The following recipes are from years of putting pen to paper, or today, fingertips on a keyboard (1-2 at a time). The recipes are not just a matter of measuring, but also small anecdotes of where, when and why they were cooked. Not all recipes are invented by me, but dishes that were cooked with care, and a passion for the trade. Many of the recipes to follow have seasonal inspirations, as well as daily challenges from awesome people like yourself who were craving a specific dish.
Spinach Soup with Poached Egg
I grew up with this soup. My mother would often make this dish for my father on Fridays when my father would arrive home late after a long day at work. The rest of us had already eaten.
I introduced the soup in a lunch menu I cooked at Stars in San Francisco. At the time I had the privilege of working with Hung, a lovely man from China who knew how to work a set of cleavers as if he were playing a set of drums. What made the soup special that day was that Hung chopped the blanched spinach leaves tirelessly instead of blending them, in fact he chopped them into a fine paste which allowed the spinach to “paste” naturally, versus a blender that will tear the fibers in the leaves apart, which can result in bitter flavors. Although a blender is, of course, an option to make this soup, ultimately it is best if chopped by hand.
The soup is best made in the fall when the spinach is dark and full of flavor. When blanching the spinach make sure that the leaves are cooked.
Think of the soup as a 2-step process. Step 1: The spinach. Step 2: The velouté.
1 – 1.5 lbs. of fresh spinach, stems removed
Blanch the spinach in lightly salted boiling water, making sure the spinach is cooked. Remove spinach and cool immediately in an ice bath. Drain spinach and pat very dry. Chop into a paste with Chinese cleavers (if you have them) or a large chef knife. Feel free to pretend you’re a drummer in your favorite rock band! Set aside. If you prefer not to play the drums, use a blender and blend until smooth, adding a little chicken stock if needed to get the blender going.
The Velouté (Soup):
● 1/2 stick of butter
● 1/2 cup of flour
● 1 – 1.5 qt of chicken stock
● 1 onion, cut into quarters
● 1 bay leaf
● freshly grated nutmeg
● 10 whole peppercorns (white or black? NOT IMPORTANT.)
● salt to taste
● lemon juice (optional)
Shouldn’t the eggs be here in the ingredients with the cider vin, etc.? NO. Keep with the poaching part.
Melt the butter in a medium pot. Stir in flour. Cook the flour in the butter a minute, add the chicken stock while stirring to prevent lumps from forming and flour from burning. Add onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and nutmeg, and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Salt to taste.
Strain soup into a new pot, bring back to a light boil, SIMMER. Add the spinach paste and stir the soup, adjusting the flavor with salt and/or a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Serve immediately with the poached egg in the middle.
To poach an egg
Start with a large pot with three inches of water, a generous seasoning of salt and a bouquet garni. Let the water simmer for a few minutes, then remove the bouquet garni.
Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and bring the pot to a gentle boil. Simmer five minutes before serving, crack the eggs one at a time into a 4-oz ladle and gently lay each into the poaching liquid—do not allow them to touch each other—stir/whirl the water gently, to help shape the eggs.
Poach for 2 1/2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon.
Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Serves 6 to 8
A recent visit to the backyard, on a not too toasty Sunday afternoon, inspired a desire for a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorite grape varietals. Sauvignon Blanc has over the years encountered a long and winding road towards achieving real respect as a grape varietal. Part of this has to do with the confusion over the name itself, sometimes confused with the name Fume Blanc, a name pioneered by Robert Mondavi in the 1970’s, in order to boost Sauvignon Blanc sales.
This all being said, Sauvignon / Fume Blanc is one of the most food – friendly wines made on the planet. Some of the more appealing things about Sauvignon / Fume Blanc are that it’s dry, lower in alcohol and relatively light in oak influence.
Sauvignon / Fume Blanc can easily support spicy and assertively flavored dishes where Chardonnay, it’s big, very popular sister, falls short. It also matches extremely well with many soups and salads, which are often tricky with wine pairings. Lastly, its acidity allows it to balance higher – acid foods, such as goat cheese and tomatoes quite well.
For all those reasons, we must pay due respect to Sauvignon / Fume Blanc. We must forgive it for not being Chardonnay. Allow it to be the “wild child.” We should appreciate it for what it offers: appealing aromas, a sassy fruit character, and excellent balance of fruit and acidity. And don’t forget – the price of Sauvignon / Fume Blanc is very reasonable.
As a chef with the challenge of a pairing, this varietal is a no brainer. The following is a dish that can be used in many circumstances, but with the thought of drinking sauvignon Blanc.
Wild mushroom & goat cheese bruschetta:
● 2 oz. oyster mushrooms
● 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms
● 5 oz. Portobello mushrooms
● olive oil
● 1 tbs of butter
● 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
● 1 shallot, chopped
● 1/4 cup dry sherry
● 1/4 cup chicken stock
● pinch of fresh thyme
● pinch of fresh basil
● salt and red pepper flakes
● 6 slices of baguette
● 4 oz. of goat cheese, room temp
Chop the mushrooms roughly. In a large sauté pan or skillet, add olive oil and butter and sauté shallot and garlic for a min. or two.
Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add sherry and chicken stock and cook until all liquids are evaporated, add herbs. Keep warm and set aside. Preheat broiler. Put slices of baguette on a roasting pan, spread the goat cheese evenly, divide the mushrooms onto the baguettes. Place “bruschettas” under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.
Grilled Chicken Breast, Corn, Lime, lavender
The unique part of this dish is the lavender. An extremely floral ingredient, most might know it from the cosmetic world, tea, ETC. I started using it when we were developing the “East meets West” cuisine years ago at Speedo 690 in S.F.
A spice completely different from what I was used to in the classical French world, used in moderation it adds a very unique flavor to a dish.
The grilled chicken is a no-brainer and I won’t spend a lot of time on the fact. The main event in this dish is the set up/garnish.
● 4 A-line chicken breasts, skin on, wing bone attached
● 1/2 cup olive oil
● 2 ears of corn, in the husk
● 1 onion, cut into brunoise
● 4 limes, cut into sections/wedges
● a pinch of lavender pollens
● 1 cup of chicken stock
● 1 stick of butter
● 1/4 cup of basil cut into chiffonade
● salt and pepper mill
● 1 cup tomato concasse
Heat your grill, gas, wood or briquettes. I will not dwell on choice of heat.
Once the heat has settled, place the corn in a “calm” corner of the grill, move around your heat element.
Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil, place them skin side down, crisscross the pattern of hea. Make sure they are getting crispy, flip the breasts onto a lower heat temperature, brown the back side of the breasts, flip again. leave on skin side down, until chicken breasts are done.
Remove husks from grilled corn, cut the kernels off the corn.
In a saucepan, add a splash of olive oil, add onion along with corn, sauté for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat, add chicken stock, and let simmer for 3 minutes, add butter, lavender, tomato, basil.
Season with salt and pepper mill, add lime wedges/sections
Place a spoon full of the corn stew on top of each serving plate, grilled chicken on top, a sprinkle of salt on chicken.
I hope I have inspired you to have a bit of fun, maybe challenge a dusty pot and pan to return to the stove. Otherwise, call 305-663-2100 for reservations.
Jan Jorgensen, Two Chefs Restaurant
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