Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just another hump day.

I found these duck legs a very interesting picture. In some ways it looks like an alien land. In a way it is I guess. A wonderful alien land of duck fat with plump duck legs sticking up everywhere and the scent of cinnamon and corriander make up the clouds.

Kona Kompachi Poke, part of a more fullfilling dish, but an interesting photo

Presentation one, with a second to follow: A duet of Kona Kompachi. Mango-Kompachi Poke with pineapple fries and scallion oil, along side brown butter poached kona kompachi over fresh chick peas garnished with chive and chive flowers

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Copper River King Salmon

I've been lucky enough to have this product in my kitchens the past few years. Copper river salmon season is very special. A short season, with strict fishing quotas result in very high prices on terribly perishable product. We are currently paying $25 a pound for skin on sides of the beast. The flesh is amazing though. It cooks up wonderfully, with a crisp sear and moist interior all due to the high fat content. Customers are loving it, eating it up like nothing else. I've took the luxery of sneaking a few scrap pieces for myself, and liken Copper river salmon to farm salmon the same way a piece of cardboard stuck under the fryer tastes compared to duck leg confit. The season is not over, and we will have Copper river salmon from now untill it is no longer available.

Fresh Chick Peas...Yeah

One simple pleasure I prefer to keep to myself in the kitchen is shucking English Peas. No, not on Friday at 6pm, but on a Tuesday, for an hour between 3 and 4, it's not a bad job. There is a whole romantic idea of being in touch with the food, with the smooth and round texture of the peas and pods are theripudic in some sense. Plus you can spend a good amount of brain power doing something beside thinking about the peas. You can plan out the day, daydream, think about specials, daydream, think about what to do next, daydream, think about how busy it's gonna be this Friday, daydream!!! Basicly, you can understand why I enjoy shucking English Peas.

Fava beans are a different species. They get shucked twice over, with a cooking, cooling, and slippery element introduced inbetween shuckings. Even this is ok with me. It's a give-take situation because once the peas are blanched you can pop a few in your mouth while peeling the rest. Three favas for the pan, one fava bean for me.... and so on.

Fresh chick peas are a completely different anger inducing, mind altering, shrill experiance that seems more tourturous that tourneying potatoes, or quenelles, or flutted mushrooms!! Two pound of these little devils took me a good hour to pick, resulting in a thrilling 2 cups of product. The peas don't fall out of the pod which is the main stumbling point. The peas is securly held to the stem. The skins are tough and smooth so without a good fingernail your headed nowhere fast. Then, while from the outside they all look the same they are divided equally between beautiful plump green peas, shriveled up tiny pin points, and grey/brown/slimy balls of infuriating glory. I hope never again in my life will I be subject to shucking fresh chick peas...ever, never ever!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wine Dinner, Plates

After the mess with the vita-prep, some seasoning, and staining this was the result, a chilled english pea gazpacho with grilled shrimp. We used a relish of everything we blended as a base to hold the shrimp out of the soup.

The shortribs turned out great. I've been mandated to doing and asian presentation with shortribs over the past few years so often that I forgot how much a simple mire poix and red wine braise takes on such complexity. A simple celery root puree, and truffle vinagrette are found here along with the south central cervil. A final sprinkle of sel gris and off the plates went.

Corriander crusted duck breast is what we have here. I used the same spice mix I use when curing duck legs for confit, without the salt and sugar of course. Corriander and Cinnamon in equal parts with clove, black pepper and cardamon or juniper in very low amounts if available. This mix worked great with an overnight marinate on the breast, not overpowering, but just enough spice to strand strong against the very sweet griotes demi, and the equally sweet parsnip-sweet potato hash. The dish game together with some of Tom's home grown chives as a garnish, which look nice, but surely added an pungency that otherwise the dish lacked.

While dessert is mostly an oversight in most coursed meals, as the chef assumes his/her entree has triumphed all accompishments great and small, I strive to get something to the dinner that is challanging with what ever they are drinking at this point which is their 5th plus drink. I went with a simple panna cotta here, put played it up with pickled locally grown strawberries, and carmalized orange slices of which the bitter sweet flavor would conquer the most overdrawn tastebuds. A stawberry gastrique evolved from the pickling liquid, and the observation of a big white empty space on the plate.
Access an array of photos from the night here.
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Wine Dinner, prep

This is english pea gazpacho in the works, and I don't think I've ever made more of a mess with a blender in my life. Hours later I was wiping green slim off the ceiling tiles

This pic goes side by side with the next! Corriander crusted duck breast, the above are raw and those below have been rendered and where then baked for about 5 minutes.

This is my only action shot of the event. Chef Jen is picking our home grown Chervil to use as a garnish. It looks like some kind of south central gang sign, bit I assure you, she was just picking chervil in this photo.
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Saturday, June 14, 2008

The pickle re-revisited

It was brought up in a comment a few posts ago about my specific pickling recipe along with a comment about kim-chi. When I was at Blue Point a long time ago I made a simple version of kim-chi that went like this:

2 heads or about 3 pounds of Napa Cabbage
1 each red onion, red and yellow pepper sliced thin
6 oz fish sauce
½ cup sirachi
½ cup lime juice
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
3/4 cup sesame oil

We combined everything and within a day or two the flavors combine, but this is in no way a mild version. Without the fermentation that true kim-chi has, this recipe overpowers things with spice. I have not used it, but I have observed a product on the shelf of the Asian market called ‘kim-chi base’ Which I’m guessing is like a dressing for cabbage.

My basic pickle recipe is equal parts sugar, water, and vinegar. I use white distilled vinegar for stronger/longer pickles like whole gherkins, or garlic. I like to use rice wine vinegar in the same ratio for quicker, pickles, especially if you are adding vegetables to a hot liquid.

For instance, you have to melt the sugar into a liquid whether that is water or vinegar, or both. So if I need to soften a vegetable, like cauliflower with heat, I like to use rice wine vinegar. If I am cutting anything, like a julienne of carrot, then I know I have to cool the pickle liquid or the vegetables with be overcooked by heat. This can be done quickly by heating the sugar with the vinegar then making an ice slushy out of the water part. This pickle with give you a good balance of bitter and sweet, but there is more to it.

I like to add as a base spice, cinnamon, clove, and coriander. It’s best to use whole spices bound in cheesecloth as not to turn your pickle a putrid brown. Juniper, pepper flakes, cumin, and cardamon all have there place depending on the object of the pickle.

If you gave me X vegetable for a pickle recipe it would go like this:

2 pounds of X
1 qt of ice water
1 qt of sugar
1 qt of rice wine vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
12 cloves
2 tablespoons of coriander

Melt sugar into vinegar and add spices to hot liquid, combine everything else cold, and chill for 3 days, then go at it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dinner Party Success

It was a great pleasure to be invited to prepare a specially designed meal for a small group of friends who hold court in a self described ‘dinner club’. The usual case is that one of the eight members picks a restaurant to attend on a monthly basis and it is their duty to further organize a date on which everyone is available, make reservations, etc. I believe their previous dinner was at Dante, and the next will be at The Baricelli Inn.

For this occasion, work began about one month ago. We narrowed down the date, and reviewed a menu, toured their kitchen, purchased raw ingredients, and finally we cooked this past Saturday! It was a treat to work in their kitchen. We did not want for a single tool, nor creature comfort as the air conditioning must have been set to a cool 60 degrees. We where even further lucky to find a food pantry stocked to the gills! We did make a fairly complete shopping list, but honey and ricotta some how didn’t make it to the party. Actually they where already there.

I’ve worked with a lot of grills in my days. Every restaurant I’ve cooked in had one, about 10 more at home, add on another 20 on picnics or camping and I would say the total number of grills I’ve cooked on approaches 45. Well I found the hottest one on earth, and it’s in Independence, Ohio. The thermostat on the hood hovered around 800 degrees, I was sure it was busted. Surely I was wrong when all the hair on my arm disappeared upon opening this beast. I likened it to a jet engine with cooking grates attached. An absolute inferno erupted the instant animal fat hit 1000 degree metal, and we where left scurrying for the hose with which the flames where quickly quenched and a small pond of fatty water accumulated not allowing for any further explosions. Most meals are highlighted by the entree, and this display of pyrotechnics assured that would be the case on this day as well. The rest of the menu played out as follows:

Hor’s derve
Foie Gras Mousse with Brandied Cherries
Pork Cheek Taco on Forest’s hand made Tortilla with Curry Banana-Bacon Guacamole
Poached Shrimp with classic Cocktail Sauce and an Avocado version

Michigan Asparagus salad, Papadew Pepper and Spinach ‘pesto’ Roasted Garlic whipped Ricotta, finished with Fleur de Sel

Caramelized Vidalia Onion and Tomato Soup, Beef Marrow Crouton

Grilled long bone Veal Chop, Mushroom Risotto, Spring Veggie (green beans, snap peas, sugar peas, turnips, carrots, boc choy and zucchini) Creamy Black Pepper Demi-glace

Sweet Finish
Vodka and Honey marinated stone fruit, spiced yogurt

Cheese finish
Petit Verdo
Seal Bay
and a Cheddar, Gouda, and Blue that I can’t remember the names.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pics from Nemo

A fairly well organized station, a grill, selection of squeeze bottles, and a cutting board, what more can you ask for?

Seared Salmon, roasted garlic bread pudding, grilled asparagus, smoked walnut pesto and lemon sabyon

A whole mess of cleaned soft shell crabs

Heirloom carrot salad with dates, almonds, mint, dill, garlic oil, and a port-balsamic syrup
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Wine Dinner Menu

Wine Dinner Menu, Thursday, June 19th...

Seared Sea Scallops-pickled ramp mignonette, seaweed salad.
Wine Pairing-Dancing Coyote Verdelho

Chilled English Pea Gazpacho-with grilled shrimp.
Wine Pairing-KitFox Foxy white chardonnay blend

Braised Shortribs-celery root puree, truffle vinaigrette.
Wine Pairing-Dancing Coyote Tango (cab, cab franc, tempranillo)

Coriander Spiced Duck Breast-sweet potato & parsnip hash, cherry demi glace.
Wine Pairing-KitFox Foxy red blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Refosco, Syrah, Petite Sirah)

Vanilla Panna Cotta-carmelized orange, pickled strawberries.
Wine Pairing-Dancing Coyote Orange Moscato

Nemo Grille Wine Dinner

Wine Dinner,
Thursday, June 19.

Join us for a 5 course wine dinner featuring wines from Dancin Coyote Wines & KitFox Vineyards. Head winemaker Chad Joseph will be on premise to talk about the wines during dinner.

$49 per person (plus tax & gratuity)

Start time 6:30

For more information or to reserve your space please call 440-934-0061