October 21, 2009
I miss writing, especially here. Been gone, but where?
These were the days of my life since… last October. I am a foodie, but a keener of the sort. I have loved food since the start – easy hobby I figured. My mom didn’t really “love” food, but she loved the people eating it, and it showed. She gave me a head start on the whole ethnic palette idea – foreign color, flavor, and texture on a regular basis. I explicitly remember the breaded and baked calf brains served with a highly acidic, but still un-cured green/white cabbage salad. I was 7. I was not happy.
Pied de Cochon make a great calf brain omelet soufflé thing – fantastic
Anyway, I started cooking and eating everywhere/everything. Traveling as a foodie is too good, especially if stop as you go… so after taking to as many markets, tables, sidewalks as there are types of bread, I decided to take a few sporadic plunges.
The Ritz Carlton – as far I know, my mentor. I worked there as a banquette server, always between the kitchen and the client. The kitchen was – the best. It’s where I saw my first 400 liter stock pot.
Other restos followed. I served mostly, but that implies always near the kitchen. Italian, Sushi, Chinese, tapas, bars and pubs – all different; all fascinating.
I eventually managed a couple for restos, but most recently, in the last year in fact, I was a chef. I cheffed for fifty, everyday.
They loved it. I loved it. Here a short list of some of what I served: Sample Menus
Why am I telling you all this? Because I went from foodie to pro, and thought you should know. Plus, I just sort of want to say thanks to all the people who truly love food and have shared with me their experience and passion – professionals and foodies, diners and dishers, servers and savants… thanks. My palette will forever know the amalgamation of texture and flavor one uses to taste the art of life…
…and with that, one of my favorites from the last year:
Crepes Terrine with Spinach, Mushroom, and Smoked Turkey
Crepes are my favorite and are in fact the first thing I learned to make after the fried egg. I know it as a breakfast food or dessert and love the way you can fill them up and roll them on your plate, blanketing them in any of many syrups, sauces, or jams. But the rich and sumptuous crepe is far more ready for a savory setting than I had earlier thought, dans la forme d’une… terrine? Sorta. Not exactly right, but serves the purpose.
So, first – prepare you fillings:
Mushrooms and Spinach
I like to use a mix of mushrooms that have been roasted and chopped with a bit of salt and pepper or a mushroom duxelle – nothing too fancy required, but feel free to experiment. Be wary of over flavoring as the finished dish is quite complex from a flavor perspective. Same goes for the spinach – roasted with salt and pepper. I mixed both of these with some onions rendered in butter for some extra flavor. Again, any approach to creating a delicately flavorful filling is good.
I did this dish with shrimp when I was working (cooked then minced with green onion and garlic), but the deli-slice is far easier to work with. Use any you like, i.e. smoked turkey, but nothing too crazy. Finding something with little salt and fat is a good start.
Buying sliced cheese is fun, but pricey. I like to get a few small chunks, grate, and mix (at work, this was replaced with a saffron roux and wilted spinach with onion). I also included a few intermittent layers holding brie as their prize. Remember to save some cheese to top the terrine.
¾ cup all purpose flour (you can use any basic flour, but the texture will change)
1 cup milk
½ tablespoon sugar (optional, but I like the bit of sweetness)
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons melted butter
Whisk the eggs and milk together – you can optionally do all this in a blender or using a hand blender. Add the sugar, mix again. Temper the hot butter and add to the mix. Add remaining ingredients and mix for a last time. Store this in your fridge for one hour. This is required for a moist and tender crepe as the flour will have the time require to sponge-ily absorb the wet stuffs. Drink flour, drink (evil laugh)…
Heat a non-stick pan, butter it, and drop a teaspoon of the batter in the middle. Leave there until firm and then wipe it around the pan and throw it away (well, eat it, but for some reason the first crepe is never a nice one). Heat up your oven to the minimum setting and leave the crepes in there with a slightly damp towel overlying to keep them from drying.
Once done, and in an oven safe vessel, start the layering. Make sure to double or maybe triple the crepe count at the bottom so that you have something of a base. Use an intermittent method, is this case, mushrooms, turkey, cheese, mushroom, turkey, brie, as so on…
Top the last crepe with your reserved cheese, some crushed oregano, and finish in a 350C oven for a few minutes, just to melt the cheese. Remove, let rest 10 minutes, and then slice with a bread knife or another super sharp or toothy knife – enjoy.
You have the option to top with a hollandaise or other like sauce, but I like a drizzle of truffle oil and maple syrup. Serve with a sharp crisp white wine.
Now, I was sort of mentioning a shrimp based approach, but there are many options here. Enjoy ham, smoked salmon, spinach, avocado, other cheeses, other sauces, and of course – any dessert manifestation.
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