Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Parsnip Puree, 3 mushrooms, Watermelon Radish, and Mushroom Gravy

To start, I roasted the parsnips in the oven at 350, with 1 cup of chicken stock in the bottom of the pan to keep them from drying out. Once cooked, I pureed them in the Vita-Prep and and added butter, cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Then I roasted the mushrooms (mitayke, black trumpet, morel), after tossing them in oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of the leftover melted butter from the parsnip puree.

For the morel mushrooms (I bought them dried at Whole Foods, because I had never used dried mushrooms before, and morels are very difficult to find fresh in stores). To rehydrate the mushrooms, I submerged them in water right after it had been brought up to a boil and then taken off the stove. They sat, covered, for about half hour. I then roasted the morels with the other mushrooms. The resulting liquid is a "mushroom tea" of sorts, and I used it as the base for the gravy, along with a standard rue and mushrooms blended in.

The fish was just seared in the pan until almost cooked through and then basted with plenty of butter (technique can be seen here, demonstrated with scallops:

Here's another view of the plate:

Braised Short Rib with Cilantro Chimmichuri Yogurt, jalapeño semolina cake, chorizo, and queso fresco

Braised short ribs are awesome, and I love making them.This time, I decided I was going to braise the short ribs with Jameson and red wine (and beef stock). I seared the short ribs in a saute pan on high heat, and then added the Jameson (about 1.5 cups) and let the alcohol flambé until it burned off. Then I turned the heat down very low. 

In the meantime, I had another pot going on the stove where I was reinforcing the beef stock with more vegetables that would go in the braise. I sauteed carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in the pan before adding spices (corriander seed, mustard seed, black peppercorns), bay leaves, then I added the majority of a 750ml Bottle of red wine (had to leave a little of it to drink...) and let it come up to a boil and let the alcohol cook off. Then I added beef stock to the mixture and let it boil. I poured the stock into the pan with the short ribs and Jameson. Then I covered it and put it in the oven at 250 degrees for a bit more than 3 hours.

Once removed from the liquid, trim the short ribs off the bone and trim off any cartilage. Reduce the liquid until it coats the back of a spoon, taste and season accordingly.

I also experimented with savory semolina cakes, adding in the spicy jalapeño. I first whipped egg whites in the mixer until they formed soft peaks, then began adding the rest of my ingredients, the result was a very porous, light and fluffy muffin of sorts. I draped the half muffin with chorizo and queso fresco.

The orange sauce on the plate is a chipotle yogurt, made from blending chipotle peppers, adobo, vinegar, sugar, chile paste, chili powder, salt, and greek yogurt together. It was very spicy.

The Green sauce on the plate is a variation on a chimmichuri sauce. I blended cilantro, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and spicy peppers, salt and pepper in the Vita-Prep, and the once it was pureed, I added in yogurt until it reached the desired consistency.

Here is another view of the plate, before the glaze was put on the plate (which I did with a brush)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mozzarella, Carrot Puree, Chanterelles, Two Prosciuttos

Last night I made a rather elaborate dinner at home, I spent my whole day off in the kitchen (go figure...). What I came up with was an appetizer, and a main course that contrasted each other in flavor and appearance (main course to come later)

Prosciutto, carrot and cucumber wrapped fresh mozzarella with roasted chanterelles, radish, scallion, carrot puree, raspberry balsamic reduction, and duck prosciutto.

To start: I made wrapped mozzarella balls in prosciutto di Parma, carrot ribbon, and cucumber. Then I wrapped my other garnish for the plate, which was cucumber rectangle with radish on top, wrapped in a carrot ribbon, with a tiny piece of scallion sticking out.

Carrot Puree: Ingredients
1/2 Lb carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch rondelles
3T unsalted butter
1/4C freshly grated pecorino cheese
1/4C Heavy cream
Salt and Pepper TT

Process: First, boil the carrots until soft, then drain. In the same pan/pot, melt the butter, and stir in the cream, cheese, and pepper. Pour the carrots back into the pan, and let the butter/cream come up to a boil. Turn off, transfer to blender and blitz. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Chill in the fridge.

The rest of the dish was rather simple. For the mushrooms, I sauteed them in chicken fat (I was making a chicken stock at the same time, so I skimmed some of the delicious fat off the top and used it like butter. Animal fat is highly underrated, as it holds a TON of flavor, and can be used instead of oil or butter for much deeper flavor).

The dots on the plate are a raspberry and balsamic vinegar reduction, that is sweet but still has the tangy bite of vinegar. The raspberry vinegar is locally made in Canton, and can be bought at Violette Wine Shop in Cambridge, MA.

The other small prosciutto bits on the plate are actually duck prosciutto! I have started curing meats at home, and this is the first one that is done! It is actually VERY easy and approachable.

Duck Prosciutto
2 Duck Breasts, 1/2Lb each
1 Box Kosher Salt
2 Bay Leaf
7 Juniper Berries
1/4C Grey Salt
1tea Lemon Zest
10 Clove Garlic
2T Black Pepper


First, mix about 2-4C salt with the bay leaves, juniper berries (crush with the back of a sautee pan), grey salt, lemon zest, chopped garlic, and black pepper. Once everything is incorporated, pour a thin layer into a dish that will fit both the duck breasts without them touching. Pack them completely in salt, so they are no longer visible. Make sure everything is evenly distributed. It is easiest to place the duck fat side down, as it will take on fabulous flavor from the spiced salt. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 24 hours.

Remove the duck from the salt, wash it under lukewarm water, and then dry completely. Then, wrap each breast in cheesecloth (single layer-- too much cloth will not allow the moisture to evaporate from the duck, and thus improperly curing it) tie up the breasts as you would a roast of meat. Hang it in a cool, dark place. The desired humidity is between 50-65% if you have any way of regulating it, but a closet or a basement works fine. Hang the duck for 7-8 days, after that, you will be able to feel that the meat has stiffened significantly, and it is ready to eat. It will almost feel like jerky on the outside. Unwrap, and slice as thin as possible on a meat slicer. If you do not have access to a meat slicer, try putting the breast in the freezer, and then using a serrated knife to slice it as thin as possible.

Good Luck!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Scallops with Butternut Squash, Asparagus, Pancetta, Truffle

First meal in my new house on Wadsworth St, the new kitchen is quite amazing. I went to Whole Foods and bought groceries and ended up with this dish! Seared scallops wrapped in pancetta, butternut squash puree with ricotta and pecorino cheese, asparagus and snap pea puree with white truffle oil, garnished with pursalene and micro arugula.

I have had a lot of great scallops this summer, especially notable were the ones I got down in Montauk, NY earlier in the summer when I was on vacation with my family, camping on the beach (its incredibly fun). Montauk is a fishing port and has an amazing selection of fresh seafood. I also had amazing scallops with I was on Cape Cod a few weeks ago.
The ones pictured above were purchased at Whole Foods (at a rather steep price of $24.99/Lb...) but they were absolutely delicious.
I got the inspiration for pancetta from a dish we did when I was working at the EMC Club in Fenway park (the upscale restaurant in Fenway). We did pancetta wrapped cod, and it was delicious. It went very well with the scallops as well.
I saw the butternut squashes in the produce section, and since it's september now I decided it was time to make the transition to fall vegetables. I gently boiled small diced cubes of the squash for about 20 minutes (or until tender) and then strained and pureed it. I added 1C of whole milk ricotta cheese, along with 1/4C grated pecorino cheese. (Salt and pepper to taste)
The asparagus, snap pea, and truffle oil puree came together very well and was absolutely delicious. First, I cut about 4 inches of the stems off the asparagus, to avoid stringy bits in the sauce at the end (if you are not straining it). Then I simmered the trimmed asparagus and snap peas for about 3-4 minutes and then shocked them in ice water. I then pureed the vegetables in the blender and added 1T (tablespoon) of white truffle oil, and salt and pepper. I also added a bit of ricotta for a better consistency and to make sure the sauce held together.
The plate here was something I randomly stumbled upon in a Khols (of all places....) while buying an electric razor. But the plate is awesome, and I wish I had bought 10 of them.
To make the asparagus puree into the dots, I used a small squeeze bottle, that I got at a kitchen store for $0.99

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Summer Soup: Chilled Carrot Harissa Soup with Sweet Goat Cheese, Radish, Pursalene, Black Truffle, Beet Puree.

Summer Soup

On a hot summer day, there is nothing better than a cold soup that's actually delicious. We made this soup at work the other day, and it was great, so I took a cup home and put my own spin on it. My favorite part of this dish is the textures that exist in each component. Pursalene is a delicious leaf green, but is actually considered a weed. It is great to use in soups, salads, or to add color or texture to any dish really. Here, the Pursalene gives a nice fresh crunch when bitten into. (above, Pursalene)

Here is my plating of the dish:

The Goat Cheese I used here is something we use at work, called Moroccan Goat Cheese.
It is so good, that when making it, I think I taste it at least 5 times for "quality control"...

Moroccan Goat Cheese, Ana Sortun Recipe

1/2 Onion- Small dice
3 Oz lemon juice
1 Cup Cilantro leaves- Chiffonade
8 Oz Goat Cheese X2
1/4 Cup E.V.O.O
3/4 Cup Golden Raisin
1/4 C Slivered Almonds (Optionally toasted @325 for 3-5 mins, or until golden)

Dice the onion, and then let it cure in the lemon juice and 1tea Salt for about 10-15 minutes, this will lessen the sharp flavor of raw onion, but still have the nice crunch. Then, mix in the olive oil and goat cheese and incorporate. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and enjoy!
There are many applications for this cheese. I have made it into a ravioli filling, I have eaten it in salads, and even breaded it and deep fried it for a goat cheese fritter of sorts.

Black Truffle: go buy some NOW. Whether it be truffle salt, oil, or the real thing. But I LOVE truffles, so try doing something with them, it works well in pastas, risottos, and as a garnish for a wide variety of things.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Burrata with Italian Speck and Peach Goat Cheese

Burrata is a favorite cheese of mine. It is a fresh cheese, made from mozzarella and cream (so whole milk and cream together). The outside of the cheese has the texture of fresh mozzarella, but the inside is smooth and creamy. Buratta means buttered in Italian, and when you eat the cheese, you know exactly why.
Tonight I made a Burrata dish using Italian Speck (Smoked Prosciutto), Cherry Tomatoes, Peach Goat Cheese, Whole Grain Mustard, Pickles, E.V.O.O., Baby Basil, Truffle Pecorino, and Balsalmic Vinegar.
Method: I started by covering the bottom of my dish with Oil, and placing the Burrata in it. Then I salted and peppered the cheese. Next I squeezed my sauces onto the plate in a circular motion. Next, I placed the Crostini, Mustard, Tomatoes, and Basil on the cheese, and finished with the Spek on the large rim of the bowl. Right before serving, place drops of the Balsalmic into the oil, and it will separate, as shown in the photo. Garnish with Pickle and Chive. Voila! 

There are a few essential culinary tools that allowed me to plate this dish as pictured above. First, invest in a ring mold (a circular mold that helps shape ingredients on a plate), here it helped push the Burrata into a perfect circle shape.
A squeeze bottle (Think of the container of ketchup at a clam shack on the Cape, except cleaner...), This tool will help you be clean and deliberate with your sauces when plating. You can make nice long streaks, as pictured here, and also make Balsalmic Vinegar dots in the Olive Oil. Squeeze bottles can also be used as salad dressing containers, syrup containers, or as a juice dispenser.
The Speck Ham is an essential item in this dish. A good cured meat pairs exceptionally with this cheese.

Peach Goat Cheese:

8oz Goat Cheese
2 peaches
2T Butter

Cut the peaches into 8ths, and sautee slowly in the butter for about 10-15 minutes. Puree peaches in a blender. Add goat cheese to the puree and pulse until homogenized. Let cool in the fridge for 1 hour, or until set. Serve with crackers or raw vegetables.

Steak Tartare, summer style

Allston, Gourmet.

Hello! My name is Nicco Muratore, and I am an aspiring chef in Boston, MA. I am currently working on a Masters Degree in Gastronomy at Boston University, and working as a cook at Sofra Bakery and Cafe and Oleana Restaurant in Cambridge. I grew up in Jamaica Plain, a section of the city of Boston. I loved to cook from a young age, and when I was 16 years old, I got my first cooking job. I walked into Fenway Park's annual job fair looking to become a vendor (you know, those guys that yell "PEANUTS HEAAAAAAH"). So after the preliminary interview, they sent me to table 5 for my secondary interview, with a specific department. I must have been in the right place at the right time, but there happened to be nobody sitting at table 5 when I reached the front of the line. So there I was, probably looking like an idiot, when the guys at table 2 asked me who I was waiting for. They quickly told me I wanted to talk to them instead, so I went and sat down at table 2. Sitting in front of me was Steve "Nookie" Postal, the Executive Chef of the high-end restaurants in Fenway Park, and Pat Ford, his Executive Sous-Chef. They took my resume, looked over it, and almost immediately asked me if I wanted a job in a kitchen. I thought they were joking. I had no culinary experience, and the only thing they knew about me was that I "liked to cook". Two weeks later, I got a call from Pat telling me to come to Orientation the next week. 3 years later and I was deep into the life of a cook. I loved it from day one, and knew it was my passion in life. I decided to change what I was studying at Boston University, and pursue a Masters in Gastronomy through the School of Hospitality Administration and the Metropolitan College. I love everything about food, eating, and restaurants. Hope you enjoy my posts! All of these dishes are crafted in my shitty college apartment in Allston, MA. Stop by.

-Nicco Muratore

Steak Tartare, Summer Edition.

The other day I had an extreme craving for some steak tartare, after reading Barbara Lynch's cookbook entitled "Stir". When eating raw beef, it is essential for you to know where your meat is coming from. I went to a Whole Foods Market, who sells only organic, grassfed proteins. Not only is it better for you and the environment, it tastes a hell of a lot better than the shitty grocery store stuff.
So, I got myself one piece of Tenderloin (a.k.a Filet Mingnon- the center cut of the tenderloin), yes it is expensive (at $29.99/lb) but it is a pleasure to eat raw, as it doesn't have an extremely beefy taste and it is very tender and easy to chew. I did a spin on the traditional Steak Tartare preparation, using in-season ingredients for a fresh summer taste.
What I used: Sweet 100 Tomatoes, Local Sweet Corn, Seranno Chile, Chive, Garlic Conserva, Pecorino Cheese, Black Truffle, and Blackberry Skordalia.

Garlic Conserva:
One of the essential ingredients that brings a sharp, yet sweet taste is the Garlic Conserva. 
Garlic Conserva is something I learned from my boss at Sofra Bakery, Chef Geoff Lukas.

1/2 Cup E.V.O.O. (more if necessary)
3C Garlic Cloves
1/3 Cup White Verjus
1/4C Whole Grain Mustard

To Make the Conserva: In a medium saucepan, combine E.V.O.O. and Garlic. Slowly cook until the garlic starts to soften. When the garlic begins to fall apart, add 1-2 tea salt, and the White Verjus (or White Wine and 2T sugar). Once the Verjus has almost evaporated completely, add the Whole Grain Mustard. Let ingredients cook together for another minute, and then remove from heat. 

This spread has many applications, from acting as a garlic substitute when sauteeing to being used as a salad dressing. It can kept in the fridge for up to a month, or longer if preserved in jars.

The Mystery Pink Sauce: Blackberry Skordalia
The word Skordalia is Greek, and means making a sauce by combining crushed garlic with a bulky base (Nuts, Potatoes, Stale Bread), and then adding an additional flavoring if desired.
The Skordalia base I made here was Almond based: 

2 Cups Blanched Almonds
1/2 C Garlic
1/3 C Lemon Juice
1 C Warm water
1/2 T Salt

In a Vita-Mix Blender (Or other powerful kitchen blender) blend the garlic, lemon juice, and salt, to cure the garlic and take away the sharp raw flavor. Then add the almonds water and blend until a thick white base has been created. It should be the consistency of a thick paste, and not completely smooth.
Once you have your base made, you can add a wide variety of things to it: I have done Parsnip Skordalia, Squash Skordalia, Sweet Potato Skordalia, ect...) To make this pink Skordalia, I roasted a carton of blackberries for 5 minutes at 375F. Puree them in the blender and add to 1C Skordalia base. You can adjust the strength of the sauce by adding more or less base.

To see more of my food, please check out my instagram @Niccomuratore 
Happy to answer any questions!