Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It is more fun in Philippines, Pagsanjan Falls

I am back in Philippines for a little while and we have decided that we will have a little drive down to Mount Mayon, the famous volcano in Bicol.

As we are living close to Tagaytay, another volcano even so this one is not active anymore, we wanted to see some of the other great tourist attractions here in Philippines. Pagsanjan Falls was very high on our list.
The one things one never must forget is that driving here takes time, if Google tells you one hour's drive, take 2 hours as a guideline. The falls are a mere 60 km away from us but it took nearly 2 hours to get there. There is always a lot of traffic and at the moment it seems like all the roads are getting fixed at the same time.
But trust me, it is absolutely worth the drive to Cavinti and then taking a small boat to travel to the falls. The boats are very small, maximum 3 passengers can go on a boat and then there are 2 boats men. It might sound like a small amount, but there are 14 rapids and the 2 guys have to push the boat with you inside up the rapids.

The boat ride is absolutely amazing, first one is pulled by a small motor boat, but then as soon as one is in the park it is just quiet. The gorge is at least 150 to 200 meters high and everything is lush and green, an absolutely amazing ride.
The 2 guys had to work hard to get up up the rapids, we had a rest from time to time. About half way there is a little hut, they are selling food and drinks, so we treated the boats men for a lunch of crispy chicken leg and rice, it really did look yummy, the golden brown roasted, crispy legs, I still get hungry thinking of it..
The falls are 91 meters high, it is not rainy season yet but the falls are still stunning. One has the possibility to go on a bamboo raft and then go under the falls and even behind them to make a photo with the falls behind one.

Apparently there is a hiking trail to the falls, but one has to descend 500 steps and 2 vertical ladders.....this is not my thing, especially after I have seen the one ladder coming down close by the falls.
After a little while we went back through the rapids, that was a lot of fun and went a lot faster than going up. Yes the boats men still had to pull us over some of the rapids as there was not enough water. They said in August is the best time to come here, then the water is about  10 cm higher and still the falls are accessible. After that it might get difficult as the water level is just too high
There is just one thing that one has to be careful and that is at the end, the boatsmen will ask for tip and especially if one is a foreigner they will try their luck. The told us that the Koreans give 50$ tips.......then suddenly it was 50$ per person. That is more than double what the whole cruise costs and of course we did not entertain the thought of giving that much. It gave a little bit of a negative experience, but apart from that, it was an amazing 2 hours going through a beautiful gorge

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Magnum yourself

Manila has its own Magnum Ice Cream shop where you can make your own Magnum. This is soooo cool, an individual Magnum. There are shops as well in Hamburg, Paris and Istanbul, but to have one here in Manila is just absolutely amazing. The location is on the 5th floor in Aura Shopping Mall, one of the hip shopping malls in and around Manila. 

I always had a bit of a fetish for Magnum, I love the rich flavor of the ice cream and the lovely chocolate around, but to make your own flavor is just incredible. We had so much fun making our own flavor of Magnum, our own personalized Magnum.
You can choose from 2 ice cream flavors which is chocolate or vanilla, then from 18 toppings and 3 different dipping chocolates so you can make your own piece of art.
We took 2 extremes, one I call death by chocolate, it was with chocolate ice cream, milk chocolate dipping and then all sorts of chocolate toppings, the other one was the sweet delight, vanilla ice cream with a caramel chocolate dipping. The toppings were white crunchy chocolate pearls, mini marshmallows and freeze-dried raspberries which just looked so lovely and gave a bit of acidity to the extremely sweet concoction
There are some strange toppings available like broken chips and broken pretzels.....strange?? Yes but it actually goes well. The saltiness brings out the chocolate flavor even better so even so it sounds strange, it goes well with chocolate

Magnum Manila offers more than just Magnums, one can actually eat there with savory and sweet plated desserts available. The savory menu includes about everything from sexy crostini to pasta and salads all the way to the roasted Rib eye 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cheese Room at Soneva Fushi

I think it is time to brag a bit again. It has been a while since I last wrote about the resort I am working for as Executive Chef. This time I like to show you some photos of our cheese and cured meats room.

Like the chocolate room, the cheese room is always open and mostly it is included in the room price. Mostly meaning during breakfast and lunch you can go wild, but if you feel like a nibble some artisan cheeses and cured meats during dinner or late afternoon, then we charge a small fee.
I spend a lot of time with the sourcing of these cheeses and meats. We have one main supplier, called Vanilla Venture where we buy most of our products from, but from time to time I can find something else that is special and I will put it in the Deli Room.

From time to time we have as well the owner of Vanilla Venture coming out here to do some training with the chefs. This is really important as most of the cheeses are really special. They are made in small batches, many times from raw milk. One of my favorite cheeses is the Tomme that is made from Goats milk, something really special.
The same is for the cured meats. We don't just have Parma Ham, no, we have different types of Pata Negra, the famous Spanish ham, we have the Ham from Bayonne, one of the best available, everything is local, the meat, the herbs and even the salt for curing comes from the River that is in that region.

Of course we have Asagio Speck from South Tyrol, a cured ham that is smoked as well for a wonderful intense flavor. We have about 5 types of salami, from Italy and Spain, I could not tell you which one is the best, they all taste fantastic
We have the possibility that you cut your own meat or we have a couple of plates of pre-cut delicacies. One of them I just have to mention is the Truffled Mortadella....it is just so sexy, the smell of the truffles, the finesse of the meat, all just too good to eat!
Then of course there are all the condiments, the olives which we marinate ourselves, the Kumquat jam, the Membrillo, a Spanish quince pate and of course the freshly baked bread. Now I am sure you can imagine why I have a daily quality control here in the Deli Room, just have to make sure all the meat and cheese is top!

I think I can say that the chocolate and the cheese room are something absolutely unique here in Maldives. I have not heard about any hotel that has something similar. This is why Soneva Fushi is well known for the food, it is not just the cooking, but as well the special offering we have here for our guests.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Homemade Pork Sausage

Over 6 month ago I wanted to start making our own sausages here at Soneva Fushi and finally, the day has arrived that we have made our first batch. The sausage machine arrived about 2 weeks ago, we got finally the sausage skins, so there is no stopping anymore.
Have I made sausages before? Yes, once about 20 years ago, so I can't say that I am a master sausage makes, but what I can say is that I love sausages and that is enough.
Of course I read up a little on how sausages are made, we are going very simple here with no preservatives, my pork sausages must look like sausages and not like pink, ugly things. So off we go
First I had to clean the machine nicely, it just came out of the box and there was still a lot of wrapping on it, but then that was one. We don't have always the right pork cuts, so I just took some of the pork necks we had and put them through the mincer, that was easy. But of course I wanted a special sausage, not just a simple pork sausage, so I started to chop some onions and garlic and cut a whole load of Granny Smith apples in cubes. I took some very good EV Olive oil and sauteed the onions and garlic till glassy, but no color, than added the apples. Simmer till al dente and voila, that was it. I let the mix cool down completely.
Then I thought that in a meat loaf one always puts some bread and eggs in it. I did not want to add the eggs, but I know that old bread binds the meat nicely, so I just soaked it in some milk.
So far everything was very easy, I mixed all the ingredients together and added the seasoning, honey, salt and pepper. Of course as any good chef, I had to taste my mix, but no, I really don't want to eat raw pork......so I made a small patty and fried it, yummie, yes it was good, just a little more salt and it is perfect.
Still everything is very easy......but then cam the tricky part. I had to put the sausage skin on the machine which was a lot more difficult than expected. The skin tears quite easily and I had to be patient with my work. But at the end it was done, I had the filling in the machine and started turning.......ohhhhh I made a little knot in front to avoid the sausage mix to just come out, that did not work because now my sausage filled with air instead of meat.....Caramba.....so I cut the tip off and it worked well.
To fill the sausage is OK, one just has to be patient, not to turn the machine too fast and at the same time to make sure the skin is sliding off the nozzle easily. The result: An acceptable sexy sausage that just needed to be turned and fried.
When turning the sausage (like making the individual sausages) one sees immediately if the right amount of meat is in the sausage, if it is too much it will burst, if it is too little, then it is just not so pretty, but OK.
Finally, after more than 6 Month of waiting, I had the first homemade Pork and Apple Sausage in the pan, wow was I excited and the smell started to come up, the sausages started to take color, I turned them around a couple of times and........yes they were absolutely fantastic. I was so happy, my day was made, nothing could go wrong anymore.....
The the chefs had a try, we laughed a lot, of course some jokes were made, some really pretty and some really ugly sausages were produced, but the main reason is, we have now our homemade sausages. We will start making different sausages, beef, chicken, lamb, fish and more. We all learned a lot this morning and had a great time with our new toy, the sausage machine

So here is the recipe if you want to try at home, trust me it is a lot of fun and works

4 Kg Pork neck
500 G Onions
100 G Garlic
1 Kg Apples
500 G Bread
250 Ml Milk
30 G Honey
60 G Salt
10 G Pepper coarse

Sausage skins

Mince the pork neck in a medium to fine mincer, not too fine as otherwise there is not artisanal look

Chop onions and garlic finely
Cut apples in 5 mm cubes
Use Granny Smith or any other sour variety

Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil without color
Add the apple cubes when the onions are soft
Cook for another good 5 minutes till apples are cooked al dente

Cool down the apple mix

Add milk to dry bread and keep everything in the fridge overnight

Mix all ingredients well together, put in sausage machine
Make little breakfast sausages

The Chefs are trying out sausage making

Not as easy as it looks, but a job well done

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to make Sushi

We have started with our internal cooking classes, mainly for chefs but of course open to other interested Hosts here at Soneva Fushi. The first cooking course was Sushi, something we are very proud of as we have a Japanese Master Chef working for us in the Japanese Restaurant. Naoki has worked many years in Japan and worked as well for many Japanese Ambassadors, so he has an immense knowledge about Japanese Cuisine and of course Sushi
Today he shared his knowledge with us and I am more than happy to give it further to all of my avid readers. To explore new recipes, to chat to fellow chefs and cooks, that is what widens our horizons. Our main topic after the actual cooking was how different could we do Sushi, could we do sweet Sushi, Italian Sushi, Indian Sushi? Yes, we can do them and we all came up with some great ideas, especially for the Sweet Sushi.....but more about that later
When doing Sushi one has to follow some ground rules. The rice for example has to be a top quality rice. It has to be washed, a very important part of Sushi making.

First the rice should be rinsed twice very quickly, just to remove the dirt that sticks on the rice. Then the rice has to be washed up to 5 times, only a little water has to be in the rice. Not too much force has to be used as otherwise the rice kernels will break.
When the water is clear we go to the next step, the soaking. Sushi rice has to be soaked for about half an hour.in this time the rice will turn white which is a good sign. Then the water gets poured off again

To cook the rice one best takes a rice cooker. The same amount of water has to be used like the rice. No seasoning is required. It gets cooked till al dente, the rice needs to have a bit of a bite. The cooking takes about 38 minutes, after that leave the cooker closed for another 7 minutes before opening.

Then the rice gets mixed gently with the seasoning, everything needs to be done gently. The recipe for the seasoning is below.

Then when you make the Sushi, either Maki or Nigiri you have to be gentle again. If the rice is pressed too hard then the Sushi becomes a bit like a rubber, so it is really all about gentleness and love.....Sushi making is a great way to relax

230 g Sushi rice
150 ml Sushi flavoring

Cook the sushi rice till soft, but a little bite left

Add the sushi flavoring (vinegar sauce) to it

Sushi Flavoring
550 ml Sushi vinegar (Cider Vinegar)
250 g Sugar
25 g Salt
30 ml Hon Mirin
30ml Nisake

Heat everything up, but do not boil

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Eva's Cheese Cake

Today I like to share a very simple but amazing recipe for a cheese cake.It is sort of a double baked cheese cake with a sour cream topping. The topping is very soft but makes the entire cake even more delicious

The name comes from the owner of Soneva Fushi, Eva. She just simply loves cheese cake and this recipe is one of the favorites since many years.

I do love my cheese cake too and have to admit that this one is really a stunner. The only challenge is that is does not keep well, the topping will be starting to run off after a day, so either you cook and eat the cake on the same day, best place it in the freezer, then it is easy and when it defrosts, the cake stays nicely in shape

I like to serve a freshly made berry sauce with it, leave it chunky for some more texture. The acidity of the berries will go perfect with the creamy richness of the cake
so here is the recipe

50 Ml Melted butter
125 G Biscuit

25 G Sugar

Place biscuit and sugar in a food processor bowl for 20 seconds until is finely crushed.
Transfer to another bowl, add melted butter and mix it till to combine.
After that spread it as the base on to a cake ring and press well.

Cream Cheese Mix
1400 G Cream cheese
250 G Caster sugar
20 Ml Vanilla essence
20 Ml Lemon juice
6 Ea Eggs

Use an electric whisk and beat the cream cheese and caster sugar until smooth
Add egg, one by one in to the cheese mixture and then mix it well
add vanilla essence and lemon juice in to the cheese mixture and mix all together
Pour mixture on to the base of the biscuits and bake it in hot oven at 200 °C until it becomes golden color.

1500 G Sour cream
250 G Caster sugar

Combine sour cream and caster sugar until its smooth
Pure over top of cheesecake and then bake it for 200 °C until it become golden brown color.
Keep it cool and then serve it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Carrot Salad from Tom Aikens

We just had an amazing time here at Soneva Fushi with our guest chef Tom Aikens, one of the top chef in UK. We did a couple of events here, a cooking class, a cocktail with his amazing canapes, a Gourmet Dinner and a chef's table

It was a lot of work, but I think it was absolutely worth it because it was great to see how everything came together at the end. There are a lot of individual techniques and cooking methods on each dish, so it was not always easy to get the ingredients and specialized products for the food.

Today I want to share one of my favorite dishes we did during his time here, the Carrot salad. It is an unbelievable amount of work, but trust me, this is no ordinary carrot salad, this is a piece of art, something extremely special, it is as well by far the longest recipe I have copied and even so usually I don't really work with recipes, here I have to
Tom with me and Roland, the CDC of our fine dining restaurant
You will see with the recipe below, how involved this recipe is, there is purees, dressing, Malto.....pickles and sorbet, all based around the carrot. It will take you a long time to do all the ingredients, it will take time and patience to find the ingredients and you will need specialized equipment, so this recipe is not for the normal cook, it is actually for the advanced professional to do. For anybody who dares to take on the entire recipe, I can guarantee you that this will be an explosion of carrot flavors. For everybody else, it is already great just to take an individual part of the recipe like the honey pickled baby carrots, something everybody can do

Then of course there is the Molecular part, like the Tarragon Malto, something you can attempt easily at home, but to have a great result you need an amazing blender. Malto is actually something very simple, Malto is a powder that either thickens oil to a jelly, or if you add more, it makes powder, The famous Molecular Gastronomy powder. So here we make a home made tarragon oil, then we add the Malto and make a light green tarragon oil powder, cool!

Carrot Dressing
250 G Carrots
300 Ml olive oil
2 G salt
4 G Castor sugar
12 Turn Pepper, ground
100 Ml Vinegar, white wine
300 Ml Muscat/Sauterne
500 Ml Carrot juice
400 Ml olive oil
12 G Tarragon
8 G Thyme
2 Ea Bay leaves

Peel the carrots and chop them finely, place a pan onto a low med heat and cook these in 150 ml of olive oil with the thyme, tarragon, 2g salt, 4g sugar, cook these on a medium heat for 5 mins so they start to cook down. Deglaze the pan with the white wine vinegar then reduce to almost nothing, add the 300 ml muscat and reduce by 2/3 then add the carrot juice that has already been heated and passed. Reduce this by 2/3 rds then add the 300ml olive oil and simmer for 3-4 mins on a very low heat. Then leave this this to cool, then sous vide and cook at 75c for 2 hours then refresh in iced water and leave for at least 3 days before use so it takes on more flavor, every day mix the bag up so that it takes on more flavor.

Ultatex Carrot puree
300 G Carrots
300 Ml Sauterne
1 G Citric Acid
8 Turn Pepper black
1 G Salt

Use 25 g Ultratex on 400 ml liquid
Juice the carrots, once juiced take of the scum with a ladle and then place into the sauterne, mix well with a whisk then add the citric acid followed by the seasoning, whisk in the ultratex then pass through a fine sieve.

Carrot Puree
300 G Carrots
50 G Butter
12 Twig Tarragon
8 Twig Thyme
2 G Sea salt
200 Ml Chicken stock
150 Ml Cream
20 Ml Lemon juice
12 G Sugar, castor

Heat a pan over a low heat then sweat the carrots in the butter with the salt, sugar, tarragon and thyme covering with a lid and cook for 8-10 mins with no colour stirring now and again, add the stock and cream and cook till this has reduced at a simmer for approx ten mins and is soft. Remove the thyme and tarragon, place this into a blender with the lemon juice and puree till very smooth, pass through a fine sieve.

Carrot Mousse
100 G Carrot Ultratex
100 G Carrot Puree
1.5 Leaf Gelatin
100 G Cream, whipped
8 G Tarragon leaves

Heat a little of the carrot puree then add the gelatin, add this back to the remaining carrot puree then add the carrot ultratex and semi set over ice and then fold in the cream, leave to set properly over iced water before you put it in a blue piping bag.

Carrot Vege Gel sheet
350 G Carrots
300 Ml Sauterne
15 G Carrot puree
1.5 G Citric Acid
1 G Salt
12 G Vege Gel (Gelatin powder)

Juice the carrots, once juiced take of the scum with a ladle and then place into the sauterne, mix well with a whisk then bring to a slow simmer, take off the heat and pass through a muslin then add the carrot puree citric acid and seasoning, whisk in the vege gel and heat to required temp then place over the cling filmed and oiled tray

Carrot Sorbet
375 G Carrot puree
500 Ml Carrot juice
25 Ml Lemon Juice
70 Ml Orange Juice
70 Ml Stock Syrup
3 G Citric Acid
1 Leaf Gelatin
1 G Guar Gum
4 G Stab 2000
40 G Lemon Balsamic

Best freeze everything together and use the Pacojet

Mix carrot puree with the Juice, OJ, Syrup, lemon juice, melt the gelatin in the syrup and add to the mix along with the stabiliser then guar gum and vinegar last.

Carrots Semi Dried
20 Ea Baby Carrots
300 Ml Carrot juice
250 Ml Sweet wine
3 G Bayleaves
30 Ml Lemon Juice
12 G Lemon Thyme
12 G Tarragon
2 G Salt

Baby Bunched carrots 10 in each bag, these are topped, tailed and peeled, leaving the tail bit on. Mix the above, then place into two vac pac bag’s and cook at 85c in water bath for approx 45 mins, till tender, reduce these down in a pan with all the liquid, then once reduced place into a dryer at 70c for 2 hrs till they have shrunk by half, then store them in an air tight container.

Tarragon Oil
200 Grapeseed oil
250 Tarragon leaves
2 Salt
4 Castor Sugar

Blanch the tarragon leaf, cook until just soft, then refresh in iced water and squeeze all the water out then place this into the thermomix and cook to 70c in 7 minutes then chill instantly, drain through a double muslin cloth secured with an elastic band over a small bain marie.

Tarragon Malto
50 G Tarragon Oil
30 G Maltosec

Mix the two together
whisk well so they are mixed and then pass through a fine sieve.

Blanching Baby Carrots
2 Kg Baby Carrots
2 L Water
12 G Salt
30 G Sugar, Castor

Bring all to a simmer then add the carrots individually in the right color and size, then once cooked refresh in iced water.

Honey Pickled Carrots
500 Ml Carrot juice
4 G Coriander seeds
2 G Fennel seeds
12 Ea Tarragon sprigs
8 G Thyme
8 G Salt
10 Ea Peppercorn black
300 G Honey
50 Ml Vinegar, white wine

Bring all to a simmer then place the peeled baby carrots into sous vide bag with the pickling liquor, cook at 85c for approx. 20-25 mins then cool in iced water.

Pickled Carrots
400 Ml Carrot juice
50 G Castor sugar
2 G Coriander seeds
1 G Fennel seeds
6 G Tarragon
6 G Thyme
8 G Sea Salt
14 Ea Pepper black
2 Ea Bay leaves
250 Ml Olive oil
100 Ml Vinegar white wine
100 Ml White wine

Place all the ingredients into a pan from the carrot juice to the white wine and bring to a slow simmer, checking the seasoning. Use this to cook the carrots in the sous vide bags.

Herb Yoghurt
200 G Yoghurt
20 G Tarragon keaves
20 G Parsley leaves
20 G Chervil leaves
20 G Lovage leaves

Bring a pan of 2 L water to a boil with 12 g salt and cook the herbs altogether till just soft, place instantly into the Vita prep with 100 ml of the cooking water added, the puree needs to go around in the blender till nice and smooth. Then chill instantly over iced water, weigh out 40 g for the recipe and place the rest into the freezer in a small container. Then once frozen turn out of the plastic container and wrap individually cling film then vac pac and freeze in two separate bags.

To finish yogurt
100 G Strained yogurt
40 G Herb puree
2 G Salt
8 Turn Black pepper

Mix all together

Malt Crumb
100 G Pearl Barley
100 G Malt flakes

100 G Spelt flour
100 G Rye flour

215 G Toast mixed flours
20 G Brown sugar
50 G Barley Malt syrup
80 G Butter, soft
2 G Salt

20 G Maltosec
100 G Rye bread crumbs

Roast the pearl barley and Malt flakes for two hours at 150c and then turn the oven up to 165c and cook till nicely caramelized then cool and blend to a fine powder and pass through a fine sieve

Toast all the flours at 165c, till they are nice and golden brown, then mix all the four flours together and weigh out the below

Mix all together in a bowl till a loose crumb is formed by mixing with your finger tips then place onto a baking tray on a plastic mat at 170c, cook till crisp and golden in color. Then allow to cool, then make to a fine crumb with your fingers.
Mix with Maltosec and rye bread crumbs

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Black Ivory Coffee

Sometimes one comes across strange things, delicious things, bad tasting things and rare things.....among many other things. I came across a very rare thing called Black Ivory Coffee

What is so special on this coffee?

Firstly, only 200 kg are produced each year, that of course makes it extremely rare, especially when one thins that in Finland everybody consumes on average 11 kg coffee per year, so 20 Fins would drink up the entire production.
Secondly, and I think that is even more interesting, the coffee is not made in the traditional way, no, it is actually .........let me start from the very beginning

In northern Thailand there are coffee plantations, some very high quality Arabica cherries (coffee beans still in the skin). They get harvested and then, ha and this is the big difference, gets fed to street rescued elephants! So now you can imagine what happens: The elephants eat the coffee cherries, then digest them and .....yes they are coming out in the back again. Then the fermented cherries (only the nice and whole ones) get picked from the elephant poop. To produce 1 kg of coffee beans, one needs 33 kg of fresh coffee cherries. Why? Because when the elephants eat it, it gets mixed with fresh fruit and eaten as a snack, some of the cherries will get crushed between the teeth and are not usable anymore. Then sometimes the elephant do what they have to do in places that they can not find the poop or they are in the water....and everything is lost. So it is not easy.
Then they get cleaned and dried. The coffee gets then roasted at 200C to a medium roast, then packed and shipped immediately to conserve the freshness. So for anybody who has doubts about the cleanliness of the coffee? It has been tested and came out as one of the cleanest coffees available.

The preparation of the coffee is something special too. It work in a vacuum coffee machine, a replica of an 1840 model, and it works perfectly. The coffee beans get grind by hand at the table and then the coffee is prepared, so there is a lot of show and enough time for the waiter to tell a great story about the elephants and the coffee
Blake, the owner of Black Ivory Coffee demonstrating the grinding of the coffee
How does the coffee taste????? If you expect any special flavor....sorry to disappoint you, it tastes like coffee. OK, it is milder than coffee, maybe for many of us too mild, it even looks a little bit like a dark tea. I have to admit, I do prefer a nice espresso after dinner, but if it is explained properly on the flavors, one just takes a little sugar in the coffee, yes I have to admit it is actually very nice
How much does it cost? Let's jut say, it is not cheap, but if you want to try, we will offer it within the next couple of month as one of only 19 hotels world wide to be able to sell the coffee

There is another coffee that is made similar, but with Civets, but unfortunately because of the popularity there are now cases of animal cruelty, so one has to be careful with buying that coffee
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