Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007

What does a chef eat for Christmas dinner?

He and his spouse start with some Champagne. We have a tradition of drinking Moet White Star. This year we tried something a tad less expensive, Nicholas Feuillate. It is dry (our preference) and decidedly fruiter than the White Star. The kitten, Jinx, wonders if I am about to play with her. We munched on French bread toasted with Camembert as we sipped the bubbly.

I bought part of a leg of lamb to roast, bone in. I first marinated the meat in a paste of rosemary, garlic, thyme and black pepper that I pulverised in a morter. A touch of red wine completed the marniade. Being somewhat of a lunatic, I split some wood and got the grill going with natural hardwood charcoal. The Cleveland weather was really not too bad this Christmas, cold but not freezing. I cooked the lamb half way on the grill and finished in indoors in a low temp oven.

We uncorked the last bottle from our cave, a Flora Springs Out-Of-Sight Vineyard 2002 cab that we picked up on a 2005 trip to Napa. It was better than I remembered. Really yummy with the wood-roasted lamb. To accompany the lamb, and for my vegetarian spouse, I made saffron risotto and steamed asparagus.

I hope you all had as wonderful a day as we.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What's been going on...

Want to build a restaurant?
I do. I've looked at a few properties since leaving my former post, one of which has caught my imagination. It meets a lot of my requirements: close to home, the right size, good location, room for outdoor dining, parking, etc. However, this place needs a huge amount of work, very costly work that other locations might not. Also, the kitchen work space is not well designed and is spread/divided between two floors. It's never a perfect world. While I'm not eager to continue the tradition, we chefs are famous for negotiating space restrictions. The status lingers in conversation loaded with intent, but no commitment on paper. I believe it is in my best interest to still consider other locations. Either way, without an agreement, I will refrain from posting details. When I negotiate a lease, whether in this location or somewhere else, I promise to chronicle the progress here.
Recent Activity
I should apologize for not updating the blog in three weeks! It's a failing common to the blogging world, I suppose. As my local contacts know, I've been helping my chef friend Doug Katz at Fire Food & Drink. I've done a couple of catering gigs with and for him. Also, I work the line during Sunday brunch. It's really enjoyable. Doug is a great guy and he has an amazing culinary staff--I mean that his cooks are very competent and knowledgeable. They are a pleasure. My wife and I enjoy dining at the restaurant. In fact, we haven't been out to eat in months, but have a reservation for Wednesday night (it's dinner and a movie night, the new Cohen brothers film is at Shaker Square).

What else? I've had a few successful catering gigs of my own. Also, I teach classes at the Viking Culinary Store a few times a month (upcoming class dates include December 22nd and 27th). Alas, I have not photographed much of my recent work. When you're putting out a dinner, serving nicely plated, hot food to paying clients and their guests supersedes the need to document. But what is a food blog without pictures, I ask you? So, here are some pictures from the 2007 Five Star Sensation event, a large event for the University Hospital Systems organized by Wolfgang Puck.
Five Star Sensation, Summer 2007
gee whiz, that's my name!
Tuna seared with Grains of Paradise, Slow Roasted Grape Tomato, Fava Bean Puree and Micro Anise Hyssop

Lobster Sausage with Baby Lettuce and some green sauce that I can't remember...sorry folks, most likely an herb based vinaigrette, could be tarragon or basil...

My help for the event.

I had to say hello to the man responsible.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Trip to Baltimore

I had a great trip to Baltimore for a family catering job hosted at my parents house on November, 16th, 2007. The people were terrific and the food was fun to do. My brother-in-law was recruited to help (pictured, left). He also took a bunch of pictures, which I did not have time to do. The only food picture we didn't get was of course one, the soup/amuse bouche course of Lobster Bisque served in a demi-tasse with a side spoonful of pear chutney.

Lobster Bisque with Pear Chutney, Basil and Spiced Oil
St. Vincent Brut NV

Hearts of Palm and Lobster Salad with Sous Vide Asparagaus and Shiitake Mushrooms
L'Uvaggio Vermentino 2006

Seared Sea Scallop with Apple Sauce, Swiss Chard and Rosemay Emulsion
Wellington Roussane 2004
Curried Black Bass with Broccoli Puree and Carrot-Cumin Cream
Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc 2006


Veal Sweetbreads with Pistachio Puree, Butternut Ravioli and Red Wine Mignonette
Ten Mile Broken Road 2005


Caramelized Duck Breast with Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Ginger-Braised Cabbage
Jewel Firma 2004 ...

Roasted Lamb with Braised Fennel, Onion Three Ways (Roasted Cippolini, Fried Onion Rings and Red Onion Confit), Pomegranate Reduction and Mustard
Castle Rock Mendocino 2005


Spiced Creme Brulee

Coffee Service

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Celebration of Life" dinner September 8th, 2007

"Celebration of Life dinner" @ the CVI...

In late august I was asked by the Culinary Vegetable Institute to be the chef (menu and food) for a dinner of six people, three doctors and spouses, who gather annually to celebrate life. The dinner took place in the small dining room at the CVI. Here is what I prepared for them:
Amuse course: Sweet Corn Shooter with Butternut Squash Confit, Curry Oil and Micro Chives

Course one: Heirloom Tomatoes with Frisee, Tempura Baby Orange Cauliflower and Wasabi Creme Fraiche

In the photograph on the left, you can see white sheets of paper I use to map out the plating for each course. These read a little like a recipe in that they list ingredients, garnishes and particular instructions in addition to a hand drawing of the food. This is chef Greg Bastien assisting.


Course Two: Sauteed Trumpet Royale Mushrooms with Vanilla Bean Oil, Carmellini Beans, Parsley Coulis, Petite French Breakfast Radishes and Baby Tatsoi
(Carmellini Beans, named by the Chef's Garden for Andrew Carmellini, are tiny haricots verts)
Course Three: Seared Sea Scallop with Purple Potato Mousseline, Reggiano Parmesan, Balsamic Reduction, Potato Crisp, Anise Hyssop and Micro Oregano

Course Four: Seared Tuna with Baby Dragon Carrots in Szechuan Glaze, Braised Exotic Baby Kale, Pickled Baby Red Onions, Fennel Pollen and Petite Bronze Fennel
(I seasoned the tuna with taragashi, grains of paradise and fennel pollen before searing.)

Here is Greg helping plate the tuna. Notice the wine glasses
in from of him. We tried a taste of the wines course by course.

Course Five: Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Fraise du Bois, Balsamic Syrup, Mint Salsa Verde, Coriander Tuille, and Grains of Paradise. (Grains of Paradise are a unique spice from the Congo, I believe. They have two tastes: one, very much like black pepper; and a second, distinctly floral. I have a pepper mill full of these and use them like pepper, but achieve more flavor dimension). I served a watermelon palate cleaner between the tuna and the dessert courses. The guests were a lot of fun. I really enjoy interacting with small groups.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Harvard Business School Club Dinner September 15th, 2007

A "recent" event at the CVI..
My last post was largely pictures from a dinner for which I was merely an assisting hand. With post this, however, I return to my own food. In late August I was asked by the my friends at the Chef's Garden and Culinary Vegetable Institute to write a menu and execute a dinner for forty-two. They had a somewhat limited budget, but required as much attention and care as any other group contracting the CVI. I limited the menu to four courses with three passed hors d'oeuvres and a little palate cleanser between the main course and the dessert. My guests were members of the Harvard Business School Club from the east side of Cleveland. I had two assistants for this dinner, Chef Greg Bastien and a local culinary student. Also, local chef and friend Jeff Fisher helped with much of the prep. The menu follows. It should go without saying that all the vegetable products were from the farm.
This is the first of three passed starters. It's a shooter of sweet corn puree, topped with chili oil and micro arugula.

This sweet potato tempura with chives and tentsuyu (the traditional tempura dipping sauce) was another of the passed hors d'oeuvres.
I made a paste of pureed edamame with wasabi, put it on mini toasts and topped it with flying fish roe. Micro bulls blood (a beet) adds color and flavor.
Soup Course (course one): cauliflower and saffron soup garnished with parsley coulis, paprika oil, tagarashi, arugula chiffonade and micro burgundy amaranth.
Salad Course (course two): heirloom tomatoes with mixed baby greens, with sherry wine vinaigrette and spicy sesame cracker. Chef Greg is on the left. Thanks, Greg!
Main Course (course three): Sesame Roasted Salmon with melted leeks, olive oil crushed fingerling potatoes, dragon carrot-red wine reduction, mustard emulsion and red malabar spinach. The culinary student just finished making an adjustment to the garnish.
Intermezzo, palate cleanser: Watermelon with lemon citronette, micro lemon balm and balsamic reduction.

Dessert Course (course four): cinnamon and star anise apple crepe with crumble garnish, goat cheese creme anglaise, micro cinnamon basil and sweet aztec.
Here's a close-up of the crepe.
It was a fun day. Not overly long and rewarding. The guests were very pleased.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Trotter-Adria Friendship Luncheon March 2nd, 2006

On March second of 2006...

Charlie Trotter held a Friendship Luncheon for Isabel and Ferran Adria at the Culinary Vegetable Institute of the Chef's Garden. I live and work not far from the Chef's Garden and have enjoyed a good business relationship with the farm dating back six years. It is my good fortune to have an open invitation to capitalize on this proximity (tours, use of the CVI, etc.) including an occasional request to participate in top tier events. I was one of many local chefs recruited to assist Trotter's staff to execute the meal. Without spending too much time on the details of the event beyond the menu, suffice it to say that Charlie Trotter was instrumental in design and raising donations for the CVI.

The menu was themed for each course to highlight a different cooking method and offal (excepting the dessert courses) as well as showcase the Chef's Garden products. There are a few inconsistencies in the menu verbiage due to last minute, plating, component, and preparation adjustments (e.g. the kohlrabi dish did not have many recognizably dehydrated components and the rabbit kidney dish does not mention the parsley coulis, a major component).

POACHED: Celery, Granny Smith Apple, Wasabi and Monkfish Liver

This was my first opportunity to try monkfish liver. I am totally converted. It is fabulous!

SOUS VIDE: French Breakfast Radishes, Horseradish, Grains of Paradise and
Veal Heart

JUICED: Dragon Carrots, Cilantro, Tagarashi and Crispy Pouladre Skin

DEHYDRATED: Kohlrabi, Anise Seed, Cider Vinegar and Lamb's Tongue

Can't say I recall what was dehydrated about this one.

SAUTEED: Cauliflower, Cumin, Saffron-Sherry Vinaigrette and Veal Sweetbreads

GRILLED: Turnips, Red Wine Reduction and Rabbit Kidneys

STEAMED: Garlic, Garlic Shoots, Bitter Chocolate and Duck Liver
ROASTED: Bull's Blood Beets, Candy Striped Beets, Veal Reduction and Veal Brains
BRAISED: Fingerling Potatoes, Shallots, Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Tripe
FROZEN: Fennel Bulb with Pollen


BAKED: Celery Root and Celery Root Cream

FRIED: Okinawa Sweet Potato with Milk Chocolate

The chefs assembled. I'm in the front row to the right of Trotter.