Monthly Archives: July 2008

Fresh Eggs

Fresh Eggs

Fresh Eggs

This is a picture of eggs that I found at a local market that are fresh from the chicken’s …….You get the point. At this market they have free running (or free range) chickens that they get the eggs from twice a day, usually around 24 a day. Over the next few days I plan on showing detailed differences in fresh eggs such as these and the eggs we buy at the grocery store. I am almost ashamed to admit that in all of the time I spent on my grandfathers farm I never ate fresh chicken eggs, he always bought them at the grocery. I am going to have to assume that because he did not have a chicken coupe or chickens at all is the reason for the lack of this beautiful and all to unknown ingredient. I did not discover the wonderful world of fresh eggs until I moved to London, England and first bought them at a farmers market not far from my flat. I can remember being amazed (and somewhat scared) at the fact the eggs where not refrigerated. What I can to learn is this is common practice all throughout Europe. Most eggs in a European household are held in a larder or simply on a counter top away from the window usually. The difference in color, size, and taste is truly something to behold, and something that I will be sharing over the next couple of days. I will be showing images of eggs that are form free range chickens and never chilled, eggs that are from free range chickens and chilled, and eggs that are from caged birds and of course chilled (i.e. grocery store variety eggs). I will also be researching whether or not I can use these eggs in the restaurant or not, hopefully I can.

— matt bolus

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Catering

If you are ever in Edinburgh, Scotland (perhaps a good base to start hiking the notorious “Whisky Trail”), then look up my friend from culinary school, Campbell Barbee. He and I attended Le Cordon Bleu together, Campbell luckily stayed in the U.K. for more experience. He can be found currently at Herbie of Edinburgh (online at www.herbieofedinburgh.co.uk) or you can look him up on his own site at www.campbellbarbie.co.uk. As always you can also use the link of the right of the page.

— matt bolus

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Finished Purple Basil Pesto

I gathered the ingredients and made the pesto. The recipe I use does not produce a huge batch and is very hard to cut down, mainly because by cutting it in half means you are making pesto by hand. I have made pesto by hand before (first couple of terms in culinary school we were not even allowed to know where the school kept the food processors much less use them). By not being able to cut the recipe I was forced to use some green basil, which is not all together a bad thing but did take away from the color that I was trying to get. I have already formed a solution (or at least a theory) to the problem. I have taken six or seven clippings from the purple basil plant and have them in water to root. From there more purple basil and another run at beautiful purple pesto. I will also use a micro planer to grate the Parmesan cheese. The larger chunks I found don’t disappear as much as I wanted. And finally I will toast off the pine nuts more. Not so much for the flavor but for the color. The lighter they are in the end the more they stand out. Over all the pesto was great, Kelly and I enjoyed it with toast, tomatoes, and bocarones (the best and most perfect anchovy in the world, little white beauties from Spain). Pictured here with a bocarones fillet.

Purple Pesto Round 1

Purple Pesto Round 1

— matt bolus

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Smoked Duck Legs

With the new smoker in hand I knew that duck meat would soon be on the list of things to accomplish.

Smoked Duck Leg

Smoked Duck Leg

Fortunately a photo shoot with FireFly Vodka brought this venture to the forefront. I hate buying specific pieces of an animal, especially birds. Why buy chicken or duck breasts for a high price when you can have the whole bird for the same price as two breasts. I order a whole duck and prepared the breasts for the photo shoot. The legs I cured in a confit fashion with brown sugar, maple extract, salt, pepper, thyme, and smoked paprika. After 24 hours in cure I washed the legs off and set them in the smoker at 300 F for just about two hours with an equal mix of pecan, hickory, and apple wood. The results were fantastic, much better than I had imagined they would be. The skin of the leg was crisp and brown almost like a Peking Duck skin, and the meat was a rust color with the combination of brown from the sugar and meat, and the red of the paprika. The flavor was rich with a hint of sweet saltiness and good blessing of smoke. This practice is something I am certain to keep up with in the future. I can imagine it turning into a smoked duck leg sandwich with pomegranate molasses barbecue sauce.

— matt bolus

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Back to the Bananas

Banana Peppers Turning Red

Banana Peppers Turning Red

Peppers that is. I had to come up with a different title because honestly I thought some of you might be tired of hearing about banana peppers. These peppers are so interesting to me because up until about a year ago they were nothing more than something I pulled from a jar to put on a sandwich. Now they are a plant that I am growing in the garden and they produce so many fruits that I am forced to think of different ideas to use them in. This particular idea came from the chipotle chili concept. Chipotle peppers are red jalapeno peppers that are smoked, thus producing the chipotle. The name is derivided from theNahuatl word chilpoctli which means “smoked pepper”. As I stumbled into the kitchen this morning for my cup of coffee I noticed that many of my banana peppers had turned red. I do not have the slit-est clue why this happened. But at the same time I noticed this it came to my mind that I should smoke them in the chipotle fashion.

Smoked Banana Peppers

Smoked Banana Peppers

So smoke them I did. I combined apple wood and hickory and smoked the red peppers (and some of the regular yellow green peppers as well) at 180 F for roughly 8 hours until they all looked very dehydrated and well smoked. Now I am not sure what to do with them. Do I grind them up and use them as a seasoning? Or do I blend them with a soft vinegar and some sugar and make them into a paste? Maybe I should simply can them and allow the flavors to develop over time and re explore them in the future? Quite possibly I will do all that I just mentioned. Time will tell.

— matt bolus

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Basil Flowers

I had to post this picture. I have never really seen a basil flower. I have seen them start to bloom but have always picked them off the plant in an attemp to make the plant bush out more. They remind me off a miniture snapdragon. I wonder if they taste as bold as thyme flowers do?

— matt bolus

Basil Flowers

Basil Flowers

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Purple Basil Pesto

Not a new idea I am sure, but looking at the large plant of purple basil I have growing in the garden I have to think about it. What would the colors look like together. The golden brown of the pine nuts, the emerald green of the olive oil, the pale almond color of the Parmesan cheese, and finally the deep purple of the basil. I can only imagine it would be that of an impressionistic painting, the type I love from the classic French artist such as Monet. I will be working on it tomorrow and hopefully have pictures for you soon (only if it turns out good of course).

— matt bolus

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