Archives for June 2015

Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam
  1. 4 lb. strawberries, washed, hulled, cut into chunks (I like 1”)
  2. 2 ¼ lb. sugar
  3. zest and juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large pot over medium-high heat until berries begin to lose their juice. Bring to full boil; cook, stirring often, 20-30 minutes, or until mixture thickens and temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 220 degrees. Skim foam from the surface with a stainless steel spoon.
  2. Pour jam into warm jars, wipe rim, seal and refrigerate for 4 months. Alternately, process in water bath for 10 minutes to store at room temperature for 1 year.
  1. Makes approx. 8 6oz jars of jam.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Daddy’s Girl by Robin Nathan

My sister’s oldest daughter got married a couple of weeks ago and my entire family came together to celebrate. We are pretty spread out these days – from Mexico to the Cayman Islands, and many points in between. I got to spend a lot of time with my dad, and with Father’s Day this Sunday, I’m remembering a special memory I have with him.

PicoOn Sunday mornings when I was very young, my dad would take me to run errands. My mom, sister and brother would stay home, and it was special to be the “only kid” for those few hours. On the way home, we always stopped at a little taco shack near our home in San Pedro, in the south bay of Los Angeles. We’d always get little beefy tacos with plenty of cheese melted in, wrapped in freshly made corn tortillas. My dad would douse his in lots of hot sauce, but I didn’t have the palate for heat — yet. I covered mine with fresh pico de gallo. Just one bite of a fresh beefy, cheesy taco takes me straight back to those times. Isn’t it wonderful how a taste of something so simple can melt the years away?

Here’s my recipe for Picadillo Tacos, aka Beef Tacos. Enjoy!

Picadillo Tacos
Yields 6
For the Tacos
  1. 1 T. corn oil
  2. ½ pound ground chuck or sirloin
  3. salt to taste
  4. ½ white onion, diced small
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. ½ jalapeno, minced
  7. ½ t. ground cumin
  8. ½ t. chile powder
  9. ½ t. ground coriander
  10. 4 oz. Asadero or Chihuahua cheese, grated
  11. 6 thick corn tortillas, warmed
For the Pico de Gallo
  1. 2 Roma tomatoes, small dice
  2. ½ white onion, small dice
  3. ½ serrano or jalapeno chile, minced
  4. handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  5. juice of one large lime
  6. salt to taste
  1. Heat the corn oil in a large skillet; add onion and cook over medium heat until the onion begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and dried spices and cook 30 seconds. Add the meat and continue cooking, breaking up the meat to a crumble and seasoning with salt. When the meat is nearly cooked through, add the cheese and stir through until it’s melted.
  2. Combine all ingredients for Pico de Gallo.
  3. Pile meat mixture onto warmed corn tortillas and garnish with the Pico de Gallo, additional grated cheese, and sour cream.
  1. Here’s a trick – serve the beef and toppings on the tortilla, but don’t fold it up. Let your diner do it – somehow the taco holds together better that way.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Sugar Snap Pea & Endive Salad with Parmesan Cheese

Sugar Snap Pea & Endive Salad with Parmesan Cheese
  1. 3 cups sugar snap peas
  2. 2 spears Belgian endive
  3. 1-2 heads of radicchio
  4. ¼ cup parmesan, grated
  5. 2 T. parsley and thyme
  1. 1/3 cup Champagne Vinegar
  2. ¼ cup lime juice
  3. 1 T. Dijon mustard
  4. 1 t. sea salt
  5. 1 t. freshly ground pepper
  6. ½ cup olive oil
  7. ¾ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender. Add half the oil to begin with and adjust to taste.
  2. On 6 salad plates, lay out several endive spears on each, top leaves of radicchio and then place ½ cup snap peas on top. Drizzle the vinaigrette, and sprinkle with Parmesan and herbs.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche

Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche
Serves 6
For the Sauce
  1. 2 shallot cloves, minced
  2. 2 T. red wine vinegar
  3. 1 large egg
  4. 1 T. Dijon
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1 ¼ cups olive oil
  7. ¼ cup loosely packed fresh herbs, minced (parsley, tarragon, dill, basil, chives)
  8. 1-2 T. capers, rinsed and chopped
  9. 1 T. chopped cornichons
For the Asparagus
  1. 1 large bunch asparagus spears (or enough for 4-6 spears per serving), woody bottoms discarded
  2. olive oil
  3. salt and pepper to taste
Make the sauce (it gains in flavor)
  1. Combine the shallots and the vinegar in a small bowl, and let sit while you do the rest.
  2. Make a 4-minute egg - Put an egg in a saucepan of water and bring it to a boil, then simmer for four minutes. Transfer the egg to an ice bath and let it cool. Peel the egg and carefully peel away the white, setting it aside.
  3. Add mustard and salt to the yolk in a bowl. Bash it a little with a whisk, so the yolk runs free, then whisk it briefly.
  4. Slowly whisk in the oil drop by drop until the sauce begins to hold its shape. Once the sauce is emulsified, you can whisk the oil in a thin stream. Stir in the capers, cornichons, and herbs. Add the shallot/vinegar mixture a little at a time until you reach the consistency and taste you like. You may not add it all. Taste and season with salt. Refrigerate.
  1. Just before service, preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Pile asparagus onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and coat thoroughly. Place the asparagus directly onto the grill grate in a thin layer and grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until well-marked. Remove to a platter.
  2. Arrange the asparagus on a platter or plate individually, dollop with the Sauce Gribiche and serve immediately.
  1. Sauce Gribiche is a classic, cold, Mayonnaise based French sauce. It is easy to make and is fabulous with grilled vegetables, potatoes, fish, and poultry.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

30-Minute Chicken Gumbo

30-Minute Chicken Gumbo
Serves 4
  1. 3 T. vegetable oil
  2. 1/3 cup flour
  3. 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  4. 1 medium onion, chopped
  5. 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  6. 1 t. oregano
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 10 oz. frozen cut okra
  9. 8 oz. smoked Andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced ¼ inch thick
  10. 1 roasted chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded (4 cups)
  1. In a 5 quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale gold, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Stir in bell peppers, onion, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add 4 cups water; stir in okra and sausage. Bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in shredded chicken, and warm through, 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  1. Delicious served with cornbread.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Sweet Basil Granita with Strawberries

Sweet Basil Granita with Strawberries
Serves 8
  1. 3 cups water
  2. 2/3 cup sugar
  3. 1½ cups packed fresh basil leaves
  4. ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  1. 1 pound ripe strawberries, quartered
  2. superfine sugar, if needed
  3. a few fresh mint leaves, cut chiffonade
  4. a few fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade
For the granita
  1. Combine the water and 2/3 cup sugar in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour into a metal bowl set over a larger bowl of ice until the syrup is cold. Puree the syrup with the basil and the lime juice until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into a glass baking dish, cover with foil and freeze until firm, at least 5-6 hours.
To Assemble
  1. Arrange the berries in dessert dishes or large martini glasses and sprinkle with the superfine sugar, if needed. Scrape the granite with a fork to create icy crumbles and spoon then on top of the berries. Garnish with the mint and basil chiffonade and serve right away.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Prepare to Wait: Making Vinegar at Home by Elliott N. Papineau

Editor’s Note:  Enjoy this interesting guest blog post from Elliott Papineau, long time Marcel’s customer.  Elliott lives in Glen Ellyn with his wife Kristen and children Landon (2 years) and Elise (4 months).  He works in asset management as a Quantitative Research Analyst.  Thanks to Elliott for sending this so we could share with everyone!

You will wait. The process of making vinegar at home is long. Long in the sense that we are accustomed to instant gratification. Gather our ingredients, turn on the fire, chop some vegetables, sear a piece of meat, add some seasoning: done.  Vinegar is a different ingredient.  Making it at home will produce an elixir that is rewarding and, above all, yours. (See below for information on the science of vinegar.)

Good vinegar comes from good ingredients.  The first step in the process is to buy a good bottle of wine.  I find my favorite bottle, and then buy two to make a double batch.  This process takes time, and when you are finished and only have a few cups of vinegar you will want more.  Probably a lot more.  While you are out shopping the local market, pick up a bottle of unfiltered and unpasteurized apple vinegar.  The most readily available is Bragg’s.  This will increase your success rate.
Back in your lab (aka home),  divide one bottle of wine between two quart-size mason jars.  This will yield 375mL of wine in each.  Add 75mL (20% of the wine volume) of the unpasteurized apple vinegar to each jar.  Cut a piece of cheese cloth to fit over the mouth of the jar, and secure it with the jar’s ring.  Store the jars away from light in a cool place.
IMG_7106469671956Now wait.  You will wait a day, then a week, then up to a month.  Your vinegar will change over this time.  The first week or two, nothing will happen.  Then a translucent film will appear on the top of the mixture.  This film will turn into a cellulose mat.  Say hello to your vinegar mother.  Over the next few weeks, the mother will transform the alcoholic liquid in the jar to some of the best vinegar you have ever tasted.  
After a month or so, taste your young vinegar.  It should taste like wine, but with an acidic tang.
Decant 80% of the vinegar, by volume, to a clean bottle and seal with a cap.  The other 20%, with the mother, is now the base of your next vinegar (replacing the need for the apple vinegar).  As you continue to produce vinegar at home, more of your old stock (the remaining 20% of each batch) will taste more of itself and less of the original apple vinegar stock.
Your new bottle of vinegar can be used now, but aging mellows the tang and increases the deliciousness.  I wait about 3 months before using.  If you get started right now, your vinegar will be ready by the fall.  You can also experiment with other alcoholic liquids such as beer.  Stay away from varieties with bitter hop notes.  This will produce off flavors as the oils in the hops degrade over time.
IMG_7098031185767Making vinegar is a long process, but minimal work is required to achieve success. In the meantime, buy some naturally produced vinegar.  I like Tavern Vinegar Co. from Ohio.  Taste your vinegar along side of another to compare its complexities and acidic bite.  Use it as you would any other vinegar, or in place of lemon juice,  and then marvel at your new creation.
Below are some of my favorite seasonal ideas for using your homemade vinegar.  

Spring:  Slice asparagus into half in pieces. Add to small sauce pan with butter and salt. Cook slowly until bright green and finish with rosé vinegar. Serve with freshly poached eggs.
Summer:  Sauté summer squash with young garlic and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with red wine vinegar and fresh herbs.
Fall:  Slice fall harvested radishes into batons. Toss with white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Top with thinly sliced shallots and chopped hazelnuts.
Winter:  Roast quartered potatoes with salt and olive oil @ 400 degrees. Remove from oven and toss with beer vinegar.

Vinegar basics: acetic acid + water. Alcohol (ethanol) is produced via anaerobic fermentation. Acetic acid is the secondary process to alcoholic fermentation.  Acetic acid bacteria converts the alcohol into acetic acid via aerobic fermentation. The best place to find ethanol combined with other good flavors is wine. 

Spring Vegetable Orecchiette with Chanterelles & Burrata

Spring Vegetable Orecchiette with Chanterelles & Burrata
Serves 4
  1. 1/2 pound Orecchiette
  2. 1 cup fresh peas
  3. 1 cup sugar snap or snow peas, cut into pieces
  4. 1/2 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off and discarded and then cut into pieces
  5. 1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
  6. 4 oz. dried Chanterelle mushrooms, reconstituted in warm water for 30 minutes
  7. 1 handful of baby arugula
  8. Extra virgin olive oil
  9. Kosher salt
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  11. 1 egg
  12. 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  13. 4 oz. ball of Burrata cheese*
  14. Zest from 1 lemon
  15. 2 T. fresh mint, chiffonade
  1. Boil Orecchiette in well salted water. Add all peas and asparagus about 1 minute before pasta is al dente. Reserve a little pasta water and drain. Do not rinse.
  2. In a sauté pan, heat a touch of oil over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add Chanterelle mushrooms and turn heat down to medium and sauté for a few minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add arugula and mix until wilted. Add pasta and vegetables.
  3. Whisk egg in a small bowl and then stir in a touch of the hot pasta water to temper the egg.
  4. Pour egg over the pasta and gently stir to coat the pasta. Stir in freshly grated Parmesan, cracked pepper and more reserved pasta water as need to loosen the pasta.
  5. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with mint chiffonade, lemon zest and remaining Parmesan. Season with salt to taste. Dot with dollops of hand-torn Burrata cheese.
  6. Enjoy!
  1. *At Marcel's, we stock DiStefano's fabulous Burrata alla panna.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Stacks

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Stacks
Serves 4
  1. 4 Chicken breast filets, halved lengthwise
  2. 2 red bell peppers, quartered
  3. 1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise
  4. 2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  5. 3 T. olive oil
  6. 2 T. lemon juice
  7. Sea salt
  8. Cracked black pepper
  9. 3oz arugula leaves
  10. 1 T. pesto (store-bought or homemade!)
  11. ½ cup mayonnaise
  1. Preheat a grill (broiler or grill pan) over high heat.
  2. Place the chicken, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to coat.
  3. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on the grill before adding the bell peppers, eggplant and zucchini and cook until the chicken is golden and cooked through and the vegetables tender.
  4. While chicken and vegetables are cooking, mix together pesto and mayonnaise.
  5. To serve, place the chicken, vegetables and arugula in a stack on plates and serve topped with the pesto mayonnaise.
Adapted from Donna Hay
Adapted from Donna Hay
Marcel's Culinary Experience