Friday, April 29, 2011

5 Star Makeover April '11 Roundup: White Asparagus

White asparagus is a very special spring ingredient and it was a terrific challenge for our 5 Star Makeover this month.

Thank you to my co-host Natasha for all of her hard work and support for this awesome event.

It's great to show off a fantastic seasonal ingredient done right by some very talented cooks.

Please, enjoy looking through all the different creations and don't forget to click on the title link to check out the recipes and more details of all the dishes.

White Asparagus Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate and Rooibos Tea

by Evelyne, Cheap Ethnic Eatz

White Asparagus and Crab Salad

by Priscilla, She's Cookin'

Savory Profiteroles with White Asparagus Mousse, Kabosu Marinated White Asparagus, Black Forest Ham Relish

by Natasha, 5 Star Foodie

White Asparagus Potage, Wild Rice, Prosciutto, Edible Garden

by Lazaro, Lazaro Cooks!

White Asparagus Risotto Cakes with Scallion Pistou

by Faith, An Edible Mosaic

White Asparagus & Ricotta "Mini Malfatti" with a Ramp & Pea Pesto

by Trix, Tasty Trix

Gratin of White Asparagus, Coconut & Lemongrass

by Aoife, The Daily Spud

White Asparagus with Tarragon Cream and Toasted Bread Crumbs

by Debi, Table Talk

White asparagus custard, roasted shallots and pancetta crisp, baby spinach salad in creamy white balsamic vinaigrette

by Marisa, Cook's Book

White Asparagus in Puff Pastry with Foie Gras Custard and Ezssencia

by Deana, LostPastRemembered

White Asparagus Crepes filled with White asparagus and Morels

by Jennifer, The Adventuresome Kitchen

White Asparagus Debuts as Pasta Ribbons

by Angela, Spinach Tiger

Chilled White Asparagus & Ginger Soup W/Grilled Shrimp

by Bren, Flanboyant Eats

White Asparagus Wrapped in Japanese Eggplant
by Lori Lynn, Taste With the Eyes

White Asparagus and Shrimp on the Wok

by Tanantha, I Just Love My Apron

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

White Asparagus Potage, Wild Rice, Prosciutto, Edible Garden

This month's challenge for our cooking group is white asparagus.

White Asparagus are grown under soil in order to prevent photosynthesis.  This prevents the asparagus from turning green.  It is purported to produce a more tender finished product.  I am not sure, but I do love it.

For this dish I decided to make a thick potage with organic vegetable broth, white asparagus, leeks, and a pinch of Spanish Saffron.

White Asparagus Potage

Wild Rice

Carrot, White Asparagus, Micro Pea Tendrils, Micro Purple Radish, Prosciutto, Organic Edible Flowers

White Asparagus Potage, Wild Rice, Prosciutto, Edible Garden

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

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Bunny Fun

Happy Easter Fun Saturday

You know collaboration is my absolute best-loved part of blogging.  Well, today is the ultimate collaboration.

The Lawyer and I.

The Lawyer approached me a few weeks ago with an idea for a joint post.  She would make some cute hard boiled egg bunnies.  I would provide some food to go with them.


Sadly, my wife's adorable bunny creations did not last long.  Because this guy...


...the baby of the house, decided to jump up on the table and topple over the plate holding the eggs.  They fell to their crushing demise.

Moms was not happy...for about a minute or more.

However, I would like to thank my lovely talented wife for a fun-filled morning.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bacon & Eggs Remix

Next week our 5 Star Cooking Group is back with the April post.  Our theme for April is...

Look forward to unveiling my white asparagus concept dish here.  I was quite content with my results.

For now, I am bringing back our first theme, which was Tocino y Huevos or Bacon & Eggs.


I've 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 "fraudulent" 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. 

Link to recipe for:  Soft Egg Scramble.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pork Spare Ribs Pizza

I love eating ribs.  However, I do not own a barbecue.  My brother does, he lives in a house.  One of the drawbacks of condo living is no grill.  Not allowed on the patio and no space inside the crib.

So this technique of cooking ribs in the oven was developed by me out of necessity.  It is kind of similar to the French method of cooking En Papillote.  The ribs are placed in a pouch of aluminum foil; the pouch holds in the moisture and steams the ribs.  Now I cook my ribs low and slow to achieve a very tender finished product.  If you are not into slow food then this will not be for you.

Laz will not be sharing his spice rub or BBQ sauce recipe.  Some secrets stay with the cook.

No Grill BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

 Were they tender?  Yes!

Tender & Moist

This particular concoction came together as a challenge, by the Lawyer, to get rid of some left over produce in the fridge.  Here’s what I had to work with…

  1. Pork spare ribs.
  2. 1 Spanish onion
  3. Green beans
  4. Iceberg lettuce
  5. Celery root
 What the hell was I gonna make?  How about a pizza?  Great idea.

Pork Spare Ribs Pizza

Pork Spare Ribs, Green Beans, Grilled Onions, Celery Root Mayo Slaw

For the Ribs:
1 rack pork spare ribs
Yellow mustard
Spice rub of choice
BBQ sauce of choice
Liquid smoke

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil, large enough to accommodate the rack of rib, on a work surface.  Pour 1 tbs of liquid smoke on the foil.  Using a brush spread out the liquid smoke to cover most of the foil.

Brush both sides of the rack with yellow mustard.  Generously rub both sides of the rack with the spice rub.  Place the ribs on the foil.  Close the foil around the ribs to make a pouch.  Place on a baking sheet.  Cook in oven for 4 hours.

Remove the pouch from the oven.  Remove the ribs from the pouch.  Discard the pouch.  Place the ribs on the baking sheet.  Glaze the ribs with the BBQ sauce.  Return to the oven.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Glaze the ribs again with the BBQ sauce.  Cook for 30 minutes.

For the Celery Root Mayo:
1 1/2 tbs organic homemade mayo - (or store bought)
1 tbs heavy cream
1 fuji apple - (peeled and cored)
Sea salt
1 Meyer lemon - (juiced)
10 oz celery root - (trimmed & peeled)
White pepper

Using a box grater, grated the apple and celery root finely.

Bring 1 quart of water to the boil.  Add 1 tbs sea salt and the lemon juice.  Boil the grated celery root for 45 seconds.  Remove to a colander and rinse under cold water.  Drain.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the apple, celery root, mayo, and heavy cream.  Process until smooth.  Season with sea salt and white pepper.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thank You From the Bottom of my Coal Black Heart

Appreciation - noun, gratitude, thankful recognition.  Clear perception or recognition, as in reader appreciation.

When I started this blog on Friday March 5, 2010, I had zero expectations.  The blog was actually the brainchild of my brilliant wife.  This is not a professional blog.  I do not make any money from it, actually once I left 'Pretentious Buzz,' I made my blog totally ad free.

I have not spent $1000's on elaborate cameras or lighting equipment.  I do not obsess over the photos of the food.  I do not give a shit about that; I am not a photographer.  The one thing I have figured out is that the lighting in my condo is garbage, so I take my photos outside for the natural light.

I obsess over whether the food I make actually tastes good.  I care about how the food looks on the plate.  I care about the conceptualizing, flavor profile, and execution of each dish.  I am a cook.  That will never change here.

Lazaro Cooks is a cool hobby combining two of my talents; cooking and writing.  I love sharing my ideas about food and cooking with others.  Hopefully, someone is actually moved to give the food a go and maybe share it with family and friends.  That is why I blog.

Using Statcounter, which is awesome, to monitor the activity on LC is humbling.  The number of people visiting the site baffles me.  Today I wanted to show you some love.

1. To those of you who visit and follow along in silence; thank you!  I see you.  I know who you are.

2. To those of you who take the time to "Have Your Say" on a certain post; thank you!  I enjoy reading your visceral reactions and feedback.

3. To my fantastic Facebook Friends, the banter and camaraderie is so much fun.  Facebook has been my unrivaled favorite way to interact with foodies.  My page is private, I do not accommodate squatters.  I have no interest in having 1000's of names on a "Friends" list.  The people on my page are smart, fun, talented foodies who like to engage and share ideas.  If you are active on facebook and would like to interact there, send me a friends request.

4. Twitter is garbage.  Not for me!

5. Although the last, not the least; the negative fuckers.  People who are unhappy with their shitty lives and feel the need to spew poison.  Please find the highest bridge you can and toss your computer over the edge.

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

Brothers Do Cookout Right!

Welcome to Cookout Tuesday

First off, for any of you out there still dealing with cold weather, my deepest condolences.

This past Sunday my brother and I got together for a cookout to watch the Miami Heat kick the shit out of the Boston Celtics.  It was a good ol' time.

90 F and umm...Sunny!

Water temp 88 F

Another day in paradise

My niece Angelina is a big fan of the pool

Baby Ava will join her sister in a few years

Meyer lemon tree starting to bear fruit

Tomatoes Thriving

The Cooking Vessel

Cherry & Hickory Woods doing their thing

Brats, Chorizo & Andouille Sausages

Vegetarian's Beware; Steak Medley

Sriracha Chicken, Avocado, Pickled Onions, Fresh Marjoram

Black Bean Puree, Braised Pork Shoulder, Avocado, Pickled Onions, White Cheddar, Fresh Marjoram

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

I ate so much, I was in a damn food coma Sunday night.  Well worth it though!

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

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Organic Free-Range Chicken & Yukon Gold with Mushroom Sauté

Welcome to Casual Saturday Lunch

 “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”  It is fantastic when you walk into ‘Whole Paycheck’ with an idea for one meal but the quality of the fresh produce inspires you to move in a completely different direction.  Here’s what stimulated me today…

Organic free-range chicken: Antibiotic free, hormone free, no pesticides or herbicides used in the soil or feed.  Free-range allows for a stress free chicken, not a tormented factory mass produced bird.  Plus, it is still an inexpensive protein.  In the LC household it is the only way to go and a no-brainer.  Here I serve both the whole leg boned and the chicken breast.  I learned the perfect way to cook a chicken leg from Gordon Ramsay.  Follow this method and it will come out perfect each time.

Yukon Gold Potatoes: The universe’s gift to mankind; by far the best potato on earth. Much to my delight, my local Whole Foods is now carrying Yukon golds produced by a small organic Florida farm.  Yukon golds, local and organic?  Win, win, win.

Organic Shiitake & Cremini Mushrooms:  Mushrooms and Yukon golds are a perfect match.  Good earthy rich flavorful tones.  Cremini mushrooms also have the added benefits of proving immune boosting benefits and helping with heart disease protection.  So eat more cremini mushrooms.

Leeks: Um, Lazaro using leeks, of course.  Leeks make me smile.

Duck fat: The nectar of the God’s.  If you have yet to use duck fat do yourself the favor.  Perfect for both sautéing and frying.  Readily available online, add some serious flavor to your dishes.

White Truffle Oil:  Lets be real here, no truffles in this stuff; way too expensive.  In actuality it is olive oil that has a certain chemical agent added to give the essence of white truffles.  Daniel Patterson wrote a marvelous piece on the myth of truffle oil for the New York Times..  With that said, I still use it; it does add a different flavor.

Rosemary Garlic Blend: Spice islands, proveyor of fine dried spices, carries an awesome Rosemary Garlic Blend.  It even comes in a quite convenient grinder bottle.

Yukon Golds, Shiitake & Cremini Mushrooms, Leeks, Shallots, Fresh Thyme, White Truffle Oil

 Oven-Roasted Organic Free-Range Chicken Leg

Fried Organic Free-Range Chicken Breast

For the Chicken Leg:
2 organic free-range chicken legs - boned
White truffle oil
Smoked paprika
Sea salt
Black pepper

Once the chicken leg is boned, if done properly, you are left with a perfect flat piece of meat.  Give the meat a once-over with your fingers to make sure no bone fragments are left in the meat.  If you do not feel comfortable boning chicken, just ask your butcher to do it.

On a plate, rub both sides of the chicken with the truffle oil.  Season both sides with smoked paprika, salt, pepper.  Preheat the oven to 390 F.

Lay the chicken skin-side down on a cold frying pan.  NO OIL.  There is enough on the chicken.  Put the pan over medium heat.  The skin on the chicken will gradually crisp and render as the pan slowly heats.  There is no timetable here.  You must check the skin periodically, when nicely brown and rendered, baste the top of the meat and transfer to the oven.  Cook for 9 minutes.  Prepare a wire rack over a plate for cooling.

Remove the chicken from the oven.  Allow to cool on wire rack skin-side up.  Skin should be crispy and meat inside moist.

For the Yukon Gold & Mushroom Sauté:
3 tbs duck fat
Yukon gold potatoes - scrubbed, cleaned and small dice
Shiitake mushrooms - sliced
Cremini mushrooms - sliced
1 leek (white & light green parts only) - cut into 1/4 in rounds
2 shallots - mined
sea salt
black pepper
rosemary garlic blend
fresh thyme

In a sauté pan, melt the duck fat over medium heat.  Add the Yukon gold potatoes.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.  Cook until golden brown.  Add the mushrooms, leeks, shallots.  Season with sea salt, black pepper, and rosemary garlic blend.  Cook until mushrooms are soft and mixture is well incorporated.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme.

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