Green & Red Pepper Sauce (a Plating Experiment)

IMG_0778

It’s been a while since I’ve posted regularly.  My hobbies have ebbs and flows, fading away temporarily then reappearing with a bang.  I’ve been concentrating a lot on my music over the past few months, namely squaring up for and planing out with my band, Sounds in Color.  We had two shows in the fall and are taking a little bit of a break in and around the holiday.

With more time freed up and some new gadgets and ingredients I received as Xmas gifts, I’ve been cooking a lot.  I feel that working on my presentation is important, and something I don’t have a lot of experience with.  So here it is, a very simple recipe of green and red bell pepper sauce that I just happened to plate with some chicken, grits, basil and roasted vegetables.  

IMG_0784

The first step was to lay down a thin layer of the red pepper sauce with a pastry brush length-wise across a wide plate.
IMG_0785

Next I layered grits on the plate with a large spoon and dragged the spoon through to the right to create an asymmetrical shape.

IMG_0765

I followed  the grits with a very large basil leaf and some oddly-cut and portioned carrot celery and onion.

IMG_0787

The basil leaf was topped with some slices of chicken breast, the one on the end laying flat.

IMG_0780

Finally, I used a squirt bottle to make several different sized dots of green pepper sauce.

 

Recipe:

Yields 3/4 cup of red and 3/4 cup of green pepper sauce

Prep time: about 5 minutes

Cook time: about 20 minutes

Special equipment: stick blender, pastry or basting brush, plastic squirt bottle

 

For red pepper sauce:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 tsp. salt

about 1/4 cup water

In a small sauce pan heat oil over medium-low heat until shimmering.  add red bell pepper, onion and salt.  Sweat until very soft, about 20 minutes, making sure not to brown the peppers.  Add water to thin out sauce.  If still to thick, add more water 1 Tbsp. at a time.  If too thin, place pan over medium heat and reduce making sure not to scorch the bottom.

For green pepper sauce: Repeat above steps, substituting greed pepper for red.

Pin It

Breakfast with the Birds – Smoked Soft Boiled Eggs with Rosti, Broccoli Rabe and Sesame

IMG_1189

So this recipe kind of happened by accident one morning while I was cooking breakfast.  I decided to use my mandolin, but use the julienne setting instead of slicing coins out of my potatoes.  An egg was already in the boiling water and the timer set for a soft yolk.  Then it hit me.  This kind of looks like a nest.  Well, this particular time, I overcooked the potatoes, but not so baldy I couldn’t eat them; just bad enough I didn’t even want to try to plate the breakfast into a “bird’s nest” fashion.

Tom and I worked on this one a few evenings ago. Yes, breakfast for dinner.  A good deal of the cooking I do is easier with two people, or maybe just more fun, so grab a trusted friend whenever they’re available (preferably one with mad knife skills and a great palette like Tom).

IMG_1184

There are some special tools and methods there that are optional, and are not only helpful in cutting time spent on this into a fraction, but also can add flavors and textures that can’t be achieved otherwise.  For instance, we mandolined the potatoes into a julienne before frying, blow-torched the broccoli rabe to reduce the bitterness and increase sweetness, and smoked the eggs in with a smoking gun and let them marinate in the smoke, in a container before serving.

This is fun, simple and it will impress your snobby bruncher friends.
IMG_11851

Recipe:

Yields 4 Servings

Prep time: about 30 minutes

Cook time: about 1 hour

Optional Equipment: MAPP gas torch, smoking gun, mandolin w/ julienne option

 

2 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. salt

1/2 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, diced small

4 large russet potatoes, julienned (you can do this manually with a knife too, it’ll just take longer)

8 eggs

1 bunch broccoli rabe or other leafy bitter green

1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds, about half coarsely ground and half left whole

For the rosti:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat, add oil and butter. When butter is melted and foam begins to subside, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until transparent.  Remove the onions.  Add about half of the potatoes in a circular pattern around pan, add onion back into pan, then layer on other half of the potatoes; to help with this, make sure you keep  your potato julienne organized and parallel to each other as you pile them up.  Add salt and pepper.  When potatoes begin to stick together and brown nicely, after about 8 minutes, flip, trying to keep them in one flat piece.  After another 5 minutes, or when the potatoes are beginning to brown and crisp on the bottom, put them in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Keep warm.

For the eggs:

Prepare a bath of enough ice and water for eggs.  Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil.  Add eggs for 6 minutes and 30 seconds.  Remove and move eggs to ice bath to stop the cooking process.  After about 2 minutes in the ice bath, remove shells.  If you are using a smoking gun, do so according to the instructions that come with your device.  I used apple wood and smoked the eggs in a large plastic food storage container for 5 minutes before serving.

For broccoli rabe:

Rinse and dry your broccoli rabe then removing individual large leaves.  If you have a kitchen or MAPP torch, char over cast iron or a metal sheet tray.  Leave plenty (maybe 3 inches) of room between the flame and the leaves and florets so they do not char.  Slight browning is okay, but black soot doesn’t taste good and leaves burn quickly.  This process will remove the bitterness.

To assemble:

Place rabe greens and florets into bowl so they drap over the side slightly. Place rosti in bowl in a circular shape as to resemble a birds nest. Place eggs in bowl and drizzle a little bit of olive or sesame oil over them before sprinkling on the sesame seeds and seed fragments, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add anything else to your assembly that you see fit.

 

Pin It

Pea Soup with Lemon Butter

Pea Soup 1

One thing I’ve discovered in my search for the freshest and highest quality vegetables is that certain ones, when picked, begin to lose their sugars and therefore their sweetness, quickly.  Thus, we have IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) bags of peas you’ve probably left to icing an athletic injury sooner than eating; wrong move, buck-o.  I use them in things from from soups to sauces.  In fact, this very recipe can be used as a sauce if the liquid added is reduced.  Toppings and garnishes are endless. I would have added some micro-greens or edible flowers but they’re tough to find, expensive, and I would probably end up wasting them as those types of things are saved more for the restaurant scene than a home cook.  I’ll get there some day, or grow my own inside. We’ll see…Pea Soup 2

Recipe:

Yields 8-10 servings as soup or first course

Prep time: about 10 minutes

Cook time: about 15 minutes

Special equipment: stick blender or conventional blender.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 Tbsp. of butter along with zest of 1/2 lemon and juice of 1 full lemon.

Add 1 bag of IQF peas and 1 1/2 cups of water and cover.  When peas are warm (almost hot), in about 10-15 minutes, add 2 Tbsp. good-quality olive oil and blend with a stick blender or in a conventional stand blender until mixture no longer gets smoother. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1 1/2 tsp. & 1/4 tsp, respectively).

To serve, I topped this soup with some whole peas that were heated through in additional lemon butter, chive, a bit more olive oil, cream, a few drops of hot sauce, the zest of lemon and orange, and last-but-best — some bacon.  Serve with bread if desired and enjoy!

-Aaron

Pin It