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 

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 

Frenching. 

Frenching, such a wonderful techinque!  It certainly is a talent we all should learn if we want to impress the ones we love. It takes finesse, patience, a bit of natural talent, but definitely a great deal of skill. It also requires a very sharp knife. 

I am speaking about frenching bones, of course. Removing the meat from the tips of its bones adds a great deal of elegance and looks absolutely beautiful. Think of it as the bowtie of your meat! It adds flair, and is oh, so sexy! 

After a few tips, this daunting task will seem simple. You can apply it to just about any meat; lamb, pork, poultry, beef, even venison if you’re so inclined. The important things to remember are to buy what you can afford, (because meats are expensive), and to be careful when using a very sharp knife. 

The first cut will always be the easiest. Follow the natural slant of the meat, and use smooth strokes rather than sawing the meat. Cut down and out at an angle, but remember to keep your knife steady and straight. Cutting through the membrane and scraping the bones of your meat is the most tedious and requires patience. Using the blunt side of your knife, or your fingers can be helpful, but the sharp blade of a knife will save time! 


                                                                      #athomesoigné 

Croquembouche 

The croquembouche, like most French things is alluring and regal. The dessert is mostly seen at grand celebrations to make an impression, but the dessert is so simple and so fun to make, why wait for a birth or a matrimonial union to enjoy it?!
Inspired by my first niece, Mathilda, the croquembouche has been my go to dessert whenever I entertain. Once again, I offer you a recipe which I found on my rummaging my iCloud! I hope the croquembouche brings you as much joy as it has given me.

Ingredients 

      For puff pastry: 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 7 large eggs. For pastry cream: 6 large egg yolks,  1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour, 2 cups milk, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons corn syrup

Heat oven to 425 degrees. To make the puffs: In a medium saucepan, melt butter in 1 1/2 cups water with salt and sugar. Remove pan from heat, and add flour. Return pan to heat and, using a wooden spoon, beat vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes. (A film should form on the bottom of the pan.) Cool slightly, and add 6 eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously.
Make a glaze by beating the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water, and set aside. Using a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and a 1/2-inch-wide plain tip, pipe out mounds that are 1 inch high and 3/4 inch in diameter on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg glaze, and smooth the tops. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on racks. (The puffs can be made ahead and frozen until ready to assemble.)

Make the pastry cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks, gradually adding sugar, until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Beat in flour. Scald milk, and add in dribbles to egg mixture, reserving 1/2 cup. Place mixture in a clean pot over high heat, and stir vigorously until mixture boils and thickens. If it seems too thick to pipe, add reserved milk. Remove from heat. Using a hand whisk, beat butter into egg mixture, one tablespoon at a time.

Just before assembling croquembouche, fill a pastry tube fitted with a 1/4-inch-wide tip with pastry cream, insert tip into puffs, and pipe in cream to fill.

To make the caramel: In a medium saucepan, combine 2/3 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup, and bring to a boil over high heat. Do not stir. Cover pan, and boil until steam dissolves any crystals. Uncover, and boil 5 more minutes, or until syrup is amber in color. Watch closely. Remove from heat. Dip the bottom of each puff into the caramel, and arrange puffs in a pyramid.

To make a spun-sugar web to wrap around the croquembouche: Cut the looped ends of a wire whisk with wire cutters, or use 2 forks held side by side, and dip the ends into caramel. Wave the caramel back and forth over the croquembouche, allowing the strands to fall in long, thin threads around it. Wrap any stray strands up and around the croquembouche. Serve.

#athomesoigne