Category Archives: General

“Tuna Sandwich” Hors d’Oeuvre

A "Tuna Sandwich" hors d'oeuvre inspired by Eleven Madison Park

Another variation of an Eleven Madison Park offering, one I call the “Tuna Sandwich” hors d’oeuvre. In the EMP cookbook there is an hors d’oeuvre comprised of a “tuna coin” sandwiched between two rounds of fennel. Like these galettes, it is a very striking presentation that caught my eye immediately. The EMP version has the tuna brushed with lemon oil and the fennel garnished with pollen.

My simple variation uses lightly pickled daikon rounds as the “bread” in this sandwich. The tuna is brushed with sesame oil. Each piece is garnished with cilantro, serrano, and cilantro blossoms.

I’m curious to know how stable the EMP version is. I found that a small amount of oil or mayonnaise helped the … Continue reading.

Olive Powder

Olive powder, recipe from the Eleven Madison Park cookbook.

There are a few small preparations in the Eleven Madison Park cookbook that use a microwave to desiccate ingredients. The simplest of these is the “Olive Powder” in the Couscous Salad.

In a nutshell: line a microwave-safe plate with plastic wrap, finely chop some pitted black olives, spread them over the plastic and microwave until dry and crispy. The recipe in the book says two minutes is enough. Even for the small amount I did it took closer to four. Maybe mine weren’t chopped as fine as theirs.

The result is an attractive, jet-black olive crumble that tastes like, well… olives.

While this olive powder is okay, it’s interesting to think of this as a generalized technique for desiccating. Caper … Continue reading.

Vegetable “Caviar” and “Couscous”

A salad of Israeli couscous featuring a cucumber "caviar".

I’m on the fence about this one. The Eleven Madison Park cookbook contains a few vegetable preparations variously called “caviar” and “couscous”. They are uniformly tiny pieces of vegetable that are seasoned and dressed. The consistency is achieved either by meticulous knifework, or in the case of veggies like broccoli, by paring off the very tips of the florets.

On the one hand, I appreciate the beauty, the display of fine knifework, and the using up of trim. Especially for broccoli, the “couscous technique” is an example of parsing or deconstruction that lets you appreciate a specific part of a specific vegetable.

On the other hand, it’s minced raw vegetables, and to employ the terms “caviar” and “couscous”, even with … Continue reading.

Ring Cutters and Trim

A slice of pickled radish trimmed with a ring cutter.

If you had asked me a year ago what the principle uses of a ring cutter were, I would have said for punching biscuits and plating components in tidy circles. For use in plating, I’m picturing especially preparations like rice, lentils, and other starches, beef or tuna tartare, that kind of thing.

One of the simple finesse techniques that is ubiquitous in the Eleven Madison Park cookbook is using ring cutters to trim ingredients that are already naturally round, to make them perfectly round. Any time a beet, a scallop, or a daikon, are sliced, they are typically then punched with a ring cutter. The image above is a slice of pickled watermelon radish that I trimmed in such … Continue reading.

Galette Hors d’Oeuvres

A small galette of fromage blanc, plum jam, and basil, served as an hors d'oeuvre.

The term “galette” has about ten thousand meanings. At its most basic it is “a flat, round cake of variable size”[1] and there are dozens of regional French variations, some savoury, some sweet. In contemporary bakeries a galette is a type of pie that is shaped and baked on a sheet tray instead of in a traditional pie dish. Here in Canada galette is also the Métis word for their style of bannock. In contemporary fine-dining a galette seems to be a preparation wherein some kind of creamy interior is sandwiched between a crispy cracker-like exterior, almost like an ice cream sandwich. The Fat Duck served a rhubarb galette matching this description. In the Eleven Madison Park cookbook there … Continue reading.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Well, not completely different. But for sure different.

For reasons that I can’t fully explain at the moment, I am going to be posting about the following:

  • professional cooking in restaurants,
  • fine-dining,
  • composed dishes,
  • “modernist” cooking, including: equipment like immersion circulators and Rational ovens; ingredients like xanthan gum and agar agar; preparations like gels and foams; concepts like fusion or making one ingredient look like another,
  • food presentation and plating, and
  • foreign/global ingredients, cuisines, and concepts.

…which is the opposite of what I have done for the last thirteen years.

Also there will be many, many references to Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook, which I will variously refer to as the EMP cookbook or EMP. Just a heads up!

Mead Vinegar

My food heroes are those who can generalize food concepts for me. I’ve mentioned Ruhlman’s book Ratio about a hundred times on this site. Some other examples. I love the flavour of preserved lemons and I’ve made them a few times, but then I saw Mojojo Pickles makes preserved lime. This completely changed how I saw my preserved lemon recipe. Instead of one recipe that can preserve one ingredient, I now see it as a generalized process for preserving citrus. ​​​Or Kevin recognizing that blanching is not just for endives, but a great agricultural technique to use on other bitter greens like our local dandelions. This type of thinking drives so much of modern food, whether it’s David Chang … Continue reading.

Calabrese Sausage Recipe

Calabrese-style sausage on a bun, with peperoncini

Calabrese means ‘from Calabria’, which is a province in southern Italy.  The foundational flavours of Calabrese cuisine are olive oil, garlic, chili, and fennel seed.  My understanding is that many of the Italians in Edmonton have roots in Calabria.  So here, as in many other parts of North America with lots of southern Italian immigrants, this flavour profile has simply become “Italian”.  Like if you go to the Italian market and something is labelled “Spicy Italian Sausage” you can bet that it contains garlic, chili, and fennel.  Even though this particular combination isn’t common in most of Italy.

Anyways.  This is my attempt to replicate one of the Calabrese sausages made at Mercato, in Calgary, where I worked over the … Continue reading.

Papa Suds’ Pizza Dough

This is my family’s pizza dough recipe.  We make pizza almost weekly, so it is a workhorse recipe, one of the most important in our kitchen.

People familiar with our neighbourhood have asked why we make our own pizza when we live literally one block from a pizzeria.  The answer is that it’s easy and good and fun and cheap.  The scaling and mixing of the dough take less than ten minutes.  All together the ingredients for our homemade pizza cost under $5 per 12″ pie, something that we pay $18 plus tip for down the street.

I feel obligated to mention that our recipe is adapted from the little booklet that came with our KitchenAid stand mixer.  I resent … Continue reading.