Monday, February 18, 2013

Preview to Palo Alto Grill part 4 - Seaweed, etc.

Seaweed has gotten a lot of attention lately.  People have begun noticing how full of dietary benefits the different types are.  We get so much nutrition from the land and all of its different plants, fungi and animals.  The sea comprises so many more species of flora and fauna accessible to us, and some cultures have historically made surprisingly little effort to tap into anything more than fish.  Seaweed-phobics have almost  a lopsided diet, missing out on all of the potential amino acids, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants in the oceans bounty.

This blog has already spent a lot of time unraveling the mysteries and advantages of Agar Agar.  In the next two installments of our preopening menu development, we will be covering appetizers which happen to feature even more different seaweeds.

The first dish will be a Salmon Poke.  Poke is a Hawaiian dish, typically made from Raw Tuna, marinated in sesame oil, and soy sauce, with some form of seaweed.  Our Salmon Poke uses a seaweed salad marinated with sesame and rice vinegar.

The different types of seaweeds are rehydrated forms of nori and wakame, mixed with cucumber.

The salmon is diced.

Ingredients (per pound of salmon)
1/4 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 tsp Korean Pepper Powder (Gochukaru)
2 small Green Onion, minced
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
1 tsp Sugar
1 pinch Sea Salt

Marinade Salmon and serve after at least 5 minutes and up to 8 hours.

To mix the sauce:
2 oz Korean Pepper Paste (Gochujang)
1 Tbs Water
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Sesame Oil

Mix with a spoon until smooth.
Spread on plate.

Then the seaweed salad and cucumber.

Top with the salmon Poke
and Avocado (not pictured)

Its best for the radish pickles 
to be made at the last minute.
Slice thinly, then mix with vinegar,
water, sugar and salt.

The radish goes on top.
(note: the egg yolk is from
an early test of this dish...
it wasn't tasty)

Top with shredded Nori
Nori is roasted and compressed sheets of seaweed.
Compared to the very textural seaweed salad,
nori has a deeper, richer, roasty ocean flavor.

For crunch, we sprinkle puffed wild rice around.

Salmon Poke

Coming soon....

And now, the dish from the upcoming menu that I am most excited about so far:

Monterey Red Abalone!

This is additionally relevant because Abalone feeds primarily off of kelp and other seaweeds.

The dish is begun with a sprinkle of 
red beans, braised in a smokey ham sauce.

The dish is garnished with Dulse and Wakame, rehydrated before being sauteed along with the Abalone.

We saute with Nori butter, a combination of Nori powder mixed into softened butter.

Pictured is a roll of our homemade Nori butter.  To powder nori, just put dry in a blender or spice grinder.

This is my new favorite thing! Nori butter is so oceany, meaty and deep in flavor

The abalone and seaweeds in nori butter...

The dish is finished with crispy ham.


Coming soon!

To find out more about the abalone we will be using, visit:

Very cool beans!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Avocado Corndogs

We had a lot of fun last year at Le Cigare Volant with this dish.  Unfortunately, it was a lot of work!  In order to be able to push avocado through the thick corndog batter, we froze blanks of avocado meat, shaped with a cutter.  We would batter and par-fry them, then re-fry them to order.   It was a pain, and the quality suffered.  

Additionally, we could only prepare a limited amount every day, because of the time involved in thawing the centers.

This video shows how we used to form the blanks.

I knew that if we were to run this dish at Palo Alto Grill, it would need to be more streamlined, to accommodate the higher volume of customers and raise the quality of the 'Dogs.

Back to the drawing board, i tried some crazy stuff:

Seems pretty cool, right??

Well, its a f#$%-ton of work.

And in the end, they come out pretty shitty.

Ah well, we'll come back to those guys.  First, the Chipotle Mustard!

Chipotles are delicious, though they can be a bit spicy.  We wanted to accent the flavor in a way that would downplay the spicy character of the peppers.  In order to do this, we analyzed the other flavors in chipotles and found them to have a raisin-like quality, from the drying.  They're also smoked, so we made a smoked raisin puree, to add to the mustard for flavor, with low spiciness.

First, the raisins are smoked over wood chips.

Sometimes, you need to break out the big guns.

The raisins are then soaked
until plump.

Much of their cloying
sweetness drains
away with the water

To this is added a puree of chipotle.

As well as whole grain mustard

That's Chipotle Mustard.

To make the batter, mix with a whisk:

1 cup Cornmeal
1 cup Flour
3 Eggs
1 Tbs Baking Powder
2 cups Milk
Pinch Salt and Sugar

Its best if this is allowed to rest under refrigeration overnight.

For the surprisingly low-tech solution to the avocado blank, peel and roughly dice several avocados.  Season with lime, salt and cumin.

Soak gelatin sheets, 1.5 per avocado.
Melt this gelatin, and mix with the avocado.
Refrigerate it until set.

Turn out the set avocado 

Punch small "sausages" of the avocado and skewer.

These definitely have the structural integrity
to hold up to the cornmeal batter.

Fry at 375 F.

Garnish with cilantro (or whatever you've got) and chipotle mustard.

Cool Beans!

Coming soon...again...!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Palo Alto Grill part 3 - Soup's On!

Today we showcase our soup lineup for the upcoming menu.  I love making soup, I think its a great way to showcase different products, from meats to produce.  Soup highlights the true flavor of things, literally distilling them down to their essence.  With these two recipes, we are doing our best to showcase the height of vegetable puree-style soup, as well as a less traditional treatment of a consomme.

Our consomme-style soup is a Tuscan inspired soup, featuring sausage, chicken and tortellini.

Begin with whole chicken
Disassemble chicken into deboned legs and whole breasts.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
1 whole Chicken
2 each Carrots
3 ribs Celery
18 pasta, wonton or dumpling skins
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumb
1 each Egg
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
2 ea Italian Sausage
1 head White Cabbage, shredded
3 ea Fingerling Potatoes, large

The rest of the chicken, bones and wings
 goes into a stockpot with water to cover.
Carrots, Celery, Onion go into the pot with the
chicken, boiled and allowed to simmer 4-5 hours.

The thigh meat is ground...
Mixed with Seasonings...
Then laid out on pasta skins
Folded and pinched into shape
Chicken tortellini

Another garnish:
Take the Italian sausage, 
roll into balls 
and fry over medium-high heat 
until well browned.

Strain out the chicken stock and discard bones and vegetables.  Allow stock to simmer and slowly poach chicken breast meat.

Brown shredded cabbage in rendered sausage  fat

Shred chicken breast and set aside until ready.

Freeze the chicken stock 
in ice cube trays

Simmer the fingerling potatoes
in water until tender.

The next day, place the frozen stock cubes
in cheese cloth and allow to drain
The consomme, after the stock thaws

How easy is that??  You just put it in the freezer and take it out.  The consomme clarifies itself by the matrix of gelatin.  All you people who paid $35,000 for culinary school, I heard you all just yell WTF!! I totally getcha, its messed up.

Heat the ingredients, layer in bowl, top with parsley, parmesan, olive oil and pour hot consomme over the top.

The second of our soups: Asparagus soup 
with Lemon Butter Ice Cream

Begin with shallots, the white part of the asparagus, and celery, cover with water and coconut milk.

Puree smooth and chill

Blanch the green parts of the asparagus in boiling water.

Puree blanched asparagus 
in chilled soup base 
(to preserve color)

We saute milk powder in butter until brown, simmer in milk and add egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice, spin in an ice cream machine to make Lemon/Butter Ice Cream

To garnish the soup, grill thinner asparagus over high heat and char lightly.

The soup is finished with toasted garlic bread 

and poured tableside

and those are the 2 soups for our opening menu...

coming soon.......