Quick Aioli Cheat

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2 Cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley
2 Tablespoons Chives
2 Tablespoon Tarragon
Zest of one lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Cup Mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper

Add all ingredients except mayonnaise to food processor and whirl together. Add mayonnaise and blend together so it is a consistent sauce with flecks of herbs throughout. Serve with chilled asparagus, salmon, etc.

Garlic Confit

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1 cup peeled garlic cloves (45 cloves or so)
About 2 cups canola oil

Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves. Add the cloves to a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by about 1 inch.

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat. The cloves should cook gently: small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface. Adjust the heat as necessary and move the pan to one side if it is cooking too quickly. Cook the garlic for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.

Refrigerate the garlic, submerged in the oil, for up to a month.

 

Salt: When, Why, How much – A Primer

There are so many kinds of salt available now that it’s become difficult to know which to use for what. Some generalizations can be made:

  • A box of inexpensive kosher salt is ideal for salting large amounts of water for boiling vegetables or pasta.
  • Fine salt, either bought fine or ground, is best for seasoning foods in which the crunch of coarse salt would be too much.
  • Sea salt, ideally the rather gray looking sel de Guérande, contains essential minerals and a delicate marine flavor.
  • Fleur de sel is ideal in tiny pinches placed on delicate foods.

What is fleur de sel?

Fleur de sel is a kind of sea salt that is harvested in some parts of France by trapping sea water in lagoons and letting the water dry. As the water evaporates, salt begins to form on the surface of the pond in a characteristic flower pattern. The salt is raked off, allowed to dry slightly more, and marketed as fleur (“flower”) de sel. If you look closely at a pinch of fleur de sel, you’ll see that it’s made of flat crystals.

Fleur de sel has a delicate flavor and looks great on top of small servings. It’s expensive, so use it at the end.

When do I add salt?

It varies, if you have plan ahead, season fish and meat a couple of hours before cooking and then pat them dry before browning. This gives the salt time to penetrate the food. Because salt draws water out of foods, which can interfere with browning, the foods need to be patted dry.

If you don’t have time to salt meat ahead of time, salt just before browning or just before serving.  Broths and sauces should be salted just before serving in case you want to reduce them to concentrate them. Boiling down liquids increases the concentration of any salts they contain.

Why is some sea  salt wet?

Sea salt is what’s called hygroscopic (a substance tending to absorb moisture from the air).  To prevent this, some companies add a magnesium compound to the salt to keep it dry. This also makes it easier to pour.

 

French Madeleines

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons for pans
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

Equipment 

  • 2 12 shell madeleines pans
  • Stand mixer

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 12-shell pans with melted 4 tablespoons butter and brush in each mold (cooking spray will work as well, although I prefer butter).

Whisk together flour and baking powder.  Melt butter and place in a bowl to cool to room temperature.

Add eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat with a hand or stand mixer on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, around 3 to 5 minutes.  Add vanilla and zest and continue beating for another minute or so. Fold in the flour mixture until just blended, then drizzle the cooled butter over the batter and incorporate completely.

Using a teaspoon, fill shell molds with batter until almost full. Carefully press batter to distribute it evenly.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until madeleines puff up and are golden brown. Remove pans from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 minutes, then invert and tap madeleines onto the rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Allow to cool completely if planning to store and/or freeze. Serving madeleines warm from the oven is preferable for a special treat

 

Culinary Fun Fact: How To deglaze a pan

Deglaze is just a fancy word for adding liquid to the pan you’ve used to sauté meat or fish. To properly deglaze, pour excess oil or butter (fat) out of the pan and add a liquid, traditionally wine, but it could be vegetable or chicken stock or even simply water to dissolve the juices that have caramelized and adhered to the bottom of the pan.

Deglazing is often the first step when making a pan sauce.

Basic Crêpes Batter

1¾ to 2¼ cups whole milk
4 large eggs
½ tsp kosher salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus additional butter for the pan

Add 1¾ cups of the milk, the eggs, and salt into a blender.  Blend for a few seconds to blend everything together. Remove the lid and add the flour. Cover and blend until very smooth. Remove the lid, pour in the melted butter, cover, and blend until combined.

Transfer the batter to a large glass measuring cup with a spout.  Allow the batter to rest for at least 5 minutes and up to 24 hours. If resting for more than an hour, store in the fridge.  When you’re ready to make the crêpes it should be as thick as heavy cream but not as thick as pancake batter. If it feels too thick, whisk in up to ½ cup of the remaining milk.

Heat an 8-in crêpe pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle upon contact. Using a paper towel, spread about ½ tsp butter around the interior of the pan. The butter should sizzle upon contact but not instantly turn brown. You don’t want the pan to be so hot that the butter burns.

Pour about ¼ cup of the batter into the center of the pan, and at the same time lift the pan from the heat, tilting and turning it in all directions so the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Cook the crêpe until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan, and the bottom is nicely browned, usually around 1 minute. When the first side is ready, use a knife, spatula, or your fingers to lift the crêpe and quickly flip it over. Smooth out any folded edges or pleats and then cook until the center is firm and the second side is browned, too, which will occur quickly in as little as 20 seconds more.

Slide the crêpe from the pan onto a large plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat and wiping the pan with more butter as you cook.