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Friday, May 18, 2007

From Gastronomy to Friendship

I had the great pleasure on Wednesday evening to be the guest chef for a fine group of gentlemen, the local chapter of Les Marmitons (see link). Our menu for the evening was:

1. Bison Tenderloin Carpaccio (see recipe and image from March 20th blog entry)
2. Crab Cones (see recipe and image from April 12th blog entry)
3. Moroccan Vegetable Tajine with Bulgur Timbales (see recipe and image from Feb. 6, 2006 blog entry and recipe follows)
4. Morel Mushroom Soufflé (Recipe to follow)
5. Kerala Shrimp (see recipe and image from March 26th blog entry)

They divided into teams, each responsible for one recipe from start to finish. We then sat to dine on each course, one course at a time and enjoy a matching wine. The team leader then discussed the making and plating of the dish and the guest chef then gives comments.

The camaraderie of the group was delightful and their skills ranged from beginner to accomplished Red Seal Chefs. Perhaps that is why the cooperation and good feelings of the group left such an great impression. It was truly an honour to be part of this event.

(photo courtesy of Les Marmitons)
1.Morel Mushroom Soufflé

5 eggs separated
3 tbs butter
1/2 cup flour
1 scant cup milk
Salt and Pepper
1/4 + tsp grated nutmeg

1 cup mushrooms (options are morels, button, shitake, oyster, crimini or combination of any)
1-2 tbs butter
salt and pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional - almonds)
splash(es) of vermouth
drizzle truffle oil

(Save some morels whole for sautéing and garnish of soufflés in ramekins)

Preheat oven to 400º. Butter and flour a soufflé dish. In a metal bowl over a saucepan with boiling water (1/4-1/2 inch water), make a basic bechamel sauce by whisking butter and flour together in bowl and adding the milk. Whisk until thickened, removing from heat as needed to prevent lumps or separating. Add salt and pepper and nutmeg. Stir in blended mushrooms and blended egg yolks. Beat egg whites to a stiff peak and fold in to the cheese sauce. Pour into soufflé dish and bake for 30 minutes. (less time for individual soufflés) Serve immediately.

(photo courtesy of Les Marmitons)

2. Vegetable Tagine with Bulgur Pilaf
(see top photo)
2 red peppers
3-4 carrots
1 head garlic cloves
1-2 Japanese eggplants (or 1 large globe eggplant)
1-2 yams
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup olives
1/2 pickled lemon RIND ONLY
2-3 tbs olive oil
2-3 tbs Ras el Hanout
splash rose water
1 tbs turmeric
salt and pepper and some water

2 cups bulgur
1 onion
2 tbs. olive oil
1/3 sliced almonds
1/2 cupAfghani Tut
good pinch Saffron in a few tablespoons milk
3 cups Water
salt and pepper

Thinly slice eggplant and salt if necessary. Seed and chop peppers into medium sized pieces. Peel and slice carrots. Slice onions into thin slices. Peel garlic and cut into large chunks if cloves are very large or keep whole if smaller sized. Peel and cube yams. Pit dates and olives if necessary. Remove lemon flesh from the peel and chop peel finely. Discard lemon flesh. Combine vegetables, dates, olives, lemon, olive oil , Ras el Hanout, rose water, turmeric, salt and pepper and about 1/4 cup of water in a large bowl. If you have salted the eggplant, rinse in cold water and squeeze out slices. Place vegetable mixture in a casserole dish or tajine. Cover and cook on stove top over medium heat, checking and stirring occasionally.

For the bulgur, slice onions thinly and sauté in olive oil until just browned. Add bulgur and mix in well with onions. Add water, almonds, tut, and salt and pepper. When it comes to a boil, add the milk/saffron mixture. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Fluff bulgur and plate as timbales with vegetable tagine.



Paper cones to wrap the wonton wrappers around are available at the Great Canadian Wholesaler on Ellice and Route 90 in Winnipeg. Pickled lemon, Ras el Hanout, rose water and many other spices are available at Halal Meat Centre & Specialty Foods at 206 Maryland St and Dino's Grocery Mart at 460 Notre Dame Avenue. Ras el Hanout will be available in the first week of June.