Pan-seared Jumbo Scallop w/ Avocado & Shrimp Salsa

One of the most simply beautiful things to put in one’s mouth is a perfectly pan-seared scallop.  Although relatively simple to execute, I’ve had many over-cooked, chewy or soggy scallops in my short lifetime eating them.  It’s the simplest things that are the easiest to fuck up, excuse my language.  Eggs, for instance, require a certain patience and skill.  They are deceivingly simple, shall we say.

Getting back to scallops: when you pan-fry them, the best seasoning is simple salt and pepper.  Dry them off as much as possible before you fry them in a very hot pan.  I like to use duck fat instead of oil for my scallops.  Duck fat is always a good call in my books.  If you’re can’t get your hands on duck fat, pork fat (lard or bacon fat) is also a great alternative.  After all, bacon and scallops are a classic combination.

Because fresh scallops are very delicate and sweet in both flavour and texture, I usually serve them with something delicate and neutral in flavour, so as to not overwhelm and mute the scallop’s beautiful taste.  In this recipe, the avocado and shrimp salsa pairs perfectly!

Published in: on June 22, 2010 at 2:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tuna Tartare with an Avocado Mousse

 

There is nothing better than good, fresh sashimi tuna. Only in recent years have I become a fan of tuna tartare but it seems to have become a favorite choice of mine for a great app or meal.

When Lauren and I go shopping for the fresh fish, we usually head down to the St Lawrence Market.  The tuna they have there, while expensive, is always fresh with a beautiful sweet smell.

The beauty of this dish as an hors d’oeuvre is that a little tuna goes a long way.  You don’t need much for a dinner party of say 6.  For example, when we’ve worked dinner parties of about 20 people, we’ve only had to purchase about $20-25 worth of tuna when using it as an hors d’oeuvre.  We serve it on a taro crisp with avocado mousse.  The crispy sweetness of the taro and the creamy neutral flavour of the avocado mousse are a perfect balance for the fresh tasting, asian inspired tuna.

Ingredients

Tuna Tartare:

Olive Oil

Sesame Oil

Very Finely Chopped or Grated Fresh Ginger

Rice Wine Vinegar

Soy Sauce

Lime

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Chives

Hoisin Sauce

½ 1 Shallot Small Dice

1 Piece Raw Sashimi Grade Tuna

(all ingredients to taste)

Slice the tuna into a nice brunoise (very small dice).  Brunoise the shallots and chives and add those to the chopped tuna.  Add the rest of the ingredients together in a separate bowl to act as the dressing.  We never measure these ingredients, especially since different soy sauces, fish sauces, and hoisin sauces tend to have slightly different tastes and salt contents.  Also, its a lot more accurate to use those awesome taste buds we all have.

Avocado Mousse:

1 Ripe Avocado

Lemon Juice & Zest (to taste)

2-3 TBS 35% Cream

1-2 TBS Goat Cheese

Wedding Cake Take 1

Moira‘s brother, Adrian, is getting married on June 25th (congratulations!!).  As they are both originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, the wedding will be taking place there with the whole family in attendance.  Although neither of us have EVER even attempted to make a wedding cake (a two-to-three-tiered cake covered in rolling fondant), when they had their cake provider back out last minute, Moira was there to save the day, offering to bake it for them instead.

And thus our wedding cake adventures have begun and we had our first trial run, from start to finish, yesterday/last night (baking takes forever).  The only practice either of us have had is watching the Food Network’s Cake-Off Challenges and other cake decorating shows that have recently become so popular, such as Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes.  Being a die-hard fan of pretty much anything Food Network (with a few exceptions of course, cough cough Rachel Ray), I consider myself quite the Cake-Off aficionado.  It’s pretty astounding how much you can actually gain from watching reality shows, Food Network reality shows at least.

Anyways, starting with the actually cake baking itself, we decided to go with a classic pound cake (sturdy, heavy, and tasty!).  We doubled the recipe and tweaked the second batch, to see if it would be better or worse.

In the second batch we used buttermilk instead of milk and cake flour instead of all-purpose.  The ending result had a much softer and pleasant texture and a great tangy-ness that we loved.  I would highly suggest the tweaked recipe over the original, although both are really awesome (best pound cake I’ve ever had).

Recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 80 to 90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Fondant rolling was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  Having seen many Food Network Challenges gone wrong, most of the disasters were fondant related.  Fondant is very much like play doe and therefore must be handled as such.  It is easy to roll out, but hard to handle with your hands because of the risk of finger prints.  I think Moira did an awesome job with the fondant.
Where we need improvements:
The buttercream icing:  it was far too sweet for such a sweet pound cake so we were thinking of making it a cream cheese buttercream for the next try.  Also, we did not put enough buttercream in between the cake and fondant which would have gotten rid of a lot of the imperfections with regards to our rounding off of the cake itself.
Wish us luck next time!
Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Citrus Marinated Rainbow Trout

If you’re looking for something quick, easy, and healthy to throw on the BBQ this lazy Friday evening, then this recipe is for you.  Honestly, it’s a dish that just sort of came together with a bunch of extra ingredients Moira and I had laying around the kitchen while we were prepping for the BBQ event this past week.  While dill, lemon, and salmon are classic flavour combinations, the addition of other citrus fruits and mint really add a next level of freshness to each bite.

(more…)

Published in: on June 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm  Comments (1)  
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First BBQ of 2010!

This past weekend was our first BBQ event of the summer.  It was for 35 and took place in the courtyard of a beautiful condo building at York Mills and Yonge.  For the clients we rented round tables with white linens, white chairs, white plates, cutlery and glassware.  The tables were set up around the outdoor kitchen (consisting of 4 BBQs and a bunch of counter space), which put Moira and I at the focal point of the party.  The weather was beautiful, the scene romantic, and the food and drink bountiful.  The guests were incredibly friendly and more importantly hungry, coming back for more and more.

Cooking for hungry foodies is always such a delight.  Food is such a huge part of my happiness on a day-to-day basis and to see my food excite others and satisfy fellow food lovers is the reason I love what I do.

The star menu items of the evening were definitely the brisket and burgers. We slow-cooked a whole beef brisket on the BBQ, keeping it at a constant 225-235 C.  We through together a nice rub (chipotle powder, cayenne, black pepper, molasses sugar, smoked paprika, paprika, celery salt, garlic powder…) and smoked it with cedar-chips for the first few hours, hoping to develop a nice thick smoke ring.  We took it off after about 7-8 hours.  It was incredibly succulent and flavourful.

The biggest hit of the night had to be the baby burgers three ways: mushroom & aged cheddar, basil stuffed with goat cheese, and classic build-it-yourself.  Unfortunately, we were too busy manning the grills to take pictures of the meat.  Above is a picture of some of the salads we made.

Published in: on June 4, 2010 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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