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.