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Friday, April 19, 2013

Ronnie Prophet For The Canadian Walk of Fame

When we look deep into what a friend truly is, we find that it may be defined quite differently from what we assume (you know what to do with that) it means. The origins of the word are that of a “lover” which a true friend is. They have a love for you which cannot be taken away, they forgive you when required and forget the hurt you may have caused. They stand with you when you’re right and will correct you when you are wrong, defend you into death if need be.
Friend is derived from the Greek “philos” for friend from “phileṓ” for “I love” and the Latin “amīcus” for friend from “amō” for “I love”, in the Germanic *frī- which is like, love or be friendly. So all true friends know and experience a form of love with those whom they choose as friends. And we really choose our friends and they remain such for life regardless of time, distance or circumstances.
In 1973 you could have found me hitchhiking along the highways and country roads of Canada, like many hundreds of others. Your hitching buddies where your thumb, and a transistor radio, (way before Walkmen players or MP3 players) and the batteries to keep it charged. Often your radio station choices were very limited especially in Northern Ontario or the prairies, there were not many stations dedicated to just one genre of music , some rock or pop stations but certainly no matter where you were you could find a country station on the AM dial which covered more area than the FM modulation. The roads could be pretty lonely and that little radio kept good company.
In 1973 making its way up the country charts with a song called “San Diego”by a young Canadian singer named Ronnie Prophet. His song got a lot of air play especially on the AM stations throughout Canada. Little did I realize that this future Canadian Country Music hall of fame star would become a good friend.
Many years pass by and I marry my Dianna and we find ourselves in another Country music mecca, the little Missouri town of Branson. Here musicians such as Glen Campbell, Bobby Vinton, Andy Williams, Charley Pride and many more have theatres to entertain the millions of visitors who flock to the town for them.
A few Canadians to have appeared and or had a theatre here, one of the best was Ronnie Prophet and his wife Gloria-Ann Carriere.  He began his career with his debut at 15 in Ottawa on CFRA’s country music show ‘The Happy Wanderers’ moved onto his own television programs (for 19 years) and is the winner of Juno awards for Canada’s best.Unlike many entertainers Ronnie is a gifted with vocal, musical and comedic abilities matched by very few.
Ronnie owned a night club restaurant in Nashville called Ronnie Prophet’s Carousel Club. before moving to Branson where he would headline his own live show.

It was here in Branson I had the privilege to meet Ronnie and Glory-Anne. Other good friends, (Rod Rice and his wife Annette) knew we were going through a hard time and gave Dianna and I the money (they didn’t lend it, they gave it) to open what would become the number one restaurant in Branson, (not bad number 1 out 350).

Ronnie and I hit it off being Canadian ex-pats and all, and soon we became good friends.  Together we would have long chats about things that neither one of us could change but we resolved most of the worlds problems.
Ronnie was always a great gentleman and if he had come from the south instead of Quebec he would have been one of those "southern" gentlemen.  The southern gentleman is one who is given over to hospitality and will actually lay down his life for another without question.  Ronnie seemly is such a person. The south is known as the bible belt, with Branson to Tulsa as the buckle of the bible belt, therefore it is the character of those biblical teaching that one finds in the southern gentleman. You know the kind, the good Samaritan or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Although both southern hospitality and the southern gentleman are becoming extinct, they both can be found in Ronnie Prophet.
We had some good times in the restaurant in Branson but none were more fun than when Ronnie appeared with me on my television show, 

Chef K & Friends featuring Ronnie Prophet we both had a blast and the show was a hit, how could it not be with such an entertainer. It has been hard just to stay focused on cooking as Ronnie kept everyone in stitches with his comedic genius .
Soon however things were  to change, September 11, 2001, took from me most of my life's work, it was a day that even now 12 years later we have not recovered from. No, we were not hurt in the terrible destruction that was brought upon so many, we were however  hurt in another way. Our visas were up for renewal at the same time, this should have been an automatic renewal, we were good solid corporate and private citizens. INS decided however that we no longer qualified to remain in the USA  and gave us six weeks to leave. When they say go, you better go. Ronnie heard about this and fought for us to stay, unfortunately given  the political atmosphere of the time, our battle was lost along with all we had established there in Branson and very much more.
So by January of 2002 it was back to Canada we go. This time to Penticton, B.C. Here we took what little we had left and opened a small Jazz cafe called Chef Ks On Main, it was time to build again.

The summer of 2003 saw one of British Columbia’s worst forest fires in its history.  On August 16 a small fire began with a lightning strike near Chute Lake, BC and eventually would destroy over 23,000 hectares of land, drive 27,000 people from their homes and destroy 239 of those homes. Not just a fire, this was a firestorm  which went on for weeks and took over 2400 firefighters and armed forces personnel to put out.  My heart sank every night watching the news as they showed another person’s home destroyed by fire, some taking just minutes to be completely reduced to nothing but ash. If you have lost a home to fire, and I have, you would know how it feels to see your life be taken away in smoke.

I needed to do something, but all I know is to cook, so we decide to do a fundraiser with food, a concert and an auction. For the food I would do the cooking, for the auction we received donated items, one of which Will Ennis (the famous Summerland BC artist) created a piece of art for us.

For the concert I made one phone call to Ronnie and Glory-Anne, they cancelled everything they were doing, all shows, and came at their own cost to perform. Making the evening a success, the money raised all went to help the fire victims. Ronnie made it the success it was, and of course he led the auction with his rendition of the auctioneer,
We recommend Ronnie for the Canadian Walk of Fame, not only for his gift to Canada as an entertainer but  his gift as one who would anything help a Canadian in need. Live long my friend.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Shrimp Time

Shrimp Time

Shrimp are all categorized according to the color of their shell. Pink shrimp can reach the largest size (jumbo shrimp) whereas the white shrimp has a high popularity among chefs because of its unique texture. Sea shrimps are mostly found in the Mediterranean area of Europe (Italy, Greece, and Spain), whereas in the US the majority of shrimp used in restaurants throughout North America are ocean shrimp. All throughout the south you can walk the wharfs and buy fresh shrimp right off the boats as they dock, from New Orleans to Tampa the sweetest shrimp is right there and the price is always right.

You can find fresh shrimp all year round (choose the raw non peeled headless shrimp) or when you must, frozen shrimp in your local supermarket. For a higher quality and more flavorful dish always choose fresh shrimp.

There is some confusion as to what are prawns and what are shrimp, the differences are subtle but are important. In the UK the word prawns are used while in North America shrimp is more common on his menu.

4 ounces shrimp = 120 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 23g protein, 1g carbohydrates, 167mg sodium, 170mg cholesterol, Vitamin K 0mcg

Sold by size, and the grading system, based on the number of shrimp per pound. Small shrimp will have 36 – 45 per pound, medium 31 – 35, large 21 – 30, extra large 16 – 20 and jumbo, which are 11 – 15 per pound. Colossal shrimp (less than 10 shrimp per lb.) is often referred to as Prawns in this country, although prawns are actually a different species. Salad shrimp have a count of 100-250 per pound.

Prawns are decapod crustaceans belonging to the sub-order Dendrobranchiata.               

Shrimp are decapod crustaceans belonging to the sub-order Pleocyemata.

Prawns are typically larger than shrimps.Shrimp are generally smaller than prawns.

Prawns have branching gills. Shrimp feature lamellar gills, which are plate-like in structure.

The second pincers of prawns are larger than the front ones. The front pincers of shrimp are typically the largest.

Prawns have longer legs than shrimp. Also, prawns usually have claws on three pairs of their legs             

Shrimp have shorter legs and have claws only on two pairs of legs.

Prawns:  Indian prawn, Giant river prawn, Tiger prawn  

Shrimp: White leg shrimp, Atlantic white shrimp, Pink, Dotted and Brown shrimp.

Since prawns are larger, you get fewer in number per pound, and subsequently priced higher per unit. Also, much as prawns and shrimp are similar in taste, prawns are considered more of a delicacy because of their size. Since shrimp are smaller in size, they get cooked slightly quicker than prawns. Sautéing shrimp for longer might make it rubbery and closer to dry fish. Other than that, they taste very similar to prawns.

Have you ever watched Forrest Gump and the  birth of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, they defined all sorts of shrimp dishes, there are: boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, sauteed shrimp, shrimp sandwiches, shrimp salad, shrimp Newbrug, shrimp casserole, shrimp Louis, shrimp pasta and so on and so on.
I have traveled throughout North America, the middle east, parts of Africa and south America, and have enjoyed shrimp/prawn dishes everywhere, I post a few for you here. All over the Fisherman's Wharf of San Francisco one finds street vendors selling what is really good, a sandwich made of fresh shrimp and or crab.

Fisherman's Wharf Shrimp & Crab Sandwich

1/2 lb. Crabmeat, picked over for shell
1/2 lb shrimp, cooked
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 lemon, juiced
4 sourdough rolls


Combine the crabmeat, shrimp, onion, celery, mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice. Refrigerate for an hour or so, then serve on split sourdough buns.

Louisiana Stuffed Shrimp

24 uncooked 15-20 count jumbo shrimp (about 2 pounds)
1 pound fresh crab meat, thoroughly drained and picked over
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, including 3 inches of green tops
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley, preferably Italian flat-leaf
1 teaspoon Chef K's Creole seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup flour
2 cups soft fresh crumbs made from French or Italian bread, pulverized in a blender
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1 lemon, cut lengthwise into 6 wedges

In a heavy 10 to 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat, add the onions, scallions, celery, green pepper and garlic and, stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not brown. Stir in the crab meat, parsley, red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and remove the pan from the heat. Taste the stuffing mixture for seasoning.

Shell the shrimp, leaving the last section of the shell and the tail intact. Devein them by making a shallow incision down their backs with a small sharp knife and lifting out the black or white intestinal vein with the point of the knife. Wash the shrimp briefly in a colander set under cold running water, spread them on paper towels to drain and pat them completely dry with fresh paper towels.

Butterfly the shrimp by cutting along their outer curves about three quarters of the way through and carefully flattening them with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle the shrimp with the remaining teaspoon of salt and spoon the stuffing mixture in a band down the center of each shrimp, dividing it equally among them. Fold the long edges of the shrimp back together, and hold them in place with toothpicks if necessary.

Combine the eggs and evaporated milk in a shallow bowl and beat them with a wire whisk or a fork until the mixture is smooth. Spread the flour and the bread crumbs on separate plates or pieces of wax paper. One at a time, roll the shrimp in the flour to coat them evenly, immerse them in the beaten-egg mixture, and turn them about in the bread crumbs. As you proceed, arrange the breaded shrimp side by side on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate the shrimp for about 1 hour to firm their coating.

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. At the same time, line a large shallow baking dish with a double thickness of paper towels and place it on the middle shelf of the oven. If you have used toothpicks to secure the shrimp, remove them.

Pour vegetable oil into a deep fryer or large heavy saucepan to a depth of 2 or 3 inches and heat the oil until it reaches a temperature of 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer.

Deep-fry the shrimp, 3 or 4 at a time, turning them gently with a slotted spoon for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they crisp and brown on all sides. As they brown, transfer them to the paper-lined dish and keep them warm in the oven while you deep-fry the rest.
Arrange the shrimp attractively on a deep platter, garnish with the lemon wedges and serve at once.

Crevettes en Amour (Shrimp in Love)

18 u10 tiger prawns
5 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
4 tbsp flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup 35% cream
1/2 cup champagne
3 tbsp Pernod liqueur
1/2 cup salad shrimp

Peel, de-vien and butterfly the prawns. Melt 2 tbsp of the butter and brush over the prawns. Sprinkle with the paprika, place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes.

Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan, add the mushrooms and saute for 5  minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook for 2 minutes on low heat. Add the liquids and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the salad shrimp and remove from the heat.

Plate the broiled prawns and pour the sauce over, serve at once.

From Chef K's Simply Delicious Cooking 2

Apricot Raspberry Shrimp

Shrimp, prawns and other seafood are called by the French as: Fruits de Mer so why not mix shrimp with fruit, very good. From Chef K's Simply Delicious Cooking 2

1/2 lb. Peeled, stoned apricots
1 lb. Raspberries
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 cups court bouillon
2 1/2 lbs. 21-25 count peeled and de-veined shrimp

Place the apricot and raspberries into a food processor and process until smooth, strain through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add the apple juice and lemon juice and simmer into a reduced sauce.
While the sauce simmers heat the court bouillon in a separate pot, blanch the shrimp in the court bouillon until just done 10-15 minutes).

Plate the shrimp and serve with the sauce.
Shrimp Gumbo

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoon flour
1 each onion, yellow, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 each green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups seafood or chicken broth
1 tbsp Chef K's Creole seasoning
1 sprig thyme
Salt and pepper
1 10 oz. Package frozen okra, thawed and sliced into small pieces
1 pound shrimp 21-25 count, peeled, de-veined
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 dash Tabasco


In a heavy skillet add the butter and melt, add the flour and over low heat cook into a very dark roux (black, roux noir),add and  sauté the onion, celery and green pepper in the roux for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes, broth, Chef K seasoning, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes.Add the Okra and Shrimp and cook for about 5 more minutes, until shrimp are done. Adjust heat with cayenne and hot sauce. Serve over cooked white rice.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Claire's Pho Ga & Chef K's Sriracha Sauce

On a cold or even cool day nothing is more satisfying than a big bowl of soul and more soup more enjoyable than Thai Pho (pronounce fuh or fa). The wonderfully flavored broth, the freshness of the vegetables and the noodles cooked just right. Finishes with garnishes that you can add, more or less depending on your mood. Kicked up with Sriracha sauce for that extra hot treat.

Chicken Pho
(Pho Ga)

2 yellow onions, about 1 pound total, unpeeled
4-inch section fresh ginger, unpeeled
1.5 liters good-quality chicken stock
5 star anise
6 whole cloves
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 red chilies
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp fish sauce (nuoc mam)
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 Oz rock sugar (or 2 tbsp dark brown sugar)
200g dried rice noodles (banh pho noodles)
400g diced chicken breast
6 halved baby bok choy
12 baby corn
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1 sliced red pepper


A few fresh mint and basil leaves
1 sliced red chili
3 sliced spring onions


Char the onion and ginger until dark in colour. Place in cold water and remove the skins of both.
Place chicken stock in a large pot with onion, ginger, the spices, red chili, soy sauce, fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, bring to a boil,reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain for a clear broth.

Blanch the noodles.

Return the stock to the pot,  add diced chicken breast, then simmer for 4 minutes, then add the baby bok choy, baby corn, sliced carrots, red pepper  to the pan and cover with a lid.

To serve, place noodles in the bowl's, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a few fresh mint and basil leaves, 1 sliced red chili and 3 sliced spring onions. Serve with Sriracha sauce.

Chef K's Sriracha Sauce

Warning use gloves while handling the chilies and be sure to wash your hands and cutting boards as well as remove the volatile oils afterwards .

3/4 lbs bird chilies
8 cloves garlic
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Oz rock sugar (2 tbsp dark brown sugar)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce (nuoc mam)

Clean the chilies and coarsely chop with the garlic. Place in a glass mixing bowl pour the vinegar over and allow to marinate covered for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Place in a pan and add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Process until smooth with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Place in jars and cool, Keep refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.