[Recipe] Hedy’s Banana Brunch Panini with Maple Bacon Crunch

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We all know TGHG executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith isn’t shy when it comes to sweets, and she’s taking her panini game to a whole new level next week representing team genuine at LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade.  This west coast fundraiser is the only daytime affair on Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s (ALSF) chef-supported event circuit, meaning all sorts of fun possibilities are on the menu, including Hedy’s Banana Brunch Panini with Maple Bacon Crunch! This panini covers every base when it comes to brunch. With salty sweetness of maple bacon, the creaminess of cream cheese, crunch of granola, and soft crispness of La Brea Bakery’s Parker Rolls.

Michael, Hedy and Bradley at last year's event!

Michael, Hedy and Bradley at last year’s event!

Decadent and delicious, L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade brings superstar chefs and mixologists from across the country to Los Angeles to lend their support to ALSF and the fight against childhood cancer. Each chef and mixologist prepares a signature dish for guests to sample. Guests have the opportunity to taste incredible fare and meet and even chat with the chefs who prepared it. L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade is hosted by Chef Suzanne Goin and business partner Caroline Styne (Lucques, AOC, Tavern) along with Chef David Lentz (The Hungry Cat). The event has raised nearly $2 million to fund childhood cancer research, raising more than half a million at the 2013 event alone!

If you aren’t in La La Land Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, you can still get your brunch panini fix at home with the recipe below and donate to one of the causes dearest to our hearts at the same time by clicking here.  Hedy swears by one press in particular for perfect results, the Breville Smart Grill. “It has several height settings, and it caramelizes my panini like no other machine.” When I saw her using one in pastry yesterday to crank out the above photo subjects , I could tell why. It’s like the Ferrari of presses, but pretty compact (it has to be in that station!) Super efficient, just the way we like to work, especially when HQ is in the Sunday brunch crunch!  Thank you again to Breville for always coming through with Genuine hardware and to fearless chef leader Suzanne Goin for inviting Miami to the party each and every year!  A sweet treat for an even sweeter cause.

Banana Brunch Panini with Maple Bacon Crunch

Serves 12

8 ounces cream cheese, brought to room temperature
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or real vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 dozen La Brea Bakery Parker House Rolls
4 just-ripe bananas, sliced 1-inch thick on the bias
1 cup crunchy granola, store-bought or homemade
Maldon salt or other flakey sea salt, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup Maple Bacon bits (see recipe below)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat a panini press to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed, cream the cream cheese and brown sugar until fully incorporated and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream, vanilla and salt until combined, about 1 more minute. Scrape the bowl and paddle with rubber spatula and set aside.

To assemble the panini, split the rolls open and lay out on the counter, inside up. Spread the sweetened cream cheese mixture on tops and bottoms.  On each bottom half, place 2 slices of banana, topping with a sprinkle of maple bacon bits and a light dusting of Maldon salt.  Evenly distribute granola onto the top halves, pressing down so the crumbles stick to the cream cheese. Carefully flip the top onto the bottom pressing to have both halves become one. Combine the cinnamon and sugar.  Brush the melted butter on both the top and bottom of the panini and sprinkle the top with the cinnamon sugar.

Place on the preheated press, carefully close without added pressure, and toast until golden brown and caramelized, about 4-6 minutes. Carefully remove the panini, set it on a cutting board.  Allow to cool at least 10 minutes.  Enjoy, or eat later reheating in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes or until crispy.

Maple Bacon Bits

Makes 1 cup

½ pound thick cut bacon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
½  teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the bacon, maple syrup, brown sugar molasses and salt. Coat the bacon, cover the bowl allow to sit 30 minutes or longer, but no longer then 24 hours. Place the strips of bacon on a rack over a baking pan to catch the fat.  Bake the bacon until it becomes dark caramel color, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and immediately remove the bacon from the rack. It will be sticky and hot, so be careful. Allow to cool completely, about an hour. Pulse in a food processor until consistency of gravel.

Tune-Up Time at MGFD

Oh, hello new neighbor! It's starting to happen! @miamidesigndistrict @mgfd_mia

“Oh, hello new neighbor! It’s starting to happen! @miamidesigndistrict @mgfd_mia ” (via @chefmschwartz)

The engine is getting another tune up as Michael’s flagship restaurant approaches 8 years old this spring!

We will take a quick break to make some necessary improvements to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Miami from Sunday, September 21 to Sunday, October 5, reopening Monday, October 6.

But don’t worry! While we’re closed getting everything in tip top shape for a busy new season in the Design District (!!!), take a stroll two blocks west and enjoy a pie or daily special at Harry’s Pizzeria, our casual neighborhood joint or if you’re in the mood for something a little special, The Cypress Room is three blocks to the south with elegant American cuisine and attention to detail in service like no other.

Our specials around the neighborhood will continue to flow regularly on social media on our Instagram and Twitter accounts @harryspizzeria and @thecypressroom, as well as @MGFD_MIA which will have a little fun with its content during intermission, including what our cast of characters is up to throughout #Genuineland.

Onward and upward, and look forward to welcoming you back into our home sweet home as soon as humanly possible!

Virtual Pub Crawl Part I | Snacks

MGP_Menu_Front_9.10MGP_Menu_Back_9.10Our menu changes so often at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink with new ingredients and specials here and there that it’s easy for Chef’s classics to stray from top of mind, especially if you follow our Instagram.  With so many delicious distractions, it can be a challenge to keep up, even when it’s your job to!  That’s why we’ve had an especially good time reacquainting ourselves with the flagship’s bread and butter, many of them recipes from Michael’s cookbook, and standardizing their preparation and presentation before getting Michael’s Genuine Pub out of the shipyard.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to compare this process to being a tourist in your own city… a fun adventure when you take the time to do it!

It’s almost time for Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas to set sail, so before our team heads to Bremerhaven, Germany to train a new crew of genuine staff, we’re inviting you into the process here as we count down the days (38!) with a virtual tour of our menu.  Today we begin with food and start at the top with the Snacks section and TGHG Special Ops Chef Thomas Tennant and Executive Chef Bradley Herron as our guides.  It’s amazing what you learn when you are tasked with teaching others what you know — or think you know! — like the back of your hand. Ever curious but never asked about the varieties present in Marinated Olives? What about the cheese used in the Polenta Fries batter? (Yes, there is cheese!) Join us as we break down each dish’s setup, a few of which have their origins at Harry’s Pizzeria, and maybe you will delight in hidden surprises in Michael’s signatures, too.

MGP_DevilsDeviled Eggs: Hard boiled eggs are cut in half and then the yolks are removed and puréed with mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt and tabasco. It is garnished with paprika and chopped parsley and served 5 to an order.

MGP_PigEars Crispy Pig Ears: Pig ears are braised for 4 hours in jus and chicken stock with mirepoix, bay leaf and thyme, cut into thin strips, deep fried to order, and seasoned with a blend of spices and garnished with a wedge of lime. The magic combination of coriander, cumin, salt, sugar, ground chipotle, paprika, garlic powder, ginger powder, mustard powder, and onion powder is a flavor bomb to the palate, and quite addictive!

MGP_Liver Chicken Liver Crostini: Chicken livers are sautéed, puréed with caramelized onions, brandy and cream, then spread onto thick slices of toasted sourdough baguette that becomes amazing thanks to a mixture of butter, olive oil and garlic. Topped with caramelized onions, chopped parsley, and fleur de sel, and served 3 pieces to an order.

MGP_hominyCrispy Hominy: Hominy are dried corn kernels from which the germ and hull have been removed by soaking the kernels in water. They are cooked in water, fried to order and seasoned with a blend of spices, then garnished with a wedge of lime.

MGP_Chips
Thick Cut Potato Chips with Pan Fried Onion Dip:  Idaho potatoes are freshly cut in thick slices, deep-fried and sprinkled with sea salt. The chips are served along a side of caramelized onion dip topped with chopped parsley.  The classic mixture combines mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, caramelized onions, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

MGP_Wings
Chili Chicken Wings: Deep fried and tossed in a sweet, mildly spicy chili sauce, the wings are served 5 per order and come with a side of creamy cucumbers. Their cooling crunch, a mixture of garlic, cilantro, mint, greek yogurt, and lemon juice, is the perfect counter to the punch of the wings. They hit the table showered with scallions cut on the bias & picked cilantro.

MGP_falafel Falafel: Falafel are crispy little balls where consistency is key, especially in the grind! They are made from raw chickpeas, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, parsley, mint and cilantro, deep fried, and served 3 to a plate with pickled red onions and tahini sauce.

MGP_Olives Marinated Olives: An assortment of seven types of olives including Beldi (oil-cured,) Castelvetrano, Cerignola (both black and green,) Kalamata, Nicoise and Picholine are marinated in olive oil. The individual flavors and consistencies of the olives are enhanced by their marinate of garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper and citrus zests. 

MGP_SlidersPulled Pork Sliders: Slow roasted pork shoulder is seasoned with cinnamon, coriander, chili powder, crushed red pepper, and fennel seed then pulled into tender strips. The pork is made into a slider with toasted brioche buns, topped with pickled red onions, creamy cucumbers and parsley sauce. 2 per order!

MGP_picklesJar of Pickles: A variety of vegetables including red onion, radishes, cauliflower, carrots, and Kirby cucumbers are quick-pickled by heating rice wine vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, bay leaf and water and pouring the liquid over the vegetables. Served in a mason jar.

 MGP_FarroGreek Farro Salad:  This dish features the components of a classic Greek salad — diced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, Kalamata olives and French feta — with the addition of cooked farro, an ancient grain with nutty flavor. The mixtures is then dressed with lemon vinaigrette.

MGP_Ricotta Homemade Organic Ricotta Crostini with Apricot-Thyme Jam: Organic whole milk is turned into ricotta by gently heating with buttermilk and finished with lemon and sea salt. It is served on a toasted crostini and topped with apricot-thyme jam and pea shoots.

MGP_Polenta Polenta Fries: Yellow corn polenta is cooked with milk, butter and grated parmigiano, cooled, cut into thick fries, then deep fried until crispy. They are served with ketchup that has been spiced up with sauteed yellow onion, garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro.

MGP_GnudiFried Gnudi: Ricotta dumplings — taking their name from the naked or “gnudi” center of a ravioli — are poached then deep-fried until crispy. They are served with lemon crème fraîche and shaved parmigiano.

MGP_TomatoBreadSoupTomato-Bread Soup:  A San Marzano tomato soup is blended until smooth and velvety with sourdough bread, basil and olive oil, then garnished with a piece of Fontina Toast, bascially a mini griddled cheese sandwich!

MGP_FennelRadish Fennel, Orange & Arugula: This light salad is tossed with shaved red onion and fennel, radish, baby arugula, orange segments, and green olives in a lemon vinaigrette. It also features fregola sarda, a small pearl pasta from the island of Sardinia off the coast Italy, which binds it together and adds a touch of heartiness.

MGP_Fishdip Smoked Fish Dip: This smoked whitefish dip is seasoned with old bay spice and green onions. Smooth and savory, it is served with a crunchy and refreshing celery salad and saltine crackers. Build your own perfect bite.

MGP_Pate
Country Pâté: Also known as Pâté de Campagne, is a rustic pate made from pastured heritage pork, eggs, onions and savory herbs baked in a terrine mold.  It is served on a board with accompaniments including cornichons, pea shoots, Dijon mustard, toasted baguette.

Uncorked: Larkee on Lua Rossa no. 2

Forget everything you expect from sequels and open a bottle of Lua Rossa no. 2.  Waft its profound aroma, the Nebbiolo showing up first with classic rose petal and anise notes. Behold the dark fruit, and then marvel in its rustic, earthy notes, unusual for a New World wine. The wine is medium bodied on the palate with medium tannins and food friendly acidity. I’ll have seconds.

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 10.30.59 AMLong awaited after April’s blending trip to Santa Barbara with Michael, Tamara and blender in chief Eric Larkee, our first shipment arrived this week and is drinking rather exceptionally. You can find it as of yesterday on the wine list (by the glass and bottle) at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink and come November at Michael’s Genuine®  Pub (MGP) aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, along with its producer Jim Clendenen’s Ici/La-Bas and Clendenen Family Vineyards brands.

“If one were to climb a mountain seeking an oracle of wine knowledge there would be no shock to find Clendenen sitting on the top,” Larkee states in our newly minted server training guide for MGP. “Besides already knowing you were coming, he also would hold all the answers, at least his answers to your questions.”

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The epic lunch Mexican lunch Jim cooked for us at the winery after blending. Those hot sauces though…

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Setting the buffet, the Clendenen way. All over the place!

This is the second addition of the wine, the first was created to be a friendly, approachable pizza wine for Harry’s Pizzeria.  The finished wine exceeded expectations and came in to use in all of our restaurants.  No. 2’s core is Nebbiolo. The Petite Verdot adds color and tannic structure. There are actually two Refoscos, one which adds color and spicey complexity, as well as a dash of 2003 Refosco that offers that baseline funk of Old World earthiness. The Pinot Noir adds depth and complexity and is kind of the wine’s secret weapon. Larkee also suggests pairing with The Pub Board, Pork Slider, Fried Gnudi from MGP’s menu, food-friendly indeed.

After college graduation a month in Burgundy and Champagne convinced Clendenen that he would be better at making wine rather than law. In 1978 he started as an assistant winemaker at Zaca Mesa, and in 1982 he branched out on his own starting Au Bon Climat (which means “a well exposed vineyard”). While never a favorite of the magazine critcs, Jim’s wines have found appreciation with those who seek wines to complement and not overpower their foods. Chef and Jim first met almost twenty years ago and have maintained a close and convivial relationship since. Back then Michael had a haircut much closer to Jim’s wild mane.

For those of you with nostalgic leanings, Harry’s Pizzeria® and The Cypress Room still have the original Lua, so say hello or goodbye to her before her run comes to a close.

Night & Yay: Harry’s Daily Specials Now All Day Err Day!

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TGIF… Finish the week fresh with Wood Oven Roasted Local Fish chickpea, lemon aioli, chermoula.

Great news for Harry’s Pizzeria fans! Michael’s casual neighborhood joint, which introduced Daily Dinner Specials to its menu in the summer of 2012, today begins to offer this recurring schedule of daily entrees all day, every day.  In addition to the restaurant’s daily soup and pizza special, Harry’s Daily Specials complement the restaurant’s menu of snacks, salads, pizza – now also available with gluten free crust, and dessert — or can make a meal of their own!  From meatless Monday’s eggplant to Friday’s local fish, stay glued to Harry’s Instagram this week for midday posts of each plate according to the line-up below.  Have fun with them!

MONDAY
Wood Oven Roasted Eggplant stewed tomatoes, farro, gremolata, feta 16
TUESDAY
Braised Beef Cheeks shaved celery salad, lemon, crème fraîche 19
WEDNESDAY
Slow Roasted Pork lemon, rosemary, cucumber salad, chili vinaigrette 19
THURSDAY
Wood Oven Roasted 1/2 Chicken salsa verde, fennel salad 19
FRIDAY
Wood Oven Roasted Local Fish chickpea, lemon aioli, chermoula 21
SATURDAY
Chicken Milanese escarole salad, chilies, herbs, capers 17
SUNDAY
Wood Oven Roasted Leg of Lamb peperonata, fingerlings, thyme 20