Archive for the Vegatables Category

Roasted Tomato Bisque with a Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostini

Posted in bisque, crostini, prosciutto, Soups, tomatoes, Vegatables on 14 October 2009 by restaurant refugee

It was supposed to be a Fall Friday dinner – hearty foods, rich and lush flavors – but Mother Nature decided not to fully cooperate.  Temperatures spiked into the 80s but I had already decided that “Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese” was on the menu.

The dish is listed in quotes because it is a playful take on the children’s classic (which is something that I love when I’m sick – in case any of you ever need to know.)  This Roasted Tomato Bisque with a Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostini is a low and slow dish that can be made faster – I am listing the “fast” way because that is the one I use most frequently.

Roasted Tomato Bisque with a Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostini – Serves Six

  • 30 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1 pint of cognac
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 ounces of freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 12 leaves fresh basil
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 6 tablespoons of flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces Prosciutto di Parma
  • 1 country-style baguette
  • 3 ounces of Gorgonzola

Thinly slice the shallots and set them aside.  Chop the garlic and set aside.  Cover both with a damp paper towel.

In a stock pot, melt one stick of butter over low-medium heat.  When mostly melted, add the flour to the pot and whisk until blended.  Add a sprinkle of salt and lower the heat.  Stir frequently.  The mixture, also known as a Roux, will require near constant attention – stir several times per minute – and will get progressively more brown.  roux-tan-This picture* is pretty close to the color you want.  It will take about 30-45 minutes to achieve this color.

If you have a Sous Chef in the kitchen, turn over the final fifteen minutes of stirring of the roux to him/her while you melt some butter in sauté pan and add the garlic.  Let it simmer for a few minutes and add the shallots and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Once the roux is almost at the right color, add a half a pint of cognac to the sauté pan.  Strike a match (or tilt your pan if you’ve got a gas stove) to burn the alcohol away leaving just the flavor of the cognac.  While this fire looks really cool in the kitchen, stop showing off and blow it out already.  Add it directly into the roux, stir once, remove from heat and cover.

In the same sauté pan add a pat of butter and melt over medium heat.  Slice the basil into strips and add to the pan.  Let simmer for a couple of minutes and add most of the rest of the cognac and repeat the trick with the fire.  Add to the roux pot.

Pour in the tomato sauce, the cream, one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon black pepper.  Raise the heat to medium-low while stirring frequently.  Just before it reaches the bubble point stir in the parmesan – adding the cheese slowly while whisking briskly.  Once all of the cheese has been incorporated, add in the white wine.  Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let it simmer.   Taste again – you have been tasting while cooking right? – and add salt and pepper to taste.

If you want an extra smooth consistency, then either run your immersion blender through the bisque or let the bisque cool completely and run it through a blender.  The pureeing is an overrated step, but that is a personal choice.

Slice the baguette on the bias – you want the Crostini to be at least five inches long and one third an inch thick.  Brush them with olive oil, place on a baking pan and into an oven preheated to 375 degrees.  Let them toast for five minutes.  Remove them from the oven and reset the oven to a low broil.  Layer prosciutto atop each piece, and then top the meat with Gorgonzola and return to the oven. Make sure that the oven rack is placed in the middle of the oven and not too close to the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted – about five minutes.

bisqueServe with the Crostini on the side of the bowl or directly in the soup as I did and enjoy.

* this picture is not from my cooking but grabbed from somewhere on the interwebs; unfortunately I neglected to save the link.


Sweet Corn Velouté with Lobster & “Loud Puppies”

Posted in lobster, Soups, Vegatables on 16 August 2009 by restaurant refugee

Sweet Corn Velouté with Lobster & “Loud Puppies”

This variation on one of the “Mother Sauces” was inspired by a soup I had at Inox Restaurant, Paula Deen, and Summer herself, not necessarily in that order.  It took me four tries to get comfortable with this recipe, and it wasn’t until I collaborated with my unbelievably-great-I-couldn’t-have-done-nine-courses-without-her Assistant from a dinner a week ago that it really started to sing.  We served it as an amuse bouche and  every guest at the table literally licked the petite bowls clean.  This recipe will make six standard soup sized portions with a little of the “Loud Puppy” mixture left to make a few extra.

5 ears of sweet corn

2 Cups of half and half

1 ½ pounds of lobster meat (4 lobster tails or 2 1 – 1 ½ pound lobsters; I recommend using tails as they are the easier of the two)

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

1 shallot thinly sliced

1 cup brandy

12 oz of lager style beer

Butter – a reasonable amount

6 cups peanut oil

1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal

1/2 cup self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon salt

1 small onion, chopped

1 ¼ cup half and half

1 egg, heavily whisked

¾ cup cheddar cheese shredded

3 jalapeños diced

The Velouté:

I generally grill the corn but it can be done in the oven as well.  I think that the smoke adds a rather pleasant note to the soup, but it certainly adds another layer of complexity to an already multistep dish.  If grilling the corn, do NOT remove the husks.  Place them directly on a grill with medium/high coals until cooked, and set aside.  If oven roasting, clean the husks and hairs, place on a baking pan and sprinkle a little bit of salt.  Place in an oven pre-heated to 375 degrees, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until bright yellow.  After the corn has cooled a bit, cut off the upper part of the ear where the kernels are condensed and discard (or save to make some vegetable stock later because wasting things sucks.)  Shave kernels into a bowl and set aside (I would save the cobs to be used for stock too, because you know how I feel about waste.)

While the corn is cooking, melt butter over medium-low heat in a sauté pan and add the thinly sliced shallots once butter is hot but not browning.  Sauté the shallots with a generous sprinkle of salt until they are translucent but not caramelized.  Deglaze the pan with half the brandy and turn up the heat to burn off the alcohol.  If you know how to get the fire in the pan, then this is a good time to use that skill.

Add the shallots, corn, one cup of half and half, ½ cup of parmesan to a food processor and puree until smooth.  It should be a bit thick at the moment, that’s fine and as intended.  Transfer the contents to a soup pot and set on very low heat.  Once the mixture has come to temperature, whisk in the remaining parmesan, the beer, and add salt and fresh pepper to taste.  Keep the heat at the lowest setting possible and stir occasionally.

Loud Puppies

The “loud puppy” mixture can be made many hours in advance, however, allow it to warm to room temperature before cooking them.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cornmeal, salt, and pepper and stir until well blended.  Stir in the onion and the jalapeños (please remember that the seeds control the heat so add them at your pleasure.)  Once the egg has been whipped into submission, add the half and half to the egg, and then add the cheese to the blend.  Pour the egg mixture into the other ingredients and stir until well blended*.

To cook the puppies, you will need two spoons.  In a deep pot suitable for frying, get the oil to 350 degrees.  Drop the batter in one teaspoon at a time using one spoon to help the batter off the other.  Dip the spoon in water between each puppy.  They will cook quickly – about three minutes each – and should turn themselves while cooking, but don’t be afraid to aid them if they don’t.  Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil, and place on a paper towel covered plate to drain excess oil.

*At this point, I would do a test run.  Enough cheese for you? Salt? Pepper? Jalapeño? Adjust the mixture to your palate.


Using a very sharp knife, split the lobster tails from the bottom side but do not cut all the way through.  Using your hands crack the hard shell so that each side will sit upright on the broiling pan.  Season with a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of pepper, and a pat of butter on each side, and place them in a preheated broiler on medium heat.  Cook until the butter is melted and just a touch brown or about 6 minutes – please don’t overcook your lobster.  Remove from the shells and slice into small bite size pieces.

Putting it all together:

This is most easily done with two people.  The soup can be made hours in advance so long as it is at serving temperature when all things come together.  Prep the oil and hold the temperature.  Prep the lobster and refrigerate.  Preheat the broiler.  Prep all the bowls for service. Cook the loud puppies, placing them on a paper towels to drain excess oil after removed. Once four have been cooked, place the lobster in the broiler.   Cook the remaining puppies and cover to preserve heat.  Remove the lobster, slice, and place at the bottom of each bowl.  Ladle in the soup, and place one loud puppy in the center of the bowl and one one the side.  Serve immeadiately.