Tuesday, June 29, 2010

English Muffins.

Well, I think I've finally nailed the English Muffin. It took a few tries and a whole lot of re-writing of recipes but, it's now where I want it to be.

I'm not gonna give away the recipe because half of the fun is figuring it out on your own. However, I was given a tip by Mark Filatow the last time I was in Kelowna. Potato water. That's it. Just use water that has been used to cook potatoes as the liquid in the dough. I think it gives the yeast a little something else to feed on. Not to mention it seems to have added the flavor dimension that was missing in previous attempts.

The only other thing that I did differently is to stretch the dough to the desired thickness as opposed to the rolling pin method. This seems to have retained a lot more air in the dough which results in a better rise and a more irregular crumb.

English Muffins are really very easy to do at home or at work and the product totally trumps anything that you can buy at the supermarket.

Here is a lunch feature I ran a couple of weeks back. Granted that it was on an previous attempt at English muffins, the result was still far from disappointing. Seen here with Jon's homemade ricotta, savory local strawberry compote and fresh basil. Some of Jon's divine porchetta and a mollet egg.

Find a recipe and play around with it. Pan frying bread is great fun. Oh, and a tip, use really low heat to pan fry them. You want to be able to cook them evenly on both sides so that the muffin is fully cooked and doesn't need to go into the oven to finish. If the heat is to high the bread will burn before you get a chance to cook them throughout. I found that an internal temperature somewhere between 180-190 is perfect.

Have fun. Sean Peltier

Monday, June 28, 2010

be healthy

Greening the Restaurant Industry: Water

The food thing was a little uneven on this trip to Vancouver.

There were high hopes and lots of good intentions--Lord knows those rarely amount to anything, and this trip proved no exception.

We drove out to Koon Bo based on a post in Chow Times. We got there at 9pm. It was packed, and the food on the tables looked great.

"I'm sorry we're not open"


It was 9pm, the restaurant closed at 10.

"We can't serve you. Our chef went home early tonight."


The next failure was self-generated. It was a choice between arriving 2 hours early to see the Schlippenbach trio at the jazz festival, or going to Phnom Penh Restaurant and risk being one second late for the show--a risk I wasn't ready to take. So a salad bar in Yale Town it was. They did have a nice cheese spread back stage, though.

That said, there were some food joys. It would appear that they've upped the ante with shwarma and falafel on The Drive. Taste of Paradise at 1399 Commercial Drive, in what was well past the 11th hour, came through with attention, value and friendliness as well as an immaculately prepared meal.

The best meal of the entire trip? The water fountain at the lodge in Manning Park. Oh that Manning Park water is good. Every time we drive through, we fill bottles.

I love me some fancy water. I'm more of a bubbly water enthusiast, but there really is nothing like a good, still water. Water in the Okanagan is hard, and occasionally (depending upon where you live) needs boiling in order to be consumed safely. We all know that this will soon be the rule, rather than the exception, and so when there are those boil water advisories, or a thick layer of mineral build up inside the tea kettle, or a faint bleach smell, we don't really put up too much of a fuss. Yet when set against water from Manning Park, you can't help but pause and meditate upon water's fundamental role in life, let alone cooking.

Speaking of water, what about grey water? You all know what grey water is right? In my "short-sleeved" capacity within the food economy, I spend a little more time working the hose (so to speak) than many of my "long-sleeved" colleagues. It's nothing less than shocking to think of all the water a restaurant uses in a day. And by "use" I mean send down the drain to where ever water goes when it is sent down a drain.

Certainly there's the technology to get more utility from the water used to, say, cool a Cambro filled with hot soup (or warm a frozen pork shoulder, or wash off the dishes before the dishes go into the machine that washes the dishes). Can't that all be diverted through some filters and into a tank?

From there, that water could be used for all kinds of things. I'm thinking irrigation, primarily, if not for our beloved grapes, than for other "cruder" plants and non agricultural landscapes, like those surrounding the restaurants where we work.

Speaking of the restaurants where we work, most of them have enough square footage on their roofs that collecting the rain water makes sense as well. Where as "grey water" is (for now) disqualified for consumption, people, plants and animals all over the world depend entirely on rain water. While the thought of drinking water that came from the sky rather than a plastic pipe might make the more genteel customer shudder in revulsion, plants of all kinds seem to do just fine with it.

If you think the war(s) over oil have been gruesome, the coming war(s) over water promise to be infinitely more so. And if you think the propane bill is a doozy, just wait until water is totally commodified to the same extent.

And on that happy note, stay tuned for the next instalment of Greening The Restaurant Industry here on Okanagan Daily Special!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Masala Crusted Lake Trout

Well, today was a really simple one. The flavors were really popping out on this though.

Seeing as so many of the local farmers are Indian immigrants I'm starting to think that maybe local cuisine should start representing not only the food that is grown here, but the people who grow it as well. As an added bonus, the stone fruits that are so prevalent in the South Okanagan lend themselves very well to the spices and spice blends indigenous to India.

With that being said I had some beautiful lake trout to sell today. As afore mentioned, I wanted to bring in some of the Indian spices, so I made a masala of sorts and crusted the trout with that. I paired the fish with some Lambert cherry chutney to give some sweet and sour to the plate as well.

I did a crispy potato cake, or latke if you will. However, I only used raw grated potatoes, herbs and seasoning in the potato. I prefer to do it this way as opposed to using flour and egg as well. I find that the potato will always speak for itself. Just make sure to squeeze all the liquid out of the shredded potato to keep the cake from becoming gummy.

To bring something refreshing to the plate I made an Orin apple and basil puree. Pretty straight forward with that one. Just made apple sauce and then mix in a very loose and rustic basil pesto. Also some beautiful baby spinach dressed with lemon olive oil brought even more refreshment to the plate. I also put on a couple of fresh cherries as a little treat.

Sean Peltier

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fishes + Knishes = So Delicious!

This feature goes out to Mr. Okanagandailyspecial himself.

Knish: This lovely little Jewish delight seamed like a great vessel with which to display some first of the season Lambert cherries. I at once thought about stuffing them full of a pork product of some kind but then started to think whether or not Canada has a non-extradition treaty with New Jersey. Since I didn`t even know where to begin looking for such info and knowing what can happen to a bearded man who gets on the wrong side of a knish, I opted for sticking just to the cherries. A wonderfully simple dough consisting of potatoes, oil and flour, plus the addition of some salt and herbs wrapped around mashed potatoes that I mixed with cherry chutney. Egg washed and then baked. So simple, so delicious.

Along with that I made a west coast seafood cake. Thanks to one chef RJB, I now know the only way to make a fish cake. Forget the breading and the frying. My version consisted of nice diced pieces of Ling cod, Tofino shrimp meat, and a light halibut mousse to bind it all together. Add to that a fine dice of onion, leek, celery and fennel.

Atop the knish I put some more of the cherry chutney. Atop the fish cake I put an apple relish. Below the whole ordeal I put a basil pistou.

That`s all folks...Sean Peltier

possible mobile abattoir to the south okanagan

So, my father was reading through this blog and came across Mr.ZZZZZ's little blog about the lack of a slaughter house in the south and an idea struck him.

There is a company in Fort St. John by the name of Gate to Plate Food Services (please click here to read about them). My dad went in to talk to them to see if they ever venture this far south. And guess what. They are totally open to the idea. They have already made trips to the interior of the province and are heading to Sydney BC in a month or so to slaughter a shwack of lamb.

They would obviously need quite a bit of notice and most likely a fair quantity of livestock to make it worth their while but, there mast be someone(wink wink Stanley) who can get the ball rolling on that one.

As they are the only operating mobile abattoir in the province it would mean a great deal to get one here to see if there is enough demand to start operating one full rime...don`t ya think.

get back to me with any ideas.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More pork for the masses!

So today's feature is a lovely quadruplet of Pulled pork, morel & Little Quallicum 'Blue Claire' cheese perogies. Grilled Orin apple and shallot relish. Braising jus. Creme Fraiche. Arugula.

The perogie dough itself is a mixture of homemade yogurt, flour & seasoning.
The filling is braised pork shoulder, with morels that have been cooked off in shallots, garlic, white wine and grainy mustard. The 'Blue Claire' gives a really nice sweetness to the filling.

For the relish the apples were grilled off and diced, then reserved until the relish was complete. Only then are they mixed in. I do this to preserve the structural integrity of the apple. The Shallots are cooked until translucent, then mustard seeds were added and aloud to roast in the pan. Brown sugar is then added and cooked until almost caramelized. Apple cider and apple cider vinegar are added and then reduced by half at which point the apples are added. I then thickened the relish with cornstarch and season to taste. Once cooled I added herbs.

The Braising jus is simply the liquid that the pork shoulder was braised in. Once the pork has been removed the liquid is reduced to a desired consistency and then strained through a fine mesh strainer.

For the Creme fraiche. Add I tbsp of buttermilk to 1 cup of heavy cream and allow to ferment overnight in a clean jar with a cloth over top of the opening. Do not seal the jar. Once it has thickened you can refrigerate it for up to 30 days.

Make sure to blanch your perogies in boiling water until they float. Once they have cooled they are ready for pan frying.

hope that you like. Sean Peltier

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Food Safety is Important Children.

Oh, I know that it gets a little out of hand but Valid song non the less.

And here is another food related-ish song for all you to step with.

Oh and here is one that actually is related to food.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Preserves

So it is Strawberry season here in the Okanagan valley once again, and like many places, the season for local berries is very short. I happen to like berries all year round. However, if your goal is to cut back on your consumption of G.M.O. berries from god knows where, or even if you don't want to buy organic strawberries all the way from California or some South American paradise then the only option is to preserve.

Preserving can seem like a daunting task. I know it felt like one for me when I first began to do it. Thankfully there have been great strides made in ice box technology over the last century which allows for the easiest method of preserving. Yes, I'm talking about the freezer. If you have the space in your freezer there is no better way to ensure that you are eating great local fruit all year round. If you are like me, you don't have the freezer space to really make storing up like a squirrel a viable option.

Yes there are other means of fruit preservation i.e. dehydration, but what I am going to talk about is canning. Simple once you get the hang of it. There are a few things that you must be very diligent about when you start to do home canning. If done improperly the results can be disastrous to your health as well as others who may consume contaminated products. Now, don't go getting all put off by this and give up entirely. When done properly, canning can be very rewarding for not only you, but others who will marvel in the joys of eating June strawberries in January. Instead of going through all the procedures on safe canning just click here to be magically whisked away to great advice on how to get the job done safely and effectively.

Shannon and I just picked up 16lbs of beautiful strawberries from one of the road side fruit stands just outside of Osoyoos. The strawberries were grown in Vernon. A bit of a ways away but Okanagan valley all the same.

We wanted to do a couple of things with them so that we can enjoy them later in the year and also give away come the holiday season, or as we like to do so often, barter when a like minded individual comes along.

We decided to do a straight up strawberry jam, a savory strawberry compote and a vinaigrette for supper. Pretty straight forward. For the jam just cook them in some sugar and pectin and your pretty much good to go.
First you'll need to trim off the stems.

Then wash them all thoroughly to ensure that all dirt and foreign matter is removed.

For the compote I just made a spiced strawberry gastrique,

blended it up, poured it over the fresh berries while hot into sterilized jars,

popped on the caps, boiled and that's about that.

Like I said, it can seem a bit daunting at first, but, if you do your research, as with anything, it can be done very easily with confidence in no time at all. Just remember. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Botulism is a nasty little F'er.

Hope to see you all eating your own summer food on those cold December days.

Sean Peltier.

The Pig cont'd...

Ok, I supose it is time to put something on the plate. Searching for ingredients to put to use in todays feature I have a pickled pigs tongue that Alvin made as a side project, Max's first loaf of brioche and the Testa Cotta that I have been aching to put on the table.

After sending these items for a spin in my centrifuge of grey matter with a little Harkers cider reduction and Sweet Orin Apples...et voila!

Tongue and Cheek with Brioche and Cider Gel.
Happy Cooking,

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Study of Pheasant

So, I was going through the restaurant inventory the other day looking for something to do for my daily lunch feature when I came across four lonely pheasant.

I happen to like pheasant, I think it's delicious and I don't know to many people who would disagree. So, pheasant it is.

Conundrum. How am I to take four birds and turn them into at least, oh say, 12-16 portions for a feature. Well, let me tell you.

The plan. De-bone the birds along the spine so as to leave all the usable skin in tact. I want to do this so that I can later wrap the breast meat back up inside the skin in the lovely phallus object we in the french schooled cooking world refer to as a Ballontine. However I think that what should be done in stead of the traditional way of braising it in a stock from the bones is to instead confit it in duck fat.
Why not? Oh and after that I figured that a little bit of a cold smoke would do it some good as well.
Once all that is out of the way, all that is left to do is sear the skin so that it has a little bit more sex appeal that your average pasty white phallus.

This whole confiting thing has two positive outcomes: Firstly; It is bound to impart all sorts of wonderful flavors and as long as I don't cook it to a temperature greater than 136ish degrees I will have a wonderfully moist breast as well. Secondly; I now have beautiful bones with which to make a roasted pheasant jus with. Which I did.

This leaves only the well used legs of the Pheasant. There is not a lot of meat on them bones and what meat there is is riddled with tendons that no one would enjoy chewing on, braised or not. So what should I do. Think that grinding the meat would be the best possible solution. Now, more often than not, the farce meat made from the legs would be run through the center of the ballontine. However, I had something else in mind. Unfortunately Pheasant eggs are not so easy to procure. Or, not at least without risking getting beaked in the eye while trying to poach from a nest of a very overprotective parental unit on some near by walking path. So, in this case, a noble chicken egg will have to suffice. Scotched eggs!A great treat that has some how fallen along the wayside in favor of some less labor intensive egg dishes. Seeing as I am being paid by the hour, bring on the labor intensiveness.
What we do here is wrap the pheasant thigh farce around a soft boiled egg,
bread it
and then deep fry it. Ideally what you get is a crispy, meaty outer layer with a beautifully cooked egg with a runny yolk.

After all this nothing is left to do but pair it with other foods to make a proper meal out of it. To be perfectly honest, once you've gone to all this trouble, pairing anything with it would do the trick. I did however, spend a lot of time on all this so why not take some nice garnishes along for the ride.

For the scotched egg; truffled potato puree, roasted pheasant jus.
And for the ballontine; strawberry gastrique, fresh strawberries, chervil and my favorite heart stopper, duck fat mayo(made from the confit fat which the ballontine was cooked).

As they say, "there are many ways to skin a cat" or maybe more fitting would be Mr. Scrooge "a cooked goose". There are a lot of ways to cook a pheasant, I hope you like the way I cooked mine.

Sean Peltier.

Food Like This

Breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Well, here we go. Blogging may be a small step for mankind these days. However, for me it is a gigantic leap into a world which makes me feel rather ignorant. Cooking I can do, typing and spelling and uploading and such is an entirely different matter altogether.

This summer is a summer of fun and play for me. Turning down several sous chef positions in favor of lunch cook. Something which I have never been. Going to work and then leaving *hrs later is also something that hasn't been in my life since I completed cooking school in 2001.

Why did I make this decision? Simple, freedom. I just want to spend a summer cooking. That's all. My playground is the daily lunch special. My goal, to make the lunch specials so god damn over the top that people look at the rest of the menu and realize that what they are getting actually is "special". Not that I'm knocking the food that we a serving on the menu, but I really don't want to be giving people something that was thrown together last minute in order to take some heat of the regular mise en place.

I am rather proud to be finally working for the most part with a group of men and woman that are, for the first time in my career, making everything in house. Bread, charcuterie, cheese,sauces, etc. The only thing that we aren't making is butter, and I have a feeling that that isn't far off.

We, my wife and I, moved to this valley because of it's limitless bounty of all things food. Slowly, there are more and more of us like minded individuals coming to join in. There is plenty to go around. Much like blogging is new to me, creating a food revolution is new to all of us. The revolution that we are trying to accomplish is not an easy task. We have a very seasonal window in which to operate. Our local governments are, much like all governments, not easy to convince that change is necessary. We need to push hard for things like abattoirs and other things that can truly make "local". Egos must be put on the back burners. Co-operation makes it happen. Co-operation, working together.

So with all that out of the way, lets get down to some fun and freedom.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Testa Cotta

Our housemade testa cotta. And me happy as a pig in sh#t!

The Porkford Files

We are having some edible fun with the Pig at Hillside Estate Winery this year. I will keep posting to this site some of our creations for you to check out. Hopefully these pics will help inspire some people to have fun with their food, or at least come out to see us to give our piggy features a taste. Enjoy!

Hi Guys

It is very exciting to launch this project! Let's Rock!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Settle In, Because We're Going To Be Talking About This A Lot

First of all, everyone does realise there is a feed lot in the South Okanagan, right? You know, a place where they grow beef?

You also probably know that for a while, there was an abattoir in the South Okanagan as well...not to far from the feed lot. And by abattoir, I mean a place where people--anyone--who grew beef (or pork or lamb or hogget or mutton or chevon or cabrito) could have it processed and packaged.

Due to government regulations, about which much will be said in the coming posts, that slaughter facility no longer exists. The feed lot (the place where the beef is grown) is now without an abattoir (the place where the beef is harvested and packaged for consumption.) What should (and could) be an entirely functional system, providing economic opportunity to farmers and a competitive edge to the restaurant industry in the Okanagan, is now broken. I don't know for sure where the nearest slaughter facility is, but I'm pretty sure it isn't between Osoyoos and Vernon.

We'll get deeper into that as time goes on. For now, here's an article about a mobile slaughter facility.

Once you've read that, here's an article about the demand for local beef, to the tune of $8 a pound for brisket. While I think that's as much a reflection of the lunacy of what New Yorkers are willing to pay for things as it is a deep seated biological desire for artisan beef, it's probably safe to say that no matter what, the sale of local beef at the farmers market would generate a lot more income for the farmers growing it than, say, zucca melons or knitted polyester yarn pot holders. It's probably also safe to say that if the restaurant economy of the Okanagan became known for their local, sustainable, inventive beef (pork, lamb, hogget, mutton, chevon, cabrito) offerings, it might attract even more attention than it does now.

Everyone knows "in house" is the way to go. "Local" too. Besides, shouldn't we be rehearsing for when the trucks stop running?

Some questions:

1. Would you go to your local farmers market more or less often if you knew you could get artisan beef that was grown and processed in Oliver?

2. Why isn't there a co-op meat locker in the Okanagan, where meat can be hung for as long as desired?

3. Why isn't there a co-op slaughter facility in the Okanagan?

4. Would a co-op slaughter facility/meat locker be an asset or liability to the farmers and restaurant economy in the Okanagan?

5. Would a thriving artisan beef economy married to a thriving local, independent restaurant economy be an asset or liability to the economy of the greater Okanagan valley?

So many questions! And I really am asking. Let's tease this out and return functionality to the system!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hey Chef

What's for staff lunch today?