Thursday, September 27, 2012

Champagne Dinner

Yesterday was a fun day, I was an extremely long day at work but most of the time I was actually cooking and this was just fun. Usually I spend a lot of time in the office doing the paperwork I "love" so much, but yesterday I was out in the kitchen the entire day. I must say that I am very fortunate that I have an extremely understanding partner. I told my Fiancee that I should be back home between 10 and 1030 PM but arrived after 11 PM. We usually eat together when I come home after service and she wanted to treat me with a Tilapia cooked in Coconut Broth. I love it but because I was so late we did not eat and went straight to bed.....we will have it today
The special part of this day was that we had a dinner with Moet & Chandon Champagne and we cooked something that was different to what we normally cook so of course I take this opportunity to go a little wild.
Here is the menu we cooked

Diver Scallop in chilled Sweetcorn Broth
Sauteed Foie Gras  on Apple and Pear Tart Tatin
Champagne and Caramel Reduction
Pave of Salmon and Lobster tail
Saffron Parsnip Mash, Herb Beurre Blanc
Hear of Karan Beef Fillet slow roast in the Oven
Napoleon of creamed Potatoes, Spinach and Mushrooms
Delice of Chocolate and Raspberries
Croustillant and macerated Berries

Sounds good? Ah yes it is good. It was a lot of work, especially the Tarte Tatin as first I made a thin, crips layer of puff pastry, baked it and cut it out. Then the Apples and Pears have been sliced on a slicing machine, then cut out and cooked in Caramel and at the end they have been layered on top of the puff pastry. That took quite some time, but at the end it was all worth it.
The guests loved the dinner, of course they had Moet & Chandon Champagne, starting with the Nectar for the Foie Gras. The comments of the organisers was that we were daring to start with this champagne, but the combination absolutely worked out to be perfect, so off to a good start.
Then they had the Brut with the fish and the Rose with the meat, everything went well. To finish off the meal Dom Perignon was served with the dessert, wow, we really ended up on a high note and all 25 guest were raving about food and wine. So yes it was a good evening.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Exploring Ghana; Visiting an organic pig farm

In my quest of buying local and if possible organic I got approached by a supplier of pork. After talking to him a bit I got really interested as he offered to bring me out to the farm to see how everything works. After having some samples of the meat I happily agreed to come and visit the farm.
Now firstly something one has to understand, here in Ghana time works different than in other parts of the world. Even so it was agreed that we will be fetched at 7 am..... which turned out to be 9 AM. Generally no problem, but it would have been nice to just sleep in a bit as I took my only day off in this week to see the farm.
It was a good 2 hour drive to the farm which is in the Swedru Region. Everything is lush and green and we saw many palm, coconut and pineapple farms, the region has good soil. The drive was relaxing, even so we had to be careful with all the pot holes in the road and believe me, there are many and sometimes when we were too late to swirf around and hit the pot hole with full force.....that was not so relaxing anymore.
The pig farm itself is very impressive, the pigs are clean, their stall were clean, they are fed good food, a good combination of corn, wheat bran and soy, they looking healthy and nothing is used to make them grow faster. They actually looked happy. We were there around feeding time and all the pigs were standing up in their dens to see where the food is.
Next stop was the butchery, something really important to me as I have seen many butcheries and I honestly do not want to describe them.......yes, that is how bad they are, no cooling, open doors you name it, it is there.
Now this butchery is different. Even so it is straight out at the farm, it is clean. There is a pre- room to avoid flies and mosquitoes to come in, then one has to soak the shoes in a disinfectant solution, then the hairnet, the lot......OK, because nothing was happening we left the hairnet away. The butchers were all very clean and after talking to the head butcher, I knew immediately that he knew what he is talking about.
We checked out the entire facilities, everything is air conditioned and really clean. They took pigs out of the fridge and we discussed exactly which cut I prefer, a major service for me as now the butcher knows what I want.
Satisfied with what I saw we went on for a lovely lunch consisting of......yes you guessed it right, pork chops, rice and vegetables. Everything was prepared with love by the chef and it was a pleasure to be there
Then late afternoon we went off again, through the pot holes back into the evening traffic of Accra.....don't we all love it being stuck in traffic after a lovely day in the country side?

So what is happening next? We just have to do a whole lot of paper work and then we will place the first small trial order to see if everything works the way we want and hopefully within a month time I can proudly sell organic pork from Swedru, healthy, local and in line with our policy of buying as much as possible from reputable local sources.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hamburger Galore "The Ambassador Burger"

Yes, Hamburgers! I want to write about them and share my recipes with you. As you can guess, we are serving hamburgers here at the hotel, not just the normal one the Classic and the Cheese burger, no, thee is a lot more to hamburgers than that.

Firstly I have to talk about the meat. It very much depends on what you put inside to what you will have at the end. If you put in a good quality meat, you will have a good quality burger, if you put in....lets not go that way because I like a good burger.

We make a mix of meats, we take some local beef which is very tasty, but too lean and the hamburger would dry out. So we add some Karan Beef from South Africa. The two meats in combination give a lovely burger patty that is moist and tasty.

I don't put any seasoning inside the meat, only before they get flame grilled I add salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The hamburger bun we do fresh here in the hotel. They get baked every night by our 2 bakers, then just before serving the burger I cut the bun in 2, butter it and toast it under the salamander. The butter gives an extra dimension, I don't care what you say about Cholesterol and all of that, a little butter gives flavor!!!!!!!

And then the topping, there one can go wild. I will tell you today what we put on top of our Ambassador Burger, one of the best sold burgers I have on the menu. There is cheese, Bacon, Mango Chutney (yes homemade) and to top it off some deep fried plantain......ahhhh it is so good, you have to try it out. Here is the recipe
 2 Kg ground Beef
100 G Lettuce
150 G Tomato
75 Ml BBQ Sauce
50 Ml Oil
75 G Cucumbers
750 G Plantain
100 G Cheddar Cheese
50 G Chili sauce
250 G French Fries
200 G Lettuce
100 G Tomatoes
100 G Onion
50 G Feta
50 G Olives Black
75 Ml Dressing
10 Ea Burger Bun
10 Ea Tomato sauce
10 Ea Mayonnaise
Grind the beef and form 200 g patties
Season and grill to the desired cooking temperature
Cut the mangoes in cubes and simmer with chili, sugar and vinegar till thickened
Deep fry the plantain
Cut the burger bun in half, butter it and toast golden brown
Put the cheese on the patty, then melt under the salamander
Layer the lettuce and tomatoes on it
Generously pour BBQ sauce on the tomatoes
Place the patty on top then top with plantain and bacon Drizzle Chili sauce on top Put the bun top leaning on the hamburger Serve with French fries and side salad Recipe for 10 people

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Onion Tarte from Schaffhausen

This dish is very close to my heart as it is from the region I grew up in Switzerland. OK, Schaffhausen is about 30 km away from my home town, which is a lot in Switzerland, but it is close enough to write the recipe down.

The Schaffhausen style onion tart is a great way to eat onions. My mom always planted a lot in the garden, so when the season started we would have this treat a couple of times. The preparation is so easy as all it needs is onions, a bit bacon, eggs, milk, cream and a quiche dough.....which my mom usually bought, but it didn't matter. What matters is that the tart or quiche was absolutely delicious.
For this recipe I made them individual but usually at home I make one big tart and then we just cut slices. It stays a bit more moist when making a big tart.
Of course one can make this tart as well vegetarian......just then it is not the traditional tart anymore, the bacon is giving a lot of flavor to it, but like I said, one can leave it away....I can't, I love it with the bacon too much.

Every part in Switzerland has their local specialties, I like that so much. It is a very small country, but when it comes to food, there is a huge variety of dishes around.
So here is the recipe

750 G Onions
100 G Bacon
500 G Pie Dough
5 Ea Eggs
300 Ml Milk
200 Ml Cream
Salt Pepper Nutmeg

1 Ea Lollo Rosso
1 Ea Lollo Biondo
1 Ea Red Oak
1 Ea Green Oak
30 Ml Red wine
75 Ml Olive oil
Salt Pepper

Slice the onions in fine strips
Cut the bacon in fine strips
Fry them in a bit butter till soft and all the liquid had gone
Roll the dough out and layer in individual forms
Cut the top off and make holes with a folk
Put the onion-bacon mix in it, will all the way to the top
Mix the ingredients for the Royal
Pour the Royal on top of the onions, bake for 10 min

Clean the lettuce and plate
Drizzle with dressing
Serve with the freshly baked Onion Tart

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rice Casimir

Now we are really going wild here. This is one dish that has become a staple of Swiss Cuisine even so it is as un-Swiss as it can get. It is a Chicken Curry in a Rice Ring with poached fruit (often out of the can), a dollop of cream and then toasted almond.......

Swiss??? Yes it is. It has its origins in 1952 when Moevenpick put it on their menu for the first time.....and the rest is history. This dish is so common in Switzerland that even in the chef training, the apprenticeship, we had to learn how to do it and many restaurants still have it on the menu.
The only thing the Rice Casimir has in common with a good Indian Curry is.....Curry Powder, but that's it. It is not spicy, but actually slightly sweet.

And I have to admit, I grew up with it, happily ate it when we went to a restaurant and still like it, it brings back childhood memories, like the Moevenpick Birchermuesli.......more about that you will read soon in my Breakfast Blog.

The funny thing is that many people who are not fond of curry really like this this, just because it is not really a curry.

So, I won't let you wait any longer, here it is, the famous Rice Casimir Recipe!!!!!

2.2 Kg Chicken Breast
100 G Curry Powder
10 G Chili
50 G Masala
5 G Cinnamon
1 Ea Bay leaf
1 Ea Glove
1 Ea Pepper Corns

400 Ml Cream
400 Ml Coconut Milk

1 Kg Pears
1 Kg Pineapples
1 Kg Peaches

500 G Rice
75 Ml Cream
50 G Almonds, toasted

Slice the chicken Breast in fine slices
Fry in a bit oil Add curry powder, Masala and other spices
Add coconut milk
Simmer till the chicken is soft
Add cream
Season to taste

Poach pears, pineapples and peaches
Plate a rice ring
Put the curry in the middle
Garnish with the fruit
Serve with whipped cream op at the end with toasted almonds

Serves 10 Guests
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