Saturday, June 30, 2007

Weekly Specials Photo

These Rainer Cherry and buttermilk blue cheese springrolls played center stage to the salad of Chef's Garden Asian Greens in a spicy plum vinagraitte and fig vinager. We used brix paper for the springroll to create cruncky yet delicate wrapping.

Yellow tomato gazpacho turned a greenish hue from the green bell peppers, parsley and cucumber, but was definatly less 'tomato-y' and paired well with warm grilled shrimp.

This soft shell crab has a very fine tempura batter that helps keep him crisp. Two of my current flavors make up the salad....fried chick-peas and dukkah, with Chef's Garden Root Spinach, english peas, and a whipped lemon sabyon. The spinach is hearty yet succulant lending both a crunch and a moisture that is quite plesant.

We used rather small sides of Wild Strip Bass which allowed us to focus on getting a nice crisp skin since there was a high proportion of it to flesh, and we where usually sucessful. The fish sits in a lobster-spring pea cassoullet where we put the focus on enlish peas, fava beans, and baby squash while using a base of dried white beans and lobster stock. The baby squash and baby tri-color snow peas are from the Chef's Garden, and elevate the dish to a wonderful seasonal exploration.
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Weekly Specials

Soup: Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with grilled shrimp

App: Crispy Soft Shell Crab, dukkah spiced chickpeas, english peas, and spinach, lemon foam

Salad: Cherry and Blue Cheese Springrolls, Chef’s Garden Asian Greens in a spicy plum Vinaigrette

Entree: Wild Stripped Bass, english pea and fava bean ‘cassoulet’ with fresh main lobster

Dessert: Stonefruit Beggers Purse, berry coulis, honey whipped goat cheese

Friday, June 22, 2007

Weekly Specials Pictured

This week rounded out quite well with a Chef's Garden squash blossom stuffed with cherried and blue cheese, fried and served with avacado, cherry-cabernet tapenade, and Chef's Garden popcorn shoots

This Ivory Salmon entree sold out friday night, served with Chef's Garden baby squash, Morel mushroom cream, and Chef's Garden Pea shoots

Most suprisingly this dessert also went 86 friday night with local strawberries and rasberries marinated in Grand Marinier, over a lemon-thyme angle food cake, topped with honey cream.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Weekly Specials

Soup: Tomato soup flavored with cumin and cinnamon, served with a chickpea- pablano salad

App: Chef’s Garden Squash Blossom stuffed with cherries and blue cheese, Mission figs baked with gouda and pepperoni

Entree: Ivory King Salmon, Chef’s Garden baby squash, yukon potato puree, creamy morel mushrooms


Grilled Kobe Beef Tenderloin, French fried fingerling potatoes, warm mushroom and spinach salad

Dessert: Locally picked Strawberries and Rasberries, lemon-thyme scented angel food cake, honey cream

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dutton Goldfield Wine Dinner

We hosted a Dutton Goldfield wine dinner this past evening. The vineyard is known for it's chardonnay and pinot noir. We paired the chardonnay with a teardrop tomato, sweetcorn, avacado salad with truffle vinagraitte. Pictured is a Scottish organic salmon tartar with dried cherry-red wine vinagriatte topped with soy glazed microgreens.

The main plate consisted of Kobe Beef Tenderloin, topped with tempura Main lobster tail, finsihed with seared La Bella Farms foie gras, all accompanied with a mushroom-goat cheese risotto, and roast garlic-peppercorn reduction.

The meal ended with a pot de creme, and cheese plate.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Best Birthday Cake Ever

With foodies current infatuation with gravity defying cakes stuck full of supporting sticks and covered with always tasty fondant, we have lost sight of what for most of us is the best cake we've ever had. Most likely this specimen of our adoration lacks the use of Valhora dark chocolate, vanilla beans, coco nibs or exotic flavor combinations. In fact, it wouldn't be to far flung in assuming most of these creations came out of a box, fortunatelythe preparers of most are capable of thinking outside the box. Stacking, cutting, layering, spreading, evening, all without the use of proper pastry chef tools, no spatulas or serrated knifes here, most likely a multi-purpose butter knife. Yet the final result is a cake of magnificant craftsmanship filled with love, caring and support. One that can't be duplicated, mass produced, or even sold.

This was my personal birthday cake. I was enormously impressed. Baked and assembled by my Kari, who refused to relinquish her secret recipe, but I'm guessing it went something like this
1 box vanilla cake mix
1 box chocolate cake mix
2 jars white frosting with sprinkles
1 package blue candles

And this is my favorite birthday cake ever.
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Friday, June 15, 2007

Weekly Specials

Soup: Sweet corn bisque, house cured copper river king salmon, truffled corn shoots

App: Grilled mississippi quail, fried chick-peas, dukkah spices

Salad: Pickled stonefuit salad, (apricots, peaches, plums) hydroponic bibb lettuce, buttermilk blue cheese, spicy roasted nuts, white balsamic Vinaigrette

Entree: Alaskan King Salmon, baby squash, spinach fettuccini, maryland crab brown butter

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Choldnik, chilled soup


Chlodnik---Polish cooks serve this soup (pronounced "hu-WOHD-neek") as a cooling first course for summer meals. It's a delicious alternative to gazpacho.

3 cups well-shaken chilled buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pickling liquid
6 drops tabasco
1 cup chopped bottled pickled beets
1 cup chopped boiled yellow beets
1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons citrus infused olive oil
Shrimp, grilled and served warm along with the soup

Mix the first five ingrediants together and chill. Prep the other veggies and chill them also. I like the contrast between cold soup and hot shrimp so I prefer to mix the veggies in the soup at the last minute, then top with warm grilled shrimp, and garnish with dill, and oil.

This soup works very well in the restaurant as it's colorful, tastey, and light. For some reason people shy away from chilled soups? I tend to think they are slightly more versitile, and creative than your normal bowl of chowder out of the steam well. Pickled beets, dill and buttermilk are the core flavors, any other ingrediants can be easiliy swapped out.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Weekly Specials

This week I find myself with a chance to demonstrate how adversity and timing directly dictate how thing happen in the kitchen. When time, and light, and labor flies around you like a hurricane, you can do nothing but adapt, now matter how strong, or how long you, or how dilligent an effort you put forth, sometimes, change is good. This is especially true when you make good changes. Note how things changed over a two day period from the last post. Two hours without electricity, lazy/tired/hot employees, and mind blowing heat add up to mandatory change.

Chilled watermelon soup with grilled squid and carrot salad

House cured Copper River Salmon, english pea dumplings, pea shoots, truffle vinagraitte, fleur de sel

Fig and Cherry salad, with blue cheese, port gelle, and Chef's Garden Spinach in a lemon vinagraitte

Seared Salmon over shitake and snow pea stir fry, fragrant basmanti rice baked in brix dough, and curry eggplant, Chef's Garden corn shoot garnish
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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Weekly Specials

Soup: Chilled Watermelon Soup with Crab salad

App: House Cured Copper River King Salmon, English Pea Gnocchi, Red Beet Garnish, Truffle Vinaigrette

Salad: Fig and Cherry Tart glazed with a Port Wine Gelle over a Warm Spinach and Blue Cheese Salad

Entree: Copper River King Salmon, fragrant Basmanti rice baked in Brix papper, Stir-fried Shitake Mushrooms and Snow Peas, Curry Eggplant Relish

Dessert: Poached Spring Stonefruit with a Frangelico Sabyon, and Ginger Snaps

Monday, June 04, 2007

Retrospective Analysis of My First Public Cooking Demonstration

While some people find speaking to their peers concerning topics they are knowledgeable to be enjoyable, I have yet to find this to be the case in my personal experience. I understand that communicating is part of my job, part of life, I’ve yet to find it enjoyable to stand in front of even the smallest group of people and preach to them my ideas, I mean, who the hell am I to be telling them this or that??? Well, by golly, people actually want to hear what I have to say when it comes to cooking!!! While I’ve spent the past few years battling with young line cooks, badgering them, beating them up with my opinion and ideas about how things in the kitchen should be run, placed, or cooked, fighting teeth and nail, BOOM.... on a pleasant Sunday afternoon every single person in attendance is intent on listening to exactly what it involves to make strawberry lemon-aid. Talk about a shock. It was less than 24 hours before that I had, what I call a, ‘Chef-fit" in which doors and pans got slammed and knocked around the kitchen, and this was all concerning the portioning of noodles! Wow, these people are willing to listen to me without having to throw things around and cause a scene. What a pleasant dispatch from my normal communication efforts.

Nerves, what nerves? It is slightly twisted that on my way to the 11 am food demo, it was raining quite hard. I began to wonder if the show would go on at all it was raining so hard. In a very shallow, self-centered way I sighed, "well, at least there won’t be a big crowd" ha ha ha. The clouds parted as if they had been paid to do so, and a ray of sun brought a slight glow to the market has hundreds, yes hundreds of people arrived. I felt slightly nervous in the car, in the rain, thinking I would do a demo for 5 lost soles in the mist of a thunderstorm, but all that went away. I think the hospitality of Steve and Molly helped a lot. The fact I was setting up, and working along, chopping berries, and tasting the lemon-aid, and slicing bread made the fact that people where approaching me and we spoke about what I was doing seemed all to familiar, and comfortable to a point.

I spoke to a few people who of whom we had common acquaintances which was very nice. We started to sample the lemon-aid promptly, and a fair crowd formed around the punch bowl. In some way I felt sorry for the food truck behind me selling soda pop cans, oh well. I was preceded by an Irish Dance Troupe with was very well received, with a large crowd gathered around. It was at this point I realized, no rain, no 5 lost soles, I was going to do it, and damned if I wasn’t brim with confidence. My parents gazed from the back, as I made eye contact with most of the crowd, it actually felt like they where listening, not just standing there waiting for a hand out. I spoke about the lemon-aid since people couldn’t get enough, I mean they where ladling it out the whole time I spoke, I didn’t mind, it was action, and that is what I’m used to, multiple things going on at one time. Second we talked about pickling cucumbers, which everyone listened but no one comprehended because I was asked the very simple recipie about 30 more times in the next hour. Finally, the one hot item.

I had a pot on the butane burner because I contemplated heating up a pickling liquid, and dumping some cukes in, but I aborted that as people seemed the least interested in the cucumbers. Well, the pot was very hot, and I took it off the burner after about 10 minutes, it was smoking, and set it on the plastic table!! What a joy that became about 30 minutes later.

Fortunatly at the time it didn’t cause a scene. I made a very simple warm strawberry-goat cheese bruschetta, with local honey and thyme. People where amazed that you would cook a strawberry, I quickly made the analogy to jam, and things smoothed over. Then the cheese, we talked about cheese substatutes, and if you didn’t want to use cheese....I just agreed that everyone had a great idea. Just as the pan got hot and the berries got juicy in the pan 3 small children are standing next to me, I’m thinking, "for god’s sake don’t let me burn these little bastards" so I grabed the tongs there I had already deligated to picking the cucumbers out of the pickle, and to be honest this became the biggest issue of the day. I figured since I touched every single slice of cucumber in the pickle, why shouldn’t anyone just reach in and get a slice, well, no, we needed tongs, which I’m sure is better in the long run. I finished the first batch of brushetta, and all of a sudden I felt like I was at a rowdy soccer match with people pushing up from the back for a taste of strawberry brushetta. I decided to quickly ask for any public questions, and finished with a plea to come forward patiently with any queries assuring to a personal confrontation.

My nerves didn’t kick in until I answered the same question of, "what was in the pickling liquid again, I forgot?" 30 times or, "what restaurant are you from again?" 50 times, even though it was printed on my t-shirt. In the mean time the fact that I solidified my pot to the table came back to haunt me. I twisted and pried, my father tried a knife, my mother laughed in the corner, and finally my sister pried it off with as little damage as possible. Thanks again!!! A quick 40 minute tirade of fact exchange, and my loving crowd is off to sniff the flowers. Thanks crowd for my first public cooking demo.

Maybe I’ve turned the corner. Maybe I’m not infinitely scared of public speaking after all. Maybe I will succeed at this again in the future? ......yes, I think the answer is yes.

Kamms Corners Farmers Market

I was lucky enough to participate in the opening of what should become a very wonderful community event, the Kamm's Corners Farmers Market. The market is both conveniently located and scheduled for Sundays 10 am till 2 pm with not only farmed produce and products but entertainment and cooking demos each week-end.

My sister was quite happy to snap these photos of the market as my hands where full, as you can see in the last photo, so I'm very thankfull to my sister, Michelle for helping me on this day. Everyone attending the market was wonderfully plesant, and the event was very well organized and prepared as we barely dodged some serious rain squalls. In any event, rain or shine, the crowd was plenty and I sincerly hope grows in the future as I plan to return this next week, as only a shopper this time.
The following three items are what we talked about during my demo at the market. I common question concerned how I decided to prepare what I did, which is a good question. The answer, and recipies follow:
Strawberries have a rather short local season but are very a highly sought after product. Like tomatoes and corn to come, within a week we have more strawberries than we know what to do with. These are two strawberry recipes to help us along

Cucumbers are abundant at the farmers market until the hottest days of the summer hit. While always good raw, or in a salad, pickling gives a twist to the likeable cucumber flavor and crunch. The pickle recipe is very versatile and should be explored far beyond cucumbers.

Local Honey is a very precious ingredient. Wherever you have used plain white sugar in the past is a good place to try some flavorful local honey. While this artisianal honey still brings an inherent sweetness, this is accompanied by a floral, herbal, wholesome flavor that helps almost every recipe it’s used in.

Strawberry Lemon-Aid
1 quart water
1 quart ice
1 quart strawberries, sliced
8 lemons, sliced
3/4 cup locally produced honey like Jorgensens
3 drops Vanilla Extract
Combine everything except ice and let rest for an hour allowing for the flavors to combine. Serve over ice, and nibble on the strawberries.
Strawberry-Goat Cheese Brushcetta with Local Honey and Thyme
1 quart strawberries, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh goat cheese like Lake Erie Creamery Chevre
pinch fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons locally produced honey like Jorgensens
Using a non-stick pan heated to med-high heat add the chopped berries. They will give up some liquid, and soften in about 3 minutes, off the heat add the goat cheese, and thyme. This mixture can be spread over your favorite bread and drizzled with local honey.

Pickled Cucumbers
Equal parts Sugar, Vinegar, Water
Optional flavorings include dill and raw garlic, or a mixture of cinnamon stick, whole cloves and coriander.
Cut the fruit or vegetable into an appropriate shape, smaller cuts will finish faster, whole small gherkin cucumbers take up to a month while ½ in slices take about 3 days. Cover the cucumber with pickling liquid and refrigerate. Remember that the pickling liquid does not expire and can be reused the next time.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Weekly Specials

Soup: Chilled Buttermilk Soup w/ Beets, Cucumbers, Dill, Grilled Shrimp

App: Slow roasted Copper River King Salmon, Smoked Pineapple, Coconut-Almond Panna Cotta, Pickled Asian Pears, Baby Radish

Salad: Spring Vegetable stuffed Chef''s Garden Zuchinni Blossoms, Frescobaldi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Entree: Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Chorizo Risotto, Fried Chick Peas, Plantain Chips, Lime

Dessert: Caramel-Peanut Chocolate Tart, Strawberry-Rhubarb coulis, Vanilla IC

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