Seared Foie Gras

Foie Gras is without a doubt one of my favorite foods. The first time I had Foie Gras was at this little French Bistro in Chicago called The Red Rooster. Located on the corner of Halsted and Armitage in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, The Red Rooster was steps away from legendary Charlie Trotter’s and Alinea. The quaint bistro has since closed, but I have fond memories that my taste buds thank me for! 

Perfectly seared Foie Gras should be crisp and well brown, and seared to a medium well. The texture is smooth and almost custard like. A common pairing for Foie Gras are figs. Their sweet jammy quality cuts through the richness, and provides a mouthwatering sensation. Any fruit compote is delicious. I used my homemade strawberry vanilla jam. 

Foie gras is grown on only three farms in the United States. American Foie Gras ducks are amongst the most well-treated farm animals in the country. Choose grade “A” lobes from Bella Bella Gourmet, who sells Foie produced by La Belle Farms, a small-scale poultry farm in Ferndale, New York. 

There is no technical reason to score your Foie Gras. Unlike Duck skin, Foie Gras will not curl when heated up. Most Chefs score their Foie Gras for appearance. 

Make sure your pan is sizzling before you add your piece of Foie. It is normal for smoke to appear as soon as you add your Foie to the pan. Each side of Foie Gras should take no more than 30 seconds to cook. 

Don’t forget to let it rest. 

#athomesoigne 

Classic Passover Menu

In observance of Passover which begins the evening of April 10th and ends the evening of April 18th, At Home Soigné has created a menu for you to enjoy with your family. Dietary guidelines have been taken into the greatest care. Modifications and supplements are welcome. 

 For At Home Soigné to create a culinary evening for you, contact athomesoigne@gmail.com for details. 

Menu – served family style. 

Apple and Almond Haroset

Matzo Ball Soup, chicken confit and chicken consommé 

Braised Brisket 

or 

Salt baked Branzino, salsa verde

Roasted Asparagus, garlic, egg mimosa 

Olive oil crushed potatoes 

Flourless Chocolate- Almond Cake, apple-cherry compote 

Fideuà! 

Friday’s during Lent have always been a challenge for me. I’m a huge meat eater, and my days blur together so much, it’s often hard for me to remember when Friday even is. 

For a culinary and hospitality professional this should be a delightful challenge! Well, Lent 2017 is when I decided to embrace my faith (even more) and indulge in Lenten Friday’s. After all, fasting is all about sacrifice. Lent is precisely the time when we should not let go of ourselves or our standards. 

Truly one of the over looked glories of Catalan cuisine is the poor cousin of paella. Assembled from noodles and seafood, Fideuà has been sustaining Valencian fishermen, (and upper east side enthusiasts) for generations. 

Like paella, fideuà should be cooked in a big paella pan. The recipe below works in a normal frying pan yielding no more than three people. It’s remarkably quick and so delicious. 

Ingredients 

1 Tsp Olive oil 

2 C Fideo pasta 

1 squid, chopped 

10 Clams 

10 Shrimp, peeled 

2 Garlic cloves 

2 Bell peppers; red, green or yellow. 

1 Spanish onion 

1 Tomato, finely chopped

1 tsp Saffron 

1 tsp Salt, or to taste 

1 tsp Fish stock or a cube 

 1) Heat about one-third of the olive oil in a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Add the dried pasta and fry for about 5 minutes, or until it turns golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2) Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan, increase the heat and add the squid, shrimp and salt. Squid can be very temperamental as it releases a lot of water when you start cooking it, so it tends to explode in the pan. I recommend you hold a lid over the pan so the steam can still escape – and stand back. Give it a quick stir, half cover with the lid and leave to cook for a couple more minutes. Don’t scrape the bottom of the pan, as that sticky layer on the bottom is essential for making a rich stock.

3) Add the clams, garlic, peppers, onion and cook for another 5 minutes or until clam shells open. That will happen fairly quickly because of the high heat.  Add the chopped tomato, saffron and stir constantly to dissolve the sticky bits on the bottom. This should take no longer than 2 minutes.

4) Add the fish stock or cube and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes before adding the fried pasta. You need to use your judgement here – you need just enough water left in the pan for the pasta to cook and absorb all the remaining liquid. A good thin fideo pasta should cook in about 3 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cover the pan and cook until the liquid has been absorbed.

At Home Soigné Sample Menu 

At Home Soigné is accommodating to all allergies and dietary restrictions. The menu below is an example. We are willing and able to customize a menu to fit your appetite, your budget, and your at home occasion. 

Warm & Cold appetizers 

Vegetable Frito Misto with a Sweet Pea Ricotta ~ crispy cauliflower, broccoli rabe, artichoke and asparagus tossed with an herb salt, and dill. 

Or

Warm Ceci Bean Salad with Castelvetrano Olives ~ roasted ceci beans with shallots, pea tendrils, and castelvetrano olives.

Warm & Cold salads 

Beet salad ~ roasted and pickled beets, cara cara oranges, almonds, duck prosciutto. 
Or

Fiseé and Mache salad ~ pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, warm oyster mushrooms with a red wine vinaigrette. 

Entrees 

Salmon or Arctic Char ~ spring onion soubise. Soubise is a spring onion purée that consists of green olive oil.

Or 
Lamb Trio ~ marguez sausage, confit lamb ribs, roasted lamb loin with baby carrots, fava bean and parsley jus.

Or 

Herb Roasted Chicken ~ olive oil crushed potatoes, mushrooms and jus.

Desserts

Olive Oil Cake ~ candied hazelnuts, passion fruit coulis. 

Or

Chocolate panna cotta ~ candied hazelnuts, passion fruit coulis. 

Eggs En Cocotte 

Yes, it’s March and in New York we had a little taste of Spring. But, the blizzard storm Stella gave me the perfect excuse to coupe up, and turn my oven on. 

What is known as a popular hangover dish is actually one of my favorite breakfast pleasures – without the hangover. I needed to use my tomatoes and I had arugula that was on the brink. My fridge is always full of at least four kinds of cheese, (I am a proud cheese head) so, I decided to make myself one of my favorite treats for my adult snow day! 

It helps if you have a cocotte pan, but a cast iron pan will work, too. 

Ingredients 

2 tomatoes 

2 eggs 

1 T of olive oil 

1 C arugula 

1 C mozzarella (or any other cheese on hand – perhaps Parmesan) 

1 small garlic clove 

1 tsp red pepper flakes 

Salt and Pepper to taste 

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Dice one tomato, garlic clove, and add it to a sauce pan with olive oil, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Let cook until tomatoes begin to bubble. 

While ingredients are cooking, slice the remaining tomato. Layer the bottom of you cocotte pan with slice tomatoes, top with arugula and add shredded mozzarella. 

Once your tomato sauce is bubbled, taste it and make sure it’s delicious. Once perfected, add a bit – not all – on top of mozzarella. Layer again with sliced tomatoes, arugula and mozzarella. Add remaining tomato sauce. Continue procedure until sliced tomatoes and sauce is used up. Crack two eggs on top of tomato mixture. ​ 

Place into oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The baking time does depend on how well you want your eggs cooked. How to do it tip watch the cooking time of your egg whites. The less translucent your egg whites become, the closer to being done they are. I prefer my eggs over easy so I can mix everything together. Either way you prefer,  enjoy! 

#athomesoigné 

Banana Bread

Banana bread is a treat that will either overwhelm or underwhelm. But, why shouldn’t banana bread be simply delicious? It can be! With soigné ingredients. 

At Home Soigné is elegantly maintaining life’s simple luxuries. Like banana bread! 

What makes the below recipe so special is the at home butter, and the at home vanilla extract used in the process of creating. Butter is an ingredient every at home chef should make – at least once. Though making butter is time consuming, making something like butter offers a sense of fulfillment. It provides the at home chef control of flavors and taste, it also makes the at home chef fiscally chic if you really break down your costs. 

Making any baking extracts is so easy to do, too. It’s almost tragic if the at home chef doesn’t have their own inventory on hand. I simply have vanilla beans floating in Armagnac. That’s it! 

The best bananas to use for banana bread are the bananas that are over ripe and browning. I added almonds to my bread for an extra crunch. Of course, they can be substituted or omitted. The recipe below yields one loaf. For an easy clean up, simply mix everything in one bowl! 

Ingredients 

  • 2 or 3 over ripe bananas
  • 1/3 C butter at room temperature 
  • 1tsp Baking soda 
  • 1 1/2 C flour 
  • 1 C almonds
  • 1tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 egg 
  • Salt to taste 

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter a 4×8-inch loaf pan.

2 In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir room temperature butter into the mashed bananas.

3 Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the beaten egg and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.

4 Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 20 minutes to 1 hour at 350°F or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

5 Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. Remove the banana bread from the pan. Slice and serve. (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren’t crumbly.)

#athomesoigné 

Baked Apples 

A three course dinner for 12 may seem daunting to prepare, but with tactful planning, simple ingredients and a stylish hostess to provide a delicious menu with concise guidancean an At Home Soigné dinner can unfold into an evening guests will be boasting about for weeks!

The grand finale from Friday night’s dinner is a favorite for anytime of year. Baked apples are so elegant and so tasty. With a bit of finesse, this dessert tops the list of At Home Soigné favorites.

Below is a recipe for baked apples. It yields four. If your party is larger, this recipe can easily be converted. I like to use Granny Smith apples, not only because of their tartness, but because they bake well.

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon butter, divided in four (or amount of apples)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup hot water

Optional extras: Orange zest, lemon zest, grated ginger, candied ginger, other dried fruit, chopped nuts, cream cheese, mascarpone, peanut butter, Nutella
To serve: Ice cream, crème fraîche, whipped cream, coconut whipped cream

Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in the lower-middle position.
Remove the core of the apples, cutting to within a half-inch of the bottom of the apple and creating a well roughly 3/4-inch wide. This is easy to do with an apple corer, but can also be done with a melon baller, grapefruit spoon, or a paring knife. Then slice in half.
Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and any extras in a bowl. Divide this mixture between the apples, packing the wells firmly. And sprinkle with raisins
Arrange the apples in a baking dish, and top each one with a pat of butter. Pour the water into the bottom of the dish.
Bake for 20 minutes and remove foil. Continue baking uncovered until the apples are soft and the brown sugar has melted into a syrup, an additional 20 to 30 minutes.

You can test the apples by poking a paring knife into the interior of the apple; it should slide into the apple easily with no resistance. The skin on the apples will also become wrinkled and soft by the end of cooking.

Serve with a scoop of ice cream, crème fraîche, or whipped cream. Leftovers will keep for up to a week and can be reheated or eaten cold.