Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pulled Beef Sandwich

Sandwiches are a definite pub classic. Burgers in the menu is a rule. Pulled beef however, is not as common. I think it's a burger that is just taken up a few notches. I mean, its still beef that has been physically altered by pulling it apart. In the case of burgers, the beef is just grounded. But pulled beef has so much more flavour because of the braising process. Also, you can reduce the braising liquid and add it to the pulled meat to heighten its succulence.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Haddock fingers and Pickled Fennel Salad

It's a really nice contrast in flavours, with complementing textures. The haddock tastes as it should, and the pickled fennel pairs wonderfully with the haddock. It also tastes good on its own. However, the pickled flavour also cleanses the palate quite well. So by alternating which one you eat, your mouth takes longer to adapt to the flavours, and therefore each bite still gives its full flavoured impact. Both the fingers and fennels have a nice crunch to them, with the fingers leaning a bit more towards crisp than crunch.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rib Eye - 3 ways

The Rib eye is most defintely my favourite cut of beef. It has great balance in flavour, tenderness and richness due to the different parts. The cap is the most succulent part, tender and rich with marbling. The eye is flavourful and still tender. Then there is that small piece of meat attached by the eye and the bone. I like to call it a chuck, though I'm sure butchers probably have an official name for it. The idea really came started with the thought that these 3 parts cook in different rates, and should have varying doneness. The cap, having much more fat should be cooked closer to medium in order to render and melt as much fat without sacrificing the tenderness. The eye, having less fat content, and can be lean in some instances, should be cooked at medium rare. The chunk should take advantage of all the connective tissue and bone; I think this part should be braised or slow cooked. So here, The rib eye is separated into those 3 parts.

The cap is rolled and cooked sous vide to medium, and then lightly seared.

The eye is grilled to medium rare, and...

the chunck, which is the most flavourful, is poached in butter for 20 hours, then broiled to obtain a crust.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back from Culinary School

It's been a month well spent at the French Culinary Institute in NY. I love that place. Well-equipped kitchens! Also a massive thanks to Chefs Jessica and Ryan. They were great instructors. I also got an opportunity to do an short internship there. They have a small group that cooks using all sorts of newer, 'scientific' methods. Hopefully I get the cookbook done in time for that before I start at George Brown.

I definitely learned a lot of hints and tricks during my stay at FCI. Those tricks will be showing up in my future dishes...ahem bacon...ahem butter.

First week back and I couldn't wait to get back to playing around the kitchen. So I made some cream puffs and panna cotta. For the panna cotta dish, carrageenan was used as the gelling agent, as well as the thickening agent for the white and dark chocolate sauces.

Friday, May 7, 2010

it's been a while!

Well, with the initial draft, recipes and all else done, I can start posting again. To start things off, here's a risotto tempura nugget. Mixed mushroom risotto, truffle oil, balsamic reduction.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Day Draws Near

My deadline to create this cookbook for the company is nearing, so for the past week or two, I've been busy creating as many recipes as I can, about 1-2 a day. So not as much write ups on each of my posts, but I'll still be sharing the photos :). Enjoy!

Shrimp Terrine - avocado puree, garlic and chive cream, bacon bits

Pulled Ox Tail - pan-toasted bread, arugula salad, onion tempura (Think of pulled short ribs, only more succulent)

Porkchop with Asian Flavours - smoked soy sauce, sriracha, grilled scallions, fried onion and garlic, cripsy vermicelli with ginger

Strawberry and Cream Crepe - assorted fruits, maple syrup (The strawberry and the cream ARE the crepes)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Almond cream, marinated strawberries

A play on the classic strawberries and cream. The classic version is simple and oh so decadent! This dish attempts to improvise the tried and true and add a few more components. The strawberries are marinated in grappa, then sprinkled with some sugar. The cream, which usually used full fat (35%), is made with table cream (18%). Using carrageenan, we can achieve a texture that is just as creamy if not creamier than full fat cream. The carrageenan also helps to allow the flavour to linger just a bit more. I also added pure almond extract to the cream and just enough sugar to enhance the almond flavour without making the cream too sweet. Some chocolate and blueberries to complement and colour the dish. The people who tried it said the sweetness was just right. Just enough to be considered desert sweet, but not too much to be the dominant flavour.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creamy Chicken Pate

This thing is actually inspired from faux gras, but instead of using butter, I used cream. MAN it's good. A very creamy and LIGHT texture to it. Not as fat-filled since I used butter. The taste is also more pronunced. So I decided to pair it with some fairly sweet complements, all with different textures. Crispy, crunchy and...crushy? The sugar brulee on the side, with some sauteed cried currants, and sliced apples.

In retrospect, I wish I had sprinkled some fresh thyme as an aromatic and for a bit of colour.

Scallops and Saffron!

It's been a while since my last post! I was kept busy attending workshops during the research chef conference in Phoenix, AZ. I'm back now though, with plenty of ideas sparked from the conference.

First creation, seared scallops with saffron cream. Those 2 key ingredients are really the base for this dish, and everything else is only complementary. Saffron tastes incredible with almost any seafood. Unfortunately, it's quite expensive, $9 Canadian per gram in grocery stores. Regardless, its price is well worth it. Scalded the saffron with table cream for about 30 minutes, VERY low heat. Added some carrageenan into the cream to make it behave as if it was 35% cream. Parsley puree is made with blanched parsley and thickened with carrageenan as well. I could use xanthan as a thickener, but I'm not a fan of xanthan gum for this dish. Its mouthfeel is too clingy for the puree. I wanted the puree to be tasted, and then disappear, not linger. Added a twist to the puree by putting in some grill flavour. Complements are roasted peppers and sauteed asparagus. OH, and of course, extra virgin olive oil.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chicken Sliders

Recently, sliders have been getting plenty of attention. Pick up a fod magazine, and theres bound to be a few slider recipes in there. Restaurants are picking up on the trend as well. This rise in popularity may be because sliders seem to hit several spots simultaneously. In terms of variety for example, I would imagine a slider main course to be a trio of sliders served with some thin cut fries. Each slider being different from another, say, burger trio; lamb, chicken and beef burger all with different complimentary flavours. If a restaurant wants to kick it up a notch, foie gras slider with brioche, wagyu beef on a mini kaiser. ENDLESS IDEAS. So to partake in this trend, I created my own.

Smoked chicken slider. Nothing fancy. I wanted it to be approachable, non pretentious. What's interesting is that the chicken wasn't actually smoked. Instead, I added a char smoke powder flavour. Also some carrageenan to keep the patty juicy and hold it together without using eggs. It's smoky, crispy and oh so juicy. Another wonderful attribute of carrageenan is that it is able to hold the juices inside, helping to keep the patty crispy. I'm not a fan of soggy sandwiches. I wanted the smoky flavour te be the main attraction here, so I didn't go crazy with the extras. Just fresh tomatoes, spinach and onion sprouts.

I can just imagine, summer back porch party food.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Da Vittorio, Bergamo, Italy (3 Michelin stars)

Man was this place to die for! That was some sublime seafood. I ordered the seafood tasting which had some of the best, freshest seafood I have ever tasted. Everything was cooked perfectly. See, the difficulty in cooking seafood is getting it at the perfect temperature. Too rare, and the flavours don't come out. Too cooked, and it becomes tough, rubbery and dry. This place had their seafood cooking perfected all around. Unfortunately, some of the photos did not turn out very well. I did not want to use the flash since it might disturb people who are eating, it lights up the entire room. We all know how annoying that is, when you just want to enjoy a meal and have lights flashing all around.

This is the restaurant. Quite elegant, almost French.

The next two photos are images of the Amuse Bouche. The one below is a parmeggiano regiano ball. It's deep fried, with a creamy, semi liquid centre. The 2nd image is a slice of banana topped with a cinammon ice cream. There was also a crispy component to it that tasted like bruleed sugar.

This dish was a bit of a mystery to me because of the texture. It's scampi, and it's damn good scampi too. Served with a cream sauce and a variety of caviars. See, the texture of the scampi was almost raw, but the flavour of it was very present. It was seemed like the perfect middle between raw and cooked. But wasn't just cooked medium, it was also too cooked to be rare. My guess is this had to be cooked sous vide to get these results. Very low temperature to avoid overcooking, just enough to bring out the flavour, not too high to actually "cook" it.

Another extremely interesting dish. Cod espuma, cod broth and bits of cod. See, the bits weren't the flesh of the fish. They were the best parts, which are mostly found in the face. Parts like the cheek, lips and other bits that have that tender, melt-in-your-mouth OH SO GOOD texture.

Aahhh, main course. Variety of deep fried seafood. To a Torontonian whos been to many chinese restaurants, this somewhat looks like Cantonese chow mein. At least, that was the first impression I got. Obviously the flavours are completely different. Each seafood was allowed to shine, the flavour of each piece was exquisite and unique. It wasn't just jumbled up flavours that has that generic seafood taste. No, the langoustine tasted like wonderful langoustine, the calamari was distinctly calamari, and so on. I believe this dish is a great example of how a dish does not have to undergo complicated processes to be delicious. Just simple, but perfect technique. As Thomas Keller would say, "It's all about finesse".

On to desert. Tiers of various cookies. The first photo makes me wish I was better versed in the realm of baking. Soon! Needless to say, they were amazing. On the 2nd photo, the one that really caught me is that green semi circle. It's pistachio cream, but extremely light. It had a butter tart on the bottom and a crispy component as well, most likely candied pistachios. Very delicious.

I have to say, the presentation and general feel of the restaurant, from the ambience to the food seemed French. However, when you taste the flavours, it was undeniably Italian. I'd love to go back.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Raspberry and Bacon

This time, I started with basic flavours first, and then the form after. I'm a big fan of polvoron, a filipino pastry that originated (I think) from Spain. It is a crumbly pastry that somewhat resembles shortcake. Its flavour is quite delicious with nutty tones from the roasted flour. It is made with roasted flour, butter, milk powder and sugar. In my case, I decided to use rendered bacon fat instead of butter, and added bacon bits. The raspberry took the form of a sorbet. These should provide great contrast. You have the acidity and freshness from the raspberry sorbet and a delicous, nutty, BACONY taste from the polvoron. It's quite a treat.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back to Basics - Molecular Gastronomy vs Comfort

When I started my job, my initial understanding of molecular gastronomy was that it is a method of cooking that involves all these high tech equipment only available to food technicians. Things like a refractometer, PH meters, vaporizers and of course, liquid nitrogen. As my knowledge grew, and took more knowledge from chefs who practice molecular gastronomy, my understanding of it evolved. I would like to say that molecular gastronomy is really just the study of food and knowing exactly what happens when you cook.

In reality, chefs have been practicing molecular gastronomy for ages! The act of cooking meat, in and of itself, is already a complicated process. Proteins denature, moisture evaporates from the meat, carmelization of the meat's surface, breaking down of collagen, and so many more physical and chemical occurances. My current interpretation of molecular gastronomy is, in a nutshell, a very basic but exact understanding of the scientific occurances in food. It is simply the pursuit of knowledge as well as using this knowledge in the kitchen. With this, chefs can manipulate, improvise, or perfect current dishes.

Molecular gastronomy is also not limited to the fancy 3 Michelin star restaurants and Iron Chefs. As I stated, it is simply knowledge. It can be part of your very own home cooking. Take this duck for example:

Defintely not as fancy in appearance if compared to dishes from Alinea and Elbulli (and I am also not at their caliber, not yet). Yet, its preparation does share some similar methods. Molecular gastronomy highly popularised sous vide cooking - to cook food in a vacuum bag, immersed in water at a low temperature. In this specific example, I placed the duck in a ziploc bag filled with some foie gras fat, thyme and shallots. I also squeezed out as much air as i could. I then immersed the bag in water at 130 degrees F for 40 minutes. This is a temperature that makes it impossible for the duck to overcook. At the end, simply sear it at high heat for carmelization.

It is simply a new tool with which cooks can use to heighten the food they create. In little ways, we can all incorporate a little bit more knowledge into our cooking. It requires no fancy gadgets or exotic ingredients, just a better understanding of the food you make.

Sous vide tenderloin with foie gras, red wine and balsamic reduction with currants. Served with crispy thin cut fries.

Liquids! Lots of em (Shooters)

Quite a colourful collection of purees, consommes and extracts. Purees of butternut squash, sweat peas, carrot, strawberry consomme, and the darker green is a cucumber extract. Any of these can be combined to make a soup. Butternut squash would be a great hearty soup served warm for the colder weather. The carrot and sweat pea purees are to die for when served cold on a hot summer's day.

Here's a shot of the cold soup shooter. Carrot puree with nutmeg, sweat pea with mint.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Strawberry Terrine

Classic pairiing of strawberries, blueberries and cream.

Devon cream is just so luxurious to have. Unfortunately something that cannot be enjoyed often due to its insane fat content, but once in a while, INDULGE. Mint cream sauce just to give it a refreshing component. The terrine is made with fresh strawberries and gelled strawberry consomme.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Food Plating

So today, I had some extra ingredients left from my previous experiments - a flank steak in the freezer, as well as some garnishes. So I decided to have fun with plating some of the flank steak.

And heres something inspired by the colours of the Italian flag.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Step

Yes, I am again revisiting the chicken tempura. This time, however, the differences are much more apparent. I decided to add panko crumbs to the batter, making the chicken tempura resemble traditional japanese tempura more closely. Also, I diluted the goat cheese in milk to soften its flavour, as well as to change the texture into something with a yogurt-like consistency. The dish still retains the basil pure and sundried tomato paste. There is also roasted pepper puree and some Onion sprouts for garnish.

I think I can give this recipe a break, and work on other things. I'm quite satisfied with this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Avocado and Cotton Candy

Odd combination to most, indeed. See, in Philippines, it's a delightful dessert where avocado and sweetened condensed milk are mixed together and chilled. It's really quite delicious. So it made perfect sense for me to marry something sweet with avocado. However, there's more to this dish than just avocado and sweetness. This concoction also contains bacon, a little dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. It's also intriguing how the different flavours reveal themselves at different intervals when eating it. The initial flavour are the spices, then a sudden but subtle sweetness from the isomalt cotton candy. As you chew, the texture of the avocado gel reveals itself, along with the drop of rendered bacon oil. So what is this, dessert or an appetizer? I have no clue. It has components for both since it is both sweet and savoury.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Constant Improvement

This dish may be similar to my previous chicken lollipop, but the texture changes of the dish radically change the experience. The earlier version of this treat featured a piece of sundried tomato and a basil leaf. The current recipe changed the garnishes. Now, we have a marinated sundried tomato paste, and basil puree. Also, instead of using chicken breast, I now used dark meat from the chicken thighs. The change in meat results in a piece thats much more juicy and flavourful.

I think this is a perfect example of how texture can really change one's perception of the dish. Let us forget about the meat for a moment and just focus on the garnish. The earlier garnishes were just basil and marinated sundried tomatoes in their natural state. The tomato's texture is chewy, and slightly tough. The basil is very aromatic, but its flavours require some chewing before they are fully released. The same can be said regarding the tomato's flavour. In this current one, the tomato has been turned into a paste, and the basil pureed. Now, flavours are much more concentrated as well as very, very detectable. The basil is instantly tasted. The tomato is no longer chewy and no longer takes away from the chicken's tender texture. In this version, there are only 2 major texture components, the crisp batter, and the tender chicken. The garnishes no longer impede in the experience of those 2 contrasts.