Saturday, February 28, 2009

James Beard Dinner Menu Course 2

Tonight we finalized the 3rd course of the Beard Dinner, no you didn't miss course 2,we decided to test this dish first as we had some Hudson Valley duck we had to use up.
This dish will be paired with Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2006.

The dish is as follows:a play on bacon and eggs

House smoked duck breast wrapped around Great Hill blue cheese(MA)
Edible Merlot in 2 forms fluid gel & gelee
Rye crouton
Egg yolk cooked at 64c fro 30 minutes( we will be using duck egg for the dinner)
Great hill blue "air"
Sherry vinegar dressed micro beet greens

Next Week, Guinea Hen Loin, spring peas, lavender, soy milk

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Veal Cheek & Truffle Ravioli

I was supposed to be putting together a spring dish for the new menu coming up in a few weeks. As Justin was braising the veal cheeks I noticed we still had a beautiful Winter Truffle from one of last weeks dishes, so the truffle center of my brain took over.
After braising the veal cheeks, straining out the veg and pulsing the meat with some of the braised veg, I loaded up with some truffle juice, and some of the truffle peelings from the juice.

The pasta is a very basic pasta dough recipe, but has never failed me, especially for ravioli, where the sheet needs to be thin enough to not have a mouthful of pasta but sturdy enough to handle the filling.

3 eggs
aprox 2 cups flour
pinch of Maine Sea Salt
2 tbl Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
standard pasta making technique applies

I stuffed the raviolis with the veal cheek mixture in our "old school" ravioli maker. And yes the picture is me hand cranking the dough.

The sauce, a combination of the veal cheek braising liquid, butter, salt & pepper. I tossed in some English peas, I was still going to add at least a touch of spring to the dish, some peppery micro arugula from Wards Berry Farm, a healthy portion of the fresh black winter truffle and finished with some Duardo Spanish Extra Virgin oil.

Spring? not totally, but damn good!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jamon Serrano

Current Charcuterie Plate at Tastings

Iberico "pata negra" Jamon

There is nothing more Spanish than the jamón serrano. This country ham is a national treasure shared in Spain by all walks of life. Serrano is cured for at least a year, it has a much deeper flavor firmer texture than Italian prosciutto.

Serrano is more than a delicacy in Spain; it is a normal part of every family’s life.
Serrano is a flavorful, natural ham, cured in the country air. This extended curing transforms the ham, imparting a deep flavor and aroma. This lengthy curing also means it has much less fat and has a much firmer bite than Italian prosciutto.
We use a "reserve" serrano that has been aged for 18 months in the Spanish mountain air. We are currently featuring this jamon as our charcuterie dish, a little manchengo and membrillio(quince paste) and your instantly transported to Spain.

One of the reasons for posting a bit on the Jamon that I love so much is the recent change in the laws,About 2 years ago, Iberico hams, the most gourmet of Spanish jamones, were first sold in the United States. They arrived with black hooves on—a symbol of Spanish hospitality and a guarantee of Iberico authenticity.

Now after a USDA ruling effective January 2009, all hams will arrive without the black hoof. And on top of that, the ruling added a punitive 100% tariff on all bone-in Iberico hams, which will double the price of any delivered after March 2009. A $1,400 ham will now set you back $2,800.
Iberico hams start with pigs who gorge themselves on acorns in the Spanish forest meadows, giving them a deep olive like and nutty flavor. Unlike the pink pig, the Iberico's hooves are normally black, hence the "pata negra."

Its a shame that this delicacy will no longer be something that is reasonably priced ($1400 is well worth every penny)and even if you do spend the $2800, the excitement of seeing the black hoof is gone. Why does the govt. get involved with these type of things? Aren't there much bigger fish to fry these days?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Round 1:Course 1

As promised here are the first shots of the testing for the first course for the JBF dinner. Right now Nantucket bay scallops are not leaving the island, I have talked to almost every major seafood supplier in Boston and they are not even getting a constant stream, one gallon here a 100 live there, its a crap shoot really.
So luckily I found a scallop guy who will be supplying us for the beard dinner, but in the mean time and for the initial tests we are using a dry 40/60 count New Bedford Scallop. Not as sweet but just as fresh and the quality was superb.

The ingredients for round 1 include:

Seared Scallops"Ceviche Dressing"
(deconstructed components of a ceviche marinade)/ Fresh Black Truffles
1. Meyer Lemon Fluid Gel
2. Dehydrated Onion( 6-8 hours @ 120F in the dehydrator) no browning, just a nice light full flavored onion crisp
3. Cilantro "chips" ( layered between two sheets of food grade plastic wrap, lightly brushed with oil and microwaved for 1-2 minutes until very crisp, then dehydrated for about an hour) Honestly I think that a fried cilantro leaf is better suited for this dish.
4. Piquillo pepper sauce( we started with red jalapeno, but it was not the right pairing for the Duckhorn 2005 Savignon Blanc) HELLO spicy food sav blanc???? Sometimes the chef takes over) but the piquillo pepper really worked well.
5. Fresh julienne of Black Truffles
6. We used Extra Virgin Olive Oil Powder(Duardo Spanish EVOO)but decided this was too much, we will just finish the dish with a nice drizzle of this great oil.
6. Corn Nuts (not pictured) the corn nut crumble will be PERFECT! this dish is well balanced but very sweet, I think this late addition will add more crunch and a nice savory element to the dish.

All in all I think this is going to be a great first course, some minor tweaks this week and thats that!

Next weeks dish Round 2:
House Smoked Hudson Valley Duck Breast
edible merlot, great hill blue cheese foam, rye crisps

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Foie Gras Tourture?

Foie Gras/Pistachio Granola/Vanilla Balsamic/Pickled Raspberries
served on Tastings opening menu

A must read article on the HUMANE practices of one American Foie Gras farm. I support Hudson Valley Foie Gras and have for quite some time. If you are not a foie gras "lover" or supporter I respect your decisions and reasoning's. But I would like to share what this reporter found out about this farm in particular.
One of the servers at Tastings, who historically is opposed to and visibly disturbed by some of the food items we bring in and serve, sent me the link to this article.
Her comment to me, was that after reading this piece, she feels much more comfortable with serving foie gras, as long as we are using a farm with practices like the one in said article, like we do. All of the duck product and all our protiens I use is certified humane, free range product.
I believe we are all entitled to our own beliefs, but I also strongly believe that you need to understand the WHOLE story before you pass judgment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wine & Food: My Way

Rioja Wine, Wood Grilled Pork Belly & Fresh Baked Baguette, one of the best lunches I have ever had!

I consider this the proper way to drink wine, the Spanish Way!

As the chef at Tastings having a love affair with wine is inevitable. My wine knowledge is constantly evolving.I am a rum drinker at heart, followed by a perfectly poured Stella Artois and being from the Boston area an occasional Bud Light passes these lips.But a love of wine is growing deeper with each day that passes.

Many people are intimidated when it comes to talking about wine, including myself, probably due to a fear of being judged "wrong". But as a chef I have no problem discussing what my senses are experiencing. I look at the wine in the glass, swirl it, put the glass to my nose and sniff, you ll probably see me close my eyes and what I'm doing is using my food memories, as I swirl the wine around my palette and inhale I'm trying my best to better analyze the wine.

One of my favorite things to do is participate in a blind tasting(unknown wines are sampled and people attempt to identify each one) although I am not an expert at telling you what it might be, I am becoming pretty successful at telling what its NOT, a great tool to help me focus on what the wine might be. And I always do these in the presence of professionals in the wine trade. By doing this I have been able to discuss, learn and establish my likes & dislikes. I find that trying to do it on your own is impossible, and being able to build relationships with people who really understand the wine world has helped me increase my knowledge quickly.

Now when I develop a dish I am beginning to think about how wine will be enhanced with each course. Developing the ability to pair food and wine to compliment each other has taken me to a different level of cooking than I was at 3-4 years ago.
One thing I want to stress is that food and wine pairing is solely a matter of your own taste preferences. I focus on whether the combination will please my palette and not what the "experts" might say.I also don't care about label and price. If its a good pairing its a good pairing, simple as that. I recently bought a bottle of an Israeli wine for $8, 2005 Noah Gideon Cabernet Savignon, let me tell you that this was by far one of the best Cabs I have ever tried.

Believe me when I tell you that there are a lot of wine lovers out there that will always sound pretentious when they are talking about what they are tasting.Robert Mondavi once said "I like wines that are easy to drink and not so damn serious". I think I feel the same way.

Monday, February 16, 2009

James Beard Dinner Menu Course 1

The picture above is a poster hanging in the middle of the city of Logrono in Spains Rioja Region. A Truffle Festival! we definitly need one of those festivals Boston !

Just finished a great weekend at Tastings..Valentines Day Pre Fixe menu sold well,and the new Wagyu Beef dish is just flying out of the kitchen. Now its on to developing the dishes we will serving at the James Beard House.I will be posting a course every week, (with pictures.... I promise)and let you all follow the development of our dishes for the dinner. This week the dish we are focusing on is our first course.

Nantucket Bay Scallops w/ Meyer Lemon "Ceviche" Dressing and Winter Black Truffles.
Everyone keeps asking us what "ceviche dressing" is, Matt and I like to keep things under out hat for a while, actually we have an idea, but no clue what it is or how its going to turn out, we just put it in parenthesis.

We have decided that we will deconstructing a classic Peruvian ceviche marinade.
-Meyer Lemon "leche de tigre" Fluid Gel
-Dehydrated Red Onion
-Rocoto(Andean chili)air
-Micro cilantro
-Seared Nantucket Bay Scallops
-Fresh Black Truffles

We will be running this as a feature for the weekend, Ill get some pics posted asap...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No Kid Hungry

I have recently become a member of a group called Bogger Aid, a group of food bloggers uniting to aid in the alleviation of hunger. I am a huge supporter of helping to stamp out hunger, especially here in the USA.

Blogger Aid is developing a cookbook that will be a collaboration of recipes with full color photos from bloggers around the globe. I have submitted my recipe for Asparagus Soup w/ caviar ( one of the dishes being served at the James Beard House in April). 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will be donated to several organizations to help in the fight against hunger.

As a chef in a restaurant you see unbelievable amounts of food on a daily basis. Its a shame that many of the states in the USA do not allow restaurants to donate food that has not been eaten to food banks. Knowing that children in the USA, one of the most powerful countries in the world, are hungry is anything I can do to help Ill do. As I know more about the release date of the cook book Ill be sure to post it here.

Another great organization is Share Our Strength We are participating in Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation, presented by American Express, it is the nation’s largest and finest culinary benefit dedicated to making sure no kid in America grows up hungry.This years event is April 2nd at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.Help us make sure no kid in America grows up hungry.Also stay tuned for other Shore Our Strength events we will be holding at Tastings this coming year. We are going to be doing a wine tasting event during our series "Tuesday Tastings" where all the proceeds will be donated to SOS, and we are in the beginning stages of developing a wine dinner to help SOS this year!!!

Taste of the Nation Boston
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Hynes Convention Center
900 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02115

VIP: $135 in advance/$145 at the door - 5:30 - 9:00 pm
General: $85 in advance/$95 at the door - 6:30 - 9:00 pm

Eat, Drink, Make a Difference

100% of ticket sales from Taste of the Nation are granted to the most effective anti-hunger organizations working to end childhood hunger in America.

- 80% is granted to organizations here in Boston
- 17% is distributed to our international grant recipients
- 3% funds Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline program

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation is the nation’s premier culinary benefit dedicated to making sure no kid in America grows up hungry. Each spring, the nation's hottest chefs and mixologists donate their time, talent and passion at more than 45 events across the United States and Canada, with one goal in mind: to raise the critical funds needed to end childhood hunger. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $70 million.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dessert Menu

Lets be honest here, I'm not a pastry chef....I have been neglecting what could be the single most important part of the meal when a guest comes into the restaurant. The final course, dessert as most know it, is the last impression that a guest has when they leave. The savory meal as a whole can be the best meal they have ever eaten in their life, but if the dessert course was just OK....maybe the dessert course was horrible, guess what? that's the way a guest is going to finish the meal, that's the way a guest is going to remember their meal. Not exactly the lasting impression I was hoping for. It could very well be the deciding factor on coming back to your restaurant.

I have to say that I don't think that our current dessert menu is horrible, its just that its not outstanding....its not perfect, and its not consistent. I strive to achieve consistency and perfection with every plate that leaves the kitchen, but I have not been giving the same attention and respect to our desserts....until know.

Tomorrow we will release our new & much improved dessert menu, we will be taking on the production of these desserts in house and focusing our attention on making the desserts on our menu just as much of a priority as everything else on the menu. As usual we are blending some traditional with some not so traditional. Incorporating some visual aspects to our desserts that are not your usual suspects, and most important...flavor is outstanding, perfect...

Classic Crème Brulee
almond biscotti, fresh berries

Warm Chocolate Ganache Cake
liquid center, candied red beets, Tahitian vanilla bean gelato

Smoked Rosemary Goat Cheesecake
blackberry reduction, cracked black pepper tuile

Colombian dark chocolate, cinnamon gelato

Strawberry Chardonnay
Blackberry Cabernet
Blood Orange

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fine Estates From Spain Dinner

We have been asked to cook for the Fine Estates From Spain Dinner hosted by Jorge Ordonez,the human dynamo who imports Spain's biggest, deepest wine portfolio to the United States. We will be cooking this dinner at the 2009 Nantucket Wine Festival. The venue is called Great Wines in Grand Houses, a series of small exclusive and intimate dinners for 12-20 people in some of Nantucket's grandest mansions.
The date for our dinner is Friday May 15, 2009 at 7:00pm. The cost is $450.00 and tickets can be purchased by clicking here: NWF Fine Estates From Spain Dinner
We are developing the menu to submit for approval to Mr.Ordonez. A few of the dishes in the notebook so far are

Maine Lobster Consommé
liquid center queso manchengo spheres

147 Degree Poached Farm Egg & Caviar
cauliflower puree, marcona almond milk froth, foie gras powder

Vermont Spring Lamb Shank
morcilla blood sausage, morels, garbanzo beans

Once the menu is final and approved I will post here first!