Monday, June 22, 2009

HFD version 2: application of some technique

The landlocked wanted seafood. So, seafood it was. I'm with JW about the heat, and although I know I don't live in Augusta anymore, grilling on a black egg in the blazing sun gets a little hot. Not to worry, though...

The theme of this menu was ocean and farm/garden to table. Some of it came from my garden, some from the farmer's market, the rest from Whole Foods. We have had critical camera failure, so I don't really have any good pictures to share. Sorry, we're working on it.


Organic microgreens with roasted red beets, heirloom tomatoes, and fried shallots
Red snapper ceviche
Seared diver scallops with basil/mint emulsion
"Lucques" style sauteed snow peas
Grill roasted whole chicken
Orange-fig gelato (store-bought)

Wine pairing: Chateau St. Michelle Riesling
Beer pairing: New Belgium Brewery: Mighty Arrow (sold out spring brew really great)

Nothing particularly difficult or time-consuming. Total meal took about 3 hours to prepare, eat, and clean up. Here's how it broke down:

We have been buying bulk salad greens from the grocery store (Harris Teeter) because it's about 1/3 the price of buying it in the plastic containers. Once you realize that almost all of the microgreen lettuce comes from Earthbound farms in California, even the bulk, you realize that you're paying for packaging. And I think it's easier on fridge space to store a bag of greens.
For the beets, I bought them at a traveling farmer's market that comes right to VUMC campus on Thursday afternoons in the spring and summer. The beets were half the price of what I can get at the store and higher quality, raised locally. I trimmed the greens off (which are very edible and present in many of the microgreen mixes you buy, whether you knew it or not) and parboiled them. Per Jamie Oliver, mix acid (vinegar or citrus), oil, and aromatic in foil with your root veg and throw on the grill for a while as you're cooking something else. My combo was balsamic vinegar, olive oil, whole crushed garlic, and red beets. Peel, slice, add them to whatever or eat them by themselves.
The Cherokee Purple tomatoes are an heirloom variety that I like, and I have some growing in my backyard, they're just coming in. I just quartered, salted, and placed on a wire rack over paper towels to drain excess liquid and concentrate the flavors for a couple of hours as I was working on everything else. Remember, water is the enemy of salads.
From Big 'Dawg Eats

The fried shallot is stupid simple, but really adds a nice edge to whatever you're doing, particularly greens. Literally, 1 shallot, thinly sliced on the equator, and fried at moderate heat. Don't burn it! Top your salad with it, you won't be sorry. It's like tiny flavor-packed onion rings without the breading.
Finally, fnished it with a balsamic vinaigrette that I used a spicy English style mustard for a binder. I don't stick to the 3:1 ratio as closely for vinaigrette, because I use a pretty strong oil that can overpower it. Just whisk and add oil until it firms up to the consistency of sour cream.
From Big 'Dawg Eats

Ceviche (sous vide che?)
I admit I screwed this up a little bit. We had some left over red snapper (DOG loves it), about one portion size. Skinned it, cut into a dice, and added to a ziploc bag with 2 fresh squeezed limes, a handful of diced onion, 1 minced jalapeno from the garden, and a healthy handful of cilantro. This was allowed to cure in the fridge for about 2 hours. Now, this fish could have been eaten raw as a "crudo" so it wasn't a big deal to have it completely cooked through (white instead of pink). To rush it a little bit, I threw it in the microwave to apply a little steam heat for 2-3 minutes. The mistake here was if I was thinking it wasn't cooked enough, then I ruined the herbs. The herbs had that wilted faded look. Ceviche is really a sous vide of fish using acid instead of heat to cook the protein. I also should have drained off the excess lime juice or added some oil, because it was really strong, and I could hardly taste the fish. I'll keep working on this one.

Seared scallops with basil/mint emulsion
For fun, I stuck my sautee pan on the grill as it was winding down to keep the smoke outside. Scallops are best cooked on pretty high heat to medium rare, in my opinion.
From Big 'Dawg Eats
This was really nothing fancy, just salt, pepper, and olive oil for the sautee fat. I did them in batches to maximize the crust of the sear. The emulsion is just a lower ratio vinaigrette done in the blender (eventually after the food processor and the immersion blender failed). I didn't execute it as well as I would have liked because I did it in too small of a volume, and it broke, and it wasn't the bright green like a pesto that I was looking for. I just used a handful of basil, handful of mint, handful of lemon balm (from the garden), lime juice, salt pepper, and drizzled in the olive oil while it was blending. I need an inert binder to help it "catch" and emulsify, but I don't think egg is the thing here.
From Big 'Dawg Eats

Lucques-style sauteed snow peas
For Lucques-style, I just mean that the base is thinly sliced onions in a couple of tablespoons of butter with salt, thyme, and a crushed, dry, small pepper like japones or something similar.
From Big 'Dawg Eats
Just add whatever other veg you want (in this we had some snow peas), give a quick sautee and you're done. Easy. Try yellow squash this way, you'll love it!

Grilled chicken
Whole chicken, pasture raised with a salty, savory dry rub, indirect at 400 for about an hour or so.
From Big 'Dawg Eats
There may be a subtle difference in the breast meat of these birds in that it doesn't seem to dehydrate as quickly, but I'm not sure about that. Maybe the marketing has gotten to me.
From Big 'Dawg Eats

Well we were in too big of a rush to enjoy the dessert, but I did a couple of days later. Gelato and paletas are out there, just look around and find one you like, reproduce it at home. Haven't quite gotten there yet.

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