Roasted Beets with Mascarpone, Apple Salad & Chive Oil

This was the fourth course to my 7-course Friendsgiving party for 8 people.

Originally, I had planned this course near the beginning but since there are a lot of protein courses following each other, I changed the course and decided to use this salad as a palate cleanser. I wanted to update this dish. I don’t like the white goat cheese that comes in logs… Like, I really do not like it. So I opted for mascarpone instead.

DSCN2443

Serves 6-8.

For the Beets

  • 7 large red beets
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 2 TBS EVOO

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with foil and generously salt the bottom layer. Place the beets on top of the salt layer. Season well and add 2 TBS of olive oil. Wrap up the beets and place them in the hot oven for 45-60 minutes, until done.

Remove the beets, set aside to cool, then peel them. Cut them into small squares when cool. Save scraps for beet purée.

For the Chive Oil

  • 1 large bundle of chives, 1-inch in diameter
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Blanch chives then squeezing excess water out, place in blender. Blend until it’s a purée then on a low speed, add in the oil and season. Strain through a mesh chinois before placing it into a squeeze bottle.

For the Apple Salad & Finish

  • 6 oz. mascarpone
  • 3 tart apples
  • 2 lemons, suprêmed
  • Chive oil, as needed
  • 2 cups pea leaves
  • Beet scraps, for purée
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Salt

Bring mascarpone to room temperature.

Purée beet scraps, season with salt, then set aside.

Suprême the lemons and chop roughly. Peel the apples and dice into small squares. Toss with chopped lemon segments with chive oil and salt.

Using a wooden spoon, press and mix mascarpone until it is soft. Then toss in cubed beets and pine nuts. Adjust taste with salt and pepper.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon beet purée onto plate. Using a ring mold, put beets 75% of the way up the ring mold. Top with apple salad then carefully remove ring mold.

In a separate bowl, toss pea leaves with chive oil and salt. Carefully place a small portion of the pea leaves over each mold. Drizzle with chive oil and serve.

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Stuffed Eggs, Chimay-Style

Oeufs Farcis Chimay

Before coming to Boston, I was already “hired” to make a multi-course meal for my close family friends and family. I didn’t want to make any amuse bouche / canapés that they’ve all had or seen before because we all travel quite a lot and have eaten quite a smorgasbord of food. I didn’t think that they’ve had those stuffed eggs we made in school during level 2. I’ve made it before for my brother during Thanksgiving in Los Angeles and he couldn’t stop talking about it. I also couldn’t stop babbling about it, when I first made it in class, because I don’t like hard boiled eggs but I will eat an unlimited number of these stuffed eggs.

And of course, these eggs were a hit. I used 18 eggs for a party of 30 people. The eggs I made during Thanksgiving had bacon bits in them but these are just mushrooms so 100% vegetarian.

I peeled these mushrooms because having mushroom trimmings would reinforce the braising liquid needed for the braised duck legs.

[100% organic]

For the Mushroom Duxelles

  • ½ cup shallots, finely minced
  • 2½ cups mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 4 TBS butter
  • Lemon juice, as needed

Sweat the shallots for 5 minutes in the butter, there should be no coloration. Add the chopped mushrooms, season, and add a few drops of lemon juice to prevent oxidation. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until all moisture has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and keep warm.

For the Bechamel Sauce

  • 6⅓ cups milk
  • 6 TBS butter
  • 6 TBS flour
  • Salt & pepper

Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Melt the butter and cook the flour in a separate pan. Cook this mixture for 2-3 minutes, to get that raw flour flavor out. Add the simmering milk to the butter-flour mixture. Place back on stove and bring to a simmer. After the mixture has thickened, whisk for another 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Continue to cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

For the Eggs

  • 18 eggs
  • 3 TBS parsley, finely chopped

Place eggs in pot with just enough water to cover. Once boiling, simmer eggs for 10 minutes and then shock eggs in iced water, to stop the cooking process. The ice water bath also ensures that the dark green outline doesn’t form around the cooked egg yolk. When cool, peel eggs and hold them in cold water until needed.

Slice the eggs lengthwise and remove the yolks. Pass the yolks through a fine sieve and combine with the mushroom mixture. Add a small amount of béchamel sauce to the egg-mushroom-bacon mixture until it has the the desired consistency – don’t make this too thin.

Add the chopped parsley, and season to taste. Put the stuffing in a bowl and cover until needed.

For the Mornay Sauce

  • Béchamel sauce
  • ⅔ cup Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 3 yolks
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of freshly ground nutmeg

Bring the remaining béchamel sauce to a boil and gently add the grated cheese. Whisk until the cheese melts and then remove from heat.

Place the egg yolks in a bowl and stir in several tablespoons of the béchamel sauce to temper yolk. Add the tempered mixture back to the sauce and season with salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Strain the sauce through a fine chinois and keep warm for later.

For the Finnish

  • 2 TBS parsley, finely chopped
  • Gruyère cheese, as needed

Fill in hollowed egg whites with stuffing, via a piping bag, and make sure to top into a smooth mound. Place the eggs on an oven-proof dish.

TO ASSEMBLE

Nap eggs with the Mornay sauce, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place them in a preheated 300°F oven for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Then slide them under a broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

*Adapted from the French Culinary Institute.

Remy’s Ratatouille

Ever since my mandolin arrived in the mail, I’ve been dying to use it and to make something spectacular. One of my really good friends came into town last week and he loves the movie Ratatouille.

Ok, since the movie is a “movie” and it’s Pixar, their ratatouille is PERFECT. See the bottom stack of sliced vegetables, that’s not possible!!!! How can sliced veggies sit on their sides??? Remy’s sauce is also prettier than mine because I don’t have the luxury of having fresh herbs like chervil and tarragon at my disposal. I’m one person at home. What am I supposed to do with the extra herbs??? But I’m still happy with what I came out with and my friend loved it!

******UPDATE SEPTEMBER 10, 2012, I FOUND OUT THE SECRET
about how to plate it as a perfect circle!!!!!******

[100% organic]

For the Sauce

  • One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Water, as needed

In a pan, film a thin coating of olive oil on medium-low heat. Sweat the onions until translucent. There should be no coloration. Then add in the garlic and continue sweating for 30 seconds. Add in the crushed tomatoes and water to thin out the tomatoes. Don’t add too much water or else it will take forever to reduce. Add in the herbs and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.

Season and taste at the end. Strain through a coarse sieve and put into a clean saucepan. Keep pan warm.

For the Veggies

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 1 Chinese/graffiti eggplant
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • Thyme sprigs, as needed
  • Basil leaves
  • Chives, for garnish
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Using a mandolin, slice zucchini and yellow squash to 1.5mm-2mm in thickness. Slice eggplant a little thicker than the zucchini and yellow squash. Peel off the skin to the tomatoes and slice them 2mm-2.5mm in thickness. Set sliced vegetables aside.

To assemble: in a round baking dish, ladle sauce on the bottom and in alternating colors/vegetables, arrange sliced vegetables lying down, over-lapping each other. Sprinkle chopped bell peppers in the center and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Ladle more sauce over everything and place some herbs (thyme sprigs and basil leaves) on top and then bake in oven for 20-30 minutes.

To plate: using a 2-in ring mold, carefully place stacked veggies in the ring mold and top with some sauce, along with the bell peppers. Garnish with chive sprig.

Ratatouille with Pork Sausage & Bacon

Variations:

  • 3 slices bacon, chopped roughly, sweat them after the onions
  • 1 carrot, chopped into small squares, add them with the bell peppers
  • 4 button mushrooms, sliced, add them with the sautéed eggplant and zucchini
  • 4 pork sausages, chopped into small squares, add them with the sautéed eggplant and zucchini

I also had shrimp ratatouille yesterday, it was the original ingredients and also with mushrooms.

See recipe here: Niçoise-Style Ratatouille.