Through the Kitchen Window

The Thursday before Valentine’s Day, I had the pleasure, and honour, to be invited to a Chef's Table Dinner at the School of Hospitality at Humber College. Those of you who read this column regularly will know that my eldest son, Matthew, is in his final year of their Culinary Management course. This Chef’s Table Dinner was the culmination of studies for students who will graduate this spring. They will go on to begin their careers as chefs and more.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, Chef’s Tables are customary in high end restaurants where the guest, usually a regular and well respected patron, pays a premium to sit at a table in the kitchen, allow the chef to choose the meal he will present, and oftentimes, the chef will also introduce and explain each course as it is served. Much the same thing is what happened in the Kitchen at Humber that night. The Chef’s Tables were done in teams of four graduating chefs per evening, Matthew’s night happened to fall on that Thursday, along with three of his colleagues. The only tangible difference between this and any other Chef’s Table, was that the price for the meal was a reasonable $28.00 per person. There were approximately sixteen of us, all of us related in some way to one of the chefs. We were there to cheer on our children, and they in turn, needed only to cover their costs.

It was an excellent meal. They all worked together on putting together the meal and the presentation of each serving as it came from the galley area to the Chef’s Table. Before each course was brought out, the chef responsible for it explained briefly what they were trying to achieve.

For a glimpse at what they served us, I’m going to turn the column over to my son, Matt.

There were four chefs in my team that night. The Chef’s Table menu was designed completely by John-Vincent Troiano. I took charge of the appetizer. John Murphy had the task of putting together the beet and frisee salad, and Christine Morin was responsible for the dessert. When it came time to do the practice run, we each changed a few things here and there in our individual courses, and adjusted some others as a group. Mine was the first course served.

Lemon Maple Glazed Atlantic Salmon

Lemon Maple Glazed Atlantic Salmon
(on a potato and parsnip puree with creamed spinach)
  • Potato
  • Parsnip (ratio of about 3 parsnip: 4 potato)
  • Lemon Zest
  • Cream
  • Butter (use more cream and butter than for regular mashed since it needs to be runnier)
  • Egg
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook potato and parsnip in boiling water until mashable. Add warmed up cream and butter and mix, add one egg, lemon zest and seasoning.

  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Cream
  • Butter

Sweat garlic and shallot in butter. Add spinach and cook down. Add cream and cook until it thickens. Season to taste.

  • Salmon
  • Lemon Juice
  • Maple Syrup

Mix maple syrup and lemon juice together and cook until it thickens a bit. Season salmon and sear in hot pan. Glaze the top of the salmon with the maple lemon glaze, brulee with a blowtorch. Finish in the oven.

Wood Smoked Beet and Frisee Salad

Wood Smoked Beet and Frisee Salad
(with a balsamic reduction)
    Peel and slice the beets about .5 cm thick and smoke them. We tried several different types of wood chips but unanimously preferred apple wood. Make a tower of alternating layers of beet and frisee lettuce that you have previously seasoned with a light balsamic vinaigrette. Top the tower with goat cheese that you have mixed with lemon zest, chives and thyme. Garnish with a deep fried beet chip. Drizzle a balsamic vinegar reduction and herbed olive oil decoratively around the plate.

Roasted Australian Rack of Lamb

Roasted Australian Rack of Lamb
(with roasted peppers and saffron chili cream)
    Before you start, drain your yogurt in a cheesecloth bag over a container. Once it’s well drained, set aside the yogurt and stir saffron into the liquid then slowly stir it back into the yogurt till you’ve attained a smooth consistency and a light yellow colour. Add chili to taste and set aside.

    Rub a frenched rack of lamb with a mixture of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Sear quickly in a pan on the stove top. Coat with Dijon mustard and finish in a hot oven to desired doneness.

    Peel roasted red, yellow and orange peppers into circles and place one of each colour on a generous daub of the saffron sauce in the centre of your service plate. Add steamed broccoli florets and surround the vegetables with the rack of lamb which you have cut into two pieces. Make a light gravy with the pan drippings and drizzle over all.

Crème Carmel Infused with Vanilla Bean and Lavender

Recipe created by Christine Morin
  • 3.5 cups of sugar, divided in half
  • 10 eggs
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 7 cups milk
  • 2 vanilla bean
  • 2.5 tablespoons lavender
  • 2 pints blue berries divided
  • sugar ½ cup
  • strawberries
  • Gran Marnier 3 tablespoons
  1. Over a medium heat, melt 2 cups of sugar, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Take off heat; pour Carmel over the bottoms of each ramekin. Set aside.

    Preheat ovens to 350°F.

  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, and remaining sugar, mix really well. Place milk in a pot with vanilla beans on stove and heat. Place lavender in cheesecloth, and about half way through milk warming process, place lavender in pot.

    Slowly bring to a boil.

  3. Strain through a fine sieve. Gradually stir into egg/sugar mix. Pour into greased ramekins and put in water bath, cover with foil, place in the middle of rack. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until set.
  4. Wash blueberries and strawberries. Divide blueberries and cover one-half with sugar. Set aside.
  5. Take ramekins out of oven, and out of water and place in fridge. Let sit for an hour or until set.
  6. Take crème Carmel out of the fridge, and get plates ready. Heat a saucepan, until hot, put sugar covered blueberries and butter in pan. Cook till soft pour liqueur in, cook off, take off heat. Put to the side, cut strawberries and plate.

It was an awesome meal. Thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by all of us parents and family who were in attendance. And a great way for them to cap off their two years of learning. If that Thursday night is anything to judge by, they’ll go far in their chosen careers. Congratulations and good luck to all of them!!!

Matt leaves on March 4th for England. He’s landed a one year apprenticeship at the London Hilton which starts on the 6th. To say we’re excited for him just barely begins to cover it, yet we’ll miss him a lot. A year is a long time.

So, from time to time, when he writes home of his adventures in the Hilton kitchen, or in England in general, or even in Europe, you can be sure, you’ll see something about it here.

Till next month . . .


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