Friday, March 30, 2012

Lobster Risotto

 OK, after we had this involved dish with all sorts of recipes, now an easy one, a Lobster and Asparagus Risotto. I must have said it many times before, I just love risotto, I love cooking risotto, it has something calming to cook a risotto because one has to be there, one cannot just let it cook, no, no way, one has to stand there and stir it all the time with a wooden spoon.
But why with a wooden spoon, one could take a normal spoon or a spatula. NO! because it is tradition to use a wooden spoon. So where dos it come from that one HAS to use a wooden spoon. The history is very simple and originates in northern Italy, the center of risotto rice farming and made sense at the time. It all started when aluminium was discovered and everybody started to make pans out aluminium as it is a lot cheaper. The problem was that the cooking spoons where still made of stainless steel because aluminium is too soft.......get the hint, hard metal scraping against soft metal???? Exactly the stainless spoons scraped tiny bits of aluminium off the pot and that not just slightly discolored the risotto, but gave it an ugly metallic taste.

So instead of not using the cheap pans and buy expensive stainless steel ones, they just started using wooden spoons and every since, that is the preferred material used by chefs all over the world to make risotto

Wow, enough talking, lets go to the recipe

50 Ml Olive Oil
100 G Butter
800 G Risotto Rice
150 G Parmesan
200 G Onions
2000 Ml Water
500 Ml White Wine

4.5 Kg Lobster
1 Kg Green Asparagus

Cut the onions in a fine brunoise
Shallow-fry the onions in olive oil without color
Add the rice and shallow-fry some more
Add the white wine and water
Season and simmer for about 15 min
Add cut asparagus
Fry lobster tail in a little olive oil
The risotto must be slightly al dente and creamy
Just before serving add the parmesan and ice cold butter
The risotto must be slightly al dente and creamy
Serve the lobster tail on top of the risotto

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Marinated Lobster Tail

Now we go a bit more Gourmet, just has to be from time to time, doing something where one stands for hours in the kitchen, puts all the love in a dish....that is eaten in 5 minutes, maybe 10 if one is lucky. But that is part of cooking, the creation of something beautiful and tasty, never mind how much labor went in, how much heart and love went in, when the dish is finish, one just has to love it.

This dish is one of them, it is a lot of work for a little starter, but it is so delicious, it is light yet creamy, just sublime. You can see that I truly like this dish and like cooking it. The beauty is that there is a clear tomato jelly on the bottom of the plate, the taste is tomato pure. Then I make a white tomato mousse, it is white because I take the clear tomato juice and reduce it to about half, then cool it down, add gelatine and whipped cream.

The lobstertail is boiled, taken out of the shell and then marinated with Pesto. When one eats this dish, one takes a bit jelly, a bit mousse and a bit lobster tail.......the rest is dreaming.

Of course one could easily plate this dish in a Martini glass, or any other nice dish, try it out, go through the labor of love and make an amazing dish, I guarantee you it is worth the while


Tomato Jelly

2 kg Tomatoes
50 g Basil
14 g Gelatin leaves

Tomato Mousse

1.5 Kg Tomatoes
2 Each Basil
1 Each Thyme 50 Ml
2 Each Eggwhite
Salt, Pepper
3.5 Each Gelatine leaves
1 Lemonjuice
10 Ml Gin
10 Ml Champagne vinegar
Salt, sugar
200 Ml Whipped cream

Chop tomatoes, put in a pot with basil, thyme champgne and eggwhite Blend everything, then bring slowly to boil, season Strain through a mousseline cloth Take 300 ml of the clear juice Melt the soaked gelatine in it, add lemonjuice gin and champagne vinegar Cool down and fold in whipped cream Pour in a flat bowl and cool in the fridge Take some tomato juice, season and thicken with gelatine, pour over the mousse to give it a red edge

10 ea Lobster (4,5 kg)
100 Ml Olive oil
50 Ml Whitewine vinegar
100 G Carrots
100 G Leeks
100 G Celeriac

Cut vegetables in a very fine and regular brunoise Blanch them and cool down immediately Take only the lobster tail, put in boiling court bouillon boil up onece, simmer for 5 minutes, take off the stove and cool down in the stock Peel the lobster tail, only leaving the tail bit on Marinate with salt, pepper, olive oil and brunoise Plating Take the cold tomato jelly Plate the mousse on it and top with tomato concasse Plate the lobster tail next to it Garnish with fresh herbs

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cuppa Cappuccino

Cuppa Cappuccino is a coffee shop in Accra, Ghana where we just spent 6 hours having a meeting to decided what we want todo for the rest of the year here with the Moevenpick htel on a Food and Beverage side. Yes a whole of 6 hours, that is a long time, but we really did do our work and didn't just sit and have an idle chat.
I am since 2 weeks here in Accra, Ghana and have so much to do that I haven't seen much of the town or anything for that matter except the way from the appartment to the hotel and back, so I really enjoyed our little outing very much, even so it was work. It was work but something I like to do, the planning the being organized, the knowing when we do what.
When I arrived here I was stright hit with "we need a lobster week in one weeks time, it has been advertised and we still need everything, from the menu to the the recipe, the tasting the trainig, just everything, so you can imagine how my first week was. Now we are getting organized, we have more time to plan and make sure everything is running smooth.
The coffee shop is in the airport region, nice and secluded, but believe me it is packed over lunch time. It is running since many years and has a very good name so it is known here in Accra for good coffee and good fare. We just had a sandwhich platter, but of course there are wraps and salads and more. Te sandwich was excellent, I enjoyed it a lot and the coffee is superb, and big as you can see. The service is totally friendly and helpful, a real treat in a quiet place a bit off the beaten track of this big city

So if you are ever in Accra, this is a nice place to relax, have a nice cup a cappuccino and something great to nibble

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lobster Bisque

We have just started our Mad about Lobster Week here at the Moevenpick Hotel in Accra and I hope you don't mind me sharing some of our favorite recipes. I am now since one week here and have settled quite well. Of course it is a huge difference from working on a ship to coming here, but so far I truly enjoy the challenge.
We are having just eight nice dishes on the menu, one of them you can find a photo on my Face Book page. I have to say it is difficult for me to choose a favorite, so I start with the Lobster Bisque, an all time classic and favorite. It is actually not difficult to make at all, but one has of course to find the lobster shells first, but here si the recipe

1 kg Lobster Shells
2 l Vegetable stock
250 g Onions
150 g Carrots
150 g Leeks
150 ml Whitewine
50 g Tomato paste
1 ea Bayleaf
2 ea Cloves
5 ea Peppercorns black
1 l Cream
30 g Tomato Paste
Salt, Pepper

10 small lobster tails

1 big dash of nice Cognac
Cut the vegetables in cubes
Roast the shells in a bit oil, add the vegetables and roast for another 5 minutes. Make sure nothing burns but it can have a bit color
Add Tomato paste and roast for one more minute, than add vegetable stock and spices.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes, strain
Reduce a little, add the cream and season to taste
Add the second bit of tomato paste to color the soup a bit more
You should have about 2 litres of Bisque, then the taste and concentration will be perfect
Take one small lobster tail per person, or half a one depending on budget, fry it slightly in a bit olive oil
Just before serving add the Cognac to the bisque, like this you get the full flavor, maybe top with a little whipped cream and serve immediately

Monday, March 19, 2012

Honey Braised Barley

This post I made specially for Stephanie as she traveled on one of the ships of my previous employer and had a dish she really loved. Being one of the readers of my Blog she asked me for the recipes and voila, here it is. It took a little while to write the recipe, but that ia just that I have been busy and had to first find the time and muse to write it.

I have changed it a little bit as I don't like to copy recipes from other people, at least not exactly, so I changed it a bit and worked on the presentation. It is a big difference if one plates for 2500 guests or just for a couple of friends, so I could play a bit, but the basics of the recipe are the same

The dish is great as it is Gluten Free, vegetarian and tastes delicious, I hope you all enjoy it


200 g (7 oz) Barley
1 l (1 quart) Vegetable stock
50 g (2 oz) Carrots
50 g (2 oz) Celery Root
50 g (2 oz) Branch Celery
50 g (2 oz) Red Peppers
25 g (1 oz) Honey
Olive Oil

Yellow Pepper Sauce
200 g (7 oz) Roasted and peeled yellow peppers
75 g (3 oz) Onions, chopped
Garlic chopped
100 ml (3.5 lqoz) Vegetable stock
Braise the barley in vegetable stock till tender, make sure only little liquid is left
Cut carrots, celery and peppers in very fine cubes (Brunoise). Add them to the barley and cook further till they are tender (5 Minutes)
At the end add the honey, olive oil and chopped parsley.

For the sauce, roast the yellow pepper in the oven with salt, pepper and a little olive oil at around 200 C, when tender (about 10 minutes) take them out and put in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool down. Now it is easy to peel the skin off.

Fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil, stirring all the time to avoid the vegetables take any color. Add the yellow peppers and a little vegetable stock, simmer till everything is very soft. Blend and season to taste

For the plating, press the barley in a mold (cup) and plate in the middle, then pour the sauce around and garnish.

The original recipe garnishes with deep fried butternut julienne and cocktail tomatoes, I prefer micro leaves

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Whitebait Fritters

While in New Zealand I got this amazing fresh Whitebait. Whitebait are tiny little fish, no really white, but see through and when they are cooked they turn white. They are best bought in season, but are available all year round, but only frozen. I tried out different Whitebait, from New Zealand and from China and have to say that there is nothing better than fresh one.
I like to prepare them as Fritters, even so Fritters are actually more little omelets. The taste is absolutely beautiful and here the locals serve it as Whitebait sandwich, which is simply the Whitebait omelet put between two freshly baked white bread slices. So simple and so delicious.
I like to serve the omelet with a fresh summer salad, loads of herbs to give it some extra color. It is then good as well for a Gluten free diet, which is especially nice
Here is the Recipe good enough for 8 friends as a light snack or starter

150 g (5 oz) Whitebait
5 ea Eggs

Assorted Lettuce Leaves
Edible Flowers
16 ea slices of white bread

Sherry Vinegar
Beat the eggs, season and add the white bait, let it stand for a little while
Heat the oil and fry small omelets, the size of pan cakes, golden brown on each side
Dress the salad leaves nicely on a plate, and then with two slices of bread make a sandwich with the hot whitebait omelet.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Menudo, a fantastic Filipino Pork Dish

Another lovely recipe from the Philippines...and yes another favorite of mine. I cooked it a couple of days ago for our Filipino crew and I found total approval. So my day was good being a non Filipino cooking some of their favorite dishes. We all sat together and after I was finished cooking I got a lot of good advise which I have straight incorporated here in the Blog, so I know, the recipe will work!

Now, there are of course hundreds of different preparations and ingredients, I have 9 chefs in the galley and got 9 versions of how to make the perfect Menudo, but they all agreed on each others recipes, it was a great discussion we had, it bonds the chef's together and of course while discussing the different recipes from the different regions we were happily eating the Menudo I cooked. It depends from which region the chef's were, each region has special ingredients.
As for the meat, I take pork neck. The neck has basically no sinews, but still a good amount of fat. It is fairly tender, so the cooking process doesn't take too long and it is really flavorful. Of course one can take any other part of the pork, many people enjoy the pork belly or take from the leg. The belly is s little too fat for me to make a stew, the leg is perfect too, but will take longer to cook

There are some items some of the chef's insisted that they should be in, but out of personal preference I left some of them out

1 kilo pork (cut into small chunks)
1/2 kilo pork liver (cut into small cubes)

6 potatoes (peeled, cut in small cubes)
3 red bell pepper (diced)
3 Carrot (diced)

3 tomatoes (diced)
1 small head of garlic (minced)
1 medium size onion (diced)
1 small knob ginger

1 cup Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons of patis (fish sauce)

3 tablespoons oil
1 cup pork or chicken stock
2 cups tomato sauce
Marinate the pork with the soy sauce and fish sauce for 2 to 3 hours
Saute the onions and garlic without color in the oil
Add the marinated pork and fry for 5 minutes, without giving color to the meat. The meat juices will come out and the braising process starts
Add the stock, now braise the meat till it is nearly soft (about half an hour)
Add the Liver and braise for another 5 minutes
Add the cut vegetables and potatoes
Simmer till the vegetables are soft
To finish the dish off add the tomato sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes
Thicken if required
Optional Items
5 pieces chorizo Bilbao (also cut in small pieces)
1 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup raisins

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A new Challenge in my Life

Hello all

I know it has been a bit quiet in the last week, but that all has a very good reason. I have just changed jobs and on top of that live now in a different country. I moved from the ships to a land based job and from Philippines to Ghana. Yes you are right, that is quite a change, but changes are good.

So the last week I spent in Philippines I enjoyed my time tremendously with my Fiancee and we have had a great time trying some more food and cooking together. Especially the street food we tried and I will soon have some blogs about it.
Then the long journey started, flying from Manila to Dubai and then from Dubai to Accra, to flights of over 8 hours each, with a nice break in Dubai. Still, my bum was not happy towards the end of my travel.

Dubai airport is great, as usual. I went to Paul's Pastry shop had a cup of Latte and a delicious rhubarb tart. I love popping in this pastry shop as the pastry is fantastic, fresh and so European. I just had a good time, sipping my coffee and reading my new book, Cooking Dirty by Jason Weehan. OK, it is not my type of book as he is a very different type of chef than me, but it is entertaining reading.
So, here I am now, working in the Moevenpick Accra as Executive Chef, and believe me, there will be plenty of great recipes coming your way, I can't wait to show you what we do here.....I am busy with putting a Lobster specialty week together, so stay tuned

Friday, March 2, 2012

Roast Marinated Quails with Couscous Salad

I just felt like it, I just felt like cooking some quail. It is not an everyday dish, that is for sure. Not because it is a very difficult dish to cook, but more because that quails are not the cheapest bird we can get. But what can I do, I just had this urge of cooking quails.

Quails are game birds, the smallest ones and they are not too gamey, which makes them even nicer. I do like the game taste, but then again, not everybody does. Other game birds are pigeon, partridge and pheasant. And then there is the grouse....not that is really a bird with a strong game taste, but back to the quail.

Mostly quails are sold frozen and already deboned which makes everything so much easier. If you have to debone your quails you are in for a lot of work, but if you get deboned quails, you are ready to cook.

I decided to marinate them in Middle Eastern spices , so I took Ras el Hanout, a Moroccan spice mix and a couple of other spices and marinated the quails for a couple of hours, the fried them in a pan, finished them off in the oven and made a nice couscous salad with it, it was the perfect summer lunch

Just a quick explanation about Ras el Hanout. It is a mix of ground spices consisting of Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Chili Peppers, Coriander, Cumin, Nutmec and Tumeric. It is available in most specialty shops

So here is the recipe good for 6 friends

6 ea Quails, deboned
Ras el Hanout
Olive oil

100 g (3 oz) Couscous
60 g (2 0z) Dried Dates
1 ea red Chili
1 ea Oranges
18 tips Dill
18 leaves Mint
30 g (1 oz) Pistachio
45 ml (1.5 oz) Olive oil
15 ml (0.5 oz) Champagne Vinegar
1 ea Yellow Peppers
1 ea Red Onions
1 cup Radicchio
1 cup Rocket

Marinate the quails with the Ras el Hanout and Olive Oil for several hours, then fry in a little olive oil till golden brown. Finish the quails off in the oven at 160 C for another 5 minutes, set aside and keep warm.

Cook the Couscous as directed on the box you bought the couscous.
Cut the dates in fine strips
Cut the pepper in julienne
Toast the Pistachio quickly in a dry pan
Cut the Orange in wedges
Slice the red chili

Mix the salad ingredients carefully together and add olive oil and vinegar, season to taste

For serving place the salad on a plate on the radicchio and rocket and garnish with the herbs. Serve the quail right next to the salad and enjoy the meal with your friends

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