Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lasagna Bolognese

For 4 portions: 500gr. dried lasagna noodles, meat sauce, 300gr. grated mozzarella, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Optional: smoked Gouda, béchamel with mushrooms.

Bring 5 l. of salty water to a rolling boil and boil the noodles for 10 minutes. Spread some meat sauce on the bottom of an 8-10-inch baking pan and arrange neatly 1 layer of noodles without overlapping. Spread some more meat sauce on top and sprinkle some mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Arrange the second layer crosswise. Repeat until you run out of noodle (5 or 6 layers). Keep more cheese for the top of the lasagna. Pour 1/3 cup of water around the edges of the lasagna, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before cutting and serving.

Tip: While layering the Lasagna Bolognese, alternate the layers with meat sauce with layers of béchamel with mushrooms. Grate some smoked Gouda in the mozzarella for an added twist.

Lasagna BologneseRecipe courtesy of Chef George

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Penne in Vodka Blush Sauce

For 2 portions: 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 cup pomodoro sauce, 30, 3 slices smoked salmon, 1 tsp. salmon (or lumpfish) roe , 1tsp. diced onion, 1tbsp. capers, salt, 1tbsp. butter.

Heat the butter in a medium frying pan and sauté the onion. Add the diced smoked salmon, and after 1 minute add the vodka, while keeping your face at a safe distance, just in case the pan catches fire. Add the pomodoro sauce, the cream and the capers, and reduce the sauce to almost half. Add the boiled noodles and toss. Taste for salt and serve. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired. Garnish with the salmon roe and fresh thyme.

Tip: Fresh, diced salmon filet works perfectly for this recipe, in place of smoked salmon. This recipe will taste fine even if you skip the vodka, or just have the vodka "on the side"

Penne in Vodka Blush SauceRecipe courtesy of Chef George

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Crème Brulee

For 10 ramekins: 1l. table cream, 100 ml. milk, 16 egg yolks, 250 gr. sugar, half vanilla bean, 30 ml. vanilla essence.

Bring cream and milk to a boil with the halved vanilla bean inside, remove from heat and let cool down to 36 C. Meanwhile whip the egg yolks with the sugar and the vanilla essence until creamy but still liquid. Pour the yolk mixture in the cream while whisking. Pour the ready mixture in 10 ramekins and place them in a hotel pan. Fill the pan with hot water to the middle, cover with tin foil and place in a preheated oven to 350 F. Leave a small hole in the tin foil and after 30 min. start checking every 5 minutes or so. When the crème brulee is set, it is ready. It can be a little wobbly in the middle but it should be ready. Keep in mind that you cannot safely leave it to cook for a little while more, because you can end up with sweet and expensive scrambled eggs. Let it cool down in the fridge, sprinkle lightly with sugar and burn the top. If you don't have a pastry torch you can caramelize sugar in a pan and pour a thin layer on top of the crème brulee.

crème bruleeRecipe courtesy of Chef George

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Poached Sea Bass with Spinach and Asparagus

For one portion:1 (9 oz.) Sea Bass fillet, 1 tbsp. butter, 1 cup fresh spinach, 10-15 asparagus spears, 1/4 sliced onion, coconut cream, salt and pepper.

Season the Sea Bass and place it in roasting pan, pour 3 tbsp. water, cover with aluminum foil and put in a preheated oven to 425 F. for about 12 minutes. Sea Bass is expensive and delicate fish and I find this cooking method to be the best, because it preserves all of its delicate buttery flavor. Meanwhile sauté the sliced onion with the butter and add the fresh spinach. Blanch the asparagus spears in boiling water and add them in the pan. Season to taste and serve the Sea Bass filet on top of the ready vegetables. Heat some coconut cream in the pan from the sautéd vegetables and drizzle it over the fish.

I garnished the Sea Bass for this photo with physalis, strawberry tomato, lemon, salmon roe and fresh dill.

Recipe courtesy of Chef George

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Pizza with Goat Cheese and Mushroom Ragout

For two thin, large size pizzas: 3 cups flour, 1 portion dry yeast, 1 cup warm water, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for rolling, oil for greasing the pizza pan. Toppings: crumbled goat cheese and mushroom ragout, lightly sprinkled with mozzarella.

Mix together the yeast and warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes. Place the 3 cups of flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl (or food processor, if you are using), and knead until you have smooth dough. Cover the dough with cling wrap and leave it in a warm place for 20-30 minutes to proof. Divide the dough in 2 balls and roll it with a rolling pin over the whole wheat flour. Use oil to grease the pizza pan, if that is going to be your cooking method. This pizza is delicious grilled on the B-B-Q, too. Recipe for mushroom ragout: Sliced mushrooms ( cremini, portabello, button, shitake, etc.), porcini powder, 1 small onion, diced, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 2 tbsp. olive oil.

Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil and add the remaining ingredients. Cook until au sec and season to taste. Porcini powder is made by baking some dried porcini until they are crispy, then let them cool down and powder them in a food processor. You won't be able to grind the dried porcini unless they are toasted first.

Recipe courtesy of Chef George

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Mexican Pizza

To make this pizza you will need this pizza dough recipe.

Toppings: salsa, jalapenos, tortilla chips, ground beef, refried beans, diced avocado, green onions, taco seasoning, sweet corn, red onion, goat cheese, green olives and all other amazing nacho toppings you can imagine. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top. Cook in a preheated oven at 375 F., or over the B-B-Q.

I do believe that pizza can be not only casual, but also a gourmet food. I, also, believe that a gourmet pizza must be thin and crispy, like this one.

Recipe courtesy of Chef George

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Rack of Lamb

For 2 portions: 1 rack of lamb (frenched),75 gr. goat cheese, 1/2 oz. whipping cream, 1 cup bread crumbs, sage, garlic, paprika, 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the rack of lamb to 8 individual chops and marinate them with the garlic, sage, paprika, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix the goat cheese with the cream and 1 tbsp. of the breadcrumbs. Grill the lamb chops over the flat top grill and remove 2-3 minutes before the desired doneness is reached. Completely encrust all chops with the goat cheese mixture and press in the remaining breadcrumbs. Return the lamb chops on the flat top and grill both sides until crispy and golden outside.

Tip: You can encrust the lamb only on one side, which is easier to do.

I served the rack of lamb for this photo with polenta, mushroom-shaped red skin potato, asparagus, lemon, cherry tomato and lamb au-jus.

Recipe courtesy of Chef George

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Chiopino-Seafood Soup

6oz. small uncooked, peeled shrimp, 6 oz. diced halibut (1 inch cubes), 6 oz. diced cod (1 inch cubes), 10-15 fresh, cleaned mussels ( frozen, cooked mussels can be used, too), 1 cup sliced celery, 1 chopped onion, the white part of 1 leek, chopped, 1 diced carrot, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 cups pomodoro sauce, 2-3 cups water or fish stock, salt and pepper to taste, fresh tarragon and thyme.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté garlic, onion, leek, celery and carrot for 5-6 minutes or until soft. Add the pomodoro sauce and water (or fish stock), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste and add the fresh herbs and seafood. Simmer covered for another 6-7 minutes. Add more liquid if needed. If using fresh mussels, make sure they are well washed before cooking them, and discard any unopened mussels at the end.

Tip: This recipe is delicious as it is, I can assure you that, but if you wish to throw a few beans in it, well, it's your call. I did it after I had taken the photo, and it was amazing.

Recipe courtesy of Chef George

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Langoustine with Zucchini Cake and Bean Salsa

For 4 portions: 8 langoustine, 2 zucchini, 2 tbsp. flour, 1 large egg, Italian seasoning, 1 can mixed beans, cilantro, lemon juice, diced tomato and bell pepper, olive oil, diced onion.

For the bean salsa: Strain and wash the beans, add the chopped cilantro, onion, lemon juice, diced vegetables, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

For the zucchini cakes: Grate the zucchini and squeeze gently the excess moisture. Stir in the flour, egg, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture in a hot pan and make 8 equal cakes.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a shallow pan, add 1 lemon wedge, some cilantro and salt. Put the langoustine in the boiling water and cover with a lid. Should be ready in about 3 min.

Recipe courtesy of Chef George

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