Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pommes Frites with Truffle Oil, Parmesan, and Parsley

French fries... Patates frites... Pommes frites... What's the difference?! Well, technically, I guess there really isn't much of one. They all mean the same thing - pieces of deep-fried potatoes. However, after having fries like this while in Milwaukee a few weeks ago, I've researched "pommes frites" and found that they are usually a more gourmet fry, and that there is a traditional format for them. French fries here in America can mean any kind of potato that is deep fried, while "pommes frites" generally refers to a long, slinly sliced strip of potato that is deep fried. In addition, the "pommes frites" are most often served with something a little more ...upscale... than ketchup. Not that there is anything wrong with ketchup on fries!
I had these fries, or something very similar to them, while staying at the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee with my cousin for a concert a few weekends ago. These were served in the bar area, Envoy, as a part of their menu, along with several other delicious options, and were very good. If you ever get the chance to stay in the area, it's definitely worth it! And don't let the prices scare you away... I believe these cost around $8 at the restaurant, but you did get a giant pasta bowl full of them!
And while I do prefer to cut my own potatoes and make the fries myself, I would like to note that there are a couple of options if you don't like to mess around with stuff like that, or just don't have the time. McCain and OreIda both make a very good, thin-cut fry that would work wonderfully in place of the freshly cut potatoes.
As for the truffle oil, there aren't a whole lot of gourmet shops near where I live, in Green Bay, but I have found this, and many other goodies, at the TJ MAXX near me. When looking for truffle oil, whether it be white or black, you want to be sure that you're getting real truffle oil, and not just something that smells like it. So, you want to be sure that you look for a product that says it is infused with truffles or truffle extract, and shy away from products that are only made with "truffle essence." Also, you want to be sure to store your truffle oil in a cool, dry space away from direct sunlight so that it does not cause your oil to turn rancid or lose precious flavor.

Printable Recipe

2 large russet potatoes, cut into ¼" by ¼" fries
Oil, for frying
1 -2 tsp. white or black truffle oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley

To make the fries, preheat a deep fryer or kettle of oil to 350°. Begin by "par-boiling" the cut potatoes in the hot oil just until they are cooked through and limp; transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and cool. Meanwhile, increase the temperature for the oil to 375°. Once the oil is heated, return the fries to the hot oil and cook again until the fries are crispy and light golden brown; transfer to a fresh paper-towel lined plate for just a moment to drain some of the oil and sprinkle with a little salt.
Once the fries are drained, transfer them to a large bowl and drizzle with just a little bit of the truffle oil, tossing to coat; drizzle with a little more of the truffle oil and toss to coat again, until the flavor is to your liking. While the fries are still hot, sprinkle them with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley and toss to coat again. Transfer the fries to a serving dish and finish with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

The original idea for this sandwich was inspired by a similar sandwich I had at a vegetarian restaurant back home several years ago. I recently checked out their website, and I couldn't find the sandwich on there anymore so am thinking they probably no longer even serve it. I can't remember all of the aspects of the sandwich I had then, but I remember it being pretty amazing! It might sound strange to some of you guys, but I am actually more fond of fruits and vegetables than pretty much anything else. (The only thing that's better than fruits and vegetables is bacon, but that's in a class all by itself!!  :-)) As a child, I was a VERY picky eater and didn't even eat barbecued ribs or any of that stuff until after I was an adult. In fact, I distinctly remember going to KFC with my mother and brothers and sisters and all of them getting the drumsticks while I would not eat anything but the breast meat. I'm still a selective eater, but my tastes have definitely evolved since growing up - I'll most likely try anything at least once!

Anyways, I had entered this recipe in a sandwich contest, but it wasn't chosen so am sharing it with you! You'll have to forgive the picture quality for this picture, as I was house-sitting at the time it was taken and didn't have my little studio set up then... But you can still see the yumminess!

Because I have been trying to eat healthier, I also wanted to say that the eggplant for this sandwich could very easily be oven-fried rather than pan-fried, if you're looking for a healthier option. Simply spray both sides of the breaded eggplant lightly with canola oil and place it on a baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven or under a preheated broiler, turning once, until the breading is crispy and the eggplant cooked through. Then, assemble the sandwiches as you would normally! If you are interested in making it any healthier, you could also use egg substitute for the whole eggs, or even substitute some, or all, of the whole eggs with 2 egg whites per whole egg.

Printable Recipe

3 beaten eggs
1 c. flour
¾ c. Italian bread crumbs
¼ c. panko bread crumbs
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried parsley, crushed
½ tsp. dried basil, crushed
¼ tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 medium eggplant, sliced on the bias to ¾” - 1" thick
2 ciabatta rolls
Olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
Oil, for frying
Freshly shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
8 leaves fresh basil
2 Tbsp. basil pesto
½ c. Tomato Basil pasta sauce
Roasted red peppers
¼ c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Place the eggs, flour, and bread crumbs each in 3 small bowls. Add the salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the eggs and whisk to combine. Season the bread crumbs with the parsley, basil, and oregano and stir with a fork or your hands to thoroughly combine. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in flour, dip back in egg and then in bread crumbs. Transfer the eggplant pieces to a rack or to paper towels to let them dry slightly before frying.
Preheat the broiler. Slice the ciabatta rolls in half horizontally, brush the insides with a little bit of olive oil, and toast under the broiler just until they’re golden brown. Remove the rolls from under the heat and immediately rub with the peeled garlic. Set aside.
In a deep, heavy skillet or deep fryer heat ½-inch of vegetable oil to 375°. Fry the eggplant pieces, in batches if necessary, for approximately 2 - 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.
To make the sandwiches, arrange the bottom pieces of the rolls on a work surface and spread 1 tablespoon of pesto evenly over the cut surface. Sprinkle with the freshly shaved Parmesan cheese. Lay two basil leaves over the top of the Parmesan and pesto, followed by ⅛ cup of the pasta sauce. Arrange one of the fried eggplant slices on top of the sauce, one per sandwich, and then top with the remaining basil leaves and strips of the roasted bell peppers. Spread the remaining sauce between the sandwiches, topping them with the cheeses. Place the prepared sandwiches under the broiler just until the cheese melts, and then remove from the oven and top with the top half of the roll. Makes 2 sandwiches

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Zucchini Breakfast Skillet

Wow!! I can't believe I've been away for so long!

First, I would like to thank all of my faithful readers for sticking with me during the past couple of months. It's been quite hectic! And, second, I would like to apologize for being gone so long. At the beginning of September, I moved back into my own place after housesitting for my family during the summer, and so have been working on getting all of my stuff unpacked again (especially all of my precious kitchen stuff). Not to mention, I've been working around 50 hours per week at my new job, and trying to work out and get in better shape again afterwards with my fellow chef, so have been trying to juggle my time there. And, I didn't have internet until the beginning of this week, so that didn't help either!

But, I'm finally back!  :-)

This recipe is another one that I found in a copy of Food Network Magazine that I had picked up at the store, the same one as the Heirloom Tomato Pie I just had to make, so you might have seen it floating around the internet already. But, maybe you haven't!
I especially like this dish, because I'm trying to be more conscious of my diet and want to get back into shape, and this is such a great dish. You don't even feel like you're missing out on everything! Of course, I did change a few things, but I did keep the recipe very much the same as the original... For myself and my family, we like things a little spicy, so I added two jalapenos instead of the one. And I used the special yummy cheese (Morel Mushroom and Leek Jack) I found instead of pepper jack or cheddar. And probably more scallions...  :-D
The great thing about this recipe is that it really is very easy to customize to your liking. If you want it to be a complete breakfast, you could add some bacon to the skillet as well. Served with a couple slices of toast, it's the perfect breakfast!

3 lb. summer squash and/or zucchini
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 large eggs
½ - 1 c. grated pepper jack or sharp white cheddar cheese

Grate the squash into a colander using the large holes of a box grater (or use a food processor fitted with the shredding attachment). Toss with 1 tablespoon salt, then let drain in the sink, 30 to 40 minutes. Roll the squash in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Set aside 3 tablespoons scallion greens. Add the remaining scallions (white and green parts), the jalapeno, and salt to taste and cook until the scallions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the shredded squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the parsley, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and let cool, 5 minutes.
Spread the squash evenly in the skillet. Make six 2½-inch-wide indentations in the mixture with the back of a spoon; put ½ teaspoon butter in each one. One at a time, crack each egg into a small bowl and pour into an indentation; season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the cheese.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are cooked to desired doneness, 10 to 12 minutes. Scatter the reserved scallion greens on top.