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.

Super Foods

Food Arts Magazine, September 2008
Wrtten By Food Arts Culinary Director Patrick McDonnell
Photos by Gabe Hopkins

Dan Admire, vice president culinary, Houlihan’s Kansas City “I’m responsible for menu development at Houlihan’s, J. Gilbert’s Wood Fired Steaks, Bristol Seafood Grill, Braxton, Devon, and Chequers. Our focus is contemporary American cuisine using seasonal and regional products. If you buy the best products possible at the peak of their season and apply solid cooking techniques, then the natural flavor will come through. This is what provides good food memories. When salmon no longer tastes like salmon because too many unnecessary or overpowering ingredients are used with it, you have a real disconnect and people can’t tie it back to something they remember they enjoyed.”

“Place cilantro, pepitas, garlic and Serrano chiles in a blender; puree while slowly adding olive oil. Sauté dice red peppers, green peppers, Idaho potatoes, and sweet potatoes in separate pans until tender and browned; mix them with freshly shucked corn; and some chopped parsley and thyme; season. Brush wild salmon steaks with olive oil; season both sides; cook on a grill. Center hash in a large bowl; top with salmon; garnish salmon with sautéed Swiss chard; drizzle the pesto around.”


“Reduce a cup of balsamic vinegar to a half cup in a nonreactive saucepan; remove from heat; whisk in sugar; bring to a boil; remove from heat; cool. Place mango slices in the bottom of chilled bowls; cover with pear slices; evenly distribute blackberries, blueberries, halved strawberries, orange segments, and grapefruit segments over all; top with Marcona almonds and julienned mint; place a scoop of cheese onto the top center of the fruit; drizzle very fine lines of balsamic glaze over fruit in a zigzag pattern; garnish with sliced candied kumquats.”

Shelter From The Storm

Come in, she said,Ill give you shelter from the storm
Bob Dylan 1976

Today the temperature dropped and it started to rain, which made this dish seem so appropriate. The hearty flavors of winter on a cool dreary day are good for the soul.

Braised Boneless Beef ShortribsOyster & shiitake mushrooms, baby carrots, pearl onions, mashed potatoes, marsala, pan jus, horseradish gremolata.

A Flash From The Past

We're not going to resurrect a Chaud-Froid presentation, Gelee de Volaille or Terrine de Faisan, but we did pull a little something from the traditional French repertoire. Sometimes traditional cuisine is a great thing. The very meaning of traditional suggests it will be great........I mean why would you make a tradition out of something that sucked?

Baked Escargot
Garlic-pernod butter, parmesan cheese

Fall Desserts

I know, it's 100° outside and we're working on desserts for the fall, but I hate eleventh hour ideation. It's a mental leap, not to mention the unavailability of most seasonal items. Despite the temperature we made some really good progress. Here's three items to put you in the holiday mood.

Warm Italian Zeppole Donuts
Cinnamon-clove poached apples, sweet cherry compote, vanilla bean ice cream.

Cranberry-Apple “Linzer”
Orange crème anglaise, mulled red wine syrup.

Cranberry-Pear Tart
Crème anglaise, cinnamon & red wine reduction.

Anthony Bourdain - coming to town

I’ve read all of his books and watched all the TV episodes and I have many questions:

  • When you went to Egypt did you really not go to the pyramids?
  • How much fun was it sitting at the “wall of meat” in Uruguay with your brother Chris?
  • What’s harder, working the sauté station on a Saturday night at Les Hailes or climbing through a Jamaican cave ankle deep in bat feces?
  • On the cover of your book, “A Cooks Tour”, the subtitle is “In Search Of The Perfect Meal”, have you found it yet?..............