Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Culture... More Yogurt

Well wouldn't you know? The moment I'm poised to begin my sabbatical from regular employment and take up the Museum Saturation, Gallery Crawl and Summer free-for-all of cultural opportunities - My hidden chef for hire becomes as popular as frozen daiquiris in Hell. (Hemingway's line, not mine, but I've always wanted to borrow it.) And like said daiquiri, time was essential in taking advantage of being in the hot seat.

Just as I managed to juggle last minute freelance bookings (Really? You JUST decided to get married on the 4th of July?), with my desire to either hide out in the Poconos for a week or three or delve into a cultural odyssey, my in-box popped up with 2 responses to my personal chef ad on Craigslist. Well yeah, I did place the ad, but figured it was more a gesture than a possibility. But no, I'm not interested in living above your East Hampton's garage and cooking for you and you friends Wednesday's thru Sunday's till Labor Day. And now the cell phone's ringing with my most recent boss's number displayed and he's asking if I'm in town or in the country.... because he's got some ... (cue the back lit halo effect) recipe development work for me.

It's short notice... I don't care ... Fage yogurt .... Love their product .... We just made up the recipe titles in 3 minutes ... Sounds great .... Not sure they can work ... They'll work ... It only pays .... I'll take it! ... We need it by noon tomorrow.... WTF? I mean, No problem!
See, I really love recipe development. It makes me happy. And these gigs are hard to come by. So I didn't care, sabbatical be damned. I'm off to the grocery store. And feeling damn special about it too.

So the task ahead was to develop, test and write up 8 recipes as quickly as I could put knife to product, food to fork and ink to paper. Yogurt, Fruit and Nut Parfait - easy enough. Yogurt Dijonaisse Potato Salad - no worries. Lemon Yogurt Coleslaw - where's the problem? Yogurt Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Strawberry Compote - Done and done. Yogurt Mac & Cheese - hmm OK, will yogurt be stable when heated? Yogurt Fried Chicken - OK... do I confess now I've never actually fried chicken... Yogurt Dill Biscuits - that's more like it. Yogurt Hollandaisse - screeching to a halt... Really? What were they thinking? But no worries, it'll happen.

And so it does. One by one, happily substituting yogurt for sour cream, or milk, or buttermilk; And tossing in more Fage in lieu of said creaminess. That said....In spite of my satisfaction I'm not ready to share all recipes I developed. Several of which are already being berated in hindsight into a position of submission. I'm guessing I'd significantly bump up the seasoning in the fried chicken marinade and coating as an example. Mind you they all work, and are seriously tasty, but the 14 hour deadline did force some truncating I'd prefer to avoid.

But here's the fun part... It was the Yogurt Hollandaisse that was the eye opener for yours truly. While the classic Hollandaisse has no milk products (save the obvious butter) the addition of the yogurt stabilized the sauce and added to it's rich mouth feel. Who'd a thunk?

And so my Greek version of the ever present NYC Brunch option is what I'm sharing today. Even the Handsome Venezuelan (who prefers his eggs "crispy"- it still gives me shivers 12 years into...) proclaimed this dish a total winner.

Makes 12 2” biscuits

1 ¾ cups All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Baking powder
½ teaspoon Baking soda
½ teaspoon Salt
4 ounces Unsalted butter, cut into small dice
1 cup Fage 0% Yogurt
¼ cup Fresh dill, finely chopped

Combine 1st six ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add diced COLD butter, and mix into the dry ingredients, using slow to medium speed until the butter is worked down into small pea sized bits. Stop mixer. Add yogurt and dill. Slowly mix together until just combined.

Turn out onto a floured board and mix by hand until last floury bits are combined. Roll out dough to about ½” thickness. Using a 2” cutter, cut out biscuits and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Place baking sheet in freezer.

Preheat oven to 400*. When oven is ready, remove biscuits from oven and brush tops lightly with heavy cream.

Bake for 16 – 18 minutes, rotating baking sheet after 10 minutes.


3 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
¼ teaspoon Siracha pepper sauce
4 ounces butter, warm & melted
3 Tablespoons Fage yogurt

Place all ingredients (except the melted butter) in the bowl of the blender. Mix briefly to combine well.
With machine running on low, gradually add the warm melted butter in a slow stream through the center opening of the lid.
Transfer mixture into a double boiler over warm water (no flame). Whisk in yogurt. Serve warm, not hot.

Serves 4

8 Fage Yogurt Dill Biscuits

8 medium Canadian bacon slices

10 ounces Fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 recipe Fage Yogurt Hollandaise

8 large Eggs
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar

1/3 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

Place 2 biscuits on each plate.
Put salted water in a large skillet to the depth of about 2 inches. Add vinegar. And bring to a simmer.
Gently sauté Canadian bacon in a dry sauté pan and keep warm.
Warm a medium sauté pan with olive oil. Add Spinach and sauté until wilted. Season with salt & pepper and keep warm.
When water with vinegar is just barely simmering, crack an egg into a small dish, then gently slide egg into water. Repeat with remaining 7 eggs. Cook each egg 3 – 4minutes.
While eggs are poaching, top each biscuit with 1 slice of Canadian bacon and sautéed spinach.
With a slotted spoon, top the spinach with one poached egg.
Spoon Hollandaise Sauce over each egg and garnish with crumbled feta.
Serve immediately.

Big Mary's Kitchen 2011
photos by Yder Laya