Saturday, March 31, 2007

Swiss Chard Ravioli

Swiss Chard Ravioli

1 cup Swiss Chard
1/4 cup Parmasean Cheese
1 onion diced
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tsp Worchestershire
Salt and Pepper

Pasta Dough
3 cups cake flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 egg yolks
2 tsp Evoo
1 tblsp Salt
1 cup water

For the filling, sautee the onion till golden brown in a minimal amount of batter. Add the Chard over the onions, after this wilts down a bit, then add the rest of the ingrediants and cook on a low temperature till the mixture is no longer wet.

For the dough, scale all the ingrediants into a Kitchen-Aid with a dough hook, and let her-rip for about 8 minutes taking care to make sure the mixer stays on the table, and the dough forms a dry, hard ball. This can be done by hand as well. If you are lucky enough to have a Kitchen-aid and the pasta rolling attachement then you are in fact, well, lucky. Roll the dough out to #5 thickness, lay out a sheet, egg wash the whole thing, place 1 teaspoon portions of filling in two rows about an inch apart, carefully place a sheet of pasta over the filling taking care to press the dough down as you lay the dough over each column of filling. Press the pasta sheets together around the filling and cut the ravioli, at this point we could use a fluted ravioli cutter, a round biscut cutter, or a knife.

If like most people I know you don't have a pasta sheeter, or a Kitchen-Aid for that matter, and you formed the pasta dough by hand god bless you! Because I would have went to the Ohio City Pasta stall at the West Side Market and purchased a few sheets of pasta. Fortunatly for the brave hand rolled pasta fanatic, I find it simpler to roll out small cirles of pasta individualy instead of a long sheet. This way I roll out small circles, egg wash them, put in the filling, then fold them over to make a pillow, or agnolotti shape.

Cooking the Ravioli is easy since there is no egg or raw meat inside the filling, it only takes 3 minutes or so in salted, boiling water for the pasta to cook. The fresh pasta is quite durable, and the uncooked ravioli can last around 3 days till the pasta starts to change colors and break down.

Weekly Specials

Soup: Brocolli Bisque with Carr Valley Aged Chedder, and Braised Bacon

App: Swiss Chard Ravioli, Truffle-Tomato Vinagraitte, Chef's Garden Fresh Hops Sprouts

Entree: Herb crusted Alaskan Halibut over a ragout of Artichoke, Cipollini Onions, and Rock Shrimp, Smoked Paprika Beurre Blanc

Monday, March 26, 2007

Peppadew Sweet Piquante Peppers

I first tried these little treasures about 2 years ago, at that time I purchased a case or two, used them up, decided that they where outstanding, and proceeded to forget about them for about a year. I currently use them in a warm cucumber salad with feta, olives, mint, and Pappadew peppers. The balance of sweetness and spiciness is built into these peppers. They tease at your desire for a spicy pepper while smoothing things over with their sweetness. They Pappadew company has a very nice website, but for a quick over view let me explain.

The South African company, Peppadew International, markets a range of sweet piquanté pepper products under the Peppadew™ brand. Their secret recipe for processing the versatile fruit delivers the perfectly balanced sweet and spicy taste and trademark crispy texture. The end product contains no preservatives, has a 12 month shelf life, is unique to any other product on the market, and is produced with a social conscience.

Found in South Africa, sweet piquanté peppers have been processed, bottled and marketed by Peppadew International under their contemporary and innovative Peppadew brand. An unwavering commitment to quality sees the Peppadew International team working with horticultural, farming, transport, processing and packaging specialists to ensure that every pepper is as good as the last.

The launch of Peppadew Sweet Piquanté Peppers by Peppadew International has taken this contemporary brand to unprecedented international success. Peppadew International, a Proudly South African company, is committed to benefiting the previously disadvantaged community in which it operates.
The company built their processing and bottling plant in Tzaneen, a small town in the Limpopo Province. The plant has undergone regular upgrades over the past 6 years as the business has grown. The upgrades have seen the purchase of new, world-class, packing machinery and, importantly, new deseeding halls which provide workers with spacious, comfortable working conditions.

The only place I've seen these peppers around is at The Natures Bin in Lakewood. There website also takes order. These peppers are great fresh out of the jar. I would suggest eating them that way with some toasted nuts, or on a salad. I think their flavor works well with crab and lobster also. The peppers cook well, they don't disinagrate or fall apart if stuffed. Finally, when the jar is empty, don't toss that wonderful brine. I suggest curing some sliced red onion in that brine for starters, or use the liquid as a portion of the vinager called for in any vinagraitte recipie. This is a nice little trick I use for other brined items such as pepperoccini, or oil packed olives.

The uniqueness of the Peppadew Sweet Piquante Pepper demands that it be sought out by cooks, professional, or at home. The product is fail safe, yet out of the ordinary. I've not found one person who doesn't like them. Sounds like success to me.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring Plates

Here is a review of new spring menu additions. The bounty of spring is about to erupt in kitchens all across the mid-west. My personal goal is to improve on all my personal favorites this year, creating dishes that in some cases more simply convey a specific ingrediant. While exploring ways to manipulate simple ingrediants into complex forms and textures.

Tempur Smoked Quail with Jalapeno
Plum Sauce

Sorell glazed Black Grouper with braised Belian Endive,
Sweet Potato Gnocchi, topped with Chef's Garden ultra Watercress

Pan-Fried Maine Lobster Tail, warm
Potato Salad, Arugula, Citrus Vinagraitte

Udon noodle wrapped Shrimp, Shaved Celery
Sakio Miso dressing

Hand Made Egg Parpadelle Pasta with
Pork Shoulder Confit, Escerole, Roasted
Garlic, and topped with Cabralles Blue Cheese

Seared Diver Scallops with Avacado-English Pea Profiteroles, and Savory Rhubarb Toast Points

Seared 'big eye' east coast Tuna, Stir-fired rice, Green Curry sauce topped with Chef's Garden Asian Greens

Grilled Organic Lamb Loin, over Feta-English Pea Risotto, topped with a Sundried Tomato and Olive relish

This is a freshly opened box of Chef's Garden Asian Greens. The greens come in little tiny heads, and have a ton of flavor. There is a mustard greeen in there that packs some serious heat for a leaf of lettuce. Opening Chef's Garden boxes is always exciting, it's like opening a gift on Christmas with all the care that goes into the packing. The Produce, especially greens, lettuces, and micro-greens are far superior to anything available from anyone in the country.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Buckeye Beer Engine

We visited the newly opened Buckeye Beer Engine on their first sunday open. A new bar in Lakewood would usually go of little notice, but the main bar pictured here offers some of the worlds most admired craft beers.

The Tap handles are a display in and among themselves. The always changing draft beer selection is displayed in bright easy to read dry-erase board, as well as a paper copy. Drafts are offered in pints, specialty glasses, or 4 oz tastings.

I decided on a rye stout, as we looked over the complete beer list and food menu. The menu is quite sufficiant with standard bar offerings as well as a long list of interesting burgers. We had 2 burgers, both where very good. The chips are wonderfully crisp, and the frites are top notch. They have a good housemade ketchup to top it off.

The Beer-Cheese soup was thick and deliciuous. Everything else we had arrived in a paper lined basket. Nothing wrong with this while swilling high quality beer, but made our perogi app a little awkward to cut.

Here some professionals attempted to photo this lively beer. Other food items already got captured.

I think the Buckeye Beer Engine is a unique yet acessible bar that fits very well into the drinking and dining atmosphere of Lakewood. I will definatly return both for quality burgers, and unique beers, all at a reasonable price.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Weekly Specials

Soup: White Asparagus bisque with English Pea breadsticks

App: Sautee of Main Lobster Tail, Spring vegetables, Saffron Cream

Entree: Strawberry-Vanilla Polenta encrusted Salmon, Warm watercress, Papadew pepper, and Foie Gras salad.

Foie Gras: Seared 'la bella farms' Foie Gras. Chilled Enlish Pea and Avacodo soup, Fava bean and truffled cows cheese profiterole

Thursday Pics

These are English Pea profiteroles and bread sticks that will be used in this week-ends specials. They are about 3/4 of the way done in our stone pizza oven.

This is a pan of braised Bacon, that I large diced and sautee to rewarm.

This is where we use the Braised Bacon. This was one of our Amuse for the night.
Braised bacon and lobster surf and turf with spring peas,
camalized banana and spicy strawberry sauce, garnished
with Chef's Garden cucumber bloom, and smoked salt.

This giant plate of food was thursdays family meal at the restaurant. Grilled filet of beef, marinated shrimp, and Chef's Garden Potato-bacon hash. Shoot, I was so happy a drizzled the whole mess with some truffle oil, fleur de sel, and Chef's Garden Salad Sensation. My staff does such a wonderful job!!!

This is just a lonely corner of our pantry station.
I've always thought the number of squeeze bottles in
a restaurant to be somehow justify the snobbyness of it's food.

Spring Peas

The excitement of spring, green vegetables, farmers markets, then hot sunny days. Our little planet has managed to stay the course and brings us around the sun once again. Oh happy days.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lost in the Logistics of Common Sense

The NY Times ran an article yesterday about the use of gloves in the kitchen. It was only a few short weeks ago that our local Health Department official visited the restaurant, and at this time I was reprimanded personally for putting on gloves without first washing my hands. I inquired as to weather I was expected to wash my hands each and every time I put on latex gloves, and the answer was a strong ‘yes’. I decided to dive further into this discussion with the official as to why at this point just plain washing my hands isn’t enough? At this point I got a head shake, and a threat of, "do you want me to find it in the code," which I took as, "leave me alone or I’ll throw the book at you." The ironic underlying of the whole situation is that the gloves where not meant to protect the integrity of the food, raw beef tenderloin in this case. Rather the gloves where intended to keep my hands clean.

I find it in a small way troubling that no place in this Times piece is the health or well being of the glove wearer taken as a priority. It seems logical to me that anyone lacking malicious intentions would want to keep themselves clean in the kitchen, even if it is for completely self-serving reasons. I know when my hands are dirty and need to be washed, I can feel it. I also know that I don’t want beef blood, or fish scales, or oil/butter from prepared foods all over my hands, quickly traveling to everything I touch.

The danger really is on the gloves. The kitchen is a crazy place, where standardization, and sanitation are very important. The heating and cooling of things, the organization of storage, the cleanliness of utensils are all very well overlooked by the Health Department. The cleanliness of my hands seems just too much like common sense. Personally, I find I wear gloves most often to protect my hands from getting dirty, thus when I do touch food with bare hands they are clean. If I am wearing gloves and I restock the line, I might put my gloved hands in two or three different containers, not even realizing that there are some lentils on the gloves when I dig into the white rice pan. Now if I felt that lentil I would have washed it away most assuredly. Finally lets imagine that this well traveled lentil was a wicked case of salmonella?!?!

I think the mandatory use of gloves should be implemented in certain occasions. Specifically where frequent hand washing is not easy, for instance on a buffet line, large scale catering, or professional cooking outdoors. I like the ability to use latex gloves at my discretion, and I would find it disturbing if due to allergies the Health department decided to ban latex gloves. In the restaurant we deal with a multitude of allergies, this is just one more we need to be aware of. I think it is the Health department duty to keep not only the restaurant consumer healthy, but the restaurant worker healthy with regards to personal cleanliness. And in turn I think a restaurant workers personal cleanliness is something he or she should be solely responsible for, and held accountable for with or without the use of latex gloves. The best case scenario at this point is educating people about the most effective ways to keep themselves clean and safe in the kitchen.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Weekly Specials

Soup: Lobster Bisque, Chervil oil

App: Sichuan Shrimp, Pickled Ginger Congee, Grapefruit, Toasted Coconut

Entree: Sauteed Hog Snapper, Sweet Potato Dumpling, Spaghetti Squash, Apple-caper Brown Butter

Foie: Seared Foie Gras, Rutabaga puree, Caraway broth

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Weekly Specials

Soup: Celery Bisque with Porcini oil, Orange zest.

App: Rabbit 3 ways: Rabbit Rillettes with toast points, Rabbit Streudle with aged Balsamic, Rabbit and Mach Salad with Orange-Chervil dressing

Entree: Seared Genuine American Red Snapper over Chef's Garden Ice Spinach, next to a tart of Chipollini onions and Yellowfoot Mushrooms, finished with a Apple-rosemary emulsion.

Foie Gras is seared, over truffle celery root puree, pickled cherries, dusted with pistachio and fleur de sel

Not a special, but just because i caught a nice picture:

Tempura smoked Quail, Granny Smith Apple emulsion,
and Walnut-brandy butter.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Garlic, it used to be so simple.

Garlic is believed to originate from Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and western China). This was confirmed by phylogenetic analysis based on molecular and biochemical markers Garlic spread to the Mediterranean in ancient times. It was already grown in Egypt in 1600 BC. Garlic has been rare in traditional English Cuisine, though it has been documented as early as 1548. Garlic has proven most popular in the cuisine of the Mediterranean and costal Europe. Today garlic is an indispensable ingredient to even the most un-seasoned home cook in the U.S.

The whole of the garlic plant is edible, while not all at the same stage of maturity though. Green Garlic, or spring garlic is the tender young shoot of an immature garlic plant, at this point there is no bulb as the stalk is tender and flavorful. This stage of garlic is very popular among farmers markets during the spring time.

Garlic Scapes are the unopened flower pods of the garlic plant. Some varieties of Garlic provide edible, flavorful Scapes.

Garlic Flowers are available and provide both decorative qualities as well as edible flowers.

Garlic Shoots are available from The Chef’s Garden and are the white root tendrils at the bottom of the garlic bulb. This product is usually allowed to dry and crumble away from the bulb, but in this case are harvested before this happens. Fresh Garlic shoots are pleasantly crisp and juicy with strong garlic flavor.

For an in depth look at the many varieties of garlic, and how to grow your own, or purchase unique garlic and garlic products try The Garlic Store online. Wikipedia also delivers a informative overview of garlic.

What is Asparation???

Asparation, broccolini, or baby broccoli are all retail names for a naturally occurring hybrid of broccoli and Gai Lan also known as Chinese flowering green kale. The Sakata Seed Company is a Japanese company working in Northern California where in 1998 began producing seeds for Aspiration as a cash crop. By 2000 Mann Packing Company in Salinas California was growing Asparation for market. Asparation is not a genetically modified organism, which has been a confusion in the past.

Asparation is more difficult to farm than broccoli; it takes a lot of hand care. Early in the growing season, the central bloom of every plant has to be pinched off to allow the leggy side shoots to grow. It also takes repeated pickings, unlike broccoli. Because of that, asparation will probably never become a staple vegetable.

The name asparation comes from the fact that early tastings of the plant by the Japanese public described the stem as having the flavor of asparagus. This has not come to fruit in the North American community and the names broccolini, and even more generic baby broccoli have become more common.

Asparation has a pleasantly sweet flavor, lacking any bitterness associated with kale or broccoli. The stem is completely edible without peeling, and the florets hold up well after cooking. I first used Asparation when it was fresh on the market back in 2000 while working at Severance Hall. We used it there for a lot of catering events as the vegetable holds well under heat. Today we are treating the Asparation with more care. A quick blanch takes the edge off and sets a wonderful dark green color, then we Sauteed them in some butter, garlic and salt.