Green

When I first stepped into a commercial kitchen I was blasted with the sights and sounds of what I had always dreamed about.  What I always wanted to be right in the middle of…

Green…”Your a little green”,  said the sous, trying not to sound too much like a novice I shrugged my shoulders, and ignored the statement.   He told me that green meant fresh and that I was still very new.  Why yes, yes I was and I still am.  Every time I enter a new kitchen I do feel green, and I find that feeling appealing!  It’s a as though I am taking a cooking 101 class all over again, a refresher course on what to do, say, and what to ask in these different environments.

I am also very new to the act of creating a soup for a restaurant…from start to finish.  I mean how much, how will it taste, what will the restrictions be, will there even be any restrictions???  Little did I know that I would be  asked to cover some line shifts and even more surprisingly, asked to make some soups during my shift   YES! What a feeling! My sense of self was quickly restored, and with some guidance from my Chef De Cuisine any worries or restrictions that I had were thrown out the window.  START TO FINISH.

Potato and Celery with a Basil Pistou, Black Lentil with  Roasted Pasilla Pepper Oregano and Orange Oil, English Pea Soup with Minted Yogurt, Artichoke Soup with a Fromage Blanc Crouton and Green Peppercorns, Roasted Poblano and Spinach Soup with Lime Crema.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite soups from that week.

Roasted Poblano and Spinach Soup w/Lime Crema 

1 Quart Chicken Stock.
1 Pint Water. 
2 C. Yellow Onions (diced or sliced)
2 Large Poblanos
1 lb. Spinach 
1 Stick Butter 
Olive Oil
Coriander
Green Peppercorn (white peppercorns can be a nice substitute)
Creme Fraiche
1 Lime (1/2 its juice and zest)
Salt 
 
Oil and Salt Poblano.  Set in broiler or on on direct heat to blister (If your lucky to have a wood burning oven, this is the ideal environment for doing so).  When they are ready take them out of the oven, cover them and let sit. 
In a heavy soup or cast iron enameled pot add butter and onions and 1 T. of Salt.  Melt the onions on medium heat stirring and watching heat to ensure that your onions do not brown or get any color.   The onions should cook for 10-15 minutes on low-medium heat. 
Make a bouquet garnie consisting of lightly crushed coriander, and lightly crushed green peppercorns.   Add this to the onions, also add the pint of water and chicken stock  Let simmer.  After 15-20 minutes add spinach.  Add Spinach. Using a blender or a hand blender.  Pulse till desired consistency.  Season to taste. 
 
For Lime Crema:  
Add 1 Tablespoon of lime juice, Salt to taste, whisk in Olive oil.  Drizzle over soup and serve. 
 

Included in this post is a recipe for a lime-aid.   The heated summers in Southern California in conjunction with strict parents lead me to experiment and spend lots of time in the kitchen of our home.  So you know the saying, when life gives you…I made lemonade, and various juice drinks using what was lying around the house.  I often made granitas during those very hot Southern California summers.  Here is a more adult rendition using Piloncio, a Mexican unrefined sugar that you can get at your local specialty market.  I was inspired to make this while working at Nopalito.  Enjoy.

Piloncio Lime-Aid 

1/2  lb. Piloncio Sugar 
2 1/2 Cups Lime Juice
3 C. Filtered Water 
1 Lime to garnish – cut into whole rounds.
 
Combine water and sugar in a pot, bring to simmer making sure sugar is dissolved.  Juice enough fresh limes to make 2 1/2 cups.  
Grab your favorite tumbler, fill with ice of your choice (I really like crushed ice).  Place one or two lime garnishes.  Fill 1/2 of the way with lime juice and the other 1/2 with the simple syrup concoction.  Stir and maybe let sit for a moment to meld together and SIP SIP SIP AWAY on a hot hot hot summers day.  
 
Because this is fairly concentrated I suggest maybe adding even spritzer water to your drink or a shake to dissolve.
 
*Crushed mint or Basil would also be delicious in this refreshing beverage.   *Rum, Tequila, Vodka, Gin or Bourbon would also be a great addition.
*Alternative sweeteners could be brown sugar, turbonado, Agave, and or Honey. 
 
 

Roll out the…

Spring has arrived! So with Spring showers come those May flowers.  I am hoping  blossoms will be plentiful in the garden.

This is a new recipe developed while feeling giddy about the youthfulness of  Spring.  This season somehow evokes a feeling of  fresh yet soft and creamy food.  But not too heavy. Which is why in this particular recipe  I went with milk instead of the heavy  cream to cook with.  This delightful dish is light and milky, satiny and succulent and when sliced, look not only appetizing but also attractive.

I made this for my client 2 weeks ago and this was one of his favorite dishes.  So I thought this would be great to include in my new post.  Hopefully I will include 1 thing per week that I make.

This dish is delicious and satisfying, it’s one of those one dish meals that has everything included in a small scolding hot ceramic dish.  The milk in this dish acts as a braising liquid with the sherry and the chicken stock.  The potatoes are cooked gratin style  and acts as a sponge, soaking up all the delicious goodness from the juicy chicken and aromatics.

Roulade of Chicken with Spinach Feta and Walnuts atop a Potato and Milk Gratin
( will serve 2-4)
 
 
2 Chicken Breasts butterflied and pounded to an even thickness 1/4 inch thickness
1 1/2 C. Roughly chopped Spinach
1/3    C. Course chopped walnuts (optional)
1 1/2 C. Sliced Red Potatoes or  Sliced larger Fingerlings
1/4   C. Diced Onions
1/4   C. Diced Leeks
1/4   C. Diced Celery
3      Sprigs of fresh Thyme
1      C. milk
1/4  C. Sherry (White wine can easily be substituted)
4     T.  of butter
1     C. Chicken Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
 
Begin with butterflying your chicken breast.
It might have to take you up to 2 times to butterfly one chicken breast depending on how thick they are.  Pound them into an even thickness (not too thin) about 1/4 inch thick and season the breast inside well with a bit of salt and pepper.
Roughly chop your spinach, crumble your feta, coarsely chop your walnuts.  Sprinkle all these items in a single layer on the cut and butterflied part of the chicken breasts.   Be sure to leave room at the end about 1 inch so that the filling does not fall out.
Get some kitchen twine and tie your bundle neatly. Then lightly season the outside of your bundle with some salt and pepper
 
In a 8×8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish (or a baking dish of your choice), lightly butter the bottom and sides.
 
Using a mandolin (if avail) begin to slice your potatoes to an 1/8 of an inch thickness.
Dice your leeks, celery and onions in small dices.
 
Heat your sauté pan and add a bit of olive oil.  Reserve 2 sprigs of  Thyme and.  Add your carrots, onions leeks and 1 thyme sprig.  Sweat till onions are slightly translucent.  Douse with Sherry and let come to a boil.
 
Combine the rest of the liquids – Milk, broth and add this to your sauté pan.  Season with salt and pepper.
 
In your baking dish add a layer of the liquid/mixture.  Reserve about 80 percent of it to cover the rest of your chicken.  Add a layer of the potatoes as you would a gratin season with a light sprinkling of salt a pepper.  Lay your chicken atop the potatoes and now add the rest of your cooking liquid.  If you have any left over potatoes just lay them around.  Lay your butter atop the chicken with a sprig of thyme on each breast and bake.
 
Bake covered at 375 for about 30 minutes.