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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another Sublime Experience

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of being the guest chef with a fine group of gentlemen from Les Marmitons. There are few such rewarding and delightful experiences as a chef as sharing in culinary learning and discovery with such a positive group of people. What follows are the recipes from that menu. Due to the presence of a Les Marmitons guest from their first club chapter, we wanted to focus on Manitoba products. For people interested in the recipes outside of the Manitoba area, feel free to contact me for substitution ideas. Photos are coming soon. Some of these recipes are for 20 people.

I wish that you all will be able to have the Friendship to Gastronomy experience. Enjoy!

1. Chilled Roasted Beet Soup

4-5 large Beets
1 head roasted garlic
1 large yellow onion, medium chopped
2-3 tbs good olive oil
1/4 cup champagne or sherry vinegar
1/2 - 2/3 cup orange juice
2-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

On a hot BBQ or in oven, roast peeled beets wrapped in foil until soft, turning to prevent burning. Roast garlic at the same time.

In a large skillet or soup pot, sauté onion in olive oil on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add cut up beets and squeeze out garlic into pot. Sauté until vegetables have softened. Add soup stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. If using golden beets, use white pepper.

Remove soup from heat and add orange juice and vinegar. Using an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. When soup has cooled, chill in refrigerator at least over night. Top with a dollop of Creme Frâiche and sprinkle with a few threads of saffron.

2. One Bite Pickerel Cheeks on Potato Pancakes

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 onion, shredded
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour or maztah meal
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)

Pickerel cheeks and vermouth or your favourite clear liquor.
Olive Oil
S & P
Crème Fraiche
Golden Caviar

Mix potato pancake ingredients together and fry in pancake size in a little olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and using cookie cutters, cut bite sized pieces from the pancake.
Sauté pickerel cheeks and deglaze with vermouth.

Top each latke bite with a pickerel cheek, crème fraiche and golden caviar. Each bite was served on a Chinese style soup spoon.

3. Arctic Char with sautéed morels wrapped in phyllo topped with a savory Saskatoon berry sauce

2 boxes Phyllo pastry sheets
Arctic Char Filets
1/4 case morels
1lb butter
Salt and pepper

For the Sauce:
2 cups Saskatoon berries
1/2 cup chopped Shallots
2-3 Tbs. Butter
pinches of thyme, rosemary, summer savory
Salt and pepper
1 tbs Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup port

Sauté morels in 1-2 tbs butter with 1-2 tbs olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Deglaze with a good splash of vermouth. Set aside and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Moisten a large tea towel and place damp over thawed sheets of phyllo. For each filet of Arctic Char, use 2-3 sheets. Have melted butter ready to brush onto phyllo. Place filet on phyllo topped with sautéed morels. Fold phyllo over to make a small bundle. Place on baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes, when pastry is golden brown.

In a saucepan, soften chopped shallots in butter. Add berries, herbs and salt and pepper. When cooking softly, add mustard and blend in well. Add port and allow to cook down slightly. Adding more butter at this point can help to thicken sauce.

4. Elk Kebabs in a Turkish marinade on Couscous pilaf and sautéed fiddleheads in brown butter and pancetta

Elk Roast, cut into cubes and pounded
1-2 medium onions
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or grated
3-4 tomatoes
1 tbs oregano
2 cups dry red wine
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp chilies
1 tbs chopped rosemary
salt and pepper

Pound meat cubes. In a large non-metallic bowl, grate onions and tomatoes. Mix in remaining ingredients and immerse meat into marinade. Skewer meat and grill until cooked but tender.

Couscous Pilaf
3 cups couscous
2 onions, chopped
1 cup almond slices
Healthy pinch saffron
1/4 cup warm milk
3-4 tbs olive oil
4-5 cups water or stock
Options: 1 cup frozen peas, 1/2 cup soaked raisins

In a large pot, sauté chopped onions in olive oil over medium heat. Add dry couscous, almond, and other options. Stir until couscous is coated. Add water or stock and saffron with warm milk. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and turn off heat. After 5 minutes, loosen couscous with fork.

Fiddlehead Ferns with Brown Butter and Pancetta

One of the special treats of spring are fiddlehead ferns, which grow wild along mossy stream banks. They are simply the immature leaf fronds of ostrich fern plants that have not yet opened. Fern leaves are poisonous once they open and can only be enjoyed in this early stage, when they taste like a cross between artichokes and asparagus.

After a fiddlehead is removed from the stalk, the cut end starts to turn brown. Be sure to trim back the stem (about 1/4 inch) to the healthy green section before cooking.

Kosher salt
3 pounds fiddle head ferns, trimmed and washed
1/4 lb chopped pancetta
6 tablespoons brown butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large pot bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice water. Drop the fiddleheads into the pot and cook for 1 minute. Drain the fiddleheads in a colander, then submerge in the ice water until completely cool. Let the fiddleheads drain well in a colander and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to dry.
2. Slowly brown butter in a large skillet. Bring up to higher temperature and cook chopped pancetta.
3.Heat for a minute or two until they are warm, then divide the fiddleheads among the plates. Serve at once with kebabs and couscous.

5. Raspberry Curd Pavlova

4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180ºF.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Don't overbeat!
Yield: 1 cup

Raspberry Curd:
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs. butter
2 large eggs

Using a bain marie (mixing bowl over pot of ~ 1-2 cups simmering boil water), melt butter. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, eggs and raspberries. Whisk into melted butter and continue mixing until custard texture. Remove from heat and let cool. Use over whipped cream on pavlova.