Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bonne Fete Nationale!

La Fête Nationale ou, le quatorze juillet! In English known as Bastille Day or the 14th of July. I suppose we could say that it is the French Independence day, it is a day symbolizing the rise of the modern nation of France.

All history aside, what we miss so much about France, specifically Paris, is not only the art, the life, the people, it is the food, specifically French bistro food. The croque monsieur is the king of French bistro food, first appearing on menus in 1910 as a quick bar snack. This sandwich goes beyond your mother’s ham and cheese sandwich and elevates it with gooey gruyere, Dijon, and a slathering of béchamel.

Make this sandwich, drink some rose, and watch some firework, and Bonne Fête Nationale!
Ingredients: makes 2 or 4 small ones
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 ½ Tablespoons flour
1 cup hot milk
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ Lb ham (any sweet smokey ham) not too thin
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Pinch nutmeg
6 oz grated gruyere
¼ grated parmesan
4 slices sourdough bread
Whole grain mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toast the bread by placing the slices down on a baking sheet and put in oven. Toast 5 minutes, then flip the slices and toast another 3.

In a small sauce pan, melt butter on low heat. Once melted, add flour and stir for about 2 minutes.

Next slowly add hot milk while constantly whisking, until it has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Take off the heat and add the salt, pepper, pinch of nutmeg, ¼ cup of gruyere, and all of the parmesan. Mix and let sit.

To assemble the sandwich spread whole grain mustard on two slices of bread, next lay the ham and sprinkle with half of the left over gruyere. Lay another piece of bread, and smother with cheese sauce and top with remaining cheese.

Bake in oven for 5 minutes, and then turn the broiler on and broil for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese has browned.

Voila! Eat alone, or you can serve with some Dijon on the side, and some cornichon pickles to balance out the rich creamy cheese!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth Apple Cherry Pie!


Happy Fourth of July! Fourth of July is about family, BBQ, hot dogs, parades, fireworks, patriotism, beer on front lawns mid-day, walking in the middle of the street, staying out late when you are a kid!
I still have that sense of wonderment and excitement around the Fourth, that feeling that I will be allowed to stay out and walk around by myself with my friends, and gallivant as I please. It is funny that I still get this way when I am a grown (kind of) adult, and I can do as I please! It is still more fun however when you are running to go get the best view for fireworks.

Though my experience growing up by the ocean in beautiful Pacific Palisade California is different from Michael’s in Bethesda Maryland, one thing absolutely holds ours and everyone else’s experiences together is a good old fashion pie!
We were unable to tell which pie is more American; apple or cherry, so we made an apple cherry pie!

Enjoy, and have a wonderful Fourth!

Pie Crust:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk

½ lb sweet cherries
4 granny smith apples
1 lemon
1 cup sugar plus a pinch
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter, and process until it looks like meal. While still processing, pour in ice water in a slow steady stream until it just combines.
Divide batter in two and let chill for 1 hour to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375.
To create the pie filling, pit and halve your cherries, place in a bowl. Core and cut the apples into quarters and then really thin slices. Place in bowl as well, and squeeze the lemon juice over it. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in with the fruit and stir.
To assemble pie spread flour on a flat surface and roll out to about 11 inches wide. Lay on the bottom of your pie pan. Pour your fruit into the pie pan, and dot with butter.
Roll the second dough out and slice into long 1 inch wide pieces. Create a lattice of pie crust by laying one strip down and then another, to create a weaving pattern.
Brush the pie crust with a mix or egg and milk, and sprinkle with sugar.
Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes, then cover the pie with tinfoil, and bake for another 20.
 Finito! Put that pie in the window, but don’t let anyone steal it. Happy 4th!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Euro Burger

The thing that is most associated with summer would have to be grilling. I love grilling….when it is done well. There is so much stuff that gets grilled that just tastes like charcoal, is extremely burned to make sure it cooks all the way through, and is too dry (for the same reason)! How terrible!! To prevent all of this, start everything off with a deep cleaned grill, watch your temperatures, and make sure you use the proper meats or whatever it is that you are using! And don’t be afraid to grill something, to get that char, and then cook the rest in foil so it reaches that great internal temperature without losing all its moisture and doesn’t taste like icky. That being said…you can always use a grill pan!! 

To combat all of these issues we present you with a delicious burger, bound to stay moist and super awesome. What this burger also does is a new fancier twist on a simple burger. We have all had a burger with ketchup and mustard, and while they are amazing classics that must be devoured throughout the summer, offer these burgers up and you will give your guests a nice juicy surprise.
Michael and I have created what we call the Euro burger. It has goat cheese in the middle, allowing the burger to stay moist, beautiful caramelized onions, and an herbed mayo! Yum!

Ingredients:  serves 5 Takes  about 1 hour 15 minutes.

2 lbs ground sirloin
¼ cup goat cheese
2 large sweet onions
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups olive oil Tablespoons olive oil
2 Pinches salt
1 large egg
3 Roma tomatoes
4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
3 sprigs oregano
5 onion buns

The thing that will take the longest is to caramelize onions. Slice both of the onions completely. Using a large sauté pan, heat some butter on medium heat, and toss s all of the onion in the melted butter. Stir occasionally for the first 10 minutes, then add a pinch of salt. Keep cooking and stirring every few minutes for about a total of 45 minutes or until the onions are completely browned and soft. Don’t allow the onions to dry out at all, so 1/4 cup of olive oil will be used to add throughout while cooking them.

While making the onions we are going to make the herbed mayo. Add the egg and the fresh oregano to a blender and blend. While blending add the olive oil in a steady stream, next add a pinch of salt and the vinegar, blend completely. Set in the refrigerator to set.

Now take your ground sirloin and season with a little salt and pepper, forming 5 patties. Make a little pocket in the middle of the burger and fill with goat cheese, then cover the burger up so there is no cheese showing.

To put everything together heat your grill pan and add a little cooking spray so nothing sticks. Heat on medium high, and place three burgers at a time, and cook on each side about 4-5 minutes, until there is a nice deep brown sear. Once you cook all the burgers, let sit for a few minutes so they don’t soak the bun. Dab up some of the fat from the grill pan with a paper towel but be CAREFUL you don’t burn yourself.

Place buns on the grill pan just a couple minutes to toast it. Lay burger down, herbed mayonnaise, then caramelized onions, then top with two slices or Roma tomatoes…and voila! A euro burger!