Page 3 of 6

Cook’s Notes – Gluten Free Benny BLT (Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato, Eggs Benedict Style)

Gluten-Free BLT Eggs BenedictMaking the Gluten-Free Benny BLT was a fun one to put together. Not only is it a chance to practice a few techniques – poaching eggs, making hollandaise sauce, plating for visual appeal – but it’s a chance to use some fantastic cured pork I had prepared myself as part of The French Pig workshop.

Let’s talk bottom-up on this one, then:

Tomatoes are great when they’re ripe and in season, and bland when they aren’t. None of them looked right in the grocery store, but I was able to find some really nice ones from local farmers at Revival Market. Don’t do this with a sub-par tomato; find something else – a biscuit, an English muffin, some baked beans – to substitute.

There’s a bit of a story behind the parsnip leaves. What I really wanted – what I had my heart set on – was a nice crisp piece of Boston lettuce. Not too big, but curved slightly to act as a cup for the bacon and egg. However, this is one of the hazards of eating locally from good markets – occasionally, they don’t have what you want. I asked for any other lettuce, which they were out of – and reminded me that the day prior, they had done a Burger Sunday special to strong demand and had used every bit of lettuce they had. Whoops. There were bunches of beet greens and other strong greens, but these were going to be far too earthy and bitter for what I wanted.

If not having something is a hazard, then one of the saving graces is the people on hand. Always, ALWAYS build a relationship, not just a transaction, with the people who provide you with food. In this case, Edgar came to my rescue. I asked about the parsnips leaves (I’ve tried using carrot greens before, but with limited success). In a chain grocery, I’d have gotten a “we don’t sell that” response. In contrast, Edgar’s reply was “Let’s try it!”. He came out to the produce case, pulled a leaf off a parsnip, tasted it, and suggested it might just work for what I was doing – and cut off a small bunch for me. It’s these little moments that make getting to know your suppliers so useful.

The bacon is shown in pieces. It works. Truth be told, I had wanted to cook it and keep its spiral shape, but I didn’t think to put a press on it as it cooked in the test batch (hey, any excuse to eat more bacon) and it tightened up into a bowl shape instead. Afterwards, I tried it with a press to some success but still curling action. Lardons are best here.

There’s an entire other post coming on how to poach an egg – this is one of those things that are surrounded by as much kitchen myth and old tales as actual science. Short version – hot-but-not-boiling water, deeper than you think you need, and have a few extra eggs on hand.

If I describe hollandaise sauce as just a warm mayonnaise that uses butter for the oil, some of you might realize how easy it is to make a hollandaise. (Of course, for anybody who followed that description, you’ve probably already covered making hollandaise.) I did this one over a double boiler because I could do a small volume that way and because I wanted to see if I could do it the old-fashioned way. I’ve not tried it, but I believe it can be done with a stick blender in small quantities – the hot butter will heat up the egg yolks – and I’ve seen it done in larger quantities in a proper blender. There’s still something fun about doing it by hand, though, so whisk away!

The chives on top are there for a bit of flavor but to really give a shot of color to the dish. Adding small accents of green at the last moment does a lot to make a plate seem more fresh and enjoyable.

And that’s about it! I won’t say this was especially fast to put together, but with a bit of practice it will be. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out the original recipe post for the Gluten-Free Benny BLT if you haven’t already!

Gluten Free Benny BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Eggs Benedict Style)

Gluten Free Eggs Benedict BLT

Back in April, Mike went off to the state of the art butchery classroom at Francis Tuttle School of Culinary Arts, Oklahoma City to attend The French Pig: Farmstead Charcuterie Two-Day Workshop. (Mike will be writing about the whole experience soon, and if you are curious you can read more at the Kitchen at Camont website.)

One of the many pork items he came home with was ventrèche roulée, also known as French bacon.

French Pig ventrèche roulée bacon

French Pig ventrèche roulée bacon

Inspired by the French bacon, Mike decided he wanted to make gluten-free Eggs Benedict. In order to make them gluten-free, he could not use an English muffin as the base. Thinking of various options, he thought of using a thick slice of tomato, and from there he created the Benny BLT – Eggs Benedict meets the BLT, all without the bread so it is gluten-free.

Cutting thick slices of tomato for the BLT base

For the base, he started with a thick cut slice of tomato from Revival Market. Revival was out of lettuce the day he was there, so instead he used parsnip tops as the “lettuce” in the BLT.

Cooking the bacon lardons for the Benny BLT

Next came the ventrèche roulée, the French bacon, which he cut in to lardons and cooked over medium heat until they were well seared and the fat was rendered out of them.

Separating the egg yolks for Hollandaise sauce

To prepare the Hollandaise sauce, he separated the yolks of two eggs. Mike prefers to do this by hand so that he makes sure he doesn’t break the yolk and so he can separate all the whites out. He discarded the egg whites along with the shells, which are in the bowl beneath his hands.

Preparing the Hollandaise sauce

Preparing the Hollandaise sauce involves whisking so fast that it was hard for me to photograph it. You get the point though – if you want it to come together, whisk it quickly.

Poaching an egg

Mike then poached an egg to place on top of the BLT. Meanwhile, he arranged the base of the BLT on the plate, ready to add the egg and the sauce over the top.

Benny BLT base, ready for the egg & Hollandaise sauce

The poached egg for the Egg Benedict

The Benny BLT ready for the Hollandaise sauce

Pouring the Hollandaise sauce over the top

The Benny BLT - Gluten Free Eggs Benedict BLT

Gluten Free Benny BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Benedict-style)

Gluten Free Benny BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Benedict-style)

Ingredients

  • 1 thick slice of tomato
  • 1 thick slice of ventreche (French bacon - you can substitute thick-cut bacon instead)
  • 1 leaf of lettuce (Parsnip tops are substituted for the lettuce in the original recipe)
  • 1 egg
  • For the Hollandaise sauce
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1.5 Tbsp water
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • lemon juice (at least 1 Tbsp; to taste)
  • salt and white pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice tomato and set aside.
  2. Wash, dry, and trim lettuce and set aside.
  3. Cut ventreche (or thick-cut bacon) into lardons and cook in pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When well seared and fat rendered, remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Prepare Hollandaise sauce (below) and hold in gently warmed saucepan.
  5. Poaching the Egg
  6. Bring water to simmer in wide, shallow pan. Whirl water to create motion. Crack egg just at surface of water and drop gently into pot. Leave it alone for 4-5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to an ice bath to shock and stop the cooking.
  7. To serve: Place the tomato in the center of the plate. Place lettuce on tomato. Arrange ventreche on top. Rewarm poached egg in hot water for 30 seconds and perch on top. Spoon over hollandaise sauce. Garnish with chives.
  8. Hollandaise Sauce
  9. In a bain marie or double boiler (or a large bowl set over simmering water), whisk egg and water together until frothy. Keep going until egg thickens and tracks are evident in bottom of pan, but before egg has scrambled.
  10. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in butter in 1 Tbsp chunks. If the sauce cools too much to melt butter, return bowl to heat. Season, whisk in lemon juice, taste and adjust as desired.
http://spoonandknife.com/gluten-free-eggs-benedict-blt/

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Recipe

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Recipe

Poor Brussels Sprouts. They get such a bad rap as being one of the most hated vegetables out there. I won’t deny it, until I started eating a 4-Hour Body / Paleo style of diet, I thought I hated them too. Then Mike made these, and he turned my perception of them around with this recipe for Caramelized Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts Recipe

A member of the cabbage family, these beautiful little morsels are quite delicious! (Maybe because we cook ours with bacon?) The key is to not overcook them, as that will bring out the strong flavor in them. Brussels sprouts contain glucosinolates, which have a lot of health benefits, but also release lots of sulfur the longer they’re cooked. Take care when cooking your Brussels Sprouts and you will have a delicious dish that is full of nutrients and vitamins!

(Today’s random trivia: did you know the spelling is Brussels, not Brussel like I thought? I had no idea. I thought Mike had made a typo at first, so I had to look it up.)

Preparing to make Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts to be Caramelized

Cut down the Brussels Sprouts in to halves or quarters

Trim end of the sprouts and pull off tough/loose outer leaves, leaving a tight leaf ball with a bit of core to hold it together. Cut into halves or quarters, depending on if the sprouts are small or large.

Cut Brussels Sprouts

Rendering the Bacon for the Brussels Sprouts

Cut bacon into pieces, place in pan, and cook over medium heat until the fat has cooked out and the bacon is crispy and dark golden brown. Remove the crispy bits and put them in a bowl to the side.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts cooking in a pan

Turn the heat up to high and add the sprouts to the pan. Ideally, the cut side should be down – this will draw out the moisture in the sprouts and help them to caramelize better. Even heating will help make sure you don’t overcook them and draw out that sulfur flavor.

Leave them to cook for 2-3 minutes, then toss in the pan. Keep cooking, tossing occasionally, until they look well caramelized and become tender. (With larger sprouts, you might add a quarter cup of water to the hot pan to create some steam and help them get tender. Do this at the end.) Remove the sprouts from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

Brussels Sprouts set aside

Sauteing the Shallots for the Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

Add the minced shallots to the pan and sautée them for a minute or two. Add 2-3 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots

Return the Brussels Sprouts to the pan along with the crispy bacon. Toss to combine it all together.

Tossing the Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Bacon Recipe

The next time you’re looking for a new vegetable to bring something to your dinner table, give these Brussels Sprouts a try. You may discover that you think they are delicious after all!

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Yield: 3-4 Servings

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb. brussels sprouts
  • 4-6 strips of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 shallot
  • Balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Trim end of sprouts and pull off tough/loose outer leaves, leaving a tight leaf ball with a bit of core to hold it together. Cut into halves or quarters, depending on if the sprouts are small or large.
  2. Render bacon in pan. (Cut bacon into pieces, place in pan, and cook over medium heat until the fat has cooked out and the bacon is crispy and dark golden brown.) Remove crispy bits to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Turn the heat up to high and add the sprouts to the pan. Ideally, the cut side should be down - this will draw out the moisture in the sprouts and caramelize better. Leave them to cook for 2-3 minutes, then toss in the pan. Keep cooking, tossing occasionally, until they look well caramelized and become tender. (With larger sprouts, you might add a quarter cup of water to the hot pan to create some steam and help them get tender. Do this at the end.) Remove the sprouts from the pan to a bowl and set aside.
  4. If needed, add a tablespoon or two of oil back to the pan and sautée the minced shallots for a minute or two. Add 2-3 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.
  5. Return the sprouts and bacon to the pan, toss to combine, and season to taste
http://spoonandknife.com/caramelized-brussels-sprouts-with-bacon-recipe/

Cook’s Notes – Making the Flounder Ceviche Recipe

Flounder Ceviche Appetizer Recipe  -  Cooks Notes

Honestly, at its heart, the Flounder Ceviche is small pieces of fish marinated in citrus juices. You can use any type of fresh fish or even shellfish such as lobster or scallops. The key is that it must be as fresh as possible. The rest are complimentary flavorings. The permutations are nearly endless; I suggest searching for “leche de tigre” (“tiger’s milk”) for more information or ideas about how to marinate the fish.

Controlling the marinade controls how spicy or sweet you want to go. Blends of many tropical fruits – oranges, lemons, limes, even pineapples, passionfruit and the like – can make the base of the marinade. I have trouble imagining a ceviche without shallots and cilantro, but that’s just me.

The key is the technique – marinating the fish long enough to change and “cook” the protein without overdoing it and turning it to mush. Find a good recipe to use as a base and branch out from there; you don’t want to introduce risk by having poorly prepared or under”cooked” fish making somebody sick. That said, this is incredibly easy to do right, so don’t be afraid of ceviche. Just because you didn’t turn on the stove doesn’t mean that the result isn’t properly prepared food.

There aren’t really more notes I have for this – it’s the kind of food I like to make when I can get a nice fresh piece of fish and play with each time. I haven’t made the same ceviche twice. Here are some links from resources I trust on ceviche why’s and how’s:

Creating Prep Lists to Make Your Holiday Meals Stress-Free

Essential Tips - How to Create a Prep List to Make Your Holiday Meals Stress Free

This year, I cooked the Easter holiday meal at my in-laws’ house. I decided to do as much of the prep as possible at home, and do the final cooking there, for two reasons. First, I know where everything is in my kitchen (prep bowls, mixing bowls, storage containers, et cetera) and second, to make cooking in their kitchen as calm as possible.

I wanted to share about the menu and the prep that went into this meal. I’ve read in many places about the importance of being organized, but nobody seems to have written about HOW to put together prep lists. Let this be the first in a series I’m working on discussing how to prep. Bear with me, this is a bit of thinking out loud – blind leading the blind and all – but here goes.

Preparing the Menu

First off, the menu. Holiday meals are a bastion of tradition, well-worn setpieces that mustn’t waver. Last year, after our meal, we decided to change up the feel a bit to reflect a new balance in our diet (read: more vegetables, more meat, less starch). After some negotiation, we settled on this:

MENU:
Baked Ham
Baked Sweet Potatoes, with spring onions, bacon, butter, cinnamon
Roast Broccoli, with garlic
Seared Mushrooms, with shallots, scallions, garlic, butter
Halved Strawberries
Cheese Plate

Right. That gives me some focus and, more importantly, a grocery list I could stick in my head, ticking off what I already had at home and what I needed to go buy.

After the grocery store, it was prep time. I wanted to have everything as ready as I could get it, so that all I had to do Sunday morning was to apply heat and combine. I didn’t want to be reheating finished dishes, but I didn’t want to be scrambling to get things cut and prepped, either.

The Preparation of Each Dish

Oddly, looking over my notes, this is the one part I didn’t make a list for. Rather, I had a list, but it all stayed in my head. Let’s talk, in shorthand, about what goes into each dish on the menu.

BAKED HAM
heat and serve | 20 min ish per pound | 10 pound ham | so about 3 hours since their oven cooks a bit fast

BAKED SWEET POTATOES
mince spring onions | dice bacon | render/cook bacon | wrap potatoes in foil | bake for about an hour

ROAST BROCCOLI
separate florets | cut to uniform size | slice garlic | toss broccoli with olive oil | roasting pan, scatter garlic over | roast 450F 10-15min

SEARED MUSHROOMS
clean mushrooms | remove stem | halve mushrooms | mince shallot | mince scallions | toss mushrooms in olive oil | sear on HOT pan | cut heat to medium | return mushrooms to pan and add shallots butter scallions | warm through

HALVED STRAWBERRIES
remove leaves | hull berries | cut in half

CHEESE PLATE
unwrap cheese | put on plate

This was the mental checklist I used to keep track of where I was, how far I could go, and what needed to wait for the morning. Order matters – in these instructions, I’ve tried to bring as much prep tasks earlier in the sequence to not lose anything (as opposed to more conventionally saying, say, “Add minced shallots to the mushrooms” – oh, I needed to mince them, did I?).

In preparation, just about everything got cut and packed. Spring onions (same as scallions, here, but it sounds cooler to use both words on the menu, so…), broccoli, mushrooms, shallots, strawberries – everything cut and ready to go. None of that would suffer for being cut ahead of time – for example, I cleaned the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel only to avoid soggy, waterlogged mushrooms.

Choreographing the Actual Execution of the Work

The other prep list I did write down was a timing sheet. This is a new thing for me to do, but the trick is to think not of each dish individually and how long it takes, but look across them to weave the timing together. This was a huge part of why Sunday morning was calm – at any given time, I knew where I was across the whole feast, not just one dish.

10:00 AM: Put ham in oven – 3 hours @ 325F
10:00 AM: Cook bacon bits for potatoes
12:00 PM: Bake Sweet Potatoes
12:30 PM: Sear Mushrooms
12:45 PM: Prep Broccoli
01:00 PM: Remove Ham
01:00 PM: Remove Sweet Potatoes
01:00 PM: Raise oven temp to 450F
01:00 PM: Broccoli in oven
01:05 PM: Finish Mushrooms with shallots and butter
01:15 PM: Serve

The thought process: The ham’s going to take the longest and hog (ha!) the oven the most. It really determines the meal time. Behind that, the potatoes will take an hour, so they go in for the last hour. The broccoli needs the oven, but at a much higher temperature and for a short time, so it can cook while the ham rests. The bacon is a prep item – I just didn’t want to chill it overnight – so it can happen early, and the mushrooms need a pan on the stove. I’ve cooked mushrooms like this a few times recently, and the searing step seems to take longer than I expect, so best to try and do that before the ham comes out – it’ll finish with the butter and shallots while the ham rests.

I won’t say that I followed this to the minute, but I wasn’t far off. About the only step I didn’t have on here is to wrap the potatoes in foil, and I didn’t factor in any time for washing dishes (that happened, as much as it could, in between tasks). With only a couple of edits – namely, I left the potatoes in with the broccoli – this is how it went down.

Making this list – and putting times to it – is a great benefit for two reasons. First, it is a roadmap for the effort, so I know where I am and what’s left to do at any time. Second, it forced me to think through the choreography – what food is in what pan on what oven rack or burner at any time. This is why the timing matters – I’ve made interwoven lists before but without timing, and have had to do some fancy shuffling when two foods wanted the same pot or burner to follow the plan.

The Don’t Forget This List

Finally, the last list I made on Saturday for prep is the don’t-forget-this list. Everything I might want to have from my own kitchen needed to be on a list so I wouldn’t forget anything. There were only a couple of additions not shown (a sauté pan that the ham cooked in – I wanted the roasting pan for the broccoli – and a cast iron skillet for the mushrooms). Let’s just say I’m not always the sharpest in the morning, so having an external backup was a very good idea.

Bring along:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Ham
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Bacon
  • Green Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Shallots
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Knives
  • Thermometer
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic

The resulting food went unphotographed, but it was delicious. Everything was hot, done at the same time, and best of all, I was relaxed throughout. THAT is a first for me.

© 2017 Spoon & Knife

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑