It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything, and for those of you that follow my blog I apologize. Most of you know I’m executive chef for a liberal arts university and we’ve been doing a lot of catering work leading up to summer graduation, which was yesterday, so my time has been short the past month.
As is customary for every graduation on campus, I create/prepare an upscale dinner for the board of directors and the guest speaker from graduation. Last night’s meal was a filling one, beef tenderloin with portobello-Madeira sauce, roasted purple and pink potatoes and sauteed broccolini, so for dessert I needed something light. Since fresh berries are plentiful right now, I made a simple fresh berry parfait. The guests were really impressed with the flavors and wanted to know just what I did. They were shocked when I told them, because this is so simple to do. It’s a way to heighten the flavors of the fresh fruit without covering it up, so while berries are everywhere you should pick some up and give this a try!
2 cups fresh strawberries, halved or quartered depending on their size
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp Grand Marnier or similar orange liqueur
and for the simple creme anglaise:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/3 cup sugar
To prepare the fruit, simply put all washed and cut fruit in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar, lemon juice and liqueur. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
To make creme anglaise:
In a small, heavy saucepan, heat the cream and vanilla until bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan.
While the cream is heating, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Slowly pour 1/2 the hot cream mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Gradually add the egg yolk mixture back to the pot of remaining cream, whisking constantly, and cook until it thickens and will coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and chill.
To assemble the parfaits:
Spoon fruit mixture in a parfait glass, alternating between layers of the macerated fruit and the chilled cream anglaise. Serve cold.
Here are the recipes for today’s “Chef’s Table” lunch from work. Today I featured a California Grill Salmon Salad with Pear-Infused Balsamic Vinaigrette. This salad can be made with either salmon fillets or boneless-skinless chicken breasts by following the same recipe and substituting the protein of your choice. The salad composition is up to your liking. The recipe below lists the way I prepared it today with alternate suggestions in parenthesis.
First, make your dressing. To make the dressing you need either a food processor fitted with standard blade or a blender.
Pear-Infused Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 can pear halves in heavy syrup
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup EV olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black or white pepper
Put the canned pears and their syrup in the food processor or blender and puree. With the machine continuously running, add the garlic, salt and pepper, then add the vinegar. Pour the oil in a steady stream into the running machine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Maple-Glazed Salmon or Chicken
3 tbsp maple syrup (or you can substitute 2 tbsp dark brown sugar)
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp minced or grated fresh ginger root
1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
Combine ingredients and pour over your choice of boneless chicken breast or salmon fillets and marinate for at least 1 hour. For salmon, bake in 325F oven for 15 minutes. For chicken, cook until internal temp reaches 165F either in the oven, saute pan or on the grill.
In a large salad bowl, add enough spring mix for total number of salads you would like to serve. Add to the lettuce the red bell pepper, carrots and onion. Pour 2 tbsp vinaigrette over the salad mixture and mix well to coat. Put coated salad greens in your serving bowl. Sprinkle with a handful of dried cranberries (or fresh blueberries), then arrange some sliced strawberries on the salad. Sprinkle liberally with bleu cheese crumbles, then a few candy-coated nuts and finally top the bed of salad with either maple glazed salmon fillet or a grilled breast cut into strips. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the protein and serve. Garnish with some thinly sliced green pears if available.