Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Canape 101: Japanese Eggplant

In Ottawa about a third of the dishes we serve are vegetarian. Being a staunch carnivore, I always look for vegetarian dishes that can make converts of even the staunchiest of carnivores. (Is staunchiest even a word?) This is one of those dishes. It is always somewhat amusing to hear what people think they are eating. But one thing is for sure, they always love this one. It also doesn't hurt that it is prepared very easily and quickly. Of course, that is compared to the pork belly dish that requires days on end of anticipation.

Grilled Japanese eggplant with dens miso and candied lemon

2 japanese eggplants. Look for ones with a consistent cylindrical shape.
1 tbsp five spice powder.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup white (shiro) miso
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup sugar

Cut eggplant into slices about 1.5" thick.
Mix with spices and oil in a bowl.
Allow to sit for about an hour
Grill for about 1 minute per side. Just long enough to create some sear marks, no longer. You want the eggplant to have some body left and not be all mushy.
Allow to cool and refrigerate till needed.

Dens Miso
Combine the sake, mirin and sugar in a small sauce pan. Cook until sugar is dissolved.
Add miso a little at a time.
Continue cooking over med/low heta until miso is thickened considerably. The more you cook out the moisture the nicer your finished product will be. Remember that it will burn very easily so keep stirring. This could take upwards of twenty minutes.
Remove from heat and store in a squeeze bottle. This will keep for up to 3 months in the fridge.

Candied lemon
2 lemons with bright yellow skins. Washed

Using a citrus channeller tool cut the skin from the flesh. You could also use a vegetable peeler, but a zester produces too small a lemon shaving.
Cut all white pith from the peel.

Bring lemon peels in a small sauce pan of water to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes and drain.
Do this procedure 2 more times with fresh water each time. This is necessary to get rid of the bitterness of the peel.

Prepare a simple syrup by mixing 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and drop in lemon peels. Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Take 1/2 cup sugar and place in a bowl. Drain the lemon peels from syrup and dust in the sugar.
Reserve in an airtight container.

Squeeze a good dollop (about 3/4 tbsp) of dens miso on top of eggplant.
Decoratively place one lemon peel in the miso.

We finish with a sprinkling of grains of paradise on top.

Pics to come....

Canape 101: Pork Belly

Pork belly. mmmmm. How I love thee.

Pork belly (also known as bacon when smoked) is truly one of the wonderful cuts from the pig. Curing it and then finishing as confit is truly amazing. Prepared properly it will just melt in your mouth, leaving nothing but a smile.

This recipe requires a few days of patience but is well worth it. Not a dish you whip up at the last minute. Try to start 5 days before you want to serve it. IF you can leave the finished product longer in the duck fat, all the better. The flavours will deepen and concentrate giving you even more porky goodness with time.

A whole pork belly is a large and cumbersome thing for the home cook. Have your butcher prepare you a half or even a quarter belly for this recipe.

1/4 pork belly
2 cups salt
5 tbsp sugar
2 heads garlic cut in half
3 bay leaves
4 tbsp black pepper whole
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cumin and coriander

Mix all ingredients in a bowl to combine. Rub all over pork belly and cover in a suitable container. Leave in the fridge for 48 hours.
Remove and rinse off all seasonings. Dry well with paper towel.
Use a pot or pan that will just hold the belly and be tall enough to completely submerge. Remember the larger the pot/pan the more duck fat you will require to submerge the belly.
Generally for a 1/4 belly I would use about 4 cups or so duck fat.
Oven should be heated to 200 degrees.
Cook belly making sure it is completely submerge for 3-4 hours, or until very tender.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Before the fat starts to reset, remove belly to a sheet pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and top with another pan and weight down with several cans of whatever in your kitchen. Leave in the fridge over night.
Once compressed you can slice into 1.5" wide strips.
At this point I remove the skin layer, leaving a nice creamy white layer of fat on top.
Preheat a cast iron pan to medium and place the belly fat side down in the pan.
Cook until you have a nice brown crust on the top.
Turn and sear the other sides, but not as long as the top.
Remove to a cutting board a cut into nice bite sized cubes.

The belly can be kept submerged in the duck fat in the fridge for several weeks.

Daikon and apple slaw
1 cup daikon (asian radish) julienned
1 cup green apple julienned
1 clove garlic minced
1" piece of ginger minced
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lime juice

Allow all ingredients to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
Remove and strain the liquid.
Mix in a bowl with:

1 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Maple BBQ sauce frosting
This one requires a ittle bit of ingredient sourcing. So we will do an abbreviated version. For our original we use a starch called Ultra-Tex3. It is a fantastic starch that can absorb a huge amount of liquid. Fantastic for making sauce or even puddings as in this sauce. Without ultra tex we can use cornstarch and cooking down our BBQ sauce.
In the kitchen we make our own BBQ sauce base, but I would suggest you use a sauce you already like.

1 cup BBQ sauce
4 tbsp maple syrup
6 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 6 tbsp water

Mix BBQ sauce and maple syrup in a small sauce pan and reduce by about a third over medium/low heat. Depending on how much you reduced your sauce and what consistency it was to begin with your cornstarch amount will vary.
Slowly add slurry (corn starch mix) to your simmering BBQ sauce. It should thicken very quickly. You are looking for the consistency of pudding.
Remove from heat and cool.
Store in a squeeze bottle

If you can find tapiocca starch or even arrowroot starch both produce a sauce that has more shine, which looks great on the finished product.

Serve this bite skewered on a fork with the slaw behind and a squeeze of the sauce on top of the pork. Alternately you can use a chinese soup spoon with the slaw on the bottom, topped with the pork and finished with a squeeze of sauce.

Pics to come...

Canape 101: Black Tea Smoked Salmon Sushi

The CBC asked me to talk food tomorrow afternoon. Specifically we will be talking canapes, and how we make ours. We thought this would be a great time to do an online demo of some of the processes we use. So follow us for the next few posts about 3 of our different canapes. Each one is easy to produce with products that are easily available. We will also show you how we take a dish and embellish it and take it to the next level. Feel free to try some of these added twists or leave them as is. Either way you are sure to wow your guests when you serve these.
Also stay in touch as we had a ton of fun putting it all together and figure we should give away more of our secrets in the coming months.

Black tea smoked salmon pressed sushi
This is a dish that has evolved over the past couple of years. It started with regular smoked salmon and a very simple pressed sushi recipe. What I originally liked about the canape was the fact that a good number of bites could be produced in a reasonable amount of time. Some time last year we bought a toy called the smoking gun. It is just like what the name entails, a gun that smokes. It kind of also looks like something the city of Ottawa gives out to crack addicts, but alas it is not, and no we don't use it that way. If I remember correctly smoked salmon is the first thing we tried with our new toy. And thus we tried smoking salmon with all kinds of different flavorings. But in the end I always seem to come back to Lhapsang Souchong tea. I has an incredible smokey character to it. For this dish you can try to smoke your own salmon or use just regular smoked salmon.

You will also need the following:

10X10 square pan
Plastic wrap
Cardboard cut to fit pan and covered with plastic wrap

2 cups sushi rice, rinsed well
5 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sake
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbso mirin
10-12 smoked salmon
Pickled ginger to taste (shredded makes a more attractive presentation here)
Wasabi paste to taste
Finely cut chives
Toasted white and black sesame seeds
Masago or tobiko
Soy lime pearls (more on these later)

Cook rice in a ratio of 1 1/4 cups water to 1 cup of well rinsed sushi rice
Prepare sushi vinegar by mixing vinegar, sake, sugar, mirin in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste.
Mix sushi rice and vinegar mix and combine thoroughly. You may not need all the vinegar.
Cover your pan with plastic wrap, making sure to leave some overhang on two sides.
Lay out 1/2 of your rice in the bottom.
Sprinkle of sesame seeds and cover with nori cut to fit
Lay out the rest of your rice and cover with a brushing of wasabi (you can omit if you do not like wasabi)
Top this with another layer of nori.
Cover nori with smoked salmon, cut to fit snuggly. Remember this will be visible so make sure to have an eye for presentation with the salmon.
Top with ginger, masago/tobiko, chives, and sesame seeds.

Soy Lime Pearls
Digital scale
Cajun meat injector or squeeze bottle
A container that is deeper than 3 inches filled with neutral flavoured oil. We use grapeseed. Keep it in the freezer till needed.
Mesh strainer

1 cup soy sauce (light)
1/4 cup lime juice
4 tbsp agave syrup (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup water

Bring the ingredients to a boil and let reduce slightly. Check to make sure your sauce is not too salty or too sweet. Adjust accordingly.

1.2 grams agar agar (powder form)
0.6 grams locust bean gum

Mix both powders with the soy mixture and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes. Making sure to properly whisk in the powders. You will now fill your injector or squeeze bottle with soy mixture. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes to cool slightly. You will squeeze out the liquid being careful to create small balls into the very cold oil. Allow them to sit for about 5 minutes and strain and rinse gently under water.
They can now be stored till you are ready to use them.

For the salmon dish above I put a small spoonful of pearls on top of the salmon with some ginger, masago, and some chives to finish.

Pictures to come...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

foie two times

By way of missmanaged delivery intake, we ended up with two lobes of foie gras that needed using. Unfortunately we had no parties where this would be of use this week. So I needed to do something with them for myself. Every Christmas day my wife and I invite our friends to drop by with their families and enjoy a bit of the afternoon. Of course I always manage to get something put onto the table. Never too much trouble, as I really would prefer to unwrap presents and play with my kids then cook. So we usually put ut a nice spread of artisinal Quebec and Ontario cheese. This year it looks as though we'll put out some charcuterie as well.
I had intended this year to prepare alot more charcuterie than I actually did. We mused at the idea of opening a restaurant devoted solely to charcuterie and cheese. But sadly the idea never came to fruition. Charcuterie to me is one of those things you just have to make to fully appreciate. The first time you make a terrine or a dried and cured meat, you will be hooked for life. It is a bit a history and reconnecting with your roots to prepare charcuterie.
So with our two lobes I decided a torchon of salted foie (no poaching) and a simple foe terrine would rounds out a nice cheese course and some simple meats and olives.
The salted foie is dead simple. Clean and devein one foie. Of course this is always easier said than done. The advice I can gove on this proceedure is this:
1. allow the foie to sit at room temp for about an hour so it is maleable.
2. use a butter knife or just your hands to get the veins out.
3. don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
Once cleaned I layered everything on a sheet pan covered with parchment. I lightly salted the foie and drozzled some white port over the top. This was left for a few hours. I then cut a large peice of cheese cloth and laid it out in front of me on a cutting board. I clumpe the foie into a rough cylinder shape and start to roll tightly in the cloth. Tieing off one end and rolling the other to acheive a uniform shape. tie off the other end and lay out on a bed of kosher salt. Cover with copious amount of salt to cover.
Leave for 24 -48 hours. Unwrap. Slice thin and enjoy. You cn also rewrap in pastic and leave in the fridge for another couple fo days. Delicious.
For the terrine I used the same salted and port infused base. Using a small terrine tin, start layering the foie. Make sure to use the smooth side down on the bottom. Be careful to season with salt and white pepper as you layer. When you reach the top make sure to use the smooth side out on the top. Cook in a bain marie for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees. At this point the terrine needs to cleated of some of the fat the a=has accumulated (please keep this liquid gold for later). Wrap in plastic and wieght it down to compress. Leave in the fridge over night. the next day all I do is take off the plastic and melt the reserved fat.
I pour this over the top creating a fat seal. The terrine is returned to the fridge to firm up till ready. Simply unmold and cut into slices.
Both recipes (although similar in starting flavors) took no longer than an hour of prep time. Yet your guests will feel it must have taken for ever to produce something so sublime. I will try to post some pictures of the platters as I present them on the 25th.

Seasons greetings and Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Arrivals

With the cost of shipping across the US border. Buying some of the products we use to achieve the textures and finshed products we have on our menu, gets very expensive. DC Duby, the pastr chefs extraordinaire of BC have a line of products that they sell. So having found them I acquired some of their wares.

First thoughts are: Great a Canadian company selling some of the stuff I crave. But unfortunately the sizes are pretty small and the line is limited. That means I still have to order from the States where I can get the stuff I need in sizes that make more sense.

I have not had sodium alginate or calcium gluconate for quite some time in the kitchen. So this seemed like a great time to buy some. We will have to see what fun stuff I can make from these. In fact instead of some of my ow creations (which undoubtably we will do) I have been waiting for calcium gluconate for a while so I can make some of the stuff from Heston Blumenthals book.

Well next down day in the kitchen looks to be a fun one for sure.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

St. Jacques Dinner

Thanks to the hosts of a party we catered last night. Some random shots of the dinner taken from my phone. We had a last minute vegetarian show up. Some dishes needed modifying to make this happen. Thankfully their fridge adn pantry was relatively well stocked.

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Gold Medal Plates

Congrats to Chef Carmicheal of 18 and Social for his third place finish at the National Gold Medal Plates competition. I hear he won the black box competition hands down. Ottawa has much to be proud of for him. Really well done Chef.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Upcoming Events

This week we will be providing food for Candlelighter Foundation event at WallSpace Gallery. The jewelry show is beneffiting children with cancer. So get out and buy some unique jewelry for that someone special. And enjoy some bites that we try and make jewel like in their presentation. THursday evening from 6-8pm at WallSpace Gallery.
On Dec. 5 we will be serving canapes at one of our favourite ongoing events. Cycle Logic hosts an evening of art, alcohol, and comeradery, and of course food as beautiful as the art and the bikes that line the walls. the event runs from 8- till the art is sold and the food and booze are gone. Ok so the food never lasts till the end. If you want to eat some of our very best bites come early. And don't forget to support our local artists at the same time. And hey who doesn't need another bike.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Leftover tuna

One extra portion of Sushi tuna to use up.
Seared tuna with prickly ash, grapefruit, citrus butter, and quick pickle (green papaya, carrot, daikon, red onion)
Really tasty with a big hit of menthol or maybe camphor from the prickly ash coating. Really opens up all the buds on the tongue. I like this one. Will make it again, but a stellar wine pairing is needed.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Some new reading

I have picked up some new books in the last week. Time to get that last bit of reading in before I am too busy until New Years. Momofuku and Ad Hoc at Home. Keller and Chang. Made for an interesting weekend of reading. First off, Thomas Keller can make the most inspiring creations from what may be lurking in your refrigerator. It is certainly inspiring to remember that family meals can be every bit as tasty and elaborate (in preparation not presentation) as any of the fine meals I serve. Some interesting methods for the home cook. A book I would give to friends or good customers as a thank you. Highly recomended.
Chang's Momofuku is alsoa fun read. One part Korean cookbook one part Anthony Bourdain styled commentary. A really good read. And to find out he has been purchasing pre made steamed buns. His buns have been called the best there is. Funny that all kinds of restaurants have had the best there is, just a phone call away. Who knew. The recipes rock. I have always had a predilection towards Asian food. You cook what you know and that's what I ate growing up. I will have to make a couple of my faves from this book and post them here. Aside from some time preparing and doing the smoking, much of this book is simple and straight forward. Easily done from the average home kitchen and cook.
Almost forgot I also picked up Maze by Bozo the Clown (ok it's really by Gordon Ramsey). The TV persona and the real chef are quite a bit different from each other (but no less brash and abbrassive). This book actually impressed me. I really like his clean straightforward food presentation. Simple rules the day, ofcourse with elaborate preparations. This book would be welcome in the seasoned home cooks bookshelf. IF you like seafood I find his fish preparations are simpe, clean and pure of flavor. I will also have to make one or two of these recipes and post them.
Heres hoping Santa finds a few gems in the bookstore and puts them under my tree.
Happy reading and cooking.....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall food

With the fall in full swing and winter just around the corner. It's time for some more hearty foods. This is really my favourite time of the year. So without further ado, it's time for confit of everything. Starting with both pork belly and duck legs.
Here is a pick of some curing duck legs. What we will do with it remains to be seen. Check back often as I will be using them relentlessly.

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crab cakes

Just messing with crab cakes today. Had some left over from a dinner, and you just can't let that go to waste. Nice appetizer dish. Will try to make chinese soup spoon size for a canape. Hope it still works as the taste was great.

Golden tomato gaspacho
Chili spiked crab cake
Avocado mousse

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

10/30/09 tasting dinner

Last night we had the pleasure of serving a tasting menu from a beautiful kitchen, to a great group of people. Here are the dishes (sorry for the crappy pictures. They were taken from my phone). We hope to be serving them again in the near future.

Confit of pork belly with little neck clams and a saki spiked dashi broth
Seared spice crusted Salmon, tataki style with avocado sorbet, jalapeno and red onion salsa, cilantro jus and avocado pudding
Cappuccino of sweetbreads with roast porcini, veal stock glaze, and porcini foam
Roasted root vegetable salad with mixed greens, blood orange vinaigrette, and fried parsnip
Spiced butternut squash soup shooter
Foie gras poutine (because sometimes you just need a poutine, albeit a very expensive one).
Bison tenderloin cooked sous vide with sunchoke puree, fava, corn and tomato salsa and cabernet reduction
White chocoalte and cranberry pavee with pistachio sorbet, pistachio brittle, white chocoalte snow and creme anglaise

Was a great success. even with the great kitchen set up, I still could have used a couple more burners. Can't have everything I guess.

Thanks to our hosts.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009


I love quinoa. IT is on regular rotation for my catering as well as at home. Tastes great as is and is super nutritious. Lately with corn being in great abundance I have been making a fair bit of quinoa and corn piaf. Dead simple. Sweat one onion finely diced and a couple of cloves of garlic until soft. Add 2 cups quinoa ( a mix of white and red is great or either on their own) to the pot. Get all the grain covered with oil and add water. 3 cups water (or 1.5 times volume). Water is fine, you do not need to use stock but can if you feel it necessary. Simmer for about 25 minutes and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile shuck 4 corn and remove kernels. Sautee with some butter (a couple of tablespoons), salt, pepper, and some chili spices. I use my own seasoning of a blend of chilis and spices, but use whatever makes you happy. Some bright assertive flavors are what you are looking for here.
Add to your pilaf and finish with cilantro and mint to your taste.
It's nuttiness and flavor are unique and should make it's way to your plate real soon.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

wheat berry salad

Simmmer wheat berries for 50-60 or so minutes. They should still have a little firmness to them.
Nuts and dried fruit to taste. In this case roasted pistascio and pine nut with goji, cranberry, and raisin.
Fresh herbs and a dressing that matches up to the flavors you are serving it with. Mix it in to wheat berries while they are still warm and leave to cool. Same as the last orzo salad. Just different grain. Was destined for a party that didn't want the orzo.
Sorry for the poor quality of the pic...my phone.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pig Roast

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Here are some pictures from our pig underground cookout. IT was a great time had by all, and special thanks go out to Paul and Sherryl for the use of their property. We plan on doing a much larger roast next year so stay tuned.....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

orzo salad

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This week I find myself making a whole bunch of different grain based salads. Every time I make one, I get asked over and over how I made them. So for the next week or so (as long as I continue to have these outdoor buffet style parties), I will share the recipes I use for each of them.
This week I start with orzo salad. I really like orzo as a faux grain (because it's pasta), but looks like rice. I usually cook it it in water alone, but chicken broth or vegetable broth would be great as well. This one has a mix of goat cheese, dried fruit (golden raisins, dried cranberries, goji berries, pine nuts, pistachios, and fresh herbs to taste.
A very simple vinaigrette of lemon is what ties it all together.
Zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
1 tbsp agave syrup (you can substitute honey)
1 clove garlic minced
salt pepper
2 tbsp good quality champagne vinegar
1/4 fruity olive oil
Roast the nuts. chop the herbs and mix it all together. You may not need all of the vinaigrette you have made so start out conservatively and keep adding to taste. Allow the flavors to mellow for a couple of hours and serve cold with your choice of meats or seafood.
Quite tasty. I had it today with grilled salmon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New ingredients and dishes

It's been a while since I played with some new ideas in the kitchen. After a slow start to the year, things have ramped up to be as busy as I would want. Which of course leaves little time to come up with new dishes. Well after a week of studying some of my favorite blogs, I have come up with some ideas I would like to explore. From Playing with fire and water I found freeze dried corn bars. These would be unbelievablel as a base to pulled pork (I know summer and BBQ really taints my brain). Cut into small circles wrapped with pancetta and topped with some twice cooked pulled pork. MMMMM. I hope it tastes as good as it sounds.
From Chadzilla I foud his idea on Sour cream fluff had lots of potential again as a base to a canape. I was thinking of a flavored smoked salmon (using the smoking gun) could be topped over the fluff with a grating of frozen jalapeno. This one seems a little more experimental but we shall see.
I hope to have some time this afternoon to work on these. We shall see.

New Goodies.

I have been known to make frivilous kitchen purchases over the years. but this one was not one of them. While walking through Home Depot the other day, I stumbled by the BBQ section. Not one to buy BBQ's at box stores I only half paid attention, until. What was that I just saw. A Webber with a nice sized composite side table. Hmmm. Must check this out. What! Are you Kidding! This thing lights the charcoal for you. NO WAY. Brilliant. Someone has finally addressed all the issues most people have with charcoal. This really is a great Q and for the price it's my pick for best all round Q under $800.00 (and this one costs about half that). Will post pic soon. Well worth investigating and investing in one.

BBQ Classes

Well another year of BBQ classes have begun. We have had two grilling classes to date, and they have both been great. We will still offer up 2 more grilling classes and two more advanced classes. One will be on smoking and all the things you can do with this wonderful method. And the second will be an advanced grilling class that will allow the participants to create an entire plated meal from their Q. I have many requests for recipes from previous classes( I am getting to it Mario). I will be posting these recipes and more on the this blog in the coming week. So stay tuned.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

blog templates

Does anyone know where I can get better blog templates? I was up late trying each and everyone out. None made me particularly happy. I am trying to get some color into the blog and maybe some more interesting format.
Do let me know if you have advice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Squab or hmm do I dare say pigeon

Squab is just a really nice way to say shit hawk. But not just any shit hawk,one raised with the love and nurturing this rarified bird deserves. Ok who are we kidding here. Pigeon has been farmed and hunted (hopefully outside of the downtown core) for a long long time. This pigeon came to us from Maripossa Farms and if Ian or Suzanne thought I was making fun of their wares I probably wouldn't be able to order from them any longer. So enough with the jokes.
I really wanted to cook the bird in two parts, both sous vide. The leg I wanted to confit, and had been wanting to try confit sous vide for it's practicality. For one it uses far less fat than traditional methods. And the fact that cooled down in the bag and stored, I no longer had to pry some confit from a large container, usually breaking a piece or two in the process. The breast is always hard to cook or should i say cook properly in a traditional manner. Because of it's size it goes from medium rare to medium well in a surprisingly short period of time. And really this bird needs to be served medium rare for it to truly be appreciated. I had been playing around with several different mole sauces when we pulled out the birds. So I just decided to go with it. The legs cured for 3 hours in a standard confit cure with cocoa nibs added and a little bit of cumin and coriander. After a good rinse and dry the legs went into the bag with only a few tablespoons of fat (in this case duck fat)
The breasts were treated to a brine with cocoa nibs, cumin and coriander. And then dusted with cocoa powder and into their bag with a little EVOO (just checking who;s paying attention here. Does anyone really like Rachel Ray? Phil?) Cooked in a water bath for about 30 minutes and then lightly seared to crisp the skin a bit.
The mole is fairly standard but with lots of chocolate. Oh yes and what was supposed to be a Dr Pepper gel (unfortunately I bought cream soda in what can only be described as a grocery store rage incident). Thankfully it still worked but probably not as well. Tucked in underneath was a nice fluffy polenta cake and sauteed kale)
Really tasty. And I love the fact that it just cannot be overcooked in this cooking fashion. And can be kept in the water bath for a fair bit with no heat just ambiant temp in the bath. Just take it out when ready to serve and crisp them up.
I will have to do a sous vide for technologically disadvantged. It can be done in a pot o water on your stove and a good temp probe. Maybe next week.


Signature Drinks

As the wedding season descends upon us, we have many requests fro signature drinks. Are there not enough standard drinks out there to choose from? Maybe I missed something. No. There's lots of drinks to choose from. So now we must come up with all new drinks, served up in interesting new ways. Please keep in mind that I ma a chef and not a mixologist. But I do have a penchant for the bizarre and twisted. Two things I think will serve me well, on this new journey. Over the coming weeks we are going to scour the liquor cabinet and the pantry to come up with (and in some cases just blatantly rip of ideas I like) some pretty neat, fun, and always different drinks.
After spending like 2 hours tonight scouring the internet for inspiration, I really need to start with some basics set down from those better than I. On you tube I happened to see a blue margarita with lime air that looked like a fun place to start. As I haev made more than my share of margs over the years, and am no stranger to airs and foams, this looks like a good place to start.
I also have litchi liquor in the cabinet just calling my name. It's funny this last issue of the LCBO magazine had gelee shots with booze set with gelatine. this is something I haev done many times but not with booze. The recipes there seemed ok enough but lacked refinement and presentation. We will have to see where all this goes over the coming weeks.
Stay tuned, stay thirsty, and if you happen to be getting married why not give us a call (yes a shameless plug). And maybe we can come up with a signature drink for you as well.
PS i just put two videos from You Tube in the video bar showing a couple of the drinks we are going to make.

Cupcake foolery

Is foolery in and of itself a word? Hmm, well you'll get my drift I'm sure. I was approached by an acquaintance who wanted to compete in a cupcake competition. Sounded good to me. How could we make it somewhat Essenceish (another nice word I think). She really wanted to incorporate interesting flavor combinations so as to win the creative cupcakae division. Well now she was talking my language. What could we put in a cupcake that really shouldn't be there , but still taste great. Hmmmm. I know curry. How about a curry cupcake. Yikes that sounds like shit doesn't it. Well we now had a starting point. A quicl look to the Food Pairing website gave us all kinds of possible combos to go with. We settled on Sweet potato, curry, apricot and hazelnut (the last three were from the Alinea cookbook). Caitlin managed to make a great sweet potato cupcake, nice airy but still dense and chewy. What could we do with all these disparate ingredients to go totally over the top. We settled on an apricot gel inside the cupcake. Top it with curry cream cheese frosting (I know it sounds strange but trust me). And the final component nutella powder.Some tweaking of the amount of each in the final product and we have........Hopefully a winner
PS. the frosting rocks. Who knew. I will find more uses for it in the future.
We will make the cupcakes for the competition on Saturday, so stay tuned and I'll post some pics.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Exam grading.

This week I had the pleasure to grade student exam dishes at Le Cordon Bleu. I graded Superior cuisine, Basic Pastry and Superior pastry. Of the classes the superior pastry class as a whole was probably (not it was) the best class as a whole I have ever graded. Not a single bad dish. And really most were very creative and a very keen eye to the little details. I wish I could say that of the other two classes. One is just beginning and therefore did fine. Better even than I did in my first year pastry class. The Superior Cuisine class though has no excuse. I shouldn't say anything bad so I'll stop here.
Was glad to do it again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I hadn't posted any seafood dishes in a while and felt today was the time. We had some great stripped bass on hand and needed some inspiration to go with it. A look through the pantry and fridges really didn't inspire me. I flipped through some books on the shelves and came up with a Micheal Mina dish I liked. He coats the fish in tapioca starch and fries in clarified butter. Well a nice crispy fillet sounded great to me. We decided that Indonesian Long Pepper was going to be our aromatic. I have a real love of long pepper. I can't stop putting it into stuff. Today we made a long pepper seasoning a la Morimotto. And a smoked maldon with long pepper and coriander. We plated the fish with sauteed swiss chard and a sauce of sweet bean and chili paint infused with garlic chives.
The flavors all worked well and the fish tasted great, with a nice crunch to it. Will have to make this one again some time.

Friday, March 13, 2009


We have been making this bite quite regularly of late. We like to call it PB&J. It's a fun take on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches sans bread. Pretty simple dish actually. The chocolate domes are purchase in flats which are perfect for transport. To that we add a peanut butter mousse made with mascarpone and peanut butter. Some peanut brittle on top, peanut butter powder, peanut flavored puffed rice, and cherry sauce thickened with ultratex. We finish it with some vanilla maldon salt and place on a spoon.
I always find it amusing to see the looks on people faces when something looks strange but tastes familiar.
The only drawback is the social backlash on peanut products. But it sure tastes good to me.
We are working on some other domes with similar ideas. One which is still being tweaked has a white chocoalte dome with cherry tobacco gel inside and topped with fermented black bean soil. Maybe we'll finish that one off next week. And another which is a play on Heston Blumenthal's chocoalte caviar. It has the white chocolate dome filled with caviar and topped with something I haven't figured out just yet. We'll see where it takes us.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Back to Work

Well the New Year is here now and it's time to go back to work. OUr Christmas season was our best yet, and we hope thats a great sign for '09. With a little time off to restart the batteries, I feel we are going to create some really interesting dishes this year. We finally got our order from Le Sanctuaire. It was full of a lot of great products that we haven't had the chance to play with yet. If you have tried any of these, let us know how it went...
ultratex 3
citric acid
a whole pile of tapiocca maltodextrin (used this alot)

I look forward to coming up with all kinds of new bites for our cocktail menu with these. And what will be our inspiration? Well we got "The Big Fat Duck" cookbook, and it is full of info on not just the dishes themselves but the thought process that went into each dish. We continue to call the Alinea cookbook "The New Testament". And another find (my sous chef got this one) DC DUBY's book. THis one has many great and simple ideas and techniques to play with.
My New Years resolution was to post more regularly. We are now devoting Mondays to new dishes and blog posting. So there should be more activity on the blog this year. We hope to get a new digital camera for better pics.

Stay tuned.....