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Brunch, We Love it a Bunch!

Wednesday, March 11

Brunch, a meal blending the best of breakfast offerings and standard lunch fare, originating in England in the late 1800’s, but finding popularity in the United States in the 1930’s, or so it is described by Wikipedia. To cooks, it’s a contentious word, usually involving them having to give up their Saturday evening activities early to make their way into the kitchen before the sun rises so that they can cater to twentysomethings who want all the creature comforts of the morning meal without having to see any of the morning itself. Making the task of preparing this meal all that much more pleasurable is the certainty that someone will tell you that your soft poached eggs are “just a little too soft for my liking” or that their toast wasn’t quite toasted enough or buttered like their mom used to do it. It would seem that in order to qualify as a brunch diner you must be an expert in all things breakfast cooking, while also knowing the cheapest spot in town for eggs benedict. It almost never ceases to amaze me how much people expect during the brunch hour, and for so little. Sure, they could buy a carton of eggs, some fresh bacon, and a loaf of fresh bread at the store and throw this together in their sleep, but it’s way easier to come to the restaurant and complain about the way someone else did their work.

 

I’m not bitter about brunch at all, I swear! Maybe it’s just that I’m not really a morning person. When I am up at that time of day I tend to lean towards something quick to inhale before I race out the day. Often that ends up being a bowl of cereal packed full of fruit. Sometimes, just sometimes when I’m in the mood, and my little monster is craving something tasty to fill her up in the morning, I get a little creative though. Sometimes we throw together some banana bread French toast. Other times we do some strawberry and cream cheese smeared waffles. Other days it’s chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes. No matter what we end up whipping up, it’s always something a little fun and playful.

 

Just over a year ago we opened Hart’s Table & Bar, and with it came it’s own brunch menu. As much as the idea of opening early in the morning was met with some reluctance, I actually had a lot of fun coming up with the brunch menu, and even spent the first couple of months cooking it up myself. Thankfully we have a good group of skilled cooks there now, so I get to spend most of my weekend mornings at home with family. Here’s one of the funkiest brunch items we came up with when Chef Tony and I were brainstorming. He threw out the idea of making carrot cake pancakes, and from there we played around until we came up with this delicious recipe. Give it a try for yourself this weekend, or skip the dishes and come see us. We will even greet you with a smile!

 

Carrot Cake Pancakes w/ Cream Cheese Icing

 

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Special Tools: a griddle or non-stick pan is ideal, but not necessary, a mixer

Makes: about 10-12 pancakes

 

 

For the pancakes:

1 cup              AP flour

¾ tbsp.          baking powder

1 tbsp.            almonds, chopped fine

1 tbsp.            brown sugar

1 tbsp.            sugar

¼ tsp.             cinnamon

¼ tsp.             nutmeg

2 ea.                eggs

¾ cup             buttermilk

2 cups             carrots, fine grated

½ cup             raisins

1 tbsp.            lemon zest

3-4 tbsp.        melted butter for cooking

 

For the cream cheese icing:

1 stick            cream cheese

¼ cup             icing sugar

2 tsp.              cinnamon

1 tsp.              vanilla

1 cup              whipping cream

 

For eating:

Some good quality Quebec maple syrup

 

  • Start with preparing the cream cheese spread
  • In a bowl or the bowl of a Kitchen Aid, cream together the cream cheese and the icing sugar until smooth
  • Add the cinnamon, vanilla, and the cream
  • Slowly blend the cream in to combine, but don’t overmix, as it will become grainy
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve, now for the pancakes!
  • Begin by sifting the flour into a large bowl
  • Then add the baking powder, brown sugar, sugar, almonds, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  • Using a whisk, stir the dry ingredients to combine
  • In a separate bowl combine the eggs, and buttermilk
  • Whisk until combined
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until combined
  • Lastly, fold in the carrots, raisins, and lemon zest
  • Let stand for about 10 minutes for the ingredients to come together
  • This recipe may require an additional couple of tablespoons of buttermilk, or even milk to attain the right consistency, it should not be thin and runny, but it also should be able to pour fairly well with a ladle, adjust accordingly, if necessary
  • Once the batter is ready, heat a medium sized pan to medium heat
  • Add a little bit of melted butter and swirl to coat the bottom
  • Then quickly add the batter, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but not too much, swirl the batter around the pan to cover evenly
  • Let cook until it begins to brown slightly around the outside, and begins to bubble in the centre, about 2-3 minutes
  • Flip the pancake over and repeat cooking on the other side
  • If the pancake is too browned on the outside before it is cooked in the centre turn the heat down slightly, if the pancake is cooked through, without browning at all turn the heat up slightly
  • Repeat with the remaining batter until all of the pancakes are cooked
  • You don’t need to make your pancakes look the way that mine do, they will taste just as good even if you don’t present them quite the same, just smear them with the cream cheese, drizzle them with maple syrup and the kids will be in heaven!

 

Who’s hungry?

Beat The Heat With These Summer Treats!

Friday, June 27

Beat The Heat With These Fun Treats!

With the kids out of school and summer in full swing it’s time for we parents to get creative with keeping our kids entertained. It seems that the pressure has never been greater to be a Super-parent and have every day of the summer planned with fun-filled activities. It’s like every stay at home mom is competing with her “friends” on Facebook to have the coolest yard, the best toys, the oversized splash parks, the craziest field trips, and, of course, the most delicious kid friendly snacks. Things sure have changed. When I was young I left the house shortly after breakfast with a baseball glove, fishing pole, or hockey stick in hand, and would spend the remainder of my day getting into whatever wild and zany activity that my friends and I could come up with. I would only make it home long enough to refuel or change into a clean and/or dry outfit. If my mother only knew the kinds of things we got up to she probably wouldn’t have let me leave the house, but I survived. I might even go so far as to say that I turned out okay despite all of the shenanigans. It leaves me thinking that maybe, just maybe, our parents had it all figured out and it’s time to let go a little bit. Instead of being a Super-parent, take the training wheels off, let go of the harness and let your kids have a little fun again.  What’s the worst that could happen? They develop an imagination and a little independence? Sounds awful.

Something tells me that no parent is going to take advice from a cook on how to raise their children, so rather than try to continue to share my feedback, here’s some delicious home made popsicles that will surely make your fellow Super-parents jealous when you post pictures of your perfect kids eating them. Oh, and if you feel you need a little treat too, there are some tasty adult only Poptails that will help you cope with the idea of having to be a full time parent for the next 90 days. Cheers!

Before we get into them, there are a few pointers to consider. You will need a decent blender for all of these. You will obviously need some popsicle molds to pour the liquids into as well. They are very easy to find at most big box stores and are quite cheap. Alternatively you can use a paper cup and a popsicle stick, although I actually found it cheaper and easier to find the molds than it was to find popsicle sticks anymore. Once you nail these down you will realize that you can pretty much make any of your favorite drinks into popsicles. The key is to remember that they require a little bit of sugar to ensure they are a little soft, rather than simply ice cubes. That doesn’t always mean refined white sugar, it can be natural sugars found in fruit, or even honey, jam, cane sugar, or simple syrup. Follow these ideas to start, and then create your own favorites! All of the popsicles will take at least 4-6 hours to freeze. To pop them out, run the mold under a little hot water until it slides out.

Berry-Coconut Yoghurt Popsicles

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooling Time: 4-6 hours at least

Makes: about 8

 

8 oz.               fresh mixed berries (choose your favorite!)

1 ea.                lime, juice only

1 tbsp.            honey

1.5 cups         honey yoghurt

½ cup             coconut milk

pinch              salt

  • In a bowl combine berries, lime juice and honey, let stand 10 minutes
  • Roughly smash the berries to soften up
  • In a separate bowl combine the yoghurt, coconut milk
  • Then fold in the berries, being sure to leave behind streaks, rather than working it in completely
  • Place in the molds and freeze at least 4-6 hours

 Nutella Fudgesicles

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooling Time: 4-6 hours

Makes: about 8 popsicles                                            

3 ea.                bananas, over ripe, frozen

½ cup             Nutella

1 tbsp.            cocoa powder

½ cup             milk

½ tsp.              vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract

¼ cup             hazelnuts, chopped

  • Peel the bananas and slice into chunks
  • Place bananas, nutella, milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla in blender
  • Blend until smooth
  • Fold in the chopped hazelnuts for some texture inside the popsicle
  • Place in the popsicle molds and freeze at least 4-6 hours

Grapefruit & Strawberry Greyhound  Poptails (not kid friendly)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooling Time: 4-6 hours, at least

Makes: about 8 popsicles

8 oz.               ruby red grapefruit juice (fresh, if you can)

12-15 ea.       medium strawberries

2 tbsp.            honey (optional, depending on how ripe your berries are)

5 oz.               vodka

 

  • Trim the stems off of the strawberries
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a blender
  • Blend until smooth
  • Pour into molds and freeze at least 4-6 hours

 

 

 

 

Blackberry-Pinot Poptails (not kid friendly)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooling Time: 6 hours or more

Makes: about 8 pops

 

¼ cup             cane sugar (you can sub honey or regular old sugar if you must)

3 tbsp.            water

5 cups            blackberries

1 cup              pinot noir

 

  • Combine cane sugar and water in a small pan, bring to a simmer to dissolve sugar
  • Remove from heat and cool
  • Once cool combine the berries and sugar in the blender, blend, slowly adding the wine
  • Take the concoction, if you like a little more wine in there I’m not going to judge!
  • Pour into your molds and freeze for at least 6 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Review of The Chef Movie

Wednesday, June 4

In this business we have to work hard, but we also like to play hard. Getting that rare time away from the business is important, especially when we get to do it together, over good food, good drinks and good company.

Last week I was given just that chance to get some of my team together for the premiere of Jon Favreau’s new film, Chef. Given the title and the storyline how could we not make a night of it and check this movie out? Before plopping in a theatre chair for two hours of escape we needed a little sustenance to ensure we wouldn’t need to settle for theatre snacks mid-show.

Being the carnivores we are, a stop at the newest addition to the Whyte ave. area, Meat, seemed the perfect choice. The concept is the brainchild of the team at The Next Act Pub, and prides itself on delivering an authentic BBQ experience. The room is cool and modern, with a collection of communal tables, encouraging people to come together and break….meat. I will leave the detailed dining review to the experts, but will say this; they do BBQ justice. The smoked chicken and the Andouille sausage were two of the meal’s highlights for me, and the rest of the table seemed to fight over the brisket.  If you are a meat lover you won’t be disappointed. Get there early though, this is sure to become a hipster haven!

With food in our belly and a few frosty suds knocked back we made our way to the theatre to see if Hollywood finally get it right when it comes to describing what really takes place in a kitchen. Sure, they’ve had talented chefs consult on movies like Spanglish, No Reservations, and The Five Year Engagement, but these were movies that included chefs, and didn’t really hit the mark.

Given my past experience with movies like this, and my sheer terror of what usually happens when Hollywood gathers “a stellar ensemble cast” , my expectations were low going into the evening, but I am pleased to say that they were actually surpassed.

The story was that of a successful L.A. chef, working for an owner who was content for him to keep doing what he was doing. When the chef got wind that he was going to be reviewed by L.A.’s top food critic e wanted to flex his culinary muscles and impress, but the restaurant owner, shall I say encouraged, him to “play the hits” rather than go out on a limb. To no surprise the chef was lambasted when the review came out. The chef, lacking any social media savvy, then got into a pissing match with said critic on twitter, which led to him paying the restaurant another visit. Again, the owner pressed the chef to not change the menu, which led to the chef throwing in the towel and walking out, only to return later that night, through the front door to face his critic. In what might have been the highlight of the film he proceeded to feed it to the critic, both figuratively and literally, something most every chef has dreamed of doing, with little having the fortitude to go through with it. That scene was worthy of a slow clap.

Where the movie touched me most was the accurate portrayal of how we in this business often choose to sacrifice our time with our family for the sake of our careers. It also allowed for Hollywood to work it’s magic and tell a touching story of choosing family over career as this chef was able to find his passion again and well, you can probably guess what comes next. Yes, the plot was pretty predictable, even down to the redemption piece with the critic, but I guess they couldn’t spend two hours following a chef around a kitchen, telling crude jokes and swearing at service staff could they? All in all it was really good movie that had some good laughs, painted a fairly accurate picture of our lives, if not romanticizing it a little too much. If you’ve spent some time in this business it’s definitely worth watching, as you will definitely relate. Don’t go getting any ideas about leaving your job and opening a food truck though! I don’t want to deal with any hate mail from your bosses! With that, I will now end my illustrious movie critic career almost as soon as it began.

After watching the movie and salivating at the memory of this sandwich, how could I not throw one together for you. Try it, you’ll never make a plain grilled cheese again.

Classic Cuban Sandwich

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Special Tools: A Panini press would help, but isn’t necessary

Feeds: 4 people

This is the perfect simple sandwich to put together and enjoy on the deck on a nice sunny day with a cold beer. A true Cuban sandwich usually only has mustard, but I like the addition of a little bit of mayo to help mellow out the mustard and provide even a little more richness.

4 ea.              French sub buns, or Cuban loaves, but they’re hard to find

12 slices        ham, I like black forest, but it’s not necessary

12 slices        roast pork

12 slices        Swiss cheese

4 ea.              large dill pickles

½ cup            regular mustard

¼ cup            mayonnaise

TT                 S&P

Butter, don’t be shy!

  • Remove the butter from the fridge to ensure it is soft
  • If using the Panini press, plug it in and warm it up
  • In a small bowl combine the mayo and mustard
  • Using a knife or a mandolin, thinly slice the pickles into medallions
  • Using a serated knife, slit your buns in half lengthwise
  • Smear a tablespoon or so of the mayo mix on each side of all of the buns
  • Now, lay the sliced pickles down, splitting them up evenly between all of the buns
  • Place 3 slices of Swiss on each sandwich, followed by 3 slices of the ham and the roast pork
  • If using a frying pan, place it on medium heat now
  • Close the sandwiches and then smear the top generously with softened butter
  • Place the buttered side down in the pan or on the Panini press
  • Butter the top side generously
  • If using the Panini press, press down the top and allow the bun to crisp up and brown nicely
  • If using a frying pan, use a spatula to press down the sandwich and let the bun crisp up, it should take 2-3 minutes brown on either side
  • If your timing is right the bun will be nicely browned while the meat is heated through and the Swiss cheese is nicely melted

Enjoy this sandwich with some plantain or Yuca chips and a cold frosty and it will be sure to hit the spot.

 

Who’s hungry?

Give Your Special Lady the Best Mother’s Day Gift!

Friday, May 9

We get so busy in our day-to-day lives that sometimes we men take for granted just how great the women in our lives are. While we grind our way through the workday to get home and lay on the couch, complaining about how tough our day is and how tired we are, all the while she has also put in a full day of work, picked up the kids from school, helped them with their homework, got dinner ready, did a load of laundry, and tidied up our mess. Let’s face it men, the reality is that women are the superior gender. They are just nice enough to let us feel like we are. Some men have already wised up to this and adorn the cherished women in their life with gifts and offerings of gratitude. For the rest of us there is one day. One day that should be all about recognizing those ladies in our lives that do so much and make it look so effortless. Pay close attention here gents, that day is Mother’s Day, and that day is this Sunday!

 

If you haven’t made plans to take your mom, wife, and family out for brunch yet, you may be in trouble. Only slightly behind Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, this is one of the busiest days of the year for most restaurants. Booking a table at your better half’s favorite restaurant may be out of the question already (but because I work in the business I suggest you call them anyway!). If you are in out of luck when it comes to finding a table then it’s time for you to come up with plan B. What is the best back up plan in a situation like this? Breakfast in bed! Taking the time to prepare a simple and delicious breakfast for your wife, even getting the kids involved, is a sure way to earn some brownie points and really show her your appreciation. To take this year’s breakfast to the next level though, it’s time to pull off eggs benedict. No woman can resist the deliciousness of slow poached eggs on a freshly toasted English muffin all smothered in rich, succulent hollandaise. Now this dish isn’t for the faint of heart or the completely inept, but, with a little guidance I can walk you through it. If you consider yourself a visual learner then I recommend you tune in to Global Edmonton this Saturday morning at 8:15, at which time I will take you through the steps, making this easy enough for you to pull off yourself.

 

Eggs Benedict

 

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Feeds: 4 people

Tools: Medium metal bowl, whisk, medium pot, slotted spoon, fine mesh strainer, coffee filter, toaster

 

The dish that we are preparing is classic eggs benedict, but once you master this, you can easily change it up. The image included is a delicious lobster and arugula eggs benedict. I have done steak and eggs benedict, crab and avocado, and countless others. It really comes down to thinking about what your special someone really enjoys.

 

4 ea.                English muffins

8 ea.                eggs

8 slices          back bacon

 

for the hollandaise:

4 ea.                egg yolks

1 lb.                butter

1 cup              white wine

1 tbsp.            minced shallots

½ tsp.                        whole peppercorns

1 ea.                bay leaf

1 tbsp.            vinegar

1 wedge         lemon, juice only

TT                   Lea & Perrins

TT                   Tabasco

TT                   S&P

 

To poach the eggs:

1 tbsp.            vinegar

 

  • The first step in making eggs benedict is preparing for the hollandaise, and that begins with clarifying the butter
  • To make clarified butter slice the pound of butter into 4-5 chunks and place in deep pot, in medium heat
  • While it is melting, set up the fine mesh strainer with the coffee filter inside,  place over the top of a heat proof  1 lt. container
  • The butter is first going to melt, and then begin to separate, with the water steaming off, the milk solids sinking to the bottom, leaving the fat to clarify, this will take about 10-15 minutes, depending on how high you are cooking it, look for the butter to foam twice, the first time as it simmers, the second time as the milk solids begin to brown slightly and separate, when you see that foam the second time, and a slight browning around the outside of the pot that’s a sign that your butter is clarified, now you must move quickly
  • Quickly and carefully pour the butter through the filter into the container, letting gravity drain the fat, while keeping the milk solids trapped in the filter, set aside clarified butter, discard milk solids
  • Now it’s time to prepare the wine reduction for the hollandaise
  • In a small pot place the white wine, minced shallots, bay leaf, and vinegar
  • Bring the white wine mixture to a simmer and let simmer until reduced to about ¼ of it’s original volume
  • Once reduced, strain through a fine strainer
  • The clarified butter and the white wine reduction can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until needed
  • When ready to make the hollandaise place a medium pot with water on the stove, about half full (this can also be your egg poaching pot!)
  • Ensure your clarified butter is warm, at least body temperature
  • Place the egg yolks in the stainless steel bowl and add the white wine reduction
  • Whisk the egg yolks with the reduction, place over the pot of hot water and continue to whisk vigorously, you are to cook the mixture by slowly bringing up the temperature, without scrambling the eggs, keep whisking! Once the mixture thickens like a light custard remove from heat
  • Using some help, or steadying your bowl, very slowly add the warm clarified butter to the egg mixture while whisking vigorously. You are creating an emulsion and must whisk to combine
  • Continue to whisk in all of  the butter as the hollandaise begins to take shape
  • Once hollandaise is thickened, it’s time to adjust the flavoring
  • Squeeze the juice of the lemon wedge in, followed by a splash of Lea & Perrins and Tabasco.  Finish with salt and pepper and keep in a warm environment, until ready to serve this must be served quickly, *hollandaise should be prepared to order, and not be stored for any longer than one hour
  • Time to finish off your eggs benedict
  • Slice the English muffins in half and toast in toaster
  • Heat your 8 slices of back bacon (or lobster, or meat of choice)
  • Now, place 1 tbsp. of vinegar in your pot of boiling water
  • Using your slotted stir the water slightly
  • One by one, crack the eggs into the pot gently
  • Cook the eggs to your desired liking, generally about 2-3 minutes for soft, 3-4 for medium, and 5+ for hard
  • Lay the English muffins down side by side, top with back bacon,  use the slotted spoon to remove the eggs and place on top of the back bacon
  • Cover the eggs generously with your delicious hollandaise and serve with your wife’s favorite sides and hot cup of coffee

 

Most importantly, clean up after yourself and do the dishes! Nothing spoils the surprise more than having to clean up after your messy husband.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, to my beautiful wife, and to all the mothers out there that put up with us. We men would be lost without you! 

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Tuesday, January 28

Are you ready for some football? Of course you are! You’ve spent your last three paycheques on your 80” HD big screen, you splurged to get the HDPVR so that you can get the American commercials, had your tech-savvy buddy set up your surround sound, and you spent hours strategically placing the living room furniture to ensure everyone has the optimum view, the stage is set! This year’s game surely won’t disappoint either. With the powerful offense of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos facing the impenetrable defense of Seattle Seahawks, equipped with the support of their 12th man, it is sure to be a thriller. Half time entertainment should pack a punch too with the likes of Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers taking the stage. Let’s be honest though, most years, it’s the overly expensive commercials that steal the show.  I’ll be honest, seeing Tom Brady lose to Peyton Manning felt like my own little Superbowl victory. Tom’s got enough already, chiselled good looks, Superbowl rings, super model wife, and countless lucrative sponsorship deals. That guy has won the lottery more than enough for one lifetime!

Nobody’s asking me to share my “highly skilled” knowledge about football though. What I can help you with is a little advice on how to feed your gridiron guests. After all, you’ve spent all this time and money planning, you wouldn’t want to blow it by serving stale chips and cold take-out pizza that tastes like the cardboard box it was delivered in. This year, it’s time your menu lives up to the rest of your Super Bowl experience.

So, the real question you need to ask yourself is, are you ready to make some great eats for the big game? With Super Bowl 48 just mere days away it’s time to put the finishing touches on the feast you intend on serving. You don’t need to be Martha Stewart or break the bank to do so either. Whip up a tasty batch of chilli. It requires maybe 30 minutes of preparation and once it’s going, throw it in the slow cooker and don’t worry about it until halftime. Sex up your nachos by making some delicious pulled pork to throw on top. Again, the slow cooker will do most of the work, and your guests will thank you for it. Take a few minutes to peruse my website https://chefpaulshufelt.com for lots of delicious and simple to make dishes to spice up your Superbowl munchies.

One delicious dish you can try are these tasty steak tacos. They will satisfy the hunger of even the largest of linebackers at your party! I will also share a few pointers for making these as simple or as elaborate as you choose.

Chipotle Lime Steak Tacos

Prep Time: 20-60 minutes

Inactive Marinating Time: 1 hour

Cooking Time: 12-15 minutes

Tools Required: BBQ

Makes: about 24 tacos

 

3 lbs.                       striploin steak, about 4 (you can use sirloin for cost savings)

4 tbsp.                                     chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 ea.                        lime, juice only

½ cup                    canola oil

¼ cup                     BBQ sauce, sweeter variety, not too smoky

¼ bunch              fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (serve the rest as condiments)

½ stalk                 green onion, chopped

1 tbsp.                                     minced garlic

1 tbsp.                                     honey

TT                             S&P

 

1 lb.                         aged white cheddar (could also use Monterey jack, jalapeno Havarti)

½ head                 cabbage, shredded (or you can buy shredded cabbage)

2 cups                    pico  de gallo (fresh salsa, recipe is on my website, or use a jar)

1 cup                      sour cream

1 cup                      pickled jalapenos

1 recipe                pickled red onions (optional, recipe is on my website!)

24 ea.                     soft tortillas (I like flour, but you can use corn, or even hard tacos)

3 ea.                        limes, cut into wedges

1 bottle                 Valentina or your favourite hot sauce

 

  • If preparing the pickled red onions, start by preparing them
  • Place the chipotles on a cutting board and coarsely chop
  • In a bowl combine chipotle peppers, lime juice, canola oil, BBQ sauce, fresh cilantro, green onion, minced garlic, and honey
  • Whisk thoroughly to combine
  • Place the steaks in a large enough dish to contain them
  • Pour the marinade over the steaks and work it in, turning the steaks over to ensure they are evenly coated
  • Allow to marinade for 1-2 hours
  • Grate the cheese
  • If preparing the pico de gallo prepare it now
  • Place the shredded cabbage in a serving bowl
  • Place the cheese in a serving bowl
  • Place the pico de gallo in a serving bowl
  • Place the pickled red onions and pickled jalapenos in serving bowls
  • Preheat the BBQ to high
  • Once the BBQ is hot place the steaks on
  • Allow to cook with the lid closed 3-4 minutes, watching for flare up, you want some char, but you don’t want blackened steaks
  • Flip over and continue to cook until nearing medium, about 8-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your steaks and the temperature of your BBQ
  • When the steaks are just about ready turn one half of the BBQ off, leaving the steaks to finish on the one side
  • Using tongs, place the soft tortillas on the side of the BBQ that is turned off
  • Allow them to lightly grill and warm through, 30-60 seconds, then flip
  • Remove the steaks and tortillas from the grill
  • Once inside, place the steaks on a cutting board and allow to rest one minute
  • Meanwhile, place the tortillas in your oven, don’t even worry about turning it on, you just don’t want them to cool off too much
  • Very thinly slice the steaks
  • Serve the steak and tacos immediately with the shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, cheese, pickled red onion, and pickled jalapenos
  • Serve with some Valentina or your favourite hot sauce and some lime wedges
  • Let your guests build their own tacos as you sit back and bask in the glory of a well made half time meal!

 

Oh, and Go Broncos Go!

 

Who’s hungry?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Break The Mealtime Routine Blues

 

 

We all go through it. We get so busy in our lives that our meal plan goes on to autopilot. There’s no time to mix things and up and get creative with dinner, especially when it’s much safer to simply cook something that you know the kids aren’t going to push aside or complain about. In your sheer state of exhaustion you don’t have the time or the energy for the dinnertime negotiations. If you’re a parent you know exactly what I am referring to. The “Mom, if I have one more carrot can I have ice cream with dessert?” type battles. Sometimes it feels as though I am negotiating the releases of hostages in order to get the kids through a meal, so I can completely understand why parents often give up and go with what is proven and safe.

 

It doesn’t always have to be that way though. You can still get creative and have fun with your meals, well, at least when the kids are having a sleepover at the neighbors or something. When you get the chance, don’t be afraid to break out of that mundane line up of safe dishes you have become used to. Try something different. Don’t be afraid, and don’t think you’re the only one who gets stuck in a rut. As chefs we often find ourselves reaching for favorite dishes a little too often, or working with the ingredients we know well. I think it’s human nature. We like to feel a sense of comfort. Even though many of us like to say we are adventurous, the truth is, when push comes to shove, we like to stick with something we know.

 

This week, after feeling a little stuck in a box myself, I felt the need to get a little uncomfortable and try something a little different. So for dinner I decided to do a little slow cooking and some baking, not something I do all that often anymore. I decided to prepare a stew, but not a typical beef stew or chicken pot pie I would normally settle for. I took the idea of a classic stew and played with it a little by using turkey as the main protein and adding southwest ingredients, like peppers, corn and chipotles to it. Rather than thickening it up with flour or potatoes I decided to really go outside my box and use red lentils. It provided a great thickening to the stew as well as some wonderful texture. What better way to enjoy a hearty stew than to whip up some homemade biscuits too? So I pulled out an old biscuit recipe and tweaked it slightly to include some sharp cheddar and green onions. The meal started with basic cooking principles I was comfortable with, took a few twists and turns, added a few less conventional ingredients, and ended up with a delicious result. Even the kids managed to choke it down with very little negotiating required! That kind of play is what cooking is all about. Having fun in the kitchen, creating new combinations and mixing it up. Sometimes they will be smashing successes and sometimes they will be horrific flops, but if that happens, relax, order a pizza, and try again next time!

 

Turkey & Chorizo Stew w/ Aged Cheddar Biscuits

 

First the Stew

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Feeds: 8 people, easily

 

1 kg.               fresh turkey, boneless, skinless

2 tbsp.            smoked paprika

1 tbsp.            chili powder (chipotle if you can find it)

4 tbsp.            canola oil

4 ea.                chorizo sausage

1 ea.                red pepper, large dice

1 ea.                yellow pepper, large dice

½ ea.              red onion, large dice

2 cups                        corn kernels, fresh if you can

3 cloves         fresh garlic, minced

2 cups                        red lentils

¼ cup             tomato paste

3 lt.                 chicken stock, low sodium if you can

2 tbsp.            fresh basil, chopped

1 tbsp.            fresh oregano

1 tbsp.            fresh thyme

TT                   S&P

 

  • Cube the turkey into 1” cubes
  • Place the chorizo sausage into a pot of water and bring to a simmer
  • Let simmer 5-6 minutes, drain, place in ice bath to cool
  • Cut the sausages into medallions
  • Heat a large sauté pan to high heat
  • In a bowl, combine the turkey, smoked paprika, chili powder and seasoning, stir thoroughly to season evenly
  • Lightly oil the pan, and sear the turkey in the pan to brown, do not overcrowd the pan
  • Once browned, remove from pan, drain fat and set aside
  • Repeat with chorizo medallions
  • Repeat with vegetables, adding the
  • Place the tomato paste in the pan and stir around to lightly brown
  • Deglaze the pan with about a cup of chicken stock
  • Now, place the turkey, chorizo and vegetables in a large pot and pour the tomato paste drippings over top
  • Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a simmer
  • Once simmering, add the red lentils and continue to simmer until the lentils are soft and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes
  • Add the fresh herbs, adjust the seasoning, and simmer another 5 minutes

 

Now for the Aged Cheddar Biscuits

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Baking Time: 25 minutes

Special Tools: food processor, parchment or waxed paper

Makes: about 8 biscuits

 

2 cups                        AP flour, plus additional as needed

1 tbsp.            baking powder

1.5 tsp.           kosher salt

1.5 sticks      cold butter

½ cup                        cold buttermilk

1 ea.                egg

1 cup              aged white cheddar

¼ cup             green onions, chopped

1 ea.                egg

1 tbsp.            milk

TT                   sea salt

 

  • Preheat the oven to 425F
  • In the food processor place 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt
  • Cube the chilled butter and place in the food processor
  • Pulse the mixture until the butter blends in to form balls the size of peas
  • In a bowl combine the buttermilk and egg and whisk together
  • Quickly pulse the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, only until moistened
  • Grate the aged cheddar
  • Place in a bowl and lightly toss with a touch of flour
  • Now, add the cheese and green onions to the dough mixture, slowly pulsing until just combined
  • Dump out the dough onto a well floured cutting board and knead lightly, about a minute
  • Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 10 inches by 5 inches
  • Using a sharp knife cut the dough into 8 roughly square biscuits
  • Place the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet
  • Combine the remaining egg and milk in a small bowl and whisk together
  • Now, lightly brush the biscuits with the egg wash, and then top with seas salt (optional)
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, when the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through
  • Serve warm with your tasty stew!

 

Who’s hungry?

Five Chefs Come Together

Every chef you work for leaves a lasting impression on you for one reason or another. I distinctly remember my first chef. He was by far and away the most charismatic personality I had come across at my young age and he sure left an impression on me. He was as much a circus clown and comedian as he was a talented chef. Even at my young age he taught me a great deal about cooking and about how to lead people. I remember that he would do anything for his cooks and always take the heat for anything that went wrong in the kitchen. I had a great deal of respect for him and would do anything for him because of the man he was.

 

I also remember his apple strudel. This was one of his signature dishes, loved by everyone who tried it. The apples were perfectly seasoned and ever so lightly sweetened. The dough was so thin and flaky and melted in your mouth like butter. One night when it was slow, we had a little time to some preparation for the upcoming weekend. He asked me if I wanted to learn how to make his famous apple strudel. Knowing just how delicious it was I jumped at the chance. So we began. He began to prepare the dough. While he was doing that he asked me to rum downstairs to fetch the apples. By the time I had grabbed the apples he had assembled the ingredients for the dough.  I missed the quantities but I could still see how he put it together. Then he had me run downstairs and grab some more flour and some raisins. By the time I came back the dough was pretty much put together. As the dough rested he had me peel the apples. Then he got me to core the apples. After that he asked me to chop up the apples. Once that was done he sent me back to the dish pit to do some tidying up. While I was back there he cooked off the apples, seasoned them and began to roll out the dough. I came around the corner to catch him preparing the final roll of the strudel. In my naivety I had managed to be duped into to doing the grunt work for chef while he prepared the key elements of the dish. I never did learn how he made his dough so thin and flaky. It wasn’t until after the fact that I realized just how sacred that recipe was to him and that he had never fully shared that recipe with anyone, not even our sous chef.

 

His actions were not unlike most chefs of that era. They each had their own signature dishes that they held close to the vest. If you managed to pry the information out of them, seldom did you get all of it. There was a degree of paranoia and fear that someone would steal their recipes and become their competition down the street.

 

Boy, have things changed. As the Food Network gained popularity and chefs began to come into the spotlight a shift in the mindset began. Suddenly these new found celebrity chefs were writing cookbooks, sharing their cherished recipes with others. Once the internet became commonplace the floodgates opened. Celeb chefs, cooks, wannabe cooks, and Suzy homemakers alike now had the opportunity to share their creations with the world. Nowadays you can find countless recipes for just about anything online. There are numerous websites dedicated to cracking some of the world’s most popular recipes. Want to know how to make KFC at home, look it up. Craving a Starbucks hot chocolate, look it up. Feel the need to recreate Outback’s blooming onion, look it up.

 

More recently, chefs like world famous Grant Achatz have released gorgeous and elaborate cookbooks, unveiling all of their trade secrets to the world, and then retiring these dishes, much like a magician might retire an illusion once his secret has been revealed. It is quite the evolution from where we have come.

 

Chefs are spending far more time collaborating and sharing their knowledge than ever before. It can be a real pleasure to work alongside other chefs who bring a different perspective to cooking and are perhaps working with ingredients that aren’t currently in your repertoire. Maybe they are applying new techniques that you have yet to work with. The art of cooking is an endless education and there are always opportunities to learn from those around us.

 

I am fortunate enough to have been invited to one such collaborative event. On January 25th, I will be working alongside a young and progressive group of chefs for the Menu of Modern Art 2.  For those of you who attended the first event back in November you know just how delicious the meal was, but for you first timers let me fill you in. Chef Andrew Hess brings a wealth of experience to the table, with tours of duty at Zinc, Burrowing Owl Winery, and Wildflower Grill. Joining us for the evening will be Nathan Saurette, whose resume boasts time at the likes of Jack’s Grill, Niche, Culina, Café Select, and he was the driving force behind the food at The Common. He currently hangs his hat at The Three Boars, one of Edmonton’s hottest eateries. Rounding out the group are John Lizotte and Steve Brochu, two more formidable forces to be reckoned with. This evening is sure to be a real pleasure, having all of us coming together to create something memorable, and in one of Edmonton’s finest art galleries, Lattitude 53. Not only is this event going to be a blast, the proceeds from the event are going to the Hope Mission. At only $65 per ticket, I would implore you to snatch yours up now, as they are selling fast. If you would like to attend, you can find out more and purchase your tickets at http://edmontoneventscollaborative.com/event-registration/?ee=2

 

If you can’t make it I have shared the “light” version of my dish for you to attempt to prepare at home. It isn’t quite nearly as elaborate or intense at what I will be preparing, but it should be something you can attempt at home quite easily.

 

Smoky Valley Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Quick Pickled Beets

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Inactive Rest Time: Minimum 4 hours

Special Tools: blender, paper cups, coffee filter or cheesecloth

Yields: 8 appetizers

 

1.5 cups         heavy cream

0.5 cups         whole milk

4 oz.               Smoky Valley chevre

1 envelope    powdered gelatin (bloomed in 3 tbsp. cold water)

2 tbsp.            Greek yoghurt

3 tbsp.            honey

pinch              salt

 

4 ea.                baby beets (if you can, get a couple varieties)

1 cup              vinegar

0.5 cups         sugar

1 tsp.              coriander seeds

1 tsp.              mustard seeds

1 ea.                orange, juice and zest

1 tbsp.            sambal oelek

1 clove           garlic, smashed

 

4 oz.               fresh dill

1 cup              canola oil

 

0.5 cups         pistachios, chopped

3-4 sprigs     fresh dill, for garnish

TT                   S&P

 

  • In a pot heat the cream, milk and honey, once simmering add the bloomed gelatin and yoghurt, stir to combine
  • Break up the goat cheese and drop into hot liquid, stirring to combine
  • Once combined, remove from the heat and place in a pitcher
  • Pour the contents into the 8 cups, about 4 oz. each
  • Refrigerate and let set, about 3-4 hours
  • Meanwhile, place a pot of salted water on to boil, prepare an ice bath
  • Remove the large stems from the dill and then blanch in boiling water
  • Let cook 30 seconds, strain and immediately drop in ice bath to cool
  • Squeeze all excess water from the dill, then place in blender
  • Add the canola oil and blend on pulse until the dill is broken up
  • Place in refrigerator and let infuse 3-4 hours
  • Peel the baby beets and thinly slice using a mandolin, place in water
  • Bring vinegar, sugar, coriander, mustard, orange juice & zest, sambal oelek and garlic to a simmer, let simmer 4-5 minutes, strain
  • When ready to serve, drain the dill oil through the coffee filter allowing gravity to push the green oil through
  • Drain the water off the beets, pour the pickling liquid over, if using various varieties keep them separate or they will bleed
  • Using a paring knife loosen the panna cotta from the sides of the cup and slide onto the plate
  • Finish the plate with seasoned beets, pistachios, dill oil and fresh dil

 

Who’s hungry?

 

 

 

Embrace The Winter!

Saturday, January 11

The New Year has arrived and with it comes our resolve to change for the better. Given the difficult winter we have already endured some of us, myself included, might have resolved to look for a warmer climate.

Trolling the various social media platforms we are almost constantly reminded by our armchair weatherman who we loosely call friends of just how bad it is. It’s the social media version of the guy who starts most of his conversations with, “Cold enough for ya?” The truth is, though, for most of us the idea of uprooting our family, leaving our friends, our jobs, our home behind is just not that feasible. Maybe it’s time we look at our situation differently and embrace winter for what it is.

With us being faced with near six months of winter-like weather a year, why not embrace it? When you stop to think about it there are countless great festivals and events already around the city helping us to do just that. From the various ski hills and skating rinks in and around the city, to the couple of outdoor patios, and the seemingly countless outdoor events and festivals that take place every winter, maybe I’m a little late to the party!

Regardless, with events like Ice on Whyte, All is Bright (perhaps Edmonton’s newest winter festival on 124 Street) and Christmas on the Square just to name a few, there are many options to choose from.

Shortly before Christmas I was invited to participate as a judge at one of Edmonton’s newest events focused on our winter culture. Winter City Edmonton hosted the first annual Signature Drink Contest. It was an opportunity for Edmonton amateur mixologists to conjure up their favorite winter concoction, and boy did they not disappoint.

Alongside the likes of some of Edmonton’s most talented mixologists, TV personalities and the Mayor himself, we painstakingly made our way through a dozen delicious blends to select the cream of the crop. There were two categories, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. In the non-alcoholic category there were several great selections, but the real highlight for me was the homemade ginger beer prepared by the students of Jasper Place. The drink was infused with rosemary and featured ingredients that were grown right at the school.

In the alcoholic category there was a very diverse mix of cocktails, but when the votes were tallied the winner was the Birkie Break, a coffee inspired drink prepared by CBC and the great people at Transcend Coffee.

If you’d like to prepare of any of these delicious winter cocktails to help you beat the winter blues or you want to learn more about all things happening in Edmonton this winter head to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WinterCityEdmonton.

So this year, instead of ranting and complaining about the brutal cold and mountains of snow as I shovel my driveway, I am going to resolve to embrace our Edmonton winters and try to make the most of them. Well, that’s what I’ll do until I can afford a nice shack on Maui, replacing the snow shovel and ice scraper for scuba gear and sandals!

Here is a delicious and soul-warming hot chocolate recipe that has a little hint of Mexico in it, reminding you of what you’re missing, but also helping you make it through those cold winter nights!

Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 8-10 cups

1 cupwater

8 tbsp.cocoa

8 tbsp.sugar

6 cupshomogenized milk

1 cupsemisweet chocolate chips

1 cupheavy cream

¼ tsp.cayenne pepper

¼ tsp.nutmeg

¼ tsp.cinnamon

2 pc.cloves

1 tsp.vanilla bean paste

4 oz.espresso vodka

4 oz.Kahlua

1 cupwhipped cream

cinnamon for garnish

•Place the water, cocoa and sugar in a microwave proof container and stir together

•Heat the mixture together for 45-60 seconds, to create a chocolate syrup

•In a pot, heat the milk, chocolate chips, cream and add the syrup mixture

•Once simmering add the spices and vanilla bean paste, stir to combine and remove from the heat

•The cayenne should provide a nice mild kick, feel free to add a little extra if you choose, but keep in mind that the spice will continue to come out as it sits, so don’t overdo it

•Strain the hot chocolate to remove the cloves and then begin to assemble the Spiked Hot Chocolate

•In each glass pour ½ oz. each espresso vodka and Kahlua, then add 8 oz. hot chocolate

•Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon

•Enjoy responsibly!

Oh, and by the way, for those of you resolving to lose weight this New Year I might pass on this one!

Who’s Thirsty?

 

This Holiday Season Give Something Back

Wednesday, December 4

There’s no denying it. The holiday season, and all the “joy” that comes with it, is upon us. The anxiety of finding that sold-out gift, the stress of finding parking at the mall, the worry that comes with the mounting credit card bills, and then there are the meals with the in-laws. It’s all enough to stress a person out. Somewhere along the way we lost what the meaning of what the season was all about.

This year, thanks to the inspiration of a good customer, I decided to do something more this holiday season. I had first heard of this guest on a local news story.

His name is Dan Johnstone, aka, Can Man Dan. He was camped out at a neighbourhood grocery in the bitter cold in an effort to fill a massive truck with food for the Edmonton Food Bank. I remember thinking at the time how noble his efforts were, and at the same time thinking I should be doing more to help. Earlier this year one of my co-workers introduced me to Dan. He was interested in becoming a celebrity chef at Delux to raise funds and awareness for the Edmonton Food Bank.

After exchanging emails I was convinced that Dan would make a great Celeb chef and ambassador. It also got me thinking of how we could take this a step further. Then it donned on me.

I suggested to Dan that we take feeding those in need a step further and actually feed the needy. I reached out to Devon at the Hope Mission and I am pleased to share that Dan, my chefs and I will be handing out a delicious meal to those in need at the Hope Mission this Thursday. We will be preparing Dan’s delicious turkey burger, along with a tasty spinach salad and some crunchy kettle chips. To help a little further, $1 from every one of Dan’s burgers sold at our two Delux locations throughout December will be donated to the Edmonton Food Bank. We will also be collecting non-perishable food donations on behalf of the Food Bank .

This little bit of generosity got me motivated, and when the Ronald McDonald House came calling earlier last month it was hard to say no. They were looking for a chef to contribute to their Home For Dinner program. It was my first experience with Ronald McDonald House so when they offered a tour of the building I couldn’t say no. I wanted to better understand what their program was all about.

I was amazed to find out that they housed over 800 families last year, and had more than another 500 families that they had to find alternative accommodations for. I couldn’t help but think of my 18-month old daughter and how gut wrenching it was to think of her being sick. I couldn’t imagine having to uproot my family, spending weeks and even months at the hospital while doctors try to cure her.

Until you are faced with something like that I don’t think you can fathom just how difficult that process can be.

Thankfully there are great organizations like the Ronald McDonald House that help families cope, offering shelter, a warm meal, classroom time for the kids, and activities to help take their minds off the harsh reality of their situation. It’s great to know that there are wonderful people who aren’t doing things for others day in and day out, not just once a year in an effort to feel good about themselves.

We are excited to be helping them out by preparing a holiday dinner for the families staying with them on Dec. 9th.

So this holiday season, rather than getting all caught up in the madness, find a way to give back to your community in some small way.

When you’re done your good deed for the season, whip yourself up this delicious burger to celebrate your efforts.

Holiday Turkey Burger

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Feeds: 4

1.5 lbs. lean ground turkey

¼ cup bread crumbs

1 egg

1 tsp. fresh ginger

¼ cup minced onions

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

6 slices stale bread, cubed

1 egg

¼ cup chicken stock

2 Tbsp. minced onion

1 tsp. fresh chopped sage

1 tsp. fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp. melted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

4 brioche buns

8 slices brie

8 slices bacon

½ cup mayo

2 Tbsp. cranberry jelly

1 cup turkey gravy

In a bowl combine cubed bread, egg, chicken stock, spices, herbs and melted butter

Mix to combine and then form into 4 stuffing patties

In a separate bowl combine turkey, egg, bread crumbs and spices

Mix to combine and then form into 4 burger patties

Combine the mayo and cranberry sauce until smooth, refrigerate

Precook the bacon slices

Preheat the oven to 450F if cooking with a pan

In a large pan or on the grill, cook the burger patties until medium

Place the brie on top of the burgers, followed by the bacon

Heat a separate pan to medium heat

Lightly grease the pan and then place the stuffing patties in the cook on both sides, 3-4 minutes

Place the burgers in the oven to melt the cheese and finish cooking, 2-3 minutes

Heat the gravy

Smear the mayo on the bottom buns and then place the stuffing patty, followed by the turkey patty, then drizzle with gravy and top with the top bun

Enjoy!

Who’s hungry?

 

Some Chai Eggnog to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Wednesday, November 27

I have been talking a lot recently about the various paths one can take to become a chef. Five years ago I would have told you that my life was as about as traditional as a chef’s life can get. The same can’t be said today.

Years ago my days consisted of working on line with my cooks, day in and day out, preparing food with them and assuring the successful flow of the lunch and dinner services. They were long days, hard on the body and mind, but they were also rewarding.

Things have changed a great deal in the past five years for me. Sure there are still the occasions where I am in the trenches with my team, cooking up a storm and slugging it out with them through a hectic dinner service. Those days, though, are much fewer and far between of late. More often I am involved in some other facet of our business.

There are days I miss it but my new role also provides with it a great deal of excitement.

The upcoming weeks are a prime example of just how exciting it can be. We are smack dab in the middle of opening a new restaurant this week. In fact, as this column makes the paper we will have successfully (fingers crossed!) completed our first dinner service at The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar. The opening of a new place always comes with more than enough excitement than I can handle, but there are so many other fun things going on right now. I am being interviewed to encourage others to contribute to YESS because of the work our team did with them for Bacon Day this year.

I am working with Can Man Dan and our team from Delux to prepare over 350 lunches to feed those in need at the Hope Mission on Dec. 5. My team of talented chefs and I will be feeding families staying at the Ronald McDonald House a holiday meal on Dec. 9, trying to do our part to make them feel at home during what I can only imagine is an impossibly difficult time. We will also be gathering our next group of Delux Celebrity Chefs to create their burgers and do their photo shoots for their burger of the month. Throw in a couple of TV segments, sitting on the board of two event planning committees, planning and preparing for yet another new restaurant, and keeping the existing restaurants up to snuff, I have my hands full.

Just last week I was invited to a unique event that I never thought would come my way. London Drugs reached out to me a while back to work alongside them in showcasing their extensive variety of premiere kitchen appliances to local media and food writers. Preparing unique and tasty recipes to showcase specific kitchen tools was something new and fun, so I took them up on their offer.

After brainstorming with my team, we came up with a delicious list of eight appetizers and three cocktails, each featuring one or more of their appliances. What made this event that much more fun was it was also set up in a premium group of show homes. So rather than setting up a display in a store, we were actually set up in three different chef-inspired kitchens, with the guests arriving in each home to a small kitchen party. It was a fantastic way to showcase the tools in action, allow the guests to see the wonderful homes and to sample some mouth watering appetizers and libations. It gave us a great opportunity to interact with the guests in a warm and relaxed environment, where we could share trade secrets, even walking guests through the cooking process for those that were interested.

It was also a great opportunity for social media to lead the way in getting the message out there. People were sharing with others the treats they found in each house, sharing recipes and taunting those who didn’t brave the weather with photos of the tasty items. It was a unique coming together of brands to create a memorable experience and is likely indicative of where the future of brand marketing is going.

There was much dialogue over which item was the favourite of the night, but one of the highlights seemed to be the Chai egg nog I prepared. A little lighter than traditionally rich and thick holiday nog, this version is filled with spice and leaves you wanting more. With the big day less than a month away and holiday festivities in full swing I thought what better to be sharing this with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! If you’re looking for other great holiday appetizer ideas head to my website, https://chefpaulshufelt.com for some delicious options.

Chai Egg nog

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Yields: About 1 lt.

15 whole cloves

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

2 cinnamon sticks, broken up

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

½ tsp. whole black peppercorns

1 cup milk

4 Darjeeling tea bags (you can substitute Double Chai Tea if necessary)

4 egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

pinch salt

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups milk

½ cup spiced rum (optional, but hey it’s Christmas!)

to garnish resh grated nutmeg

Using the food processor, combine cloves, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds and whole black peppercorns, pulse to grind

Heat the one cup of milk, adding the pulsed spice mix, then steeping the tea bags in for 4-5 minutes

Remove from the heat and strain to remove spice mix and tea bags

In a pot combine the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Add heavy cream and remaining milk, bring to a simmer slowly, stirring constantly to avoid curdling the mixture

Once the mixture coats the back of a spoon it is ready

Remove from heat and continue to stir

Add the strained steeped milk and either serve warm or chill until cold.

Add the liquor right before serving

Garnish with nutmeg and serve

Who’s thirsty!

So You Want to be a Chef?

Wednesday, November 20

For the third year in a row I was invited to NAIT to be a guest judge at their 15th annual Toque Demagny Competition. This is an event that showcases the talent of the students of the Culinary Arts program, with a second-year student leading a first-year student as they prepare a three-course meal, featuring Alberta fare like fresh pickerel and wild game. The 12 teams compete for seven various scholarships awarded. It’s a great opportunity as a chef to connect with the young students, watch their progress, and provide feedback to the aspiring chefs. It’s the least I can do to help the organization that helped to set me on the right path in my career.

 

Throughout my time I have shared countless recipes and stories of events not to be missed, I have even shared the highlights of the Toque Demagny event, but in all that time I don’t think I have ever steered you straight about how to go about starting a career in this industry. What better time to help guide you in the right direction if you are considering making this a career.

First things first though, The industry is not all sunshine and lollipops.

If you value your social life this is not the career for you. Chances are the people you work with online will become closer than family because, quite frankly, you will spend more time with them then your family

If you enjoy the holidays this career isn’t for you. While your family is cuddled around the fireplace after dinner you’ll be slaving over the stove for everyone who doesn’t want to cook at home.

If you have aspirations of great wealth and fame this is not a career for you. For every wealthy chef there are a 100,000 chefs living just above the poverty line.

If you can’t handle stress this job isn’t for you. The constant pressure of deadlines, labour goals, food cost targets, customer satisfaction, and just the day to day stress of working on line in a kitchen can wear a person down.

Don’t have a thick skin? Then this isn’t the career for you. Chefs tend to be the most blunt, crass, and harsh people you will meet. Sure, some of us have softened, but the persona of Gordon Ramsey is not that far from reality.

The first thing I would encourage anyone considering this field as a career to do is to is to find a restaurant they respect and reach out to the chef. Once you talk to the chef and decide to soldier on, offer to volunteer your time in his kitchen. I know it may sound crazy, but it is imperative to immerse yourself in a real kitchen for a period of time before you sign up for school, wasting time, money, and perhaps even taking the spot of someone with more desire to pursue this as a career than you. While talking to the chef be sure to inquire about what you can be expected to learn and ind out just how much they actually prepare from scratch. If you have dined there and done a little homework it should be quite easy to tell how much is made fresh in house. That’s important, because going to a restaurant where you simply reheat convenience foods is not going to give you a true indication of what this career is all about. Most chefs will jump at the opportunity of free labour, just don’t get sucked into being his lackey or errand boy, doing all of the less than desirable jobs in the kitchen. Don’t kid yourself either though, chances are you won’t be breaking down a whole pig or preparing consommé from scratch on your first day. There will be a certain degree of paying your dues that will be required.

In my experience people will either quickly fall in love with the intensity, pressure and excitement of a kitchen, or they will run like the wind. If you manage to last your trial period and enjoy the trade then it’s time to pursue an education. There are two traditional routes you can take. The first is to take a full-time culinary arts program. This is typically a two-year program requiring your full commitment, leaving little time to work while going to school. The benefits of this program are enormous as the education is extensive. It has been my experience that most students who graduate from this have a strong fundamental understanding of the classic cooking techniques.

The second option is the apprenticeship program, T a three-semester program that requires eight weeks in the classroom, followed by 10 months in a kitchen. The skills are only touched upon in school and the expectation is for the student to retain the required skills while in the field. If working with the right chef and learning the fundamentals this can be a beneficial route to take, as the hands-on practical experience can’t be beat, but you need to be working with a chef willing to fully commit to your success. Don’t settle for a kitchen where you are not growing!

My experience with students from the two programs is that the culinary arts students are very book smart and have a broad knowledge base, whereas the apprenticeship students are far less book smart, but are more ready for the reality of a high paced kitchen.

Either way, I would encourage all who are interested in this field to complete their education and to pursue their journeyman’s certificate and red seal.

And you don’t have to travel far to pursue either of these options. NAIT offers both of these programs and is one of the most well equipped culinary schools in the country, along with some of the most talented and committed faculty. They offer wonderful culinary competitions and have taken Team NAIT to compete against some of the world’s best chefs, bringing home stacks of medals and trophies along the way. Due to the generosity of great community support they are also able to host fantastic Chef in Residence programs where the young students can work with and learn from famous celebrity chefs like Rob Feenie, Chris Cosentino, and Susur Lee, while they attend the school.

Once you have your ticket, the world is your oyster. You can find work anywhere and pick up new skills at every stop along the way.

Here We Grow Again!

Thursday, November 14

Here we grow again! After what has felt like an exhausting several months of building, we are in the final days of preparation on our newest location, The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar. The truth is, though, that the hard work has only begun. Anyone who has built a restaurant, or a business of any sort, from nothing knows the long days and often sleepless nights that comes with it. It starts with a vision, an idea, an opportunity to fill a need in your community. Once the idea has passed the stink test and we are certain it’s viable then it’s time to begin the development. It starts with the restaurant design, answering countless questions and researching endless other concepts and designs for inspiration.

Once the fabric for the booths, the colour of washroom tiles, and the pattern on the lampshades is sorted out, it’s time for me to make the most with the remaining kitchen space. Every detail has to be taken into consideration, the size of the space, how many seats, the style of cuisine how many inches of space between the cooking equipment and the plating area. If one thing is overlooked it can make for a costly and painful redesign down the road. The kitchen needs to be built for speed, efficiency and ease of use.

Then all of the finer details need to be sorted out. Which cutlery will we use? What set of plates suit the décor and concept best? What uniforms will the staff wear? What color tablecloths will we use, or will we even use any at all?

After all of the preparation, designing and building is done there is a brief moment, call it the eye of the storm, where we have a chance to reflect, to take stock of what we have accomplished and savor it. That moment is fleeting, because as exhausting and stressful as the process of opening a restaurant is, the real work begins when the doors swing open for the first time. That valuable point can be lost on so many entrepreneurs.

All of the work involved in creating and developing a new business is exciting and fun. The long hours and continuous stress don’t seem so bad because we are entrenched in the process of our vision coming to light. So many entrepreneurs figure the job will get easier once their business is open, but the hard truth is quite the opposite. Once the glow of your business wears off there is nothing left but the reality, the day to day grind of business. If you have built a business that your community is in need of or eagerly anticipates you will have no issues filling the seats once you finally open. Everyone will want to try you out at least once, test the water, see what your business is about, but nothing guarantees their return. It’s up to you to create a unique and memorable experience to keep them coming back. Having a good opening is no guarantee that your business will be successful in the long term either. As an owner you can never let off the pressure and never relent. There is no room for bad days as now, more than ever, people can be unrelenting. Blogs and social media sites can ruin your reputation before you even have a chance to react. Being an entrepreneur, and especially a restaurateur, is not for the faint of heart, or the light of pocket. Over 25% of independent restaurants close within their first year, and that stat jumps to nearly 60% by the end of year three.

So, in light of our newest Italian venture I share with you a simple recipe for a panzanella salad, a dish that is indicative of most Italian cuisine in its simplicity. This Tuscan salad, traditionally consisting of stale bread and onions is now more commonly made with tomatoes, but can also include an array of ingredients. I like to put it together using what I have available at hand, but this recipe is a good starting point. Add in a few of your favourite items to make it your own.

Panzanella Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Feeds” 3-4 people

1 day old ciabatta bun

3-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 large vine-ripened tomatoes

2 balls of fresh mozzarella

¼ red onion

½ cup your favorite olives

4-5 leaves fresh basil

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the bread into large chunks or cubes

Heat a pan to medium heat

Place the olive oil in the pan, followed by the bread, tossing on medium heat to lightly toast, 3-4 minutes

Chop the tomatoes into large wedges

Tear the mozzarella into smaller pieces

Cut the red onion into rings

Pit the olives

Tear the basil into pieces

Place the ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with vinaigrette, season and stir to combine

Place on a platter to serve

Enjoy!

The Perfect Beef Wellington

There are few pleasures in life that I enjoy more than the opportunity to play, get creative and take liberty with classic dishes.

Sometimes though, a dish is so good in its classic form that it deserves the respect of leaving it as is. One such dish is Beef Wellington. The combination of tender roasted beef filet, topped with mushroom duxelle and foie gras pate, all enveloped in delectably flaky puff pastry is so perfect that it really doesn’t require any manipulation.

So when a follower reached out through social media asking for me to share my recipe for beef wellington I felt obliged to share, but I will be the first to admit my recipe probably won’t stray all that far from the traditional recipe from decades ago.

There are four basic elements that make up every wellington dish and they are the puff pastry, the beef tenderloin, the mushrooms, and the foie gras pate. Each element brings its own unique addition to the flavour party that happens with this dish.

Let’s start with the puff pastry. This ever so delicate and flaky pastry is the pinnacle of pastry dough. It requires a high degree of skill and a fair amount of patience to prepare. The process involves layering fat, preferably butter in between the layers of dough. The dough is then rolled out and folded, rested, turned and then repeated. This principle creates several thin layers of dough separated by fat. When cooked the water trapped in the layers of fat create steam, separating each layer, creating a light and flaky dough.

If you want to attempt the daunting task of making your own puff pastry from scratch, by all means, go ahead. I won’t bore you with the step by step instructions of how to put it together yourself, but I have shared a link to Martha Stewart’s recipe with detailed instructions. Who better to teach you after all.

http://www.marthastewart.com/349987/puff-pastry

If you don’t want to strain through the painstaking process of making it, there is no shame in buying it, just take the time to find a frozen product made with butter rather than margarine or shortening. It is far superior product, with a nice delicate flake and better flavour. Make sure to take it out of the freezer and temper it about 20-30 minutes prior to kneading it.

There is no room for shortcutting with the beef, as this will be the star of the dish. Use only tenderloin. I recommend using at least a AAA quality steak, with great marbling, but my preference is to use Heritage Angus Beef, because not only is it well marbled, but it is hormone and antibiotic free.

When it comes to the mushrooms, there’s not much to it. Some chefs use portabellas and other use criminis. My preference is to use a standard button mushroom. Take the time to chop the mushrooms fine by hand. It’s good practice for your knife skills!

The final element is where I tend to stray the most. Most classic recipes call for foie gras pate. I prefer to slice off a generous slab of foie gras and lay it right on top of the beef and let the goodness melt right in.

Now that we have broken this classic dish down, let’s get to work with the recipe. Keep in mind I am doing this recipe based on having your puff pastry ready for you

Classic Beef Wellington

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Feeds: 4 people

1.5 lbs. centre cut beef tenderloin

You have two options here, you can do 4 individual 6 oz. portions or prepare it whole and slice once roasted

2 Tbsp. canola oil

2 cups button mushrooms

2 Tbsp. shallots, minced

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

4 Tbsp. clarified butter or canola oil

4 oz. foie gras, deveined and sliced thinly into four

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 eggs

¼ cup milk

12 oz. puff pastry, or one large sheet if serving whole

Salt and pepper to taste

Mince the mushrooms into a small dice

Place a pan on medium heat, melt the butter, add the shallots and garlic and sauté, then quickly add the mushrooms and sauté

Season with salt and pepper, finish with fresh thyme and set aside to cool

Crack the eggs into a bowl with the milk, whisk vigorously to combine

Ensure the beef is cleaned of all excess fat and silverskin, if choosing to serve in separate portions cut into four even sizes

Heat another pan to high heat

Season the beef on all sides with salt and pepper and sear in the hot pan on all sides

Set aside to cool

Roll out the puff pastry to about ¼ inch thick, lightly dusting with flour to ensure it doesn’t stick to your work surface, consider whether you are using individual portions or a piece. This is no different to wrapping a present, you will need your pastry portions to be large enough to completely envelope the beef

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the beef with the mustard on all sides

Spread the mushrooms out on the bottom of the centre of the puff pastry, then add the foie gras, and lastly, place the beef

Brush all of the exposed puff pastry with the egg wash and then begin to fold up like a present, slice away any excess pastry with a paring knife

Place the beef on a baking sheet, lined with parchment and refrigerate until the pastry dough is firm and cool again, at least 15-20 minutes

Preheat the oven to 425F

Remove the wellington from the fridge, using a sharp knife gently place several thin slits along the top of the pastry to allow the steam to be released from the wellington as it bakes

Brush the top of the wellington with the egg wash and place in the oven to bake

Bake until medium rare in the centre, about 20-25 minutes, but I HIGHLY recommend using a meat thermometer and cooking it to 135-140F internally

Remove from oven and let it rest for 3-5 minutes, and then slice in half to serve

I like to serve this with some roasted potatoes and a green peppercorn jus, but I have seen it served with just about everything!

Who’s hungry?

 

Sweetening the Auction Pot

Sunday, November 3

What a whirlwind week it has been! After seemingly countless hours planning and preparing for Edmonton’s premier culinary competition, Gold Medal Plates, we were rewarded for our efforts by topping the podium. I am so grateful for this good fortune and thankful for the great people around me that helps us achieve this goal.

This victory only further helps to sweeten the pot for our ATCO Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction. If you haven’t heard yet I have partnered up with Breakfast Television’s Ryan Jespersen and Up! 99.3’s Kari Skelton for an unforgettable afternoon and evening. Your group of eight will be transported by River City Limousine to Bliss Yoga Spa, where the four ladies will join Kari in experiencing the Sacred Nature Ritual full body exfoliation, massage and facial, followed by a pedicure.

Meanwhile, the gentlemen will join Ryan and Chef Paul for a guided trip through a local farmers’ market to gather fresh ingredients for a private cooking class. Once spa services are complete, the ladies will be transported by limousine to your choice of LUX Steakhouse or The Parlour to enjoy the fruits of the men’s labour, paired with wine. At the end of the evening, your group will enjoy a ride home by limousine. Maybe the fact that I’m a gold medal winner might fetch us a few more bucks for the four very worthwhile charities.

Click here to see the great auction items.

The auction opened Tuesday, but there is still time to get your bid in, as it closes on Oct. 31, at 7:00 p.m. Be sure not to miss this great opportunity.

Now that I’ve got the shameless plugs out of the way, let’s talk food. With the exhausting week behind me I wanted nothing more than a very simple, but delicious meal for my family and I to enjoy this weekend.

When I think simple and delicious I think of roasting pork. My automatic go-to for pairing with pork is apples, and there is hardly a better time of year to enjoy apples. So rather than simply roasting a pork loin I decided to grab some tenderloins, some delicious Fuji apples and some sweet mission figs. Here is what I came up with.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as my family did.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Special Tools: boning knife, butcher’s twine (optional)
Feeds: 4
2 pc. whole pork tenderloin
8 slices prosciutto
1 tbsp. butter
2 Fuji apples
1 cup dried Mission figs
2 tbsp. fresh sage
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. canola oil
-Peel the apples and chop into small dice.
-Chop the figs into small dice.
-Heat a pan to medium heat.
-Place the butter in the pan.
-Add the apples and sauté one minute.
-Add the figs and continue to sauté.
-Add the brown sugar, followed by the vinegar.
-Saute until the sugar is dissolved and the apples have caramelized slightly.
-Add the sage, season and stir to combine.
-Remove from the heat and place flat on a plate to cool quickly, refrigerate if necessary.
-Meanwhile, while waiting for it to cool we can prepare the tenderloins.
-Start by removing any silver skin and any excess fat.
-Then, you have two options: the first option is to butterfly the loin lengthwise. This involves slitting the loin in half lengthwise, but keep it intact, then slitting it open again to create an even 1/2 inch thick flat loin. This method requires a fair amount of knife skills and the ability to truss the loin once stuffed.
-The other option is to use your thin boning knife to insert it into the centre of the tenderloin from one end and give it a twist to create a pocket for stuffing and then repeat on the other end.
-This is my preferred method because it is a fair amount easier to do and requires less work tying the loin up afterwards.
-Either way you choose to do it you now need to stuff the loin.
-If using the first method lay half the stuffing throughout the centre of the flat loin and roll it over to pack in all of the stuffing.
-If using the second method you will need to slowly push the stuffing into each end of the pork loin, using your thumb to work it into the centre from both ends.
-Season the pork tenderloins with salt and pepper on all sides.
-Once the pork is stuffed it’s time to wrap the pork with the prosciutto.
-Lay three slices of prosciutto side by side lengthwise and then place the loin on one end.
-Roll the prosciutto slices around the pork, packing it tight.
-You can either truss the pork with the butchers twine (look for a demo video online if you need help, and I highly recommend it if you used the first stuffing method.) or you can wrap the pork in plastic wrap very tightly, setting it aside in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to help the prosciutto to adhere to the pork.
-Once ready, preheat the oven to 400F.
-Preheat a pan to medium high heat.
-Place the oil in the pan and then add the pork.
-Sear on all sides and then place in the oven to cook until medium well, about 10-12 minutes.
-Once cooked, remove from the heat, allow to cool and rest 4-5 minutes and then slice.
-We served this with some roasted potatoes, butternut squash and some brussel sprouts, but choose your favourite accompaniments.

 

Who’s hungry?

Things I’m Thankful For

Tuesday, October 8

With the arrival of October and the fall harvest just about complete we take the time to give thanks for the things we are grateful for. We restaurant folk have a tendency to become a little bit jaded when it comes to holidays. It usually just means that we get to spend even more time strapped to the stove or catering to the needs of others while our families and friends enjoy long weekends, away from work, with their loved ones, wondering why we can’t join them. Unfortunately we can’t be there because that’s not the path we chose. When we chose to make this a career we knew it meant giving up holiday meals with family and weekends away from the city with friends. It’s one of the many sacrifices of our chosen career. In fact, for most young chefs the long weekend just adds more stress to an already busy life. Not only do we have to cope with busy restaurants and ensuring that our guests are well taken care of, we also have to try to squeeze in a trip to the parents for a quick dinner, usually having to ask them to eat around your schedule. Even worse, we have to miss that time away from our family and be left with the guilt of letting them down for not being around. Early on in my career it didn’t bother me all that much. It was just another meal and I would have a plate of leftovers when I got home. Things change though as you grow up. Now that I have a family of my own it makes it that much tougher to consider not being at the table with my family. So, this year, rather than being jaded and resentful I have chosen to find the positive in the situation and make the time for my family, and be thankful for all that I have in my life.

 

This year I find myself particularly thankful for so much. I have a loving wife, beautiful family and daughter that I adore. I am blessed to be where I am at in my culinary career and that is in great part to the exceptional staff I have around me. We continue to grow our business and, with that, our family of talented chefs continues to grow as well. I live in a wonderful city that continues to grow and boom, virtually isolated from the continuing economic struggles that a great deal of the world has faced. Sure, I could complain about the short summers, or the potholes, or taxes, but those just seem like first world problems, and the truth is no one wants to listen to that. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and am in good health, relatively speaking. What more could a guy ask for really? Sure, everyone in the world wants more, but the truth is, if we have those basic things, we already have enough. So this year I choose to be thankful for where I am and mindful that my life could be a whole lot worse.

 

Enough already, you probably don’t want to hear about a middle-aged chef rant about all of the things he is thankful for, you’d probably rather hear about what I’m cooking this week, or at least I hope you do. So, with Thanksgiving this weekend I thought I would share a recipe for a delicious side dish. Sure, I could offer some turkey recipes, or a tip for moist stuffing, but I thought I would keep with the original tradition of the holiday, paying thanks for the bountiful harvest by creating a feast, and what better harvest ingredient that screams fall then the yam? This dish is so good and tastes like candy, so you might even get the kids to eat their vegetables.

 

 

Yam Casserole

 

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Feeds: 8-12 as a side dish

Special Tools: an approximately 8” by 8” casserole dish helps, and so does a food processor, but neither is necessary

 

4 lbs.              yams, peeled, about 3-4 large ones

½ cup                        sugar

¼ cup             maple syrup

1 tsp.              vanilla bean paste (or extract if necessary)

2 ea.                eggs, whisked

½ cup                        butter

1 tbsp.            chipotle paste

¼ tsp.             cinnamon

TT                   S&P

 

For the topping:

1/3 cup          flour

1 cup              brown sugar

1 cup              chopped pecans

¼ cup             melted butter

 

  • Chop the yams into large cubes, similar to if you were preparing mashed potatoes
  • Place the yams in a large pot and cover with cold water, salt
  • Place the pot on the stove and bring to a simmer
  • Allow to cook through, until fork tender, but not overcook to mush, about 20 minutes
  • Remove from the heat and drain thoroughly
  • If using the food processor, place the yams in the food processor and puree in batches, adding the sugar, maple syrup, butter, eggs, and seasonings bit by bit
  • Once all batches are pureed ensure that they are all blended well so that the mixture is evenly seasoned
  • If mashing by hand, use a potato masher and mash until fairly smooth, then add the remaining ingredients and whip until smooth and flavors are evenly distributed
  • Place the yam puree in the bottom of the casserole dish, layering it about 1 inch thick
  • In a bowl combine the topping ingredients and mix until evenly combined
  • Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet to avoid any mess or spillover during cooking
  • If you don’t have a casserole dish feel free to use pretty much any baking pan similar in size
  • Layer the topping over the yam puree, refrigerate until ready to bake
  • Everything up to this point can be done in advance, saving you the mess during the big day
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Place the casserole in the oven and bake until warm through and nicely browned on the top, 30-35 minutes
  • Serve immediately

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!