[RECIPE] We Fancy Cheese Puffs | Playing the Temperature Game for Perfect Choux Pastry in Gougères

Wednesday’s Rancher Appreciation Supper (tickets and menu here) at Harry’s Pizzeria® is about more than meats the eye.  The occasion is a celebration of delicious product from a source we trust and can stand behind, a commitment that Michael is making long term for our neighborhood American pizzeria as it grows.  Beef and pork raised right, tastes right.  But what happens behind the scenes to make it all happen for the dinner on the culinary end orchestrates resources and talent across our group, from menu development to execution.

This morning we visited our commissary kitchen where much of the heavy lifting for prep happens for our restaurants and special events to zero in on the process through the humble cheese puff or gougère.  A flurry of activity since 5:00 a.m. dances around not skipping a beat from one item, one hot minute, to the next, cooks methodically Sharpie-striking the day’s butcher paper prep list taped to glass racks. MJ keeps her cool “off to get [her] ass kicked” on the next thing.  Jean checks on Michael’s Genuine’s pastrami in the cabinet smoker wafting a peppery sweetness over the range where MJ begins her pâte à choux.  The key throughout the process is use of temperature and its control.

“What I love about the choux dough is it is so rustic. You have to really get in there with your hands to make something beautiful and simple,” she explains, bringing the water, milk, salt and sugar to a boil in a saucepan before adding the butter and then the flour, paddling, turning and whipping with a wooden spoon aggressively. “Instead of a raising agent like yeast or baking soda, we use a mechanical leavener — moisture from fat and the steam that escapes when heated.”

You’re looking for the “V” to form and then it’s ready to pipe.

MJ prefers her base with a little more flavor so she cuts the water with equal parts milk, adjusting the butter accordingly.  Keeping an eye on moisture content and knowing what to look for at the various stages of cooking will yield the right result.  She likes to finish cooking it by drying it as much as she can on the range.  Looking for a film to form on the bottom of the sauce pan, MJ then takes it just a tad longer over the heat.

“I’m looking for it to become dry enough to sustain the structure of the dough when I add the eggs later,” she adds.  They’ll be tempered with the help of the whiz of a gigantic paddle in the smaller (30 quart) of her two Hobart mixers and a paint job she learned back in culinary school — spreading the dough on the sides of the mixing bowl to let just the right amount of steam escape before adding the eggs so they incorporate perfectly.

“When you are trained originally in pastry you start with traditional French patisserie to learn the basics,” MJ reflects.  “I always rely on the foundation of the technique, but it’s the instinct for cues in the behavior of the technique that develop over time and serve to make a recipe really work.”

Gougères

Yields about 3 dozen

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 scant cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cups gruyère, shredded
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Pre-heat oven to 375° F.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat bring salt, sugar, milk, 1/2 cup of water and butter to a boil, mixing to combine with a wooden spoon.  When a froth begins to form, turn the heat to medium-low and add the flour.  Mix with wooden spoon continuously for 3-4 minutes or until a light film forms on the bottom. Keep stirring vigorously for another minute or two to dry the dough so it easily pulls away from the pan.  It should have a smooth, paste-like texture. Remove from the heat.  Using the wooden spoon, scoop the dough and spread on the sides of bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  This will allow just enough heat to escape before adding the eggs to ease their tempering.  Add the eggs one by one and beat until the dough is thick and shiny, making sure that each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next.  Don’t worry if the dough looks like spaeztle as the eggs are beaten in, this is normal; the dough will come together again.  Let the dough sit for a minute, then beat in the grated cheese. You’re looking for the dough to form a stiff “V” on the paddle, then you are ready to pipe.  Using a rubber spatula, scoop dough into a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip for better control when piping.

Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper — if you are using parchment, you can pipe a small bit of dough on the corners and in the center of the sheet to use as glue for the paper.  Pipe about 1 tablespoon of dough for each gougère leaving about 2 inches between the mounds. Sprinkle each with a little parmigiano.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees F.  The initial blast of heat will activate the steam and make them rise, then lowering will dry them out without burning them.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the gougères are golden and puffed.  You an also pull one from the oven to test for moisture inside and continue to bake accordingly.  Serve warm, or transfer the pans to racks to cool.

[RECIPE] Oven Roasted Gold Bar Squash with Arubella Cheese, Prosciutto & Soft Herbs

Gold bars ahead!

“Quality is never an accident,” chef recently scribbled on his office closet door.  When we speak of what quality and its companion, creativity, mean in a kitchen or to dish creation specifically, out of the box thinking, big ideas and originality come to mind.  But would it take some of the magic away if what is really at play is much more grounded?  That instead of some high falutin divination, it’s a process — not unlike recipe-writing itself — that is detailed in every way.  I am starting to see it as an algorithm based on timing: what is seasonal, what is available and what is the context.  This produces the best creativity, and when the chefs nail it, it falls into focus.  A dish becomes instructive and expressive of the approach.  The why is in the how.

Words to stand by, and for, at The Genuine Hospitality Group.

Take Oven Roasted Gold Bar Squash with Arubella Cheese & Prosciutto, little bundles of the perfect, simple bite and part of the first course of next Wednesday’s Rancher Appreciation Supper at Harry’s Pizzeria® in the Design District.  As culinary assistant Megan Hess explains, “This dish is an opportunity to highlight three ingredients that each work to add something to the equation. The squash is something seasonal and fresh. Belgioioso’s Arubella cheese – think Taleggio – shows up all over the menu at Harry’s, from pizza to salad, so we wanted to rethink its potential and uses.  And the prosciutto, while we would be happy eating it out of the package, is something we don’t get to use everyday in the restaurant nor as an ingredient in a dish. It works great here to wrap it all together.”

Enjoy our calculations in your home kitchen, but first get a taste of the gold standard by purchasing tickets here!

Oven Roasted Gold Bar Squash with Arubella Cheese, Prosciutto & Soft Herbs

Serves 4 as an appetizer

10-12 baby squash, preferably Gold Bar
1 cup shredded Arabella cheese
½ pound sliced Niman Ranch prosciutto
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup picked parsley
1/4 cup picked cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cut each squash lengthwise. Sandwich some cheese in between the zucchini halves, pressing and shaping to secure. Wrap each bundle with a piece of prosciutto. Place each stuffed squash on a sheet tray about an inch apart, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and prosciutto has lightly crisped. Toss parsley, cilantro, lemon and olive oil in a bowl. Present squash family-style on a platter topped with soft herbs and serve immediately.

Pesto in Your Pie Whole | A Slice of Harry’s Pizzeria® at a Whole Foods Market Near You This Summer

Harry’s pesto pizza has been a staple on the menu at Michael’s American pizzeria since day one. Might have something to do with his favorite ingredient!

Sometimes things start from a seed and grow in the right ways when you care for them, like our partnership with Wellness in the Schools.  It’s especially gratifying when the results are sweetened by a delicious and surprising biproduct, like the Harry’s Pizzeria® Pesto Pizza turning up at Whole Foods Market’s South Florida stores beginning this weekend!

As fearless founder Nancy Easton’s New York City-based non profit heads into its second school year of work here in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, we are more poised than ever to improve cafeteria food one lunch at a time working with a task force of local chefs.  Thanks to shared values — and love of good food — we found ourselves at the table with Whole Foods Market, even matching its pledge of 5% of sales on January 10 to raise a combined $44,000 and further WITS’ penetration down here.  Huge thanks to Michael and Harry’s Holdings CEO Sunil Bhatt for their commitment to this cause!

In the spirit of getting to know each other better and having some fun since, well, that’s what summer is for, you can now enjoy the Pesto Pizza by the slice and whole pie available for purchase at all 13 Whole Foods Market Pizza Bars from Palm Beach County down to Miami-Dade.  Pick up a recipe card to try your hand at home with all the ingredients, including dough, heirloom tomatoes and Mozzarita mozzarella, sourced right there in the store.  You can also purchase Michael’s dough fresh at all three Harry’s Pizzeria locations.  Thank you to the Florida region’s Carlye Wisliceny, marketing field coordinator and Brian Collaro, prepared foods coordinator and WITS Chef, for the opportunity.  It’s been a fun exercise pulling it together, and we couldn’t do it right without The Genuine Hospitality Group’s culinary team to support on recipes and training from chef Megan Hess in-store.  For participating Whole Foods Market stores near you including hours, visit its website or your nearest Google toolbar.  Make sure to tag #summeratharrys, @wholefoodsmiami and @harryspizzeria to share your slice of the pie!

When Harry Met Pastrami, Back by Popular Demand!

We’ll all have what Coconut Grove is having.

PASTRAMI GATE!  The Katz’s Pastrami Pizza on Rye Crust that Michael conceived for our American pizza joint will now be available at all 3 Miami locations beginning Monday, July 17 until Sunday, July 23, after Chef had to make a call to owner Jake Dell for 150 more pounds after selling out at the Coconut Grove restaurant during its limited run this week. We re-upped to make sure we were covered through the weekend and also convinced Dell to fly down Tuesday to make the rounds in person and learn how to make the pizza from the master himself.  So much for keeping kosher in the 6th borough!

Breaking pastrami news in today’s New York Post.

Join us to celebrate “Pass the Pastrami”, as New York City’s iconic Katz’s Delicatessen shares the Jewish Deli love across the country this summer with celebrity chefs creating a signature Katz’s-inspired dish for their menus. Get Michael’s before it’s gone!  For hours, directions and contact for all Harry’s locations, visit harryspizzeria.com/locations.

And mail order your Katz’s favorites here too, FREE SHIPPING NATIONWIDE, to get your fix on repeat.  The item we are using is the Whole Pastrami, cheekily advised as for professionals only, noting “Katz’s only recommends whole pastramis for those who know how to carve pastrami as it is a delicate process.”  In true Michael fashion, “Do you know what you’re doing?”  If you do, this recipe is for you!

Give the people what they want!

Pastrami Pizza

Makes 1, 12-inch pizza

1 ball Rye Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon buttermilk
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
8 ounces shredded gruyère cheese
2 ounces sauerkraut
3 ounces Katz’s pastrami
1 scallion cut on the bias for garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 500F.

Place pizza stone or baking pan on the middle rack and preheat it along with the oven for at least a good 20 minutes.

To prepare 1, 12-inch pizza, dip the ball of dough into a little flour, shake off the excess, and put the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface. Stretch the dough with your hands, turning the ball as you press down the center. Continue spreading the dough into a 12-inch circle either with your hands or a rolling pin. Leave the dough slightly thick so the topping does not seep through. Dust a pizza paddle (if you don’t have a paddle you can use a rimless cookie sheet as a substitute) with flour and slide it under the pizza dough; it’s easiest to top the pizza with the dough already on the paddle. In a small bowl make your mustard sauce by combining the spicy brown mustard, mayonnaise and whisk together with the buttermilk. Season with salt and pepper. To build the pizza first spread the mustard sauce on the dough, then evenly distribute the cheese, sauerkraut, and pastrami. Slide the pizza onto a pizza stone that has been pre-heated and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and delicious. Garnish with scallion and serve immediately.

Rye pizza dough

Makes 4, 12 inch pizzas

½ cup lager or other light style beer
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1, 7 gram packet active dry yeast
1 pound bread flour, plus additional for stretching
1/3 cup dark rye flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine the yeast, honey, beer and 1 cup water in a small bowl; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. With the mixer running on slow speed, add the oil, the yeast mixture, and mix until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, 3 to 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand for just 1 to 2 minutes. The dough should be a little sticky. Gather the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat with the oil. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Knead the dough gently on an unfloured surface and divide into 4 equal balls, they should be about 8 ounces each and the size of large tangerines. Roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The balls can now be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks.

[Recipe] Mango Upside Down Cake

Whether you are following your nose and creeping front yards to forage the perfect specimen, or running and hiding while trying not to squish the rotten ones, no one can escape mango season in South Florida. It’s here!

Michael surprised us this morning with the fruits of his Graham tree home-baked into an upside down cake.  Crumbs are about all that’s left!  “It’s no Haden, but my kids love when I make this cake, so I brought you guys some!”  Graham is a fiberless cultivar that originated in Trinidad and became popular nursery stock tree in Florida for home growing due to its fine flavor and good disease resistance. It was even selected as a curator’s choice mango for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s 2008 mango festival. Not bad!  

Fresh fruit caramelized and embedded in rich buttery cake makes a great dessert any time of year, especially this time.  The beauty of this one-pan cake is its simplicity: you don’t even need a cake pan.  When people take their first bite, the reaction is always the same: oh my God! It’s great with a scoop of basil ice cream as a point of contrast to the caramelized to the point of almost burnt brown sugar… or just plain vanilla will always do!  Enjoy this oldie but goodie below, from Michael’s Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat.

Mango Upside-Down Cake

Serves 8 to 10

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
2 1-pound firm-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into ½ inch slices
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
2⁄3 cup buttermilk
Basil Ice Cream (recipe follows), optional

Put a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the 4 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, stir in the brown sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture looks like caramel, about 5 minutes. Swirl the pan around so the caramel covers the bottom completely. Remove from the heat. Tightly fan the mango slices over the caramel in concentric circles to cover the entire bottom, overlapping the slices.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat the softened butter with a handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed. Gradually sprinkle in 1 cup sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Stir in the buttermilk, then add the remaining dry ingredients, stirring to incorporate.

Beat the egg whites in another bowl with cleaned beaters until frothy.

Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and continue to beat until the whites hold stiff peaks. Gently fold half of the beaten whites into the batter with a rubber spatula to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whites; it’s okay
if some white streaks remain.

Pour the batter over the mangoes and spread evenly to the edges of the skillet. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center, 45 to 50 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the inside rim of the pan to loosen it from the sides and make sure the cake will come out easily. Set a serving plate firmly on top of the pan and carefully flip it over to invert the cake onto the plate. Cool before serving with basil ice cream, if desired.