"Mis en Plus" is Key to Entertaining with Ease

Posted on December 3, 2010 by:

My motto in the kitchen is “Simple.  Delicious.”  If you keep this in mind, you’ll have a better understanding as to why I’m posting a photo of butter rather than the beautiful entrée that was served yesterday at the luxurious Chateau on the Lake in Branson, Missouri.

Butter Stars

Latham customers and I had the privilege of watching a cooking demonstration by Chef Doug Knopp.  To say that it was “Food Network brought to life” would be a huge understatement!  I learned more in 90 minutes from Executive Chef Knopp than I’ve learned after years of watching cooking shows on TV!  Chef began by telling us that no question was a dumb question, so I felt like I was given carte blanche! (As a former journalism major, I’m never short of questions.)

“Cooking is an art,” says Chef Knopp.  “You don’t have to follow the recipe exactly; make a few changes to better suit your tastes.”  For example, Chef says to cook with any wine that you would drink.

If you like Chardonnay, try it.  If you like Riesling, use it. Experiment with different wine when making the Mushroomed Stuffed Chicken Breast (recipe follows) to discover what wine gives you the flavor you most enjoy.

The Canadian-born chef also shared many tips as to how he and his team of culinary professionals are able to serve 150 covers (industry jargon for “different plates of food”) a la minute (made to order) nightly and with ease.  The key, he says, is mis en plus (pronounced meez-on-plooss), or the advanced preparation of ingredients.  Here are a few of his tips I’ll be trying at home:

  • Placing washed lettuce and other foods (even soup) in Ziploc® bags and then stacking them in my Crisper drawer;
  • Tossing out my cooking wine (which tastes like vinegar any way) and replacing it with whatever I feel like enjoying by the glassful that night at dinner;
  • Assembling olive oil (in a plastic squirt bottle), pats of butter, kosher salt, and other seasonings in a 9×13 pan, so it’s convenient when I need it;
  • Blowing on the liquid to prevent it from boiling over on the stove;
  • Using a star tip to make pretty pats of butter.

Honestly, I think food tastes better when it’s pretty.  Move over small, yellow, plastic tub of margarine… this Christmas I’m replacing you with pretty stars of Real® butter!

What are some time-saving tips that make holiday entertaining easier for you?

Cajun Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 T. orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp. chili powder

Method:

  1. Blend all of the ingredients together and place in piping sleeve with star tip.  (I’m so excited to have another use for The Pampered Chef® decorator kit since I use it more to make Deviled Eggs than I do for cakes or cookies.  Oh, I feel a New Year’s Resolution coming on!)

Roasted Red Pepper Bisque with Sambuca Cream

Ingredients:

  • 4 large, roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • ½ head celery, chopped
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  •  quart chicken stock
  • ½ quart heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup Sambuca
One of our customers and Chef Knopp whisk up Sambuca Cream to top our Roasted Red Pepper Bisque.

Method:

  1. Sauté the roasted red peppers with onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Deglaze with white wine, add chicken stock and half of the cream, bring to simmer. Whisk in tomato paste. Simmer 15 min. Puree with hand blender and strain. Season with salt and white pepper if needed. Whip the rest of the heavy cream and add Sambuca. Pour into bowls and garnish with Sambuca cream. (Yield 6)

White Chocolate Banana Spring Roll with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 6 large spring roll wrappers
  • 3 bananas
  • 3 oz white chocolate chips
  • 3 oz chopped pecans
  • 3 oz caramel sauce
  • 3 oz chocolate sauce
  • 2 pints vanilla bean ice cream
  • 6 mint sprigs

Method:

  1. Slice bananas into 4” sections and then slice them in half the long way. Place banana, flat side down, in a spring roll wrapper; sprinkle with white chocolate chips and chopped pecans. Fold in the ends and wrap up banana in wrapper, sealing the end with egg wash. Deep fry or place in shallow pan fry until golden, approximately 2 minutes. Place ice cream in center of plate and spring roll next to it; drizzle with caramel and chocolate sauce.  Top with chopped pecans and garnish with mint sprig.
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