Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Newspaper article from Nigeria

Today it is not me writing the Blog, but I copied the blog from a Nigerian News Paper which has published it as well over the net, some fun reading......really all true???? Come and find out!

The article can be read as well under the following site http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/hotel-a-resort/41501-a-taste-of-buttis-cook

A taste of Butti’s cook
It is the broad smile on his face that both welcomes and gives his guests a tip of what to expect at the dining. Even the way he moves around the restaurant, picks up cutlery, or asks after his guests confuses first diners who take him for an ordinary waiter.
Unless you are told, you will leave with the impression that Walter Butti is a kitchen staff. No, Butti is the executive chef at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra.

With over two decades experience in hospitality, seven of which were spent travelling with foremost cruise liners – MV Orion and Celebrity Cruise – from the North Poles to the Arctic, satisfying heterogeneous palate of its high profile guests, Butti is definitely a good hand at any five star hospitality property across the world.

Though a Swiss-born in a Swiss-branded hotel, Butti seems to know West Africa cuisines more than the locals. Since taking over the affairs of Movenpick Ambassador Hotel’s kitchen, Butti has committed to creating new menus experimenting with African flavour on continental dishes, which has so far resulted in fusion food only served at the restaurant of Movenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra.

Guests who met him at Hunter’s Country House in South Africa will not forget in a hurry Butti’s gazpacho with oven-roasted langoustines, grilled jumbo prawns marinated in lime juice, and blackberry soup scented with plum brandy that leave them longing for another night and another dinner.

Butti is doing more than that in Accra’s 260-room Movenpick Ambassador Hotel.
His Sunday brunch is fully booked even by the locals because of the fusion food on offer. Some Sundays, the restaurant overflows with guests to the open lobby arena. On seeing over 100 guests delighting on his delicacies, he enthuses calmly, “My good people, enjoy your meal,” while gesticulating in appreciation.

He does that because, according to him, “Food is core here. No matter the facilities, guests look forward to a refreshing offering at the dining. It is one of the unique selling points of our hotel and we do not compromise that.”

However, the magic that brought about the huge success of the kitchen in the whole hotel offerings, he says, is the change of the flavour pattern. “We have changed the flavour pattern and ushered in authentic tastes across global palates we serve in the hotel. Since then, our patronage has boomed.”
Satisfying the in-house and outside guests of the 260-room Movenpick is one uphill task, but Butti does that with ease because he works with a team of culinary experts who understand team work. Of course, he shares the blame of every angry guest and the appreciation of every satisfied guest with his team. “If we fail, we fail together, and if we win, we win together,” he will always tell his team members.

One thing he desires is to train a crop of indigenous chefs who will take over from him someday. “By the time I am done here, my earnest wish is to hand over to indigenous chefs who will even rule the kitchen in five star hotels in Ghana and across West Africa.”

He has since spotted those desirous of greatness in the kitchen and has been mentoring them to greatness. So, expect meeting an executive chef in a five star hotel in Europe, America and Asia that will proudly say they are Africans and mean it.

Of course, Stuart Chase, general manager of the hotel, and Annie Terminet Schuppon, executive sales and marketing director of the hotel, are happy Butti is complementing other sections of the hotel business with his must-taste delicacies.

Looking ahead, Butti says his blossom career in hospitality that started when he was 13 years old is just beginning, as he hopes to put more years in delivering five-star services and meet the need of every guest at the dining.

He, of course, invites you to come and dine in Accra’s five-star restaurant.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Exploring Accra: Japanese food

I was very lucky lately that our Vice President of Operations was here on a visit and I was invited to join for dinner at one of the in restaurants of Accra: Santoku. I have heard a lot about this restaurant, most of it was really raving reviews, so of course I was very interested to go there and see for myself.
Having eating in restaurants like Nobu and Tetsuya and travelled for over a month around Nippon I can say that I know a little about the Haute Cuisine of Japan. I love Sushi, I love even more Sashimi, so let's see how it was.

The restaurant is beautiful, very stylish, modern and sleek. There are many waiting personnel making sure everything is getting served in a speedy and friendly manner. It has everything an In spot must have. The bar where one waits for the table (not that we had to wait) and there is of course a great choice of Sake and as well Japanese Whiskey. I could see some lovely bottles of 18 year old golden liquid, I did not dare to ask the price.....

The food was very good, no doubt there are professionals at work. The kitchen is open, so one can see what is going on. We started with steamed Edamame Beans with sea salt, a great fresh snack to start, then a whole load of different dishes came, some lovely Sashimi with a pickled aubergine puree, chicken wings with sesame, deep fried cod that was hanging in Chinese noodles, then Miso soup, Sushi, all very nice

Just when it comes to the bill....aiaiaiai. I was happy that I was invited. The prices are steep, very steep. I am talking of 100 $ per person, this is with wine, food and tip. Still it is a lot of money and it will not be a destination one goes often. Value for money? No I think they are a bit over priced....but they are full, so there is a market.

Overall is was a very nice evening, good company and interesting food

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Poached Salmon

OK, this is the final of the salmon series, and I want to end on a healthy note and do a poached salmon. It is something that is not done so often anymore, but I don't know why. Yes the flavor is a lot more subtle than if a salmon is fried, but if it is done the right way it is really delicious.

The secret is to take a really fresh salmon, go for the very best, fresh, wild salmon. Then you need a good broth, not too salty, but make sure you have plenty of flavor, add fennel, onions, white wine (the one you will drink later or are already drinking), some celeriac, then dill, parsley, one clove, some pepper corn. Simmer your broth to make sure all the flavors are infused to the water.

Then boil the stock up, add the salmon, take it off the heat and leave it for 8 to 10 minutes.....you will see it is wonderful. light and delicious

By the way, you will see a fancy French word in the preparation, the Matignon. This is a cut of vegetables when used in a fish stock. It is basically vegetables (Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Celeriac) cut in fine slices. I made little cubes as it looks pretty when plated

1800 G Salmon fillet
120 G Carrots
120 G Onions
120 G Leeks
60 G Celeriac
2 G Pepper corns
1 Clove
100 Ml White wine
7 G Salt

1200 G Potatoes

Cut salmon in 180 g portions
Cut all the vegetables in regular Matignon
Add the herbs and let infuse for a while
Make a stock with it
Poach the salmon in the broth till pink inside

Turn the potatoes and boil them till just soft
Put the salmon in a deep plate
Top with the broth it has been poached in
Generously add herbs
Serve with boiled potatoes

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Salmon with Olive Crust

Today I have another way to prepare salmon, a little bit more Mediterranean. I use lovely Kalamata Olives, just de-pip them and chop them roughly. Then I add some Italian flat leaf parsley, a couple of bread crumbs and then some sliced chili to give it a bit spice.
Then the salmon gets fried skin down in a bit olive oil, I put the crust on and then it goes in the oven or the salamander and then when it is still pink inside I serve it....yummy
There are endless possibilities of cooking salmon, it is a real pleasure. Unfortunately there was often some bad news accompanying this fish, especially since the salmon farming started. There is a lot of controversy about the salmon farming (same like the Tilapia farming) as it is not really sustainable, not good for the fish quality and often they add additives in order to keep the fish healthy in this tight space.
Never less, salmon is an extremely healthy fish with loads of Omega oils which help lowering the cholesterol, so there is a lot of benefit in eating salmon ever so often. Not as often as good hundred years ago in Sweden where by law one was not allowed to feed the staff more than once a day salmon... in Switzerland it was a lot better, it was only 5 times a week. At that time the salmon still went up river Rhine all the way past Basel.....it is long too dirty and no salmon is coming up the river anymore....a real pity

1700 G Salmon fillet
250 G Black Olives
50 G Onions
20 G Parsley
20 Ml Olive oil
50 G Bread Crumbs
10 G Chili

1200 G Potatoes
100 Ml Cream
150 Ml Milk
100 G Butter
30 G Basil

400 G Tomatoes
120 Ml Olive oil
10 G Salt
1 G Pepper 20
G Parsley

Cut the onions in cubes, shallow fry in olive oil
Add olives, bread crumbs, chili and parsley
Shallow fry for a couple of minutes
Blend quickly, not too fine
Season to taste

Peel the potatoes and cook till soft
Press the potatoes through a sieve
Heat up cream butter and milk
Mix gently with the potatoe puree
Add Basil and season to taste

Blanch and peel the tomatoes
Cut the tomatoes in cubes, discharge the pips
Add olive oil, julienne parsley and season

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Salmon Ravioli

I am coming back to make home made pasta, yes still a favorite of mine. This time we make salmon ravioli, not with smoked salmon, but with fresh salmon. The idea is that the pasta dough really has to be super thin, then the ravioli has to be frozen before cooking. Like this the inside will be warm, but not well done. It need a couple of tries to get this right, it is for sure not the easy cooking, it needs experience, patience and knowledge......but then, the ravioli is really nice too if the Salmon is well cooked, so don't worry too much about it
I try to make this dish really light, even so there is some butter in the sauce, I have omitted the cream completely. I take the leeks and onions, they get sauteed a bit in butter, then I add one cup of fish stock, I boil it up, make sure the leeks is soft. Then I add the ravioli, cook them quickly, add the tomatoes and some more butter and finish. The for the garnish I used some frisee lettuce and flat leaf parsley.

But here is the recipe

500 G All purpose flour
100 G Semolina flour
240 G Egg yolk
2 Ea Eggs whole
50 Ml Olive oil

900 G Salmon fillet
100 Ml Olive oil
50 G Dill
70 G Onions, fried

200 G Leeks
200 G Tomatoes
100 G Onions
10 G Flat leaf Parsley
10 G Dill

Method for the Dough
Mix all the ingredients well
Maybe you might have to add some water
Let the dough rest overnight

Method for the filling
Cut the salmon in small cubes
Mix with olive oil, fried onions, dill, salt and pepper

Roll the dough out paper thin and cut out round ravioli
Put a bit of the salmon mix inside, close it and blanch it very quickly
Put the ravioli in ice water to stop the cooking process
Cut the leeks and onions in small pieces
Fry with a little butter
Add fish stock
Boil up and simmer till vegetables are soft
Add the ravioli, boil up quickly
Add tomato concasse, parsley, dill and and butter
Serve immediately

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Salmon Tataki and the truth about Kobe Beef

Today we are going Asian again, with a lovely dish called Salmon Tataki. Tataki is from Japan and is basically a Sashimi that has been marinated and quickly fried in a very hot pan, just to sear the outside, but leaving the inside raw. Then one slices the piece of fish the same way like a Sashimi, serves it with pickled ginger and Wasabi
One can do Tataki as well from meat, specifically the Kobe Beef. As the name says it already, Kobe Beef is from the Japanese Prefecture of Kobe, and only if it has grown up in this Prefecture it can be called Kobe Beef. The type of beef is actually called Wagyu, so anywhere else in the world where they grow this beef it has to be called Wagyu. There are farms on all continents (ecxept Antarctica, hehehehe) and the qualities are very different as well, depending on farmer, feed and surrounding.
When I visited Kobe I was invited to see a Kobe Beef Farm to see the real deal of the Kobe Beef. I had just bought a couple of pieces for a function and had to fork out 280 $ per kg.....never mind that we had to cut off at least 10% of the thick fat around. It brought tears to my eyes seeing the Japanese Master Chef trimming the beef and yes we took the fat later, melted it and used it for cooking and flavoring. Anyway, back to the farm. There are many myth around the Kobe Beef, that each farmer can have only 2 cows, that they get massaged every day with beer and Sake.....
Let me tell you what is true and what is not true

The truth is that each piece of meat comes with a certificate of origin stating who is the mother and who is the Father of the cow. Then there is a nose stamp on the certificate, yes true! This is like a finger print as every cow has a different nose print. And then there is a photo, the name and address of the farmer, so all is there to guarantee the quality of the meat.
It is true as well that all the meat gets sold by auction and that the best quality can fetch amazing prices which are around 125'000 $ per cow and more. Of course the bringing up the Kobe Cows is expensive as well. Kobe Beef does not walk much and eats nearly the whole day a mix of corn and other good foods to get them nice and fat, so the end result is a huge "Kobe Beef Goose Liver", sort of at least. There is sometimes more fat in the muscles and actual muscles itself
It is not true that each farmer has 2 cows only, the farm we visited had over 100 cows
It is not true that the cows get massaged every day with sake and beer. But yes, the farmers add beer to the water the cows drink in summer for the single reason that beer makes them hungry and they eat more as during the hot summer month, the cows eat less.
The cows getting massaged, but only the cows that go to competitions, they get washed and then massaged with sake and beer as it makes the fur shiny. For the Japanese, if the outer side is beautiful and perfect, then the inside will be of a good quality....pushing the price up when it comes to the auction

So there is the bit of information I have about the Kobe beef. The one thing I forgot to say is that ....the meat is absolutely delicious. It is rich, very rich, but so tasty, so tender like I never had anything like that before.

But back to the salmon tataki, here is the recipe

700 G Salmon Fillet
100 Ml Soy sauce
20 Ml Sesame oil
50 G Honey
20 G Ginger
20 G Garlic
50 Ml Oil
50 G Black sesame seeds
50 G White sesame seeds

100 G Bean Sprout
100 G Black Fungus
100 G Shiitake mushrooms
50 G Frisee
50 G Green Oak
50 G Endive

Cut the salmon in square shaped long strips, the size to cut later a sashimi
Marinate in the soy, sesame, honey, ginger and garlic for a couple of hours
Fry in hot oil till seared and dark all round
Roll in the 2 colours sesame seeds
Cool it down a bit
Cut like a thick Sashimi

With all the salad ingredients make a salad
Season with vinaigrette

Cut the Tataki and plate next to the salad

Monday, July 9, 2012

Salmon Tartar

The Salmon Promotion has started so we will have a couple of salmon recipes, some very simple ones and some that will be a little more involved, but still easy to be made

I love salmon, I know many think that it is a boring fish, but it all depends on whatone does with it and of course what one buys, there is salmon and then the is SALMON. Of course we are not all able to buy the wild salmon and have to resort to the farmed one, but if you are able to get a wild salmon, just go for it, the flavor is superior, the texture and the color.

The best ever salmon I had was in Greenland when I was there with the ship "The World" and we stopped at a couple of harbour towns along the south coast of Greenland. Then in Quartoq we bought fresh salmon from the market. It was there between Seal Ribs, Ling Cod, Halibut and Whale Meat and Blubber. I could hear the salmon whispering,"buy me, buy me!" it was just so amazing, the salmon was caught that night in the waters along the coast. We made some sashimi first for ourselves and then put it on the menu as a salmon tartar, there is where I made this recipe originally.

Of course there are other spots where one can get top grade salmon, one of them would be in Seattle at the Pike Market. While living in Seattle I must have gone countless times to the Pike Market to get fresh salmon, every time it was a real treat.

Of course the farmed salmon is very good too, there is nothing wrong with it, but I guess I am a bit soiled and have tasted the difference, but if you go in the supermarket and see some nice, fresh salmon on the ice, go for it. Make sure you smell the fish first before you buy it, it should have a clean, fresh smell, then you are basically ready to go.

Here is the first of the recipes, a really, really easy start, the salmon tartar

600 G Salmon fillet, fresh
50 G Shallots
2 Ea Lemon, juced and rind
10 G Salt
1 G Pepper
15 G Dill
15 Ml Olive oil

50 G Frisee lettuce
50 G Rocket lettuce
50 G Lollo rosso lettuce
15 G Dill

50 G Cucumber
50 G Fennel

30 G Pommery Mustard
50 Ml Olive oil
20 Ml Cider Vinegar
10 G Honey
5 G Salt
1 G Pepper
Cut the salmon fillet in small cubes of about 5 mm
Chop the shallots finely Marinate the salmon with shallots, lemon juice salt, pepper, dill and olive oil

Plate the salmon tartar in a ring in the middle of a plate
Wash the lettuces and garnish the tartar

Put the cucumber cubes and fennel cubes around

Make a vinaigrette with mustard, honey and all the other ingredients and drizzle over the salad

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Coupe Romanoff, a Strawberry Sensation

What is he doing now? Is he cooking Russian food again?
No, the Coupe Romanoff is a traditional ice cream coupe we do in Switzerland, something everybody know, even so we don't really know where the name comes from

So then lets have a little lesson in cooking history. The first time this dessert was made for the Russian Tsar Family Romanoff by the French master Chef Marie-Antoine Careme in the 19th Century. The original dessert was fresh strawberries marinated with port wine and then served with whipped cream. Over the years the dessert changed to what we know today, vanilla and strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. So no more alcohol, but lovely ice cream

Marie-Antoine Careme was the chef of the kings, he was born in France in a poor family in 1777 and then started working in kitchen at a very young age. He worked his way up and ended up cooking for Baron de Rothchild, the British king, Taillerand and then Tsar Alexander of Russia. Careme was the one who started that the chefs wear white jackets and hats, in order to stay more hygienic. He wrote many cook books, revolutionized cooking and created many dishes which are still cooked today, even so in a slightly different form.

So, but now we have the recipe

1 scoop Strawberry Ice Cream
1 scoop Vanilla Dream Ice Cream
75 G Strawberries, slices
20 G Strawberry Sauce
20 Ml Cream, whipped Mint

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Balsamic Vinegar marinated Strawberries

There is another favorite of mine, the Balsamic marinated Strawberries. It is such a simple dessert, especially if you just serve it with a scoop of ice cream or some whipped cream. All you do is add some sugar to the strawberries and some balsamic vinegar, let it marinate for a couple of hours and Voila, the dessert is ready

I like to do a littl variation of the dessert, a cold Sabayon or Zabaglione in Italian. The proper English translation would be a Wine Foam Cream. But as it doesn't sound so sexy, I think we stick to Sabayon. It is basically egg yolks, sugar, white wine and often a bit Madeira wine that is combined and then beaten over heat till it thickens.....voila, again. It sounds easy, but I have to admit, it is a little tricky to do, to get the right moment to stop as otherwise the cream will be scrambled eggs or it will liquify again

So here is the recipe, you will see it is just so simple and delicious

500 G Strawberries
50 G Sugar
50 Ml Balsamic Vinegar

Clean the strawberries and marinate them with the sugar and balsamic vinegar for a couple of hours

50 Ml Eggyolk
50 Ml White wine
20 G Sugar
100 Ml Whipped cream
500 G Vanilla Ice cream

Whisk the eggyolk, liquid and sugar over a bain marie till light and fluffy
Cool down with an electric beater
Mix with the whipped cream
Make 10 small scoops
Plate the marinated strawberries in a long shaped plate
Drizzle the Sabayon over them
Garnish with one scoop of ice cream and some mint leaves
Reduce the left over Balsamic from the marinade till syrup
Drizzle over the berries just before serving

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Exploring Accra, Restaurant Review

Yesterday was my first day off in a long time and we decided to do our shopping, combined with a nice lunch and a movie. Of course first was sleep in time which means by 7 AM we were awake but still just lying in bed and relaxing.

Accra Mall is the biggest mall in the country which means not much, it is still tiny compared to other malls, but at least one can get everything needed. There is a Game which is a store with house hold goods and some food and then there is Shoprite with plenty of food, most of it imported from South Africa.....which makes it very expensive and often the goods are not available as the container hasn't arrived yet. Both of the major shops are South African shops, so one can find everything, even so one pays for it.

There is a movie house as well, not huge, but nice and clean. We watched battleship, really nice movie, even so it is basically the same like all the other movies...Aliens invade the world in the one or the other way, then we have some heroes and bingo, we win.....anyway, we really enjoyd the movie, it is just different to watch a movie on the big sceen. The cost: 16 GHC per adult on the weekend, which is about 8 USD

And then of course we had lunch. We were already quite often at the mall but never ate there except a take away pizza which was horrible, but now we tried Rhapsody's. It always looks nice when one walks by, the tables nicely laid. There is a big bar with TV, the smoking area which was full, mainly expats drinking, eating, smoking and watching sport
We had a Beef skewer which was 300 g of nice and tender meat with herbs and a bit gravy. It was very nicely done, could have a bit more gravy and lss dried herbs, but was very delicious. Then we had a snack basket....huge with 2 mini burgers, fried chicken strips, sping rolls, buffalo wing and french fries. With a large water, a pineapple juice and a Mango juice it came to 87 GHC, so just under 50 USD. There are a lot more expensive restaurants here, so the re is good value for money, except when you start drinking wine, then the bill will go up.
I have to say, it was a really nice restaurant, even so that what we most wanted, the calamari where not available. I can recommend going to Rhapsody's, the service was good and friendly, the food came quickly and it had a nice athmosphere, all needed to have a good time in a restaurant

So it was a great and relaxing day, the lunch, the movies and of course we stocked up the kitchen again, ready for more culinary adventures at home
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