Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 02-03-15

“Pork and Pearls”

In 2008 we had "Mack's French Laundry hoity toity super fancy dinner", 50 people having dinner, 14 courses, 28 people in the kitchen. It's a strange experience for people who come to an event like this for the first time, they think they are mostly making a donation to the church and having a pretty good dinner for an hour or so. But it was nothing like that. That realization probably comes around the 4th course. You've just had 4 of the best things you've ever tasted in your whole life and 4 of the strangest things you've ever tasted in your whole life (you would never do any of these at home, a little puff pastry that tastes like Gruyere Cheese, a 2 inch cone filled Crème Fraiche and topped with salmon tartar, Tapioca pudding that tastes like applewood smoked bacon and truffles, and pasta stuffed with sweet potatoes with brown butter and sage cream sauce, people usually had to stop and take a breath after the first bite of this one.. not your standard leftovers). Then you look down at the rest of the menu (everybody had one by their plate) and you see that there are 8 more courses to go (plus we're going to throw in a few more that are not on the menu) and you look at your watch and see that you've been here for an hour already and realize it's time to settle in, unbutton your pants and know it's going to get better and better and better, it may even hurt near the end.. This is the real deal, not Friday Night pancake dinner...  The other thing people think, by mistake, is that some how we are making the whole meal while they are waiting, like we started at 5pm for dinner at 6pm. I guess it's due to moms all over the world cooking dinner 30 minutes before it's time to eat. So they think that we are making the 3rd course from scratch while they are having the 2nd course. Every course we made was very complex but it came from a restaurant recipe. No Jr league, no Betty Crocker. Everything was made in advance so that all we had to do to finish was heat up the sauce, finish cooking something in the oven or a pan and then put it all together. We had 5 to 7 people (several professional chefs) spend all day Tuesday, all day Thursday and all day Friday getting ready. We made stocks, ice cream, pasta, croutons, sauces, dressing, custard, sorbet, cookies, mousse.. There were 68 different things on the prep list. So when dinner starts  it's relaxed and fun for the chefs. They've spent all week getting ready, this is the easy part, critical to do it right, but still easy.  It was just a matter of being prepared..

God's like that: People who are Christians usually think it's about going to church and being a good person. They really don't think God will play a major roll in their lives. Mostly they're on their own. But they like church and it makes them feel good. Then something happens and they realize that God is the only one who can help and it all becomes real...  The thing you don't know is that God has been preparing you for this moment for as long as you've been alive. He's surrounded you with certain people for this moment. He's put you through hard times to be ready for this moment. No matter what you think, he didn't start yesterday. Think back on what you know, look around at your friends. You're ready for this, you just don't know it..

Here was the Menu (I actually sent this to Thomas Keller for his approval - Because I changed a few things):

Gruyere Gougeres
2 inch cone filled Crème Fraiche and topped with salmon tartar
“Pork and Pearls”  
Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Applewood Smoked Bacon and White Truffle oil 
Sweet Potato Agnolotti with Sage Cream, Brown Butter and Prociutto 
“Caeser Salad” 
Parmigiano-Reggiano Custards with Romain Lettuce, Anchovy Dressing and Parmesan Crisps – balsamic glaze
Sauteed Atlantic Halibut With Byaldi and Onion Glaze 

“Mac & Cheese” 
Butter poached Lobster with Creamy Lobster Both and Mascarpone –Enriched Orzo
Bread & Butter (off the menu – Salted European butter)
Breast of Duck with Apple and Ginger sauce on Linguine with Ragout of Oriental Mushrooms 
“Yabba Dabba Do” 
Roasted Rib Steak with Golden Chanterelles, Pommes Anna, and Bordelaise Sauce
Whipped Brie de Meaux en Feuillete with Tellicherry pepper and baby mache – port glaze 

“Strawberry Shortcake” 
Strawberry Sorbet Shortcakes with Sweetened Crème Fraiche Sauce
Lemon Sabayon pinenut tart - honeyed mascarpone cream (off the menu – one bite on a spoon- pipe lemon sabayon and mascarpone cream from 2 different bags & sprinkle crumbled pine nut crust on top) 

Baked Chocolate Mousse with Cinnamon-Stick Ice Cream, Vanilla Crème Fraiche and Butterscotch Sauce 
“Mignardises” … (Candies to take home)


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

Every cook should know how to make a Frittata. It is a thick omlet finished in the oven. Here's several recipes. Feel free to go off the menu. This is like making your own pizza, there's no rules.. This is so good and it will feed a bunch of people.

Brussels Sprout, Bacon and Gruyère Frittata

1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, diced
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup snipped chives

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 6 inches from the heat. In a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in the shredded cheese and snipped chives. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until the eggs start to set and the bottom is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil the frittata for about 3 minutes, until the center is just set. Run a rubber spatula around the edge of the frittata and slide it onto a serving plate, then cut it into 6 pieces and serve.


Broccoli-Rabe and Ricotta Frittata

3/4 pound broccoli rabe, tough stems removed
9 eggs
3/4 cup ricotta (about 1/3 pound)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Heat the oven to 325°. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the broccoli rabe until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. Rinse the broccoli rabe with cold water and drain thoroughly. Cut the broccoli rabe into 2-inch lengths and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the ricotta and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and the pepper.

In a medium cast-iron or ovenproof nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the blanched broccoli rabe and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Evenly distribute the broccoli rabe in the pan and then add the egg mixture. Cook the frittata, without stirring, until the edges start to set, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and bake until firm, about 25 minutes.


Spinach, Feta, and Tarragon Frittata

2 tablespoons butter
2 scallions including green tops, cut into thin slices
10 ounces spinach, stems removed, leaves washed and cut into thin strips
1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon, or 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)

In a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over moderate heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the spinach, dried tarragon, if using, and 1/8 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Remove the spinach mixture and let cool. Wipe out the pan.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach mixture and fresh tarragon, if using.

Heat the broiler. In the same frying pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with the oil over moderate heat. Pour in the egg mixture and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the feta over the top and cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top is almost set, 6 to 7 minutes. Broil the frittata 6 inches from the heat, if possible, until the eggs are set, 2 to 3 minutes.

Lift up the edge of the frittata with a spatula and slide the frittata onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve.


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:49 PM