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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Five Course Wine Dinner

Thought y'all would like to see the pic's from a 5 course wine pairing lunch we served last Friday.
Jumbo Ravioli with Prawn

Loster Bisque

Frisee Salad with Cherry Tomato Tartlet

Roasted Veal Loin with Cornbread Stuffed Quail

Chocolate Trio

Monday, February 26, 2007

Greg's Recipes

Every restaurant whether large or small is reliant upon team effort, every so often the team just clicks and when it does food that is fantastic will be produced. Last time I introduced you to Alan Smith my sous chef, this time round I'd like to introduce you to Greg Skolimowski, a young graduate of the Stafford Culinary Arts School. His desire is to run his own kitchen someday and that he will for his drive to learn is very high. I may be a little tough on him but he is learning fast and enjoys knowing that his food (a reflection of himself) is being received well and enjoyed. I share with you some of Greg's winter recipes to warm you up, enjoy.

Braised Ox-tail in Port and red wine with potato puree, baby carrots and turnips
-Ox-tails - Port - Red Wine - Beef Stock - Yukon Gold potatoes - Shallots - Baby Carrots - Baby white turnips - garlic Cloves
- Salt - Pepper - Olive Oil (EVO)
Cut ox-tails @ the knuckles for even portions. Sear both ends of the meat so that it is golden brown before braising.
Cook beef stock, red wine and port together and reduce by 1/3 so that the flavours of the liquids fortify and blend together.
Place the ox tails in a deep hotel pan with at least ½ inch room in between each piece. Cover with all the braising liquid, shallots and garlic and place into an oven @ 325F.
Braise the tails for at least 1+1/2 hours then check for tenderness. Continue cooking till fork tender.
Once cooked, remove from oven and let them cool. Remove all the tails and put them into a separate hotel pan and take all the liquid used for braising and reduce by ½ into a demi glaze.
Vegetables: The baby vegetables can either be cooked with the braise (but only put into the braise after an hour and a half) or sautéed to order, sliced on a mandoline.
Pomegranate-cured Duck breast and duck crisps with celeriac puree and beef carpaccio with balsamic glaze
- Pomegranate juice - Duck breasts - Beef tenderloin tips - Chives
- balsamic vinegar - celery root - grenadine - Dijon - salt
-Szechwan pepper - chili powder - paprika - rosemary - thyme
Duck Cure:
2 cups pomegranate juice
½ cup grenadine
3 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp Szechwan peppercorns (toasted + crushed)
2 tbsp anise seeds (toasted + crushed)
2 tbsp coriander seeds (toasted + crushed)
½ cup Sherry wine
Combine all ingredients and cook for a few minutes till all aromas are noticeable. Set aside to cool.
Trim duck breasts of skin and fat. Save the skin for duck crisps.
Cut skin into 1 inch pieces and set them to dry in the over @ 325F until it looks like cooked bacon.
Combine cool curing liquid with trimmed duck breasts in a bag that can be sealed water-tight.
Place the sealed bags of duck and cure into a pot of simmering water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove them after 5 minutes tops and let them cool before placing into the fridge. They will be purple by the next day.
Set duck breasts to rest for at least 12 hours. Can keep for 1 week.
Reduce balsamic vinegar and make glaze out of it.
Crust beef tenderloin tips in an even mixture of the spices and sear in frying pan on high heat till golden brown on outside. Coat cooked tenderloin in Dijon mustard and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Put them in the freezer to harden for slicing.
peel and boil the celery root until fork tender. Remove from heat and mash it through a strainer or tammy until it is smooth. Add butter and season. Reserve until needed.
To assemble:
remove duck breasts from bag and grill them gently for 2 minutes a side. They are already cooked, just need to be warmed up and marked.
Slice carpaccio very thinly and drizzle balsamic glaze on plate to garnish it.
Heat up the celery root puree in frying pan with a touch of cream. Should be a little looser then mashed potatoes.
Scallop Ceviche with citrus dressed frisee salad and arugala
- Scallops - Lemons - Chinese 5 spice - Soy sauce (naturally brewed)
- Tarragon - Basil - Frisee lettuce - limes
- Grapefruit - coarse sea salt - radishes - pure olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp Lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup tarragon (whole)
¼ cup grapefruit juice
1 tbsp Chinese 5 spice
1 lb scallops (sliced in ½)
Combine and mix all ingredients but the scallops. Add the scallops when everything is thoroughly mixed. Let it sit at least 12 hours for acid to cook scallops.
Slaw Salad with herbs and Mango dressing
- cilantro - watercress - basil - chives - celery root - carrots
- Cucumber - radish - daikon radish - mango pulp - red onions
- tarragon - lemons
Pickling liquid:
2 cups rice wine vinegar
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
Sprig of thyme
- Julienne red onion, carrots, daikon radish, celery root. They are to be pickled separately to preserve the colours and not to blend together. Make 1 day in advance
- julienne cucumber, radish and basil the day of for freshness.
Combine mango pulp, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper and canola oil in food processor to make quick vinaigrette.
To assemble:
Toss all julienned vegetables along with herbs except for chives together in mango dressing. Go light on the dressing so it wont mask the other flavours.
Place them in the middle of the plate and garnish with chives and drizzle the mango dressing on top and around the salad.
1. Cracked Chocolate Earth with Whipped Cream (Flourless Chocolate Cake)
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 stick unsalted butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 cup heavy cream, cold
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
Put the chocolate and butter into the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl) and heat over (but not touching) about 1 inch of simmering water until melted. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate; then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan (spray the bottom with nonstick spray) and bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack, and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then unmold.
While the cake is cooking, make the whipped cream. Whip the cream until it becomes light and fluffy. Dust the cake with confectioners' sugar.
Serve at room temperature with the whipped cream.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Shroom Shroom

Many of us remember the Okanagan fires of 2002 which destroyed so much, but where ever there is darkness something always grows that is good. In this case from the fires grew a bountiful supply of some of the best wild mushrooms, morels, pines and many others. Morels were so plentiful the next year that pickers were selling them to our restaurants for less money than cultivated button mushrooms, amazing when your normally paying over 100.00 per pound.

Everyone who ever dined in a Chef K run restaurant knows I just love to use as many varieties of mushrooms as I can.

Button or white mushrooms, agaricus bisporus, that many historians consider characterless, are the cultivated variety of field mushrooms, agaricus campestris and the most common mushroom grown and sold in the United States. They are strictly cultivated in rich compost in special mushroom houses where heat and humidity are carefully controlled. The process that takes about four months begins with the preparation of the compost made from straw, corncobs, cottonseed, cocoa seed hulls, gypsum, and nitrogen supplements. In two or three weeks lacy filaments called mycelium appear in the compost which is then spread with peat moss. Soon, small white, pin-like protrusions form on the mycelium and begin to develop caps. Mature mushrooms are ready to harvest in about two and a half to three weeks after the peat moss is applied.

Enoki mushrooms, or enokitake, flammulina velutipes, originated in Japan and was gathered in the wild, but in the United States they are strictly cultivated on live or dead tree trunks as well as tree roots and even branches that are covered with soil. Grown in clusters, they develop long thin stems, about four inches, with tiny little caps, the largest being the size of a pencil eraser. With their delicate ivory color and dainty appearance, they're prized for their ability to provide a simple yet dramatic garnish.

Shiitake mushrooms, lentinus edodus, also known as Japanese black forest mushrooms, have been commercially cultivated since their original journey from Japan and are widely available either fresh or dried in supermarkets as well as in Asian markets. Originally harvested from hardwood trees in their native country for at least two thousand years, they are best cultivated on artificial logs. Shiitakes have a medium brown color with a distinctive, thick, umbrella-shaped cap, and offer a rich, distinctly earthy flavor and chewy texture.
Oyster mushrooms, pleurotus ostreatus, remind one of little ears with many tiny, closely formed gills. Color can vary slightly depending on variety, from pale gray, to light beige, and sometimes pink or yellow. Oyster mushrooms are cultivated and grow well on rotted wood in clusters. Once purchased they should be used quickly, within a day or two, to avoid becoming soggy.

Morels, morchella esculenta, have a unique, conical cap about 1" to 5" in height with a mustard brown colored, honeycomb-like appearance. Their stems are usually white but can also become more yellowed as they grow older. Morels appear in the spring and are gathered in the wild in wooded areas. Scandinavians refer to morels as "truffles of the north."

Criminis or Creminis, agaricus bisporus, similar to the white mushrooms, are a brownish color and denser in texture with a pronounced earthy flavor. Another distinguishing feature is their thick, firm stem. Criminis are cultivated just like the white mushrooms. What makes criminis taste so different from white mushrooms is the variety of microscopic spores from which they develop.

Portabellas or Portobellos, agaricus bisporus; With a name like portabellas, you might think these spectacular giant mushrooms come from Italy. Actually, they are just criminis that have been allowed to grow six or seven days longer. Originally a mushroom farmer had overlooked a growing area and discovered the large caps by accident. At first he thought they were unmarketable but soon discovered they were highly sought after. Because of their longer growth time, portabellas have a distinctly pungent, earthy flavor and fleshy texture.

In the matter of portabella versus portobello, both spellings are used. However, the Mushroom Council has adopted the two "a" version to establish some consistency.

Chanterelles, cantharellus cibarius, grow in the wild in the Pacific Northwest in forests with pine trees and deciduous trees. Their caps are ruffled and shaped somewhat like cups with colors that vary from yellow, pale orange, and brownish gray to pale ivory. They have a unique peppery taste when eaten raw but lose this quality when cooked. Their texture is slightly rubbery. Beware of chanterelles that have become translucent. These are poisonous.

Truffles, tuber aestivum, are fungi that grow underground in wooded areas. They have never been successfully cultivated and are even a challenge to forage in the wild. Dogs or pigs are specially trained to recognize the scent of the truffle and are taken on gathering events to sniff them out. The shape of a truffle is an irregular spheroid with a lumpy surface, often described as warty, the texture fleshy. Black truffles from France, known as Perigord, are best known for flavoring pate de foie gras. White truffles gathered in Alba, Italy, are highly valued as well. Both are priced well out of affordability for the average person's budget. If you are fortunate enough to encounter the real thing, enjoy it raw, cooked, and in the form of juice or extract.

Gathering in the Wild
Since many varieties of poisonous mushrooms closely resemble edible ones, it's best to fully acquaint yourself before venturing out to gather. Even the common button mushroom has a poisonous cousin that appears harmless.

Of the many thousands of mushroom species existing today, only a few are known to possess a deadly poison. Many, however, are capable of making one very ill.

Educate yourself by reading books on wild mushrooms. When you're a novice mushroom gatherer, take an experienced teacher along until you become fully confident that you have the ability to positively identify safe, edible varieties.

Mushrooms grow all over the globe with a concentration in the Northern hemisphere and fewer in the Southern hemisphere.

Usually one type of mushroom will grow in a specific area and that area becomes known as a place to harvest that species. Because mushroom spores are so tiny and light, it's easy for them to be carried by winds and birds to locations not necessarily typical for that variety.

Some mushrooms, such as shiitake, have been grown for as long as two thousand years up to present time on rotting logs. Others need a parasitic environment such as living trees to survive.

In the mid 1600's, Parisian melon farmers discovered that they could cultivate the common mushroom known today as agaricus in their melon fields. Two hundred years later they learned that caves were the ideal environment because the climate was stable. Louis XIV may have been France's earliest mushroom grower. Today, mushrooms are grown in mushroom houses where the climate is completely controlled.

Mushrooms need not be peeled. They should be washed briefly under cool water and allowed a few minutes to air dry. The true mushroom aficionados, however, merely wipe their mushrooms with a damp cloth or use a mushroom brush with a wiping motion to clean them. Never soak mushrooms to clean them. They are porous and will absorb water.

For some preparations you may want to use just the mushroom caps without the stems. To remove stems, give them a gentle push with the thumb and they will loosen easily. As an alternative, give the stems a twist. When they snap loose, simply lift them off the cap.

Some mushrooms spoil quickly while others have a longer life span. Shiitake mushrooms will keep up to two weeks if well refrigerated.

The Mushroom Council provides some helpful information for planning servings. One pound of portabellas with stems equal about 3 to 4 medium mushrooms about 4"in diameter, or 2 large caps about 6" in diameter.

Dried: Some mushrooms such as shiitakes are available in dried form. Drying seems to enhance and intensify their flavor. If they are uncleaned, wash them thoroughly before soaking. Soak clean shiitakes for 30 to 45 minutes in very warm water to cover or pour boiling water over them. Then using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, snip off and discard the tough stems.

Raw: White button mushrooms, criminis, enoki, portabellas, oyster, and shiitakes can be eaten raw. They can be chopped, sliced, quartered, minced, or pureed. Use a food processor for preparing large quantities or for pureeing.

Prepare mushrooms as a salad with sliced or diced onions, finely minced garlic, diced red bell pepper, extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon or lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add sliced mushrooms to a fresh spinach salad along with raw pecans or walnuts, chopped scallions, and finely diced fresh pears. Add balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy.

Combine sliced mushrooms with chopped snap peas, diced jicama, diced red bell pepper, and kernels cut from fresh white corn. Add a pungent dressing and fill scooped out tomato halves. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve as an attractive side dish.

Marinate mushrooms in equal parts of apple cider vinegar, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos, and water for 2 hours. Drain and fill with seed cheese (a mixture of soaked and sprouted seeds, such as sunflower seeds, combined with minced vegetables and seasonings).

Broiling or Grilling
Portabellas, either whole or sliced, and shiitakes left whole are exceptional when lightly brushed with oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and broiled or grilled about 3" from the heat source for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Large portabellas need a full 5 minutes on each side. If desired, marinate in Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce, a little vinegar, minced garlic, minced ginger, and freshly ground black pepper for about 1 hour before broiling.

If you use only the mushroom caps in a special dish, reserve the stems for adding to soups, stir fries, and stuffings.

As a variation to oil basting, try using teriyaki sauce, your favorite pungent salad dressing, hoisin sauce, or peanut sauce.

Grill kabobs by threading whole crimini or white mushrooms on a skewer with vegetables such as zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, chunks of eggplant, colorful bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Brush with a tangy dressing and grill, turning skewers frequently, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Serve the portabella as the centerpiece of the meal and add side dishes such as a grain dish, salad, and steamed or stir-fried vegetables.

White or crimini mushrooms can be sliced and wrapped in aluminum foil (shiny side inside), drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper before grilling on the barbecue for about 7 to 10 minutes.

Using a large skillet or flat bottom wok, combine a half-pound of sliced mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until all released mushroom liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season to taste and enjoy.

Oyster mushrooms should be very briefly sauteed,, about 1 to 1 minutes to best enjoy their delicate flavor. They accept seasoning well and can make a tasty dish when cooked with onions and chopped cashews. The stems become tough on very large oyster mushrooms and may have to be cut away.

Shiitakes need about 3 to 5 minutes of sauteing to bring out their pungent flavors.

Chanterelles are best started on medium heat with a little extra virgin olive oil to help them release their liquid. The heat can then be turned up to saute them for 3 to 5 minutes.

If you plan to cook enoki mushrooms, drop them into the saute pan at the last minute and cook briefly, a minute or two at most. Enokis become tough if overcooked.

As a low fat method of sauteing, use a seasoned vegetable broth or red or white wine instead of extra virgin olive oil.

Create a side dish with sauteed mushrooms combined with nuts and diced vegetables of your choice. Add a pungent dressing and toss to combine flavors.

Slice or leave mushrooms whole. Toss about half-pound of mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Spread mushrooms out on a large baking pan, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 400 for about 15 to 20 minutes. Check frequently and baste with oil as needed. Portabellas develop a delectable dense, meaty texture when roasted. Slice portabellas thick for a substantial serving. They tend to lose much of their liquid during cooking.

Braising Morels require special attention. Be sure to wash them thoroughly to remove any insects that may be imbedded in the crevices. It's best to saute them briefly in a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Then, cover the pan and simmer for as long as 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes for tenderness.

Depending on the variety, mushrooms contain 1 to 3% protein and all the essential amino acids, making the protein complete. For vegetarians, mushrooms make an ideal meat substitute.

They also have many of the B vitamins. Most cultivated mushrooms contain vitamins C and K, and some vitamin E.

Mushrooms are a rich source of potassium and phosphorous. About 5 raw button mushrooms contain 370 mg. of potassium and 104 mg. phosphorous.

Portabellas are an ideal food for those watching their waistlines. They contain no fat or sodium, are high in fiber, and low in calories (40 calories for a medium size). Also noteworthy is that mushrooms are very low in carbohydrates, making them ideal for diabetics

Chanterelles, with their appealing yellow coloring, are the only mushrooms that contain beta carotene and vitamin D.

Lobster Medallions with Mushrooms

1-1.5# Lobster tail (thawed)
1-cup dry vermouth
3-cup water
1/4 cup chopped morels
1-cup heavy cream
2-tspoon dry tarragon
1-stick butter, cut into pieces
Bring vermouth and water to low boil in steamer, add lobster tail in shell and steam for 20 minutes. Remove lobster and wrap in damp cloth to retain heat, add morels, tarragon and heavy cream to liquid and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, reducing liquid to ½ . Strain and add butter. Whisk to incorporate and place to side. Remove lobster meat from the shell and slice into 1/4 inch thick medallions. Place on medallions on warmed serving platter and drizzle sauce over and serve.

This is a thin sauce but may be thickened if desired.

Fresh Lobster Spring Rolls with Lime-Ginger Vinaigrette

Makes 10 rolls
1 each fresh lobster, about 1-1/2 lbs. cooked
1 head butter lettuce
1 ea. small carrot
1/2 ea. hothouse cucumber
3 oz Enoki
20 ea. basil leaves
20 ea. cilantro sprigs
40 ea. garlic chives
20 ea. mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted peanuts, chopped coarsely
15 Pcs. rice wrappers
1 / 4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 ea. egg yolk
1 tsp. water
1 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup cilantro, basil and mint leaves, loosely packed
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 ea. juice of lime
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
salt and pepper
Prepare the Vinaigrette:

Place the egg yolk and water into the workbowl of a food processor and turn it on. Slowly add half of the oil then add the herbs and ginger then puree until the mixture becomes smooth. Add the vinegar then add the remainder of the oil. Finish with the lime juice then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Prepare the Rolls:

Remove the lobster meat from the shell and dice into 1/2 inch pieces. Keep chilled.

Peel the carrot and wash the cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut both the carrot and cucumber into thin julienne and reserve. Prepare the herb leaves by washing and spinning dry.

Trim the enoki root.

Separate, wash and dry the leaves from the lettuce, discarding the dark green outer leaves. You will need one leaf for each roll. Lay the leaves down, concave side up on a clean work surface and assemble the remaining ingredients in each leaf starting with the herbs and finishing with the lobster and peanuts.

Heat a 5 qt. pot of water to a boil and add 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar. Dip a rice wrapper into the water for a second or two then lay out onto a damp towel. After it becomes soft, place the lettuce cup into the center and roll into a cylinder, tucking the ends in before the final roll.

Chill well, then slice the hard ends off and cut each roll into six equal slices. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and serve.

Chicken in Champagne Mushrooms Sauce
1 1/2 pounds chicken filets
2/3 cup champagne
1 pound oyster mushrooms
2/3 heavy whipping cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
salt and cayenne pepper
1/2 cup peanut oil
freshly ground white pepper

Rinse the chicken fillets under cool water and pat them dry with paper towels. In a large non-aluminum saucepan, bring the Champagne to a boil. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Boil the cooking liquid for about 15 minutes, or until reduced to about 3 tablespoons Whisk in the whipping cream, then remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler or charcoal grill. Sprinkle salt and cayenne pepper on both sides of the filets and brush with the peanut oil. Broil for 4 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm. Reheat the sauce gently (Do not boil) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve:

Ladle sauce onto 4 plates. Place the grilled chicken in the center, dividing it evenly. Arrange the mushrooms in a large circle around the chicken.