Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is This Thing Even On?



Sure does quiet down in the winter here in the Okanagan...It's a real on-or-off proposition. I guess that's what "seasonal" means. Not that I'm complaining, because really, what better time than quiet time to go to Vancouver for some noise time?

Among the many reasons why Vancouver can be disorienting is the steady stream of "action" all year round. Just the other week I stood in the doorway and waited for a half hour for a table at Green Lettuce. (Could you imagine doing that in Penticton at this time of year?) It was worth the wait. Indian and Chinese cuisine is a fine fusion. I had read about it at the totally awesome chowtimes.com (not to be confused with Chowhound).

Chowtimes is also where I read about the very excellent Koon Bo. I had attempted and failed to eat there in an earlier trip. This time we made it.

The food was great...completely solid. If you like Chinese food, this is the place for you. But as great as the food was (and obviously I'm not doing the smoked black cod, salt and pepper spare ribs or the scallops with Chinese broccoli justice) the experience is what stands out.

The restaurant was completely filled. Every single table taken. Most the tables were parties of 10 or more. The smallest tables were tables of 4. I was at one of them, 4 other western people were at the other. This isn't judgement, but fact. It was also interesting to see that these tables of 12 to 16 people were multi generational, with an 80 year spread from youngest to oldest. 4 generations?

While I don't speak Chinese and couldn't tell what everyone was saying, it seemed to be a convivial atmosphere. Lots of talking. Relaxed, but very civilised. Friendly, but not meddlesome. And lots of food. The family next to us (a family of eleven) showed us their banquet menu (in Chinese) and explained his personal embellishments--like live fish to be presented before cooking and butchered in the kitchen.

I can't remember the last time I had that kind of experience at a restaurant.

The winter is also a good time to do some reading. Catch up on the food columns.

Sometimes the New York Times gets it horribly, horribly wrong. Sometimes, however, the New York Times gets it perfectly right.

So do click anywhere on this sentence to read this article about blood and blood sausage--and do so if only for the picture.

But if you're too lazy to do even that, here's a fun quote:
But in American kitchens, blood is the final frontier of the nose-to-tail movement. “It’s 7 percent of the animal down the drain,” said Brad Farmerie, who has taught blood sausage workshops to fellow chefs in New York.
7 percent of the animal...can you dig it? What's 7% of 1200lb Angus? That's right, 84 lbs. Divide that by 2.315 pounds per litre and you get 36.285097192 litres of blood. Divide that by 3.78541178 litres per gallon and what do you get? 9.585508605 gallons of blood! (Did I get that right?)

Just about two 5 gallon buckets. That's a lot of kishka! Or a big meal for the Masai! Or the hot new thing in the Okanagan? Masai inspired cow blood served table side.

You heard it here first!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Guerrilla Tactics



As with many of us who live in the South Okanagan, come October we all suffer the seasonal layoff. It comes with mixed feelings and emotions. On one hand, the long grind of the summer makes us beg for some serious time off in order to regroup. On the other hand, we must take jobs that we don't want, leave town to find other work or claim E.I. for a percentage of what we earned in the summer.

This is not an industry specific layoff either. Everyone in this part of the valley seems to go into hibernation mode. The businesses and streets seem bare on most days of the week, with everyone grasping with white knuckles the last of their summer savings. This, as far as I can tell, is in part the fault of the community itself. We have bought into the rules that the banks, corporations and in turn the government have imposed on the people. Why is it that we as a community can not start exchanging goods and services amongst ourselves?

Some people believe that we need to fix the system before we can change it. I say why should we try and work with this broken system at all anymore. Why not start an entirely new way of doing business. Check that, what I am talking about has been around for ever, but for the profits of big business it has been vilified. Trading skills for other skills or currency.

We started trading bread for goods and services about a year ago and I have noticed a few things that make me realize how much good can be realized through this method of commerce. The most noticeable being that the true value of things becomes apparent very quickly. We trade bread for movie rentals. A new release move is $5 and a simple baguette costs about 35cents to make. We trade one loaf of bread for one new release movie. We both leave this transaction satisfied. We have a friend that will hem our pants or sew rips or reupholster furniture. She will let us know what she thinks is a fair trade and we work from there. Hem a pair of pants equals one loaf of bread. Reupholster our chair and we make her fresh bread a couple times a week for a month. Seems fair to me. This drives "the man" crazy. They make a lot less profit of us this way. Sure they got their taxes out of us for the flour that we purchased and they got their taxes for the fabric she bought for the chair. That is where the taxation stops though. I don't pay tax to have the chair fixed in a shop and she doesn't pay tax to buy bread in a store. If this keeps up, all of a sudden I can trade bread with someone who is making their own fabrics and someone can trade pants that they made for flour that someone milled. Oops, sorry I forgot that bank service charges and goods and services taxes are the only way to keep this whole machine running.

So, in the previous post we were asked how we plan to spend our off season. We have been making our bread and walking around the streets and businesses of town selling bread that we baked in the morning. $2.50 for a baguette or we'll trade it for a couple of lattes or maybe 4 bagels for a couple of used novels or $8 if you want to keep your novels.

So, if you live around here and you want some fresh bread you'll probably see us walking around peddling our goods for cash or maybe you have something that you wanna trade us. Either way it's a win win. Now I just have to convince our landlord that our rent is somehow worth a single shipment of 100 loafs of bread a month. Wish me luck.
Sean Peltier

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meat Fest II / Rose Roundup

This mornings pork forcemeat, foie gras and cured salmon omelette just about finishes the last of the left overs from Meat Fest II. Thank you all for coming out. It was a gaye olde time!

For those of you who did not make it to Meat Fest II/Rose Round Up, this post is for you--that is, this post is intended to make you feel bad about being you and the bad choices you made and, hopefully, encourage you to re-think your bad choices as we turn our sights to Meat Fest III and which ever varietal we decide to compare and contrast in the wine portion of the festivity.

Before getting to the food, let's look at the Rose Round-up. Some of you might remember the Gewurztraminer Getdown of 2009, though it is likely that none of you remember (with any precision that is) the results of said event. Sure, the delightful and delicious Gehringer Brothers Schonburger Gewurztraminer stood steady at or near the top--but that's a no brainer. Of course Gehringer Brothers Schonburger Gewurztraminer stood steady at or near the top. But certainly there were other contenders, victors and disappointers. When isn't there a disappointer in the group?

In light of this statistical imprecision, this year, steps were taken to insure thorough and precise data collection for open distribution and equal utility for all:



As you can see from the above chart, testing was thorough and extensive. (Click on image to enlarge.)

To insure quality data collection, the wines were also carefully presented in a random fashion so as not to influence perceptions by "shelf location."



Here is the list of participants:

Gazela (product of Portugal)
See Ya Later Nelly 2009
Road 13 Honest John's 2009 rose
Dunham Frose rose 2009
Dirty Laundry Hush 2009
Quails Gate rose 2009
Silkscarf 2008 shiraz saignee
Tinhorn Creek oldfield series 2bench rose 2009
Marques de Caceres 2009 rioja (Spain)
Domaine Clair Dau Rose de Marsannay Louis Jadot 2008
Jackson Triggs unity white merlot
Chat-en-Oeuf 2009 (france)
The View Distraction 2009
Emeri pink Moscato (south eastern australia)
Quinta Ferreira rose 2009
Le Vieux Pin Vaila 2009
Pascual Toso Malbec rose 2009 (argentina)
Seven Stones Speaking Rock 2009 pinot rose
Strut Risque rose 2008 (half bottle remains)
Arrowleaf Red Reather rose 2008 (half bottle remains)
Jackson Triggs 2008 Proprietors Reserve rose
Henkell rose
Gray Monk 2008 Rotberger
La Vieille Ferme Recolte 2009

A few things caught my attention.

1. Seven Stones won the gold, Tinhorn the silver and LVP Viala, Marques de Caceres, Road 13 and Dunham Froese tied for bronze.

2. There were four bottles of road 13's Rose and 3 bottles of Qunita Fererria, with people lunging for the '08

3. The Dunham and Froese had the most votes in the #2 colum "wouldn't pass it up" with seven votes, while the most anyone else got was two. A bronze in the "excellent" class, a gold in the "wouldn't pass up" class.

4. The wine that got the most "nice try" votes was a rose made from Malbec grapes.

The remaining wine from the evening was combined and inoculated with organic cider vinegar with the intent of making a red/rose wine vinegar from the event. Hopefully it can mother the wines of the next event!


Now on to Meat Fest:

The obvious place to start is with the pig as it is from the pig that so much radiated...





...Like bacon caramel



...and bacon popcorn peanut pop on a stick what nots


...don't forget blood thickened pasta with pig tails.


Of course there was beef. And while the beef was a little less conspicuous than the pork, it was staggeringly good. Like tripe in jelly.

UNBELIEVEABLE! Can someone remind me again why tripe-in-jelly isn't on at least one charcuterie plate here in the valley? Oh, and don't give me that ol' "people don't eat tripe and we won't be able to sell it and make money" line of nonsense--that's not a suitable answer for anything--least of all around here.

Then there was Okanagan's Finest Angus Beef heart sashimi marinated in the new, unreleased Note Bene (and a pair of white creepers no less!)



Said another way, local cows, fed local wine at a local feed lot, processed (somewhat less) locally, marinated in local wine, fed to people of that locality.

TERROIR ALERT TERROIR ALERT!!! That spooky raw beef heart? A DEFINATIVE CULINARY EXPRESSION OF OKANAGAN TERROIR.

There was also a bit of tallow--for a while anyway, until disaster struck and tallow clogged the gas jets ending the fun and, for all intents and purposes, ruining Meat Fest. (winking face emoticon here.)


The rig was up and running long enough to deep fry some cheeseburger spring rolls (delicious) and a pepper construction featuring cream cheese stuffing, bacon wrapping and all around breading (delicious as well.)

In the "other" category there was bear sausage (yum!)


and elk (made into tacos) and salmon (lox) which sadly did not their photo taken.

Lastly, and clearly most importantly was the very beautiful and thoughtfully made Meat Fest II cake--a cake for the ages that we hold dear to our hearts and will remember and cherish for all times by everyone.



There was also a wonderful pumpkin cheese cake that was hidden from the guests so it could be savoured in private.

I know I've left things out...that's what the comments section is for.

A smashing success all in all. A big thank you to everyone who came, brought and/or cooked.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Your Ideas Are Not Your Ideas



Taken from Paul Arden's book It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be

Hey Okanagan food, how good do you want to be?

Pedal or coast? Mike Love or Brian Wilson?

Now that "the season" is ending, what's up for your down time?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lunch feature 10.10.10

Roasted Leg of Venison on Herb Focaccia
Caramelized Onions, Porcini Spread
Red Wine Mayo, Tomato & Arugula Sprouts

Roasted Local Bell Pepper & Tomato Soup

I love this special. Mostly because it was an excuse to make bread again. Soup and sandwich is just a great lunch on a cool October day.

This is the first time that I have ever winged a Focaccia dough and it was possibly the best one that I have ever made. The crumb and texture were spot on and the flavor was right where it should have been. As soon as this bread came out of the oven I knew that we would be serving up a good sandwich.

Shaved venison leg cooked and cooled to a perfect medium rare is always something that makes my mouth water. All the other accoutrement on this sandwich blended together to create a truly salivary sandwich spectacular.

A warm bowl of soup made from all local ingredients, aside from the cream (why isn't there a dairy here?) was perfect to warm people up and also great for dipping the sandwich. Had we not sold out so fast I would have loved to enjoy one myself.

Sean Peltier

Lunch feature 08.10.10

Pan Seared Ling Cod & Qualicum Scallop
Scallop & Clam Risotto
Stewed Tomatoes

More fish to end the season off with. Ling cod again, this time with the addition of scallops and clams. A real smorg of seafood to please the dessert dwellers.

This whole plate is really simple and easy to do. A few little refinements take this simple dish to a slightly elevated level.

Firstly, scallops have a little adductor muscle on on it that everyone says is unusable and too tough to eat. I personally, like to use every little bit I can. The seafood that we get has made such a journey to get here, it would be a shame to throw any of it away. What I like to do with these muscles is dehydrate them and then grind them into a powder. Once in powder form they can be used to flavor soups, sauces or in this case a risotto. We didn't have a dehydrator at work so I used the microwave. Using the defrost setting for about an hour the adductor muscles were dehydrated but also roasted a little bit. I wasn't expecting the roasted result, which turned out to be a great thing after all.
So, I made the risotto as one does, then added in the scallop powder and the liquid from cooking the clams. At service the clam meat was added just before going to the plate. I couldn't eat this risotto thanks to allergies however, I got very positive feedback on it.

The second little refinement that I did was with the stewed tomatoes. Nothing over the top, just removing the skin and seeds from the tomatoes. As I said, nothing over the top. You just end up with a much nicer stewed tomato if the skin and seeds are removed. All that I did was sautee onions and garlic then added the tomato flesh. I put the seeds in a fine mesh strainer and pushed all the remaining juice into the stew as well.

Great dish, wish I was serving it a little closer to salty water, but hey, that's what the people want.

Sean Peltier

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Okanagan Winners!

I know you all keep up with castanet.net, but in the off chance you don't, they did a wonderful write up on two winning winners working in the Okanagan: Robyn Sigurdson and Brent Pillion.

Robyn won the “Farm to Fork Global Sponsorship” and, as a result, shall spend 10 weeks in Italy--which is where food was invented.

Brent won the Alexis de Portneuf Fine Cheesemakers “Young Chefs” competition. Well done Brent Alexis de Portneuf Top Young Chef Pillon!

YAAAAAY ROBYN! YAAAAAY BRENT!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Big fishy, little piggy.


Summer time surf n' turf, with a little asian influence.

Pan Seared, basil crusted Ahi tuna
Pulled pork and lake country cabbage springroll,
Lemongrass and kafir aioli, yellow wax beans,
chive oil, Harkers micro greens, lemon olive oil.

This special hit the spot one fine okanagan evening, paired with a crisp Naramata Viogner. SOLD.

Cheers, Mark Crofton.

Pork n' Beanz


As the summer comes to an end, fall appears. Cold weather, comfort food and hearty features tend to make there presence. With a stalked pantry, tender pork cuts and the means to create a stick to your rib special the final product is closing in.

A good friend and previous Mentor chef had the good heart to pass on his ridiculously tasty cassoulet recipe on.Thanks Rob!

Without further a due...

Pan roasted, herb crusted slopping hills Pork tenderloin.
Flageolet and beluga lentil cassoulet, braised cippolini onions,pickled lake country
organic carrots and green beans. Harkers Heirloom tomatoes,
truffled micro arugula salad, fleur de sel.

Mark Crofton

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Two Okanagan Events!

Two events that might be of interest.

Cultivating the Wild--gardening with Native Plants of B.C.'s Southern Interior with Eva Durance, author of Cultivating the Wild. The event is free at the Oliver Public Library, October 21st, 7pm.



And then there is the First Annual "Slow" Fibre festival. We all love slow food, so we will all probably love slow fibre. That event is in Summerland, October 9, 2010


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lunch feature 02.10.10

Bacon Wrapped Ling Cod
Spot Prawn Risotto
Bell Pepper & Pear Slaw

There are two things in a North American kitchen that will guarantee food sales. What are they you ask? 1) Bacon 2) Prawns. I am quite convinced that with these two simple ingredients you can sell just about anything to anyone, that is of course not including those with religious dogma hovering over their eating habits. Here, lets try a little experiment. You be the guest and I`ll be the server.

``Today`s feature is a warm bacon wrapped parking lot poop with a lovely prawn infused baby dolphin vomit``

``Well, I really don`t usually like to eat poop and I don`t usually find dolphin vomit that appealing either, baby or otherwise. However, I really do like bacon, and prawns are one of my all time favorites. Oh what the heck, we`ll each have it, why not, it is our anniversary after all.``

See, I told you those two ingredients would sell anything.

Now, this is not to say that ling cod needs bacon and prawns to make it appealing. It does however, make selling it a whole lot easier.

Simple feature today. I just wrapped the ling cod in house made bacon and then pan seared it. For the risotto, I used a spot prawn and vanilla bisque to cook the rice in. For the slaw I just did matchstick cuts of local bell peppers and pears, then I tossed it with lemon olive oil and some micro greens.

That`s it folks.

Sean Peltier

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lunch feature 25.09.10

Roasted Leg of Peace Country Lamb
Whole Wheat and Mint Loaf
Bell Pepper and Onion Marmalade
Plum BBQ Sauce and Dijon Mayo

This delightful sandwich was fun for me. Why? Because I really like to make bread, that's why.
Leg of lamb is always delicious, double plus good when it's from the area of my upbringing.

The leg of lamb was slow roasted to a beautiful medium and glazed with a plum BBQ sauce. I sliced it nice and thin and served it cold on the bun.

For the bread I did a 40% whole wheat and added a bit of butter and egg yolk to give it a great, soft texture that still had a nice crust. I added some mint and rosemary to the mix as well to appease all of those who won't eat lamb with out mint.

A simple Dijon mayo and an equally simple bell pepper & onion marmalade worked as the sauce and garnish respectively. Not to leave the lettuce component out, I put some micro mustard greens in there as well to bring a little bit of fresh heat to the whole diddly bap.

This was just a great sandwich for anyone really. The Peace Country lamb has a really mild flavor in comparison to the Australian or New Zealand lamb which makes it a great choice for those who need to be converted to this meat.

Sean Peltier

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lunch feature 24.09.10

Calzone:
Red Wine Fed Beef Pepperoni
Chanterelle & Summer Squash Ragout
Parmesan

I have made a concerted effort not to be repetitive in my specials this season, and for the most part I have succeeded. When I saw Jon making his already stunning pepperoni with local red wine fed beef the first thing I thought was pizza. Pizza is a bit hard for us to execute in our kitchen with very limited oven space, so as a result the calzone made it's second appearance of the year. No shame in that.

So, just like before, I made a pizza dough and got together all my mise en place so that I could make calzones for the masses. The pepperoni was easy for me, as Jon had already made it, all I needed to do was slice it and steal all his glory. The Chanterelle's were picked locally so I was an extra special joy to work with those as well. I sauteed them with shallots and garlic and then cooked them with pureed tomatoes until a nice sauce consistency was reached. I grilled some summer squash and then dice that up and put it into the ragout once I had removed it from the heat. This made sure that the squash didn't get all soggy and such. Then all that was left to do was pile the Parmesan, ragout and pepperoni in a pizza dough and fold it over.

Served with your choice of soup or salad. I made 20 of them and sold them out to the first 25 customers. Hmmm, perhaps the clientele are telling me something. Anyhow, it was a crappy day out and this was a nice dish to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Oh, and by the way, Jon's pepperoni smelled sooooo good cooking in those calzones. Nice work Jon.

Sean Peltier

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Red Wine Fed Beef Ribeye...Yes Please!


Just a little look at Oliver BC's very own red wine fed beef. This is a rib eye steak, the cattle are black angus, the marbling, texture and flavor are some of the best that I have ever seen. This is not the Sezmu that has become synonymous with red wine beef but it is finished in the same place by the same man. His cattle are marketed under the name of Okanagan's Finest. I'm sure Mr. ODS will fill you all in on the details in the near future.


This is not quite the same glory cut as the rib eye but the marbling on this bottom round is quite spectacular as well.


Not the greatest photo but this is some salt cured beef liver from the red wine fed beef. I, like most people, are thinking that the liver would be the place with the most flavor benefit. I found it to have a much more subtle flavor, not as much of the iron flavor that can be too strong in a beef liver. Great stuff.


Yes, we do try to use all the cuts of this cattle. We see know reason why any piece should not be used. Here are three tongues that were brined and then later on braised. We can then use them for sandwiches or a potato and tongue hash or blah blah blah. The tongue seems to be one of the things that makes people squeemish but it's really quite fantastic.

Lunch feature 23.09.10

Red Wine Fed Beef Stew
Tiger Blue Cheese & Salt Cured Beef Liver Dauphine Potatoes
Creme Fraiche

So, this is my second go at running Oliver BC raised wine fed beef as a lunch special. As you may recall, I was not totally please with my performance on the previous attempt. This time was much better.

Now, I must admit that braising a bottom round in a stew is probably not the best way to showcase the beauty of this beef but, in my defense, it was chili outside and a bottom round is a bottom round. I didn't really feel like a shaved beef sandwich applied to the weather outside. With that being said, the flavor and texture of the meat was still outstanding.

I started by searing the cubes of beef and then set them aside until I was ready to add them back into the braise. Then I added my mirepoix(carrots, celery, onion) and sauteed all that in some of Stanley's oh so precious tallow. I added my flour and cooked it to a medium roux. Then I added pureed tomatoes, red wine and beef stock plus a few herbs and such. I let this slowly braise and thicken for about five hours, stirring fastidiously to ensure that the flour never got a chance to burn to the bottom of the pot. Cooking the flour flavor out of a roux thickened braise is extremely important and takes some time and patience to master. Nothing is more disappointing than a sauce that tastes of flour. While all this was going on, I cut up some more mirepoix and sauteed all that off so that I could add that to the stew before serving. The second thing that can ruin a stew is over cooked, flavorless vegetables. The way I avoid this is to strain the stew once the meat is cooked properly. I then pick out all the beef and return it to the braising liquid and discard all the cooked vegetables. The real secret to a good stew is to let it cool down first then reheat it later on when you need it. You know how everyone says that stew and chili is better the second day, well, that's because the meat reabsorbs the liquid during the cooling that it has lost during the braise, making it more tender and tasty. Once I was ready to reheat the stew when an order came in I added the vegetables that I had sauteed of earlier. Perfect stew every time.

Every stew needs a garnish, usually potatoes. I couldn't just put potatoes in this stew, I needed to do something that would keep the goblins asleep. I still wanted to put potatoes in there somehow and I also wanted a blue cheese component as well. Something crispy is always nice, how about dauphine potatoes, yes that would suffice I believe, in keeping those goblins in a deep fryer induced coma for at least 12 hours. Dauphine potatoes are one of, in my opinion, Frances greatest gifts to the culinary world.

Potatoes mixed in about equal parts with choux pastry. Choux pastry which is used to make profiteroles and other delicious pastry, both savory and sweet, is a paste made of milk, butter, eggs and flour, and is of course horribly fatty. So, I mixed the potatoes, choux pastry, blue cheese & salt cured red wine fed beef liver

together into a glory paste and deep fried three of those little ditty's to sit in the stew. The blue cheese was a nice addition but the liver really brought the stew to life. I then finished it all off with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Gotta love those cool autumn days. This feature flew out the doors, it seems like a lot of people were of the same mind as me on this day. Oh, and thanks Bill for all your beautiful local beef. What a joy.

Sean Peltier

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sideways Grind for Tallow!

video

The other day some strip loins were getting tidied up before they were cut into steaks.

Once all was said and done, there was a total of 15lbs. no longer connected to the strip loins. Mostly fat, but some meat to be sure.

Strip loin...lets say those are $5 a pound (ha ha ha):

15lbs x $5.00/lb = $75.00

Is that really true? Does that kind of thing happen at all kinds of restaurants all over the Okanagan, day in and day out?

I brought the trim home, mostly to use the old school Spong No. 8 meat grinder my neighbour gave me. Good times! Easy too! Why in the world do restaurants buy pre-ground beef? Can we stop that? Can we stop that right now?

Once beef (and beef fat) were ground, it was in to the pot to render.

Of that 15 lbs of trim? 5 lbs of meat, 10 pounds of tallow.

YEAH TALLOW!
YEAH BEEFTALLOW.COM!

Tallow!
Tallow!
Tallow!
Tallow!
Tallow!
Tallow!

There has been some speculation that my new found zeal for tallow is going to cause my heart to explode. I'm not so sure of that. I think tallow has gotten a bad rap. Sally Fallon, bless her soul, seems to think tallow is a "stable" oil for frying fries. And we all love fries. Best of all, tallow's smoke point is 420 degrees. And I'm not making that up!

Is tallow the only local cooking fat? It is looking more and more like local beef is becoming a reality in the Okanagan--in which instance it would be foolish and totally uncool not to render precious, locally grown beef fat into local beef tallow (with which to make local fries.) That is, until someone finally gets the Okanagan grape seed oil situation happening. Until then, Okanagan Beef Tallow is the only truly local cooking fat available to those of us in the Okanagan who care about that kind of thing.

And there's nothing wrong with that!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lunch feature 17.09.10

Grilled red wine beef skirt steak
foraged mushroom bread pudding
local pear puree
beans with hazelnut vinaigrette

Not every day in a kitchen is a great one, actually far from it. Sometimes extenuating circumstances, such as a motorcycle crash that leaves you with a whole body that aches and throbs with every movement, can really put a damper on an otherwise good day. Today was one of those days.

I finally got the chance to cook with some of Oliver BC's very own red wine beef. Sezmu is the name that is becoming synonymous with red wine beef here in the Okanagan. However, there is another name as well. Okanagan's Finest is also doing red wine fed beef. What is the difference? None really. There will be more on that to come in the next few days as some people who know more about the in's and out's of the operation get to posting on this blog.

As I was saying, today was one of those days. I just wasn't feeling it, I was lacking my mojo if you will. The feature was all there in the flavor components. The skirt steak was by far the most tender skirt steak I have ever had. I did no marinade on it, just salt and pepper before it hit the grill and it was almost melting in my mouth. The flavor was outstanding, usually a skirt steak or flank steak has a great flavor to begin with, but this was something special. As for the rest of the dish, I did a bread pudding with the mushrooms that Shannon and I foraged near Falkland plus the addition of some Chantrelles. I did a pear puree with local pears, pear vinegar and butter. I also did a warm bean salad with a hazelnut vinaigrette to bring everything together.

I wasn't overly happy with the plating of the dish, thankfully the red wine beef was so damn good it spoke for itself and took everything else on the plate along for the ride. Right now in the cooler we have all sorts of offal, rib roasts, top rounds, skirt steaks, short ribs and a few other cuts that I'm forgetting. Pictures and commentary will follow shortly.

Sean Peltier

Foraged Mushrooms


Shannon and I took a whole extra day off work to celebrate our anniversary in style this year. We got a little cabin on a lake near the village of Falkland, British Columbia. During our two nights andd three day stay we got up to all sorts of fun such. We ate and drank like royalty in our little cabin, as one might have expected that we did. However, eating alone was not enough to keep us occupied.

We brought our beautiful little beagle Stella along with us, she is a bigger fan of the outdoors than anyone I know so there was no way we could rob her the opportunity of a nature walk. We started off on what was to be a one to two hour jaunt around some old logging roads and knowing Stella, a little bush whacking as well. About 30 seconds into our walk we saw the first of what was about to become a plethora of shaggy mane's. We decided that we would pick some on the way back to the cabin so as not to crush them. I must admit we were rather unprepared for foraging, carrying nothing but a backpack and all. A few zigs and zags led us to a dirt path that seemed to be used mostly by ATV's and such. As we walked along this path we started to really look for mushrooms, and I'm glad that we did. We found all sort, none of which we recognized straight away, that is of course until we started seeing all the Boletus that were peaking through the underbrush.

We are not mushroom experts at all, but I do know what a Bolete looks like and I know that most are edible. The most prized Bolete of course is the King Bolete(Cep, Porcini) and I can say with most certainty that of what we found about half of them were Porcini. Our two hour walk turned into five very quickly, but know one was complaining, definitely not Stella.

We ended up picking just over six pounds of boletes, not bad for an afternoon walk. Before we, or anyone for that matter, got to eating any of these mushrooms we had to get home and find out for sure what we had, so after checking with all our books and double checking on the interweb, plus doing spore prints and the whole nine yard, we determined that they were all safe to eat. So we ate, and I'm here typing now a few days later. Success. It will soon be time for Pine Mushrooms, We are all very excited to get up in the hills and root around on our hands and knees looking for one of autumn's greatest gifts.

Stay posted, hopefully we will have more good finds in the near future. Oh, and if you can tell me for sure if these are Porcini or not that would be great.

Sean Peltier.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dinner Feature 10/09/10

I love corn. I really do. I think I may actually be part corn...I'm pretty sure we all are.
I love corn so much that since corn has been in season I have picked it up personally 3 times just so I can use it in a feature (we don't always have it at work).
I also love saffron but because of the type of restaurant I work at and the fact that saffron doesn't grow here I don't often use it, so I brought some from home.
The feature I made was Fennel Pollen crusted Rock fish, warm Israeli cous-cous salad (which had piment d Espelette, Pistachio Pesto, Heirloom tomatoes, organic cucumber), grilled and glazed vegetables, and a saffron corn sauce.
I have a sort of comment and a question...About a month ago I made the exact same sauce but with no saffron in it, virtually the same ratio of liquid to cobs and corn. The finished product of that sauce was much thicker (more of a thick coulis consistency) but this time It was MUCH thinner. Andrew (a co-worker) suggested that this would be due to the fact that the corn grown during the hotter months (august) has more starch and the corn grew in a colder month (which now is September) has more sugar content. That this would be the reason...Hmmm. Makes sense to me, but I still think that's crazy. Vegetables amaze me. They really really do.
Anyway, the feature was quite nice but unfortunately didn't sell too well, I wonder if it's because it's such a summery dish and it's not so much like summer out? I guess it's back to braised meats and lentils and what not. Which isn't really a bad thing...
we should all cut into a squash now, cook it, and take notes...then in october cut into the same variety of squash, cook it and see if there's a difference in starch and sugar content.