The Bacon & Egg Salad

Frisée, Bacon and Poached Egg Salad

Salade Frisée Aux Lardons

 

One of my favorite salads is the French bistro classic, Salade Frisée Aux Lardons. It is the perfect combination of  bacon with hardy frisée lettuce, a warm viniagrete of sherry vinegar, shallots, and bacon fat, topped with a soft poached egg. The key to this salad is making sure that you have a runny egg to create a “sauce” for the salad.

Bacon and eggs are a classic pairing, and not just for breakfast. Bacon and hard-cooked eggs are very important ingredients in potato salad as well as in Eggs Benedict. This salad is fairly simple to make. Cut bacon or pancetta into small squares and heat in a sauté pan until crispy. Then add minced shallots and cook until translucent and add sherry vinegar. Then pour the warm vinaigrette into a bowl over frisée lettuce, put on a plate, and add a soft poached egg.

Seared Sea Scallops

Raw Sea Scallops

Raw Sea Scallops

I was recently asked, “how do you get that beautifully caramelized crust when searing scallops?” I have seared many Scallops but after thinking about it for a little while, I realized their are some important details to know in order to achieve that perfect crust on the exterior and nice tender interior. Just to be clear, we are talking about sea scallops, not the small Bay Scallops, and preferably scallops that are on the larger side (U12 or larger, meaning 12 to a pound or fewer).

The most important thing you need to do is find the freshest scallops that you can find. Previously frozen won’t work because when you start searing the scallops, water releases, and now you are poaching and not searing and this will cause the scallops to be limp. After you get fresh scallops, start by removing the muscle, and then crowding them together on paper towels to get them as dry as possible. Make sure to bring them to room temperature before you start cooking (out of the fridge for 45-60 minutes). Something you often hear when trying to achieve a nice crust is “don’t crowd the pan”. This is very important when searing scallops so make sure you are using a large enough pan and the scallops are far enough apart from each other. As for the pan: use a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel pan that has an even cooking surface. Also make sure to use oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed oil or rice oil, and get the pan VERY HOT.

Scallops With Lentils

Scallops With Lentils

Lastly you want to sear the scallops very quickly, about 2-3 minutes per side depending on the size, and then serve them immediately. Here is the checkoff list for the key points:

  • Fresh, never frozen.
  • Remove muscle.
  • Dry on paper towels to remove as much moisture.
  • Bring to room temperature.
  • Use a large pan.
  • Use grapeseed oil or rice oil.
  • Get the pan very hot.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

 

Spinning Plates Movie

Spinning.Plates.Movie

I recommend seeing this movie if it is showing in your area.  Spinning Plates just opened up in the Bay Area today and will run here for only one week.  I had the opportunity to check it out and I think non-foodies will enjoy it equally as much.

The movie is about three very different restaurants and how they got to where they are and where they are heading with a some of the bumps along the way.  One of the restaurants featured is Alinea and chef Grant Achatz who’s incredible story can easily by a movie on its own.

If you get a chance to see Spinning Plates, let me know what you think.

Know Your GMO’s

No-GMO.crop

The GMO controversy is back in the news and now it’s about labeling and not about how to eliminate them from our food.  Opponents are pushing for clearer labeling on food that has been Genetically Modified and the giant food corporations are fighting to keep the information a secret.

When it comes to food, I’m in favor of removing the government from the role of the parent and placing the responsibility back into the hands and mouths of the consumer.  When the information is being withheld from the consumer, they can’t make an educated decision about what food they choose to eat.  If you knew that your food was being created in a lab versus growing on a farm, then you might make different choices.  Big corporations have a lot at stake here, as in money, so they’d rather not have the labeling rules enforced on their products and continue to keep the public in the dark.

This battle will continue, especially with the growing number of GMO’s entering into our foods, but we need to have compete transparency.  We’ll save the debate of whether GMO’s should even exist in our food for another time, but for now, consumers have the right to know everything about what’s in their food so they can make their own decisions.

In Search Of The Hottest Chile Pepper

pepperplate

It’s fresh chile pepper season and that got me wondering, “what is the hottest chile in the world?”  According to Wikipedia that would be the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chile pepper that can reach levels of over 2 million on the Scoville Scale.  I’m not sure how that measures on the pain scale but I prefer to taste my food rather than feel my food.

There are thousands of different varieties of chile peppers ranging in heat from zero to extreme and everywhere in-between.  Peppers can have many different flavor characteristics including sweet, smoky, fruity, vegetal, grassy, peppery and spicy.

Mild sweet peppers are great in salads, raw salsas, crudités, and used as a vessel for stuffing. If you want to use a hot chile in a raw application to bring out the best characteristics then try a fruit salsa to help tame the heat.  Longer cooking times will also cut the heat and bring out more of the flavors and add richness to sauces, jams, chutneys, soups and stews.

I was unsuccessful in my search for the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chile but here are some of the most accessible chile peppers I have found recently:

yellow.pepper

Yellow Bell Pepper

Sweet, fruity, raw, roast, grill, sauté, stuff, crudités, salads

Scoville – 0

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redbell.pepper

Red Bell Pepper

Sweet, fruity, raw, roast, grill, sauté, stuff, crudités, salads

Scoville – 0

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purple.pepper

Purple Bell Pepper

Slightly bitter, Vegetal, fruity, raw, roast, grill, sauté, stuff, crudités, salads

Scoville –  0

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jimmynardello.pepper

Jimmy Nardello Pepper

Sweet, fruity, raw, roast, grill, sauté, crudités, salads

Scoville – 0

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gypsy.pepper

Gypsy Peppers

Sweet, fruity, raw, roast, grill, sauté, stuff, crudités, salads

Scoville – 0

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shishito.chile

 Shishito Peppers

Fruity, slight heat, raw, roast, fry, sauté,  salsa, salad

Scoville – 100- 1000

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santafe.chile

Santa Fe Chile

Fruity, slight heat, raw, roast, fry, sauté,  salsa, salad

Scoville – 500- 700

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anaheim.chile

Anaheim

Mild, slight heat, roast, sauté,  salsa,

Scoville – 500- 2500

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padron.chile

Padron

Grassy, slight heat, peppery, flavorful, roast, deep fry, sauté,  salsa

Scoville – 500- 2500

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poblano.chile

Poblano

Fruity, slight heat, smoky, roast, fry, sauté, grill, salsa, salad, sauce

Scoville – 1000- 2000

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jalapeno.chile

Jalapeño

Little heat, peppery, roast, deep fry, sauté, grill, stuff, salsa, sauce

Scoville – 2500- 5000

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fresno.chile

Fresno

Smoky, good heat, roast, grill, sauté, salsa, sauce, stew

Scoville – 2500- 8000

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hungarianwax.chile

Hungarian Wax

Fruity, waxy, hot, roast, grill, sauté, salsa, stew

Scoville – 5000- 10,000

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serrano.chile

Serrano

Acidic, hot, spicy, roast, fry, sauté,  salsa, stew

Scoville – 15,000- 30,000

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manzano.chile

Manzano

Fleshy, dense, hot, fruity, grill, roast, smoke,  salsa, stew

Scoville – 15,000- 50,000

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thai.chile

Thai Chile

Firm, very hot, roast, stir- fry, salsa, soup, stew

Scoville – 50,000- 100,000

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habanero

Habañero

Fruity, flavorful, very hot, roast, grill, smoke, salsa

Scoville – 100,000- 350,000

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