Saturday, July 31, 2010


To continue on with the theme of organ meats, sweetbreads found their way onto the plate today. Not nearly as often as I'd have liked, but they did make it onto the plate a couple of times.

I'm not sure what it is about sweetbreads that makes people squeamish, but something does. Perhaps someone out there can let me know what it is. All I know is that we almost sold out of liver but we could barely sell a sweetbread. For any of you lucky enough to have eaten sweetbreads I know that you would order them again. I have never met a single person who has tried a sweetbread and then said they didn't like it. Everything about them is fantastic.

So, what is a sweetbread. Well, it is one of two things. It can be a thyroid glad which is found in the throat, or it can be a thymus gland, which is found beside the heart. The heart glands are said to be a better product and therefore cost a bit more. I really don't see to much of a difference between the two. The glads are used to help fight alongside their brothers in the war for immunities. Veal and lamb are the most common form which you will find, for as the animals age, the gland begin to disappear. The pinker or redder the gland, the older the animal.

First things first. I soaked the sweetbreads in a brine overnight. The following day i poached them in milk and herbs for about 6 minutes to firm them up, then plunged them into an ice bath to stop any further cooking. Once cooled I peeled of the outer membrane, then pressed them between two pans with weights on top to press out any excess moisture. They are now ready to cook. Many people will bread them and then deep fry them. A great way to have them. The most common way is to dust them with flour and then pan fry them. I, along with many others, see no reason to dust them in flour. They pan fry beautifully on their own, why add the flour, I find that a lot of the time they become pasty if flour is used.

I served this along with a sautee of parmesan gnocchi, local apricots and basil. A roasted local eggplant and smoked paprika puree. Finally, some balsamic jus to bring it all together.

This was most likely one of the tastiest lunch specials I've made all season and we only sold 4 on a day when I cooked lunch for 197 people. There are a lot of people who missed out on this one. Sweetbreads will make an appearance again in the near future, I'll promise you that. However, I think that I'll have to use them as a small component and then work my way up from there. The Okanagan has a lot to learn about food before it can become the mecca that it deserves to be.

Sean Peltier

Friday, July 30, 2010

Liver & Onions

Liver and Onions. Nothing over the top about that at all. It just has to be done properly. That is what I aimed to do.

Feeding off the success of the stuffed pork foot, I decided that I'm gonna go a lot heavier on the offal cuts for lunch features. The tourists are in town and hopefully some of them are foodies.

I chose a whole calf's liver to do this feature. It is paramount for the success of the liver that you get a thick cut piece from your butcher as opposed to the paper thin strips. If the liver is over cooked the beautiful silky texture is lost. There is now way to get a properly cooked liver if the cut is too thin. Once you have the liver, soak it in milk overnight or for 24hrs if possible. I like to put some aromatics in the milk as well, i.e. bay leaf, thyme peppercorns etc. Soaking the liver helps to draw out any excess blood and impurities that may be present, I also find that the flavor mellows out quite a bit, losing a lot of the iron taste. When you're ready to cook the liver, remove it from the milk and pat it dry. Season with salt and pepper. In a medium too high heat pan, add your oil followed by the liver. Sear it on all sides evenly. It should be slightly mushy to the touch when ready. If it has a lot of spring to it, it is underdone. Sort of the opposite of steak. Let it rest for 5 min in order to allow the tissues to relax.

For the onion component I caramelized the onions and then made a polenta around that. I pressed the polenta after it was cooked and then cut it into desired sizes. When ready to eat, simply pan sear. There was approx. 50% onion to polenta in the mix.

The vegetable component was simple and a favorite of mine. I sauteed onion and then added quartered pieces of local tomatoes, allowing them to stew until thick. Once the tomatoes have reached the desired consistency, I added some roasted garlic and cut rounds of baby summer squash. At this point I only cook it for a few more minutes, just enough to heat the summer squash through. I don't want the squash to become soft, the textural quality is very important. Then add your seasoning and spread the ragout out in a wide, shallow dish, in order to allow it to cool as fast as possible. When ready to eat, simply reheat gently.

The sauce was a poultry jus with balsamic vinegar reduced in it. I chose poultry jus as opposed to beef because the sauce can easily overpower the great subtleties that make liver such a treat. Ask any Italian what they drizzle on top of their calf's liver, they will all tell you, balsamic vinegar. It is the perfect match. I also like it in sauces as it adds that ever needed acidity to an already rich sauce.

For a little bit of freshness I did a salad of micro greens with celery leafs tossed in lemon vinaigrette. Celery leafs have to be one of my all time favorite greens, a great flavor to go along with the onion polenta.

It didn't sell as well as I had hoped, 10/25, not bad, I'll run it again tomorrow. Those who had it absolutely loved it. That's the way it goes with liver though, you either love it or you don't.

Sean Peltier.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lunch Feature 29.07.10

So, it's ling cod again. I'm starting to think that maybe I will be solely responsible for the end of the ling cods existence thanks to lunch features this year. However, it was fresh and I had to use it.

Once again a long weekend is upon us, and as a result there is a hell of a lot of mise en place to get ready for the impending doom. This feature is a product of time restraints. Tasty, of course, but simple and fast is the name of this game.

The quinoa is pretty straight forward. Cooked the grain in vegetable stock(1 part grain/1.5 part liquid.) I added a small dice of local cucumbers, some lemon juice, coriander and creme fraiche.

The peach soup was the stand out part of this dish. Puree of fresh peaches with a touch of vinegar, some yogurt, seasoning and xvoo blended in to emulsify everything. So fresh, so peachy, so delicious.

Sean Peltier

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Garden Update / Beets me

It's garden time in the Okanagan. Sure, the season got off to a slow start, but be patient. It'll come. Hopefully.

The first run of Poblanos are in. Good times! These grew right in the back yard. Started them from seed. Simple! And don't you make no never mind about the lil' scab on the second to the left on the bottom. We all have scars--true or false?

You gotta love this whole web 2.0 paradigm...type "Poblano pepper recipes" into your google machine and what comes up first? A blog called "Poblano Pepper Recipes", that's what.

Speaking of that strange phenomena of humans willingly and freely sharing data with one another for free, I came across this handsome Canadian blog wherein the poblano makes an intriguing partner. Hands up, who in the last year has made a creamy cauliflower poblano soup?

Maybe I'm not seeing too many hands, as I'm given to understand that pairing wine and peppers isn't always the easiest thing to do, or the most flattering for either.

Peppers and beer? And where is our Rancho Chico anyhow?

In other news, someone did a little food costing and came to the staggering realisation that they were paying $1.16 per beet, for the beets on the right.

Which is probably a deal when you consider all the travelling they got to do and all the packaging they got to sleep in.

The ones on the left are merely from my back yard a few kilometres away. Those poor beets never had the joy of seeing a packaging plant, or a "reefer truck" since they came to work with me in a re-used paper bag. Those beets on the left are hardly worth $1.16 each. Plain ol' boring local unpackaged Okanagan back yard garden beets...not even from a farm with a name.

Questions to the economy: How much do the beets on the left actually, really cost? And just how is that figured out anyway? Is there a difference between the "cost" of something and the "value" of something, and if so, what accounts for (and who determines) that difference?

Question to cooks: Which one would you rather use?

Question to eaters: Which one would you rather eat?

Question to you, dear reader: if I had a surplus of these beets (on the left) and I wanted to put them up for sale, barter or trade on the open market, what would be my best option?
  1. Try and get a contract with one of the large food distributors that serve the valley
  2. Ask at the local supermarkets if they would be willing to allocate some retail space for local tax paying citizen grown local product
  3. Put a notice on the Okanagan Daily Special Stock Exchange [ODSSE] saying "hey, I got a small surplus of beets and I bet I can come in at under $1.16 or I'll trade for php tutoring" (or something similar.)

Join the Okanagan Daily Special Stock Exchange [ODSSE]! What is it? Why it's just a simple listserv--a mailing list, connecting producers and consumers via the internet. Is that clever or what? Farmers and cooks, growers and eaters alike are encouraged to join. Got some beets you want to move? Looking to beat $1.16 a beet? JOIN! It's easy and fun!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Study of Pheasant (part 2)

Welcome back to the second installment of "A study of pheasant"

In this one I wanted to showcase the fruit flavors a little more and focus less on richness. With that being said, I still poached the ballontines in xvoo. So, there is a little fat there to savor.

I used the leg this time as a farce meat for the center of the ballontine and added a gooseberry gastrique that Shannon made the other day. Also, I did an apricot gastrique to be the real acidic component of the dish. For one more fruit component, I did two slices of grilled peach. The two fruits and the berries are all in season right now and grown within a 15km radius. How could I not want to showcase those flavors.

With all that fruit going on I needed to bring some more richness to the dish in order to mellow out the acidity and help restore the subtle flavors of the pheasant. So after poaching the pheasant in xvoo, I used that oil to make a mayo with a touch of truffle oil, some grainy dijon and lemon juice. Also, the jus made from all the carcass and trim of the birds brought the earth tonal flavors that give a comfort to a dish.

The dish definitely needed some texture and some starch components on the plate. Since I already had a lot going on I decided to make the starch crispy and kill two birds. Actually it was 8 birds, but that's neither here nor there. Grated, raw Yukon Gold potatoes, with all their juice squeezed out. Then a little bit seasoning and a few herbs. Into the pan to fry all crispy like. Success.

The plate was garnished with some bush basil for freshness and of course it's affinity for stone fruits. I also garnished with a light sprinkling of smoked sea salt, because it's delicious.

People really seemed to go for this one. We sold out in no time at all. I love that people will enjoy this kind of food in the summer here. Now, we just need to get some more of the locals eating like this on a more year round basis and we'll really be in business then.

Sean Peltier

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lunch Feature 24.07.10(peas & carrots redux)

Thanks to a slow start to the summer it seems as though we are behind on a lot of produce that we would usually be having by now. As a result I had to go back and use some peas & carrots, something that I did a few features ago. This time it will be ling cod as the protein.

Pretty simple, this one was. I was really working on tomorrows feature, which will be a fun one.
So, i did a pearl barley risotto. I like to use barley for a starch as it has texture for miles and miles. It's really hard to over cook barley, in fact you would most likely have to try to do so. I pulled some pea nage from the freezer that I made a while back and used that as the sauce. Then for veg, I did a salad of shaved carrots and pea shoots.

Easy does it on this one. Nothing over the top, just nice, clean, simple flavors. Nothing wrong with that.

Sean Peltier

Dinner special 23/07/10

So for yesterdays special i made perogies, which I love to eat as well as love to make.
I made the dough the night before, equal parts by weight yogurt and flour (sour cream is what I usually use but there was none available at the time) as well as salt.
Then I made a morel mushroom, onion, herb, ricotta, and raclette filling.
I blanched them and then seared them for color and texture.
they were delicious if I do say so myself!
The plate unfortunately did not come out as nice (to me anyway) because of how large the veal chop is, it pretty much took over the plate.
there are local organic carrots on the plate as well as micro radishes and asian plum gastrique and a red wine jus.
next time I think I would just do perogies! As they speak for them selves... saying that makes me feel like I may or may not be 1/64 Ukrainian or something to that effect.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lunch Feature 23.07.10

Today's lunch feature was a very simple dish that I'm sure all came together well(I can't eat any of the shellfishes).
I did a fennel crusted spring salmon, which I pan seared along with a thick slice of lemon. I know that the lemon isn't exactly Okanagan per se, however, I do know a few people who have successful lemon trees in the valley. Anyhow, I do this because the lemon takes on a very different flavor that really compliments fish with out overpowering some of the more delicate flavors. I also had acidity in some of the other components so I didn't want to overdo it.

With the belly trim from the salmon I did a very quick brown sugar and course salt cure. About 70%/30% in favor of the sugar. Make sure to use course salt as the finer stuff will overwhelm the curing process and make it to salty. I let this sit in the cure for about 2hrs. At this point a lot of the moisture of the fish will have leached out leaving the salmon belly swimming in it's own juices. I then removed the fish from the liquid but did not rinse it. Here I cold smoked it for about an hour and a half until it was fully cured. If smoking is not an option you can always just cook it at a low oven temperature for a few minutes until cooked.
The smoked belly was then added into a hummus along with a small dice of cucumber, dill, lemon juice(more acid), XVOO, seasonings and of course, the chick peas.

The sauce is a spot prawn bisque. Perhaps one day I will do up that whole process on here, but that is for another day. This sauce was not made by myself unfortunately, however, it did look and smell very nice(I hear it tasted good as well). The secondary sauce is a creme fraiche(more acid)which is made by mixing a little bit of buttermilk into some whipping cream and then letting it sit out overnight to thicken.

For vegetable garnishes I did a quick pan braise of some great baby summer squash and a pea shoot salad tossed in a little bit of lemon olive oil(yes, a little more acid...are you all starting to get the importance of acidity in food? Use a little acidity in your food and you will find you use less salt and usually less fat as well)

It sold well, anything prawn always does, it's a bit of a cheat but hey, I sold 27 of them today. In this case I guess that cheating is okay.

Sean Peltier

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wild and Edible

Some of you might remember a post way back when about the potential utility of an online photo collection of wild, edible plants of the Okanagan. Some of you might remember thinking (or typing) what a great idea!

Fortunately for us, we are graced with Norma's virtual presence, real knowledge and expansive photo collection of our beloved Okanagan, particularly its plants.

Please do acquaint yourself with some of the regions wild, edible plants as captured by Norma!

Thank you Norma! We look forward to your future contributions!

A Cheeky Little Special

Well, pork again. I never tire of this magical animal.
I wanted to do a pseudo eggs benny with a braised pork cheek and my own english muffins.
So, that's what I did. To go along with that I did a confit of heirloom cherry tomatoes, poached free run egg with a pea and goats yogurt sabayon.
The acidity from the sabayon was really needed to cut all the richness of the pork cheeks and the english muffin. I wanted to eat this one for sure!

Please listen!

Thirsty little fella?

Soooooooooo hot out right now! Do you know where else is hot? Jamaica. Jamaica is hot, damn hot. Now, there are a few reasons why I love Jamaica, but as for legal reasons why I love Jamaica, ginger beer has to be right up there, along with the movie Cool Runnings.

I wanted to get a cool refreshing beverage that I could make at home easily and serve to my 15yr old brother in law that's staying with us for the summer. Not to mention that sometimes it's just too hot for alcohol. So. after some research and some personal modifications here is an easy recipe to make your own ginger beer. It's fun to make a fizzy drink with out the aid of any CO2 canisters.

you will need the following:

2 lemons(sliced)
2 limes(sliced)
2 star anise pods
2 tsp cream of tartar
150g sugar
50g honey
Mint sprigs
50g grated ginger(for a nice mild ginger flavor, adjust according to preference)
2.5L boiling water
7g yeast(one packet)

Once you have everything you'll need put all ingredients in a large bowl excluding the yeast. Pour the boiling water over top and allow to cool.

Once the brew is cool enough to hold your finger in comfortably, you can now add the yeast and stir well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

The following day remove the bowl from the fridge and strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Pour the ginger beer into clean bottles or jars and screw the lids on nice and tight. Be careful not to overfill the bottles as they may spill over. You can put the ginger beer back in the fridge now. Twice a day for two to three days unscrew the lids to allow the gas to escape. On day three it's good to drink. This ginger beer is best drank sooner than later as the fizz will wear off if left to sit for too long.

Serve it up in a glass with ice, fresh mint and a piece of cinnamon bark. Oh, and if you can't do it without booze, I'd say some Jamaican rum would make sense. Hope you all enjoy.
Sean Peltier

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Of Farms and The Lesson Of PIGFOOT

Hot on the heels (trotters?) of Sean's success linked to innovation, everyone's friends at the New York Times posted this article about the close knit relationship between farms and restaurants.

From the article:

And increasingly, small-farm success is linked to innovation. “The fun is trying something new — when a chef says to me, can you grow it?” said Richard Ball, the owner of Schoharie Valley Farms in Schoharie, N.Y., for the last 17 years. “I try six new things every year. To grow higher-end and many different crops — well, it’s survival for us. That is how we stay alive.”

I won't harp too long on this one, but I'm having a harder and harder time coming to grips with the fact that there is a feed lot right here in the South Okanagan and yet there is no local beef in the restaurants of the South Okanagan.

Not to disparage 6 new and different types of onions or rutabagas or whatever, but what if farmers regularly brought out a new breed of pig or cow for our consideration? Would that stunt the restaurant industry? Would that cripple our local agriculture/hospitality economy or would the synergistic relationship between the two sectors benefit everyone?

Maybe Mangalista tastes no different than your average Jimmy Dean (tm) oinker and Wagyu is tastes no different than your average Ray A. Kroc satan burger made of dethkulture ground. Maybe people aren't interested, and can't tell the difference. Maybe people, when told of a special featuring a braised, breaded, fried pigs foot stuffed with pig cheek they actually heard "chicken sandwich" and didn't notice when PIGFOOT arrived at the table, 13 times, in the space of an hour.

In the off chance if there is a difference, and everyone who comes to dine in the Okanagan isn't an uncultured rube idiot, and "we" are predisposed to celebrate heirloom varieties of plants, why not heirloom animals?

Oh, and don't forget innovation. Apparently success is linked to it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One of those "Mouth in the Foot" scenarios

I have been thinking a lot lately about being able to sell the "whole" animal to eaters in a bid to make truly local cuisine viable. You see, the most common argument going for the lack of small local producers of meat is that people don't want to eat anything but the choice cuts, i.e. the tenderloins, strip loins, rib steaks, breast meat. Therefore, they can not supply enough to fuel a restaurant. I could go on and on about all the parts of the animal that "people just won't eat". These variety cuts such as hoof, heads, testicles, sweetbreads, livers, hearts, etc. apparently don't have their collective finger on the pulse of the consumer.

Today my friends, I have proven the critics wrong, and boy did I need that. I refuse to believe that the only way to make a go of it is by selling steak. That is not what is in store for a successful, sustainable Okanagan. I must admit, that before the sales and praise for this feature were so positive, I didn't think I'd sell any. What was I selling? A pigs cheeks stuffed into a pigs foot, then braised and then deep fried. Sounds awesome to me, and apparently it sounded interesting enough for people to order it. I was really shocked at the reception this special received. People were picking up the remaining scraps of the hoof and sucking natural jelly out from between the toes and nibbling breading off the toe nails. Not a single plate came back with anything more than some toe nails and cartilage. I was blown away. Humbled even. I was really looking at the dining public with a lot of pessimism as of late. Not any more.

So, the dish.

For the trotters:
I removed the shank from the trotters which came from the front half of the pig. You have to use the front feet because they are the ones with shanks and moving joints which can be removed. The hind legs of a pig are straight bone. Once the shanks were removed(pain in the ass, but got much better towards the last few) I filled the cavity with diced up pork cheek and a little farce made from the cheek as well, with the addition of some seasoning and herbs. I then tied them up and wrapped them in cheese cloth.

I then braised them for 4 hours in a liquid of chicken stock, vegetables, herbs and cherries.

Once they were finished braising I let them cool in the braise in order to let them absorb some of the moisture they lost in the cook.

Once they were cooled I cut off the string and then breaded them.
(does this not look like a little pig?)

For the beans:
The night prior to cooking the beans it is important to soak the beans. Firstly, it inhibits the enzyme that causes flatulence and secondly it speeds up the cooking time. We have always been taught not to cook beans in salted water because it prevents them from cooking properly and makes them all wrinkly with a weird texture. All of this is true. What I didn't know until a few weeks ago, thanks to Jon, is that you can brine beans in salt and they will absorb all the flavored goodness and cook just fine as well. So, of course, that's what I did.
Once soaked overnight I drained the beans from the brine and rinsed them off. I then cooked them in an aromatic vegetable broth until 90% finished. Separately, I cooked off a mirepoix and then added that to the beans once they were cool.
With the Braising liquid, I reduced it to a sauce consistency then added the beans and veg to that. Lovely.

To go along with all this I put a nice helping of horseradish mayo, some great arugula from the Peltier family garden, some shaved granna padano and for that all important acid component some cherry relish(to go with the cherry in the braise)

Sorry, if I ramble, but this was a great day for me. I really didn't think it would sell. I really wanted it to, and it did. Hopefully this is only the beginning of things to come.

Look at that, four at once. One to a lady who already ate, she saw it go by and had to order one for dessert. The other three to a part of four from Ontario who were waiting in the parking lot to talk to me about how much they loved it. That was a little over the top. That kind of attention can be dangerous. You know what the best part of it was? They didn't even ask my name, they just wanted to talk about the pork feet. They will go home and tell people that if you wanna eat stuff like pork cheeks stuffed in trotters that they need to go to the Okanagan. That is what this is all about. Sell the Okanagan as the real food and wine mecca it deserves to be.

Okanagan Daily Special Stock Exchange

Good morning Okanagan!

Just the other day, my neighbor came by and mentioned she had 20 pounds of beautiful cherries from her friend's farm and was wondering if any of the local restaurants where I sell my labor would be interested in some local cherries.

I was sceptical, and furthermore, I don't much relish the job of middleman.But I asked at the Tuesday through Thursday restaurant, and much to my surprise, the chef there wanted cherries.

Typical typical typical!

This got me to thinking about how our beloved internets could be of service, which let me to create

Go ahead, click on it.

The (my) idea is that people like my neighbor (and other producers) can post messages like:

For Sale: 20 lbs Cherries

with all the salient details, while buyers can post messages like

Wanted: 20 lbs Cherries

These messages will, through the magical powers of the interwebs, be sent to all subscribers to the newsgroup. Visualise an in box filled with opportunities.

My hope is that larders shall always be stocked and that precious Okanagan produce (and the labor invested therein) shall never be wasted.

Would you like to be a part of? Then JOIN! It's as easy as reading and sending e-mail!

Naturally this is a work in progress, and as always, I look forward to your comments, suggestions (and most of all) participation!

This is a free service from your friends at Okanagan Daily Special.

Friday, July 16, 2010

How to sell a feature 101: Wrap it in bacon!

Today's feature sold like hotcakes. Then again, when is the last time you've seen hot cakes sell like hotcakes. I think perhaps that saying needs to change. What is selling a lot these days. Well, Canada's mortality rate is dwindling, perhaps condoms are selling really well these days. I say that the phrase, 'sold like hotcakes' be changed to 'sold like rubbers'...I digress. The feature sold well. In fact 25 portions in no time at all. Lesson, wrap everything in bacon!

I took some Ling Cod with a sage leaf on top and wrapped it in Jon's home made bacon(I hope that one day he will actually start writing about all his magic on here). That was pan seared until nice and golden, then basted in a little bit of butter which I browned in the pan and a little bit of herbs.

For the risotto I finished it with a some ricotta cheese and cracked black peppercorns.
Also, I had some great berry gastrique which really complimented the risotto, adding some acidity to the fat of the ricotta and balancing the spice from the peppercorns.

For the marmalade I used some apricots that our friend Janice picked in her backyard yesterday. A lot of acidity again with a load of natural sweetness. I knew that this would really pair nicely with the fat and smoke of the bacon and also lift the subtle flavors of the ling cod.

All in all, a total success.

A little side note: The other day a friend was commenting on my last special(pea's and carrots), and said that she was not a big fan of stacking food. That she prefers to have her food separate so that she can taste each component on its own. I can understand this. I also agree with it, when the cook is merely stacking the food for the sake of stacking or god forbid, height.

My only response to her was that 'I stack my food because I make all the components of a dish to be eaten together'. After this I said that I know it sound egotistical or arrogant or something like that, but its true. I have been told several time before that certain components on my plates by themselves are almost inedible alone, but when eaten as a whole dish it works out beautifully.
This is what I strive for in all my food. A perfect balance between sweet, sour, salt, fat, bitter or what ever textures may be involved as well. I use a hell of a lot of acidity in some components because I know that the fat of the dish needs to be mellowed on the pallet. A lot of gastriques will allow me to add a sweetness and a sourness that will counteract with fat and salt and all the other things that make the French style of food so heavy. So when you see some of these dishes that I do I hope that you can realize that I am always putting flavor before presentation and that I really do think about what I'm composing. It's easy to make a great starch or a great protein or a great vegetable component. What is really a challenge is to make them all live in harmony both on the pallet and in someones memory.
Sorry for sounding conceded, I don't mean to be. Merely passionate and thoughtful.

Love Sean.

Of Wine and Beef

Wine Beef. Okanagan's Finest.

While there's no sign of any reply to Sean's query, which is a pity, I did get to eat some of this Wine Beef a.k.a. Okanagan's Finest.

Though the jus does not taste like wine, the beef (and the jus) was quite red and quite delicious.

The roast was an eye of round. The last time I cooked an eye of round, I made boliche. It wasn't super delicious, mostly because I'm not a very good cook. It was a little dry--which isn't totally unusual for that cut. Not a lot of fat there.

This wine beef roast, made by Syl, cooked on the bar-b-que with a mustard crust, was not dry at all. It had a wonderful texture and a deep, vivid taste--from the well cooked ends to the more rare middle.

They know a thing or two about cooking a roast at the feed lot, so I got to taste Okanagan's Finest under optimal conditions. Sadly there wasn't a "regular" eye of round roast against which to compare the Wine Beef, but I'd say there's a difference.

Now all we need is a local abattoir...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Helping out is a nice thing to do!

This is one of the first dinner features that I have put together all year. Being a lunch cook and all, I rarely get to play around with the dinner feature. However, Shannon is by herself on hot side on Wednesday and Thursday so sometimes she has a lot of mise en place to get ready for dinner service. As a result, the dinner feature can become a real murder item to your day.

I happen to love Shannon and I also happen to love cooking, so, what better way to spend some spare time than cooking a special to make life a little easier on the one I love.

I saw that there was ten Cornish Game Hens in the cooler when I arrived back to work from our days off and I have been dieing to learn the Villa de Lupo chicken dish that Jon and my friend and old mentor James have cooked so many times in their past. No better opportunity will arise than this. So, after a quick rundown on the process from Jon, I was off to the races. Since it's not my recipe and since it is still on the villa menu I will not go spreading the word on how to do it. It was basically done how I thought it would be, but, Jon did have a few very helpful hints on how to make it work a lot better.

Basically what you end up with is the breast meat in the center, the leg meat around that and the skin wrapped around the whole thing with the leg bone sticking out. Half a bird in one nice little package. Beautiful. Thanks to Jon for the tips and thanks to what is know called Lupo restaurant in Vancouver.

To go along with this stunning piece of poultry I did one of my all time favorites. Pommes Anna. Thinly sliced potatoes which are placed around in a circle in a hot pan with a bit of oil. Layers of potato are stacked up and then, once crispy on one side, is flipped to make crispy on the other side. Finish it in the oven and then serve. Crispy outside soft inside, so good.
Also, I smoked the bones from the Game Hens and then roasted them to make a jus. Turned out really well. For some acidity Shannon made a really nice berry gastrique. A few fresh berries and summer squash to finish it off.

Gotta love it. If you have any other cool ways to serve half a bird let me know.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Doom Doom Doom

Just a little information about the impact so far on the seafood industry due to the BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. I know that we have all hear a lot about it in the past few months, however, this is something that really hits home. Please enjoy a few pages of depression.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pig Fistfight!

Not only that, a Portland Pig Fistfight!

That New York Times and its Portland perv...when will it end?

Never, so long as Portland is on the vanguard of acting out in the name of cred.

And Goddess bless Portland and Eric Bechard for keeping it real. (Better pictures, worse article here)

Local is local, after all. Does terrior matter or doesn't it?

It would appear that Chef Bechard is involved in another venture, Thistle. Looks like he's trying to make it happen all within McMinville.

From the article

A year ago he opened a restaurant called Thistle, 40 miles southwest,in the rich agricultural and winemaking region surrounding McMinnville.

Mr. Bechard says his goal is to eventually run the restaurant solely with food from surrounding Yamhill County. Every local connection he makes and every local dollar he spends, he believes, strengthens his ties to the economic and political future of the place he lives. He says that kind of a commitment makes a place, any place, better.

McMinnville...sleepy little agricultural town energized by the wine economy...chef trying to source from local growers...Sound familiar?

In other news, the sleepy little agricultural town of Healdsberg has been energized by the food economy, and is now on equal footing with Napa and Sonoma as a destination. That's because food drives development. True or false?

"Then the food revolution came to town." It says so right there in the article.

Rich people will go into a bad neighbourhood for a good meal, again and again and again. Then, before you know it, that neighbourhood isn't "bad" any more. I saw it happen in North/North East Portland. I saw it happen in the East Village as well.

Crazy that...

Pea's & Carrots

So for lunch today, Ruby trout was the protein of choice. An easy choice really as it is really quite delicious. Thanks to John at Codfather's in Kelowna for supplying us with the most beautiful fish. It's hard to get anything for quality fish in the South Okanagan, so it's great to have John and his team go the extra mile, literally, to get us the best quality.

Finally some of the heartier produce is coming in the back door at the restaurant. The heat (38c) has really brought a lot of things to maturity. Some of the first things to come in were some beautiful shelling peas and some oh so sweet carrots. Pea's and carrots, doesn't get much better than that.

For the peas I made a soup out of them. First making a pea stock with the shells. Then pureeing blanched peas into the stock. This intensifies the pea flavor and gives it a vibrant green color. I used that liquid along with some fresh peas and chevre it make a risotto.

For the carrot, which I got a lot of questions about from guests wondering what I did to make them taste so great, nothing. All I did was put them in a pot with vegetable stock, about 1/3 the amount of carrots, a knob of butter and a little salt. Bring them to a boil while covered and cook until tender, then puree. This is, in my opinion, the only way to do a vegetable puree. Then reason people loved it so much is because it tasted like a carrot and only a carrot.

Garnished the plate with a little jullienne of radish and some micro greens.

It doesn't get much more July 10th than that in Osoyoos. Food in the door and on to your plate. Gotta love it. Sean Peltier

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My first try at bagels

So I finally decided to try bagels. What was really interesting and not funny ha ha but funny peculiar was that bagels are not very challenging at all. So why? Why oh why do we buy these insulting mass produced bagels for 4 dollars a bag full of ingredients I have never heard of and call them bagels?
I assure you my friend, that they are not in fact bagels.

step one:
wrap my head around the idea that bagels can be made by hand at home and not cause my day off to become yet another day of work.

This is a pic of my little Bro Michael kneading his first bagel dough. He is 15 years young. When I was 15 I never knew you could get a bagel that didn't come from a plastic bag.

Bagel dough being weighed to be cut into balls to be shaped.

Sean our bagel "guru" teaching Michael how to roll out bagel dough into those familiar shapes we all know and love.

here are the little ones ready to go in the fridge over night to be boiled and baked in the morning

bagels boiling. I boil mine for 3 minutes so they are extra chewy.

Post Boil, Post seeded, and Pre oven stage.

Here they are. The finished product.

I must say that I am very happy that I took the bagel plunge. I will never...I repeat! NEVER! Never buy bagels from a super market as long as i live. I do not mind buying them from a local baker, but good luck! How many times have you walked into a bakery and actually seen a bagel like the ones above, and trust me I am not bragging. I didn't do much, it's all in the method, in the dough. Trust your dough!
Bagel maker 5000 out!

Halibut Feature

For my dinner feature on Wednesday July 7th:
I ran Pan seared Haida Gwaii Halibut
Morel mushroom, local pea and truffle risotto
Pea and mint Nage
It came out quite nice once I got help with the plating and such (from Sean).
At first I put preserved lemon in the risotto but I gave a taste test to a colleague and he mentioned that the preserved lemon and the truffle oil canceled each other out, being that they are two very strong, very distinct flavors. So I omitted the preserved lemon and the pea came out a lot better, as well as the truffle oil. Also, I found with using truffle oil not to use too much as it is quite powerful, not to mention costly.
All and all I was quite happy with it, and since we did not sell out me thinks I will run it again tonight.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Goat Cheese Trifecta?

Thanks to other motivated cooks that I have been around since moving to the Osoyoos, cheese has become a bit of an interest. Well, cheese itself has always interested my pallet. What I mean to say is that making cheese has become an interest.

Now, I have only ventured into a few different areas of the cheese making world. I suppose that the first fermented milk item that most cooks learn to make is Creme Fraiche. From there I went to yogurt. That leap took about 8yrs. So for me, the world of cheese has always been looked at from afar. However, once I was talked into making yogurt a month or so ago by a wonderful friend in Oliver, the wheels were set into motion. I can not and will not claim to be any sort of expert or even a reliable source of information for making cheese. This is merely an early attempt at becoming a good cheese maker.

For many cheeses you will need to invest some serious time and money into the production and safe storage needed to make aged cheeses. Lucky for us there are all sorts of cheeses that can be made and eaten immediately. what I tried to do was make chevre, feta and goats ricotta all with the same batch of goats milk. How is this possible? Let me explain.

From the goats milk it is easy to get the chevre, once you have chevre you can press it for a good long time, squeezing out as much of the whey as possible, you can brine that pressed chevre in salted whey to make feta. With the remaining whey(just like making cows milk ricotta from whey left over from mozza production) it should be possible to coax the remaining milk solids out of the whey to make the goats ricotta. Seems simple enough.

To start I took 2L of goats milk and heated it up to 86F then wisked in about a tbsp of buttermilk and took off the heat to cool. About an hour or so later I added half a tab of dissolved rennet, wisked, covered and let sit overnight. In the morning I awoke to a solid mass of curds and a bunch of whey.

Now you slice the curds by going across, then down, then diagonal, then diagonal in the other direction.

Let the curd sit for 15 or so minutes then gently stir them up with a very clean hand and arm.

Pour the curds and whey into a strainer lined with cheese cloth or J cloths or even a fine rag. Let most of the whey drain out, then tie and hang for 4 or more hours, or until no liquid is dripping. This can be done out at room temperature or in the fridge if you have the space.

Once the curds have been strained you can dump them out into a bowl and season lightly with salt. If you want your chevre it be a little on the moister side you are done right here. If you want have a firmer, drier chevre and you also want to make some feta, you will need to press the curds.

Have fun inventing your cheese press. It took a while for me to get this one working properly, its easy enough though. Anyhow, press the cheese and continually drain the whey. Once there is very little whey coming out your good to go.

Turn out your cheese and enjoy your chevre. I took half of it, cut it into a few blockish pieces and then used them for feta.

For the feta, take the whey and make a brine with it. The brine must be acidic(accomplished by letting it sit out overnight in the first stage) or the cheese will melt in the whey. It must also be salty(12.5%). For the 300ml of whey I used to brine, there was 2.5tbsp of salt in it. The longer you brine the feta, the drier and crumblier it gets.

As for the ricotta, I tried my best and did get some ricotta. However, because of the small volume of whey I had to work with and the even smaller amount of milk solids in that whey, my total yield of ricotta was about 3tsp. Bummer. The ricotta is simple though. Heat the whey up to 180F and hold it there for about 20min, then add a little lemon juice and vinegar. Shut off the heat and let it cool, then strain through cheese cloth. Hey, ricotta. You can do this same process with milk in order to get a much higher yield.

So, all in all I think the experiment was a success. All three cheeses are tasty, the feta will only get better as it sits in brine. Now that I've made the first blog step how about someone who actually knows a little bit more gets on here and gives me some tips.