Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the gourmet series

yesterday was the last class in the gourmet series that we ran this summer.
Chef Candice Butler dug through magazines from the 40's up to the 70's to find some recipes that could still reflect the way we cook today...

the main attraction last night was a rolled and stuffed chicken. my guess is that Candice chose this dish as she was still dreaming of an incredible lamb dish that we had at Castlegarth last year - yes, truly unforgettable.

but let's start from the beginning.

the amuse

so lovely. i would eat a whole bowl of these as i am playing croquet.
delicate radishes with whipped butter and maldon salt.

and i just couldn't resist picturing these vegetables

the small courgettes, i believe, were poached in chicken stock before roasting. something apparently all housewives did!! Gourmet said so.

et la pièce de résistance...

rolled chicken with ham, salami, olives, hard boiled egg... and probably so much more! i love the jelly cubes...


Monday, August 24, 2009

Toronto, part 2. Food and Wine Classic.

The main reason for our trip to Toronto was the Food and Wine Classic.

It was held in the historical Distillery District, each restaurant hosting a different Ontario region: of course, we represented Ottawa.

This was the first Canadian event of it's size to be so eco-friendly: each guest was handed a wine glass to save and reuse during the evening, all 'disposables' were sustainable. No garbage cans that evening, only special bins that held all used biodegradable dishes and flatware.

Recipes and food items to be showcased (Le Coprin Mushrooms, Alpenblick Farm, Suntech tomatoes) were first chosen by our resident chef, Candice Butler.

The supplier info and detailed recipes were sent to chef Eric Pless (executive chef of The Boiler House, Archeo & Pure Spirits), his team then prepared all the food and we just had to come in, taste, adjust seasonings and enjoy the evening!

I have to admit that I was immensely impressed by the whole organisation...
Here are a group of people who have never done such 'events' and pull it off with ease and grace. It was huge, thousands of invites, hundreds of people walking in and out of restaurants, staff out of their comfort zones and interacting with a very hungry and thirsty crowd!

Chef Eric Pless handing out lamb skewers with salsa verde & polenta with wild mushroom ragoût

This is something we do on a weekly basis. Interact, answer questions, smile, customize. But for restaurant staff, who all have their routine, this is different.

Here is chef Kyle MacNeil (one of ours!) with a Pure Spirits sous-chef-master-oyster-shucker!

Kyle was totally in his element, interacting with all the passers-by, working his maritimer charm!! From this station, they served chilled gazpacho with a lime and cilantro cream & some crunchy corn + smoked chicken fritters with ancho chili sauce.

It was a great opportunity for us to discover new products:

maple sugar on a stick, yippee!

...and to reconnect with old friends:

devilishly tempting cheese plates that Gurth Pretty was serving

We had to have a glass of wine to end the evening and found the most beautiful spot. The architecture and design of The Boiler House left us speechless...

...well, it didn't end there. No real kitchen people would end the evening without late night snacks!!! Chef Eric joined us for Moo Shoo pork, spare ribs, lemon chicken...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Toronto, part 1. Other people's food!

We recently were invited to the Food and Wine Classic in Toronto.
Being the foodies that we are, we took pictures of our food highlight.

Gilead Café

This was my second venture into a Jamie Kennedy location. I had the immense pleasure to share a communal table (and drinks, stories, laughs!) with friends and strangers during our last stop in Toronto for Terroir.

Just a few steps from the Distillery District, this café is dedicated to sourcing local food ingredients (as are all Jamie Kennedy locations), has beautiful light and friendly service.

And this was a heavenly lunch.

We started off by sharing a heirloom tomato plate

The tomatoes, we were told, came from Jamie's garden.
so. full. of. flavor.
The arugula was crunchy and peppery, the light buttermilk dressing just perfect.
We all looked at one another as we savoured our first bites, the best of summer.

We absolutely had to indulge: fries with fried thyme.

Golden delicious! No need for the mayo, the cup was still full when we finished!

Kyle had a roast beef sandwich, not one crumb left.

Carley had a smoked trout salad (and we all tasted! The trout was fabulous... just smokey enough.)

And I had a chicken and rosemary tartine. Skipped the picture on that one, sorry. Ate too quickly. Well seasoned organic chicken, green olives and home pickles all mixed in with a garlicky red pepper vinaigrette.

If you ever are in the area, this is one place to stop for lunch. Some menu items change daily, all are reasonably priced and the portions were just right. If you are lucky enough to stay somewhere that has a fridge, you can buy some extra treats to bring home and enjoy later. That day they had smoked fish, beet salad, meat pies, potato gratin - all was so appetizing and conveniently 'cryovacked' for easy transport.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

how to prepare a smoke pouch

We had great fun on Tuesday night for the Grill Cuts class!!!

It is always a treat to have chef Jenna Durling in the Studio, the proof is that she has quite a following! Guests did a bee-line to thank her after the class, I found that pretty sweet.

Jenna taught everyone how to do a smoke pouch.

First you need to soak your wood chips for about 1 hour.
You may stick to one type of wood or pick two that complement one another.

Take out the grills from one section of your BBQ. This is where you will drop your pouch (or pouches). Preheat the BBQ. Light only one side for indirect grilling.

To prepare the pouch:
You will need two layers of tin foil.
Lay them out on a flat surface.
In the middle of the foil, put two handfulls of soaked chips.

Then add some dry ones.

Fold over the pouch.

Poke some holes.

Open the BBQ and drop your pouches directly on the fire source on high heat. Close the BBQ and let it fill with smoke. Then simply smoke your meat on the opposite side.

Take into consideration that it is indirect cooking, so your cuts will need to cook longer... This is ideal for tougher cuts of meat or brined meats.

We had delicious Slow Smoked Turkey Legs (and marinated flank steak, and pork belly, and bison, and elk, and wild boar and...). Needless to say that we had full tummies, but still enough room for a chocolate ricotta cheesecake!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

pasta making, but mostly eating.

week three of kids camp.

making pasta is fun
...tasting the difference is quite the discovery!