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The Real Emeril (July 6, 2006)

A few years ago we had a glorious 5 days in New Orleans; we stayed in a beautiful, historic mansion in the Lower Garden District and of course spent a fair portion of waking hours eating ourselves silly. Oysters or gumbo for breakfast? Po Boy for lunch? And why not – anything goes in the Big Easy.

Right up the street from our mansion was Delmonico's, and one night we decided to try our luck. Of course it was booked for weeks, but when we asked, the charming staff was only too happy to serve us straightaway in the bar! Tables were pushed together, white linen appeared along with the large dinner menu and we were off. The food was glorious: classics from the restaurant plus new combinations from the brash, seemingly roughshod Chef Emeril Lagasse.

It was a great evening, made all the better by the impromptu decision. And we completely changed our opinion of Emeril Lagasse!

A little history: In 1895, Delmonico opened its door at the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Erato Street. This was 70 years after the original Delmonico's of New York opened, and Anthony Commander, who owned a saloon on Magazine Street in New Orleans, was able to obtain the blessings of the New York family to open an independent branch in New Orleans. While the New York restaurant closed in 1923, a victim of family battles plus Prohibition, the independent Delmonico in the Crescent City lived on and thrived. The restaurant did finally close in 1997; on the last day Pete Fountain and his Half Fast Marching Club played taps out side, newspapers lamented the closing in editorials and articles, and most of the city felt that they had lost an old dear friend. But in stepped Lagasse, who saved the old grand dame with a major renovation and brought Delmonico into a glorious new age.

We were delighted, then, that Emeril has published Emeril's Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past. The book is chock full of recipes, both historic and new, plus – at last – Emeril's special seasonings combinations. We enjoyed the prologue with the history of Delmonico's, and drooled over the colour photographs.

Not only does the cookbook bring back memories, it means we can – yum – keep them going! Tonight, my darling, let's start with that divine Steak Tartare, and oooh, let's finish with Emeril's Velvet Chocolate Torte. And tomorrow...

On today's menu:

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Morris Kahn's Steak Tartare in Parmesan Cups

We both love steak tartare, and we really enjoyed this recipe, which Emeril puts into Parmesan cups. It works well on Melba toast rounds too; which ever way you serve, it's going to disappear fast!

Makes 4 servings

  • 12 oz. prime beef tenderloin, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup minced yellow onions
  • 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp capers, drained
  • 4 cornichons, drained and minced
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, drained and minced
  • ¼ cup Tartare Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Parmesan Cups (recipe follows)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Traditional garnishes, such as grated egg whites, grated egg yolks, diced red onions, diced capers and chopped fresh parsley optional
  • 1 recipe Large Croutons (recipe follows)
  1. Combine the beef, onions, olive oil, capers, cornichons, parsley, and anchovy in a small bowl, tossing to combine. Gently stir in the Tartare Mayonnaise, salt and pepper.
  2. Divide the tartare among the 4 Parmesan Cups. (Alternatively, divide the tartare among 4 medium size plates and shape with a 2½-inch ring mold.) Repeat with the remaining meat. Sprinkle kosher salt lightly over the top of each portion.
  3. Arrange the desired garnishes around each portion, and place 4 croutons on each plate. Serve immediately.

Tartare Mayonnaise

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp hot sauce
  • ¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  1. Place the egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process for 20 seconds. With the motor running, slowly add the oil in a thick stream through the feed tube, processing until all of the oil is incorporated and the mixture is emulsified. Add the ketchup and process until completely incorporated, 20 to 30 seconds. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (The mayonnaise will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 1 day.)

Parmesan Cups

Easier than it sounds, and useful for more than the steak tartare. This is worth the effort for a smashing start to any dinner party.

Makes 4 cups

  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Montasio, or Asiago cheese
  1. Melt ½ tsp butter in an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter is foamy, sprinkle ½ cup of the grated cheese in an even layer over the bottom of the pan and shake the pan to evenly distribute the cheese, as if you were making an omelet. Cook slowly until the cheese melts and forms a light golden brown crust, 6½ to 7 minutes. Continue to cook until the edges set and the crisp turns golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Using the tines of a fork, gently lift the edges of the crisp and turn with a thin spatula. Cook until light golden brown on the second side, 45 seconds to 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn.
  2. Carefully lift the crisp from the pan and shape it inside a small bowl or ramekin (3 to 3½ inches in diameter) to cool and harden, blotting with a paper towel to remove any excess oil. (Alternatively, set flat on a paper towel to make a flat crisp or drape over a rolling pin or dowel to make a curved shape.) Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Carefully lift the hardened crisps from the cups and serve. (The cups will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Large Croutons

Makes 12 to 20 croutons

  • One 12- to 15-inch loaf French or Italian bread, cut into ¼- to ½-inch slices
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the bread slices on a large baking sheet and brush one side of each slice with the olive oil, then lightly season with the salt and pepper. Bake until light golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Cool slightly on the baking sheet before handling or serving.

Tony's wine recommendation:
A medium-bodied red wine with good acidity – Beaujolais crus, Chianti Classico Riserva, Ontario Pinot Noir.


Velvet Chocolate Torte with Clear Orange-Caramel Sauce

Emeril says, "The chocolate mousse that is the filling of this torte is light and airy, smooth and slightly sweet – perfect in my book – and the orange-caramel sauce provides just the right complement to it. This dessert is very straightforward to make, with the filling requiring only six ingredients."

We say, "And what are the rest of you having?"

  • ¾ cup pecans
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups cold heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp Kahlúa, Tia Maria, or other coffee-flavoured liqueur
  • 1 recipe Clear Orange-Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread the pecans and walnuts on a small baking sheet and bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Place the nuts and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor and, with the machine running, add the melted butter in a slow stream through the feed tube and process until combined. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the nut mixture for the topping and press the remaining mixture evenly across the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.
  4. Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over barely simmering water and stir until melted. Set aside.
  5. To make the meringue, combine the egg whites, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and whip with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  6. In a clean bowl using clean beaters, whip the cream with the Kahlúa until stiff peaks form, being careful not to overbeat.
  7. Place the chocolate in a large bowl and add one-third of the meringue, stirring until well combined. Fold in the remaining meringue in 2 additions, being careful not to overmix. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, being careful not to deflate the mixture, and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved 2 Tbsp of the nut mixture over the top, wrap the pan with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, slice the cake using a thin, sharp knife dipped in warm water and arrange on 12 plates. Drizzle the orange-caramel sauce to the side of each slice and serve.

Clear Orange-Caramel Sauce

Makes 1¾ cups

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  1. Combine the sugar, water, orange zest, and lemon juice in a medium heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar dissolves, stop stirring and continue to cook until the mixture thickens and turns golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the orange juice (the mixture will bubble up). Return to medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and cool to room temperature before serving. (The sauce will thicken as it cools.)

Quick kitchen secrets:
Egg whites whip better at room temperature, while heavy cream achieves the best peaks when whipped cold.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Muscat Beaume-de-Venise, Tawny Port, Sauternes, Vidal Icewine.

We wish to thank HarperCollins Publishers, Toronto and New York, and William Morrow for permission to publish material and photographs from Emeril's Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past. © 2005 by Emeril's Food of Love Productions, LLC.


Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

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