Archives for November 2013

Deb’s Salmon and Melting Cherry Tomatoes

Salmon and Melting Cherry Tomatoes
  1. Good olive oil
  2. 1 cup chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
  3. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  4. 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved through the stem
  5. kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1 1/2 Tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  7. 1 1/2 Tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
  8. 2 lb salmon fillet, cut crosswise into 4 pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onion and saute over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Stir in the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the tomato sauce thickens slightly. Off the heat, stir in the vinegar and basil.
  3. Meanwhile, place a large cast-iron pan over high heat for 5 minutes. Brush the salmon all over with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, and place it skin side up in the pan. Cook the fish for 3 to 4 minutes without moving them, until browned. Turn the salmon skin side down with a small metal spatula and transfer the pan to the oven for 8 minutes. (The salmon will not be completely cooked through.) Remove the fish to a serving platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Adapted from Ina Garten
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Holiday Wining and Brining by Kelly Montgomery

What’s all this fuss about brining the turkey ? If you’re like me, you have a long list of things to do to prepare an epic holiday meal. Do you really need to add yet another task to the list?  Grandma never brined! (Or did she?) Sure, you’re willing to go to great lengths to present a beautiful, succulent bird to your holiday guests. But does brining really make a difference?

While there are plenty of science-y explanations of why brining works, all we really need to know is that brining diffuses moisture into the cells and alters the proteins in the muscle tissue, increasing the meat’s ability to hold on to liquid. The result: a tastier, juicier and more tender bird.  And by the way, it has the same effect on other meats – see the chart below. 

Brine Chart

While a brine can certainly be as simple as salty water, it’s a clever way to sneak in more depth and flavor.  Try some of these add-ins: sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, fruit juice, beer, peppercorns, herbs, spices, garlic, cider, bay leaves, lemon or orange slices, crushed garlic cloves.

As the bird is having a nice long soak, the brine will work its magic while you get on with the rest of your list.  I find this to be an excellent time for some of that “wining”!

There are great brine recipes out there or of course we have a wonderful ready-made brining blend from Victoria Gourmet at Marcel’s.  All you need to add is water and a bird. We also carry a spicy version that I’m intrigued about.   So go ahead and pour yourself a fine brine and savor the season!  Happy Thanksgiving!

The Perfect Tarte Tatin by Deb Forkins

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday.  It is a day when family and friends celebrate each other with the gift of time, food, laughter and hugs.  I have hosted our family Thanksgiving since my mother passed it to me, 25 years ago.  While I am under contractual agreement not to mess with the traditional turkey, I take some latitude to change things up with a new appetizer, side or dessert each year.  For months now, I have had the idea to add an apple tarte tatin in place of the apple pie that always makes its way onto the dessert table.  So I undertook the preliminary steps to test out the French dessert.  Here’s my story…

I am not much of a baker….so imagine my intrigue when I learned that the tarte tatin was actually a baking blunder.  Works for me! 

After all, tarte tatin is really just an  upside down caramelized apple tart made by covering the bottom of a shallow baking dish with butter and sugar, adding and baking the apples and finally a pastry crust.  How hard can that be?  Well, based on all the internet blogs from amateur chefs, it can be tricky.  Turns out, the French are very covetous of their beloved tarte Tatin, and even have celebratory festivals surrounding it. Legend has it that the two Tatin sisters, Caroline and Stephine, owned and operated the Hotel Tatin in the Loire Valley in France in the late 1800s.   Stephine ran the kitchen and her specialty was the apple tart.  On one very busy day, Stephine forgot the bottom pastry.  Upon removing the tart from the oven, she quickly inverted it onto a serving platter, marched it into the dining room, and proclaimed it as her newest tarte.  The guests loved it immediately, and voila! The Tarte Tatin was born.  The dessert gained popularity when the famed Maxim’s Restaurant put it on their menu, allegedly after having spies visit the Tatin Hotel and make off with the secret recipe.

So, after reading countless blogs and recipe tips online, I felt prepared.  While it is very easy in theory with only a handful of ingredients, the actual execution can be tricky.  Here are some things I have garnered from my “research”:

  • Use apples with higher starch content (less water content) as they hold their shape during the caramelization process. Granny smith or golden delicious are good choices.
  • Find a serving dish that fits snuggly on top of the pan you will be baking the apples in prior to starting. 
  • I used a nonstick 11 inch fry pan but Emile Henry also makes a beautiful tarte tatin two piece bakeware set. 
  • Let the tarte tatin cool off for 30 minutes after removing from the oven on a wire rack before inverting it onto the serving plate.

I used  Deb Perelman’s adaptation of Julia Child’s recipe, below, and with the few tips noted above, my  first ever apple tarte tatin turned out magnificently.  What is not to love about caramelized apples in a rustic pie crust?  With a dollop of crème fraiche or whipped cream on top, move over apple pie…. your French cousin is in town for the holidays! 

Tarte Tatin II

Apple Tarte Tatin

8 medium apples
6 T butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
Juice of one half lemon
Your favorite pastry crust

Peel apples, halve and core apples. Once cored, cut lengthwise into quarters (i.e. four pieces per apple) and cut a bevel along their inner edge, which will help their curved exteriors stay on top as they rest on this edge. (You can see this beveled edge here.) Toss apple chunks with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes; this will help release the apple’s juices, too much of them and the caramel doesn’t thicken enough to cling merrily to the cooked apples.

Melt butter in your skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in remaining 1 cup sugar and whisk it over the heat until it becomes the palest of caramels. Off the heat, add the apples to the skillet, arranging them rounded sides down in one layer. Lay any additional apple wedges rounded sides down in a second layer, starting from the center.

Return the pan to the stove and cook in the caramel for another 20 to 25 minutes over moderately high heat. With a spoon, regularly press down on the apples and baste them caramel juices from the pan. If it seems that your apples in the center are cooking faster, swap them with ones that are cooking more slowly, and rotate apples that are cooking unevenly 180 degrees. The apples will shrink a bit and by the end of the cooking time, your second layer of apples might end up slipping into the first — this is fine.

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out your pastry to a 9-inch circle and trim if needed. Cut four vents in pastry. Remove skillet from heat again, and arrange pastry round over apples. Tuck it in around the apples for nicer edges later. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Once baked, use potholders to place a plate or serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan, learn from my messes!) over the pastry and with a deep breath and a quick prayer, if you’re into that kind of thing, unmold the pastry and apples at once onto the plate. If any apples stubbornly remain behind in the pan, nudge them out with a spatula.

A Message from my Mom by Karen Fleming

The other day I was looking through my stash of loose recipes for my  Mom’s signature homemade fudge.  As long as I can remember, she loved to make this delicious fudge and give it as a gift to friends or bring to family gatherings.  At Christmas we each got our own special tin.  While in my search I came across a recipe book that my Mom had made for me in 1988.  It’s filled with 3 dozen of her favorites recipes, all handwritten on cards.  I have made many of these through the years but as my cookbook collection has grown, along with the numerous recipes cut out from the food section, magazines or on-line, I had forgotten about it.  My Mom loved to cook and she was very adventurous, always trying new recipes. She loved being in the kitchen, she felt at home there. 

I realized that my Mom passed on this love of cooking to me.  I’m always trying new recipes and enjoy the entire process from the chopping to putting that warm meal on the table for my family – many times holding my breath to see if it’s a “keeper”.  I feel very fortunate to be surrounded at Marcel’s by people who love to cook and share dishes they have made. I always enjoy talking to our customers when they come in looking for a special ingredient or piece of cookware or gadget to help complete a dish they are making. Cooking is a wonderful creation of something special.   

As the holidays are fast approaching, I hope that we all get out those traditional family recipes or be adventurous and try some new ones.  Of course a cooking class with our wonderful & creative chefs is always a great gift for yourself or someone you love. 

Recipes are meant to be shared so I will happily share my mom’s yummy fudge with you and her beautiful words from the recipe book she made me. 

My darling Karen,  I hope you enjoy making these recipes as much as I enjoyed making them for you. You are and always will be a joy to cook for.  Happy cooking in the days ahead.   I love you, Mom  

Mom’s Fudge 

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk (5 fl. oz)
1  12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1  7 oz. jar Marshmallow Creme
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, margarine and milk in heavy 2 1/2 to 3 quart sauce pan and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Continue boiling for about 5 minutes over medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat; stir in chocolate chips until melted.  Add marshmallow cream, nuts and vanilla; stirring until well blended.  Pour into greased 9×13 inch pan.  Cool at room temperature.  Cut into squares.  Makes 3 pounds.