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Welcome to Chef a la Porte, a food blog that aims to help amateur and aspiring chefs learn to improve their skills with a variety of delicious recipes and delight the eyes with amazing photos. We hope you enjoy all of our dishes and if you have any comments or anything you would like to learn more about contact us on the suggestion page or at info@chefalaporte.com

Technical Difficulties

Hello fans. I come to you today with a bit of bad news, due to some technical difficulties I am no longer able to get photos for this blog. Without photos I do not think that there is enough appeal to the blog to continue on. I hope to someday be able to remedy this situation, and I will keep the blog alive as a recipe archive. But, for now I must bid you all farewell.

If I am able to resurrect the blog I will let you know here as well as facebook and twitter, so please stay a fan to get updates as soon as I have them.

Thank you all for your loyal readership, this has been one of the best experiences of my life. I really appreciate all the feedback and support, you are the best fans in the world!

Sincerely,

Your Friend

Chef Evan Branning

Bruschetta

Bruschetta 2

One of our fans Lisa requested a yummy bruschetta recipe, so I decided to pull one together. There was a bit of a delay since with all the rain on the west coast tomatoes are just now coming into season, and you cannot make a good bruschetta without great tomatoes. Since the tomatoes are 95% of the recipe, you need to get the best ones possible.  Cheap roma tomatoes will make for a bland, flat bruschetta. I recommend heirloom tomatoes. They are tasty, and you can get them in nice colors to make the bruschetta look amazing.

The rest of the recipe is basically all about balancing flavors. If the tomatoes are too sweet you, add more vinegar. If they are too tart, add more oil. If the flavors are flat, you can add a little salt, but be careful not to add too much since the parmesan is very salty. Just taste the mixture as you make it, and you should be happy.

When making the crostini for the bruschetta, I recommend either the oven or a grill. Either way, you should slice the bread thin and toast it until it is nice and crispy. I prefer on the grill when possible since the grill marks look really nice, but that is not always very practical. If you do decide to cook them on the grill, follow the steps listed here but instead of baking off the crostini, place them on a hot grill until they get great grill marks and are nice and crusty.

This makes enough for 4 people as a large appetizer.

Ingredients:

3 medium sized tomatoes

1 tsp of oil + extra for the crostini

1 tsp of apple cider vinegar

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 small bunch of basil

1 small wedge of parmesan cheese

1 loaf of nice French bread

Directions:

1)      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2)      Slice the bread into thin slices. Diagonal cuts look really nice.

3)      Brush the bread with olive oil, sprinkling lightly with salt and pepper.

4)      Bake the bread for about 10 – 15 minutes until nice and golden brown and crusty.

5)      You have now made crostinis! Set them aside for now.

6)      Remove the seeds from the tomatoes, then dice them into small cubes.

7)      In a medium bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

8)      Mix in the tomatoes and toss to coat well.

9)      Cut the basil into long, thin strips (this type of cut is known as “chiffonade”).

10)   With a vegetable peeler, shave off thin slices of the parmesan cheese for a garnish.

11)   To assemble the final product, top the crostini with some tomato mix, a parmesan sliver and some basil just before serving. Do not let it sit long or the bread will become soggy.

12)   Serve and Enjoy!

Chocolate Dipped Fruit

Chocolate Dipped Fruit 2

Now to round out our three course meal, we have dessert! This is one of my favorite desserts, chocolate dipped fruit. It is perfect for a date since you can make it ahead of time, it looks amazing, and if it is a really good date you can feed them to each other.

You can use any fruit you want, but the chocolate only sticks to a relatively dry surface, such as the outside of a strawberry. It won’t stick well to something like a fresh mango slice or a fresh banana. You can make it work, but it is a little trickier so I recommend dried fruits. Pineapple is my favorite, or whole fruits like berries and tangerine slices.

This is a really simple recipe. The biggest thing to look out for is that you need to temper the chocolate. This is a fancy term for melting the chocolate correctly so that it is shiny and snaps when you bite it. You do this by melting the chocolate just enough but not too much. If you get it to hot, it will become chewy and soft when you cool it. If you follow my directions very closely, you will have great chocolate.

If you’re making the whole meal, from appetizer to dessert, here is how I would do it:

The Day Before:

Make the spiced nuts

Slice the cheese

Toast the crostini

Make the chocolate dipped fruit

The Day of, a Few Hours Ahead of Time:

Stuff the salmon

Dice all the ingredients for the ravioli

Plate the dipped fruit and the cheese and nut plate

Just Before Serving:

Cook the ravioli

Cook the salmon

With this plan, you should be able to make almost everything ahead of time. The only thing you will have to do is cook the ravioli and the salmon before serving, neither of which should take very long.

Ingredients:

½ lb strawberries

12 pieces or 4 rings of dried pineapples

8 dried apricots

8 oz dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1)      Place ¾ of the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.

2)      Microwave the chocolate for 10 seconds.

3)      Stir the chocolate.

4)      Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the chocolate chips are just barely melted.

5)      Add in about 10 chocolate chips and stir until they melt.

6)      Dip the fruit in the chocolate.

7)      If the chocolate begins to get thick or not stick well, reheat it for 10 seconds and give it a good stir.

8)      Cool the chocolate dipped fruit in the fridge until nice and cold, about an hour.

9)      Serve and Enjoy!

Herb Stuffed Salmon

herb salmon2

Sorry for the delay between the side dish and the entre, my photographer has been away and I went on a short vacation to L.A. It was a lovely trip, I had a great time. But now we are back to continue the three course meal. Today we have the entre course, an Herb-Stuffed Salmon.

While it seems like a very fancy main course, this dish is amazingly easy to prepare. As an added bonus, it only takes a few minutes to make. This dish will quickly be a staple, as all you need to do is swap the herbs for some of your favorites or use different citrus zest to make a whole new dish.  For example, try cilantro, oregano and lime zest to make a Mexican inspired version and a whole different take on the same basic dish.

If you try any variations on this dish, let me know how they turn out. I would love to hear the combinations you all come up with. The possibilities are endless.

This dish should serve two people.

Ingredients:

1 small bunch of dill (minced)

½ small bunch of mint (minced)

2 salmon fillets (thick center-cut)

1 lemon

Directions:

1)      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2)      Zest the lemon and set aside.

3)      Slice a pocket in the salmon, not quite all the way through.

4)      Fill the pocket with the herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice and a small sprinkle of salt and pepper.

5)      Rub the outside of the fish with lemon zest and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

6)      Sauté the salmon, skin-side up, for about two minutes, until golden brown.

7)      Flip the salmon and sauté for 1 minute more.

8)      Place the salmon into the oven and cook until it is flakey and cooked to your liking.

9)      Plate it with a slice of lemon and light sprinkling of fresh herbs.

10)   Serve and Enjoy!

Sautéed Raviolis

Sauteed Raviolli 2

Continuing our three course meal, we are going on to the entrée.  We’ll be posting the entrée in 2 installments, since the side dish actually makes an excellent entrée on its own. We are making Sautéed Raviolis; it is a nice way to make colorful, fancy ravioli without having to drown it in sauce. Another nice thing about raviolis made this way is that it is a serving of both a starch and a vegetable.

When you make this, you can use whatever store-bought raviolis you’d like. I prefer the spinach and cheese ones, personally, but anything will work. If you are feeling really adventurous, you can even make your own! Homemade raviolis are the best.

Next week we will add salmon to our dish to round out the main course.

This should make 2 servings.

Ingredients:

1 package ravioli

1 package baby spinach

½ red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1)      Cook the raviolis according to the package instructions.

2)      While the raviolis cook, heat the oil and sauté the diced onion in a pan.

3)      When the onion is translucent, add the garlic and sauté for one more minute

4)      Add the spinach and sauté until wilted, about 2 more minutes.

5)      If there isn’t enough oil in the pan so the raviolis won’t stick, add a bit more.

6)      Sauté the raviolis for about one minute tossing to coat well.

7)      Garnish with parmesan cheese.

8)      Serve and enjoy!