Crèpes and Blintzes
One of our favorite things is to make crèpes for Brunch. Crèpes are thin, delicate, unleavened in a small, very hot sauté pan. Crèpe batter can be flavored with buckwheat flour, cornmeal or other grains. Crèpes are not eaten as is but are usually filled and garnished with sautéed fruits, scrambled eggs, cheese or vegetables. Crèpes can be prepared in advance, then filled and reheated in the oven.
Blintzes are crèpes that are cooked on only one side, then filled with cheese, browned in butter and served with sour cream, fruit compote or preserves.
PROCEDURE FOR MAKING CRÈPES
Prepare the batter.
Heat a well-seasoned crèpe pan over moderately high heat. Add a small amount of clarified butter.
Ladle a small amount of batter into the pan. Tilt the pan so that the batter spreads to coat the bottom evenly.
Cook until the crèpe is set and the bottom begins to brown, approximately 1 minute. Flip the crèpe over with a quick flick of the wrist or by lifting it carefully with a spatula.
Cook for an additional 30 seconds. Slide the finished crèpe from the pan. Crèpes can be stacked between layers of parchment paper for storage.
Chef Jean-Philippe provides this recipe, now you can make this at your home or have a crèpe party at your next event catered by AYS. Enjoy!
Sweet Crèpes Batter
· 6 Whole Eggs
· 3 Egg Yolks
· 12 oz. Water
· 18 oz. Milk
· 6 oz. Granulated Sugar
· 1 tsp. Salt
· 14 oz. Flour
· 5 oz. Unsalted Butter, melted
· Clarified Butter as needed
Whisk together all liquid ingredients except the melted butter. Add the sugar, salt and flour; whisk together. Stir in the melted butter. Cover and set aside to rest for at least 1 hour before cooking.
Heat a small sauté pan or crèpe pan; brush lightly with clarified butter. Pour in 1 to 1-1/2 ounces of batter; swirl to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.
Cook the crèpe until set and light brown, approximately 30 seconds. Flip it over and cook a few seconds longer. Remove from the pan.
Cooked crèpes may be used immediately or covered and held briefly in a warm oven. Crèpes can also be wrapped well in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen for several weeks.
Onions are strongly flavored, aromatic members of the lily family. Most have edible grasslike or tubular leaves. Almost every culture incorporates them into its cuisine as a vegetable and for flavoring.
Common or bulb onions (Fr. Oignons) may be white, yellow or red (purple). Medium-sized yellow and white onions are the most strongly flavored. Larger onions tend to be sweeter and milder. Widely used as a flavoring ingredient, onions are indispensable in mirepoix (for making stock). Onions are also prepared as a side dish by deep-frying, roasting, grilling, steaming or boiling.
Pearl onions are small, about ½ inch in diameter, with yellow or white skins. They have a mild flavor and can be grilled, boiled, roasted or sautéed whole as a side dish, or used in soups or stews.
Choose onions that are firm, dry and feel heavy. The outer skins should be dry and brittle. Avoid onions that have begun to sprout. They should be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Do not refrigerate onions until they are cut. Onions are available all year.
Why, again, do onions make us cry? The process goes as follows:
Lachrymatory-factor synthase is released into the air when we cut an onion.
The synthase enzyme converts the sulfoxides (amino acids) of the onion into
The unstable sulfenic acid rearranges itself into syn-ropanethial-S-oxide.
Syn-propanethial-S-oxide gets into the air and comes in contact with our eyes.
The lachrymal glands become irritated and produces the tears!
The Spice Series – Coriander
Coriander is a wonderful spice used in both sweet and savory dishes. It can be applied in both the whole seed or in ground form. The whole seeds almost hold the appearance of a Chinese lantern with beautiful ridges running down the sides. Native to both Southern Europe and the Middle East, coriander is one of the most ancient herbs.
It is harvested in either early morning or late afternoon so that the dew in the air will prevent the fruit from shattering. It is then hung to dry and once dry stripped of the valuable seeds. Ground coriander is best purchased in small amounts and kept in an airtight container to preserve its flavor. Ground coriander is one of those ingredients
that you can use to even out a spice mixture if you have added too much of one ingredient.
My favorite application for ground coriander is found in the following recipe from
Chef Jean-Philippe. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Mushroom, Baby Fennel and Carrots a la Grecque
- 2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
- Baby fennel cut in half
- ½ pound pearl onions
- 12 ounces small white mushrooms, quartered
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2-by-½-inch sticks
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 tbls coriander seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon whole White peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 branch thyme
- 1 branch lemon thyme
- 1 lemon skin
- 1 garlic clove
- Freshly ground pepper
- A few sprigs of Italian parsley, chopped
Warm the oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat; add the
fennel, mushroom, onion and carrots.
Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, bring to boil and simmer for 5
minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Discard the bay leaves and peppercorns before serving.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm or cool.
The Spice Series – Ginger
Ginger comes from a tropical perennial plant and the part that we actually use is the root! Ginger holds a very powerful aroma that is sweet and soothing. Dried ginger or ginger powder lacks the strong aroma but maintains the wonderful flavor. Ginger is an interesting spice in that its’ origin is unknown.
There are 2 ways to harvest ginger: dried or preserved. Here we will be talking about dried ginger. Usually with dried ginger the skin is removed to speed up the drying process, however in the spice trade there are 8 different grades of dried ginger and the different drying processes classify them.
Ginger is classified as one of the most versatile spices. It can be used for a wide variety of dishes from sweet to savory and is most commonly found in Asian dishes.
It also has a few other jobs. Ginger is used when eating sushi as both a palate cleanser between dishes and it is also said to be able to counter act the negative effects of bad fish.
Ginger is also known to have a soothing affect on an upset stomach. Either way ginger is a delicious and versatile ingredient that we highly recommend integrating into your kitchen. A great dish to start off with is the following recipe by Chef Jean-Philippe.
Carrot and Ginger Soup
- 3lbs Carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 Onion, diced
- 1 Leek, sliced
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cups water or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp. scallion, finely sliced
In a large stainless steel pot heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sweat onion, leek and carrots for 5 minutes over medium hit. Add fresh ginger, garlic, fresh thyme, pinch of sea salt and water. Bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the
carrots are cook. Put in a blender with 2 tbsp. of butter. Taste and add sea
salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in a soup bowl with scallion for garnish.
Spice Series: Cumin
This is the first of a series of 5 in the Spice Series by Chef Jean-Philippe. We hope you enjoy it. Read on for a bit of culinary trivia.
Personally, I was not the biggest fan of cumin based on the smell when it is by itself. However, after doing some research into some of my favorite recipes I realized that cumin is used in many dishes that I really loved including many curries and dry rub recipes. So I
have decided that cumin is that spice you just have to have!
Cumin seeds come from a small annual plant and they are harvested after the plant has flowered but before the fruit falls to the ground. The stems are dried and then the seeds are removed. It is important to vigorously rub the seeds together to remove most of the
little hairs found on them.
When purchasing and storing cumin remember that the seeds will last you 3 years if kept in an airtight container while the ground cumin will only last about 1 year in an airtight container. This shouldn’t be a problem, however, because cumin is found in so many recipes. Try this one out and give us your feedback!
Culinary trivia: An interesting fact you probably didn’t know… The greens from a cumin plant are actually cilantro!
Broiled Local Halibut
with Eggplant Purée, Cumin Vinaigrette
- 1.5 lb. Halibut Filet, portion at 6 oz. each
- 2 Eggplants
- 2 Garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp. Olive oil
- 1 Green bell pepper, diced
- 1 Red bell pepper, diced
- 2 Tomatoes, diced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
- 4 sprigs Italian parsley
- 2 tbsp. Olive oil
- ½ tsp. Ground cumin
- ½ Lemon Juice
- Sea salt
Roast eggplant in the oven. When cooked, take off the skin and keep the inside. Mix it with all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook with olive oil for 10 min.
Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and brush the Halibut, broil until is cook. Make sure you don’t overcook it. Serve on a plate with the eggplant purée.
Book Review – The French Laundry Cookbook
Thomas Keller, the author of this book and owner of The French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, is a true believer that a meal is an emotional experience. He applies that philosophy to his restaurant and also to this cookbook. This cookbook provides you with 150 recipes for you to duplicate The French Laundry in your own kitchen.
Not only does this book feature exact recipes from Thomas Keller’s kitchen, but the photography provided by Deborah Jones makes the book itself a piece of art. It begins with a personal introduction of Thomas Keller’s cooking mentality. He speaks of his love and respect for food. There is a brief history of his road to creating The French Laundry and then an introduction to the chef written by Michael Kuhlman.
Dispersed between the pages of amazing recipes are beautiful photographs of the dishes and ingredients themselves. Here and there you also find little bit of information on the ingredients or methods. This book not only talks about the food, but also shows you what it means to truly love and respect the art of cooking. It belongs both in your kitchen and on your coffee table.
Book Review – The Complete Robuchon
We thought it would be nice to provide our readers with some insight into some of the inspirations behind AYS. Here we are featuring an amazing cookbook written by Joel Robuchon. Since THE COMPLETE ROBUCHON was originally written in French, Robin H. R. Bellinger wonderfully translated it into English in 2007.
This book is organized to provide you with some great beginning knowledge and then works its way into over 800 recipes. It begins with a few tips on creating a balanced meal, using just enough ingredients from different parts of the food pyramid and planned out to become an experience. This book really follows the concept of every meal creating a memory.
It also provides you with a brief but concise section about wine – how to properly serve and pair wines with your creations. Along with this wine knowledge, it breaks down the necessary details of different cooking methods from grilling to deep frying. Of course, it also provides you with information on all the utensils you will need in your kitchen to carry out the following recipes and a glossary for any terms you may not know.
Diving into the actual recipes, this cookbook organizes its recipes the way you would arrange a four course meal. It begins with the basics like sauces and then leads you into your first course items such as Salads, Soups and Starters. A section on Eggs is the only thing separating you from the amazing recipes it holds for your main course broken down by proteins. This is followed by your side dishes and a wonderful little chapter on some traditional French recipes that everyone should try. Last but not least comes a well-developed Desserts chapter.
This book is a great reference for anyone interested in exploring food. The recipes are detailed with concise and easy to follow instructions that make French cooking seem much more attainable. One of the best things about this book is that it can be found on Amazon.com for just around $25!
The Beauty of Roquefort
The French have such a beautiful relationship with cheese. America has certainly grown to love cheese as well! While there are literally hundreds of cheeses, many of which are native to France, Roquefort is one prized cheese of France. Many people consider blue cheese and Roquefort cheese to be one in the same but that just isn’t true. While there are quite a few differences the main one is that blue cheese is made from cow’s milk and
Roquefort is made from sheep’s milk. In 1961, it was made official that a cheese could only be classified as Roquefort if it was aged in the caves of Mont Combalon in the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in France.
Roquefort is one of the 3 greatest blue cheeses in the world alongside Gorgonzola and Stilton. It holds a strong clean flavor with saltiness opposite to that of the sheep’s milk. Its texture is damp but will still crumble and melt in your mouth.
We recently featured Roquefort on the menu for a wedding at a private estate.
It was among some other delicious cheese and fresh fruit for an appetizer course.
A few ideas for enjoying Roquefort in your home is to spread it on a fresh sliced crustini or serve it crumbled in a nice summer salad. If you would like more suggestions on how to incorporate Roquefort into your personal kitchen, contact us.
The Herb Series – Rosemary (the last in this series)
The last in our Herb Series is rosemary. An herb that most people are very familiar with, rosemary is native to the Mediterranean area. A very pungent herb whose leaves can be used both fresh and dried, rosemary is high in iron, calcium and Vitamin B.
Lucky for those of you with an herb garden, rosemary grows similar to a weed. It is actually used for its beauty in landscaping in addition to its many uses in the kitchen. Rosemary has an old reputation for improving memory, but there is not scientific evidence to substantiate these claims. We do however know that rosemary is a great asset in the kitchen. Simply hold the stem and run your fingers down the stem in the opposite direction of the leaves. Give it a quick chop and place it into your dish.
Here is a recipe from Chef Jean-Philippe that shows how to use rosemary in your own kitchen.
Rosemary Marinated Grilled Swordfish with Citrus Sauce
1 lb Swordfish cut in 6oz portions
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 red skin baby new potato
2 branches Fresh Rosemary
4 cloves Garlic, sliced
6 oz herbs salad
2 oz orange juice
2 oz lemon juice
2 oz grapefruit juice
1 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
1 Red Bell Pepper
Salt & Pepper
Marinate the Swordfish with Olive Oil, 1 branch rosemary and ½ of the garlic for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Grill it until it’s cooked but don’t overcook it; it should be moist and juicy. For the Sauce make a caramel with sugar and water; when it reaches a nice golden color add sherry vinegar, reduce heat. Add all citrus juice, diced tomato, bell peppers and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake baby new potatoes in a sheet pan with the other ½ of the garlic, 1 branch rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper.
The Herb Series – Tarragon
It’s time for tarragon, the fourth star in our Herb Series. Also known as Dragon’s Wort, tarragon is native to a large portion of the Northern Hemisphere including Europe, Asia and much more. When adding tarragon to your home garden it is best to purchase it as a plant as it can be difficult to bring up from seeds. Being a perennial it is most likely to go dormant in the winter. Good thing for us in California, it thrives well in hot sunny areas with little watering.
French tarragon is considered best for the kitchen and is considered to be one of the four fines herbes in French cooking. Tarragon can be used both fresh and dried; however, when using the fresh form it’s best to used sparingly as it is much more pungent.
Utilized most in dishes highlighting seafood, poultry, eggs, vegetables and sauces. The following is one of Chef Jean-Philippe’s favorite recipes using tarragon.
Grilled Asparagus Salad with Arugula, Tarragon Lemon Vinaigrette
- 2 lb Green Asparagus
- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups arugula
- 4 radishes
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 2 spring onions, diced
- 2 tbsp. tarragon vinegar
- 1 tsp. grated lemon
- ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, sliced
- Sea Salt
- Fresh ground Pepper
Heat the grill. Peel the asparagus and cut the bottom. Place in a small sheet pan and add extra virgin olive oil, mix well. Cook on the grill for 7 minutes, until tender.
For the Vinaigrette, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well.
In a platter, place Arugula and Mache Salad, add spring onion and radishes. Next to the salad, place asparagus. Pour the vinaigrette all over. You can garnish with fresh herbs.