Abacela Wine Maker’s Dinner

Here are some shots from the Abacela Wine Maker’s dinner last night.

Steamed Clams and Mussels with Baby Winter Broccoli, Portuguese Sausage and Saffron Risotto Cakes

Beet and Herbed Goat Cheese “Ravioli” with Pickled Red Onions and Pesto Vinaigrette

Seared Lamb Carpaccio with Truffle Aioli and Focaccia Crisps

Olive Oil Poached (Sous Vide) filet of Beef with Salt Cod Cakes, Olive Soil and Brown Butter-Balsamic Green Beans

 

Rogue Creamery “Echo Mountain” Blue Cheese 3 Ways

1.   Brulee with Raspberry “Caviar”

2.   Port Wine Poached Sekle Pears filled with Blue Cheese and Candied Walnuts with Rosemary “Paint”

3.   Sous Vide with Oven Cured Raspberries

Here’s a shot of the raspberry caviar being dropped into frozen canola oil to set into perfect little caviar size spheres.

Special thanks to Earl and Hilda Jones for coming and bringing some spectacular wines and sharing with us a lot about the important work they do.

What it’s all about…

I LOVE these.

Molecular Gastronomy: A New Emerging Scientific Discipline

Have you heard about Molecular Gastronomy or hydrocolloids?   Ever wonder why that ice cream you just ate was hot and appeared to “melt” as it cooled?  Chefs around the world are using a dizzying array of “chemicals” in food to manipulate textures.  These are the same “chemicals” used by the food manufacturing sector for years.  It’s why a Hershey bar can sit on a shelf for so long without the cocoa fat separating from the cocoa (emulsifier) or why orange juice has a slightly thick (viscus) mouth feel (Xantham gum).  

One of my favorite blogs, Khymos (http://blog.khymos.org/) has posted a link to a major review article on molecular gastronomy.  They state that considering the impact factor of Chemical Reviews (ranked as a clear no. 1 among chemistry journals), this review will likely remain the review on molecular gastronomy for years to come.  Download it here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/cr900105w

The Creative Process.

Every good kitchen has a process it uses for a creative outlet.  Some method for taking an idea and evolving it into a product that will enhance the guest’s experience.  I am fond of using dry erase markers and writing all over any nonpourus surface like plates, smooth painted walls, stainless steel tables, you get the idea. 

If I have an idea I need to convey to a cook, I just pull out my marker and sketch it out right on the plate.  It’s more visual than trying to simply describe the idea. 

Well, I never said I was an artist.  But the idea is conveied.  This is our Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese Tasting for our Abacela Wine Maker’s Dinner this Friday.  Use you imagination.   Blue Cheese Creme Brulee with Toasted Flatbread and Raspberry “Caviar”, Rosemary Poached Sekel Pears Filled with Candied Walnuts and Blue Cheese and Sous Vide Blue Cheese with Oven Cured Raspberries.  You see it, can’t you?

So, this is how we do it.  I have seen many great chefs with their own style, but this works for me.  Plus the yellow color reminds me of sunshine as I work under 2,000 tons of brick.  🙂

Abacela Wine Makers Dinner Friday

Only a few seats left.  Contact me to make reservations before they’re gone.

What Does an Old Tree Stump and a Local Election Have in Common?

Mark Wisnovsky.  Owner of Valley View Vineyard here in Jacksonville is running for County Commissioner and held his election kick off with us this last Friday.  We had this cool tree stump we pulled from the patio and pressure washed it off to use as a display piece to elevate our Risotto and Gorgonzola Fritters and Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Crisps.

And we used wine glasses turned upside down and filled with bouquets to elevate our baby beet and herbed goat cheese salad with pickled onions.

 

Good fun, great turnout…

Signs of Spring, A New Beginning.

As I go through my front door at home and start walking to my Jeep to depart for work, something catches my eye.  A small cluster of brightly colored yellow flowers. 

Although it’s the middle of February, it’s been sunny and a little warm.  Looks like the nice weather is helping coax the spring flowers from their sleepy winter slumber.  Will it be an early spring?  Will springtime culinary delights be early this year? 

Thrive.

I think it’s time we join THRIVE (THe Rogue Initiative For A Vital Economy).  This organization does many, MANY things.  But, to over simplify it, it works to promote local products and businesses keeping dollars in the valley.  This is a natural for farmers and cooks (Note-Farmers and cooks working together for a sustainable future…)  Mr. and Mrs. Smith come to visit us at the Jacksonville Inn (A local, independent Hotel).  They stay, and dine.  The pay for the goods and services and leave having a wonderful experience.  The revenue that they gave us is used to pay for produce I purchase from Farmer Joe about 5 miles down the road.  This way, the money stays in circulation here in the valley and creates a stable, THRIVING local economy.  Okay, this is way over simplified.  If you are not familiar with THRIVE, I recommend checking out the site.

www.thriveoregon.org

Great stuff.

Reality Sets In…

So, yeah….  I’ve been planting a lot of proverbial “seeds” for the past couple months…  You’ve read about a lot of “ideas” I have…  Farmer’s Co-Ops, On-Site Gardens, Enhancing our homemade bakery selections, more social networking, and so on…  Many “seeds” planted.  Many are starting to germinate.  There is a certain buzz in the kitchen even though this is our slow season and we’re lucky to bring in 50 dinner guests a night right now.  It’s hard to pick out which germinating seeds I want to cultivate.  Then, a shock of reality…

Any well run kitchen needs a good infrastructure.  The heart of this (and the part I have total command over) is the kitchen bible.  Our recipe book is a little worse for ware.  Sure, I have been having a lot of fun experimenting, planting “seeds”, building the hype…  But it doesn’t mean anything unless our bible is in order and our game plan for entering the busy season is set.  So, this will be the focus over the next week. 

Man, I really have a strong dislike for paperwork…

New Garden.

So, I think everyone can improve the planet simply by planting something.  Gardening has always been a special thing for me and I do not do it nearly enough.  I am taking on a mildly ambitious task of reconditioning our “herb garden” so it can be more productive and offer a better variety.  We’ll see how it goes…  You can see the rosemary has survived the winter so far.  I’m thinking baby radishes, baby carrots, mucho herbs, and a lot of fun little things that grow well out here…  But for now, just go out and plant something!

S.O.H.O. Dinner #3

Here are some shots from the latest S.O.H.O. dinner…

Oregon Black Truffle Risotto Tart with Roasted Butternut Sauce

 Portobello Mushroom Soup with White Truffle Essence and Fresh Chevre

48 Hour Braised Beef Short Ribs with Parsnip Puree and Winter Vegetable Jus

 

 

 

White Chocolate-Pistachio Truffles Set in Curry-Coconut Gelee

 

 

Thanks for all that came.  It was fun.

Chef’s Wisdom #82

Do **NOT** drop a 6 quart container full of warm duck fat in the walk-in just before you are planing on going home for the evening.

Chicken Sous Vide.

I have a nice source for some local whole chickens which we have been butchering out the airline from and sous videing.

These go into 140 deg F water for only 2 hours.  Then they are seasoned and seared to a golden brown and served right now with a roasted garlic jus, bacon braised swiss chard and roasted garlic potato puree. 

Water bath is ALMOST ready…

I think I mentioned this before, bones are used for our stock, livers for a sautéed dish in our bistro, thighs for our bistro coq au vin, and the wings for my soon to be famous chef snacks (see prior post…).  I love 100% useable products.

More Sous Vide.

Here are some shots of my next batch of sous vide shortribs.  As you can tell from the photo, it all starts off traditional with some great searing on the grill and sweated mirepoix…

By the way, those little chunks made great snacks.

It’s all finished with some demiglaze, red wine and aromatics.  Then it’s sealed and placed in 131 deg F bath for 48 hours.  Filet texture with shortrib taste.  How, I mean HOW can you go wrong?  Planing on serving this with the braising jus and parsnips for an upcoming party.

Fresh Bread…

What’s better than fresh bread?  Well, fresh bread with homemade butter of course.  We have been playing around with different flavored rolls and have settled on a nice trio of semolina, blue cheese and kalamata olive-rosemary…  They seem to be the best variety for our clients.  We will be testing them on some regulars over the coming weeks. 

For now, we have changed the sesame hamburger bun we have been serving with a homemade basil-parmesan roll.

Looks delicious, huh?  This comes with our almost 1/2 pound homemade patty created from bits of filet, new york and tri-tip.  Mixed in are some unique seasonings.  I’m hoping this summer I can source a bunch of local pickling cukes to make some pickles to go with it…

The BUTTER!

Okay, I have been threatening to try some homemade butter.   I love fresh, imported European butter.  I recently learned that special flavor that is missing from most domestic butters is that European butter is made from cultured cream.  I went ahead and cultured some cream and churned it into butter.

So, I also learned that buttermilk is the left over liquid that separated out of the butter.  It’s tang comes from the culturing from the cream in the first place.  Uncultured cream has a very sweet taste.  Perhaps this is the difference in European butter and domestic “sweet cream” butter?

Finally we have the separating of the buttermilk from the butter solids.  After it’s drained away, I reserve the buttermilk that will be used for our pancakes and then rinse the solids under running cold water.  This step is important because the residual buttermilk will spoil quickly if left in the solids.

The solids are then kneaded until they come together and you get a velvety smooth product which is to die for.  I lightly salted one batch and left the other batch unsalted.  Can’t wait to have pancakes tomorrow morning!!!!

Next step is to try it with some local milk.  I used commercial pasteurized cream for this experiment.

Spring is Coming

Looking forward to the wild Oregon items…  Ramps, watercress, morels (OMG, Morels…) and other springtime favs… Peas, strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, fresh favas, radish, turnips, beets, garlic scapes, fiddleheads, …  YUM!

Farmer’s Co-op

I work with a cook named Tim who also grows some of our produce for us.  He was discussing with me how, because of the bad economy, many small farms in North Carolina were banning together to better sell their produce.  He was wanting to do something similar here in Southern Oregon.  He is expanding his operation for the next season and, wow…  What an idea this could be.  I’m not sure how to go about this, but what a great way to feature “local” while helping out the local economy.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized this HAS to happen.  It would be wonderful too to have some local dairy fresh milk to make our butter with.  More to come (hopefully…)  Anyone reading this that may have information on how to establish a local farmer’s Co-op, please let me know.

Duck Demi Glace

Here are some broken bits of 1/2 inch thick duck demi glace made from 12 ducks.  Set solid when chilled and peeled right off the 1/4 sheetpan it was set in.  It yielded slightly over 800ml.  Talk about concentration.  This was super rich and had a great, clean, concentrated duck flavor.  This is the base for our Wild Oregon Huckleberry Jus that comes with our duck dish.

Homemade Butter…

I have been facinated with making homemade butter for about 5 years now.  I have only done it once.  Many chefs might say “yawn…” but how many are actually doing this?  True, it’s uber expensive, but if you get some great local cream from a dairy, this needs to happen…  I will be playing around with it for a little while and post the results as they come around…

Also, I will be doing more tweeting.  I will start tweeting from the kitchen hopefully on a daily basis.  It may take a bit for it to become routine for me, but I would like to share some real time events as they unfold in the kitchen.  Good fun.  http://twitter.com/Heubel

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