Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Le Morel: Morel Ice Cream Sandwich

Welcome to Le Morel

An exquisite dining expereince showcasing the luxurious Morel Mushrooms.  This is quite the posh...i.e expensive item to work with.  However prized the world over by chefs.
As the pastry cook of our fine establishment, I was tasked with making a Morel dessert for you to enjoy.  I thought this would be perfect for our current hot, more like scorching Miami weather.

Morel Mushroom Ice Cream?  What?!  Yeah, exactly what I said.

Ice Cream Base

  • Whole Milk 
  • Morel Mushrooms
  • Smoked Bacon
  • Skim Milk Powder
  • Egg Yolks
  • Cane Sugar
There are a few keys in my mind to really making this work...
  • Clean and scrub the fresh morel mushrooms well.
  • Roast the morel mushrooms in the oven to intensify flavor.
  • Render most of the fat from the bacon.
  • Keep the bacon to a minimum.  It should be an accent, not an overpowering force.
  • Allow the mushroom and bacon to infuse the milk for at least 24 hours.
This ice cream was made with solid carbon dioxide or Dry Ice.  Dry Ice is colder, (-194 F) than any domestic ice maker can dream of getting.  It is safe to eat.  I use it all the time when making ice cream, sorbet, granitas, etc.  There are some things to keep in mind when working with dry ice.
  • Do not allow it to touch your skin, it will burn.
  • Has a very short shelf life.
  • Use it pretty soon after purchase.
  • Keep in a foam cooler.
  • It will eventually evaporate.
  • Break into very small pellets before service.  Big chunks of dry ice in the ice cream will burn the mouth.
Prepare your Dry Ice concoction at the table.  It's always great theater for your guests.

Chocolate Chili Cookies

This cookie dough was made with 2 different chocolates...
  • Semi-sweet
  • Chocolate chili
Lindt  makes a fabulous dark chocolate infused with premium chilies.  In my opinion it gave this unusual dessert another surprise layer of flavor.

Finish the course with candied almonds and a rich chocolate sauce.  I wanted to carry through this dessert a few notes of...
  • Sweet
  • Savory
  • Nuttiness
According to our diners...mission accomplished.

Morel Mushroom Ice Cream Sandwich

Morel Mushroom Ice Cream, Chocolate Chili Cookies, & Candied Almonds

Please do drop by and check out the rest of my team...
I cannot thank them enough for their hard work, classiness, sense of responsibility and overall easy to work with.

Two of the best food bloggers around.

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

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.


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!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guest Post Spotlight: Spring Greens Stir Fry

For those of you who read this space and are fans of my work, I suggest you connect with me on facebook.  I am infinitely more active there, always posting new dishes and spotlighting some of my favorite cooks.

Lazaro Cooks Facebook

Today I am honored to turn the floor over to one of my favorite cooks, Alisha from The Ardent Epicure.  It is a fantastic blog.  I've been reading this blog for years.

Alisha does magic with veggies.  I've dubbed her "The Veggie Queen." Her recipes are eclectic and expertly put together while the photography is always top notch.

Please do drop by The Ardent Epicure.  You will find a wonderful food blog to follow and make a very sweet new friend.

 Thanks to my good friend for sharing her marvelous talent here with us.


Hello to all of the Lazaro Cooks readers, my name is Alisha (aka Magic of Spice).  I am the co-author of The Ardent Epicure which I write with my son Adam (aka Truffle Shuffle).

I am very pleased and honored to be invited back to share with you all here by my amazing friend Lazaro. Lazaro’s skill and creativity in the world of food is not only unquestionable, but undeniable. So my friend Laz, again I thank you for not only the invitation, but always your friendship…

Spring Greens Stir-Fry

Today I would like to share with you a simple stir-fry that has a few twists and turns. Basically it has pretty much everything I got my hands on during a trip to the local farmers’ market, then a few goodies that needed to be put to use.

The farmers’ market trips that I make…well quite frequently, sometimes inspire an entire meal. But then like most of you probably, I already have several ingredients hanging around in the fridge wondering just when they will get their turn to shine.

Aside from the eclectic mix of veggies here, I went with more of a Mediterranean style of seasonings. So in essence, this will work with just about anything you have available.

Heirloom Organic Carrots and Purple Asparagus

Above we have our Chrysanthemum Greens…have you ever tried these beauties? They also go by the names shingiku or tong hao. They have just a hint of anise and mustard and work beautifully in any method you would prepare other greens.

The image below is our Kohlrabi-Italian turnip and Baby Bok Choy. Both of these greens have edible leaves as well as bodies. The Kohlrab has a similar texture and flavor profile of broccoli stems.

In this image above the beautiful leafy creatures are known as Tatsoi or Spoon Mustard. The name Spoon Mustard was given as these lovelies have a mild mustard flavor.  The stalks are crunchy and do wonderfully as a raw snack with more mature Tatsoi, and both the leaves as well as stalks are wonderful raw or just slightly wilted in a stir-fry or sauté.

Then there are our Collard Greens, similar to kale in nutritional benefits but with a milder flavor.

And finally these Mizuna Greens, they have pointy green leaves and have a similar flavor to that of arugula, although slightly less peppery.  I find them to be not only a tasty, but attractive addition to salads as well.

What you will need:

For the wild mushroom broth

4-5 ounces dried mushrooms

1/4th cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

For the stir-fry

2 tablespoons avocado oil, halved

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1/4 cup wild mushroom broth

1/4th teaspoon cumin

1/4th teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 stem of fresh savory leaves only

1 stem of fresh thyme leaves only

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 baby bok choy, quartered

6 young carrots, quartered then halved, leaves reserved

1 kohlrabi, cut into bite sized pieces, leaves reserved

1 small bunch baby asparagus, trimmed

4 ounces crimini mushrooms

8-10 ounces mixed greens

Let’s get cooking:

For the mushroom broth

Begin by placing your dried mushroom in a bowl of cup, add boiling water and cover. Steep for 5-10 minutes of so, or until you have a fragrant broth.

For the stir-fry

In the meantime, pep all of your vegetable and set aside, placing your greens together and your kohlrabi and carrots together, leaving your mushrooms and baby bok choy separate.

Now prepare your herbs and spices (except sugar), then toss them briefly setting aside in a small bowl.

Heat your wok on a high flame until hot, add half of the avocado oil until very hot. Add sugar and then quickly add the baby bok choy. Caramelize, turning occasionally until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Return pan to heat and add remaining oil. Add garlic while continuously moving around the pan until fragrant and slightly translucent, about 1 minute.

Quickly add carrots and kohlrabi, toss a bit until they just start to get a hint of brown. Add the asparagus and continute to toss for another 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms continuing for another minute.

Now add your mushroom broth and herb/seasonings. Continuing to cook on high heat until most of the liquid is absorbed and vegetables are tender but firm.

Now add greens and toss a few moments until wilted…Serve immediately
Serves 4-6

Alisha~Magic of Spice

Please stop by The Ardent Epicure and follow one of the best blogs on the net.

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