Tuesday, June 30, 2009

N'duja Update

So i tried the first bit of N'duja the other day. A little early, but its ready nonetheless. My worries of too much powdered hot chili pepper was correct. I've never tasted the real thing but theres some things i would tweak in the recipe. 
While mixing this batch, i found it incredibly hard to mix everything properly because i had to work in so much powdered hot pepper. In Italy they most likely use some sort of liquid hot pepper paste, but alas we are in Toronto, and authentic products like that are rare to come by, even in little Italy. Round two, i think i would make my own paste with sweet peppers with a little less hot pepper, because although i like the heat and can stand it, the first taste sends you running for water, but then you just cant stop eating it. Today i cooked out some cubed fat in duck fat with hopes that tomorrow i can fold in the n'duja in a kitchen aid mixer to make it a little more spreadable. I'm not sure it will work but i think its going in the right direction to improve its consistency. 
I plan to serve it this week on the menu with some smoked BC spot prawns, crushed cherry tomatoes in a pool of good olive oil with some crusty baguette. 

Smoked Jowl Rielette

I've made some rielette's before, but this one is by far my favorite. Generally i make them with pork or rabbit, sometimes pheasant but never jowl before. I used some nice tamworth jowls, a bit of pork belly and the meatier Kurobuta jowls that i am in love with. I lightly cured the jowls and smoked the Kurobuta's which were then all cooked gently in duck fat and shredded, then pressed. The thing about a good rielette is that the temp and cooking times are very crucial to a good consistency. Its very easy to end up with dry meat and one can do there best to emulsify enough fat to make up for the dryness, but a good palette can always distinguish the difference. 
Easy solution....Jowls. 
Even a newbie could pull this one off and have it taste good and you'd have to do something seriously wrong to have this come out dry. I love the way the marbling of the kurobuta jowls show up throughout this terrine, and i already have plans for a 2.0 version of this where i'd like to press whole jowls throughout to show the amazing marbling.  I tend not to really like aggressive smoke in most things, i find it covers up the flavor of the meat too much, so i only smoked a third of the jowls for an hour or so and folded them in. I tried to fork the rielette, but jowls just dont shred as well as cubed pork, so i just used a whisk and left some chunky goodness here and there. 

Monday, June 29, 2009

48-hour Trotter

So, apparently, if one simmers a trotter for 48 hours, everything within that trotter becomes edible. 
The boys at the hoof kitchen are on hour 14-ish.... 
We've wrapped it up in cheesecloth, tied it and have been simmering it away on and off when we have space on our stove. 
If all goes well, we will chill it, slice it, bread it lightly and sear round discs. 
There are three textures we've been told, crispy on the outside, molten on the inside, and somewhere inbetween while chewing on the bones. 
This may go somewhere....but also may go nowhere.....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pickled Ramp Jam

Sometimes, infact a lot of times, great things come from big mistakes (ie: foie gras gojiberry). While trying to use my new pressure canner to preserve my pickled ramps, i overcooked the shit out of them. I am far from an authority of the pressure cooker, i've barely used one in my cooking career. Perhaps i need to cook in kitchen stadium for practice. Anyways, i overcooked the crap out of the first batch. 10 minutes under full pressure, and the brine came out of the jars and it was still boiling nearly 1/2 an hour after being taken out of the canner. Frustrated by my lack of success my first time around, i was determined to not have these guys see the garbage can. No one wants to smell ramps on the sidewalk, especially during a garbage strike. The brownish colour they took on was similar to caramelized onions, and the only thing that stood between the ramps and the bin, was some sugar and the hopes that it would make a great, or atleast interesting jam. In went the sugar, in went the brine and there i was waiting for that perfect consistency. 
I was a tad bit reluctant because these ramps were pickled in a dill pickle style. I was a little unsure of how that flavour would react with a boat load of sugar.
When it was all said and done, i took my first taste. To be honest, i wasn't sure i liked it. It was too unfamiliar of a taste for my taste buds. It wasn't until Colin and Jen, who both loved it, did my taste buds come around and begin to enjoy the unique flavor we had achieved. 
Its tough to describe the flavour, the dill is there, but you'd really only pin point it if i told you it was in there. The consistency is similar to a date in syrup, sticky and toffee like, but with the help of the pressure cooker, the integrity of the ramp shape, despite being overcooked, still help its shape and the perfect consistency for a jam. Jen thinks it would make a perfect accompaniment with the monkfish liver.... we shall see.
The success of this jam gives me a whole new way of thinking towards pickles.... what else could i make in to a jam with that acidic aromatic flavour much different from your typical fruit jam. 

Foie Gras and Monkfish Liver Terrine

Two weeks and one post of our 'hours of operation'....lame... i know. 
Anyways, This week a fun week. We got a few fishy things in to play around with from True World fish, a supplier of special japanese products. The first was whole sacs of fresh pollock fish roe. None of us in the kitchen are too familiar with what to do with them other then deep fry the suckers but were working on it and perhaps it will make an appearence in some form on the menu in the future. The other fun thing we got in was Monkfish livers. We made a terrine of foie gras mi-cuit with steamed monkfish liver set in the middle. The liver is very fishy, but in a good way. Once steamed, the consistency of the liver is almost identical to foie gras, which makes for a perfect match for this terrine. We havn't decided on what will actually go with this dish, but were toying with the idea of pairing it with a pickled ramp jam and a reduction of black vinegar. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hours of Operation

Since we dont have a website and more people then i thought read this blog i figured this would be a good place to post our Hours of Operation. First off, we are closed Tuesday's and Wednesday's. Last call for food on Thurs, Fri, and Sat. is at 1am, but the bar stays open till 2am. Last call for food on sunday/monday is 11:30 pm. with the bar closing at 12am. 
This Monday June 15th we will be closed for a private event off site.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Brain Carpaccio

Nic from Niagara St. Cafe had been asking about the raw veal brains ever since i ate it the other week. His birthday was on friday and he celebrated it with 50 other people at the hoof. What better a time to try version 2.0 then 2 in the morning on a friday night. I rinsed the brain and froze it vac packed. Out of the freezer, i sliced it thinly on the slicer and layed it on a plate with a bit of preserved lemon juice, maldon salt and cracked black pepper. 7 lucky people, including myself all took a slice on our fork. As soon as the fork  touched it, the brain shriveled up and clung to the fork. Nic described the consistency best. It had the consistency of an oyster. It was perhaps one of the most interesting things i have ever eaten. Im not sure it will go on the menu ever, but definitely something i will keep in the back of my head for special occasions.


Its been a long time coming, but our patio is up and running and were really happy with the way it turned out. 
Although it looks like G-mo and Colin may be posing for the camera, this was actually a pre-meditation period for us before our first friday night with an extra twenty something seats. 
It felt like we did 200 covers that night out of our small little kitchen, it started at 6 and we didn't look up till 1 in the morning. Good times. Its going to be a long summer!!