My first class in culinary school was “Soup and Vegetable Cookery”, and one of the many many techniques taught was “tomato concassé”. While this literally translates to “chopped tomato”, it is a rather more involved preparation in which the tomatoes are scored, briefly boiled, chilled in ice water, skinned, seeded, and then chopped. At the time I thought the only way I would ever peel tomatoes would be in canning whole tomatoes. The thought that I would actually do this in a restaurant was laughable.
Flash forward a few years and I am reading the Momofuku Cookbook. Lo and behold there are peeled cherry tomatoes in an interesting variation of a Calabrese salad. And darned if they aren’t just the … Continue reading.
While not a full-fledged fad, I’ve seen plenty of chickpea flour fritters on restaurant menus the last few years. From the panelle di ceci at Uccellino, to the chickpea fries at Canteen, to the panissa at Teatro, chickpea flour fritters are a gluten-free and vegan-friendly starch with great textures. My own introduction to this kind of preparation was the Provencal version called panisse.
At its simplest panisse is water, chickpea flour, and a bit of olive oil, cooked in a pot into a thick porridge that is then spread into a pan, chilled, sliced, and fried. It is very much like polenta fritta, only made with chickpea flour instead of cornmeal. One interesting difference is that most … Continue reading.
This dish featuring salmon wontons checked a lot of boxes for me. We have a salmon entrée on our menu and we accumulate a lot of trim from cleaning and portioning the fillets. I challenged myself to make a dish that could use up this trim so it doesn’t go to waste. I also wanted to make a dish that used a mousseline, partly because it’s a fantastic classic technique, but also because it is a required element in the CCC practical exam.
Most importantly I wanted to make a dish that would be an example of how to adapt a simple traditional preparation for service as a composed dish in a fine-dining setting. To give a specific example, this … Continue reading.
No matter the type of liver – pork, veal, chicken, duck – I generally use this recipe, which combines liver with equal parts pork shoulder by weight.
Because I am typically working with the giblets from only one bird, I’ve never had enough turkey liver on hand to do anything more than sauté it with onions and mushrooms and eat it on toast. This past week at work we were running a holiday menu and ended up with the giblets from several birds, so I set aside a pound of turkey livers to make a terrine.
I decided to try an all-turkey pâté (ie. no pork) using the technique discussed in this post. The trick is using poultry … Continue reading.
Here’s another dish that ties together multiple ideas and techniques gleaned from the Eleven Madison Park cookbook. Actually this one is just an adaptation and simplification of an EMP dish.
The feature ingredient is scallops, and they get a treatment I haven’t seen before. U10 scallops are very briefly steamed (2 minutes at 185°F) then chilled. This slightly cooks the outermost part of the scallops while the inside remains completely raw. I’m not totally sure what the point of this is, but I think it makes the scallops easier to handle during the intricate knife-work they are about to undergo.
These par-cooked scallops are then scalped so that their tops and bottoms are perfectly flat. The trim is reserved. … Continue reading.
I set myself a challenge. Every season there would be a salad on the menu, but it needed to be a composed salad, not a tossed green salad. I was really keen to make a beet salad with goat cheese this fall. It’s a fine line between classic and clichéd, so I wanted to make it in a way that I hadn’t done before.
I was really struck by the Beet Salad with Chèvre Frais in the Eleven Madison Park cookbook. Most of all I liked the presentation, with perfect rounds of sliced roasted beets arranged on the plate, and pops of colour and texture placed artfully around and among them. I played with this a lot over the … Continue reading.
The whipping siphon is a perfect example of a modern tool I eschewed and deliberately didn’t learn to use because I thought it was a pretentious, unnecessary gimmick. I’m trying to actively address my many culinary prejudices, so I challenged myself to put a component made with a whipping siphon on my 2021 fall menu.
I was keen to do a take on beet salad with goat cheese, and for the first few iterations I was just crumbling fresh goat cheese onto roasted, sliced beets. However because I had the salad components laid out and not tossed together, it was a little difficult to get the small pieces of cheese onto a fork and into your mouth. There seemed to … Continue reading.
Many years ago I posted about my default herb oil procedure, which I learned from The French Laundry Cookbook. In a nutshell:
- blanche herbs,
- shock in ice water,
- ring out as much moisture as possible,
- purée in a powerful blender with oil,
- let stand overnight (optional, but recommended),
- strain through a coffee filter.
Most of the herb oil recipes in The French Laundry Cookbook call for 4 cups of fresh herbs and 3/4 cup oil to yield only 1/3 cup herb oil.
I have sworn by this procedure for years. However recently I was reading the “Oils and Dressings” section at the back of the Eleven Madison Park cookbook, and while the Tarragon Oil follows the same … Continue reading.
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.
The term “galette” has about ten thousand meanings. At its most basic it is “a flat, round cake of variable size” 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.