Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ebelskivers with Frozen White Chocolate `Parfait

This dessert was inspired by pancakes and whipped cream. The pancakes are round from being cooked in a special cast iron skillet called an ebelskiver pan. Traditionally a danish specialty, it's said to have been created by vikings that cooked on their war dented helmets. The frozen souffle is whipped cream fold into a white chocolate ice cream base and frozen solid. This was a dish that was very hard to stay away from since there is nothing healthy about this dessert. Originally I first learned about this style of pancakes from a restaurant that I worked at back in Phoenix, Arizona. Every Sunday we would set up a station and fry these round pancakes for guest and fill them with berries or chocolate.

Peppercorn Crusted Buffalo with Crawfish Ragout

Here is the main course from the dinner. The buffalo was center-cut tenderloin that was peppercorn crusted and seared in hot oil to create a hard crust on the outside. The crawfish tails were sauteed with roasted garlic, heirloom tomatoes, spinach, shallots, demi glace, and butter. The dish was very straight forward with lots of complex flavors built into each bite. Everyone was very happy with this course and the plates all came back clean.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Carpaccio Wrapped Potato with Mushroom Essence

This dish was a recreation of Marcus Samuelson's idea in his Aquavit book . I was so blown away by this dish that I needed to try out the technique and experience it for myself. The beef is shaved extremely thin on plastic wrap and then a horseradish infused mashed potato is piped down the center. After wrapping the potatoes into a perfect roulade, we allowed it to freeze before slicing ensuring a perfect cut. The mushroom essence was morels and porcinis steeped in black tea with some chicken stock and red wine. It's reduce by 3/4 and it's completely concentrated. I was going to clarify the broth to go the consomme route, but felt that it wasn't the right season for the concept. Overall a beautiful dish that everyone was impressed by. The best part was how the essence was strong in flavor of mushroom, but when the horseradish potato mixed in the soup changed completely.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Calamari Rellenos with Cilantro Chimichurri and Pepper Coulis

Here is the first course from the wine dinner: Calamari Rellenos with cilantro chimichurri, red pepper coulis, and bacon parmesan stuffing. The calamari tubes were stuffed and then grilled, the filling was a nice blend of lemon, breadcrumbs, bacon, and parmesan. The tentacles were soaked in buttermilk and then tossed in seasoned flour before deep frying quickly in 350 degree oil. The cilantro chimichurri was a great accent to this dish. Cilantro, garlic, onion, pumpkinseeds, red wine vinegar, oil, and habaneros were pureed in a blender on high speed. The sweet red pepper sauce was roasted and peeled bell peppers with a touch of canola oil, salt, and rice wine vinegar. I was very happy with this dish for the most part and cannot wait to enhance it for the new menu. We are planning on filling the tubes with smoked cheddar and chorizo sausage to give some better texture.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wine Dinner Update:

Tonight was the wine dinner down at the country club and it was a huge success. We served 50 guests a multiple course menu from 6pm til 9pm. The dinner went smooth and really allowed me the chance to try some new dishes out for the new menu. I took some good pictures and will be posting them individually over the next few days. Now it's time to relax and enjoy a glass of cabernet. Bon Appetit!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gravlox with Avocado, Lime Oil, Potato Chips

The salmon has been curing for the past 2 days in the salt mixture and is ready to be plated. After rinsing the fish and slicing thinly, I made two different versions of this dish. The first is a layer of chips, gravlox, creme fraiche, and arugula. The second is a napoleon of avocado, gravlox, creme fraiche, and chips. The avocado really brought the dish together and allowed the salt from the cure to not overpower the other components. I will most likely try this dish out a few more times and perfect the cure before making this a new addition to the menu. I'm thinking of using a different type of salt instead of kosher, maybe Hawaiian pink salt.

Monday, September 21, 2009


One of the first dishes I learned to make when I started out was Gravlox. I was 16 years old and we were going to be serving Gravlox on the Thanksgiving buffet at my vocational school. I remember mixing the salt and sugar together wondering how salt could actually cook the salmon. After a few days of sitting in the cure weighted down by brick...Voila!!!!.. Amazing tender and meaty salmon slices that tasted great on a warm crostini. This is a tribute to that experience and an experiment for the new menu. I'm working on a southwestern influenced gravlox with Tequila and lime. The procedure is fairly simple: make a cure of 2:1 salt/sugar, bury the salmon in the cure, wrap and weigh down for 3 days depending on size of fillet until cure, wash the cure off before slicing and serving. This cure is salt, sugar, cumin seed, ancho chiles, fennel seed, lime zest, and cinnamon. The fish is rubbed with tequila and cilantro then buried in the salt cure. I've wrapped the fish in cheesecloth and weighted it down with a couple of large cans. I will take more pictures once it's cured and create a finished dish.

Cheese Course

There is nothing better than cheese, except maybe pork. I'm working on a new cheese course for the upcoming menu and I had some great samples come in for a tasting. On the plate, we have a drunken goat, cambozola, creamy gorgonzola, horseradish mustard harvati, smoked gouda, and 18 month gruyere. The drunken goat is very similar to a manchego with a subtle taste of goat's milk at the end, sweet and creamy. The cambozola is a favorite of mine and I enjoy the soft brie rind with a creamy blue interior. It's spreadable and great on a piece of baguette. The creamy gorgonzola was different, very sweet and earthy without the natural sharpness of a bleu. The horseradish mustard harvati was a favorite amongst the kitchen. It had a strong mustard tang with a mellow horseradish accent, very creamy and great with a piece of roast beef. The smoked gouda wasn't too impressive, light smokey flavor. The 18 month gruyere was nice, salt crystals were present but not overpowering. Very sweet beginning and salty finish, I'm thinking of pairing this with pumpkin bread. Overall, not a bad tasting and a few things to get excited about adding to the next menu.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Buffalo and Green Chile Pot Pies

While working on the new menu, I had the idea of doing a pot pie for an appetizer course. Pot pies are a classic American staple and the perfect comfort food when approaching the winter season. After going back and forth about how to make the shell, I decided on a basic profiterole (most people know them as cream puffs). I made the savory batter and baked off the airy little pastry pockets. Once they were cool, I filled them with some of the buffalo green chile mixture. The buffalo is ground and cooked with potatoes, corn, and poblano peppers in seasoned broth. After letting the staff taste this batch, I think that it's definitely a keeper for the new menu.

Automatic Service Charges

I've been recently browsing through some discussions on automatic service charges while dining in resort restaurants and would have to agree with the mass. It is always so discouraging to dine in an establishment that takes away your right to reward the waitstaff with a cash tip according to their performance. Since I work in a resort (Cheyenne Mountain), I think it's extremely important to realize what your clientele is thinking and how can you improve on their comments. I was extremely happy to return back from my Florida assignment to find out that we are no longer placing an automatic tip on the checks, except for parties of 6 or more. This change will really allow the staff to change their mentality when servicing our customers and strive to enhance the guests experience. The new focus and direction of the restaurant has been to become more of an ala carte establishment while creating a buzz that we offer more than just Sunday Brunch or Friday Night Seafood Buffet. In these economic times, most guests are looking for savings and value while spending their hard earned money.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stuffed Quail with Smoked Cheddar Grits, Sweet Corn Puree, Pepper Confetti

Here is the remainder of the quail, inspired by a fellow chef in Naples, Fl. I was helping him try out some new dishes for an upcoming menu and he wanted to do quail, boneless. I thought that it was a great idea and decided that I wanted to use the same technique for my next menu. The wings, thigh bone, and legs are removed leaving a boneless quail. I then stuffed the quail with creamy grits, smoked cheddar, and roasted corn. After wrapping the bird in bacon (mmmhhh...), it is wrapped in plastic wrap to tighten and chill forming a perfect oval shape. I reduced some corn in honey, cayenne, and cream before pureeing until smooth in a blender. A colorful pepper confetti enhances the plate and gives the needed crunch for the filling. This dish will most likely be on the new menu coming up next month, it's nice to be home in beautiful Colorado Springs....

Quail Lollipop with Lavendar Honey and House-Made Queso Fresco

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately, but I've been working in South Florida for the past month helping out another hotel. The executive chef put in his resignation and I was asked to come down and help out until the new chef was hired. It was extremely hot and humid, but beautiful nonetheless. Here is a picture of my amuse bouche for the night, Quail Lollipop with Queso Fresco and Lavender Honey. I had some leftover quail legs and thighs, so I decided to chop off the knuckles and pull the meat down into lollipops. The house-made queso fresco is simply hot milk with the addition of apple cider vinegar and kosher salt. Once the milk separates and the curd hardens, it's strained into cheese cloth for a couple of hours to dry. The cheese is crumbly with a decent amount of salt content. I finished with quail with some lavender infused honey.