Thursday, March 7, 2013

Prelude to Palo Alto Grill part 6 - Pot Pie, Steaks, etc.

More cooking in the last week.  We managed to execute a rough "cross-section" of the menu, including finally some STEAKS!

We had long planned to do a Vegetarian Pot Pie Entree for the restaurant.  There are certain concerns with executing a pot pie for a restaurant.  If one were to cook the pie in the traditional way, it would take an unacceptable amount of time from ordering to serving.  Possibly even an hour.  We had to come up with a way to be able to put the pot pie up within 15-20 minutes.  This way, as long as the guest were to order a salad or soup as a first course, there would be no perceivable wait.

We achieve this with two kitchen tricks.  First, we pre-bake the bottom crust.  For this we use a blitz puff pastry, which is somewhere between fancy puff pastry and regular pie crust.  I'll give a recipe for this down the road, but you can see the large lumps of butter that we begin with to the left <-.  The dough is then folded over on itself until the butter is roughly dispersed between layers of pastry.

If one wishes to try this pie at home, feel free to use frozen puff pastry dough from the supermarket, it works quite well.
We lay out the bottom crust in the vessel it will eventually be served in.  In order to prevent the pastry from over-puffing and filling its own cavity, we need to use a baking weight.  Beans are traditional, but some chefs have recently turned to coins, because they conduct heat better.

This gets baked at 375 until very golden brown.

Ingredients for the filling:

1/2 pound Button or Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
2 each jumbo Carrot, sliced
3 each ribs Celery, sliced
8 each Pearl Onion, halved and peeled
5 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons  fresh Sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme, chopped
1 cup frozen Peas
1 each Kabocha Squash, cubed (or other hard squash)
6 each Baby Rose Potatoes
1 each Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup White Wine
1 Tablespoon Constarch
1 cup Milk
Salt and Pepper TT

Begin by lightly sweating all
vegetables and herbs in
Grapeseed Oil until fragrant.

Add White Wine and
Water to cover.  

Simmer until the Kabocha and Potato are just tender.

Mix Cornstarch with just enough water to create a slurry and drizzle into stew.

Repeat until thickened.  Add milk to finish and season with salt and pepper.

The second trick we use to finish the pot pie quickly is to fill them hot.  When filling is finished, but still hot, pour into pre-baked bottom crust.  Top with a square of puff pastry, glazed with egg yolk and garnished as desired with designs of puff pastry.  We use stars, echoing the PA Grill logo.

Broil on medium heat until well browned.  This is the aforementioned 15-20 minute step.


Another successful upcoming dish is the octopus appetizer.  We simmer the blanched octopus in olive oil until tender.  We finish it on the grill, and serve with potatoes, garlic and preserved lemon sauteed in olive oil.

Chopped basil finishes the dish.

We further feature the grill with our mixed grill Entree, which is comprised of Coulotte Steak, Confit Chicken Wings, Prawns Marinated in Yogurt and Cevapcici Sausages.

The Palo Alto Grill Cowboy steak is a rubbed Ribeye, with charred blistered peppers, roasted garlic and smoked potatoes in garlic aioli.

One of the things we wanted to showcase at Palo Alto grill which sets us apart from many steakhouses are flavor profiles, chosen by the kitchen to accent particular cuts of meat.  We also wanted to showcase a Steak Frites (french fries) - that French bistro classic.  For this execution of frites, I use a method developed by Heston Blumenthal - triple cooked fries.  This ensures every fry has a delicate, glassy coat and a fluffy interior.

One can see the lightly marred surface of the
blanched fries, this is what will eventually give
them a glassy crunch.

First, the potatoes are blanched in water until just tender and allowed to cool rapidly in the freezer.

Once the fries are near frozen, they are simmered in 300-315 degree oil until the skin is leathery and near-brown.  They are then re-frozen until ready to serve.

The final fry happens at 375 degrees, this is where the fries gain their true golden color and crunch.

Steak frites with Bordelaise, Aioli and Frisee Lettuce.

This last week, we also found our preferred execution of Quail (in this demo, the part of Quail will be played by cornish game hen)

The quail is marinated in 5 spice, soy and honey before being grilled and served over sauteed snap peas and carrots.

The dish is finished with a Balsamic Reduction.

Our first side dish, confirmed for the menu will be a Sun-dried tomato Mac and Cheese.

Coming soon....

Cool beans.


  1. Hi Chef do you know about ""?

    1. Ooh, looks cool. I wish they had a nostalgia filter or category. That would almost be more useful.

  2. Very good idea!

    How about an opening nite for the readers of this blog?

  3. What's the difference between blanching in olive oil and water? I love the potato fries is it same with sweet potatoes as well? is good guideline to mix in molecular level and to experiment. Their iPad app is so slow on mine though but interesting enough to play with it.

    1. With the water blanch, you create a less leathery initial exterior, but a thin, fluffy one. The second blanch firms up that fluffy exterior so it holds together. The final fry crisps that fluffy, leathery layer into a crispy, glassy coating.