check the center of the chicken, you should have an internal temperature of 165 F. Place on a wire rack to rest.  Cut the chicken into 1 inch rolls.

Remove the crispy chicken skins and place on the wire rack to rest.

Basmati Rice
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups chicken stock
Olive oil
Unsalted butter
1 Spanish onion – sliced thin on a mandoline

In a risotto pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the butter. Once the butter melts and foams, add the rice. Toast the rice in the fat and onions for 5 minutes. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

Chicken Demi-glace
In a saucepan, add about 2 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a light boil and reduce to desired consistency. The more you reduce, the stronger and more intense the chicken flavor.

To plate:
1. Center some of the basmati rice
2. Garnish the rice with toasted black sesame seeds, daikon sprouts and edible flowers
3. Sprinkle some of the crispy chicken skins on the rice
4. Add the stuffed chicken roll
5. Plate some of the chicken demi-glace.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ramen with Two Bean Ragout & NY Strip Steak

My guess is that you won't find ramen noodles served like this very often. I love noodles. I could live off noodles. Here I took a queue from David Chang and just “put stuff on the plate that tastes good.” I am not much into tradition or labels. I think food should be labeled one of two ways; tastes good or tastes like shit. The whole point of cooking, apart from sustenance, is to experiment and push food forward. Not stay stagnant and keep doing the same tired crap.

This particular two bean ragout is incredibly flavorful, but you must take the time to develop the complex flavor profile. This is not a “30 Minute Meal.” The two beans used were black beans and canary beans. Also I made my own organic pork sausage. Anything homemade is better than store bought, especially sausage. What the hell is in an economy store bought banger? Nothing good. Making it at home you can choose your own wholesome cuts of meat and blend your own spices. It really is not a difficult process. Maybe down the line I’ll post my sausage making tutorial. That just sounds wrong…

The final component of the dish is a NY strip steak. Here I used a counter-intuitive cooking method for the steak. Normally, we sear the outside of the steak at a very high temperature and then finish cooking the inside in the oven at a lower temperature. In my many, many travels on the net furthering my cooking knowledge base, I came across a study that gauged the loss of moisture or “juices” in meat during the cooking process. Please, never again say that you sear meat to “SEAL IN THE JUICES” that is just a ridiculous kitchen myth that been propagated for years and debunked on more than 100 occasions. You lose juices, no getting around that. The question becomes can you minimize it?  For more information read the work of Heston Blumenthal and Harold McGee it is readily available online.

Here's the method.  After seasoning, put the steak in a low oven for 40 minutes; supposedly this gelatinizes the juices in the meat. Then sear the steak on a very hot pan to caramelize the outside and get that crusty exterior. Now, I am not a scientist, but I can report that the meat was really nice and juicy.

Lastly, if you need a tutorial on cooking ramen noodles, get a take-away!

Enjoy…

Ramen with Two Bean Ragout & NY Strip Steak


For the Two Bean Ragout:
Blended oil
1 large white onion – chopped
1 red bell pepper – chopped
2 leeks (white & light green parts only) – chopped
2 shallots
24 oz organic pork sausage
8 oz tomato paste
16 oz whole milk
500 ml white wine
Sea salt
Black pepper
Ground cumin
Ground coriander

15 oz canned black beans – rinsed
15 oz canned canary beans - rinsed

In a thick enamel pot, heat blended oil over medium heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and carrots. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Cook for about 30 minutes. Get some good color on the veg. Add the sausage and a touch of more blended oil. Cook until brown and rendered. 40 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Scrape any browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Cook for 20 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with the whole milk. Quickly scrape off the brown bits, the milk will evaporate fast. Add the white wine. Re-season with pepper, cumin, and coriander. Add the black and canary beans. Reduce the heat. Cover with a parchment lid and cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or to the desired consistency. Check for seasoning.


For the NY Strip Steak:
NY strip steak
Safflower oil
Smoked pimenton
Onion powder
Black pepper
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 F. Coat the steak with safflower oil. Season with smoked pimenton, onion powder, black pepper, sea salt. Cook steak in oven for 40 minutes.

When the meat is about 10 minutes out, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add some blended oil. Remove the steak from the oven. Sear the steak for 2 minutes per side to caramelize the exterior. Remove to a wire rack to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the meat thinly and season with sea salt.


That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stacked Fried Green Tomato with Plantains & Colossal Crab Meat

Happy Birthday to me.  Today I turn 89.  I feel amazing at my advanced age.

The avalanche of Birthday wishes on Facebook was awesome.  I appreciate it more than I could properly articulate.  Thank you, Thank you!


I got my first present today in the form of a blogger award from a special lady.  Shirley from Shirley's Luxury Haven is a fun, positive, engaging person.  She has a cool icon on her profile that proudly proclaims "I have a black belt in shopping!"  I think she needs to receive her black belt in cooking and blogging as well.  She is very active on Facebook.  Please check her cool blog out.  You will thank me later.  Thanks Shirley!

As I said yesterday, anyone reading this, take this award and pass it along to someone who's made an impact in your blogging adventure.  No Rules, just right! 

I would like to spotlight 3 fantastic bloggers.  Versatile for sure. These ladies are truly amazing.

Faith from An Edible Mosaic - Faith cooks great food.  She takes awesome photos.  And is incredibly supportive.  What more could you want in a blogger?

Vanessa from Coffee and Pie - To say that Vanessa writes well is a disservice.  She is a magician with words.  Her introspective narratives are some of the best reading on the internet.  Anywhere.  And her photos...you'll just have to click over to find out.  Look, if she didn't live so damn far, I would have her shoot my food!

Marisa from Cook's Book- Marisa is another fabulous writer.  Her food is great and in combination with her writing, magnificent.  The New York Newspaper Newsday just profiled her.  Enough said.

Welcome to Alex Cooks! 

When I realized that the 21st was on a Thursday I knew I would need a guest poster on my special day.  I automatically thought of my little Brother Alex.  Maybe you remember him from A Hero is Born

Alex is a proud papa, firefighter, paramedic, scholar and a gentlemen.  He's a good guy!  Everyone loves Alex.  I am the (dick) difficult guy of the family, he's the (guataca) nice guy.

Beyond all of that, he is one badass cook.  Not quite as badass as big bro' but pretty damn good.  Look at that dish.  I am quite impressed with the presentation, he's my brother indeed.

I am off to devour my Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake that The Lawyer got me.

Enjoy...

I am extremely excited about having the opportunity to guest post on my talented brother’s blog. Yes I am the aspiring firefighter/ paramedic and brother to the lawyer’s husband. I would like to take the time to wish him a Happy Birthday, the big 89.


My brother & I share a passion for food. I love to cook and create meals for people to enjoy, & I love to eat! Although I enjoy cooking I am no where near the level that my brother is at. His passion and love for cooking has really impressed me and I am very happy for what he has accomplished. I am very fortunate to have him as a teacher and reference point whenever I have a question.

I have cooked up a fun & tasty recipe for an appetizer that is sure to knock your socks off...whatever that means.

Stacked Fried Green Tomato with Plantains & Colossal Crab Meat



3 small green tomatoes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup Italian style panko bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup colossal size blue crab meat
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced red pepper
1 small shallot thinly sliced
salt & pepper to taste
1 large green plantain
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 1/2 cups canola oil for frying
1 cup green onions chopped


Editor's Note - Loving the Mise en Place shot


1. Peel plantain of the skin & cut into 2 inch pieces, set aside.

2. Peel the tomatoes with a veggie peeler & slice into 1/2 inch thick.

3. Coat the tomato slices in flour, then egg, then panko bread crumbs, set aside.




4. Heat the canola oil in the pan. Fry the plantains on both sides until golden.


5. Using the back of a small plate on a cutting board, flatten the fried plantain pieces one by one& refry them until golden & crispy. Set aside.


6. Now fry the tomatoes on both sides until crisp.

7. Season with salt & pepper.

8. Lay the tomato slices on a baking pan & top with crab meat.

9. Broil for 2 minutes.

10. Stack a fried plantain on each stack. Then follow with more crab and top with another fried tomato.

11. Toss the red onion, shallots, red pepper, olive oil, cilantro, balsamic vinegar, & rice vinegar together & set aside.

12. Place the tomato & plantain stack on a plate & top with the salad.

13. Garnish the dish with green onions & a couple pieces of colossal crab meat.



As Laz would say...

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What is an iFriend?

I truly thought that this was going to be my easiest week of blogging yet. Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men, my friends. I have posted everyday so far! Since people’s attention spans are quite short, I know that I am probably speaking to about 3 of you. Stay with me, I have something to say.


First off, Happy Birthday Mami! Today is my Momma’s B-day and I wanted to shout her out. But she doesn’t read blogs, so I think I’ll call her.

What is an iFriend? I call these the friends we make online. The “i” stands for impersonal. You good people know me as Lazaro, and I cook. I am the dude in the photo with the Mohawk. Or am I? How do you know?

There is a great scene in the beginning of the film Closer. Clive Owen plays a doctor and we find him in his office between patient visits exchanging sexually explicit emails with someone who he thinks is a woman. We come to find out that he’s actually exchanging emails with Jude Law, a dude, who is having a grand old time fucking with his mind. The point is, it’s pretty damn impersonal.

The blogging world is exceedingly positive. That is a good thing. But lets be honest, much of it is fake as hell. Not all dishes are great. Not all recipes are fantastic. Nobody is a nice person all the time.

That’s just keeping it real. I like real. I live in real. I detest bullshit. I am not everyone’s proverbial “Cup of Tea.” I try to be myself, though. All the time. I say what’s on my mind and really do not give a shit if anyone likes me.

I respect people that have something to say.  I do not advocate cruelty, or bloggers spewing venom on other people's sites.  However, I do get a kick out of the ones that aren't afraid to let loose and be honest when they comment.  Your names are on the tips of my fingers but I won't single you out.

I have what I call, “My Peoples”. My special group.  These are foodies that I have had the privilege of getting to know on a more intimate level.

Have I met any in person? No.
Have I spoken to any on the phone? Yes.
Have I made any significant worthwhile connections? In my opinion, Yes.

Whether it’s on Facebook, email, or chatting on google chat.  You know who you are. We chat about…

1, Why we puree everything?
2. Our favorite local hidden gem restaurants
3. Your new business venture
4. Your kids
5. Audi
6. Number 5
7. Fringe
8. The next Quickies Challenge
9. 5 Star joints - (as in restaurants)
10. Our love of sustainable fish and organic foods

Thank you for enriching my blogging adventure. You’ve been and will continue to be one of my greatest sources of inspiration. I would give you every award in the blogosphere. You know that!



This was given to me by one of “My PeoplesAlisha from The Ardent Epicure. Alisha is one of the most supportive friends around. Do yourself a favor, just click on the above highlighted link and say hello to her. I guarantee you will thank me for it.

Take this award and give it to someone who’s made an impact in your blogging life.

No rules, just right. Do it because you feel like it.

I want to single out two special people. These two friends are incredibly talented, but more importantly to me, exceedingly supportive. Please get to know them.

LeQuan from luvtoeat

Patty from Patty's Food

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Guest Posts for the Price of a Few Clicks

Okay I know what they say about attention spans but here goes nothing....

Two guest posts that I did weeks ago were posted on the same day.  Oh crap!

Why take the time to check out two different guest posts?  Well, if you enjoy the food produced by LC then it may compel you.  The dishes are quality for sure.  Expectation Management 101 undersell and hopefully overdeliver.  In realtiy, click over because both of my hosts are awesome bloggers and you will enjoy meeting them fo' sho'.

First, I was lucky enough to be invited by the fantastically talented, wonderfully chic and Cuban Bren from Flanboyant Eats.  Bren is a cooking superstar.  She has a personal tribute from my cooking idol, Joel Robuchon, on her site.  How cool is that?  She cooks contemporary Cuban cuisine and is a master in the art of making flan.  If you have yet to meet Bren, sign up to follow her site and stay awhile.  You will be amazed.

Here's the Linkage to my post...

The Chicken Experience

Second, I was very happy to share the space of one of my favorite cooks on the blogosphere, Ellen from La Pure Mama.  The lovely and supremely vegan Ellen, makes inspiring and dead-sexy vegetarian food.  She also always offers solid information on organics, sustainable foods, and eating healthy.  Sign up to follow Ellen's kitchen adventures.  You will thank me later.

My post on her blog was a riff off of Pretentious Buzz's "Luxury" Challenge.  The food submitted for the most part was ornamental, bloated, and overblown.  So I figured I can get right in there with the worst of them.

Here's the Linkage to my post...

Sea Scallops Party

Enjoy.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fight for Your Right to Vote

Did the title mislead you?  You really didn't expect some political shit on LC!..did you?  No chance!

I hope you have enjoyed my wild mushroom posts as much as I have enjoyed eating them.  Fresh wild hand-foraged mushrooms are in abundance at Marx Foods.  If you have a hard time finding wild mushrooms where you live, Justin from Marx ships next day across the USA.


Fresh Wild Mushroom Recipe Challenge
As the banner explains Justin is hosting a mushroom challenge on the Marx Food Recipe blog.  I am not involved.  However, two of my favorite foodie friends are.  Please hop on over and check out their awesome mushroom creations and help them out in their quest to win some great fungus prizes.  Thanks for the support!


Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron - Made a gorgeously presented Open-Face Wild Mushroom Provolone Sandwich.


Deana from LostPastRemembered - Made a decadently comforting Wild Mushroom Chili.

Click on the banner and vote for your favorite.


That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pan-Roasted Sablefish with Chanterelles, Yukon Golds & Creme Fraiche

Those of you who are my Facebook Friends saw the video I posted of David Chang.  Dave is one the best and brightest chef in America today.  The video was an interview by the USA Network for their Character Approved segment which he was one of the first winners.

David Chang is the master of the mash-up food.  Basically put things on the plate that taste good and forgets about the labels.  His food is creative and innovative.  Dave is quoted as saying "When we are at our best, is when we don't give a fuckin' shit about what anyone else says or tells us to do.  It's nice to hear people's advice but if they are experts then they should be doing it."

Dude is a serious badass.

It's in this spirit that I offer this course.  The star of this show is hand-foraged fresh wild mushrooms I received from Marx Foods. Now is the time to check out Marx's website for an amazing array of fresh in-season wild mushrooms that are native to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Chanterelles are sustainably hand-foraged.  They have a distinctive yellow color and are some of the best tasting and most sought after mushrooms in the world.  In this dish I used them two different ways to maximize the chanterelle goodness.

Enjoy...


Wild Fresh Hand-Foraged Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelle Mushroom Puree

Chanterelle Mushrooms, Diced Yukon Gold Potato, and Shallots Sauteed in Duck Fat

Pan-Roasted Sablefish

Creme Fraiche, Fennel Pollen, Drizzle of White Truffle Oil

Pan-Roasted Sablefish with Chanterelles, Yukon Golds & Creme Fraiche


Chanterelle Puree:
2 cups fresh wild Chanterelle Mushrooms - cleaned & chopped
1 medium yellow onion - chopped
1 shallot - minced
3 tbs butter
2 tbs blended oil
Sea salt, white pepper
16 oz mushroom stock
1 cup white wine

In a saute pan over medium heat warm oil.  Add the butter.  When the butter melts and foams, add the chanterelles.  Brown mushrooms.  Add the onion and shallots.  Cook for five minutes.  Delgaze with the white wine.  Reduce the wine by half.  Add the mushroom stock.  Season with salt & pepper.  Cook for about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a blender.  WHILE HOT puree untill smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wild Lobster Mushroom Soup

We interrupt your regularly scheduled guest post to bring you this important announcement.  Cannonball!  Just Kidding.  I received in the mail hand-foraged fresh wild Lobster Mushrooms from Marx Foods

Now is the time to check out Marx's website for an amazing array of fresh in-season wild mushrooms that are native to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Lobster mushroom is actually a fungus that parasitized either a Russula or Lactarius mushroom.  The fungus creates a bright orange cover on the surface of the mushroom.  Eventually the fungus transforms the shape of the host mushroom twisting it into wild contortions.  Luckily for us it is totally edible and safe for human consumption.  Please be careful when eating wild mushrooms, as not every species is edible, and some are quite poisonous.

The flesh of the lobster mushroom is quite firm and it has a hearty meaty mouthfeel.  Soups for me are special.  I am very particular about how I serve my soups.  Soups in my kitchen are always pureed for a silky, velvety mouthfeel.  Although, I like to include a garnish of the main ingredient.  No mas talking.

Enjoy...



Fresh Wild Lobster Mushrooms

Garnish: Sauteed Lobster Mushroom, Gorgonzola Cheese, Raw Sunflower Seed Kernels

Pureed Lobster Mushroom Soup, White Truffle Oil, Minced Chervil


Wild Lobster Mushroom Soup



Blended oil
Unsalted butter
4 cups fresh wild lobster mushrooms - cleaned & chopped
1 large white onion - chopped
3 carrots - peeled & chopped
350 ml white wine
1 tbs cognac
1/2 lime - juiced
32 oz beef stock
Sea salt & black pepper - to taste

In a stockpot heat the blended oil over medium heat.  Add the butter.  Once the butter melts and foams, add the chopped mushrooms.  Saute the mushrooms until golden brown.  Add the onion and carrots.  Cook until soft.  Deglaze with the white wine.  Add the cognac & lime juice.  Reduce by half.  Add the stock.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for 1 hour.

Using an immersion blender puree until smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beef Tenderloin Pizza

I am a sick man. I have deep rooted issues when it comes to one particular food item. My attachment to this food is not healthy. I have a problem. The good part is that I can admit that I have a problem. Isn’t that the first step of the recovery program? Honestly though, I don’t want to be fixed, I revel in my addiction.


My good friend, Natasha a/k/a The 5 Star Foodie can tell you all about my sick addiction. We have spoken many times on this topic. She’s tried to counsel me, but recently has given up and characterized me as a lost cause. On a side note, Natasha is alive and well in Pretentious Buzz's "Contest", click on the link to see the sexiest blintz on the web.

What you may be asking, are you so hooked on?

Pizza.

I love this crap. If I could main-line it I would. One day, The Lawyer is going to find me in downtown Miami under I-95 strewn on 10 empty cardboard boxes of pizza, quivering in a pizza haze.  I'll be clutching two slices, whilst hiding a third under my chin.

Needless to say I make lots of pizzas. This particular version was inspired by something I saw Masaharu Morimoto, one of the most innovative chefs around, create. In my version I tried to incorporate many of my Cuban flavors.

The base of this pizza is a toasted, crispy flour tortilla. From there it is time to build the layers of flavor.


Black Bean Puree

Sliced Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Thinly Sliced Cherry Tomatoes, Red Onion & Jalapenos

Drizzle of Black Bean Mayo

Finish with a Cool Avocado Puree

Enjoy…

Beef Tenderloin Pizza


For the Black Bean Mayo:
2 Organic egg yolks
1 tbs Champagne vinegar
1 tbs Meyer lemon juice
2 tsp black bean paste
¼ tsp soy sauce
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup canola oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

In a food processor, combine the eggs yolk, vinegar, lemon juice, black bean paste, and soy sauce. Process well.

With the machine running, slowly drizzle the olive oil and canola oil. Process until the mayo is thick and emulsified. Season with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

For the Beef Tenderloin:
3 lb beef fillet – trimmed & tied for roasting
1 tbs unsalted butter - room temp
1 tbs blended oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Onion powder

Remove the beef from the refrigerator 40 minutes before cooking. Combine the softened butter and blended oil. Brush on the fillet. Season with salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Preheat the oven to 550 F. Set a rack inside a roasting pan. Place the beef on the rack. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn the beef and cook for another 12 minutes. Cook to 130 F for medium-rare.

Allow the meat to rest on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove butcher’s twine. Carve the meat into thin slices.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Many Layers of Onions

I was considering making a mean crack about the bloated, ornamental, exaggerated and patently ridiculous cuisine I saw on Pretentious Buzz’s “Luxury” challenge.  However, as an enthusiastic newly practicing Buddhist, it would be bad for my karma. The Lawyer recommended I seek a path of enlightenment for my raging self. So I’ll leave it alone.


Luckily this week we are back to normal with our guest post spotlight. All thanks and praise goes to the fabulous Marisa from Cook's Book. I was fortunate to cross her blogs path a few months ago and have been enjoying following her kitchen adventures. Marisa is not only a talented cook but also is quite a gifted writer.

Please check out Cook's Book you will find a new super cool blog to follow.

Enjoy…

Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

The Many Layers of Onions


Dearest Onion,

Many times I’ve cried over you, the most painful of tears. And still, after blinking away the hurt from my red and irritated eyes, I can never escape you; the pungency of your kiss sits foully on my tongue, your astringent scent lingering endlessly on my hands for days. In spite of it all, I find my love for you to be undying.

The obnoxious characteristics displayed in the rawest state of your demeanor are only natural; you were simply born this way. It seems that many are turned off by your presence, going so far as to request that you not show up at meals and crinkling their noses when you do. Perhaps you do come on too strong; maybe it is your cologne or the fierce intensity of your personality. But they don’t know you like I know you, Onion.

I know that beneath your many layers, you are really very sweet; you just need to warm up. Others who have taken the time to get to understand you realize that any meal is just not the same without you. Patiently caramelized in the natural sugars of your core or even sliced raw, you have such versatile qualities and flavor. Onion, you are much more than just a ferocious ball of tear gas. You are the aromatic base of all that tastes good in the world.

Love and onion breath kisses,

Marisa
xoxo


I am a firm believer that if a savory dish tastes good, it’s probably because it’s got onions in it somewhere. Ok, so maybe the love letter was a little exaggerative and extreme, but I really do adore them. Onions are a kitchen staple; from the common bulbous yellow variety to its flavorful cousins including shallots, leeks, and garlic, they serve as the very center from which all dishes can be built upon.

In classic French cooking, the mirepoix, made up of carrots, celery, and 50% onion, is the basis of all bases: stocks, soups, and sauces—they all start with this onion-dominant combination. There are many other similar flavor foundations used in different cuisines such as soffritto in Italian and sofrito in Spanish. All around the world, onions are where culinary masterpieces begin.

Food love and onion appreciation practically go hand in hand. Curious to find out how many onion lovers there would be versus onion haters, last week I posted a highly unscientific poll.

On Foodbuzz asking, “love em’ or leave em?” My response was 100% love em’! Those who left comments elaborated on why they value onions, all agreeing that the smelly layered vegetable provides great balance to dishes and incorporates flavor.

Some of those who participated in the poll admitted that while they still loved onions, they preferred to eat them cooked rather than raw. Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron said, “Cooked onion is sweet but when it’s raw, the pungent smell and flavor kill me.” Onions can definitely provide an overbearingly powerful kick to the senses. Others just aren’t into the crunchy, juicy consistency that raw onions have going on. Raven from Raven from RavieNomNoms Blog commented, “There is something about the texture of raw onion that just doesn’t suit me…but cooked in dishes, onions are fabulous!”


To avoid tears when cutting into an onion, here’s a tip: use a good quality sharp knife. A sharp blade won’t damage as many of the onion’s cells which will help reduce the amount of tear-educing vapors emitted. As far as getting the smell off of your skin, rub hands over a stainless steel surface like your sink faucet. I have also found that washing hands with toothpaste works!

It comes as no surprise that onions got nothing but love in a foodie forum, but onion hate is alive and real. There are people (you probably know at least one), who consider any food flecked with the slightest sliver or dice of visible onion to be “ruined.” The smell and taste are just repulsive to them. There are even Facebook groups devoted to their passionate despise: Onions Haters Unite and The Official Onion Haters Club. The comments are actually pretty funny.

Of course there will always be those who are adamant about their distaste for onions, but there are others that just might be able to be convinced otherwise. My boyfriend, once grossed out by the “slimy” texture of cooked onions and the tear-jerking smell of raw, fell for onions after some tasty persuasion led him to realize that the difference between a good and great dish can often be credited to the onions he so loathed. Now he actually relishes in recipes where onions are the star ingredient, like this caramelized onion flatbread with goat cheese, prosciutto, and balsamic reduction:


After slowly caramelizing for almost two hours, sweet onions mixed with fresh thyme are the topping for an incredibly simple homemade bread dough. When still warm from the oven, goat cheese is crumbled over the top of the flatbread to melt slightly, and is then hidden beneath a thinly sliced layer of prosciutto. The irresistible finishing touch is a fruity drizzle of balsamic reduction. This flatbread is the perfect snack for an onion lover and possibly a starting point for swaying those who feel otherwise. You might have to fight through a few tears, but trust me, it’s worth it!



Thank you, Lazaro! I am so excited to be a part of Guest Post Spotlight Thursday and appreciate you inviting me over for the day.

Caramelized Onion Flat Bread with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, and Balsamic Reduction:

Yield: 1 half sheet pan

Dough (from the Tapas Cookbook, by Love Food):

- 2 2/3 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for oiling
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- 1 cup warm water

Topping:

- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 large yellow or sweet onions
- Thyme leaves stripped from 3-5 sprigs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Goat cheese, crumbled for sprinkling
- 3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into squares
- ½ balsamic vinegar, simmered to ¼ cup reduction

• In a large sauce pot, heat up ¼ cup olive oil and add onions. Over medium-low heat, cook for 1 hr 15 minutes-1 hr 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized and golden. When the onions are just about done, mix in thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper.

• Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To make the bread dough, stir the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar together in a bowl, making a well in the center. Add the olive oil and wine to the water; the pour ¼ cup of the liquid into the well. Gradually mix in the flour from the sides, adding remaining liquid if necessary, until a soft dough forms.

• Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball. Wash the bowl and rub the inside with olive oil. Return dough to the bowl and roll it around until lightly coated in oil. Cover tightly with plastic and let stand in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.

• Heavily flour a half sheet pan. Roll the dough out and transfer it to the sheet pan, rolling the edges to form a thin rim. Prick the base all over with a fork. Spread the topping evenly over the dough. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the rim is golden brown.

• Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. While the dough is still warm, add goat cheese crumbles; layer prosciutto slices over the goat cheese. Drizzle balsamic reduction on top of bread. Slice and serve.

For more good stuff click on over and say hello to Marisa at Cook's Book.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oyster Culture Guest Post

I am walking a fine line on the blog these days, because I have a lot of crap that's getting on my nerves.  However, if I come on here every time and vent, well I'll become the "Angry Guy" or the "Negative Guy."  So my solution is to give it to you...in small dosages.

Many of my foodie friends have been knocked out of Pretentious Buzz's "Contest."  I know it sucks to be told, "hey you're gone!"

However, there's nothing to hang your head about.  You know who you are.  I read your blogs weekly and you people do an amazing job.  Every week you pour your heart out and always have something wonderful to offer.  DO NOT LET THIS GET YOU DOWN.  Keep doing the great work and inspiring us.

I voted for 3 of my friends today.  However, looking through some of the other "Luxury" meals I really...okay more to come on Saturday.

Today, I want to introduce you to an awesome food resource.  LouAnn runs Oyster Food and Culture this is a food site not a blog.  I view it like I view Blogcritics, an awesome place to read good material.  Yes, they have recipes, akin to a food blog, but it is so much more.  Recently, they published content rich articles on Padron Peppers, Ajwain. and the various incarnations of Peppercorns.  If you do not learn something by reading Oyster Food and Culture, either you are not paying attention or you simply cannot read!

Plus, LouAnn has the best blogroll anywhere.  You can spend hours finding the most incredible blogs to read.  I have found some of my favorite content rich sites, just from trolling her blogroll.

Long story short, or maybe this is too long as is?!  I have a post on there today.  Please check it out and leave LouAnn a nice word about her fabulous site.  Even better yet, sign up to follow Oyster Food and Culture.  Here's the linkage to my post...

A First at Oyster - Guest Post: Sustainably Season Food


That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Favorite Foodie Deconstruction Saturday

This week I received 10lbs of Sablefish from Marx Foods as my prize for winning Natasha's 5 Star Summer Makeover.  In my opinion, Sablefish is the best fish produced by the sea and luckily a "best choice" with regard to it's sustainability. 

When conceptualizing the menu for today's post I knew I had to highlight this fresh fish.  Acutally, both of these courses are part of a 5 course meal I am cooking for a small dinner party tonight.  I'll make sure they go over to An Edible Mosaic and see the originals.


Welcome to Favorite Foodie Friend Deconstruction Saturday


Everyday Fare With Extraordinary Flair


Edible: fit to be eaten.  Eatable.

Mosaic: a picture or design made in mosaic.

I think Faith has one of the best blog titles anywhere on the blogosphere.  Incredibly apropos.  Her food is like a wonderful tapestry of eclectic delights.  I am very happy to spotlight two of her original creations reinterpreted by LC!  Thanks Faith, for inspiring me weekly with your marvelous talent.

To my friends the FOOD POLICE and their deputies the FOOD NERDS.  I am aware that these are not true deconstructions in the traditional sense, because Faith did not use Sablefish.  My dishes are more reinterpretations or reimaginations.  So save your snide remarks.

When deconstructing these dishes I attempt to keep the core ingredients of the dish intact, as well as the core spirit.  However, the whole point of this exercise is for me to indulge my creative side and explore.  Nothing makes you a better cook than constantly pushing yourself and the perceived boundaries of your cuisine.

I am sorry for not including every recipe in this post.  I linked both of Faith's posts so you can hop over there for her recipes.  My dishes have a few componenets and if I post all the recipes, this would be the longest post in history.  In time, I will share all these recipes.  Remember, any questions can be sent to lazarocooks@gmail.com

Time for me to go play....

This striking dish immediately caught my eye, the presentation is gorgeous.  With the Lawyer's recent conversion to vegetarianism I've had to really expand my veggie repertoire.  Going over the recipe you see that it's packed with veggies, tomatoes, garlic, squash, so immediately I'm thinking Gazpacho!

Next, I had to incorporate the quinoa and luckily my wife is one who likes quinoa.  Faith had written in her post that she knows many people who do not care for quinoa.  I decided to make a blend of brown rice and quinoa.  Lovely color.  Cooked with spices and roasted red bell pepper and pureed.

For the sablefish, I wanted to cook it gently.  This dish is very light and I wanted to keep it that way, so I decided to poach the fish in olive oil.  Poaching fish is awesome and using good Greek olive oil imparts so much flavor to the flesh.  The fish is cooked to a perfect medium rare.

Lastly, I did not forget about the basil in the recipe. Top the fish with some crispy fried basil leaves.


Olive Oil Poached Sablefish with Quinoa Puree & Gazpacho Shooter




For the Gazpacho:
8 plum tomatoes - chopped
1 piquillo pepper - chopped
1 cucumber - peeled & chopped
1 garlic clove - peeled & chopped
4 pearl onions - peeled & chopped
1 tbs - Spanish sherry vinegar
1 cup - Spanish extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Tomato juice

Garnish - finely minced chives

In a blender combine all ingredients, except for the olive oil and sea salt.  Add just enough tomato juice for the blender to turn.  Puree until smooth.  Check the acidity level.  Add more sherry vinegar if needed.  Add the olive oil and sea salt.  Blend again.  Check for seasoning.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Serve in demitasse cups and garinsh with chives.

For the Poached Sablefish:

Poaching liquid
Greek olive oil
1 shalot
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
whole coriander seeds
Meyer lemon zest
Black pepper

In a saucepot, heat all ingrdients to 180 F.  Please be sure about your temperature.  You want to poach the fish not deep fry it.

Spice Blend
sea salt
ground coriander
white pepper

In a glass baking pan, lay your pieces of fish.  Season both sides with the spice blend.  Pour over the hot oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Poach for 4 minutes, for medium-rare.

Dish #2 - Ramadan & Red Lentil Soup


Reading through the post, I learned that Ramadan, the Islamic Holy Month, is a time of prayer, reflecting, and fasting...oh that would be tough for this dude!  Once the fast is over it's time to eat and Red Lentil soup is a popular choice.  The moment I saw this I knew this would be one of the dishes.  First, I love lentils.  Second, I love lentils with fish.

I used two different kind of lentils.  The base of the dish is Faith's exact Red Lentil Soup recipe.  My only addition was a pinch of curry powder.

The second level of lentil is my favorite the Spanish Pardina.  Cooked with a fabulous Morrocan Riad Jamil Blanc wine, veggies, and spices.

This time I pan-seared the fish.  Maybe my favorite technique for cooking a piece of fish.  I coated the fish with Wondra flour and a generous pinch of Za'atar spice.

Za'atar spice is a Middle Eastern spice blend.  I make my own with oregano, grey salt, marjoram, savory, thyme, coriander and caraway seeds.

I used more of the Morrocan Riad Jamil Blanc to make a white wine and butter emulsion sauce to top the fish with.

Garnish with chives and pickled green chilies.

Pan-Seared Sablefish with Lentils





Every meal needs a good dessert...

Syrian Ice Cream



This is no deconstruction.  This is the real thing.  This masterpiece was made by Faith and these are her photos.

The hardest part for me was finding all of the ingredients.  Luckily I did...

I will be making this flavorful ice cream tonight for my guests.  A fitting end to a great meal.


Please click on over to An Edible Mosaic and check out one of the best food site on the net.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!