Friday, February 25, 2011

5 Star Makeover Cooking Group: Bacon & Eggs Round Up


What an amazing start to our new cooking group.  A big thank you to my fantastic co-host Natasha for all her hard work this week.

Thank you to my fellow participants who's talent showed that cooking can be fun, creative, inventive, and inspirational.

Please enjoy these Bacon & Eggs Makeover dishes.

White Truffle Egg Custard, Bacon Dashi, Soft Scrambled Egg, Roasted Pork Belly

by Lazaro, Lazaro Cooks!

Bacon and Eggs and Toast Becomes a Pasta Dish

by Angela, Spinach Tiger

Caramelized Fennel, Serrano Ham and Fried Quail Egg Brunch Bruschetta

by Asha, Fork Spoon Knife

Bacon Pate Toast Stack with Poached Egg Yolk

by Faith, An Edible Mosaic

5 Star Makeover: "Bacon & Eggs" Rubix Cube

by Natasha, 5 Star Foodie

Bacon Souffle with Maple Bacon Bourbon Sauce

by Jennifer, The Adventuresome Kitchen

Savory Egg Custard with Mixed Herb Salad and Caramelized Bacon Vinaigrette Recipe

by Debi, Table Talk

Bacon and Eggs: Under the Tuscan Sun

by Jessica, Bacon and Soufflé

Beggar's Purses with Bacon and Cheese

by Deana, LostPastRemembered

Bacon and Egg Maki Sushi

by Tanantha, I Just Love My Apron

Franco-Cuban Duck Confit Y Tortilla w/Herbes de Provence Meringue

by Bren, Flanboyant Eats

Pizza with Egg, Bacon, and Goat Cheese

by Kelly, The Pink Apron

Bacon & Egg Purse Soup: Crepe-Wrapped Bacon Meatballs in a Star Anise and Ginger-Scented Broth

by Trix, Tasty Trix

An eggs benedict for your heart, really

by Lori Lynn, Taste With the Eyes

Gingered Frittata with Shiitake "Bacon"

by Aoife, The Daily Spud



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

Monday, February 21, 2011

White Truffle Egg Custard, Bacon Dashi, Soft Scrambled Egg, Roasted Pork Belly



It is a thrill to debut the first installment of 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group.  Natasha and I decided to start out with the theme of Bacon & Eggs.  Here we go…

In my last post, Tuna & Tofu Redux, I talked about having contrasting textures within the same course, in order to keep the diner engaged.  Lately the combination of a broth over custard is seen in fine dining all over the world.  Truly an amazing mouth feel when the contrasting textures hit your tongue.

White Truffle Egg Custard: Rich egg custard impregnated with the fabulous flavor of white truffle oil.

Bacon Dashi: An amazingly flavorful broth.  Love the combination of Kombu kelp and smoky bacon.  This dashi has countless uses in the kitchen.  Pour it hot over shaved lobster mushrooms for a fantastic first course for example.


Challah Crouton, Soft Scrambled Eggs, Roasted Pork Belly: Garnish the plate with more of the main ingredients to finish on a high note.


White Truffle Egg Custard, Bacon Dashi, Soft Scrambled Egg, Roasted Pork Belly



For the White Truffle Custard:
2 organic free-range eggs
2/3 cup half & half
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tbs white truffle oil
Sea salt
White pepper

Preheat oven to 275 F.  In a small sauce pan heat the half & half and milk.  When it comes to a boil, take off the heat.

Add the cream to a blender.  Start the motor.  Add the eggs and white truffle oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stop the motor.  Check for seasoning.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl.  Allow the custard to rest for 5 minutes.  Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

Pour a serving of custard into the serving plate.  Place the plate in the center of a roasting tray.  Pour enough hot water into the roasting tray to come up about 2/3 of the way up the serving plate.  This ensures the the custard will cook evenly and not overcook.

Cover the roasting tray and cook in the oven for 55 minutes or until the custard is just set.  Do not overcook.


For the Bacon Dashi:
2 - 6 inch pieces of kombu kelp

1 large yellow onion - peeled & chopped
8 cups water
1/2 lb thick center cut smoked bacon

Rinse the kombu under running water.  In a stockpot, add the Kombu and onion to the 8 cups water.  Bring the water to a simmer (around 180 F).  Turn off the heat.  Let the Kombu steep for 15 minutes.  Remove the Kombu from the pot.  Add the bacon.  Return to the heat.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer.

Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the bacon.  Strain the dashi through a fine mesh strainer.  Chill the broth in the fridge.  The fat will separate and harden forming a solid cap.  Remove the fat cap and discard.  The dashi will keep in the fridge for 7 days.  
Warm before serving.


For the Pork Belly:
3 lb pork belly - skinless
Sea salt
Cane Sugar
Onion Powder
White truffle oil

Season the pork belly on both sides with the salt, sugar, and onion power.  Place the pork in a container and cover with plastic wrap.  Fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Lay the pork belly on a roasting tray.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Remove the pork belly from the oven and baste with White Truffle Oil.  Return to oven, cook for 30 minutes.


Reduce the temperature to 250 F.  Cover with foil. Cook the pork belly for another 90 minutes. 

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

5 Star Makeover Cooking Group

My good friend Natasha the 5 Star Foodie and I are excited to announce our new cooking event, The 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group.  It will be a gathering of talented cooks creating dishes around a certain theme.

Our first theme will be "Bacon & Eggs."  The dishes will be posted on the particular cook's blog starting Monday February 21 and ending on Thursday February 24, 2011.

My dish will be posted here on Monday February 21.


A round-up of all the dishes will post simultaneously on 5 Star Foodie & LC, Friday February 25.

Here is the list of cooks comprising the group.  Please check out all of their original dishes, I am sure they will be inspired.

5 Star Makeover Cooking Group

5 Star Foodie

An Edible Mosaic

I Just Love My Apron

The Adventuresome Kitchen

Bacon and Souffle

The Daily Spud

Bren's Flanboyant Eats

Fork Spoon Knife

LostPastRemembered

Spinach Tiger

Table Talk

Tastes With The Eyes

Tasty Trix

The Pink Apron

Bacon & Souffle

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yellowfin Tuna & Tofu Redux

One of my favorites, back again...

I’ve spoken before about trying to incorporate varying textures within one dish. The human mind gets bored pretty easily and keeping the diner engaged with a particular course is paramount. For the tofu, I decided to caramelize one side on a hot pan, and then serve my yuzu jelly on the other side. That way, you not only have different textures on the bland tofu but also different temperatures.

Yuzu is a citrus fruit and plant. It resembles a smaller grapefruit. Yuzu’s flavor is tart. Here, I used Yuzu Juice to make the jelly.

Dashi, another ingredient in the jelly, is a Japanese stock that is the base of miso soups and numerous broths. My version is simply made with kombu (edible sea kelp) and bacon. I learned this one from David Chang.

Tuna is the steak of the ocean. So I cook it as such, a quick sear on a very hot pan, serve it rare. I use only Yellowfin Tuna, pole and line caught in the United States. If you care about sustainable fish, please click on the above link to learn about the various species of tuna and their sustainability. Stay away from Bluefin Tuna  it is incredibly overfished and will soon disappear from our oceans.

Miso Mayo, one of my favorite condiments around, can be purchased at Whole Foods.  It compliments so many dishes.

Enjoy...

Yellowfin & Tuna Redux



For the Bacon Dashi:
2 - 6 inch pieces of kombu kelp
8 cups water
1/2 lb thick center cut smoked bacon

Rinse the kombu under running water.  In a stockpot, add the kombu to the 8 cups water.  Bring the water to a simmer (around 180 F).  Turn off the heat.  Let the kombu steep for 15 minutes.  Remove the kombu from the pot.  Add the bacon.  Return to the heat.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer.

Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the bacon.  Strain the dashi through a fine mesh strainer.  Chill the broth in the fridge.  The fat will separate and harden forming a solid cap.  Remove the fat cap and discard.  The dashi will keep in the fridge for 7 days.

For the Yuzu Jelly:
1 tbs water
1 tsp powdered gelatin
1/3 cup bacon dashi
2 tbs yuzu juice
1 tsp organic honey
pinch of sea salt

In a microwaveable dish, combine the water and powdered gelatin.  Let sit for 2 minutes.  Microwave for 20 seconds.

In a glass bowl, combine the bacon dashi, yuzu juice, honey, and sea salt.  Whisk to incorporate thoroughly.  Add the melted gelatin.  Stir to combine.  Place in desired container.  Cover and fridge until set.


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

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Apple Barbecue Braised Beef with Shaved Fennel & Apple Salad

To braise is to cook.  The essence of braising is that you take a "lesser" cut of meat, like the chuck roast, and make it something that everyone would desire.  Most people can cook a beef tenderloin but take an inexpensive cut and elevate it to something magical, that's where the real talent lies.

Slow braises are cooked in low ovens which means a lower temperature and more cooking time.  Now, most people want to "get the fuckin' cooking done and over with" so longer cooking time is not for most.

In my kitchen, cooking is a joy, not a chore.  I braise at around 280 F, uncovered.  I want the meat to cook slowly, for the collagen to dissolve into gelatin.  This allows for flavors to intensify, concentrate, and create a flavor at the liquids surface.  According to Harold McGee in the marvelous book, 'On Food and Cooking", the original braisier in France was a pot sitting on just a few live coals.

Once cooked to desired tenderness, braised meats should be allowed to cool in the cooking liquid.  The capacity of the meat tissue to absorb water increases as it cools, so it will reabsorb some of the liquid lost during cooking.  (Buy this book, it is worth every penny!)

Paired with my braise is a simple salad of my favorite combination, fennel and apple.  You get the anise flavor from the fennel, combined with the sweetness from the apple, perfect.  Rice vinegar, canola oil, sea salt & black pepper round out the flavor profile.

Smoked Apple Barbecue Braised Beef with Fennel Salad 




For the Chuck Roast:
3lb organic grass-fed chuck roast
Spice mix - all spices whole, toasted, then freshly ground
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
Sea salt
Safflower oil

Cut the roast into 3 inch by 3 inch pieces.  Cover the beef with the spice mix.  Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the beef.  Do not crowd the pan.  Brown beef on all sides.  Remove to a plate to rest

1 white onion - peeled & chopped
1 leek - light green & white parts only - chopped
2 shallots - peeled & minced
1 carrot - peeled & chopped

Add the veggie to the dutch oven.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Return the beef to the dutch oven.


For the Apple Barbecue Braising Liquid:
1 cup homemade apple sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 lime - zest & juice
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
350 ml Albarino Spanish white wine

In a glass bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix well to incorporate.  Pour over the beef.  Turn off the heat.

Heat the oven to 280 F.  Transfer the dutch oven to the oven and cook uncovered for 5 hours.  Check periodically the liquid level.  Add water if over-reduced.

Was the final product tender....



Comments are closed on LC.  If you have any questions or want to interact with me on a personal level,


1. Email me at lazarocooksATgmail.com

2. Hit me up on Facebook.  (Don't let the photo of the lovely Olivia Dunham throw you off)

3. Tweet at me Lazaro Cooks Twitter

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

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Coriander and White Peppercorn Crusted Yellowfin Tuna, Caramelized Grapes & Green Olives, Saffron Pearl Couscous, Orange Lavender Vinaigrette

It is an honor and a pleasure to turn the LC floor over to one of the most creative cooks on the net, Natasha the 5 Star Foodie.  Natasha is fearless in the kitchen, always pushing the flavor envelope, and displaying her extensive palate.  Later this month we will be unveiling an exciting new project.

For now, please enjoy this sublime culinary expression...



***

I am very excited to guest post today here on Lazaro Cooks! My very talented friend Lazaro always inspires me to think of new ideas for my dishes. Last month, when he posted his amazing Yellowfin Tuna & Tofu Redux, I realized that I have not made tuna in a very long time. After pondering for a while about what I wanted to do, I finally came up with a winning concept.


I decided to focus on Mediterranean flavors throughout the various elements of my dish. I prepared the tuna itself by encrusting it in an aromatic mixture of coriander and white peppercorns, then quickly searing it. The Israeli pearl couscous was a terrific side dish, delicately flavored with Spanish saffron. A warm relish of caramelized grapes and green olives features deliciously sweet and salty flavors. Finally, orange lavender vinaigrette provided just the right touch, adding both acidity and a little bit of sweetness without overpowering the flavor of the tuna itself. All these components blended together in a delightful way, making this an exceptional dish.


Ingredients:

Orange Lavender Vinaigrette
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lavender
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/3 extra virgin olive oil

Saffron Pearl Couscous
Israeli pearl couscous
Pinch of Spanish saffron
Butter, salt to taste

Caramelized Grapes & Green Olives
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup Spanish green olives, sliced
1 tablespoon pimentos, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Coriander and White Peppercorn Crusted Yellowfin Tuna
2 6-ounce Yellowfin tuna steaks
4 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
Coarse sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil


Directions:

Orange Lavender Vinaigrette
In a processor, combine white balsamic vinegar, honey, orange juice, lavender, and mustard. Mix to blend. While the processor is running, drizzle in the oil. Let the vinaigrette stand at a room temperature for about an hour for the flavors to develop, then strain before serving.

Saffron Pearl Couscous
Prepare the Israeli pearl couscous according to instructions but add a pinch of saffron to the water before boiling. Once cooked mix in little bit of butter.

Caramelized Grapes & Green Olives
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add grapes and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring, then add olives and pimentos and cook for another minute until the olives are warmed through. Transfer to a bowl and mix in cilantro. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Coriander and White Peppercorn Crusted Yellowfin Tuna
Toast the coriander seeds and white peppercorns in a hot skillet, cool, and grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Transfer to a shallow bowl and mix in a little bit of salt to taste. Coat the tuna steaks with the spice mixture on both sides. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Quickly sear the tuna for about 30 seconds per side.

to assemble:
Place a round of saffron pearl couscous in a middle of the plate, top with grapes and olives. Slice the tuna and arrange the slices around the couscous. Drizzle the orange lavender vinaigrette around.