Really Fresh Grouper

My fish guy sends me some really go info. Here's what he sent today.

Chefs, I wanted to let you know that Captain Larry Richie of the “Marion J.” has just docked due north of the Apalachee Bay in Florida. He is off loading 500 pounds of Red and Black Grouper after just 1.5 days at sea. This fish were “line caught with a #30 deep water plug”!

Chicharrones de Harina

Derek picked up Chicharrones de Harina at the store this morning. They are made with rendered pork fat and flour. The first picture is the chicharrones in their dried form, very much like dried pasta.

These are the chicharrones after 20-30 seconds in the fryer. Light and airy with the flavor reminiscent of pork rinds. Imagine the possibilities if we can make the same dried dough formula with duck fat or shortrib fat.....Duck chicharrones with hoisin BBQ sauce and toasted coriander.

Two Good Reads

I'm in the middle of reading two really good books.The first one is, A Day at elBulli, An insight into the ideas, methods and creativity of Ferran Adria.

The second book is Eric Ripert's, On The Line, Inside the world of Le Bernardin.

Both of these books have two things in common. They chronicle a day in the life of the employees at their restaurants, and they both talk about their creative methods in developing new ideas.

A Day at elBulli is a quick read with a lot of pictures, it’s over 500 pages and I've read through 325 pages in one night. Ferran Adria presents several different ideas and methods staring with 8 Stages of developing a dish., and then progressing on to Creative Methods I, Creative Methods II and Creative Methods III.

In Method I, Adria explains four approaches; traditional and local cuisines, influences from other cuisines, technique-concept search, and techniques and concepts applied to food.

In Method II he explains creating by; association, inspiration, adaptation, deconstruction, minimalism, changes to the structure of the menu, and the search for new ingredients.

Method III dives into; the senses as a starting point, the sixth sense, symbiosis of the sweet and savoury worlds, commercial food in high-end cuisine, new ways of serving food, and changing the structure of dishes.

elBulli is closed for six months and the book does a great job explaining how this time is spent developing new dishes for the next year.

On The Line walks you through the different jobs at Le Bernardin, both in the kitchen and FOH. There’s ingredient lists of what's in the pantry and walk-ins, lists of what every cooks needs. Ripert does a great job illustrating the timelines for the arrival, preparation and the final path of the food.

There’s a chapter, The Birth Of A New Dish, that walks through the creative process and who’s involved. It examples two dishes with the actual notes of the give-and-take commentary that goes back and forth to refine the dish.

Also interesting is a FOH piece that list 129 “Cardinal Sins” to be avoided by the service staff.

Both books are a must read if you’d like to get inside the creative minds of these two chefs.

Broadmoor Bistro

This was amazing food regardless of who prepared it but it's even more amazing given the fact that it was done by high school students. Four course dinners for $25.00 really pushes the "unbelievable" envelope.

The Broadmoor Bistro is an amazing facility that I was lucky enough to tour with Chef Bob Brassard. Over the past 7 years, Bob has guided his students in local and national culinary competitions enabling them to earn over 1.6 million dollars in scholarship monies.

Junior and senior students from the district high schools enroll in year-long elective classes at Broadmoor Technical Center in their area of interest. Part of the culmination of the culinary arts instruction is the students’ skills application in the Broadmoor Bistro. Students create menus, cook, serve and run the Broadmoor Bistro.

Broadmoor’s Culinary and Commercial Baking Programs are presently considered to be one of the top educational secondary programs in the country. The program has produced a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 5 national finalists a year, for seven consecutive years.

For chef Bob’s efforts over the past seven years, Bob has been recently recognized by his educational peers being selected “ Culinary Educator of the Year, 2008.” by Foodservice Educators Network International.

“Bacon- Eggs”
Pan Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly, Shaved Winter Truffles, Presented with “Truffled” Egg-Yolk Ravioli, Shaved Pecorino, Goat Butter.

De-Constructed Oyster Rockefellers
Presented on baby spinach with Fennel Pollen, Saffron “Paint”, and Licorice Root.

Potato-Leek Soup
Shallot Crisp, Herb Oil, Micro Celery

Mizzuna Salad
Petite Greens garnished with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Candied Apple, Persimmon Oil “Stewed” Cranberries, Almond Streusel.

Muscovy Duck Breast
Presented with Wild Leeks-Fava Bean Confit, Blood Orange Jus.

Hickory Grilled Sirloin
Chanterelle Hash, Roasted Cauliflower Chick Pea Puree, Zinfandel Jelly

Rosemary “Brined” Wood Roasted Organic Chicken
Smoked Gouda-Chive Grits, Grilled Asparagus, Cider Caramel

Chocolate Crunch
Pistachio Fancier, Chocolate Malt Mousse, Cocoa Nibs, Macchiato Syrup

Gingerbread-Eggnog Ice Cream Crumb Cake
Gingerbread Gennoise, Peppermint- Eggnog Semi- Fredo, Bourbon Paint

White Chocolate Cheesecake Gelato
Olive Oil Cake, Candied Ginger, Cherry Bash and Lemon Curd

Extreme Sourdough

I’ve made several posts about our  sourdough experiments using a 13 year old starter we maintain. I also recently made a post about braised shortribs and the all important pure rendered shortrib fat that’s a byproduct of the cooking process. On a whimsy today those two things came together as I prepared to bake sourdough. First I melted the shortrib fat and brushed it on the dough, it is truly savory good stuff. Then topped the dough with thyme and whole rosemary sprigs followed by bleu cheese and then into the oven. Sourdough + beef + bleu cheese & herbs is an ethereal combination. I wish you could be here to receive a loaf of this heavenly bread, if you click on the picture to get a close-up you can almost taste it. This would make the perfect bread for a steakhouse concept.

The second picture is a Parmigiano-Reggiano sourdough with fresh herbs. The remarkable blistering on this bread is produced by a slow 24 hour fermentation that gives the bread its unique character and extraordinary crust.

'Smores Concoction

A cross between a sweet terrine of sorts, a papillote of sorts and a fondue of sorts. Maybe it's just wrong to draw comparisons to what it's "most like" because there isn't anything like it.

Hot chocolate ganache, marshmallow cream, crystallized graham crackers, strawberries.

Seasonal Denial

Although the end of summer officially occurred several weeks ago, according to the calendar, it just ended this week for me as I tore out the garden after the first hard frost set in. Last week I picked 50-60 green tomatoes ahead of the frost. That last trip to the garden also yielded jalapenos, rhubarb and sage. I didn’t pick the sage because it continues to grow in harsh conditions.

Although I thoroughly enjoy the hearty fare and cooking styles of the winter, and I’m sure I’ll become emotionally attached to it also, I will miss the spontaneity of the summer.

As I look back over our summer posts I have a few favorites that make me long for the return of this abundant season. First off, the farmers markets, Soulard farmers market, local markets and the roadside peach orchard. Next we had the first garden pictures of the summer, followed by two cooking from the garden articles, “So little is so much”, and “Home dinner – cooking from the garden”. And last but not least, the ongoing battle with vegetable consuming insects that prey on organic gardens.

The only thing that really turns me off about the winter is the uniform transformation of all the cooking magazines……there’s a big damn turkey on the front cover! Seriously, do we really need this much info about cooking a bird? It’s a perennial rerun. I just got Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Food & Wine…..turkey, turkey, turkey – Apricot glazed, shallot-dijon gravy, black truffle butter, white wine gravy………The only turkey article I care to see is Alton Brown's Turkey Derrik Blue Prints.

Hello Winter, good bye summer, I’ll see you right after the March equinox.

Juniper Berries

In the Fall as the juniper berries start turning from green to purple you'd better pick them before the birds swoop in and devour them all. We've used juniper berries before but not fresh berries, they've always been dried. It just so happens we have an abundance of them growing outside of the kitchen so I decided to roast them to make a juniper oil.

For more than 300 years, juniper berries have been a popular flavoring agent for gin. The word gin comes from the Dutch word for juniper, "geniver."

We think the flavor of juniper could make the perfect accompaniment to butternut squash pasta, acorn squash gnocchi or roasted beets.

One interesting observation; they need to be covered while roasting because some of the berries will explode, and I me really explode. If you look at the side of the sheet pan in this picture you'll see some juniper dust, that's from the berries bursting into total disintegration.

Grind the roasted berries into a dust, add to olive oil and steep on a low heat for 15 minutes. Strain through cheese cloth.

Comfort Food Personified

Meatloaf is the perfect metaphor for an uncomplicated, simpler life. It's such a humble dish, it should be on the White House menu. Everyone in Washington could use a little meatloaf. Sorry about the politics.....back to the meatloaf. This was version #9, we were aiming for a lighter, more flavorful meatloaf and #9 proved to be perfection in the field of meatloaf arts. Light & moist yet encapsulating the fat into the final product, which is a good thing because if you render out the fat you'll lose flavor and end up with a dense "Meatcake".

Meatloaf #9Mashed Yukon gold potatoes, red wine mushroom sauce, French green beans and baby carrots with maple butter, onion straws.


Chef Colby Garrelts, who was nominated in 2008 & 2007 for “Best Chef Midwest” by the James Beard Foundation and was named by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the Top 10 Best New Chefs in 2005, obtained his culinary education in kitchens across the country. A native of Kansas City, Garrelts cooked at two prestigious private clubs, the famed American Restaurant, and the legendary Stollen Grill while attending culinary school. Garrelts developed a taste for big city cuisine, small business acumen and the aspiration to see what culinary experiences he could acquire in larger cities. With all of this on his mind, Garrelts moved to Chicago in 1999, where he became the senior sous chef at the five-star, five-diamond restaurant TRU, under nationally acclaimed chefs Rick Tramanto and Gale Gand. At TRU, Garrelts honed his technical skills, developed his culinary style and met his future wife/partner Megan Schultz.

After graduating from the CIA in 2000, Megan Schultz moved back home where she worked with Pastry Chef Gale Gand, another recipient of the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Pastry Chef Award at TRU in Chicago. TRU raised Megan's level of professional standards and helped formulate her personal vision of fine pastries. Chef Gand gave her pastry staff the freedom to develop menu items and this let Schultz create pastries in her own style. While working at TRU, she met her future husband, Colby Garrelts.

Amuse Bouche of Salted Watermelon

Crispy Sweetbread Fritters
Thanes's potato's, frisée, dijon, speck, hot béarnaise

Wagyu Tartare
Giardiniera, black olive caramel, potato crisps

Fall Missouri Beets
Whipped maytag, arugula, walnuts, champagne vinaigrette

Torchon de Foie Gras
Apple butter, amarena cherries, peanut, brioche bread pudding

Pumpkin Gnocchi
Brown butter, summer squash, sage

Crab, garlic, chili, prosciutto

Diver Scallops
Summer corn, calamari, rapini, fava beans, soy jus

Roasted Halibut
Saffron braised cabbage, orzo, brussels sprouts, almond fennel milk

Seared Striploin
Warm tomato & asparagus, potato espuma, burgundy jus

Wild Coho Salmon
Braised bacon, warm fingerlings, green beans, mustard

Campo Lindo Hen
Swiss chard, la quericia prosciutto, hominy cake, succotash thyme jus

Roast Porkloin
Braised puy lentils, spiced plums, golden raisins, almonds

Pumpkin Custard
Warm ginger madeleines, bourbon gelee, mascarpone ice cream

Chocolate Praline Mousse
Toffee crusted feuille de brick, mini popcorn balls, cinnamon bubbles

Fried Vanilla Cheese Cake
Milk chocolate poached pears, lemon cream, bittersweet chocolate sauce

Assortment of Caramel and Gelée

Winter Menu Development Begins

Today on the 1st day of October we began winter development for January. Here's a glimpse of some warm, comforting ideas we have on our minds. I know I'll regret saying this, but I want it to snow so that I can hide away in a corner booth and immerse myself in the comfort of all that is right about winter food.

Pappardelle pasta, roasted chicken, oyster & shiitake mushrooms, arugula, roasted garlic chicken broth, fresh thyme, romano cheese, pine nuts

The skill of twirling pappardelle displayed here

Creamy polenta with mascarpone cheese. Can you imagine, a bowl of this on a cold winter bet you can, you'd sell your mother for this

Top secret, we'll let you know when we figure it out.

Fragrant Seafood Tagine

Morocco + Thailand
Before recipe development even began we needed to find a vessel. Purchasing the right tagine has been an adventure. I bought two at Sur La Table and one from World Market. I have two more coming from Le Creuset, they're pretty proud of their tagines at $150.00 each. I saw a tagine in Michael Mina's book, its white china; although it looks nice it's not the earthy essence of what a tagine is. I ate a tagine dish at David Burke's restaurant in Las Vegas a couple of years ago but it didn't have a manufacturer listed on the bottom, that's part of R&D you know, turn everything over and find out who's making it. The search continues for a tagine that's original yet can hold up under heavy usage in a restaurant.

Scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels, sweet potatoes, leeks, red peppers, cilantro, key limes, jasmine rice, Thai green curry sauce.

Anthony Bourdain, a cooks friend

As I mentioned in a previous post, Houlihan’s in conjunction with the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts brought Anthony Bourdain to town for a presentation at the Midland Theatre and a reception at our Bristol’s Seafood Grill in downtown Kansas City. After an early evening media event for the local press Bourdain naturally ended up in the kitchen and actually had to be told three times that it was time to leave to do the show…..he’s a kitchen guy at heart and finds comfort hanging out on the line with the chefs and cooks, perhaps because the cooks don't ask questions about his Forbes listing, lifestyle habits or politics. He's always placed as much importance on who's cooking the food as the food itself, so he made a point of spending time with the cooks, signing their jackets, aprons, hats, etc. He remembers where he came from and has great respect for the cooks who drive the train.

We spent a little time talking shop, you know, the usual kitchen stuff; the ticketing system crashing on a Saturday night and sending the kitchen into a tailspin as everything becomes hand written. We talked about different kitchen layouts such as; Wylie Dufresne at wd50 in New York has as much space in the kitchen as the dining room. This is contrary to most kitchen designs because usually the goal is to squeeze as many seats out of a given space as possible. AB said that when he was at Les Halles in NY that the size of the dining room greatly expanded after his fame but the only edition to the kitchen was an extra fryer….pommes frites for everyone I guess.

The most interesting kitchen layout he’s ever seen is at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. There is a huge empty space between the food pickup area and the dining room. This allows servers the opportunity to pick up food and “decompress”, to shed the hectic energy of the kitchen before entering the dining room, ensuring the stress stays in the kitchen. Keller also brought in a ballet instructor to teach servers the proper body movements that should exhibited when entering the dining room. Such attention to detail is incredible; it reminds me of when I toured the kitchen at Charlie Trotter’s In Chicago, the food pickup area has lighting set to the same lumen's as the dining room so that the chefs are looking at dishes the same way the customers see them.

Bourdain on the line with the cooks at Bristol's.

Myself and AB, damn he's tall.