Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Restocking the Pantry

I have always liked to have a fairly well stocked pantry. With it you can always come up with something to cook. And with the right pantry you can take ordinary dishes to the next level with very little effort. Today I restocked chutneys, preserves, jams, and pickles. By taking a little time and humble ingredients you can make condiments that really help to make your dinner shine.

On our list today:

Preserved mushrooms
Kumquat blood orange and long pepper marmalade
Red onion and cranberry jam
Fennel and port jam
Curried grapes
Cippolini jam
Mustard infused raisins
Marinated Lebanese Cukes
Pickled red onions
Preserved Meyer Lemons

All of these make their way onto our corporate and private dinner menus. Our cocktail menus also rely heavily on these condiments. In an easy work day, or at home, you can make decent quantities of these. Most are variations in one form or another from Keller, Chang, Trotter, and Boulud. They have served me well, as I am sure they will for you. I will post some recipes here in coming weeks. Maybe one per week, we'll see. I still have a few newer ones to complete first.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fun ideas to play with

Thes etwo bites are slight variations on two other dishes I saw recently. One being by Grant Achatz. Reen olive, kumquat and akquavit and carraway. Interesting bite. It inspired a similar bite we made with Kumqaut, vodka and Oj cream, limoncello pearls.
And the other is an ice wone gelee with raspberry, and mastic foam and long pepper. Inspired by C food. A cookbook I scanned at the local bookstore. I liked this one quite alot. But I would mess with the Hydrocolloid. My aim is to get mouthfeel but also cuttability. The gelatine based cube is best when left to come close to room temp. Just out of the fridge the gel is too rigid.
Anyhow inspiration continues....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Asparagus, quail egg, duck breast, miso butter

I was leafing through David Chang's book, Momofuku, and saw a recipe I just needed to make. Miso butter. What a great idea. I have been playing with miso and incorporating it into all kinds of different dishes. Right now I am loving Dens Miso, which is just miso mixed with saki, mirin, and sugar. It gets cooked down somewhat for our applications and cooled. I love this stuff. It is just the right mix of salty and sweet. So why not incorporate this into miso butter. Soft but still solid butter is mixed 50/50 with miso. Mixed well so there are no discernable chunks of either component.
For this dish, I wanted to work on an app for an upcoming dinner. I wanted to pair duck and asparagus. So I borrowed much of the concept from Chang's dish. Starting with broiled asparagus, topped with some of our aforementioned puny duck breasts. The miso butter in a quenelle, and the quail eggs just poached.
Very tasty, but for the final dish I think we will change: 1. Better duck breasts obviously. 2. I would change the three quail eggs to a single smallish duck egg. and 3. I would have a mix of white and green asparagus.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chocolate and chili pot de creme

For dessert the other night I prepared some pot de cremes. I make these from a recipe I found online a few years back, and then refined. It is full proof with a nice creamy consistency, with plenty of bite. We served it with chocolate pain perdue, cajeta sauce, and a cinammon bavarois (not seen because I ate it all at the dinner). For this one I have some cocoa nibs and pistachio brittle. What I really love about this bite is this. Each bite of it can be different. You can drag the pain perdu through the caramel with or without the chilis, and then dunk it in the pot de creme. Or any combination thereof. Anyhow seriously good eats.

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1 Chipotle chili, seeded
1 Ancho chili, seeded

1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp dark agave nectar
6 1/2 oz dark chocolate (preferably Mexican Ibarra mixed with dark chocolate 50/50)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

sprinkle of smoked paparika

Combine cream, 1/2 and 1/2 and chilis in a pot on med.
Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Let stand 15 min.
Beat eggs, salt and sugar to ribbon till pale and increased in volume.
Strain cream mixture into eggs add agave nectar and vanilla and cook over bain marie for 5 minutes.
Strain into container with chopped chocolate.
Use immersion blender to ensure good mixing and consistency.
Pour into espresso cups.
Pinch of paprika on top of each (but very little).
Makes about 10, based on my espresso cups.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Manhattan Project

Come out and visit us at Wallspace Gallery on January 30th. We will be serving food to compliment Andrew King's (my favourite local artist) newest collection...
Andrew King
The Manhattan Project

January 30 to February 22
Artist Reception: Saturday, January 30, 6-9 p.m.
Wall Space Gallery, Westboro Village

Wall Space Gallery is excited to launch this highly anticipated show, featuring new work by admired Ottawa artist, Andrew King.

"After a busy summer and fall, I needed to recharge the creative batteries and thought there was probably no better place to do that than New York City. Packing a suitcase and without much of a plan, I boarded the historic “Adirondack” train. Having never been to the Big Apple, I arrived at Penn Station on a Friday night with a sketchbook, a pen, and a desire to explore.

Traveling alone is a unique experience that allowed me to do and see things that brought me much inspiration and many ideas for artwork. After a week in Manhattan, I had a great collection of sketches, concepts and emotional connections to a city that changed my life.

The Manhattan Project is a culmination of these ideas and emotions. It is a unique glimpse into my travels to the Big Apple...”

Please join us in celebrating our first show of 2010.


We will be creating food that is inspired by some of his pieces. Be sure to not to miss it.

Jr. tasting menu

By junior I mean the staff. I was called upon by a great family of customers to provide the food for a 40th birthday dinner. The catch. It was important that the kids be a part of the service. Hmmm. That's a new one for em. Most people want to have all the bells and whistles when spending allot of money on dinner. But for this meal the kids were to shine as much as the food. To say I had my reservations would be an under statement, you know working with kids and animals and all that. But I can say it went off really well.
Most of our food is pretty time and temperature sensitive. Over time our service staff has figured out how to get the food to the guests in the most timely manner. That wasn't the case this evening. Food did have a tendency to sit while the wine service was handled. Thankfully this was not a concern to anyone. The show the kids put on for their parents was more important. The last course of the evening, usually our strongest dish, tonight was the weekest. Too much fussing with things not plate related, but still tasty. And really by this time I was caught up in the pageantry of the service and not the food.
The night would not have been the same were it not for one of the younger servers (yes I had a few), Alyssa (sp?). She was the one who anounced each dish. And she did it with flourish. She was also very interested in each of the dishes and how they were made.
Again a really fun meal was had with a group of family that I am really enjoying serving. I wonder what we will be doing next time. Whatever it is I am sure it will be lots of fun.