Friday, July 31, 2009

Rabbit: The other white meat


(photo by Tiffany Smith)
Braised Rabbit/English Pea & Ricotta Ravioli/ Parm Broth/ Fresh Summer Truffles/Pea Shoot Salad

Rabbit you don't see it on many menus......its a shame. Here are some facts to maybe persuade you to think about adding it to your menu.

Fresh or frozen, rabbit meat is sold all year round. It can be used in most of the ways in which chicken is used. Like other lean meat, poultry, and fish, rabbit meat is a good source of high quality protein. The meat is fine grained and mild flavored. Rabbits sold in the United States for food are commonly crosses between New Zealand and Belgian varieties, imported Chinese rabbits, or Scottish hares.

Among meats, rabbit is a healthful choice. Agriculture Department statistics show that rabbit meat is lower in saturated fat than beef and pork and slightly lower in cholesterol than chicken. The breeds used for meat (commonly California, New Zealand or a cross of the two) are almost twice the size of typical pet rabbits.

We buy our Rabbits from D'Artagnan. Farms that sell rabbits to D'Artagnan must sign a policy that requires humane treatment and slaughter. The rabbits receive no antibiotics and a vegetarian diet.

How are Rabbit Products Commonly Labeled?

Fryer or young rabbit—the terms "fryer" or "young rabbit" refer to a rabbit weighing not less than 1 ½ pounds and rarely more than 3 ½ pounds, and less than 12 weeks of age. The flesh is tender, fine grained, and a bright pearly pink color. These rabbits may be cooked in much the same way as young poultry.

Roaster or mature rabbit—the terms "roaster" or "mature rabbit" refer to a mature rabbit of any weight, but usually over 4 pounds and over 8 months of age. The flesh is firm and coarse grained, and the muscle fiber is slightly darker in color and less tender. The fat may be more creamy in color than that of a fryer or young rabbit. The meat of larger rabbits may be tougher so the best methods of cooking are braising or stewing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ceviche


I find it hard to believe that after 2 years of writing this blog I haven't posted a thing about ceviche, my all time favorite dish to make and eat!

Ceviche is a form of citrus-marinated seafood, popular in Latin American countries. Both finfish and shellfish are used; finfish is typically used raw while shellfish is typically cooked before marinating.

There are so many variations and there is debate as to how it got its name
One hypothesis suggests that ceviche got its name from the Quechua word "siwichi." Another hypothesis suggests that the name is a cognate of the Spanish word "escabeche" (marinade), derived from the Arabic term "sikbaj." Yet another hypothesis suggests that its name comes from the word Cebo, the name given to the corvina fish.

Wherever it came from its by far the best single dish on the planet.

Yesterday we made two ceviches using the "scrap" (nothing is really scrap in our kitchen) but we take the cheeks, head meat, collar meat, belly and the little pieces of meat that is left between the bones of the fish when we fabricate portions out of it.

1. Black Ceviche (Nantucket Striper/Squid Ink/Roasted Jalapeno/Celery/Garlic/Shallot)
2. Tuna Ceviche (Yellow Fin/Shoyu/Ginger/Garlic/Red Onion/Black & White Sesame)

Both were marinated using an equal mix of lemon & lime juice, 3% granulated sugar and salt & pepper to taste.

Marination time varies. I enjoy ala minute mix & serve still preserving the raw texture. But as long as the fish doesn't begin to break down (trust me you can tell) I think anything up to but no more than 24 hours is fine. It really depends on what YOU like.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Seared Tuna Nicoise



In this video from How2Heros.com , I take you on a quick tour of Wards Berry Farm, then we head back to the Tastings kitchen to prepare my version of the Nicoise Salad using the produce we picked at the farm.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Carrots & Ginger


Tasting chefs de cuisine Matt Maue has started a blog of his own! My longtime friend and now right hand man debuts his diary of creations in our kitchen. His advantage of having a professional photographer as a girlfriend really gives him the edge when it comes to posting some bad ass photos. Make sure to put his blog on your list....
http://carrotsandginger.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Like it OR NOT

Sometimes the dishes you create that you think are going to be show stoppers just don't perform the way you wish they would. I was confident that some of our early summer dishes were hits.

Crispy Lamb Spare Ribs/Mashed Peas/Chocolate Mint Oil/Pea Shoot Salad
NOT.....

For some reason this one just didn't take off. I as thrilled to take the classic combination of Peas/mint & Lamb to another level. The lamb ribs were beautiful, falling off the bone, the mashed peas gave you a new take on hat a fresh pea is, and the crisp pea shoot salad...I mean I don't know what else to say. But no one was ordering. 3 here maybe 5 another night...

Our replacement for this dish so far so good!

Braised Domestic Rabbit/Sweet Pea & Sheeps Milk Ricotta Ravioli/Truffled Parmesan Broth/Pea Shoot Salad

The response has been great. Hopefully this bistro dish stands the test of time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

2009 Marthas Vineyard Wine & Food Festival

Come join me for “Divas Uncork the Cure” , a special 4-day celebration of education, wine, food, on Martha's Vineyard. Produced by Divas Uncorked, Inc., “Divas Uncork the Cure” will bring renowned wine experts and chefs together on August 6-9th and will offer a taste of signature culinary delights

The Divas have presented two highly successful wine and food festivals on Martha's Vineyard bringing together aficionados and novices alike to enjoy a weekend of "sipping and sampling".

On Saturday August 8th I will be paired with winemaker Maria Eugenia Baigorria of Mi Terruno Mendoza, Argentina for a night titled "The Art of Food & Wine".This event will be held at the Featherstone center for the arts in Oak Bluff.

I will be serving Native Lobster Ceviche in chilled Almond Gazpacho with Green Grapes & Toasted Almonds. The wine pairings are sure to be perfect!

For more information click on the title to be directed to the Divas web page.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How Local is our cuisine?


A lot of guests ask me, how local is your food? Many people still don't believe that great produce & meat can come from New England. Of course everyone knows that there is no better seafood on the planet than what we have here in the North Atlantic, but did you know chicken, beef, pork & lamb are plentiful and of very high quality?

Let me start by telling you that right now, July through October is the peak of the growing season here in New England. I would estimate that 95% of my fresh produce is coming from Massachusetts or Rhode Island. The other 5% is stretched between Pennsylvania(mushrooms) and New York.

Most of my produce is purchased from Wards Berry Farm in Sharon MA, or through an unbelievable program known as Market Mobile, a program developed by Farm Fresh Rhode Island to facilitate buying relationships between RI producers and business buyers and institutions.

Through Farm Fresh RI we also buy our pork(whole hogs or fabricated) beef(specialty cuts & ground) and milk & eggs.

Another Great program is Dole & Baily North East Family Farms, much the same concept as farm fresh RI, just on a much larger scale spanning the entire North East up into Maine & Vermont & New York, we are fortunate to be able to purchase our chickens (Misty Knoll or Organic Freebird) lamb products, pork, duck and rabbit.

I buy ALL my cheese from small New England Artisan Cheese Makers.Blythdale Farms VT, Boggymeadow Farm N.H., Narragansett Creamery R.I., Great Hill Blue Farm MA and Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. to name a few

All of this product is TRACKED back to the original farm it came from, making sure I know where EVERY piece of food I buy from these programs come from.

Lastly we have personal relationships with some small artisan producers including Round The Bend Farm(Hogs) Dartmouth MA, Evas Garden(the best herbs & greens on the planet) Dartmouth MA.

There are some products we bring in from further away, and I believe that sourcing out the very best product in the country and world and making sure that it is produced using sustainable methods. I think that there are many products that are just plain better than what I can find in the region or even the USA.
Piquillo peppers from New Jersey? come on! Or what about real fresh truffles? I know the truffles I buy are the best on the planet, if Oregon or Tennessee could produce a truffle like France or Italy, sign me up.
Look, I do my part because I want to support our local economy, I think 95% of my product that I buy locally is SUPERIOR to anywhere else in the country, but there are some things I make exceptions for. But I guarantee you that I do my homework, I know where my food comes from, how it is going to be packaged and shipped.

As leaders in the Haute Farm Cuisine movement I feel we go above and beyond people expectations when we tell them how local we really are with our food purchases.

Another blog to follow about our non food items and wine & beverage program.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Farm Tour with How2Heros.com

Monday I took the film crew for How2Heros out to the local farm we use for most of our produce. Wards Berry Farm, located in Sharon MA and about 2 miles from the restaurant grows just about everything you can grow in MA (except apples?!)I had a great time getting to show Jim Ward and his crew off to the film crew.

After we headed back to the restaurant to cook 2 dishes using all the beautiful produce we picked.

Click here to watch my sous chefs video debut, cooking a faux pasta dish using zucchini as pasta. Imani version of Zucchini Primavera with smoked tomato sauce is a great vegetarian dish.

Stay tuned for the videos to be released soon.

Click on this link for more information about our farm tour.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Star Chef Tasting Menu

We had the pleasure of cooking for Antoinette Bruno and one of her assistants (Katherine) this afternoon. Antoinette is the editor in chief of Starchefs.com, one of the industry's leading online culinary magazines.
The reason for the visit was I was nominated for the 2009 Boston Rising Star awards.

From Starchefs.com,
"Rising Stars are up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals who represent the vanguard of the contemporary American dining scene. They have strong, compelling culinary philosophies, are able to see beyond the four walls of their restaurant, and are committed to fostering a culinary community by sharing their knowledge with fellow professionals. Ultimately, creativity, ambition, exquisite presentation and, most important, delicious food wins a chef the designation of StarChefs Rising Star. They are the future of American cuisine."

The menu we served today was 95% local & sustainable.......

Amuse
New England Striped Bass Crudo & Live Taylor Bay Scallop Ceviche
baby fennel, orange, fennel powder and smoked paprika

First Course
Shaved Asparagus Salad
caper vinaigrette, Iberico ham, fiddlehead tomme, hearts of fire

Second Course
White Vanilla Gazpacho
almonds, roasted garlic, grapes, roasted chanterelles, extra virgin olive oil

Third Course
Pork Belly “Cuban”
blueberry mostaza, pickled green apples , crispy pork skin, manchengo foam

Fourth Course
Steak Frites en Sous Vide
compressed Wagyu skirt steak , piquillo pepper & green olive relish, truffled frites

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hill Farm Rhode Island



About a week ago, I was invited to Hill Hog Farm in Foster Rhode Island. The purpose of the tour was to connect with the Farmer Louis Vinagro, a member of the RI Raised Livestock Association. He introduce us to his 14 acre farm founded in 2003. Louis and his wife Maria raise pure bred Devon cattle and pure bred Berkshire hogs.

The tour was followed by an old fashioned pig roast!