Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lobster and Yellow Beet Borscht

Lobster and Yellow Beet Borscht

Adapted from Charlie Trotter's "Workin' More Kitchen Sessions"

Yield: 2 servings with plenty of left over borscht.
  • 4 or 5 (about 1 1/4 pounds) Medium Yellow Beets
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Whole Star Anise
  • 2 Whole Cloves
  • 3 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 4 Baby Red Beets
  • 3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbs Fresh Dill
  • 1 Large (about 10 oz) Lobster Tail or one whole lobster, cooked
  • 1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Heart of Palm, sliced diagonally
  • 1 Tbs Prepared Horseradish
  • 1 Cup Firmly packed fresh dill
  • 1/2 Cup Creme Fraiche
  • 1 Cup Mascarpone
  • 1 Tbs Lime juice
  • 1/4 Cup Prepared Horseradish
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Cooking Directions
    I used one huge Yellow Beet

    Prepare the beets:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the yellow beets in an oven proof pan with the water, 1 Tbs. olive oil, the bay leaves, star anise and whole cloves. Season with salt and pepper and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the red beets in an oven proof pan with 1 Tbs olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  3. Roast the yellow beets for about 90 minutes, the red beets for about 45 minutes or until they are tender.
  4. While the beets are roasting make garnishes
  5. In a blender puree 1 cup dill, the mascarpone, creme fraiche, lime juice, and horseradish. Force the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the un-pureed bits of dill (optional). Place the mixture in a small covered container and freeze.
  6. Slice the lobster tail into 8 rounds and chop 1 Tbs. dill. In a small bowl toss with the lobster and lemon juice.
  7. In another bowl, toss the hearts of palm with 1 Tbs prepared horseradish
  8. Cover both and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. Make the Borscht:
  10. When the beets are cool enough to handle peel them.
  11. Cut the red beets half and set aside, covered.
  12. Chop the yellow beets coarsely and puree them in a blender with the vegetable stock. Season with salt a pepper and refrigerate, covered, until it's time to serve.
  13. Assemble and Serve:
  14. Ladle the borscht into two bowls (there will be plenty left over). Arrange the lobster and red beets artistically with some of the hearts of palm in the middle.Top with a spoonful of the dill cream mixture, drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and serve.

As written this is chilled borscht. It works wonderfully warm as well.

Star anise and hearts of palm: If you happen to have a Chinese market near you, they'll have the star anise. You'll find canned hearts of palm in the Hispanic section of your local grocery store under the name "palmitos". Goya and Roland are common brands. They can be left out entirely and the dish will still be delicious, but of course Amazon's Grocery section has both.

The Beets: The original recipe calls for "medium beets". I figure that means about 4 ounces each. Our market had the giant ones you see in the pictures at a bit over a pound each. So one of those was enough. The "baby beets" I used came from our garden. If you can't find little ones you can cut a "regular size" one into 8 wedges.

The Dairy: Large grocery stores will have both the creme fraiche and mascarpone in little plastic tubs. Even the miserable Giant in our neighborhood had 'em.

The Lobster: Live lobster is often on sale, at least here in the north east. One medium sized lobster will yield enough meat for 2 servings.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock
Workin' More Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter

  • 1 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
  • 1 Cup Chopped Carrot
  • 1 Cup Chopped Celery
  • 1 Cup Chopped Fennel Bulb
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Parsnip
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tsp. Whole Black Pepper Corns
  • 4 Quarts Water
Cooking Directions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Strain the mixture into a clean pot.
  4. Simmer on medium low until reduced to 2 quarts.
  5. Cool the stock and refrigerate in an airtight container.

Anyone who's ever tried to use store-bought vegetable stock needs to try this recipe.  It's simple, easy to make, and everything in it is readily available. And unlike the stuff from the store, it actually tastes good.

This is a base recipe that will appear in a number of posts in the near future.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sweet Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Sweet Corn and Shrimp Chowder
Recipe by Adapted From Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home

In remembrance of Charlie Trotter, September 8, 1959 - November 5, 2013

  • 3 - 4 Ears Sweet Corn
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2/3 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 oz. Bacon, julienned
  • 1/2 Small Onion, diced
  • 1 Small Potato, diced
  • 10 Large Shrimp, peeled, deveined, and halved cross wise
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut the kernels from the corn, reserving the cobs.
  2. Place the cobs and bay leaf in a stock pot with two quarts of water, Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Combine the cream and half the corn kernels in a sauce pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook until the cream is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.
  4. Puree the corn and cream mixture. It will be very thick. Set aside, covered.
  5. In a medium saute pan cook the bacon until it begins to crisp. Add the potato, onion, and remaining corn and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender.
  6. Add the shrimp and cook until they begin to turn pink.
  7. Add the shrimp mixture to the cream and stir to combine well.
  8. Add enough corn broth to achieve a pleasing consistency. In my case It took about 2 cups.
  9. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors, season to taste and serve immediately.

Charlie Trotter is probably best known for his complex restaurant cuisine, packed with exotic ingredients and served with intensely flavored emulsions, foams, and oils. In this he was certainly in tune with his time. In 1988 Trotter was introducing complex degustation menus in Chicago just as Ferran AdriĆ  was taking sole charge of the kitchen at elBulli.

In 1990 Trotter published "Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home", a collection of relatively accessible recipes that any reasonably skilled home cook could easily reproduce (as this post shows). Free of exotic ingredients and well suited to mid-western tastes, the book nevertheless is a fine introduction to the concepts (and some of the techniques) Trotter used to develop his cuisine.

Whether or not he would have opened another restaurant is a question that will never be answered but the chefs he helped train, his books, television series, and of course his flavors will remain.


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