Honey tequila salmon four days later

As promised here are the shots of the Honey tequila cured salmon that I will be slicing Thursday night for the honey presentation. It gave up a lot of liquid and smelled amazing. Fruity and floral. I can hardly wait to slice into it tomorrow to taste the magic. I totally created this recipe with honey in mind and if it rocks, it will become a staple.

Today, I also took the duck breast out of their 24 hour cure of honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili sauce for chicken (this is good on almost anything) and fresh ginger. Exact recipe to come. I baked them in the combi @ 375º and 10% humidity for 9 minutes. I then (after much fiddling with the awesome smoker they have at the school) smoked them for 45 minutes. The result a beautiful mahogany colored duck breast that had tons of flavor and juiciness. I slathered them with a last coat of knapweed honey from Montana/soy mix (OK, and a little more chili sauce for chicken) and let them set in the walk-in until the gig on Thursday.

So the pictures of cured salmon:

I dumped off about two cups of liquid from the hotel pan. After, I had LBMI clean them, they looked liked this:

The aroma was amazing and too bad that I can’t send a scratch and sniff version over the blog, but I can hardly wait to dig into it tomorrow. More to come……………………………


Honey, I shrunk the salmon

So I am working on this honey presentation for the Belmar Lab a sort of funky but cool art gallery in Lakewood. They have put together a series of 4 presentations on taste.  The topics: pork, salt, mushrooms and honey.  Chef Michael came up to me one day and said “hey how do you feel about doing a presentation on honey?” and I said sure.  What do I know about honey?  Not much, but I am always up for a challenge and especially if I learn something in the process.

2 weeks ago, I went to the presentation on Salt, which featured a paleontologist and one of the founding chefs for Cook Street Shelley Qark (might have misspelled her last name, so sorry).  The science guy was awesome and Shelley was quite entertaining as well.  At the end we spent a good amount of time waiting for chef Bijou’s dish which was basically seared tuna with various juiced vegetables (including beets, spinach and carrot). None of them were seasoned with salt which was the idea.  Individuals could season their own with the salt samples provided for the tasting.  This was great experiment for people to go through.  Salt makes a huge difference.  Every chef knows this.

Well the wait for the plates was excruciating and turned into a how do you get the audience to ask questions about salt.  Science guy answered most them but the presenters were pushing for every angle possible.

So I vowed to not fall into the same trap.  Not that I am afraid about answering questions about honey, but dead air is mighty uncomfortable for all.

My presentation is on honey.  So I have been thinking about honey for the past three weeks.  I met with the marketing person responsible for the gallery and she recruited me for producing the food as well.

Well at least I will have control over that too.  I had our marketing group put out an email out to all of our alumni to see if any would be willing to help.  Good response and I am already thanking the ones that are donating their time.  One alumnus even sent me knapweed honey from Montana.

One of the dishes that I am doing is honey tequila salmon gravlax.

The recipe is:

1 whole salmon H&G, skin on and PBO (in industry speak that means head off gutted, skin on and pin bones out)

3 cups kosher salt

1 cup honey

1 cup tequila (I used 1921 Gran Reserva, some of the best sipping tequila I have tasted)

1/2 cup cracked black pepper

2 Tblsp. Whole coriander seeds

1/4 lb. fresh cilantro

On Friday, I was prepping the salmon that arrived late from Shamrock and one of my present students walked in to give her friend Jessie a tour of the kitchen.  It turned out that she was amateur photographer.  So, I had her take pictures of the dish as it was being made.  Here are the highlights:

Initial mise en place,

Gotta to have the honey shot,

The elements of the cure all ready to be mixed together,

Applying the cure,

It’s a wrap,

Weigh it down

Let it sit for 4 days in the walk-in, being careful to turn it every day.

Next post will be what it looks like when it has shrunk or cured.

Week 3: It’s getting weird

Alright so I have been slacking on the posts as of late, but like I said I don’t want to repeat the same stuff every session.  If we make something a little differently or a new dish then I will include it on a post but otherwise I want to focus on other stuff for now.

Week 2 was difficult because several of our students got sick and since we have a small group we are more easily affected.  We had one student whose 2 1/2 year old daughter got strep throat, another who got diagnosed with  walking pneumonia, another who cut herself several times during the first week and then had to go in for stitches on one of her cuts and another who had to leave early several times to take care of her 3 1/2 yr. old.

On Wednesday of last week it appeared I was going to be putting together our part of the meal with only one student.  Then suddenly Luis appeared. They managed to enroll another student a week and a half into the program. Luis is originally from Juarez and speaks very good english.  To be bilingual in the American food industry is ideal.  Plenty of opportunity for latinos that can become managers of less fluent latinos.

Of course Luis came to the program after missing tons of crucial information.  What Luis does have going for him is several years of kitchen prep work (this is also a hindrance because one can develop  a lot of bad habits in that time).

So I was able to put together the dish by giving him a crash course in the station.  Eventually Elle (short for Gabrielle) came back from getting stitches and was able to help us out.  We got the food out but I took a more accelerated  approach to plating than was intended.

Friday of last week was amusing as the students went to the wine room for the  organoleptic wine evaluation with our sommelier Debbie Gray.  Elle who has a low body mass index took in a little too much wine during the tasting and had to be picked up by her boyfriend (literally and figuratively).  I am now calling her LBMI, other nicknames have been bandied about.  The rest of he students came back flush from the tasting and considerably louder than when they left.  They of course went to the bars after.

On Monday of this week we had a new menu that I had yet to teach.  Salad of blood oranges and olives,  Seared swordfish on a bed of gnocchi with a fennel tomato broth and for dessert melon balls wrapped in prosciutto and handmade mozzarella pesto roulade as well handmade ricotta.

Here is the blood orange salad with olives. Very refreshing salad.

It had been  along time since any of the instructors had had a nice piece of swordfish and this one was truly exceptional.

The gnocchi were nice though a little gummy from  too much flour.  The broth was outstanding and the swordfish was very fresh.

I did my cheese lecture in the morning and we decided to add the mozzarella and ricotta demo after the lecture.   Along with the  prosciutto and melon ball  they formed the dessert platter for  our day.

On Wednesday DJ (no he is not a cast member for Hustle and Flow) cut himself badly on the thumb while in Pastry.  He spent a good part of the day with his thumb elevated to stop the bleeding.  He eventually got it to stop and then at the end of the day he cut his other thumb.  Today he came to school with both thumbs bandaged up.  Obviously he is “thumbs” from now on.

This is the last week that we see the previous group of students before they head off for France at the beginning of May.  They casually stroll in everyday slightly buzzed from their tasting and like to loiter around the kitchen.  It is clear that they miss being there and kind of feel like there are aliens in their place.

When I went to culinary school, during the second year of the program we used to come back once a week to the school to take classes or watch demos, but we rarely ever saw the present students.  And boy did we have big heads, as we knew what was in store for them as they entered their apprenticeships.  Those days were special and once a month Jean Louis Palladin used to come in and do a cooking demo for us.  He was an inspiration.

The students in this group seem to be finally coming out of their shell and the weirdness of week 2 seems to be calming down.  Maybe we will able to get into a groove now………..or maybe it will get weirder.

Piedmont wine dinner

Yesterday, I was hired to cook a meal for a bunch of cork dorks at my brother in law’s house. By cork dorks , I mean people that have been in the retail end wine and liquor sales for many years. Enough time to acquire vast portfolios in their personal wine cellars.

A few week back, my Bro-in-law gave me the theme and I started to build the menu. Over a group email these guys start to write about the wines they were planning to bring and I quickly realized this was not going to be your typical wine gathering.

My menu was:

Spinach and ricotta filled agnolottis with a pistachio brown butter sauce

Cream of Asparagus soup

Osso Bucco with risotto

Panna Cotta with a raspberry ginger compote

The wines were mainly focused on Northern Italy. Superlative wines and some very old Barolos including a 1967.

Here is the line-up.

After all this and the party was starting to dwindle down. Gary from Total Beverage in Westminster pulled a Reciotto from the Veneto which is not included in this picture.

It was a great gathering and it proved the old axiom: if it grows together, it goes together. Hopefully I will get to do more of these in the future.

Week 1: Educational tsunami

The fighting geoducks are probably wondering why I have been so remiss in my blogging. They were used to my daily bleetings on their dishes.  So why have taken the foot off the accelerator?

Two reasons: 1, the first week of culinary instruction was really busy and kind of tiring and 2 I felt that I accomplished the daily log of all the dishes we did during the course of the last class (with the exception of the first week) and feel that I want to take a different angle with this group. Still trying to figure out what that angle will be (ideas are welcome).

My role at the school is quickly evolving and it is clear that I will be in charge of more stuff soon. I welcome the challenge and look forward to contributing my ideas to making Cook Street the best Culinary School possible.

The week was intense as everyone is trying to figure out the kitchen and their respective instructor’s style.  I am always amazed at how quickly a routine can be created and how quickly we can progress.

I was not at my best on the photo duties and contrary to my habit, I actually took more pictures of the pastry kitchen’s contributions.

So to summarize the week’s menus.

First day of cooking (Tuesday) we teach our students about how to set up each station and how to plan out the days cooking tasks (prioritizing our mise en place, cooking times etc.). The appetizer course from GM was a deconstructed roquefort tart on puff pastry (the custard didn’t quite set up in time, but the flavor was great). The main course was roasted pork loin. Unfortunately the only shot I took was of a boozy prune clafoutis for dessert (which also didn’t quite set up completely, but bacteria could have never survived under such high alcoholic conditions). So not our most stellar day but understandable for the first week while we get used to working with each other.

Wednesday: The focus was on everyone learning how to make and bake bread. So the menu was up to Chef Dale and myself. Chicken vegetable noodle soup: not your grandmother’s chicken n noodle soup (no offense to your granny but ours is better). Tender homemade pasta, finely diced vegetables , housemade chicken stock, perfectly cooked chicken breast and a little persillade for good measure.

Thursday: now menus already get to be little more challenging and creative.

Grilled fennel salad with beet vinaigrette and orange suprêmes

This was followed by roasted duck breast on a bed of leek confit and purée Parmentier with Fines Herbes (or PCCT: parsley, chervil, chives and tarragon) and sautéed mushrooms.

For dessert we had a pastry cream stuffed saffron poached pear with cardamom crème anglaise and a tuile cage.

I joked that it was the most expensive dessert in the world because it uses the 3 most expensive spices in the world (in order: saffron, vanilla and cardamom).

Friday: Was a particularly busy day for me as I was trying to get all the instruction for the day done as well as M.E.P. for the Taste 5 that evening.

I have been handed ownership of Taste 5s from now on and I want to make sure it runs smoothly and it accomplishes what I believe it has morphed into over the years. There have been around a 120 of these Taste 5s over the course of the school’s history and originally they were intended to give the public a view into our programs, provide education about wine and food pairing and to entice them to join in our fun.

I want the T5s to be instructional, to showcase our students to the general public and in the process entice our paying guests to spread the word about our school. It might take me awhile to accomplish these goals, but I can see glimmers of acceptance of these ideas.

The menu for the day was quite fun;

Provençale tomato and gruyere tart. This is one of my favorite dishes from Provence and always reminds me of my good friend Michel Depardon (who died about 3 years ago. Too long of a story for this post, but suffice to say this man had a lot of influence on my culinary perspective and my life).

He used to teach the students this tart when I would bring them over to Provence under the employ of CSR. It has all the elements of a great dish and of the products of Provence. Tomato , gruyère, pâte brisée, spicy Dijon mustard and basil. This version came close to honoring his memory.

For the main course. We worked on salmon wrapped in Kataifi with a Moroccan tagine based broth (saffron, coriander, cumin, preserved lemon, chicken broth and green olives.  Let’s just say that we had issues with the salmon and that what could have been an easy day turned into a more difficult one.

Of course the best thing about this dish is that I get to do my rasta albino chef imitation with the kataifi.

For dessert we had the ubiquitous molten chocolate cake with raspberry ice cream. Molten chocolate cake is essentially an unfinished chocolate cake or a cake that has been pulled out of the oven early (bakeus interruptus) so that the sides of the cake firm up but the center is still uncooked and since it came out of a 500° oven it is molten.  What is not to like?

That concludes the food we prepared for the first week.  Not bad considering the newness of its makers.

T5 (the theme was Red Hot Rio) was a big success and all the particpants were happy.  Don and Thomasino came to lend a hand as well as Alice, Lauren and Erin form this present class.

Thanks for you help.  It was great to have such a good student turnout.

I was tired from such a long week. But up for Week 2.  More adventures await.

Week 1: Monday, A new beginning

So here we go again, new group new faces to teach, more band aids to apply and new minds to inspire.  I already feel good about this group they seem excited and receptive, of course it is the first day and true personalities don’t always come out until later in the program.

The first day at Cook Street is about getting the students oriented and comfortable with their new environment. After each instructor gave their intro and their share of orientation spiel, chef Dale took them through basic knife skills and terminology. Mirepoix, Julienne, brunoise, concassée, Etuvé, emincé and persillade.

Meanwhile I am working on putting together the main meal for the day in partnership chef Lexie.

The garde manger students set the table and my students on hot line helped me plate the food.

We had Turin, which I found out from Larousse gastronomique is an onion soup that originated in the SW of France and could also be known as the Turin des Mariés as it was often brought to the wedding reception and enjoyed as the last dish before parting early in the morning. French wedding receptions can easily last until six am and this soup should sober everyone up before they hit the road unless of course you pour a glass of red wine in it as it suggested was sometime the custom. We garnished this version with a quenelle of goat cheese parsley compound butter

For the main course we had Quiche Lorraine. A classic that many men still eat. Lorraine is the region between Champagne and Alsace and is known for its pork products. This quiche was perfectly baked and filled. So many overcook their quiches and fill them beyond capacity with everything that they can fit into them.

A true quiche should make the custard the star, the ingredients the supporting cast and the crust the stage. Chef Lexie did a great job on this tireless classic. Both of these courses were paired with a nice and fruity proseco.

She also made a gianduja mousse which was quite delightful, of course I forgot to take a picture.

Molecular BBQ

I just received this post today from blog.khymos.org

It is an interview for Home of BBQ another blog. This is just in time for America’s favorite outdoor sport. It is an equally important view on cooking meat in any capacity and closely parallels my own understanding and method.