Saturday, May 28, 2011

the one with no name

Yes!  The weekend is here!  It's been a long yet exciting week.  I've been working on a lot of things.  Thats the beauty and the curse of working in the kitchen, your work is never done.  Everything is changing and growing and shaping and evolving.

I was informed yesterday of a contest I have won.  Pretty exciting!  It's the first time I've personally won anything in my profession.  It was a bleu cheese recipe competition(yes lame, but it's exciting for me) including anyone in the nation.  To see my award winning dishes check out my post  "so sad i've got the bleus."

A lot more to show you next week.  For now just a couple pics from this week's prix fixe.

 Yukon gold gnocchi with guanciale, duck neck confit, charred ramps, and a fig glace.

Manchego cheesecake with quince jam, marcona almond granola, and smoked dark chocolate.

Same as the last.  People were weary of the smoked chocolate at first, but they warmed up to it.  Sold like a million of these prix fixes.   Not shown was the asparagus tart with ricotta, vella jack, red onion, and candied garlic.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

thrilla in manilla, ham hock delight and morel dilemma

Yet another idea from the geniuses from Ideas in Food I had to try.  Charred jalapeno pasta!  Real good stuff.

I used smoked flour to aid in the delicious spicy jalapeno flavor.  It turned out beautifully.

I used the pasta with some fresh manila clams, some ham hocks that I brined and then smoked for 10 hours, roasted tomatoes, garlic and shallots, white wine, and topped it with shaved vella jack.  The smokey hamhocks were just falling apart and complimented the pasta perfectly.

Just some more goodies we picked up this week.  We got these one day and then today a local forager stopped by with a trunk full of the most beautiful morel mushrooms.  We couldn't say no.

So many possibilities, so delicious!

fish heads, fish heads, roley poley fish heads, eat them up yum!

So I was checking out Ideas in Food website like I usually do.  These guys are amazing innovators.  They test things so you don't have to, lol!  Seriously though, great website, great book.  Anyways I read the article for making fish head cheese out of salmon heads.  I love ideas like this!  It's utilizing more of the product.  Parts that would normally be thrown away.  We get all kinds of salmon in our kitchen so I decided it couldn't hurt to give it a go.

We will see what turns up tomorrow.  For recipe and instructions, consult the link.  Thanks Ideas in Food!

Friday, May 20, 2011

it's the end of the world and still i can't get no satisfaction

Zombie apocalypse!  Are you kidding me!?  I guess we are to be prepared for anything, lol.  Zombies though, really?

Check this article out.  Some nut says he has calculated the rapture to tomorrow evening at 6:00 PM.  And even though he was wrong several times before he is sure this time.  So what is supposed to happen?  The CDC wants everyone to prepare for anything including zombies.  Wow!? Right!?

Oh gee, I wish I had more time to waste on this, but if this is my last night I'm eating a nice dinner with the family.  Check you out tomorrow night if the zombies haven't got me.   Wait.  The irony is that the zombie pub crawl was last Saturday night.  Ha!

By the way, rest in peace Macho Man.  You will be missed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

elvis sandwich? fluffernut this!

Many good things going on this week.  My kitchen is almost complete.  It's looking so pimp(sorry too excited).  Lunch has just been killing it with this beautiful weather.  Not to mention the food.  Ramps and rhubarb and asparagus etc. (just a few of my favorite things) are growing and finding their way into our coolers and eventually our dishes.  I love fresh fruits and veggies.  Speaking of rhubarb we start to get a little crazy because for a short while this stuff just comes in an abundance.  So rhubarb pizzas and trifles and sorbet for dessert, tuna and rhubarb crudo, chilled fennel and rhubarb soup(also using yogurt, apples, star anise, and vanilla), and rhubarb ice cubes for delicious springtime cocktails.  This is what we've done so far this week.

Also going on this week, the famous Elvis sandwich or fluffernutter.  Yes I am aware these might not be the same thing, but Elvis could have put marshmallow fluff on his sammy.   Anyways I used those sandwiches for the inspiration for this week's prix fixe dessert.

It really turned out delicious.  Banana bread french toast with marshmallow fluff, peanut butter ice cream, and of course candied bacon.  Warm and cold and sweet and salty and texture and simplicity.  A little amateurish, but look who your talking too, ha!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

melon cauli and infinite bananas

A working title really.  Which should of course have nothing to do with the rest of this.  More of a play on words to express my mood.  And yes I must think you're all idiots.  I know I am.

I hate running into people you don't want to see.  Some people are just annoying.  Others break your heart all over again every time you see them.  So what do you do?  You drink.  "Another Pabst Blue Ribbon please sir."  And enough shots until you can't feel feelings anymore (which is impossible by the way, unless you pass out, but I'm pretty sure your sad drunken dreams reflect your feelings while you're still conscious).  Which brings me to today:  A sad hungover state that leaves you exponentially more depressed than when you started.  Well enough feeling sorry for myself and onward with the day!

Obviously I turn to what else?  Food!  More specifically cookbooks.  I acquired few good ones this week to add to my collection.  And I guess I could briefly describe them to you.

I found this one in a thrift store for a buck so how could I not pick it up.  A classic collection of French recipes from the menus (up to the early eighties) of the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant.

I love finding used books tucked away on the dusty shelves of used bookstores.  Especially a gem like this one.  I was going to purchase this must have culinary encyclopedia sooner or later.  It makes for a pleasant surprise and the exact reason why I shop at second hand stores.  I could tell by bends in the pages, highlighter marks, and the name"Ewing" written around the sides that it was definitely utilized, and now it will continue it's usefulness as I consult it myself.  This book seriously has a whole world of information on food that you never thought you wanted to know!!!

I'm pretty excited about this one.  I paid a discounted price with amazon credits and got this baby new.  It's been in my wish list for awhile and it was time.  A truly remarkable cookbook in the theme of farm to table southern cuisine.  Blackberry Farm is a family owned and ran farm, restaurant, and inn in the heart of the smokey mountains of Tennessee.  Definitely one for all cooks alike to appreciate and enjoy.

I won this one online.  I haven't heard of London's Yotam Ottolenghi or his restaurant before this book.  But I am certainly amazed by his collection of 100 percent vegetarian recipes.  Every recipe utilizes fresh quality ingredients.  The pictures and the whole concept of this book has easily made this one of my favorite cookbooks that I will surely borrow from over and over again.  I am NOT a vegetarian by any means and nor is Ottolenghi,  but I could see myself leaving his vegetarian restaurant stuffed and impressed.  Check it out!

Well there you go.  This is what I do on depressing hungover heartbroken days.  And it definitely works for me (for the most part).  I guess the worse I feel the more the potential to learn and hone my culinary skills.  The glass is still a quarter full after all.  (most likely with PBR)

Monday, May 9, 2011

chocolate buns and hot pockets

Wow am I glad last week has gone.  It's like everything happens in one week, and then the next....nothing. We got half of our new kitchen put in.  Some Cadillac ovens and ranges, an extra 2000 BTUs.  Next week we get the new tables and coolers along with some new pots and pans(maybe even a fryer, business has been good).  The Japanese tsunami/earthquake relief dinner was a complete success, despite the extraordinary amount exertion of effort that was required.  Mom's Day brunch went smooth, but it wiped me out.  Anytime you have to prep and cook up a spread like that for over 300 hundred peeps with a skeleton crew(such was ours) it takes a little out of you.  Well whatever, a new week and some new challenges are ahead I'm sure so I'll quit it with the bitching.  Here are just some random photos from the week, nothing special.

 Yay! Chocolate buns!  I didn't burn em, but I laughed my ass off when I saw them and for some reason took a pic.

 Hamachi sashimi.  The first course from the relief dinner.  Served with an Asian pear salad, a crispy chicken skin crumble, and a kombu aioli.  Sorry I didn't get any other pics from this dinner, but the menu was listed in a previous post.

Oxtail empanadas with a mache salad.  The empanadas are also stuffed with spiced sweet potatoes and bucheron cheese and topped with a sweet rosemary demi-glace.

Finally this is a chicken saltimboca.  The main course of a week long three course tasting.  A frenched leg and thigh wrapped in sage and prosciutto.  Served with roasted yukons, grilled ramps, sundried tomato puree, and topped with a marsala pan jus.  Not pictured were the first course:  tellegio arancini with arugala, savory whipped cream, and macerated blackberries;  and dessert:  a bruleed peach tart with a saffron peach coulis and a brie and citron snow. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

yeeeaaaa twinkies


Yea I know this isn't exactly a sports page, but I got to represent my team.  Congrats Frankie!  This might just be the spark we needed to turn our game around.  Let's go Twins!

Monday, May 2, 2011

land of the free and home of the brave?

 No, no, I am not questioning our nation's bravery or it's freedom or even it's greatness.  I even think it's great to hold our heads high on a day like today.  Celebrate!  Yet let us not forget the many that have died before this journey began.  Died fighting to get to this day.  And those still fighting and risking their lives for this hopeless never ending cause.  I know I shouldn't dwell, but someone has to.  The celebrating could be a tad on the excessive side.  Burning couches on the street,  riot like crowds in our nation's capital.  Even restaurants are naming drinks after he who shall not be named's death.  Yes he is inhuman, and no I would in no way defend him.  Sure let him burn. But please let's move passed this quickly.  Let us forget this monster and remember the one's we love and lost.  Let us honor them with our patriotism and our integrity.  Let us celebrate the life of our country and our loved ones, instead of celebrating death.  We live in the greatest country in the world.  Let's show the rest of the world why.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

a winter wonder land

Can you believe it's May 1st and this is my backyard.  Snow?  In May?  Only in North Dakota folks.  Personally I love the snow.  I love the gloomy weather.  For me it's inspiring.  Don't ask me why, I just feel like I can focus more on food and new ideas.   No hot sun and green grass begging to come out and play in(lol).  On that note I feel like I get a new found creativity every time I get stuck in a depressing mood(which sometimes might happen more than a little).  But what artist doesn't spill his tortured soul onto the canvas, paper, plate.....  Perhaps I'm being a little over dramatic.

All in all I welcome the snow, the rain, the clouds.  I love living in North Dakota.  It fuels my heart and nourishes my soul.  It fulfills my needs and feeds my desires.  It's home.