Monday, December 15, 2008

Smoking Gun

smokedsalmon, originally uploaded by essencecatering.

teasmokedsalmon, originally uploaded by essencecatering.

salmonbite, originally uploaded by essencecatering.

It's about time that we get to play with this thing. We've had it in the kitchen for a couple of weeks now. Just sitting on a shelf taunting us to go and give it a try. Well today that moment arrives. We are going to lightly smoke some salmon sashimi and then roll it up with some carrots and daikon. Then it goes on a stick, like all good food should. The flavor for our smoke will be Lhapsang Souchong (a Chinese black tea), it has a smokey flavor to begin with and should complement our salmon sashimi. The carrots and daikon will be seasoned with some mirin, ginger, shiso, and sesame oil. Top it all off with a sauce of teryaki and balsmic, Hawaiian black salt and grains of paradise. Perfection....maybe not , but tasty all the same. Sorry for the crappy pics, still figuring out how to take good ones.
Whatever will we do with this thing next?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cycle Logic

This is one party i really look forward to. A combination of my food and art on the walls. I always feel really goof to put my food into those settings. We try and go the extra mile to compete with the other artists present. This time was no exception. The feedback was great and fun was had (and still being had) by all. I would like to thank all those present and of course my friends from Cycle Logic (who really know how to throw a party). PHG (only those following my triathlon traininng blog will know him) has been a real positive influence in my life lately and for that I make sure he gets the most for his dollar. I thank you as always Ian. I hope you had as much fun as I. And really where do you get all those really great looking bartenders anyways. believe me a total joy to show up again. Till next time.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ermite, Douanier, Riopelle, oh my.

Really this is quite a pig out of beautiful artisan Quebec cheeses. It just makes me smile to see it. Producers who really care about the product they produce. These are just fantastic cheeses in their own right. In no particular order they are :
Clos de St Ambroise
Du Village
Le Cendrillon
and Cendre De Lune

Small fortune for a customer's cheese course. I hope they are as happy as I am at the sight of these cheees.


Pushing Further

After making the Tobacco Blackbery dish by Grant Achatz several times in the past few weeks, I finally found what I wanted out of this dish. To me (and I don't have anything on the originator of this dish), this dish was missing something. It took quite awhile to figure it out. We were discussing how this dish gave you a sense of having just had a glass of red wine and a fine cigar (providing you use a good one for the dish). What more could there be? Well for us it was more about the wine then the cigar. Something to balance that tinge in the back of the throat you get from this dish, much like an actual cigar. What was the elusive idea.
Really think about. Any cigar (of quality) that I have ever had was accompanied by a fortified wine. Port mainly. Having made the dish again today, I ws struck with the idea of incorporating some port. Some ways we will try tomorrow will include a port foam. This is not my favorite idea, as there is already a foam or air on tomorrow's menu. But also due to the fact that it would possibly obscure the blackberry's visual glory. Another would be to make a port reduction and sweeten slightly to be used as a glaze or sauce to be plated under or squeezed over the disc of tobacco on a chinese soup spoon. And then an idea we won't get to tomorrow, but the one I feel will yeild the best result. Simply a layer of port gelee through the middle of the tobacco. This way the port becomes an intricate visual presence, but also give just the right flavor balance (I hope) to the bite.
We shall see.


I really liked the idea of the oreo stick, but have come up with a more refined version we will start working on tomorrow. It will start with a dense chocolate brownie. It will be cut into a small cube and topped with a cherry gelee with a creme de cacao cherry set in the middle of it. We can then cut a shape to match the brownie. Not done yet I say. Really if it was just that well who cares, but... We then will make a cream foam incorporating the insides of a dozen oreos. And of course the smoked oreo cookie crumb.
Can't wait.

Smoking Gun

I just got my hands on the "smoking gun". Yes I know what some of you are thinking. But really and truly I won't use it for that. I am though excited to find some time this week to smke everything I can. Starting with chocolate and maybe some tuna belly. Any how stay tuned for fun smoked food.



So after perusing the pages of Alinea the cookbook for the last month or so, it was time to make some of my own concepts and not just work on Grant Achatz food. TO start with I was going to try and come up with a use for some vanilla vodka we had made some time ago. The regular Smirnoff stuff you can get at the liquor just wasn't vanilla enough for us. So we took all the scraped vanilla beans we had on hand and put them into the vodka. 2-3 weeks later.....voila, a nice brown liquid that is overwhelmingly scented by vanilla.
While passing ideas around I was struck by the idea to make a "screwdriver" with this wonder liquor. And wouldn't you know it, it tasted just like one of those orange julips I got as a kid at that big orange thing in Montreal. Only this one had booze. So the only logical thing for us to do was make an orange julip bite.
We started with setting some vanilla vodka spike OJ with agar. We filled a mold only half way and let this set. We also prepared an orange cream, also set with agar to go over the first layer. Once the two layers had fused we removed them from the mold and finshed the dish with Kumquat jam and orange foam.
Wow. It tasted really great. We will deffinitely be amking this again.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Food... Stick... Good

Pretty much says it all doesn't it? I mean really how long was I going to wait to open the ffridge and find something to put on a stick. Well not long enough to finish dishes actually.
Fumbling around in the fridge I come accross some rounds of brownie and the chocolate stewed cherries for the top. One more thing or two. Smoked oreo soil and some smoked vanilla maldon. Hmmm. Yummy
The second has some red cooked pork belly with miso butterscotch and grains of paradise. Pig on a stick with salt and sweet, what more can you want.
We shall have to see.....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Kitchen Tools

Never thought I would have one of these in my kitchen. Well with more time on my hands for other things. Fun projects get to be finished I always try to come up with new ways to present food. One method I found was really neat. And involved eating food from a stick. Something everyone loves to do. C'mon you know you like it....
One inch plexi with holes cut to fit standard bamboo skewers. The look is really sleak. I wanted to make one kind of industrial, hence the plexi. And one rather organic with wood and angular skewers coming off of it. More like nature, and use both in one service to highlight two distinct bites. Maybe to art as food. I don't know, but it was a cool idea in one of my more contemplative moments.

Now how many cool bites can we put on sticks?

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Avenues

With the arrival of the Christmas busy season, and our second year coming to an end. It was time to start getting the ducks in a row and marketing ourselves better. To accomplish this task we have hired a new catering director. Someone who will help make the Essence name more known. She has a wealth of experience at helping service industry companies take the next step. And we are proud to have her on our team. Look for continued good things from our team. And with more time on my hands some really fun new food and service ideas. All of which will be posted right here as we accomplish them.
Oh yeah who is she....well stay tuned and see for yourself.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cube Gallery

Last night we had the pleasure to cater a party at Cube Gallery. Absolutely amazing setting for our food. The reception was for a retirement party. Great fun was had by all. We hope to be back there soon, as the venue really does justice to our service. Thanks to all who attended and of course a big thanks to our host for having Essence take care of the food.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Governal Generals awards cocktail party

Just getting back from a party for a Governal General awards receipient. Lots of fun, and some interesting bites:
Wild mushroom cube on polenta with goat cheese and crispy leek
Grilled chipotle shrimp with avocado and serano
Seared beef on tapenade and crostini, parmesan and micro greens
Pan roasted cubeb pepper chicken on parsnip and celery root fritter
Red cooked pork belly bites with daikon and apple slaw, miso butterscotch
Plantain beignette with cajeta and sugar spice.

All fun bites with lots of bold flavors.
We also worked on one we have been testing for a while now. House duck prosciutto wrapped fig with double smoked duck bacon and gorganzola. Finished with a sherry vinegar reduction. The picture is a little fuzzy but you get the idea. Really tasty.

Be sure to check out our pictures in the Citizen next Saturday in the "Arts" section.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Bites

With all the new reading material, we have been working hard on some new bites. This one is a hard sell as it's raw beef. But we couldn't resist. The dish was born out of the need to use some quail eggs that were cooked sous vide at 66 degrees. The texture of the yolk is melt in your mouth luscious. We decided that some organic beef tenderloin would produce a nice tartar to contrast the texture of the yolk. A little parmesan and some black truffle and voila, a very fun little bite.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Where does the time go

July 20th was my last post. So much for regular postings on my blog. Busy, busy, busy summer. Well I am here now, so whats new?
I just received my copy of Grant Achatz's book. WOW is all I can say. I haven't played this much with food since school. The ideas are never ending and the photography is really clean. Well worth the cost of the book. I have to write down all the ideas spinning in my head from just about every page. I will hopefully receive Thomas Kellers book very soon, followed closely by the Fat Duck cookbook.
Essence has been very busy this sumer and getting busier each week as we get closer to Christmas. The quality and presentation of our events keeps getting better and better. We now have a few extra bodies around to help with innovation and service. Bringing others perspectives into play has really helped the creative process. We will have a camera at the kitchen from nnow on and will keep pics of our dishes as we come up with them.
Until next time.....
PS here is the first dish I tried from the Alinea cookbook. Tobacco, blackberry and nasturtium. I changed it a bit in the garnish department but all in all a great bite. The tobacco gets you in the back of the tongue with a camphor or menthol quality just like smoking a cigar. Really neat bite.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bar B Que class.

We just completed our second in a possible three course summer series on BarBQue. My wife and I entertain alot. And it usually focusses on BarBQue in the summer. It's easy to set out large quantities and it keeps us from heating up the house (NO AC).
Over the years I had been asked to teach some classes on BarBQue basic, and it wasn't until this summer that I figured I'd give it a shot.
Well, thanks to all who have attended the first two classes. I ahev to say they were a real treat to teach. It also did't hurt to eat a whole mess of meat and veg from the Que. Our class focussed around these items:

Smoked ribs (both beef and pork back ribs)
Smoked pork shoulder
Grilled tandoori salmon with cauliflower steaks
Grilled bison flank with two rubs (Ginger cinnamon and North African garlic, cumin and carraway)
Beer can chicken (easy and full proof juicy chicken everytime)
Sesame ginger salmon
Star anise and coffee rubbed beef tenderloin
Grilled carrot and onion salad
Sweet potato mash
grilled portabellas
And last but not least pizza from the grill (my absolute favorite tasting pizzas especially the blue cheese, sundried tomato pesto and fig pizza).

Some minor changes from one class to the other, but basically the same. To those who missed the class, we will host one more this year. For those who have already attended please post your feedback. And keep an eye out for next years advanced class.....The Hawaiin luau (sp?). That is sure to be a BarBQueing day to remember.

I have some notes for those who did not get everything. There was alot of material not covered by the outline. After the second class I put some info together on some of the topics that were discussed either through questions or my own ramblings. I will post them here in the near future.

Thanks to all who made both events a great success. And here's hoping you have all mastered you Ques a little more.


Bordeaux tasting menu

I was fortunate to be asked to do a tasting menu centered around the Bordeaus a group of collectors were going to open. Never to miss and evening of fine food and wine, I jumped at the chance. Working with my customer on the menu was very straight forward with little alterations. They were to open several bottles for a tasting and others with the meal. I had to keep in mind all of the nuances of each bottle for the meal, but provide only a couple of amuses for the tasting.
The bottles being opened for the tasting were:
Cos D'estournel '86,90 and 95
Pavie Maquin '89 and 2000
A white Margeaux (the year I cannot recall)
A nice glass of bubbly to start and a really nice sweet white (again this one eludes me, which is unfortunate as I got to try it and really liked it.)
The '96 Cos Destournel was opened with the main course dish.
Food was:

Salmon tataki
Fried nigiri
roasted tomato and fermented black bean

Seared foie
Grilled peach
Vanilla and port syrups

Pan roasted magret
lemon pepper risotto
fried quail egg

Beef tenderloin
Braised short rib ravioli
Parsnip puree
Wild mushroom ragout

Dessert and a salad course were provided by the customer. I still couldn't resist plating them our way and maybe helping them along a little.

A cheese course consisting of:

Les petit vieux. A great raw milk cheddar with a nice pungent rind
Sauvagine. A beautiful semi soft goat milk cheese. Reminiscent of a very flavourful brie but much nicer.
Cendre de Lune. A very nice vegetable ash covered soft ripened cheese. The rind is nice a bloomy with blue veining.
Fig and port chutney, Art is in Bakery breads.

Of all the dishes the risotto was nota great match with the wine, but a nice dish none the less. But as it was a dinner centered around the wines being opened this dish fell flat. I have taken notes on the parings and would likely not make that mistake again(for those who haven't already figured out the flavor imbalance, it was too much lemon competing with the Bordeaux).

It was a great evening and one I would love to be asked to do again. And to add to the fun for me a local hockey favorite was in attendance. I won't say who, but it was a real pleasure to have served him. Hopefully I can hear from him in the future (you know who you are). A great meal from the grill for a team building afternoon would really make my year. Only I would have to work and not be too hockey star struck.

As for the customer and the rest of the guests, it was a real joy. Thank you again.

Wow it's been a while....

I guess I shouldn't complain that I have been too busy to write much in the past while. But it has pained me not to write here more often. And to not have pictures for long ago posts, very bad indeed.
Well it's time for a change. I really need to devote more time to my blog and on top of that coming up with new dishes to try out. When all you do is production, production, production, a little new inventive creativity is really needed. For the next few weeks I am really going to try and develop some new dishes and ideas. If one looks good to you or you feel you can add to something, please feel free to post.
After a couple of camping trips and some fishing, I feel refreshed and recharged. Because of this, serving some of my stand by faves just won't do anymore this summer. Time to really focus on summer's bounty and go even more local than i currently am.
Hope you all enjoy then next couple of months, I know I am.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kitchissippi Kitchens

I just realized I was winging it at spelling kitchissippi. Hope I got it right. Anyhow, feel free to visit us at Tom Brown Arena on June 2nd. We would love to see you there.

OAG auction

On Thursday we provided food as one of the restaurants and caterers in Ottawa helping in the OAG (ottawa art gallery) fundraising auction. Several artists donated peices of work and 15 or so restaurants and caterers took part. For us at Essence this was our second year to help out. As it was last year, this event was very fun. I had the pleasure to meet some new people, discuss new ideas and then go peruse the art I could not afford. Oh well maybe next year.
This year we served 2 dishes. The first was a fig with blue cheese mousse and fig chutney in a Phyllo cup with 20 year old port reduction. The second was vanilla potato foam on whiskey sweet potato mousse also in a phyllo cup. The cup for this one was supposed to be a house made sweet potato pringle, but alas I ran out of time. We had 2 events and 1 drop off for the same day.
All in all a fun evening. And to all those I met for the first time, I hope to see you again next year.

Don't eat dirty snow......

Have you been down Bayswater ave. lately? Well if you have not you probably have not noticed the BIG UGLY pile of unmelted snow covered in chemicals and debris. And if this sight doesn't bother you then maybe a quick glance North on the horizon is the Ottawa River. A mere few blocks. Sad really that not only is the area where they pile this snow unfit for public recreation (when the snow is not present) but that as it melts (which will surely run into June or even July) and fouls everything in it's apth. Ultimately ending at the river. Where we have had record closure days on our beaches for the last couple of seasons. Gee I wonder why.
And that snow is just sitting there melting. Why? Someone please tell me there is a better way to deal with this. Surely world water shortages are going to hit close to home soon. Better to have a plan now, than wait till it's upon us and too late. As we are prone to do. I feel pretty certain that there is a fair bit a grey water just sitting there begging us to do something constructive with it.
The picture pretty much says it all for me.
What do you think?

My garden

It's funny how you change as you grow older and hopefully wiser. When I first started as a chef, I didn't inquire as to where my food came from. Let alone was it organic, free range, and so on. Now some 12 years later, I need to know everything I can about the food I use, and feed to my family. If you know me you would know that I am slowly becoming a food activist. Not over the top or anything, but seriously concerned about our food chain. There are just too many disconnects for my liking.
So this year I started my own garden. Nothing grand. Just a raised bed measuring 4'X8' and several buckets for tomatoes. I have planted runner beans, cucmbers, red onions, chili peppers, fennel, and several lettuces. I am about to figure out how to pest proof my little Eden. Any suggestions from those at this longer than I would be greatly appreciated. I will hopefully post pics of my progress throughout the growing season and maybe just maybe get to harvest my bounty.
Wish me luck...

Friday, May 9, 2008

More TGM fun

I recently made some shrimp chorizo. These were made using the basic ratios outlined at "Ideas in Food". I wrapped them in a prociutto skin. The one on the left has been poached and cooled an the other raw. The taste was really smoky form the smoked paprika and other spices I used. I will have to try actually smoking one to taste the outcome. The prociutto creates a really nice crust when slowly roasted. All in all a fun little exercise. Even crusted a piece of Sable fish with the raw chorizo. The fat melts down into the fish and creates a really nice flavor and texture.
The chicken was just an attempt to make a tighter ballotine in different shapes. Skin on both the top and bottom> I would next time cover the sides too. It was slow roasted and sliced. Served with various garnishes left over form an event that day. I just can't stop having fun with this enzyme.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Herve This

I was fortunate enough yesterday to attend a lecture by Herve This. For those who are not aware of him, he is a French food chemist. He is also the person who coined the term "molecular gastronomy". Which he asserts can only be performed by scientists and not chefs. His lecture was very engaging and informative. Not really what I thought it would be, but rather a looking back to look forward. I have read his books and found them to be excellent reads. Even tweaked the way I do a few techniques to ensure a better product with less failure.
One thing that did stick with me was a statement he made. "Kowledge without sharing is not worth knowing" or something to that effect. He encouraged the chefs in attendance to start their own group to search out answers and to ask questions about food and food culture. Wow that really hit home for me. So I am proposing to haev anyone who wants to know more about all facets of gastronomy to meet once per month. At these meetings we will discuss and experiment with a different technique, tool or product to see what we can come up with. I have been doing something similar for a couple of months now with friends, but would like to open the doors to more people.
If you are intersted in attending, just leave a comment or email me. We will set up a date when we have more people involved. Hopefully we can do it on the same day each month.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where's the bees?

Is anyone else alarmed that in the past couple of years we have seen such a drastic reduction in the numbers of bees worldwide. It is pretty alarming considering all the hard work they do for us. And I don't mean just honey production. Bees account for the majority of crop polination with respects to fruit trees. Something called colony collapse syndrome is causing the bees to leave the hive and not return. There are all kinds of insight into the reasons why, but no concrete answers. Our ecosystem is just that, a system. And currently it's broken, and we don't either seem to care or notice. Sad.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

transglutiminase fun

On Friday I had the pleasure of working with another chef in the kitchen. We decided to play around with some TGM. Unfortunately the last package I have left. We made some salmon gnochi and rolled a rib eye cap. I had a luncheon that day and had some scallops and halibut left over, so we bonded them to chicken skin. All in all alot of fun and pretty tasty too. We only just put a dent in my TGM so I have about 3 weeks now to finish the rest. Look out for more frankenmeat in the near future.
Oh yeah, thanks Pat for all the input. It was lots of fun.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A good read

I just finished reading "In Defence Of Food", by Micheal Pollen. A really must read book for any disallusioned eater in the food chain. I cannot do it justice save to say I have changed some of the eating habbits I have had my whole life. The title pretty much says it all. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Read'll get it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

more pics

Back to the blog

I have just finished a very hectic time for myself and my wife. Time for the blog over the last month and a bit has been nil. Well that should change as we get into a schedule for awhile.
Just posting some recent pics from events or parties.
Hope you like......More rants to come....

Friday, February 15, 2008

Are you manic for organic?

Last night I watched a program on the Food Network. It was about a somewhat manic organic who brings fast food loving folk to his his farm in an effort to help change their ways. After seeing a couple of commercials previewing the show, I had to see it. It was very well done, and the host was quite amiable. A lot of info for the average person to gobble up, but the point was well made. After just one short week several of the shows participants shied away from mass produce poultry altogether. That was really great, providing it would last into the future (they were revisited a month later and were still on the bandwagon). Pity the show is airing at 11pm, well after most people have gone to bed. You would figure if they wanted to have an impact they would air it in prime time. Who really needs to see another kitchen makeover anyways.
The whole thing got me wondering how many of you out there actually shun the mass produced food industry and what percentage are buying free range and organic. I have for several years now tried to feed my family and my customers a higher quality product. But price is something we all deal with in our own ways. In the show organis is shown to be as cost effective as the mass produced product. But that cost effectiveness only kicks in if you purchase whole birds and use it ALL. Something I believe is hard for the average 2 income family to achieve coming throught the door at 5 or 6pm, and wanting to eat near instantly. It is a dilemma that affects us all.
So what do "you" do? Do you spend the extra money on an ethically raised or grown product? Does the fact that on almost all cases it's a more healthful foodstuff make a difference to you? I really want to know. I am trying to make my company's focus all organic. But as I said before it comes at a price, that inevitably the consumer will have to pay for in the end. Your participation here will help me, and hopefully others to serve to a higher standard.
Thank you

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Double cut flank steak

I was reminded of an idea I was working on from a Alex and Aki at Ideas in Food. They had cut and stacked a skirt steak with Transglutiminase. I had a while back glued a flank steak in a similar way. Today I revisited the idea in 2 different forms. Both dishes had all the same elements, but one became a soup or starter course, the other a small main. Smoked chilli rubbed double cut flank with corn and lima succotash, black beans and avocado quennelle. I really liked the taste both ways. You decide.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Practice, practice, practice

Just some more playing with my food. Have lots of engagements coming up and need some new interesting dishes. Can't seem to get away from the vanilla parsnip combo, and I still haven't gotten to use it with scallops or lobster. I am sure they will be coming soon. Once again some venison, osso bucco, with stellatine (mini pasta) and saffron, and some snap peas for crunch and color. Second dish is foie with braised duck ravioli, vanilla parsnip puree, blueberry zinfandel sauce and vanilla maldon salt. I really really loved this one. It will surely get served sometime in the future. All vegetables for these dishes were in my weekly basket from BRYSON this week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seafood fun

Just working on some dishes for an upcoming seafood dinner. If you have suggestions please feel free.....
Scallop sashimi with ginger jalapeno dressing, avocado mosaic, pea tendrills, goji berries.
Seared trout with oven roasted tomato salsa, oven roasted fingerlings, braised sweet potato and fennel.

Vanilla parsnip revisited

This is what happens when you play with your food. SOmetime you come up with something that really goes down well. Case in point bananas foster new style. Ok so not much of a name but it sure tastes good. Maybe I'll call it vanilla parsnip gnudi, bananas foster style. I don't know, but it's a work in progress for an upcoming dinner.
Vanilla parsnip puree sweetened with agave and bound with ricotta and transglutiminase. Sliced to resemble bananas and satueed in vanilla brown butter. Bananas were flambeed with rum and maple brown sugar.
It came out better than expected than expected but requires a little something more......

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Venison ravioli

I received some nice venison from a friends father (thanks Josee). It's been in deep freeze for a while now..... My friend wanted to know what I did with it so here it is. The idea is now a work in progress. I really like the flavors. Next up with the parsnip puree and a seared foie gras, same blueberry sauce. Anyhow, the venison was great Josee, thank you and your dad once again.

Parsnip gnudi

Vanilla parsnip gnudi. Bound with transglutiminase.
White miso and ginger gnudi.
Both with 1% tgm by wieght.
One for a trout dish the other some kind of dessert.
Bye for now.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Vanilla parsnip puree

I get quite a few parsnips in my "Bryson" bags during the winter months. It is a truly beautiful vegetable, deserving of much more acclaim then it receives. I make it into all kinds of concoctions, like this puree of silky smooth parsnip with a sweet side and the hint of vanilla on the finish. Simple to make, very easy to eat and pair with many mains.

2 lbs parsnips peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup milk
pinch of salt
pinch of white pepper
1 vanilla bean scraped and pod included
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup cream

Cook parsnips in milk and enough water to cover by 1-2" for 25-30 min at a gentle simmer. Till a knife tip pierces the flesh with no resistance.
Mean mix butter,cream, salt/pepper, and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat.
Drain parsnips and allow to dry. A 350 degree oven works well if the parsnips are soggy. The idea is to create as dry a parsnip as possible so it will soak up as much cream and butter mix as possible.
Transfer to a food processor.
Add cream mixture (not all at once)
Blend but do not aerate. You don't want to overwork them as they will get gluelike.
Check for seasoning and enjoy.

I have some venison a friends father got on a hunting expedition that needed using so stay tuned to see where this goes.

Gnudi... should we turn the lights out?

I saw an article just recently about gnocchi, and it got me to thinking about gnudi (I tend to think laterally and segueway into new trains of thought at a moments notice). It had been awhile since I had made any, and now seemed like as good a time as any. So just what are gnudi you ask. Well I'd love to tell you that it's something you need to turn the lights out for, but alas that just isn't the case. Although I do beleive it is italian for "in the nude", it is really just a reference to the filling of a raviolli et al but no pasta. They are quite light and ethereal, and made properly are really a wonderful starch.

I will make two versions. One being a traditional (although I do not know how long these have been around so traditional may be somewhat nonsensical). And one method that would be perceived as Nouveau American, using Transglutiminase as the bonding agent and not flour or eggs.


1 lb ricotta (and none of that reduced fat or skim crap)
1 egg
1/3 cup parmesan finely grated
3/4 cup AP flour

Strain the ricotta in a fine sieve or a colander with cheesecloth lining for 1 hour. This helps extract the excess liquid.
Put it into a bowl.
In a seperate bowl mix cheese, salt and pepper and egg
Mix in the ricotta.
Mix in 3/4 of the flour adding more in small increments until you have a cohessive mass.
Cover and let stand one hour in the fridge.

Line a baking sheet with a coating of flour.
Cut the paste into 3 and with floured hands and a well floured surface roll out one ball into a long rope 3/4" in diameter.
Cut the paste into 3/4" peices and place on floured sheet pan. Refrigerate for another hour.
Cook as you would regular gnocchi.
This method produces a stellar light and very very delicate gnudi. Do not try and pan fry or heat too much or they will crumble.

Method 2. This method is adapted from one at "Ideas in Food" (thank you Alex for the info)

Drain 1 lb ricotta (remeber the note with the first method)
Weigh the drained ricotta.
measure out 1% by weight of transglutiminase and add.
Salt and pepper.

Mix well and fill into a pastry bag. 3/4" plain tip
Pipe into a long log on a sheet of plastic wrap.
Roll the wrap up and secure the ends, tightening as you go. Creating a sausage shape.
Allow to set in the fridge over night.
Remove from plastic wrap and cut into 3/4" lengths.
This gnudi is substantially more stable to high heat applications and can even be braised.

Tonight I made the traditional method. In that I have been cooking at home alot these days I am cleaning out the fridge of produce from Christmas time parties. So here we have gnudi with two tomatos, boccancini, lemon, chives, and Hawaiian red clay salt. Very tasty.
tomorow I will experiment with the TGM gnudis. Perhaps then we'll turn out the lgihts.
A demain.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bryson Farms Video

Here's a short video I just saw on where my family's vegetables come from. Just look at the farm and the hard work that goes into producing top quality "CERTIFIED ORGANIC" produce. Get your name on their waiting list for home delivery or see them during the summer at Parkdale market. You won't be disappointed.

Comfort food

With all the snow and cold temps, some soul comforting food was in order today. A look through the fridge produced some interesting things to work with. Nice large chunks of stew meat (beef, from Luciano's), braising greens and carrots from Bryson Farm, and some fennel. Hmmm where is this going to go. To the pantry. Ahhh something I haven't used in a while: fregola sarda (a toasted cous cous style pasta). Well it looked like a decent healthy dinner with some organic vegetables was going to be served to the family tonight.
Quite tasty and brought some new ideas to play with in the coming weeks. If you are interested in the recipe just let me know. Happy to share.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Did you know?

Do you know what is available fresh right now in Ottawa? Do you know what's in season? Well if you frequent the big box stores for your fruits and vegetables, I would imagine your answer would be everything. The problem is that your fruits and veggies need to travel half the globe to get here and seem in season.
Why not try some of the veggies available right in your backyard (so to speak) from local greenhouses and gardens. Right now you have access to healthy nutritious veggies from various sources. My family receives a basket from Bryson Farms weekly and in it you'll find all the inspiration you need during these dark and dreary days of winter.
I will start this week putting out a recipe weekly for some of the veggies we receive on a weekly basis. Also please check out Bryson's website for a listing of what is available and how to receive your own basket of inspiration and health.

Oh yeah on to the list of what's currently available. Look here. If it's not on this list, chances are it came from a long ways away.

And please check the Blog for Stuart Collins. One of the founding members of Bryson Farms, and his plight to remain in Canada.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


If you have seen the little fruit spheres a la "El Bulli" and wanted to make them but did not have access to sodium alginate or calcium chloride. Here is a little trick I just found to amke them with agar agar and cold neutral flavored oil. Choose your fruit or juice that you want to make spheres from and weigh the liquid amount out. Next calculate a 2.5% agar quantity by weight. Heat the juice to 60 degrees and add agar. Blitz with an immersion blender to make sure that it is well dispersed. Next fill a large bore syringe or a small squeeze bottle with warm liquid. It is important to work quickly as the agar will set the juice fairly quickly at this concentration. When placing the cold (preferably from the freezer) oil in a receptacle for squirting the juice into, keep in mind you want surface area and not depth. So a shallow wide pan would be best. Gently squeeze the juice into the oil creating small drips (hence the spherical shape). Allow to set for a minute or two and remove with a small slotted spoon or pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer. Immerse the beads into cool water to wash off the oil residue and voila, spheres.
Have fun. Some ideas I am working on are: spherical fruit salsas, and I am going to try and make a noodle in the same fashion.