Jeanne's chocolate layered loaf cake
I had an idea of making a layered dessert using this flour-less chocolate cake that I love by Jacques Pepin, along with raspberries that I had in the frig, some pastry cream and lady fingers. So I cooked down 2 containers of raspberries with some sugar until it became like a jam and strained half of it (because their was a lot of seeds from the fruit). I dissolved some gelatin and added that to the raspberries and chilled it. The chocolate cake itself is 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 4 oz of bittersweet chocolate, 3.5 egg whites at room temp and 1 Tbsp of sugar; Heat the cream in a medium saucepan until it comes to a simmer; remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate; whisk slowly and as the chocolate melts it will become one with the cream; whip the egg whites with the sugar until stiff peaks and with a glossy sheen; spoon 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate and whisk; pour this chocolate mixture into the rest of the egg whites and fold gently, working quickly; pour batter into a 9 X 9 inch brownie pan that you have sprayed with Pam and lined with parchment; bake for 10-12 minutes or until its done; let cool in the pan
To make the pastry cream layer beat on high speed with the whisk attachment 1/3 cup of sugar, 2 Tbsp flour, 2 Tbsp corn starch and 4 large egg yolks until thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes; meanwhile combine in a medium saucepan 1 1/3 cups of milk and 1 vanilla bean split and the seeds scraped into the milk and bring to a simmer; fish out the vanilla bean and slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture; scrape this mixture back into the saucepan and and cook over low heat whisking constantly until it thickens, cook an additional 45 seconds; remove to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let it cool at room temp and chill it
To assemble line a loaf pan with plastic wrap; cut the cake in half and lay one half in the bottom; then a layer of pastry cream; then a layer of lady fingers; a layer of the raspberry jam; a layer of the pastry cream; a layer of the lady fingers; a layer of the raspberry jam and the other layer of chocolate cake; wrap with the plastic wrap and let it sit overnight in the frig; invert the cake out to a platter removing the plastic wrap and pour on a chocolate sauce (recipe follows); made by heating 4 oz of heavy cream to just under a simmer remove it from the heat and add 4 oz of bittersweet chocolate that is chopped small; let it melt in and whisk to combine.
My chocolate layered loaf cake cut to see the layers...
Eggplant Parmesan Re-du
Instead of the regular breading and frying technique for eggplant Parmesan, I wanted to try an easier and healthier way so I used my broiler instead of a frying pan and added mushrooms, I also made a Frico which is baked grated Parmesan cheese, this adds a nice crunch to the final dish
I got 2 small eggplants, I like them because they have less seeds so they are less bitter. I cut them lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices; lay them on a sheet pan and brush with olive oil salt and pepper on both sides; roast in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes...
Make a tomato sauce using whole peeled canned tomatoes, heat a saucepan with a little olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes and crushed garlic; once the garlic starts to sizzle add diced red onion and a pinch of salt; after a few minutes add the can of tomatoes crushing them with your hand as you put them into the pan, add another pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar; simmer and cook for about 45 minutes...
Make some sauteed mushrooms by slicing Baby Bella mushrooms about 1/4 inch thick and adding to a hot skillet coated with olive oil, cook down a bit and add a pinch of salt; continue to cook for a total of about 10 minutes, add fresh thyme; have ready some goat cheese...
To assemble spoon some tomato sauce at the bottom of a small gratin dish and place the eggplant in overlapping until you use up all the eggplant; place the mushrooms in and around the eggplant; tuck a few spots with slices of goat cheese; sprinkle some more tomato sauce on but not covering completely place; sprinkle a couple Tbsp of fresh bread crumbs combined with a little olive oil for some crunch; Bake 15 minutes in a 350 oven; serve the Frico (below) on the side for more crunch.
Make the Frico by grating some Parmesan reggiano mix in a pinch of red pepper flakes, a little black pepper and fresh thyme; place a Tbsp of the grated cheese mixture onto a silpat lined cookie sheet and bake at 425 for about 7-8 minutes or until the cheese turns into a lacy cracker; using a small offset spatula remove it and let it harden which takes only seconds.
Beet and goat cheese salad with salted pistachio's and parsley leaves
You can't go wrong with roasted beets and goat cheese. The addition of pistachios and herbs are a great compliment.
I used a mandolin to evenly and thinly slice a zucchini then I arranged them on a serving plate; drizzle olive oil, a squeeze of a half a lemon, salt and pepper then some amaranth micro-greens. An easy and different side dish that gets better as it sits.
Smoked salmon draped over Creme Fraiche and toast with salted capers
I saw this in my Evac Eric (Eric Ripert's) book. He used a piece of Brioche bread, cut it into a round and toasted it, with no oil or anything in the oven. I used a piece of Chibata bread that was a couple days old and needed to be browned in butter in a non-stick pan. This was really good and I immediately thought this would be a good appetizer to serve by cutting smaller "one bite" sizes of bread and toppings, (This wasn't that big, it was cut into a 3 inch circle); So it's just the toasted bread cut into a 3 inch round, top it with about a tablespoon of creme fraiche then pound out some smoked salmon and cut it into a 6 inch round; drape the salmon over the creme fraiche and he tops it with caviar (he said for the salt and crunch), I used the capers that I rinsed then drained well then add a good pinch of Fleur De Sel... really good! Love the idea of pounding the smoked salmon, it make it so tender when you do.
Portabella Mushroom topped with mascarpone cheese, turkey sausage, tri colored baby bell peppers, onions and fresh oregano.
I made the filling ahead by sauteing the vegetables and browning the sausage, seasoning it all with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and toasted fennel seeds; I marinated the mushroom for a couple hours with olive oil, fresh oregano, salt and pepper and a couple thin slices of garlic; when it came time to assemble and cook it I heated a non stick skillet with a little butter and olive oil then I place the mushroom caps top side down and cooked them about 5 minutes to get the flavors going then flipped it over; top it with mascarpone cheese and the sausage mixture then bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, garnish with fresh oregano; this wasn't meant to have a sauce but the mascarpone cheese ran out of the mushroom completely and mixed with all the juices from the mushroom and the filling and made it's own sauce which turned out to taste really good.
Homemade goat cheese and sage ravioli with crisp prosciutto and baby spinach leaves
I made some fresh pasta sheets and filled them with a combination of goat cheese, finely chopped prosciutto (that I cooked first) and chopped fresh sage from the garden; I also made two bigger ones (just because) and made a bed with the goat cheese mixture then dropped one egg yolk on each, sealed it and boiled it along with the rest of them and it was really good with the "natural sauce" that an egg yolk creates; using butter, shallots, a little flour and chicken stock I made the sauce (I never use flour in a pasta sauce like this, but I wanted to try it instead of my usual heavy cream I add to thicken) and I liked using the roux (butter and flour); Once the ravioli is done add it to the sauce and cook together for a minute; I dropped in the baby spinach into the turned off pot of water that I made the pasta in and after a minute it was done I topped the dish with it along with the bigger pieces of prosciutto
Strawberry Tart with Balsamic Syrup and Whipped Cream
This was great. I made a basic pie dough and after chilling for an hour I rolled it out to a 1/4 inch thickness and about 10 inches wide; place on a Silpat or parchment lined sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes; cut 1 lb of hulled strawberries into 1/4 inch slices and toss with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp cornstarch; immediately arrange them in concentric circles on the dough, starting 1 inch from the edge, overlapping slightly); fold the edges up over the strawberries and refrigerate for 15 minutes; brush the edge of crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar, dot about 1 tablespoon of butter (cut into small pieces) on the strawberries; bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. To make the balsamic syrup pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and reduce by about 1/2, it will thicken and the sugar that's already in the vinegar with intensify and you will have a sweet balsamic syrup (the trick is to stop it from cooking at just the right moment, it should be thick like a sauce but not so much that it starts to get bitter and burn. Whip some cream with vanilla and sugar and you have a fantastic dessert.
Ricotta, Shiitaki and Tomato Tartine's
On slices of tasty toasted bread top with ....fresh ricotta seasoned with lemon zest, salt and pepper; sauteed shiitaki mushrooms that I cut into good sized pieces with thyme, salt and pepper and top it with these little colorful tomatoes and some Fleur de Sel on top of that for crunch.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Tomato Aioli
I couldn't believe my eyes when I was shopping at Whole Foods and I came across these zucchini blossoms, they usually don't carry them. I have only seen them at farmer's markets or growing in my yard (one time). I love these Flowers to stuff with ricotta, battered then fried. I combined some ricotta that I drained for a couple hours with an egg, some lemon zest, basil, salt and pepper. Remove the stamen that you will find inside the flower and using a pastry bag, fill with the ricotta. Chill until you are ready to fry. Heat some canola oil in a medium pan, you know it's ready when it starts to shimmer a little. Make the batter by combining a scoop of flour with cold sparkling water, whisking until you have the consistency of heavy cream; That's it, dip in the zucchini blossoms and let the excess drip off, then into the oil. It will take no more that 2-3 minutes and you will have these light as air, crispy blossoms. To make the tomato ailoi I use my mortar and pestle and start with one egg yolk and 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp of tomato paste a quarter tsp of kosher salt; mix with mortar and add a tsp of white wine vinegar; mortar in some olive oil about 1/2 cup or so, mixing the whole time; add a squeeze (about 2 tsp) of lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
Pork and Prune Roulaud with Sherry Gastrique and Pine nuts
I served celeriac puree and baby spinach with this. The celeriac is cooked the same as you would do mashed potatoes with the milk and butter added as you mash. The spinach is sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
To make the pork and prunes I first soaked the dried prunes in hot boiled water for a couple hours, drain and pour port wine to cover and let it sit at least 15 minutes; cut the pork tenderloin open by cutting lengthwise about 1/2 inch deep then continue to cut as if you are unrolling a spiral; pound out even thinner to more like 1/4 inch; season with salt and pepper, brush on some Dijon mustard and place the port soaked prunes down the center; roll up and tie with butchers string; chill until you are ready to cook it off; sear the pork in a large skillet on all sides then place it into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so (depending on the size) or until the instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees. Keep the pork warm while you make the gastrique; in the same pan deglaze with vinegar (I think I used Sherry vinegar) about 1/4 cup and a tablespoon of sugar, cook together stirring the sugar to dissolve and add a splash of chicken stock (1/8 cup or so)remove from the heat and swirl in 1-2 Tbsp of butter; plate and drizzle with the gastrique and sprinkle on some toasted pine nuts.
Ricotta Gnocchi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Yellow Zucchini and Wilted Arugula
I had some leftover ricotta from making the squash blossoms so I decided to add a little flour, and make it into a gnocchi dough. I added just enough to my leftover ricotta filling to make a dough and without over working it, kneed it gently. Roll into a 1/2 inch snake shape and cut about 1 inch pieces. Roll onto a gnocchi tool or the tines of the back of a fork to make grooves. I froze these on a sheet pan while I made the sauce and zucchini. Basically just a few sundried tomatoes, a roasted red pepper and some olive oil buzzed up in a food processor and seasoned. I heated the sauce and after I boiled the gnocchi in salted boiling water for about 4-5 minutes I added them to the sauce, along with some Parmesan cheese. I slowly cooked the yellow zucchini in butter and water just to soften but not brown ahead so that was heated and added to the top. I also cooked some arugula and added that. It came out very nice.
Beet and Goat Cheese Skewers with Pickled Vidallia Onions and Arugula
Fanned out Roasted Potatoes
These are just sliced Yukon Gold potatoes that I drizzled with olive oil, melted butter, salt and pepper then roasted in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. It's a combination of a baked potato and thick potato chips. Next time I will leave them in another 10 minutes so they get even crispier.
Broccoli Rabe and Bacon Souffle
This was a basic souffle that I added cooked broccoli rabe and bacon that is cut into smaller pieces and the fat rendered off. It's made by making a bechemel (using 3 Tbsp butter and 3
Tbsp flour and 1 1/2 cups of milk) with 3 egg yolks added to it after it's cooked. Whip 5 egg whites and fold the whites into the bechemel, broccoli, bacon and some Gruyere cheese. Put this mixture into a souffle mold that you have buttered and coated with fresh bread crumbs and Parmesan mixed together. Sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minute. Serve immediately.
Crispy Polenta Layered Cake with Persillade and fresh tomato salad
I made the quick cooking polenta but you can use either one and I let it set in a 1 inch layer; (I roasted some diced eggplant, onion, zucchini and garlic for 40 minutes at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper, ahead of time), I put a layer of vegetables down on the polenta then another layer of the quick cooking polenta (3 minutes); I chilled that and once it was cold I cut it into the desired shape and dredged into flour, egg then Panko bread crumbs; shallow fry in some Canola oil until browned. I chopped some fresh parsley and garlic with kosher salt and this is called a persillade, I sprinkled it over the polenta; tomato salad with pickled onions on the side...very nice...
Tiny Pasta Salad with Aioli, chives, sun dried tomatoes and cherry tomato slices
These egg noodles I got in Naples Florida were tiny about 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch thick. I never saw some so small. I boiled them and made this cold pasta salad.
Fig Tart with Orange Zabione
On our last trip to Florida we had dinner at a nice restaurant before going to see the fireworks, and fig tart with orange zabione was the dessert we shared, so I had to recreate it. The tart itself I just made my regular pie crust and I put a bed of fig jam on the bottom, then I just layered on some fresh figs in a decorative manner, dots of butter on the fruit and egg wash and sugar on the dough. The zabione is easy it's just 3 egg yolks, 3 Tbsp of sugar and 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice ;the egg yolks and sugar are whisked together until lightened in color then you add the liquid (usually white wine but I was doing an orange flavored verity) whisking over a pot of simmering water until it triples in volume and thickens which takes about 5 minutes and your done! I also zested the orange and added that in to the zabione for extra flavor. I ended up dusting some confectioners sugar over because it needed to be sweeter (next time I'd sprinkle some sugar on the figs before baking) It was still very good, it's all gone...