now browsing by author


Scallops with Seared Sushi rice cake, Avacado Sauce and Chili Oil

seared scallops, sushi rice cake, avacado sauce, chili oil We'll be doing a menu overhaul where I work next month so I came up with six new dishes to go on the new, more Japanese focused menu. As it stands, the hot items are a little out of place on a Sushi menu. (see the Lamb chops with a mediteranian marinade and a south american sauce...) This is one of the dishes that stood out at the tastings I've done for it so far. For the scallops: 1 pound U21/25 or U10 scallops 1 cup light olive oil or blended oil such as canola and soy 1/4 cup fresh crushed garlic 1/4 cup fresh grated ginger 1/4 cup finely grated lime zest Procedure: Just place the oil, garlic, ginger and lime zest in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Toss your scallops in the marinade and set aside, or refrigerate overnight. If using the U21/25's you'll get 5-6 servings, if using the U10's you'll get 10. Sushi Rice: 2 cups Nishiki medium grain white rice 4 cups water 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar 1/4 cup sugar 3 Tblspn Kosher salt Procedure: Rinse the rice under cold running water, stirring continuously, until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a lidded pot and cover with water. Place the pot over high heat until it reaches a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes and remove from heat. Allow to stand for another 10-15 minutes covered. That means leave it be! Don't go poking your nose in the pot until it's time! Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients in a bowl to have ready when you turn the rice out. When it's time, put the rice into a wooden bowl if you have one. Any bowl will do however. With a rubber spatula gently fold in the vinegar mixture while the rice is still hot. When completely folded in, and there's no more visible liquid in the bottom of the bowl, set aside to cool to room tempurature. Avacado Sauce: 3 whole avacados, pitted and peeled 1 cup water 2 Tblspn Hon Dashi Bonito soup base 2 Tblspn Yuzu or Lemon juice 2 Tblspn of a light oil Procedure: Put the water and Dashi into a pot and bring to a simmer to disolve the soup base. It should taste quite fishy and salty when finished. Set aside to cool. With the back of a ladel or spoon, push the avacados through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl and whisk in all other ingredients, oil last and slowly. To finish: Place 2 saute pans over high heat and lightly coat the bottoms with oil. If using the smaller scallops, using your hands or a trianglular mold, form the rice cakes into triangles about three inches on each side. If using the U10 scallops, just mold the rice into round cakes of the same diameter of the scallops. Very lightly season the scallops with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and season the rice lightly with salt alone. On small round plates make a ring of Chili Oil just inside the rim. Fill these rings with the avacado sauce, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon until the oil has just reached the inside rim of the plate, or until the pudle of sauce is big enough to leave a 1/2 inch border around the rice cakes. When wisps of smoke are just starting to come up from the pans place the scallops flat side down in one, making sure not to overcrowd them. There should be at least a 1/2 an inch of space between them. Place the rice cakes in the other. Allow both to brown, about 2 minutes, then flip and continue for another 2 minutes. When finished, remove the scallops to a paper towel and place the rice cakes in the center of the avacado sauce. Arrange the scallops in a pyramid on top of the rice cakes if using the U21/25, three on the bottom in the points of the triangle and one on top in the center. Garnish with micro Shiso (micro celery is pictured), finely shredded red shiso, thinly sliced scallion, chives or even chive flowers. Serve! Hope you guys dig that one. The Avacado sauce took me a week to perfect, going through many different incarnations. In the end, as with all Japanese cooking, the simplest turned out to be the best. If you try this one at home let me know how it came out! If you wanna try mine, head up to Ignite middle to end of next month, the new menu should be up and running by then! Later all! Jack

The Chef’s Bookshelf: Culinary Artistry

caChef's Bookshelf: Food can be art. There is some debate on this in the culinary world right now, but in my mind there is no question. To me it comes down to the very definition of the term, aesthetically pleasing. Be it to the ears as with music, the eyes as with paintings and sculpture, or multiple senses as with film. Food transcends all of those in that it engages all of the senses! The sound of a steak searing in a hot cast iron skillet or on a grill, the smell of garlic, the texture of the perfectly mashed potato, the artistic visual composition of a plate.... and let's not forget the taste... the MOST important aspect! As a child I thought (and so did most of my family) that I would grow up to be an artist. My grandfather, a hobbyist woodworker, made me my first easel for my 4th birthday. That's how early I was showing the creative impulse. In high school I took every art course they offered and my father had instilled in me a great appreciation for music, so there are more than a few bands in my history as well. But a few short years after graduation I lost the urge for visual art, painting, drawing, sculpting ect. By this time I was already years into my current career as a chef, but that background has served me very well. Mostly in the way I think about food, as a composition. I had been rolling the comparisons to fine food and fine art around in my head for some time when I happened upon this book. "Culinary Artistry" Needless to say, the first chapter immediately caught my attention, and after acquiring it (birthday gift from the perfect woman, thank you Sara!) I was NOT disappointed! I read it twice, cover to cover. Half way through the first time I thought, "I should be bookmarking this! Every other page is amazing!". Filled with interviews with chefs at the top of their game, seasonal ingredient charts, classic food and wine pairing lists, menus from the aforementioned chefs, and discussions on the validity of comparing fine food and fine art, I fell in love with this book! It's another essential for aspiring chefs, and foodies alike. The contributors list reads like a 'who's who' of American chefs, and the last chapter alone is worth the price of admission. So it looks like I grew up to be an artist after all. I just hope I can live up to that moniker. Jack

A Word on Sushi

Uramaki, or "Inside-out" roll, a predominantly Western style

Everyday at work I hear this at LEAST once.... "I won't eat raw fish..." or "Eww! I'm not touching that! It's raw!" As narrow minded as this sounds to me, I can, in some very small way, understand the reluctance, but this is a myth that needs to be met head on and dispelled! The definition of sushi has NOTHING to do with raw fish. Nothing at all. That's called sashimi. While it is true there is a lot of sashimi involved in sushi, the fact is it can still be called sushi and not involve anything raw and very often doesn't. The word "sushi" comes from the Japanese words for rice (su) and vinegar (shi). All that's needed for something to be considered sushi is to involve the specially prepared rice mixed with a vinegar based dressing. That's it. Some forms are nothing more than a ball of rice and a strip of nori (seaweed tends to freak some people out too, but I'll get to that in a minute). Aside from the seaweed, most people who turn their nose up at sushi have eaten all the components involved in other things. Yet the myth and fear still remain. Let me give you a (very) quick history. Centuries ago in Southeast Asia people preserved fish in fermented rice. It was a long and laborious process sometimes taking up to 5 years, but the fish could be kept indefinitely for times when fresh was scarce. The rice was usually discarded and only the fish was eaten. Eventually this changed and the rice too was eaten, no doubt due to the pressures of imminent starvation. This practice migrated with the people and eventually found it's way to the shores of Japan, most likely via Korea. Japan, being a long and quite narrow island, had no need for the labor intensive method of preservation since anyone on the island could get fresh fish at just about anytime, thanks to the very fertile surrounding seas. However, they found the sourness of the fermented rice still desirable, so they skipped past the fermenting and started adding vinegar to the rice to get a similar (and easier) effect. It had turned into, in many ways, an early form of "fast food", and had developed into a snack food eaten with the hands on the go or in company. That said, and to dispel another myth, it was MADE to be eaten with the hands in informal settings. Chopsticks need not apply, you won't commit a Japanese "faux pas", you won't be shunned for your insolence, no samurai will come lurching from the shadows swords drawn... If your still wary of the seaweed, try a california roll, the "gateway sushi". They were, by the way, invented by a Japanese chef in (where else) California in the 50's because he found that Americans were skittish about eating the traditional rolls that had the nori on the outside. So he created the "uramaki" with the rice on the outside. This form is still rarely seen in Japan, where the nori is generally still on the outside which is easier to eat with the hands than having the sticky rice as the outer layer. There are so many other varieties of sushi beyond the familiar rolls that I'm not going to get into them here. Let me suggest the further reading links I provide or just do a Google search. There are so many people with a deep passion for the subject that information on it won't be hard to come by. So, eat the damn sushi! Most people I know that were against it and got over the the seaweed part can't get enough now. The logic my parents always used to get me to try something applies here more than in most cases, and that would be, "how do you know you don't like it if you've never tried it?" I'm most likely preaching to the choir here, but I needed to get that off my chest. It's just frustrating as a chef seeing all the myths and biases against a food style in which most people have eaten all the ingredients in another form. So, eat the damn sushi! Jack Intolerant of intolerance.... For further reading on the subject:

The Chef’s Bookshelf: Kitchen Confidential

I can't remember the last time I read anything, online or otherwise, that wasn't food related (not including news). I thought I'd share with you my most recent reading material in an installment I will update as I aquire new books called "The Chefs Bookshelf". My most recent aquisitions were VERY long overdue. Recently having plowed through Anthony Bourdains first book, "Kitchen Confidetial: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly", I've moved on to Thomas Kellers landmark offering "The French Laundry". You all know Bourdain, and you all know his unique and very non-PC delivery by now. He is a great representation of the real working chef, unlike his other TV counterparts who all seem to be PR agents for themselves. Throwing the "f" bomb around, unaffraid to tell you when something sucks (indeed, I think he feels it his duty to), unapologetic, a bit cocky, tempermental as hell. This is the what the industry does to you, hardens you, makes you just not give two flying shits about anything accept how the plate tastes and looks as it leaves the kitchen, not a business for the easily offended. In the updated "Afterword" section he writes about how cooks and chefs that he's met in the ensuing years since he first penned the tome in question have said remarkably similar things about it, the most common being along the lines of, "dude.... you wrote my life!" I fall squarely into this category. There's little in that book that I haven't done, seen, or heard about, and those (few) accounts that I haven't been eye-witness to in my own career are not unbelievable to me in the least.... If you're a fan of Bourdain, pick this up NOW! If you want a glimpse into the high stress, almost nomadic, life of a real working chef, pick this up NOW! If you want to know the industry inside secrets, the kind of things the other corporate TV puppets would never say in public, pick this up NOW! To quote the man himself: "My friend Steven will call from Florida after yet another segment showing me grimacing at the camera and warning the dining public about the dangers of brunch. "You suck, dude," he'll say. Then he'll turn up the volume on some Billy Joel or Elton John song he's got on the radio - just because he knows how much I hate that shit." There was even a short lived fictional sitcom based on the book, and bearing the same name that represents life in the restaurant world every bit as faithfully as the book. As for The French Laundry, what do I really need to say? Thomas Keller is revered, worshiped in some cases by those of us in this "biz", his every word fawned over with cultish devotion. This book does not disappoint. Each recipe spelled out in plain English and tips inserted very intuitively for the home cooks and pros alike. The book is named after his restaurant in Yountville, CA, infamously known to be one of the top restaurants in the world. (Not to sound so particular, but Bourdain himself has said of the French Laundry, "it's best restaurant in the world... period...") The large format and vibrant photos lend much to the feeling of elegance and near OCD attention to detail Keller is so known for as well as his humble approach, a refreshing rarity among chefs of that caliber. These are both essential reads for professionals, and goldmines for foodies. Well, I've blabbed enough for now. If you have anything to add please feel free to comment. I must be heading off to work now, until next I write, live well, and eat better! Jack

Hello Rogue Estaters! The FNG here!

Lavender Potato Soup

Lavender Potato Soup

I've agreed to come on as a co-conspirator and general ne'er-do-well in writing for the site and involving myself in the real world exploits of the group here. I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce myself, and post a recipe. My name is Jack, and I'm a professional chef in the biz for over 18 years now, 13 of those spent in fine dining, and now I'm doing Sushi. Being a fellow food junkie and home brewer, Mac reached out to me to come on board as advisor/cohort/drinking buddy/like minded weirdo. Therefore, as a show of good faith (well, as "good" as I can muster, at least) I decided to post one of my favorite original soup recipes. I developed this last year when I was lord and master of the kitchen in an exclusive lounge in one of the local casinos (you pretty much have to have Bill Gates money to even get in there). It was a small plate format, the photo to the left was from that period. So, without further babbling and boring you to tears, here's the recipe! Lavender Potato Soup.  Yeild - approximately 2 gallons Ingredients: 5 pounds Peruvian Purple Potatoes 2 large Spanish (Yellow) Onions, diced 2 Leeks, cleaned and sliced half pound of your favorite bacon, chopped somewhat small 3 quarts good gelatinous stock (pale veal stock or chicken) 3 quarts heavy whipping cream half pound of butter half pound of flour 4 ounces crushed garlic 750ml bottle of good, drinkable red wine (Shiraz, Syrah, Malbec, or Merlot. Nothing too heavy) 3 bay leaves 1 ounce fresh Lavender (pull the leaves from one stem and set aside for garnish) 2 ounces White Truffle Oil (fresh is better, but due to it's expense and rarity, oil will due) Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste Procedure: Melt the butter in a saute pan and whisk in the flour. Cook for 20 minutes on medium low heat, stirring constantly and refridgerate. Lightly oil and bake the potaoes for 45 minutes at 350, start checking them at 40 minutes. When the point of a paring knife easily sinks all the way in, they're done. In the meantime, in a heavy bottomed stock pot able to hold 3 gallons start cooking the chopped bacon on medium heat. Once the bacon is nearly crisp, add the onions and leeks and cook slowly on medium low heat until very soft, do not brown. Turn heat up to high and add the garlic, Saute for 45 seconds to a minute, or until the smell of garlic is strong. Again, DO NOT BROWN! Delgaze with the red wine, add the bay leaves and reduce by three quarters. Pour the wine reduction, onions bay leaves and all, into a blender and blend until very smooth. Return to the pot, add the stock and cream, bring to a simmer. Once the potaoes are cooked, put them whole into a food mill (a.k.a. ricer) and crank them out over the pot. The food mill won't pass the skins through, just the pulp, which should (by this point) be a nice rich purple. Wisk thoroughly and steep the lavender leaves in the soup for 15-20 minutes. For a satin smooth texture pass through a fine mesh strainer (chinoise, in chef-speak). This is the point to adjust seasoning, color and consistency. If the color is too dark, add more cream or a little sour cream. If too thick add a little more stock. If too thin, I had you make a roux for the first step.... use it! And remember, when using a thickener, it will have to be brought back up to a boil, so add it gradually until you've achieved the desired thickness. Wisk in the truffle oil very last and simmer no more than 5 minutes, if at all. Ladle into your favorite bowl, sprinkle a few of those Lavender leaves over the top, and maybe a spoon full of sour cream mixed with chives, salt, pepper and a little of that left over truffle oil. Dig in! Hope you guys like this one. If you try it and something doesn't work out (I came up with this over a year ago, and I'm writing from memory) let me know, and I'll correct the recipe.