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.