Saturday, December 9, 2017

Belgium Waffle

The Belgium Waffle has always been one of my favorite breakfast items.  The waffle is thick and has deep pockets to hold the syrup and butter.  I always thought the brown syrup on the brown waffle was not as colorful as it should be so I’d add yogurt and fruit to lighten it up.  When I was living in Europe, the Belgium waffle was served with fresh berries, sprinkled with powdered sugar or it had bits of candied sugar or nuts cooked into the waffle.   
A few years ago my wife and I began a tradition of having waffles with ice cream for our kids birthday breakfast.  The cold ice cream slowly melts over the hot waffle complimenting each other.  When I was crafting the Trees Lounge breakfast menu I knew I wanted to include a Belgium waffle on the menu using a combination of all these influences to inspire me. 
To start preparing the dish, make a ginger syrup by boiling water and white sugar.  As the liquid is reducing to a syrup, peel a fresh ginger root and then slice into rounds.  Once the syrup thickens up, add the ginger and cook it for a few minutes until the ginger becomes aromatic.
Candied macadamia nuts add a crunch to the dish and the spices add layers of complexity.  Chop macadamia nuts into little pieces and bake them in the oven at 300 degrees until golden brown.  Pull the nuts out of the oven and let them cool down.  Separate 6 egg yolks from the egg whites.  Reserve the egg yolks for another use.  Pour the egg whites into an electric mixer with a wire whisk.  Beat the egg whites until they are fluffy, then add brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt.   Combine the mac nuts with the egg mixture.  Spread it evenly on a baking tray and bake at 300 degrees until they are dry.  Every 5 minutes scrap the nuts so they don’t stick together.  Let the nuts cool down before putting them in an airtight container. 
The waffle batter is made by beating four eggs in two cups of milk then adding sugar, vanilla extract, salt, baking powder, flour, and then melted butter.  The Belgium waffle iron needs to be preheated and oiled so the batter doesn’t stick to it.   Cook the waffle until golden brown. 
Plate the waffle.   Boil the ginger syrup, cut up a honey dew melon into small pieces and drop them briefly in the ginger syrup.  Scoop the pieces out of the liquid and place them on top of the waffle.  Sprinkle the candied mac nuts over the melon.  Scoop vanilla gelato and ice cream on top to finish it off. 

Enjoy the dish right away before the waffle gets soggy. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Roasted Beef Tortilla Roll

Tortillas are usually wrapped around the outside of its contents such as in a taco or burrito but I enjoy rolling the contents into a spiral within the tortilla roll. The presentation of food is almost as important as the food itself.  There is only one chance for a first impression.

Before I add any ingredients to the tortilla roll, I always grill the tortilla to warm it up and give it a little flavor from the grill.   Then I coat the tortilla with a thin layer of horseradish sour cream.  To make it I combine fresh horseradish puree, sour cream, lemon juice, salt and white pepper.  On top of the horseradish sour cream, I layer baby spinach over the horseradish sour cream. Fresh spinach works best but if it is not available frozen spinach can be used to add extra moisture and flavor to the dish.  Frozen spinach is known for still being the same if not more nutritious than fresh spinach because its picked at the peak of its freshness and flash frozen to preserve most of the nutrients in it.  On top of the spinach I add julienne caramelized onions which have been cooked in an olive oil blend until dark brown so as to bring out their sweet flavor.

The roasted beef is slow roasted at 300 degrees.  I use a dry rub to seal in the flavor of the meat.  The dry rub consists of powdered rosemary, onion powder, garlic, salt, thyme, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and gumbo file.  The steak is roasted and then sliced into thin stripes.  Then the strips are cooked in beef stock made from the bones and scraps of the steak.  To make the stock I brown the bones and scraps then add onions, celery, tomato, carrot, garlic and water.  I continue to cook the stock for many hours while it reduces.

The last ingredient in the tortilla roll is tomato confit.  To make the tomato confit, I slice tomatoes into thin slices then lay them on a baking tray.  I cover the tomato slices in olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.  Then I bake the tomatoes at 200 degrees in the oven to cook them and bring out all their flavor.

Once all the ingredients are layers on top of the grilled tortilla I roll it into a spiral and cut the roll into pieces.  I present the pieces around the perimeter of the plate and prepare a side salad in the middle of the plate.  I add cucumber slices, tomato slices then pickled onion and bell peppers on top soaked in a rice wine vinegar solution with sugar, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves.