Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Here's another recipe I got from the French Laundry cookbook.

I've tried to make potato pancakes from scratch before, and I haven't been too successful, but this recipe is excellent. The final product has a great mouth feel and is a great vehicle for other things on top.

You can serve these as an appetizer with savory toppings. You can serve them as a side dish, or you can make them big and serve them for breakfast! (I think that's what Crystal wants the most.)

1 lb Yukon gold potatoes
2 Eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons creme fraiche (or sour cream)
Kosher salt to taste
White pepper to taste

You want to keep two eggs whole and separate out the yolk from the third.

Put the potatoes in a pan with cold water and make sure there is at least two inches of water on top of the potatoes. If you start with cold water, the final texture of the cooked potato is more creamy and consistent, not gummy.

Bring to a boil and when it boils, turn down to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until the potatoes are throughly cooked and tender. The whole process, from cold water to finish took me about a half hour, but if you get to a boil quicker, it will take less time. Once the water boils, turn it down!! If you continue to boil the potatoes, the starch granules will explode, and the final product won't be as nice!

Here's a nice simmer.

When the potatoes are done, peel them. They will be hot, but it is important to keep them warm, because if the potatoes cool down too much they won't absorb the liquids later.

I mashed them with a hand masher and ran them through the food processor to get all the lumps out. A food mill would be nice, a potato ricer, or a tamis.

A tamis is nice because it makes the potato very fine and consistent.

Weigh out 9 ounces of potato (a little more than half of your original product. Whisk in the flour and two tablespoons of the cream.

Add one egg, whisk until the batter is smooth and the egg is well incorporated, add another egg, whisk until smooth and incorporated, and add the yolk last.

Here's the consistency you want. It holds a thick "V" when you pour it, but it isn't too thick or too runny.

If it's too thick, add some sour cream.

If it's too runny, add a pinch of flour.

Cook the blinis in a non stick pan. You can fry them in butter, but if you want a more even browning, just right in the pan is great.

You can do whatever size you want. Here, I'm making them for hors d'oeuvre, but if I were making them for breakfast, I would do a five inch diameter circle.

Here they are topped with smoked salmon and a touch of cream cheese on the left and bacon on the right.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Citrus Marinated Salmon with Navel Orange Confit and a Coulis of Sugar snap peas and Caviar

Right now I am in the Advanced Garde Manger class. So far we have made mascarpone cheese, lemon cheese, ricotta cheese, creme fraiche, mozzarella, smoked duck breast, tuna confit, gravlax, horseradish-beet cured salmon and a whole bunch of hors d'oeuvre.

The day we made the tuna confit, we took a fillet of ahi tuna, coated it in a citrus zest cure (containing a lot of salt and a little bit of sugar), cleaned it off and poached it in oil; it was really tasty. When I was making the gravlax, I had a little bit of salmon trim left over, so I coated it in this cure, and poached it in oil. It was incredible. All I had was one, tiny bite, but I liked it a lot.

I remembered that in the French Laundry cookbook there is a recipe for salmon like this.

So, last Thursday I went to my farmer's market looking for some salmon. I remembered that there is usually an American Indian selling some fresh, locally caught salmon. And I got some.

Here are the ingredients. Besides the salmon, there is caviar, navel oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime, sugar snap peas, olive oil for poaching, vinegar for the navel orange confit, salt, pepper, sugar and chives for garnish.

The focus of this dish is definitely the salmon. This is Coho salmon from the Klickitat River in Washington.

Wild salmon has a very distinctive color. Farmed salmon is a more dull pink because the color is injected. This is about as good as the color can get.

I cut the fillets off this section, just like I did ages ago with the bass.

I cut the filet into sections that are relatively uniform thickness.

Here's the ingredients in the cure:
Zest of 1/2 orange, 1/2 lemon, 1 lime, 1/4 grapefruit.
1/3 cup kosher salt,
2 tablespoons sugar,
1 tablespoon white pepper.

Mix it up.

Lay the cure out on a piece of aluminum foil about the size of the fish.

Lay the salmon on the cure, and coat with the remaining cure.

Wrap the aluminum foil around the salmon and put on a sheet pan.

Cover with another sheet pan to weigh it down a bit. You want to keep it in the cure for an hour for every 1/4 inch of the fish's thickness. For this, it should be around four hours.

Navel Orange Confit:

Cut up the orange into the segments just like for orange supremes.

I then made a simple syrup, which is equal parts sugar and water. 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, put it on heat, dissolve the sugar and just bring to a boil.

Pour the syrup over the oranges, and let cool before you refrigerate. They can be kept for up to a week in the syrup.

It is a confit because the oranges have been immersed in this liquid for flavor and preservation.

Coulis of Sugar Snap Peas

Rinse off the sugar snap peas and pull off the ends.

I blanched them in boiling water for about a minute and shocked in cold water to preserve the color.

A coulis is defined as a fruit or vegetable pureed to a sauce-like consistency.

So, puree the peas. A blender is best for this, if you have one.

Add a little bit of water (no more than a 1/4 cup) so it blends.

You don't have to strain it, but since i'm going to a Classical French cooking school, it's what I do.

Straining it gives it a really nice consistency and mouthfeel.

So that's pretty much it for the plate besides finishing everything off.

Before I get to that, I want to show another garnish. This is going to be citrus dust.

I took the zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 lime.

I took the zest and put it in a small pan and covered with water. When the water came to a boil, I drained off the hot water and put in fresh cold water and boiled it again. I boiled the zest of each fruit 3 times.

I then laid them out on paper towels to dry, and then on parchment to go in the microwave.

I microwaved them until they were dry. You can tell they're dry when they get brittle and don't hold the heat from the moisture.

After this, I just chopped them up with a knife until they were very fine.

Now, let's finish the plate.

Take the salmon out, rinse off the cure and completely dry with paper towels.

I cut the salmon into a small, two inch by three inch square.

I put enough extra light olive oil in a sauce pan to cover the salmon by at least an inch and heated it to 110 degrees.

My saucepan held the heat nicely, so I took it off the heat. Leave the salmon in for about 14 minutes.

You can see the thinner pieces here turning brighter, meaning they are cooked through. The salmon is done when it just flakes apart.

For the oranges, I just reheated them in a pan.

I did the same for the coulis, just reheated it and melted a few tablespoons butter into it.

And here it is.

I like this preparation because it maintains the great color of the wild salmon.

Poaching it in oil is so nice because it just melts in your mouth.

I wanted to pair a few different beverages with this to see how they did.

Here is a Pouilly-Fuisse Burgundian Chardonnay from Joseph Drouhin and Fred, a Belgian Style Golden from Hair of the Dog.

Something i've learned about food and beverage pairing is that if the food and the drink come from the same region, they probably go together.

I thought Hair of the Dog would be better for this dish because it's local. The fish came from just a few miles away, and the beer came from even fewer miles away, but this "Belgian style Golden" was a little strong. The color is a dark reddish orange, not something I would expect from a Belgian Golden (e.g. Duvel).

The Chardonnay was nice. It wasn't extremely complex, but it let the salmon stay as the dominant flavor, whereas the Fred has some strong yeastiness that overwhelms the flavor of the fish.

So that's it, Wild Coho Salmon poached with a citrus marinade.