Tag Archives: paprika

Brioche & Gravlax

13 Dec

Over the weekend I played around making Brioche de Nanterre and gravlax. I had only made brioche once a while ago, but it turned out fairly well this second time. As for the gravlax, I make it often because it so simple and delicious. Brioche is really nothing more than a leavened bread with eggs and half the amount of flour in butter. The result is quite obviously a rich and buttery bread that is perfect for breakfast.

I started making the brioche by weighing all the ingredients and proofing the yeast in milk. Soon after I mixed the ingredients and worked the butter into the dough–a process that requires a lot of patience.

Ingredients and Mixing Well

Once my dough was worked I left it to proof in a warm and humid area. In hindsight the dough could have used a bit more kneading, but there’s always a third time for everything I suppose.

Dough ready for proofing

While the dough was resting, i started on the Gravlax. Gravlax is the Scandinavian method of curing salmon (or any fatty fish). Essentially the filet is covered with salt, sugar, and herbs and refrigerated. Overnight the salmon will let go of all the water effectively curing it and firming it up.

Slicing the already cured salmon

Once the dough had rested overnight, shaped it and placed into a baking pan. There are numerous ways to shape brioche, the most famous being the brioche a tete. Here I chose the Nanterre style in which the dough is cut just before baking so it yields separable individual sized buns.

Buttery brioche

Once the brioche was ready, I sliced it and plated it with some red onions, hard boiled egg, parsley, capers, chives, paprika, and obviously the gravlax.

Open face mini sandwich!
Bird’s eye view of the goodies

Here is the recipe for the brioche and gravlax.

Advertisements

Seafood Impromptu

9 Dec

Recently I had a hankering for a fish stew. However, living far away from the sea sometimes poses a bit of a problem when trying to find good seafood. Obviously Toronto has an immense offer for just about anything if you’re willing to spend the time and money to find it. Thankfully the St. Lawrence Market has a wonderful selection of seafood, and so do most of the large supermarkets. While this is all fine and dandy, traffic sometimes gets in the way of getting to these fine food emporiums and I am left with whatever is in the fridge/freezer. Although I am an advocate of using the freshest ingredients, sometimes convenience trumps everything else. I really wanted fish stew but only had frozen shrimp, octopus, and scallops. I quickly ran down to the corner supermarket and got some fish fillets and mussels in their rather diminutive seafood section.  Now the problem was lack of fish bones (a critical element in making a fish stock).  I would generally cook all the proteins for the stew separately and bring them together and the end with the base of the stew (which has the fishy stock). However given the circumstances I cooked each element in the same pot while conserving all the juices. Once I had filtered all those juices it served as my stock base. The result was surprisingly good.

At the same time I decided to make 3 small amuse bouches: ceviche, pan seared and prosciutto wrapped scallop, and paprika and potato octopus. I started with the ceviche, lime cured fish, because it would take the longest. I sliced some tilapia into fine strips and combined with red onions, red peppers, lime juice, salt, white pepper, and a touch of a minced scotch bonnet. I placed it in the fridge for roughly 6 hours to let it cure.

Slicing the tilapia for the ceviche

As for my stew, I started with a some softened onions and herbs which I then added the mussels and steamed with some white wine. As I said, I conserved the juice which I then added to the bit of liquid I steamed the fish, and the other seafood with the exception of the octopus.

Base for the mussels and broth

Cooking the mussels with white wine

Octopus, unlike most things, benefits from being frozen. I thawed mine and plopped in in a large pot of salted boiling water for roughly 25 minutes until it was cooked and tender. Once I had my seafood juice stock base I simply added tomato and a few other ingredients and let it cook for a while. Once the base was ready I just added the seafood and voila!

Adding the seafood to the tomato and broth

The scallops were a bit of a different story. I decided to saute them in butter. I pulled one out before it was cooked all the way and then re-sauteed it after I had wrapped it in a slice of prosciutto.

Sautéing the scallops

I used a few pieces of octopus for the amuse bouche. I simply rolled them in some cooked potato slices I tossed in olive oil with paprika.

Amuse Bouche Trio: Prosciutto Seared Scallop, Octupus Galician Style, and Ceviche

As for the stew, I served with some garlic bread and a shot of sherry.

Seafood with garlic toast and sherry

Here is the recipe. Yum!

Breakfast Reconstructed

28 Nov

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. In fact,”breakfast for dinner” nights at the cafeteria during my undergraduate days were the few times that I looked forward to using my meal plan.  Although North American breakfast can include a wide range of elements, the egg is generally the central feature in savory morning dishes. Most breakfast joints tend to focus on omelets and  fried eggs. However, the slightly more ambitious morning chef always takes a stab at poached eggs. Although Eggs Benedict is by and large the most common poached egg feature in breakfast menus, it is by no means the most impressive. The simple combination of bread, ham, poached egg, and hollandaise is delicious, but lacking in creativity and layered flavor. Here I have attempted reinvent the dish by adding some variations to the classic recipe. Although endless variations can improve the dish, I picked  four distinct elements to “spice” up the dish: paprika, thyme, rosemary, and mustard.

blah
Some of the ingredients in this variation of the classic recipe: Paprika, White Pepper, Dijon Mustard, Thyme, Rosemary, and Fleur de Sel

Pairing ingredients is often a key part of any culinary creation. Here I stuck to fairly conservative elements that work well together. The real challenge laid in how to best deliver these flavors so that the final dish would be layered, aesthetically pleasing, and an improvement on the classic dish.

Closeup of the final arrangement

I decided to use the thyme and rosemary on two levels. First as a minor garnish, and secondly to infuse the clarified butter for the hollandaise. The garnish involved nothing more than deep frying the twigs in olive oil and adding them to the dish as a final step. The infusion on the other hand was done by cooking the clarified butter with the herbs for a few minutes. Additionally, once the sauce was emulsified I added extra mustard to add an extra layer of flavor to the hollandaise and herbs. As for the paprika, I added it to the same oil I had used to fry the garnishes. Once it started bubbling, I passed it through a coffee filter and ended up with a fragrant deep red oil that I spooned over the poached egg.

 

Cooked to perfection

The egg itself was cooked so that the yolk would be slightly runny, but not so much that it would run onto the plate once the egg was cut.

Here is the recipe. Yum!