Sunday, November 25, 2012

Exploring Accra: The Deli @ the Moevenpick

No, it is not a restaurant revue, not at all. It would be silly to write a restaurant revue about the restaurant we just opened, no, no. We leave that to others
So yes, I am here now since good eight month and had a fabulous time at the Moevenpick. We changed a lot, implemented a lot, are doing new things all the time, but the one major task I had this year was the opening of our Deli Shop.
We had many meetings, brain storming sessions. then had trials and we had an opening date.....which of course passed, then a new date.....which passed and then, one beautiful morning in the GM briefing we got the news. The plans had arrived and the containers with all the furniture and everything else was on the way....together with a new opening date.

Never less, that opening date still passed, but the building was already so far that we know quite exactly when to open......which was today!

It feels strange, after 8 month knowing what we wanted to do, we are actually doing it.....not exactly the way we planned, but we are pretty proud that it is working. I am proud, it is working well from day one and will get better every day.
Since one week I actually stay in the hotel as I start just before 6AM to make sure everything is going over to the Deli and is good, I help with preparation, with the set up, change a bit here and there, write new recipes as we see the original ones are not working as we want it and then of course still run the kitchen. Then at night around 10 PM I make sure everything is getting packed away, transfers are written and nothing is wasted.

The past nearly 3 weeks were really intensive. We employed new staff and started the training, most of the staff we employed because of their personality, not knowledge of sering. We wanted the right Vibe.....we got it and the knowledge is so much better than at the beginning, it is great to see the team in The Deli

So what is on offer?

There are of course the sandwiches, especially the Panini. Of course I am byist, but I have to tell you that there are no nice Panini in Accra except here. And that does not come from me, but from several guests I have chatted to today. You can have about anything on it, Parma Ham, Smoked Salmon, Ham and Cheese, Curried Chicken Salad, Tuna Mayonnaise, anything goes. So either you have a panini or a freshly baked baguette.
The we serve sushi, we got 6 individual flavors and then they go as well as a combo, very nice to have them on a Friday night before going out.

The next station is Pasta and Asian soups. You choose from Penne and Spaghetti and then have a choice of 5 Sauces. The portion is nice and big, so even the big eaters are catered for. Asian soups are prepared a la minute and you say what you want inside. Egg noodles, rice noodles, vegetables, beef or chicken

What we see is a total runner is the little lunch buffet we have with the local food. Jolof Rice, Plain Rice, and daily changing specialities like goat light soup, tilapia light soup, Agushi Stew and of course for Sunday we have Ebunuebunu with Fufu......want some recipes???? OK, they will come soon
We have as well salads, freshly squeezed orange and pineapple juice, all sorts of drinks from juices, beer, wine and even bubbly. Yes, why not indulging in some sushi and smoked salmon sandwiches and having a glass of bubbly, it comes in half bottles, so perfect for a little tete a tete.... you can even sit outside on the terrace and enjoy the evening breeze

Of course we have a wide range of pastries, but what I want to mention is the Macaroons.......homemade and lovely, I have some of them every you will not see a photo of me enjoying them and see what happens to my belly, hehehehe
Last but not least our Ice Cream. We import our own Moevenpick Ice Cream, 7 flavors and yes, they are lovely, again, there is nothing that comes close to this flavor not just Accra, but the whole of West Africa. OK, I am exaggerating, but I just love Moevenpick Ice Cream. I grew up with it, love it and eat it whenever I can

I hope you like the photos and when you are in Accra, pop in and say hello. It is a great place to chill. Maybe even hop in the pool, have a great afternoon, chill out and relax.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Oilve oil seared grouper with octopus

This is the fish dish of my weekly menu, grouper and octopus. It is a lovely combination served on fondant potato and a tomato fondue.

Fondant potato is a classic, it is actually cooked in chicken stock and then at the end glazed with the reduction. For this dish I leave the glazing away, but I still cook the potatoes in a light chicken stock.

The octopus gets braised in red wine, nice and slow, so it takes the color and the flavor of the wine. Don't take just wine, but add some water, fish stock, root vegetables, mmmm I get hungry just from writing it.
It is such a simple dish, but each flavor is coming out nicely

2 Kg (4lb) Grouper
1.3 Kg (2.6 lb) Potatoes
1 L (1qt) Chicken stock
0.25 Kg (10oz) Spinach
0.05 Kg Butter
0.01 Kg Salt
0.005 Kg Pepper

0.5 Kg Octopus tentacles
0.5 L Red wine
0.01 Kg Salt
0.005 Kg Pepper
0.5 L Court Bouillon
1 Ea Bay leaf

0.75 Kg Tomatoes
0.25 Kg Onions
0.01 Kg Salt
0.005 Kg Pepper
0.05 Kg Basil
0.1 L Olive oil

Season the grouper with salt and pepper

Clean the octopus and braise with red wine and court bouillon till tender
Cool down and let it marinate over night
Cut the potatoes into the typical fondant size
Simmer carefully in the chicken stock till soft

Saute the spinach just before serving

Cut the tomatoes in quarters, add the onions
Saute in a bit olive oil, add salt and simmer at low temperature till everything is properly cooked Blend and strain
Mix up with Olive oil, season to taste

Pour the tomato fondue on the bottom in the deep plate
Add a fondant potato on top
Then put a layer of spinach
The fish on top of the spinach
Drizzle the braised octopus legs on top of it

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lobster Terrine

Today we are attempting a different terrine, a lobster terrine. As usual it looks a lot more difficult than it actually is, the only thing you need a lot, is time. It takes a lot of time to prepare everything as you need all your ingredients ready when you start doing it.

I like to take whole lobster tails in the terrine, they have to be poached separately. I usually take a kebab skewer, stick it lengthwise through the peeled tail, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then poach them in court bouillon till they are just cooked. I then put them in the fridge immediately to stop the cooking process. Like this the tails will stay the same in the terrine, if they are put in raw they will curl up and the entire terrine will be messed up.
Then I like to put herbs in the terrine, just some parsley and dill, not too much, just for color. I have added some mushrooms as well, some wild ones and then some salmon that I cut in small cubes.

0.5 Lobster meat
0.6 White, firm fish fillet
0.01 Salt
0.005 Pepper
0.05 White wine
0.5 Cream
0.4 Lobster meat
0.4 Oyster mushrooms
0.4 Salmon fillet

Frisee lettuce
Radiccio lettuce

Cider Vinegar
Saffron powder
Olive oil
Pepper, white ground

Season and wrap the lobster tails in plastic like a sausage
Poach in court bouillon till glassy inside
Cool down in the blast chiller
Take the white fish meat, preferably grouper
Make sure it is half frozen, then add to a blender
Blend till fine, then add salt and pepper
Put the mix in a new bowl on ice
Cut the lobster and salmon meat in cubes
Fry the mushrooms in olive oil, season and cool
Carefully mix the ingredients under the mix
At the end add roughly chopped parsley
Put cling film in a terrine form, then add half of the fish mix
Add the poached lobster tail in the middle, press gently
Finish off with the rest of the fish mix
Poach in the oven in a bain marie for about 45 min at 80 C

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Zealand Beef Fillet in Ghana

I actually just wanted to write about our latest addition in the restaurant, the new 3 course menu. We have created a 3 course menu where the guest can as well eat the individual courses "a la carte" but basically if you order the whole menu you get the dessert for free. We will change this menu every week, so there are so many more recipes just waiting to be posted.

But then I thought about the menu, one of my suppliers came and said that he has beef fillet from New Zealand. Now I have to be honest, I have no idea how it got here. I know this supplier well....and you do too! It is my fish supplier with whom we went fishing in Krokobite. Yes he deals in many other things, Parma Ham, Parmesan, flour, cheese bacon....anything that sells.

He got the fillet through some dark corners and thought he would send me one to, this was nice. The color is really dark, not like the usual beef I have from South Africa. It is super tender, tasty and just simply great.

That is how my new menu should start. so I looked what else I have and found some lovely Salsifys....a root vegetable that is best eaten in a creamy sauce....just if you ask my humble opinion. Then we made some nice turned potatoes and some green beans on top of the fillet, yes, and believe me, it goes well.

So with no further ado and mumbling and long story, here is the recipe.....and I still wonder how he got it!!!!!!


2 Kg New Zealand Beef Fillet
0.05 Kg Salt
0.01 Kg Pepper

1 Kg Salsify
0.1 L Chicken stock
0.2 L Cream
0.05 L White wine
0.01 Kg Maizena

1.5 Kg Potatoes
0.05 Kg Parsley
0.05 Kg Oregano
0.05 Kg Butter

0.3 Kg Fine green beans
0.03 Kg Butter
0.005 Kg Garlic

0.1 L Demi Glace

Season the fillet with salt and pepper
Fry in oil to the desired temperature
Saute the salsify, then add chicken stock and cream
Boil up, season and thicken with Maizena
Turn the potatoes and boil them in salt water till soft
Chop the herbs very finely, then toss potatoes with herbs and butter
Blanch the green beans, cool down in ice water
Saute in butter with a bit garlic, season to taste
Put the salsifys on the bottom of a deep plate
Place the meat on top, potatoes around, a little jus
Put one bundle of beans on top of the meat

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Duck Breast, Sweetcorn Puree, Wild Mushrooms

I haven't cooked with duck breast for a while and have to say that I missed it. Duck is such a beautiful product, the flavor is amazing. It has some gaminess to it, but is not overpowering. It is a strong meat, dark red in color and therefore is best eaten medium to medium rare.

Of course the cooking point is always something one can debate. For me personally a good cut of red meat should be eaten medium rare, except a rib eye which is best consumed medium. Why?? Because there is a lot of fat in it and if the temperature is too low, the flavor won't develop and it is not nice to eat. But then of course on the other side, if a guest, friend or fiance would like to have their meat more cooked (or less), it is no problem. From a chef point I feel that it is my duty (and to a certain extend pleasure) to cook the meat to exactly the cooking point wanted. If somebody doesn't like blood in the meat, this person doesn't like blood in the meat and it is not up to me telling that person that this is not good......because it is good, it is the way that person enjoys the meat best.

So, after all this long story, cook the duck the way you like it, not the way I like it, because I want you to enjoy your meal.

Today I made my duck breast with a sweet corn puree, marinated red cabbage, rosemary potatoes and a berry jus. Duck pairs well with sweet items like sweet corn or the red cabbage which is marinated with red wine, sugar, honey, cinnamon, onions, apples and more. I have added some berries to the jus (gravy) to give it a bit of a different flavor.

Lastly a tip when you cook the duck breast. You won't need any fat to cook it. I usually take a non stick pan, heat it up and then fry the breast skin down. You will see, within no time there is a lot of fat in the pan. Be careful with the heat, as it takes a bit time for the heat to penetrate through the fat and cook the meat, if the breast is not long enough on the skin side, it will still be undercooked under the skin. I like the skin crispy, so it takes good 5 to 7 minutes on the skin side, then I turn the breast around and finish it off under a salamander or the oven with more top heat.

When the meat is cooked I let it rest. You should do that with every red meat, the resting will help that the juices stay in the meat and don't just run out as soon as you cut it. As a rule of thumb, you let the meat rest in a warm place for the same amount of time you cooked it....ok, with a big piece of meat you don't have to wait that long, but 10 to 15 minutes is the best time.

2 Kg Duck breast
1 Kg Sweet corn
0.5 L Cream
1.3 Kg Potatoes
0.1 l Olive oil
0.05 Kg Rosemary

1 Kg Red Cabbage
0.5 L Red wine
0.25 Kg Onions
0.25 Kg Apples
0.1 L Cider Vinegar
0.05 Kg Honey
0.05 Kg Sugar
0.5 L Orange juice
0.1 Kg Cepes
0.1 Kg Chanterelles
0.1 Kg Oyster mushrooms
0.1 Kg Shimeji mushrooms
0.1 Kg Trumpet mushrooms
0.05 Kg Garlic
0.1 Kg Shallots
0.15 Kg Butter
0.05 Kg Parsley
Demi Glace

Marinate the red cabbage with all ingredients and let it covered in the fridge for 24 hours
Braise slowly till most liquid is gone

Boil the sweet corn till soft and most liquid gone
Add cream, boil for another 10 minutes
Blend to a smooth puree

Cut the skin of the duck breast in criss cross
Fry on the skin side till golden brown and crispy
Turn around and leave the pan on the side.

Clean the mushrooms, then saute with garlic, shallots and butter, season to taste

Monday, November 5, 2012

Exploring Accra: Cavaliere Pazzo Restaurant

Finally I went to a new restaurant, it doesn't happen too often as after a hard weeks work I like to relax at home and just cook something simple like a little BBQ or have the pleasure that my fiancee cooks for me.
This time we went to an Italian restaurant called Cavaliere Pazzo, situated at the Polo Club in Accra. Just hearing Polo you can imagine that the food is not cheap....really not, is actually more on the pricey side, very pricey.....ok, at the end of the meal I was happy that the hotel paid for.
I could unfortunately not go with my Fiancee to this restaurant as it was actually a business dinner. I am showing the new Chef de Cuisine around town that he can see our closest competition. He will have the pleasure to see 7 of the top restaurants here in Accra in the next 10 days, I will go with him to eat at three of them, yummy, so expect more revues.
The food overall was actually very good, there is no complaint. The atmosphere is nice, even so I thought a little on the cold side, but overall very nice. As soon as we sat we got some lovely fresh bread, toast, fresh tomato salsa, olive oil and balsamic, as it should be in a good Italian restaurant. So the evening started well.
The menu is not too big but has a nice choice of everything. The Ravioli and Gnocchi we had were all home made and the sauces very flavorful. It was a bit on the rich side, but the flavor was excellent. I had the gnocchi with smoked salmon and my opposite had the ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta in a lovely tomato sauce
The mains we went for beef, he had a beef fillet with mushroom sauce and fried rice (which wasn't fried rice) and I had a sliced filled with rocket lettuce and Parmesan. Both meats cooked to perfection, the sauce rich and mine a little too strong with the balsamic, but that is now really looking for faults which really weren't, I am just a picky chef I guess.
We gave the desserts a skip as we were full with the 2 courses, pasta and gnocchi are main courses and are not served in half portions. Pity as the food is lovely and we wanted to taste more different dishes.
Then came the bill and I realized that it says on the menu that the tax is not there was another 15% on top of the bill which was a bit of a shock to me....yes, yes, I should have read the menu more careful. So the bill came to 260 GHC (130 USD) for the meal, a nice meal but over priced as we had no wine, just some beer
Would I go again? It is more a place for special occasions and if the Hotel thinks I have to go and pays, yes I would.......
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