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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Morel and Crab Napoleons

At my age there's something wrong with celebrating one's birthday for three days.  It's not a major birthday and 29 is WAY far in the rear mirror.  However, celebrate for three days I did.

Ken, brother number four - that's measured only in age - was here on Friday.  He was on his way from his home in Charlotte to pick up his son Evan in Michigan.  John, that would be brother number three, and his wife, Pam, met us for dinner at our favorite restaurant, Chef Joseph's at the Connoisseur Room.  Joseph is an amazing chef.  I had scallops that were perfect.  They were exactly what I wanted.  I'd told Connie we'd make scallops on Saturday because I had no clue Joseph would have them as his special and I didn't trust any other restaurant to make exactly what I wanted.  Juan waited on us and spoiled us totally.  Sara made her normal fabulous drinks - like my after dinner drink of coffee Patron tequila, salted caramel vodka and Baileys.  Oh, my, but that was good.  John and Tom - the owners - were there to offer birthday wishes.  Sammy even came out of the kitchen to say hi.  John, Pam, Ken, Connie and I had a fabulous time talking about all kinds of things. 

Ken took off Saturday morning and Connie and I were off to brunch before the office.  Unfortunately, we tried a new place:  Just Judy's.  We won't be back.  It didn't seem that anything was scratch made.  And, both Connie's pancakes and my sausage gravy tasted funny.  There was a lot of food for the price but I'd rather have wonderful food and less of it.  After we got home from the office at o'dark thirty, I decided to fix pissalidiere. 

One of our favorite dishes.  It always elicits a conversation about one of our first dates when I fixed it for Connie and he was entranced by the fact that I too love onions, garlic, anchovies, olives and cheese. 

Sunday morning I used Pam's leftover housemade potato chips from Chef Joseph's.  I'd scanned in some recipes on Saturday night and found an Iberian frittata using potato chips rather than sliced and fried potatoes.  It was good but not great so I'll not post the recipe here. 

After our breakfast, we were once again off to the office.  We actually headed home before 5:00.  YAY!  On the way we stopped and bought phyllo dough.  Something I've not used and am not comfortable with.  Something my friend Liz uses all the time and does a fabulous job with.  It was Easter.  I couldn't call Liz for moral support.  It was all up to me.  Argh!  But, I wanted to make this recipe.  It was to be my cook for myself birthday dinner.

I've got a few left from this chapter in Commander's Wild Side.  It's called, "Showstopping Dishes to Impress Your Friends."  Thus far, they certainly have been.  We've made the Truffled Scallops and Crabmeat with Caviar Vinaigrette, Creole Lobster Bisque and Pepper Crusted Beef with Crispy Oysters and Horseradish Cream.  Still to come are the crab and brie stuffed founder and crab and oyster mushroom risotto.  I'm going to skip the other two recipes since one has grits (a Connie no-no and the other has fois gras - a no-no for both of us.)

Well, what did we think?  Amazing.  Over the top.  May I lick my plate?  Please?   Now, this recipe sounds intimidating and difficult.  It really isn't.  I was amazed at how easily it came together. 

Morel and Crab Napoleons
serves two


for the phyllo squares:
3 half sheets of phyllo dough
2 T butter, melted

for the fish
1 c dry white wine
1 c clam juice
2 fresh parsley stems
5 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 tilapia filets (the recipe called for speckled trout)

for the crabmeat:
1/2 pound crabmeat, picked
1/4 thinly sliced green onions or shallots
2 T dry white wine

for the mushrooms:
4 oz assorted mushrooms
3 T butter

for the morel cream:
1 c heavy cream
2 T dry white wine
salt and pepper
1/4 oz dried morel mushrooms, finely ground


Lay one sheet of phyllo dough on a baking sheet. 

Brush it with melted butter.  Top it with another sheet of phyllo dough.  Brush it with melted butter.  Repeat with the last sheet of phyllo dough.  Cut them in half.  Bake for 15 minutes at 300F.  The recipe calls for putting another baking sheet on top of the phyllo rectangles so they'll remain flat.  I decided not to do that and they puffed up beautifully. 

Pour the cream and wine in a small saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until reduced by half.  Stir in the salt, pepper and morel dust.  Keep warm.

In a small skillet, pour the ingredients for the fish poaching - white wine and clam juice.  Add the parsley, peppercorns and bay leaf. 

Bring the poaching liquid to a heavy simmer and add the tilapia.  Cook about 10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. 

Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside. 

In another small skillet, heat the crabmeat gently with the shallots and white wine.

Now, it's time to assemble the napoleons...

Pour about 1/4 cup of the morel cream on each of two dinner plates. 

Top the cream with half of a tilapia filet each. 

Top each piece of tilapia with 1/4 of the mushrooms

then 1/4 of the crabmeat. 

Top that with one of the phyllo rectangles. 

Top that with the other piece of tilapia, the mushrooms and the crabmeat. 

Top each with the last phyllo rectangles then drizzle with the rest of the morel cream.

adapted from Commanders Wild Side

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