Monthly Archives: March 2013
An afternoon with Top Chef Masters Champion Chris Cosentino
Nait recently offered a media availability with this years Chef in Residence, recent Top Chef Masters Champion Chris Cosentino. Nait generously included food bloggers in it’s description of media, so I instantly texted my friend Maki, whose own write-up of the event you can find here, and made plans to attend.
The day started with about an hour of observing Chef Cosentino teaching a very lucky class of Nait’s Culinary Arts students. What a fantastic opportunity for these kids to spend a few days learning from one of the best in the business!
The instruction was fast paced, and to the point. I overheard quite a few instances where Cosentino would stop a student in the middle of the task, and ask if they understood why they were doing what they were doing. If they seemed unsure, they were bluntly yet respectfully given instruction, and asked to continue. Although Cosentino mentioned to us later on that he doesn’t really teach students back home, I couldn’t help but think that his style of instruction and strong personality are very well suited to the classroom. Oh well, the students loss is a diner’s gain, I guess.
Some of the students were clearly a little intimidated working so closely with the well known celebrity chef, but they all seemed very eager to soak up every last drop of knowledge they could before Cosentino’s time at NAIT was through.
Of course fans will already know that chef Cosentino is very well known for his affinity for cooking offal. Although it was finished when we came in, I could overhear that one of the dishes they prepared that day was beef heart tartare. The chef stressed on more than one occasion how important it is to use the things that others waste. Cosentino considers it a chefs responsibility to do this, and you have to admire his conviction and respect for the animal that is obviously a foundation of his cooking style.
After class, there was a brief opportunity to ask a few questions. I didn’t want to ask the obligatory questions about the 2 feet of snow we got during his stay, or about T.V. shows. Instead, I focused on food. Specifically, where he ate while he was in good ol’ Edmonton.
He mentioned 3 spots that left an impression in particular.
First off he mentioned Tres Carnales. He commented that he was really impressed with their legit, authentic Mexican street food. High praise, considering the vast selection of quality Mexican food on his doorstep at home in San Francisco.
Secondly, highly acclaimed Corso 32 elicited some high praise from the celebrated chef. Apparently the crew at Corso 32 stuffed their guest full of darn near everything on the menu!
The other restaurant to garner some accolades was Three Boars. No surprise there, given their well publicized use of off cuts.
I was intrigued about where he got his dining suggestions, since those would have been the same 3 spots I would have recommended for him, personally. Does a world famous celebrity chef sit at home on his couch the night before a trip, munching cheetos and surfing Urbanspoon reviews? Or does he just take the advice of locals in the know when he arrives?
It turns out that there is indeed a pattern to how he selects the spots to try out when in a new city. He always seeks out a good Italian restaurant for starters. His own food is heavily Italian influenced, and so he likes to keep abreast of what other Italian restaurants are doing. Hence his dinner at Corso 32. He also likes to seek out restaurants that are using offal, so that explains his appearance at Three Boars. And as it happens, Tres Carnales was just around the corner from the hotel. Lucked out on that one!
My final question revolved around what he sees as the next big food destination. I suggested that to me, Philadelphia is a very underrated food destination. A sly grin swept across Cosentino’s face as he said that Philly has been cranking out fantastic food for a long time, but the difference is that they don’t tell anybody. He says that his prediction is an explosion of southern cuisine, and mentioned particularly relatively unknown dining destinations Nashville and Charleston. I can’t wait to find out if he’s right about that.
Keep scrolling to check out a few more pictures of the day.
Chris Cosentino is Chef/ Owner of San Francisco restaurant Incanto, and Salted Meat Merchant Boccalone.
Poutine Meat Loaf
If you’ve been sitting around just waiting for someone to invent Poutine Meat Loaf, your wish just came true.
After the success of my Poutine Burgers a few weeks ago….
….I thought I’d try making a meatloaf version, complete with crispy potato crust. Check it out.
Poutine Meat Loaf
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 cups diced cheese curds
8 cloves roasted garlic
1 small onion, grated
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup of your favourite bread crumbs (I used sourdough)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
3 sprigs of fresh basil (when chopped, approx. 3 tbsp)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly on a mandoline
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease your large casserole dish and layer potatoes on the bottom
- Mix remaining ingredients and put on top of potatoes
- Bake 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees
- Strain out fat and flip out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet
- Roast under the broiler, potato side up until browned. Approx. 5 minutes
- Remove from oven and rest 15 minutes, covered with foil.
- Use 4 tbsp beef fat for the gravy. Add 2 tbsp flour and make a roux. Mix in 2 cups of beef stock, and season with salt/pepper.
- Slice and serve with gravy
Downtown Dining Week
The culinary world seems full to the brim nowadays with $75, &100, and even $125 per person special events or dinners. That’s why I like events like Downtown Dining Week 2013, which begins on Friday, March 15 and runs for 10 days, ending on the 24th. 30 downtown restaurants are enticing you to give them a try by offering special 2 course lunches for $15.00, and 3 course dinners at $25, or $50. Great deal.
Last night I had the opportunity to go to the Launch Party at the Art Gallery of Alberta, where of course there was plenty of samples to be had from a few of the participating restaurants. There were some interesting dishes to try, but I had 2 definite favourites.
My favourite of the night was from Zinc, the gallery’s own restuarant, who was offering Pan Seared Pork Medallion, served atop Yam Macaire, with a cinnamon maple demi glace and shaved black truffle. If you like sweet and savory together, and I do, you’ll love this. This dish is part of the 3 course dinner they’re offering for $50.
My second favourite was the Corn Fritters, with bacon butter and peach jam. On the $50, 3 course special at Hundred Bar and Kitchen, this will be served as an accompaniment with chicken. Crispy and salty, we all went back to grab another before we left. So good.
If you want to see some pictures from the event check out a couple friends of mine, Maki and Andrea, who showed me up by bringing their fancy cameras….
But that’s fine by me; they may have gotten more pictures, but I drank more champagne.
Also, you can check out all the menus at the Downtown Business Associations website, here.
The Culinary Arts Cookoff
This coming Saturday, March 16th, marks the return of The Culinary Arts Cookoff to benefit Mount Royal School’s Arts Core Programming.
Last year’s inaugural event, which raised over $14,000, featured local restaurants and chefs squaring off in an all out battle for Mac & Cheese supremacy! The Hardware Grill scored the knockout blow with a super creamy Lobster Mac and Cheese, although my personal favourite was the homestyle version from The Marc.
This year, 8 local restaurants will compete to win your love with a different homey classic….. Sliders!
The competition promises to be fierce, especially when you consider the lineup of competitors. Perennial Best Restaurant in Edmonton nominee The Marc is a returning competitor, but will face stiff competition from a host of talent including Edmonton’s Alley Burger purveyor Chef Andrew Cowan from Hundred Bar and Kitchen, The Manor Casual Bistro– whose High Street Social Club events are hugely popular, 124st. newcomer and Best New Restaurant winner The Makk, and more!
Prices are very family friendly at $2/ slider, and there is plenty of family oriented fun planned. The judging will be done by a panel of experts, but the general public gets to vote for their favourite too. Plus, if you’re there early you can have the chance to win the coveted 4th spot at the judges table.
It was a great time last year, and I expect this year to be no different. And hey, with Breakfast Television’s Ryan Jespersen hosting, it’s sure to be fun. See you all there!
Mount Royal School
11313 55 st.
Making butter at home is a lost art. I know it’s so easy to just plunk down your 5 bucks at the grocery store for butter and be done with it, but that doesn’t come with the same satisfaction and pride in making something yourself. Plus, on top of having some top quality butter, you’ll be left with a couple cups of great buttermilk, which you can use to make me some crazy good pancakes or fried chicken.
Email your invites to email@example.com.
It’s really not that hard, or time consuming to make a batch of butter yourself. Truth be told, half the job is just sitting around doing nothing… which is probably what you were going to do with your free time anyways, right? Slackers.
The ingredient list is admittedly daunting….
- Whipping Cream (1L)
- See above.
Ok, so maybe you’ll add 1/2- 1 tsp of salt at the end if you want salted butter, but that’s it.
Before we get started, I must tell you that my inspiration for doing this in the first place was Stephanie, whose own blog post on the joys of butter making you can find at Clockwork Lemon. She used a food processor instead of the mixer that I’m using, but it seems to work about the same.
Start by pouring your room temperature cream into your mixer and attaching the whisk.
Turn the mixer on medium speed. You can go slower, but it’ll just take longer. Too fast and you’ll be splashing all over the place.
At this point not much is required of you. Take a seat, and let the mixer do all that labour for you.
You’re going to watch the cream go from the initial stage, and gradually get thicker. It’s going to get to whipped cream stage and you’ll be tempted to throw in some sugar and eat the entire bowl over the sink like a jilted cat-lady, but you must resist. You may however scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
Continue beating the cream and quickly that whipped cream will start to coagulate and look more like curds.
At this point you might be thinking you’ve ruined it, but don’t panic. Just keep mixing. At this stage I’d recommend watching carefully or else this will happen…
Eventually all the butterfat will start to glob together and separate from the buttermilk. When that happens, stop the mixer and drain the buttermilk into a container.
At this stage you have your butter, but if you rinse it a few times with ice cold water to remove any remaining buttermilk it will last much longer. I tried mixing it again and splashing it with cold water, but that was a pain in the butt. I found just kneading it in ice water to rinse was an easier process. I think next time i’ll use the mixer, but put on the dough hook instead of the whisk for the rinsing process. Whatever method you want to use, the more buttermilk you rinse out the longer it’ll last.
The final step is to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. You can do this with cheesecloth, or j-cloths. This last batch, I just got my hands ice cold and squeezed with them, sans cheesecloth.
If you so desire, mix in a half tsp to a full tsp of salt.
The yield should be about a pound of butter.
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
I figured this past weekend was as good a time as any to finally try my hand at roasting a stuffed Pork Tenderloin.
I wanted to be able to roll it like a London Broil, and slice it so you can see all the tasty stuffing and pork swirled like a pinwheel. For a first attempt, I think it came out pretty well. Next time I’d probably have the pork pounded a little thinner, and make the stuffing a little less chunky, but the flavour and juicy-ness was about perfect.
Here’s how it went down…
I started off the process by heading over to Acme to pick up a nice tenderloin. Since we live in a condo, I asked Corey the butcher if he could filet and pound out the loin for me, thus sparing our downstairs neighbours from having to hear me pound the pork at home.
You know how sometimes you write something, and when you read it you realize it sounds really dirty? Then you don’t change it because it makes you giggle?
Aaaaaanyways, I seasoned the pork, and spread a layer of apple stuffing, spinach, and dried cranberries on the pork. After that, it’s just roll, and wrap with a few slices of bacon, and you’re ready for cooking.
Here’s the recipe:
Pork Tenderloin Roulade
Pork Tenderloin- approx 1.5 pounds, pounded thin
1 1/2 cups cubed bread (small cubes)
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, minced
3/4 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 handful of fresh spinach
3-5 slices of bacon
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the inside of the pork.
Combine the bread, apple, onion, sage, pepper, and the remaining salt and spread evenly onto the pork.
Add the spinach and dried cranberries and roll your pork tightly, being sure to leave about an inch of bare pork at the top edge.
Wrap the loin with strips of bacon, leaving the seam at the same spot for each. Sear the pork over high heat in a cast iron fry pan on the seam side first, so that when you roll it over the bacon stays together. At this point you can use toothpicks to ensure it stays together.
When you have it seared on all sides, put it in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Let it rest at least 15 minutes, and slice.
Put the pan with the meaty juices on the stove on medium heat. Add the wine and lemon juice and reduce by about half. Taste for seasoning and salt and pepper as necessary. Pour over sliced pork.