Sunday, April 25, 2010

Red, Hot, and Bacon

This past Tuesday, on my day off, I was enjoying dinner with my wife and two boys, telling them about the latest wacky bruleé flavor, when my oldest son, Xavier, informed me he had an idea for a bruleé flavor:

“You could do apples and cinnamon, Dad.”Okay, I said…..”I’ll do apples and cinnamon.”

The very next day, that’s exactly what I did. But nothing is ever simple when it comes to me and bruleé. So, I thought about how we could make it exciting, and a little interesting, and came to an inspiration from Jenny’s Ice Cream here in Columbus, in a fall flavor they had last year called “Red Hot Apple Cider.” (When we got it at Jenny’s we paired it with her “Salty Caramel and It tasted just like apple pie) So, I made a custard with some granny smith apples, and cinnamon schnapps, and fresh cinnamon, baked it off, and the “Red Hot” flavor wasn’t prominent enough.

What to do……….

Goldschalger (?....I’m not even attempting to spell that shit right) and the Cinnamon Schnapps, when cooked down to the “hard crack stage” of sugar cookery, makes a delicious crust. I cooked it down, and spooned it over the bruleés, and made that take the place of the sugar crust.


Rob, my sous, also had a creative bruleé bug up his butt on Tuesday while I was off.

His Marvelous creation: “Bacon Brulee.”

The phone call I got after dinner was like this:

“Dude….I had to call you…….I’m really excited about this one.”

“What? What’s going on?”

“I made a bacon bruleé today, and it’s delicious.”


I was skeptical. One half of me was excited and intrigued, and the other half was wondering why this guy was wasting my heavy cream, eggs, and most of all my precious bacon. He said he caramelized the bacon in the oven with 1 lb of brown sugar, and used the baconfat/caramel mixture in the custard. He chopped up some of the candied bacon and placed it in the custard before it went into the oven.

I brought one home on Thursday to taste, along with the horde of food critics that is my family……….It was ravenous. The bacon was a nutty flavor and texture, with a light, smokiness to it, finished by the sweet and salty flavor of the custard…….Beautiful. I think I got 1 or 2 small tastes, before it was lapped up, and literally licked clean. My wife, the harshest critic of them all, (Seriously, folks…..Anton Ego would shutter in her presence) She said it was “Masterful.” That’s like a third Michelin star in my world. Congratulations, rob…………Job well done.

Notes and Randoms:
Thursday’s bruleé flavor board read:
- Bacon bruleé
- Orange Dreamscicle
- Red Hot Apples and Cinnamon
“I think people will freak out if we ever just had Vanilla.” - Robert H.

Next Crazy Brulee? Srirachia and bittersweet chocolate? Carrot cake with candied walnuts? Give me some ideas.

We may be changing the restaurant’s name to “Matt the Miller’s Ahi Tuna Palace,” because apparently, people go crazy over that shit.

YOU DO NOT NEED TWO PEOPLE TO CARRY A 2” HOTEL PAN TO THE BRUNCH LINE. One person will do just fine. (This actually happened………This really happened……………Ah, Sunday brunch…………is there anything you won’t surprise me with?)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Creme Brulee That I Create are from the Stuff that Dreams are Made.

We made the decision long ago to keep our crème bruleé listed as “Seasonal Flavor” on the menu. This has given me a great deal of culinary freedom to create some really fantastic bruleés. I sort of pride myself as being the ”Willy Wonka” of bruleés, and can and will try everything from double vanilla bean, to red bull, vodka, and cranberry.

(Which was actually kind of delicious: red bull and vanilla Stoli’s soaked cranberries, drained those and used the remaining liquid to make the custard. The cranberries helped to sweeten the mix and soften the flavor of the red bull. The carbonation was a great semi-leavener as well)

Anyway, I had to write about this last one. The actual idea came from one of my line cooks, John. (or Yohn, for any of my Hispanic cooks) He texted me at 12:00 at night, because he got an idea for a bruleé, and had to immediately share it with me. White Chocolate-Covered Pretzel……… Okay, great…… but how? The idea left me for a couple months, until my Sous reminded me on my way out to the store.

“How about White Chocolate Pretzel,”

“Why the hell not? But How?” The question had arisen again.

I thought about how I could utilize the pretzels in a way that combined with the creamy-ness of the custard. I decided to grind up the pretzels in the robot coupe, and mix them with a little brown sugar and butter, and treat it like a crust for the bottom. I mixed it and pressed it into the dishes, and baked it blind (without anything in it, for the layman) for about 8 minutes. I then made a custard from Godiva white chocolate liquor, and callebaut white chocolate. We served it with a white chocolate dipped pretzel rod, and the obligatory strawberry and mint sprig. Delicious. Maybe even in the Top Three.

We sold out in a matter of two days, minus, of course, the one I had to take home to my biggest critic. I had to go back to the old stand-by, and probably the #1 draft pick……….The “Everlasting Gobstopper,” if you will. The “Geauga Co. Maple and Blueberry.” Our Maple Syrup comes from Richard's Maple Farm, in Chardon, Ohio, and be blend that with Blueberry Stoli’s fresh blueberries, and rich vanilla custard. When we pull these out of the oven and cool them in the walk-in, it smells like fresh blueberry pancakes.

Notes and Randoms:
- New Menu going to the printers, more on that later
- The title of this blog is in reference to the song, “Chef.” Press the “Play” button on the music player located on the side bar to the right to listen…….It’s not boasting if it’s true.
- Cleaving, by Julie Powell is a good read. She’s the one that wrote that book, “Julie and Julia.” I have only read excerpts over my wife’s shoulder, but the parts I read were funny as hell. A must read for any woman that is married to a chef or butcher.
- "Stupid is as stupid does, Sir." – You know who you are.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Nachos, Greasetraps, and Monkey Butt

At this very moment, the grease interceptor in the kitchen’s dishwashing area is bubbling up disgusting, foul-smelling water and ooze. It has been doing this on and off for 3-4 straight weeks now. We have had a company come and pump the grease and clean the unit, we have had Ecolab take a look at the dish machine to make sure there’s nothing wrong with that area, and we have had our “DrainMasters” company come and snake (clear) out both lines, and just today, unclog the grease interceptor’s output line to make it flow. Yet it still is creating a huge mess in my kitchen. Poor, poor Dario has been emptying out the dish machine by hand all night. Squeegee in hand. The plumbing in this place is a wreck.

On the lighter side, we will be rolling out the spring menu soon, and have a couple of additions and subtractions. One item that we are definite will fly out of the kitchen doors are the Spicy Tuna Nachos. I know, I know….. what the f@#$? ……..Tuna nachos? ………I know.

As we were discussing possible new menu items, Craig and Rob, to a lesser extent, were hell-bent on some sort of “Ahi Tuna Nacho.” I wanted to put something together that would stand on it’s own, and not just a shabby replica of the “Ahi Flatbread.” I’m all for capitalizing on a great thing, but, at the same time, I don’t want to loose any integrity of the menu.

I thought about the ingredients that would go with that flavor profile, and we all agreed that the “nachos” in question would be fried wonton skins. But how to put it all together. I wanted something a little classier that a pile on wonton chips, sprinkled with cut up tuna, avocado, cucumber…..yadda, yadda.

I concluded with a spicy tuna tar-tar, (tuna, mae ploy, srirachia, honey, scallion, and sesame oil) resting on a bed of some wonderful sesame seaweed salad, and topped with julienned, house-made kimchi, and pickled cucumber relish. We serve it ice cold, in the center, and place the fried wonton chips around, with a little wasabi aioli, and Guinness-soy reduction. So, it’s more of a dip than nachos, but what are you gonna do? I had to go with an egg roll wrapper, because they were a little sturdier, and I like the larger size.

And, finally……………

My grill cook, Ben, picked this up the other day at the local supermarket.

“Anti-Monkey Butt.”

Marketing Geniuses, I tell ya.’ I bet it was someone from my field of work.

Read the back label……hilarious.

Notes and Randoms

- Easter is tomorrow, and we have a great buffet taking place- pictures will be up on the next post.
- Carving fruit and vegetables is a very calming, therapeutic activity.

- Sage Derby = delicious

- Fresh Cured, house-smoked, Canadian Salmon for brunch tomorrow.

- Once again, ladies and gentlemen………”Anti Monkey Butt”