Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some things we are working with this week

I happened to be early for a cocktail party yesterday in Rockliffe Park. Not wanting to be ridicualously early, I stopped at a little food shop on Beechwood. Jacobsons was a really nice little shop. Tons of preserves, jams, chutneys and the like. They also had a decent cheese counter, with lots of nice products available. Not wanting to leave without something new to play with, I picked up some Wild blueberry syrup, Lime vinegar, and sloe and apple gin jelly. These should produce some fantastic new sauces, but we shall have to see what I can come up with.
I happen to be partial to Gin and tonics, and have been working on a gin and tonic bite for what seems like forever. Have had a few successes, but they were too similar to ones I had already seen. With the apple jelly, some new avenues of thought have been opened. I am now thinking and appple based bite with overtones of gin and tonic and an effervescent finish is now possible. Anyone have green apple pop rocks, or better yet, neutral flavoured ones I can mess with....
On the way home from the set up of the party. Yes I set up just about every party, and then leave the servers. I stopped at the LCBO for some ice wones and late harvest vidals. I turn these into our ice wine bite. In this case two different versions. Ice wine is not a cheap raw ingredient, and as such produces a fairly expensive little bite. But I am working on a way to extend the flavor profile without diluting the taste. Expensive experiments, but someones gotta try it.
IF you'd like to try an ice wine bite, why not attend Cycle Logiks, Rumour has it, art sale. Everyone purchasing a piece of art will receive an ice wine bite. Sorry if you don't buy one, but you can't have one. So don't ask. I will though have several other contemporary bites out to nosh while you drink.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nov. 26th Dinner

So with only a short time available to put this dinner party together, I decided that posting the menu here is probably the easiest way.


Kataifi wrapped shrimp with fermented black bean and tomato
Fois gras mousse profiterole
Pork belly confit with Maple BBQ sauce frosting

Roasted beet with blue cheese mosaic, candied walnuts, arrugula

Seared salmon with fois gras and black trumpets, braised leeks

Duck confit, pomme salardaise, swiss chard, cranberry

Beef tenderloin, smoked pomme puree, cepes, chipotle honey

Flourless chocolate cake, smoked oreo, vanilla custard ice cream, cherry

Ice wine bite with raspberry and mastic

$85.00 per person

We can do a wine pairing or allow you to bring suggested wines. This will be decided amongst those who reserve a seat.

Please email : or twitter to @chefjayl

Only 10 seats available. Booking needs to be completed by Friday Nov17 for this meal to go forward.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quick Moroccan Beef Stew

I get asked all the time for quick family friendly meals. Till now, I haven't really given much thought to it. But all things change given time. Today while doing all kinds of chores that needed attention, the boys and their friend demanded some food. Looking around, I realized I was going to need to make something. What am I to make?
Looking around the fridge I found some beef tenderloin scraps from jobs at work, black olives (the good one that are sun dried with orange zest), chickpeas, stock, basil, and some misc. veg.
Ok how fast can I take these ingredients and make something really tasty and healthy. Settled. Moroccan beef stew on cous cous. The prep is simple enough. Chop your veg into 1/2-3/4" pieces. Cut beef into 3/4" cubes. Measure out your dry and liquid measures for cous cous. Get it all together in one place. Biggest mistake people make is not to have all prep (or mise en place if you prefer) together before they start cooking. So you will need:

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pounds beef tenderloin I use the "CHAINE" or the scrappy part running the length of the tenderloin
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 roasted garlic cloves, whole (from the tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup basic tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup halved pitted sun dried black olives with orange zest
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
3 green onions sliced thinly
2 tbsp chiffonade of basil

Sear the beef in 2 tbsp olive oil till nicely browned on all sides. PLEASE, don't put it all in the pan at once. Divide it up so you never crowd the pan. If you crowd the pan the meat will reduce the temp of said pan, and you won't be searing, you'll be boiling.
Remove the meat to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Pour off the oil and replace with last tbsp of oil. Saute onions, peppers, celery, and garlic cloves over med heat. When it starts to brown add chickpeas and spices. Cook for another minute or so, till you smell the fragrance of the spices. Then add both the tomato sauce and the broth. Raise the heat a bit and cook till the pan is almost void of liquid. Pour back the meat into pan along with raisins and olives and green onions.
Place cous cous on plate. I am not going to tell you how to cook cous cous today. So let's assume you know. Or you purchased a box of it with a recipe. Spoon some of the stew over and put a pinch of basil on each.
Enjoy. My kids did, and most importantly, so did I. Really tasty.

Tomato sauce: (this is the basic sauce I have been making for 10yrs)

4 can whole tomatoes (pref. San Marzano)
1 head garlic peeled
About 2 cups good quality olive oil. (you can decide how much you like. I like it greasy)
Salt pepper and sugar.

In a pot crush tomatoes with your hands. NOt too much or too little. You'll figure out what you like best. Taste the tomatoes and adjust for their sweetness or lack there of. I use no less than4 tbsp and no more than 6 or so of sugar. Pinch (good pinch) salt and pepper.
Cook on low for about 2.5 hrs
In a small pot place garlic cloves and oil. Cook on low heat till garlic is soft and oil is infused. If the garlic is brown or God forbid darker. Throw it out and start again. This time use low heat. People always get this part wrong. And yet it is so easy. Oh well.
When the garlic has infused the oil, pour most of it in to the tomato sauce and continue cooking till done. I usually make more oil than I need, as I can now use this for dressing or cooking veg. Cloves of garlic should be kept aside for other recipes, like the one above. Keep in the oil covered in the fridge.

Enjoy, this tomato sauce is the basis for so many dishes we make. You will make it all the time. And really it is so easy and basically cooks itself.


Last week while doing some errands and popping in to Rainbow Foods, I cam across a nice looking dehydrator. I needed a new one, as my previous one was borrowed and no longer with me. To be honest I wasn't overly happy with the previous one, as it was one of the round ones with a big hole in the middle. It just wasn't suitable for the applications I wanted to use it for at the time. Mainly I wanted to make fruit and vegetable based sheets to roll up various ingredients. The hole in the middle proved too daunting to overcome.
So when I saw this flat tray style unit with 6 trays and under $200, I was sold. Right from opening the box we put it to use. I started with some grape tomato halves for a garnish to a bite for the following day. Worked perfect. What next? Well as part of my cravings yesterday, I really needed to make some beef jerky. I had cleaned up a tenderloin the day before for some of our bites, and had a bunch of trim and the "chaine" to use up. Why not slice up what I could and dehydrate it. Not wanting to just use salt and pepper, I rubbed half with our BBQ spice blend and the other got a marinading in soy, garlic, ginger, and chili sauce.
Into the dehydrator it went and about 6 hrs later the dry rubbed beef was done. It took another couple for hours for the marinaded beef to be ready.
Today I am going to raid my neighbors chili garden. They have been drying on the stem for a few weeks now, and if not picked will rot in short order. She has some great chilis to work with and drying them just let's us use them for the rest of the winter.
This unit has worked flawlessly so far. Coming up this week we are going to work funkier applications such as; green tea and yuzu sheet for wrapping up ginger spice cake. And perhaps some savoury vegetable sheets for a new take on Nori and sushi making. We shall see where it all goes. But new equipment usually inspires some new directions and ideas.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Saturday mornings usually start the same way. I go the supermarket to pick up the last remaining items for the nights party. This morning I found myself at Loblaws, and on entering I was hit with the smell of RIBS. I do so love ribs, but these were not smelling so great. Ribs are hard not to be good, but these only made me want to make some, not eat the ones on offer. So what to do? If you're me, you go home and make some ribs.
I have a pretty good smoker at work and a kettle style BBQ for smoking at home. These are my stand byes. I use them a lot. But today I wanted to recreate the ones I had smelled in the morning, only better. So today, baked ribs. Now now, I know we are wading into some pretty opinionated waters here. DO I bake them or braise them? Here is my simple take on that age old question. I want the taste of my pork, in my pork and not in the water in the pot. PERIOD. Now I have had some great tender ribs that were braised or cooked in a crock pot. But really, if you do them right in your oven, they win hands down.
So some basics to follow. Temperature, time and well, LOVE. The first two are pretty easy. An oven temp of 280-300 degrees will be satisfactory. Time, well, depends on your ribs and their size. Baby backs cook faster than say, side ribs. But it really doesn't make a difference. The ribs cook, until they are done. Simple. For the back ribs I had on hand, 3-3.5 hours is probably going to do it. Can't say for 100% certain as they are still in the oven. And killing me by the way, with their olfactory rhapsody. Soon. Soon.
Love. Now this is a bit more difficult. Everyone is different, so all types of love are going to be admissible here. For me, today, love is a rub with a mix of (in no particualr order)
Smoked paprika
Ground chipotles
Garlic powder
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Ground yellow mustard
Brown sugar
But this mix is by no means the only suitable kind of love. Make sure to experiment, because you never know where love is going to come from.
One thing I find a lot of people forget when dealing with ribs, is the silver skin on the bottom side of the rib. If you bake or smoke with this on, you will end up with ribs that don't quite fall apart as they should. Or have a strange papery substance on the bottom. I have always wondered why the butchers don't automatically take this off. But they don't, so you need to. Easy enough. Take a knife and run it down the middle of your rib, tail to tip. Work your finger under the cut, and pull the silver skin off. Next take your rub and work it well into the ribs. Really massage the love in here. I usually let my ribs sit in the fridge over night with the rub on, but this is optional.
Get the oven going and wrap your ribs in foil tightly. This will help them not burn and slightly steam them at a certain point. At about the 2.5 hr mark, I usually take the foil off. I do this so I can see the ribs, and allow the heat at the end to be a dry heat. With back ribs, they are done when the meat start to pull away from the bones. Seeing white bones means they are done. I will usually take them out of the oven and cool them down. Only to cook them on the BBQ later with a slathering of secondary love, BBQ SAUCE. But today, they are going under the broiler to finish. Ofcourse they are going to get a bit of BBQ sauce just before.
I will post some pics as soon as they come out.
One craving out of the way.
Next up some beef jerky. Not sure why I am craving this today as well, but while the ribs worked, I made up some jerky. They will come out of the dehydrator much later tonight. But damn do I love some good jerky.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wow it's been a while

I never seem to be bale to stay on top of the blog. Like everyone else things come along in life that get in the way of things you want to do. I get told over and over, you have to pay mroe attention to your blog. It's true I do. But what do I give up to do it? Should I not develop that new menu/recipe? Not play with the boys? Maybe let things slide with my personal life? It's a hard balancing act. We all have our miss givings about the things we want to do, but can't. Alas I am no different.
With Christmas coming fast. And a new crop of cooks in the kitchen, I am hoping ot have some more time each day to photograph some of our experiments. Not all are good. and likewise not all are bad. But it is how we develop our new bites and plates. I have also started working on some new service pieces. This I do love to do. But find it is most time consuming.
WE also renovated our kitchen/office. This was in bad need of attention, and we are well underway to completion. Hopefully we will have some pics of the new office as it continues (albeit slowly) towards completion. I do look forward to the day when I will enjoy spending time in my office as much as the kitchen. Also having my office and computer beside the kitchen should make updating the blog and other social media easier, as it will all be right there.
We shall see....