Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Post Spotlight: The Black Course

Today I welcome one of the two best cooks I have encountered online.  Lori from Taste With The Eyes is an amazing talent.

  • Her technique is flawless.
  • Her eye for plating is truly inspiring.
  • Her use of seasonal ingredients is always on point.
  • Her flavor profiles are complex, creative, and harmonious.
Anything else?!

Yeah...her blog layout is bright and easy to read, the writing is concise and the photography is magnificent.  A professional food blog all the way.

However, my personal preference when reading a food blog is focusing on the actual plate of food.  Which has always been my problem with Pretentious Buzz, a site I know Lori likes, that particular site celebrates more photography than food.

When I read, Taste with The Eyes, I get to know a cook to respect.

Enjoy...


I'm thrilled to have the honor of writing a Guest Post for my Floridian blog friend Laz! He is an audacious cook, bold & fearless, and his super-creative plating skills are second to none. Reading his blog is never dull...my post would have to include meat, and heat, and a twist of some sort. I knew since conception that this edgy black course was the one to share on Lazaro Cooks!
black mole, short rib in grape leaf
the black course: negra modelo beer braised beef short rib with chile de arbol wrapped in a grape leaf with oaxacan black mole sauce black mission figs, shiitake mushrooms crispy grape leaf chip, sesame ash, black sesame seed, cacao nibs
Of the seven courses we served at our fundraiser dinner, the black course is my creative favorite. I looked to Mexican cuisine experts - Chefs Rick Bayless, Patricia Quintana, and Javier Plascencia for inspiration. I learned about making sesame ash while Guest-Chef-for-the Day at Moto Restaurant in Chicago last January and had been wanting to try Chef Homaro Cantu's modernist technique in a dish ever since. What appears to be ash is black sesame seed oil converted into a powder. It serves visual interest as well as a flavor complement to the sesame seed in the mole.
oaxacan mole, short rib in grape leaf
Rick Bayless' Beer Braised Short Ribs with Arbol Chile and Shiitake recipe was our guide for cooking the bone-in organic beef short ribs. The March 2012 issue of Sunset magazine showcased a Short Rib Wrapped in Fig Leaf recipe by Javier Plascencia of Tijuana, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Top Chef Korean Food Challenge in 2011. Sunset's recipe uses store-bought mole which we did try, but were not completely satisfied, so we turned to Patricia Quintana's indispensable classic cookbook The Taste of Mexico for help with the Oaxacan Black Mole.
fried grape leaves, grape leaf chip
Plascencia's fig leaf wrap, while edible, is typically only used to encase foods. We replaced the fig leaf with the more tender, fragrant grape leaf and served a crisp grape leaf chip with the dish. Bitter cacao nibs and sweet black mission figs add contrasting textures and play on the flavors in the Oaxacan mole.
Oaxacan Black Mole with Black Mission Figs
mole ingredients
Three days before the party I woke up very early, excited to make mole. Called the Bestway Supermercado, "¿A qué hora abren?" "A las siete." Great, I was there at 7 with this shopping list in hand:
  • 1 sweet roll (pan dulce)
  • 3 oz. raw almonds, skinned
  • 3 oz. raw peanuts
  • 4 oz. sesame seeds
  • 2 plantains
  • 2 white onions
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 10 chiles chihuacles
  • 4 chiles chipotles
  • 10 black chiles pasillas
  • 1 t. dried anise seed (anis grano)
  • 2 T. whole allspice (pimienta dulce)
  • 1 t. black peppercorns (pimienta entera)
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 4 tortillas
  • 2 qt. chicken broth
  • 4 oz. Mexican chocolate (containing cinnamon)
  • black mission figs
fried plantain Chef Quintana uses lard in her recipe. I replaced lard with vegetable oil. First the sweet roll is fried in oil then set aside. In the same pan, the almonds, peanuts and sesame seeds are toasted in a bit of oil. Next the plantain is fried. These are all put into a food processor and blended with enough chicken stock to blend smoothly.
whole allspice Whole allspice, anise, and black peppercorns are toasted separately then ground in a spice mill. Add the spices to the plantain mixture, then set aside.
roasted tomato, onion, garlic Meanwhile, sliced onions and tomatoes are drizzled with oil, salt & pepper, roasted at 425°F until half-way charred. Garlic cloves are then added later so as not to burn. Continue to cook until the onions are nicely charred.
chipotle, pasilla, chihuacles Dried chiles are rinsed twice in water. Since they are sun-dried on the ground, they are dusty and dirty. The chiles are then de-stemmed and seeded (OK to leave a few seeds behind).
grilled dried chiles The chiles are the roasted briefly, taking care not to burn. They will puff and reconstitute slightly. The chiles are then placed in a large bowl and covered with hot water. After 20 minutes the chile-water is drained and reserved. Blend the chiles and onion mixture in a food processor.
charred tortillas Char tortillas over an open flame. Add the tortillas to the chile mixture with enough of the chile-water to blend smoothly.
oaxacan mole with black mission figs
Place a bit more oil in a heavy saucepan and add the plantain mixture and fry over low heat until the fat rises to the surface. Stir in the chile mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly. Add chocolate and salt to taste. Add chicken broth to achieve the correct consistency. Lastly, add black mission figs. Let cool and refrigerate until ready to re-heat.
Braised Short Ribs with Arbol Chiles & Shiitakes
beer braised short ribs a la rick bayless
We cooked the short ribs the night before the party. And made enough extra for our dinner that night, served with rice and beans. The fundraiser dinner had 16 guests, so all these recipes make enough for 16+. This is now our favorite short rib recipe. Here's why:
  • 16 arbol chiles
  • 16+ pieces bone-in organic beef short ribs, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 white onions, sliced
  • 32+ shiitake caps, whole and de-stemmed
  • 4 c. negra modelo beer
  • 4 c. beef broth
  • 2 heads garlic, cut in half across the center
  • fresh thyme springs
  • 2 cans fire roasted dice tomatoes in juice
toasted arbol chiles
Break the chiles in half, removing the stems. Shake out the seeds. Sauté in hot olive oil until the chiles are dark brown and aromatic. Remove chiles, leaving oil in the pan to brown the meat. browning short ribs of beef
Brown the meat on all sides, taking care not to crowd. We use 3 pans to brown the meat. Remove ribs to a rimmed baking sheet.
negra modelo
Divide the onion and add it to the three oven-proof pots or Dutch ovens. Cook onion until golden, then add the shiitake. Cook for a few more minutes, then add beer and broth.
Add garlic, thyme, and toasted arbol chiles plus salt and pepper.
short ribs Nestle the ribs along with their juices into the braising liquid. Cover and cook in a 325°F oven for approx. 2 1/2 hours until the ribs are fork tender. bayless braised short ribs arbol chiles Remove garlic and thyme. Let cool then refrigerate over night.
Grape Leaf Chips
grape leaves chips Grape Leaf Chips are surprisingly good! Fan of dolmades will love these crispy flavorful "chips." Brined grape leaves are drained and rinsed, then patted dry. Lay the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with olive oil, making sure to completely cover the leaf with a very light film of oil. Bake at 425°F for only 2 to 3 minutes until the leaves become crispy. Sprinkle lightly with fine sea salt.
Sesame Ash
sesame seed ash
  • 150 g roasted black sesame seed
  • 75 g grapeseed oil
  • 50 g toasted sesame oil
Roasted black sesame seeds are placed in a blender with the oil and a pinch of salt then pureed to make a black oil. Tapioca maltodextrin is mixed by hand with the black oil until a powder is formed. For finer ash, press the mixture through a sieve.
The Black Course Compostion
Remove bone and excess fat from the short ribs. Let the meat come to room temperature. Drain, rinse, and pat dry the brined grape leaves. Overlap two or three leaves on a work surface. Place the meat and two shiitake caps in the middle of the leaves. Wrap the leaves into a bundle.
grape leaves bundles
Place the bundles seam-side-down in a baking dish. Add a splash of beef broth to the dish. Brush leaves with olive oil. Bake at 325°F until the meat is heated through. Meanwhile, re-heat the mole sauce on the stovetop, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, remove figs from the mole and slice lengthwise.
short rib with mole, grape leaf
Place a grape leaf chip in the center of the plate. Place the hot short rib bundle on top of the chip, seam-side-up. Open the bundle and ladle mole over the meat. Surround the grape leaf with figs, sesame ash, cacao nibs, and black sesame seeds.
This organic meat is super-tender, while the grape leaf - crisp, the mole - complex and spicy, the figs - sweet, the cacao nibs - slightly bitter and mildly chocolate-y, the sesame ash - simultaneously tasty and curious...Our guests were delighted, I hope you are too. Thanks for the invitation Laz!

Please stop by Taste With The Eyes you will not regret it.

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

31 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Say Joan - see, now we both have mole in the freezer! (a really good thing)
      LL

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  2. I came to your blog through Taste with the Eyes. I will be back.

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    1. I know you'll enjoy Laz's blog FA!
      LL

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  3. I am speachless and that is hard for me. I am so lucky to be in your team. Yeah Team 3

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    1. Hi Norma - now I need to re-focus on the restaurant!
      You are so sweet, Ciao Fiore! will be a beautiful success, can't wait...
      LL

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  4. I've always wanted to make mole but was too scared. Thanks so much for the recipe :)

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    1. Hi Nic - it is not difficult, and definitely worth the effort. Make sure you have plenty of time, it took longer than I anticipated. Be sure to use authentic ingredients.
      LL

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  5. Art on a plate...I see a pattern here Lazaro- you are attracted to other food artists.

    This rocks-beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Velva - Laz is the plating artist for sure! I'm always inspired by his dishes...
      Thank you for the compliment.
      LL

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  6. This is a post that all I can say is Bravo bravo. I'm standing.

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    1. Thank you Angela, you are so kind. And please sit down my dear, take good care of yourself.
      LL

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  7. Dear Laz - Your kind words mean so much to me. You truly made my day with your compliments. It is a pleasure to know you and my absolute honor to be featured on your blog, sharing the space with you and other fabulous cooks. I'm glad it was OK to take up so much real estate on your site! I thought you especially would dig this dish...
    LL

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  8. LL

    You are always welcomed here. Come back and take up all the space you need.

    Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated.

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  9. Wow, I can't help drooling. I just love the braised short ribs with arbol chiles & shiitakes
    Well done!
    If you submitted your braised short ribs with arbol chiles & shiitakes photos to http://www.foodporn.net , I'll bet they will make you on the home page.
    Gosh, you have made me sooo hungry !

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    Replies
    1. thanks foodporn - definitely give this short ribs recipe a try!
      LL

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  10. Just brilliant. I think you are a genius and I love the way you walk us through your process. I remember being a bit of a coward about charring bread but they are right, it adds a special note that toasting does not. YOur presentation is sublime. What a dinner (loved the purple course too!!!)

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    1. Thank You Deana - it's black after all, gotta char it. So glad you like the presentation, of which you are queen. It is a bit edgy trying to make black food look good...the purple course was a hit, in a different way - simple, unlike this one :)
      LL

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  11. So much inspiration and ideas on this post from one of my favorite food bloggers as well.Outstanding Lori!

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  12. it really looks like a lot of work but those short ribs look incredibly good!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Beti - it is a lot of work, something to prepare for a party, not just dinner tonight. But worth every second. It was a three day process...
      LL

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  13. What a fabulous recipe looks delicious.

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    1. Thank you Veronica - do try the short ribs recipe, you won't be disappointed.
      LL

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  14. Beautifully executed dish, as always!

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    1. Alisha - your dishes are always gorgeous, thanks for the compliment!
      LL

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  15. Hi Laz! I have a huge respect for LL and she's one of my favorite bloggers and I'm a huge fan of her blog. You said it right, a professional food blog all the way!!

    What an amazing meal. I'd think it's so hard and challenging to take "black course" meal but look she did it so beautifully! I get so much inspiration of cooking and photography from her.

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    Replies
    1. Nami - you are always so generous. Black was a bit challenging, but I think the guests really enjoyed the course. I really appreciate your friendship and support. And I adore your Trip to Japan posts!

      Folks - if you haven't already, visit Nami's blog to read the awesome Japan series.
      LL

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  16. I have been a huge fan of both Laz and Lori Lynn for obvious reasons. This post epitomizes those reasons: art on a plate, inspirational and creative menus and presentation and the next level of cooking to aspire to. Lori, thanks for yet another amazing post.

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    1. Hi Jill - thank you. Your comment "art on a plate" make me happy. It's an honor to be featured on Laz's blog: Inspiration - check. Creativity - check. Presentation - double check.
      LL

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  17. Mole means instant mouth watering for me, but this one is off the charts! Gorgeous.

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