Some of My Favorite Things Working Today.

I got to work today and started cooking.  At one point, I looked around and got caught in the moment…

36 Hour Short Ribs Under Sous Vide

 

Easter Hams In The Brine

 

Cured Duck Legs Getting Ready to Confit Under Duck Fat

 

Micro Greens Coming Along Nicely

 

And just then, Louis from Mushrooms All Year stopped by and delivered some just picked local wild shrooms.

It was a good day…

 

Food Revolution

It’s funny, Jerry handed me a newspaper article today that mention’s Jamie Oliver (British Naked Chef fame) and his new show that documents his efforts to start a food revolution in our American school’s food system.  What’s funny is that I received an email today from the web site “Cooking up a Story” which talks about the same show (http://cli.gs/B6PXTt). 

I normally reserve this blog for my work, what I do on a day-to-day basis.  I use it as a platform to grow ideas that can be executed in my kitchen.  I don’t normally write about politics or what’s happening outside my immediate arena.  This however, ties in directly with a food revolution that may have begun with Alice Waters almost 40 years ago.

At the Thrive Workshops I attended last month, there was discussion on how we could get local foods into our local school systems that would help foster a closed loop economic system.  More emphasis was placed on local food in local schools that was the fact that our kids are simply not eating healthy in schools.  Being a father of three young children that are in elementary school, this hits home. 

I urge everyone who reads this post to visit Hulu and watch the premier episode of Jamie’s program.  The full episode can be found here, http://cli.gs/jrhuJy.  It would be an incredible thing to see this be the catalyst that really gets the ball rolling to reform our broken food system starting in the most important place, our children’s schools.

Planting Seeds of Change.

Sometimes in our high-stress industry, the most difficult thing to do is to have the patience to wait and allow something to grow.  This is most challenging when it’s apparent that people around you do not want to change.  As I look back on my first year here in Southern Oregon, I am tremendously proud of everyone I work with.  I spent this year “planting seeds” and as I have mentioned before, now have to choose which ones to cultivate.  It’s abundantly clear from the response that this change is favorable and we are involved with something that has become greater than all of us.  I am truly at my greatest when I can “plant a seed” with a fellow cook and see them take it and run.  I sometimes marvel at the talent that emerges given the proper “cultivation”.  I now see it every day as I work in a basement under 2,000 tons of brick that was layed over 2 centuries ago.  Inspiration is the ingredient, realizing the dream is the dish.  This, my friends, is only the beginning.

Grow Lights.

Wow.  This will change the way we garnish our plates forever.  Soon we will be able to snip and garnish to order.  Thanks to Sean Brock at McCrady’s restaurant in Charleston for the inspiration.

Greek Independance Day.

The celebration of Greek Independence Day on March 25th draws inspiration from one of the holiest days for Greek Orthodox Christians, the Annunciation of the Theotokos. This is the day that the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child. Bishop Germanos of Patras seized the opportunity by raising the banner of revolution, in an act of defiance against the Turks and marked the beginning of the War of Independence. Cries of Zito H Ellas and Eleftheria H Thanatos can still be heard today. These freedom fighters, or klephts as they were called, of Greece sacrificed much for their country. Kolokotronis, Nikitara, Karaiskakis, Bouboulina, and Mpotsaris are some of the heroes of the revolution.

The struggle for independence was supported abroad by intellectuals of the day. In addition to the Secret Society of Friends (Filiki Etaeria) and the Sacred Band (Ieros Lohos) prominent world figures including Lord Byron of England, Daniel Webster and Dr. Samuel Gridly Howe of the United States raised the interest level among Europeans and Americans.

After centuries of unsuccessful uprisings and failure of the Ottoman Empire to assimilate and convert the Greeks, The War of Independence began in 1821 rising up against 400 years of occupation and oppression by the Ottoman Turks. The origin of the Turkish occupancy began in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople (currently referred to as Istanbul). All true and faithful Hellenes living in their occupied homeland reacted to the Turkish oppression and resisted the attempts to deprive the Greeks of their heritage, their freedom and their religion. During the dark years of the Ottoman occupation, thousands were killed and tortured for attending church or teaching their children culture, history and language. It was the Greek Orthodox Church that helped to retain their very identity by the institution of Crypha Scholia (Hidden Schools).

For eight years the fighting ensued, until 1829, when the Sultan Mahmud II, facing Soviet troops at the gates of Constantinople, accepted Greek independence with the Treaty of Andrianople. Copyright 2002 Middlesex Media Exchange.

So, seeing as Platon is Greek (as he reminds me everyday), he has put on a Greek independence day wine dinner with everything Greek.  apparently he has put on these dinners every year for the past 200 years (or something like that).  I felt honored to be a part of this dinner and learned a lot about Greek food and tradition.  We had a belly dancer, Ouzo, lots of Greek (wine?), Platon’s magical storytelling and tons of fun.  Here are some shots of the food.  This was yet another sellout event.  Platon worked with us in the kitchen and produced about 99% of these items and they were super.

Spring Lamb

Braised with Sweet Pea and Pickled Pearl Onion Ragout.  Where are those dang grow lights for the pea tendrils to garnish??

More Springtime.

River’s Edge Fresh Chevre Gelato with Spring Strawberry-Pistachio Ice Cream and Strawberry Gelee.  Now all we need is some micro lemon mint.  Where are those grow lights, anyway?

Kitchen Garden

Yey!  It’s going.  Pea tendrils, micro beet greens, micro radish greens, micro arugula, micro basil, micro parsley, micro cilantro…  All I am missing is the mint.  WHY CAN’T I FIND MINT SEEDS LOCALLY??  Okay,  mail order, here I come.

Imported Green Olive Brine…

What can we do with this?  Perhaps a green olive “caviar” to garnish a local cheese plate with rubharb compote?  Or as part of a wet brine for free range chickens?  Usually something like this may be discarded.  We, as chefs, are more and more realizing that this is pure flavor and can be used in many ways.

First of the Local Season.

Thanks to Louis at Mushrooms All Year for getting these for us!

Now all I need are some ramps!

It’s all about the display…

Here are some shots of the cheese table that Platon set up from the old growth local pear tree wood he cut down.  He did a remarkable job and it truly shows the effort put into it.  Local cheeses displayed on local pear wood.  Awesome!

WOW!

Techniques.

How do you get 132 filets cooked to Medium Rare at one time all at once?

Why, Sous Vide of course…

And how do you melt some of the best blue cheese in the Nation into the filets?

With a *LITTLE* propane.

 

Oregon Cheesemaker’s Guild Dinner Final

This was a great time.  Really enjoyed havin fun with some killer cheese.  Thanks for all that came.  We had a sell out crowd of 132 people. 

Ancient Heritage Dairy Scio Heritage Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Prosciutto Sandwich with Creamy Sweet Onion and Duck Confit Soup with White Truffle Essence

Green Olive Stuffed Quail over Tillamook White Cheddar Polenta with Crispy Cheddar Tuilles

Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue Cheese Crusted Filet of Beef with Oregon Black Truffle-Potato Puree, Spring Onion and Sweet Pea Ragout and Local Cabernet Reduction

Three Ring Farms River’s Edge Fresh Chevre and Pistachio Truffles with Belgium Hot Chocolate Topped with Cocoa “Caviar”

Fun Tidbits About Southern Oregon Wine

Check out Chris Jiron and Christine Collier on The Southern Oregon Wine Blog at www.southernoregonwineblog.com for a fun and informative look at Southern Oregon Wine and Dining.

Oregon Cheesemaker’s Guild Dinner Prep

Here are the Green Olive Stuffed Quail from Oregon and Cured Duck Legs for the duck confit…

Oregon Cheesemakers Guild Dinner SOLD OUT.

Sorry, folks.  I just got the cheeses today.  Man, are they fantastic!  Thanks to Rogue Creamery, Ancient Heritage Dairy, Three Ring Farms, and the Tillamook folks for all this killer cheese…  Here is the heart and the sole of the dinner.

New 3 Course Prix Fixed.

Grilled Spring Asparagus with Poached Egg and Tabasco Butter

 

Pan Seared Lamb Loin with Kalamata Olive Ravioli and Minted Butter Beans

 

 

Butterscotch Pot de Creme with Buttermilk Shortbread Cookies

Old Growth Local Pear Tree Wood

Here are some shots of some wood Platon cut that he plans to sand down and use to display all the killer local cheeses for the Dinner this Friday.  Awesome.

Gotta Get Me Some of These Grow Lights.

Yeah.  Next on the list.

Comment Card.

Yeah…  Just another Fan.  🙂  Thanks Mom.  (Just Kidding)

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