Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Taste of Talent...

So, apparently I have fallen behind in my self imposed weekly blog post. What can I say? Life got in the way! You can take comfort in the fact that I had a fantastic break! A bit of spring skiing and mountain biking in the great state of Vermont.The end of the vacation found us smack in the middle of charity food events. With "Wine and Roses" behind us, The "Grand Tastings" and "The Katie's House "Sock Hop" http://http//www.katieshouse.org/ still to come, the first day back was "A Taste of Talent" to benefit Project Self Sufficiency. I really enjoy doing most of these events. It's a chance to meet new customers and connect with colleagues, enjoy some good food and drink and of course support the cause. I say "most" because occasionally we are not treated as well as you would expect by the event organizers. But I'll save that rant for another day. The Taste of Talent is one of my favorite events mostly because of the people, both restauranteurs and attendees. The tricky part this year was to pull off a tasting for about 450 guests on the first day back, with empty refrigerators and no staff. The no staff thing was a decision to let everyone have as long a break as possible. I would do all the prep myself. Nothing a little planning couldn't take care of. Before we left for vacation I decided to do a cured salmon dish, or Lox. A quick call to http://www.peronafarms.com/ to make sure they weren't serving their world renowned smoked salmon, and Kirk gave me the go ahead. I asked my Sous Chef to meet the fish guy and cure the salmon while we were off. Not more than an hour or two out of one of his days off and he can know that he, helped the cause, if you will. So with that taken care of I felt pretty confident that I would be able to pull off a nice dish. Cured Salmon, maybe a potato pancake and some sour cream, a little fresh dill for garnish. Well as you can imagine these things tend to evolve, and with a week away from the restaurant the evolution can be pretty dramatic. Whenever I put a dish together I like to make sure that in addition to the main item there is some type of starch and vegetable included. The guys at the restaurant always tease me when we do an event like this because I tend to add what they consider to be a few to many components. So I tried to keep the vision pure and simple. The potato pancake turned into a blini (still a pancake of sorts) but, then I was enjoying some strained Greek yogurt one day and thought that it would compliment the fish nicely in place of the sour cream. To incorporate the vegetable I thought cucumber would be a nice fresh addition, but why not dice it and stir it into the yogurt to streamline the plating. Well, with some mint, cilantro and seasoning the cucumber yogurt would become "Raita" a middle eastern condiment. Sounds great, but now my potato blini seemed culturally out of place. The recipe for blini that I like to use comes directly from Thomas Keller's http://www.frenchlaundry.com/ Cookbook. What if I substituted pureed chickpeas for the potato? I could cook them at the event and they would round out the dish Perfectly. So there you have it, Cured Salmon with Chickpea Blini and Cucumber Raita. I paired it with a "Garden Martini" ( the martini costs $5 which we donated back to the cause) It consisted of Kettle One Vodka, Kettle One Citron, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueurhttp://www.stgermain.fr/, Cucumber, Mint, and Cilantro, shaken with a little egg white and fresh lime. MMMMM...

Welcome Back!!!

Cured Salmon

1 pound fresh King Salmon Fillet

make a mix of 1 part sugar to 2 parts kosher salt

cover the fish liberally with this mixture, about 1/4 c per pound

add some seasoning. Fresh herbs or shallots are nice. The salt will

carry the flavors into the fish. Cover with plastic and top with some weight,

a gallon of milk works nicely. Put this in the coldest part of your fridge

and let marinate for 3-4 days. Give the fish a rinse and slice as

thinly as possible. Left unsliced the fish should last for at least a week in the fridge

Cucumber Raita

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded

1 cup strained Greek yogurt

fresh mint, fresh cilantro

cumin and coriander toasted and ground

salt, pepper, Tabasco

season the cucumber with salt and let drain in a colander for 6 hours

then stir together with the yogurt and seasonings. I like this to be a cooling

element on the palate however it's also good with some jalapeno pepper.

Chickpea Blini

1 pound chickpeas pureed

2 tablespoons flour

2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

salt, pepper, cumin

again, this recipe is borrowed from Chef Keller with only minor changes.

combine the ingredients and cook like pancakes. about 3 dz.

Garden Martini

equal parts

Kettle One Vodka

Kettle One Citron

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

egg white

shaken with muddled cucumber, mint, cilantro, and fresh lime

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