Is it just a “Fashionable” trend to be a Foodie these days? What does it truly mean to be a Foodie? As I stood in that large household kitchen and gathered my thoughts about how best to attack the service for this event, my eyes darted from the European-made stainless steel stove, to the designer pots and pans laid before me and back to the glass stove top. Surveying the designer cabinets and granite counter tops strewn with expensive household appliances, I couldn’t help feel as I was not in a kitchen but rather a museum display meant to be looked at and not disturbed. Never had a kitchen looked so pristinely sterile. As I decided to get on with it and get my “mise-en-place” ready for service, I came to the realization that working in these well-appointed, hermitically kept surroundings made me wonder if anything at all was ever really cooked in here. That thought was confirmed when the convener approached me to say, “Feel free to use whatever you wish in my kitchen, it’s all state of the art stuff and brand new, as I don’t even cook much…but I sure love to think I do”…chuckle, chuckle.

What is a “Foodie”? Is a foodie someone who subscribes to the food channel watching Iron Chef and wonders how they would cook the mystery ingredient better (after the fact)? Or maybe a foodie is the one that watches Gordon Ramsay spit out his tirades on unsuspecting and all too often ignorant cooks who have no business being in the kitchen to start with? Don’t get me wrong - There is nothing wrong with these shows or the people who watch them, they remain entertaining enough to warrant interest from many devoted fans. There can be no doubting that cooking has never been more “cool” than it is today, as most TV chefs are akin to rock stars. However - It’s become more about the character of the chef than the character of the food. To me this vanity seems to play to the vanities of these so called foodies, as they get wrapped up in these personas and forget about the real focus, the food. Some would argue that a foodie is simply one who has interests that are food-related. I tend to disagree - It’s not that simple.

One thing I learnt growing up around family and food is that food is part Necessity, part Art and part Contentiousness. My parents cooked meals that were designed to nourish on a budget; Always eating healthy with wholesome preparations the law in our house. Art was regulated to special occasions where pushing the envelope of cuisine meant bringing out some old, long-forgotten recipe and presenting them for guests just the right way (according to the cooks – usually my mom and I). Flavor is a matter of opinion; food is always open to interpretation. Contentious points are always part of the culinary experience. There is always a better way to do something, a different spice or more seasoning to add. Being a “Foodie” is about respecting these ideals and holding your food to them.

I was a “Foodie” long before I ever became a Chef. The only difference being that as a Chef, I need to create a business out of food and lead others in a certain direction. However – a chef must always be a “Foodie” first; and “Foodies” must always respect the food and it’s preparation to warrant the title. Foodies are amateur chefs, the way an Olympic gold medalist hockey player is an NHL star. Same love of the game, just different levels of play.

To develop a fervent passion for edible delicacies comes easy, to tremendously stay interested involves more than just superficial interest – it requires Passion. Here are some of my passionate recipes. To all you “Foodies” out there, I challenge you to emulate, create and modify as you see fit…and for “Julia’s” sake, don’t be afraid to mess up your kitchen.

Avocado and Shrimp Salad Tapa

shrimp,avocado and mango salad
shrimp,avocado and mango salad

Yield: Serves Four

Ingredients

4 Avocados

1 Mango

Juice of ½ lemon

4 tablespoons Salmon Roe drained to garnish

5 ounces Cooked Shrimp (13-15’s), peeled and deveined

1 Serrano Pepper, deseeded and diced

1 tablespoon homemade Mayonnaise

2 oz extra virgin Olive Oil

2 sprigs of Lemon Thyme

Sea Salt & freshly cracked black Pepper to taste

For the Mayonnaise

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

12 fl oz (340 ml) of vegetable or olive oil

2 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

4 Saffron threads

Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper Black Pepper

Method

  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks with a pinch of salt. Add one drop of oil to the egg yolks and whisk together with an electric whisk.
  • Continue to add one drop of oil at a time, whisking continuously until the mixture begins to blend together and thicken.
  • The process is to add one drop of oil and then blend it in before adding the next drop. This will take several minutes.
  • Add lemon juice and white wine vinegar to a sauce pan and bring to boil with saffron threads. Turn off and let steep until cool.
  • After a quarter of the oil has been blended, add the lemon juice/vinegar mixture (make sure it’s cold) and beat into the mixture. Continue to whisk in the remaining oil, which you should be able to add a lot quicker by now, in a thin stream. Once all the oil has been beaten in, add the mustard to give extra taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • If the mayonnaise is too thick, you can whisk in a few teaspoons of boiling water. Chill the mayonnaise in the refrigerator before serving.
  • The mayonnaise may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 days in an airtight container or jar.

For the Salad

  • Peel and halve the avocados and mangoes, remove the pits, then cut the flesh into long thin wedges.
  • Put them into a bowl and sprinkle the lemon juice over them. Stir in 1 tablespoons of saffron mayonnaise and Serrano peppers.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the cooked shrimp and salmon roe. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Porcini Mushroom & Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Butter “Noisette”

Sweet PotatoPorcini Ravioli with Sage Beurre Noisette
Sweet PotatoPorcini Ravioli with Sage Beurre Noisette

Yield: Serves 6

For the Pasta

Ingredients

11oz '00' pasta Flour, plus extra for dusting

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

3 free-range Eggs

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

For the Filling

Ingredients

3lbs Sweet Potato – peeled & cut into chunks

10oz fresh Porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

5 Amaretti biscuits, crushed

1 teaspoon Lemon Juice

2 cloves Garlic

½ teaspoon ground Ginger

For the Sage Beurre Noisette

Ingredients

4oz unsalted organic Butter

½ lemon, juice only

1-2 tablespoon Olive oil

7oz Squash, peeled and cut into 1cm/½in dice

3 tablespoons Pine Nuts

Vegetable Oil, hallow frying

20 small fresh Sage leaves

4oz Grana Padano, freshly grated, to serve

Method

For the Pasta Dough

  • For the pasta, blend the flour, salt, freshly ground black pepper, eggs and olive oil in a food processor, pulsing until the dough resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and pull together into a dough, then knead for five minutes until smooth and elastic.
  • Place the dough into a bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Dust a pasta machine with flour. Set the pasta machine to its widest setting, then feed the chilled dough through the machine, turning the handle with one hand and holding the dough as it comes through the machine with the other. Change the setting on the pasta machine to the next-widest setting, flour it again and feed the pasta sheet through the machine again, as before. Repeat this process 3-4 more times, flouring the machine and decreasing the width of the rollers each time.
  • Place the sheet of pasta dough onto a floured work surface and cut into a 40cm x 6cm (16in x 2in) rectangle. Cut equal-sized squares from the rectangle, about 6cm/2in wide.

For the Filling

  • Preheat the oven to 210C/410F/Gas 7.
  • Place the sweet potato chunks into a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes, or until tender.
  • Remove the roasted sweet potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor and blend to a purée.
  • Transfer the purée to a saucepan and place over a low-medium heat for a few minutes - this will help to remove any excess moisture. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • In a frying pan over medium heat, warm up 1 tblspn of oil and fry the garlic until golden, Discard garlic and add the Porcini mushrooms stirring frequently until tender. About 5 minutes. Drain and let stand, once cooled, pulse mixture in a food processor.
  • When the purée has cooled, stir in the crushed amaretti biscuits, lemon juice and ground ginger and Porcinis, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Place one teaspoonful of the mixture in the centre of each pasta square. Brush the edges of the pasta square with a little water.
  • Place another pasta square over the top of the filled pasta square and press down gently around the filling, pressing out any air bubbles. Press the edges flat to seal and trim off any overlap.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining pasta squares and filling. Place the ravioli onto the lined baking tray until you're ready to cook them.

For the Sage Beurre Noisette

  • Heat a non-reactive frying pan until hot, add the butter and heat until it turns a nut-brown colour.
  • Add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper and then remove from the heat.
  • Heat a separate frying pan until hot, add a little olive oil and the diced sweet potato and fry over a medium heat until golden-brown and just tender.
  • Add the pine nuts and fry for another more minute, or until just browned. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Heat 1cm/½in of vegetable oil in a frying pan until just shimmering, then add the sage leaves and fry for 20 seconds, or until just browned.
  • Remove the sage leaves using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  • To cook the ravioli, place them, a few at a time, into a large saucepan of salted, boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until they float back to the surface. Drain.
  • To serve, toss the drained ravioli gently with the beurre noisette. Place five ravioli onto each plate, then spoon over the beurre noisette and a few sage leaves. Top with the fried sweet potato, pine nuts and some grated Grana Padano.

Steamed Halibut with Black Tea, Sweet & Sour Sauce

Grilled Snow Fish
Grilled Snow Fish

Yield: Serves Four

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Black Tea

4 Fillets Halibut, each 7oz

1 teaspoon Sesame Seed Oil

1 lb Baby Bok Choy

1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce

1 teaspoon toasted Sesame seeds

¼ teaspoon Garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon Soy sauce

1 teaspoon Capers

1 Tomato, blanched, peeled and quartered

For the Sauce

Ingredients

1 oz fresh Ginger

1 cup fresh Cilantro

1 tablespoon Sesame Oil

2 Shallots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

¾ cup Pineapple juice

1/3 cup Rice Wine vinegar

¼ cup Water

1 tablespoon Cornstarch

1 Red Chili Pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 Green Onion, thinly sliced

Method

For the Sauce

  • Peel and julienne the ginger, save the trimmings. Cut off and save big stems of cilantro. Roughly chop the leaves.
  • Heat sesame oil in a saucepan on medium heat, then sauté ginger and shallots, stirring well for 1 minute. Add brown sugar and cook for 1 minute. Add pineapple juice, cook for 1 minute more. Add rice wine vinegar and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and.
  • Mix water and cornstarch in a small bowl, pour slowly into sauce reduction stirring frequently. Cook for 1 minute longer. Season to taste and add chili pepper. Turn off heat and stir in green onions and cilantro.

For the Halibut

  • Grind tea leaves to a powder in a coffee grinder; season Halibut with sea salt, ground pepper and powdered tea.
  • Place medium saucepan with 1 inch of water on medium heat. Add cilantro stems and ginger trimmings and bring to a boil.
  • Place halibut in a 9-inch bamboo steamer, covered with lid. Place on top of boiling water and steam fish for 6 minutes, or until creamy pearls appear on fish.
  • While fish is steaming, heat sesame oil in a fry pan on high heat. Add bok choy and ouster sauce and cover – cook for 2 minutes until soft but still green.
  • Add sesame seeds, chopped garlic, capers and soy sauce and season to taste.
  • Serve Halibut over bok choy, place tomato fillet on top and drizzle warm sauce over.

Pinot Noir Braised Veal Shank with Gremolata

Pinot Noir Braised Veal Shank
Pinot Noir Braised Veal Shank

Yield: Serves Six

Ingredients

6 Veal Shanks, organically raised

All Purpose Flour

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

3 cups VQA Pinot Noir

¼ cup Carrots, diced

¼ cup Celery, diced

¼ cup Onions, diced

Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper to taste

1 tablespoon Tomato Paste

2 sprigs of Thyme

2 sprigs of Rosemary

2 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Gremolata

Ingredients

1 Lemon

½ cup fresh Parsley, chopped

3 cloves Garlic

Method

  • Dredge the veal shanks in flour, shaking off excess flour. Season with salt & pepper
  • Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, brown the veal thoroughly on both sides. Remove to separate platter and keep warm
  • Add more oil to the pan and sauté onions, carrots and celery over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom of pan while sautéing the vegetables. Add Veal back to pan.
  • Add wine to almost cover the meat. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs and salt and pepper to taste; cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer about 1 hour or until veal is tender.
  • Stir in tomato paste and add more wine if necessary (if too dry).
  • Cover and cook gently 30-45 minutes longer.

For the Gremolata

  • Remove rind from lemon with vegetable peeler.
  • In a food processor, mince the peel very fine with parsley and garlic.
  • About 15 minutes before serving, sprinkle 75% of the Gremolata over the veal, cover and heat through.
  • Transfer shanks to a large platter, remove thyme and rosemary sprigs.
  • Pour reduction sauce over top and sprinkle the remainder of Gremolata over top and drizzle with Olive Oil. Serve with warm crusty bread onto which diners can spread the marrow and soak up the sauce.

Iced Vice Wine Souffle with Orange Sauce

Vicewine Iced Souffle with Orange Sauce
Vicewine Iced Souffle with Orange Sauce

Yield: Serves 8

Ingredients

1 cup Sugar

5 large Eggs

7 tablespoons Water

1 ½ cups Crème Fraiche

½ cup Vice Icewine

8 Ladyfingers

For the Sauce

Ingredients

½ cup Orange Marmalade

2 tablespoons Orange Juice

4 tablespoons Vice Icewine

Method

  • Place 4 tblspns of sugar equal parts water in a small saucepan and bring to boil to make a syrup.
  • In a small bowl separate the egg yolks and from the whites. Gradually whisk in the hot syrup into the egg yolks.
  • Set the bowl over a simmering saucepan of water and stir constantly until thickened. Be careful not to cook the eggs and curdle the batch. Set over cold ice to cool once thickened to a creamy texture.
  • Place remaining sugar and remaining 3 tablspns of water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until syrup reaches 238 deg F (measured with a candy thermometer).
  • Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. With machine on medium speed, gradually pour syrup down the side of the bowl. Continue to beat until mixture is cool.
  • Beat Crème Fraiche until soft peaks form. Fold in ¼ cup of the Vice Icewine. Fold reserved yolk mixture crème fraiche. Then fold the yolk mixture and crème fraiche into the egg white mixture.
  • Line 8 individual soufflé dishes with plastic wrap, letting the edges hang over the sides. Spoon some meringue mixture into the bottom of each dish. Separate the ladyfingers and brush them with remaining Vice Icewine. Divide the ladyfingers over the meringue in each dish. Cover with remaining meringue.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and freeze 2-3 hour prior to serving.

For the Sauce

  • Heat the marmalade in a small pot over low heat until liquid.
  • Combine with orange juice and Vice Icewine in a small bowl, stirring to blend.
  • To serve, invert the soufflés onto chilled plates and spoon sauce over top. Garnish with chocolate pencil, fresh strawberries & orange fillets.

Comment