Saturday, March 21, 2009

More Pictures from Last Night

Poblano Cheddar Shot

Jalapeno Potato Popper

Buffalo Short Rib on Corn Tortilla

Smoked Salmon and Charred Corn Spoon

Honey Fig Bread with Salt Cured Ham

Pepita Crusted Watermelon

New Menu Reception

Last night we hosted a celebrity bartender night to benefit the boys and girls club. I showcased some of our new menu items and presented them as hor d'oeuvres. Attached is the menu and some pictures.

Buffalo Short Ribs

So here is a new dish that will be on the upcoming menu. "Buffalo Short Ribs with Ancho Coffee Rub". The short ribs are nice because they only cost $3 per pound and go a long way. I started off with a rub of roasted ancho chiles, ground coffee, cumin, brown sugar, and salt. After searing the ribs in canola oil and caramelizing the rub, I added celery, carrot, onion, and tomato paste. Once the vegetables had browned nicely, I added orange juice, chipotle, molasses, beef stock, honey, and cinnamon sticks. The heat was turned to a low simmer and cooked for 5 hours until extremely tender. I removed all the meat from the pan and then strained the liquid through a fine mesh screen. The buffalo has amazing flavors that continue to build as the tender meat is tasted.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Today we had a high profile reception in the lounge and used the holiday as our theme. Besides a large variety of green themed drinks, I put together an hors d'oeuvre menu that refined traditional food served on this day. Here is the reception menu that was prepared and served in small bites or mini dishes:

Potato Wrapped Bangers

Salmon Potato Cakes with Lemon Creme

Corned Beef and Cabbage Stuffed Potatoes

Cheddar Crisp with Stout Glaze

Rice Pudding Creme Brulee

Chocolate Baileys Mousse

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Iron Chef / Media Competition

This past Sunday, I was invited to compete in a Iron Chef/ Media Competition at the "14Th Annual Hospitality Expo and Culinary Competition". I love a good challenge and this definitely sounded like one. I was going to be paired up with a local radio DJ and required to cook at least 3 dishes in 75 minutes on stage in front of 500 guests. I had to bring all my own equipment and be prepared to cook out of a mystery basket. Now during my career I've had a lot of experience cooking from surprise ingredients mainly for job interviews; so that wasn't too intimidating. The worry was most likely I would end up doing the entire competition by myself because I doubted my partner had any cooking abilities. After talking with him on the phone I was extremely relieved to find out he had once ran a catering business and loved to cook. We strategized about possible ideas and did some segments on the radio to promote the upcoming event. When the day of the event came around, I showed up and started to set up my makeshift kitchen in the middle of the ballroom. As I was setting up, I noticed the other competitors had brought in their own ingredients to assist in the competition. Now I'm a serious competitor and when it comes to a mystery basket, I'm gonna cook directly out of the basket. I didn't bring any basic ingredients to the competition because I was expecting some type of basic pantry to be offered like the rules had states. When I finally realized 10 minutes before it started that there was not going to be any basic pantry ingredients, I rushed through the hotel to find salt and pepper shakers took some packets of sugar from the caddy on a table. Upon opening the box I was surprised to find an abundance of fresh ingredients to work with. There was some nice 16/20 shrimp, a tri-tip roast, citrus fruits, garlic, shallots, asparagus, wild mushrooms, tomatoes, herbs, cheeses, strawberries, potatoes, pastas, eggs, and greens. Here is the menu that we put together and ended up winning "Best Use of Ingredients" (mostly because it's all I had to work with).

First Course:
Lemon Poached Shrimp with Tomato Basil Salad

Second Course:
Grilled Asparagus and Wild Mushroom with French Onion Cream and Parmesan Crumbs

Third Course:
Calicrate Steak and Eggs with Wilted Arugula

Fourth Course:
Rosemary Scented Orange and Strawberries with Citrus Crème Fraiche

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tequila Salmon with Mexican Truffle

On saturday 3/7, I will be participating in a charity event called "The Glass Slipper Ball". I figured this would be the perfect time to showcase one of my new dishes. The dish is a tequila glazed salmon with a warm salad of fava beans, heirloom tomatoes, and roasted corn. A dollop of "mexican truffle" butter is placed on top to melt into the fish. A lot of people have never heard of "mexican truffle", which is also called huitlacoche. Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on the outside of the ears of corn during drought season. It has a dark black color with sweet and smokey flavors. You can usually find it in most markets as a canned product. I will be sauteeing some garlic and shallot in canola oil and then adding the truffle to reduce and cook out the liquid. After spicing up the flavor with some cumin, cayenne, and salt it's cooled completely. Once it has cooled, it will be mixed with softened butter and freshly chopped cilantro. The dish is vibrant in color and is loaded with bold flavors. Hopefully the 350 guests sampling this dish will enjoy it as much as I have developing each component.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cumin Dusted Sea Scallops

We have finally finished the spring menu and decided on the start date of April 13th. We will be completely changing over menus in our bar, room service (all 315 rooms), and the lunch/dinner options in the main restaurant. We have been working extremely hard on these menus and I feel very proud of the finished product. This is the first picture of an appetizer off the new menu. I must say, it tasted delicious and really had a great balance of flavors. The dish is composed of "Cumin Seared Scallops with Cilantro Puree, Mango Pico De Gallo, Salt Cured Ham, and Plantain Chips". The sweet scallops works great with the fresh mangoes and the spicy cilantro puree is balanced with the salty ham. Over the next few weeks I will be preparing each one of the new dishes and taking pictures for everyone to view the progression. I'm really happy to have a chance to showcase my background in southwestern cuisine with this menu. The other exciting element is we have focused on low cost ingredients to offer a competitive priced menu. This dish costs $9 as an appetizer and is the highest priced. A few of the other things we focused on were tasting dishes and shared items since everyone is so price conscious.