Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas - Part 2 - Enoki Mushroom Soup with Black Truffles

Enoki mushrooms are long thin white mushrooms that you'll find at most Asian grocers.  Generally used in soups, they're primarily a garnish or a textural element in light dishes.  Flavour?  Oh, it's there, but it's very subtle.  Subtle is good for truffles.  Very good.  In order to even get a hint of these delightful mushrooms, however, you have to use a lot of them.

Making the Chicken Stock

We all know how to make stock right?  Simmer some chicken carcasses with your mirepoix (carrot, celery, onions), toss in a satchet d'epices (black pepper, thyme, bay leaf, parsley stems).  Never fully cover the chicken.  You're not boiling them either, you're simmering them with the water about halfway up.  You 

The recipe for an Asian-style stock uses the same formula, but takes some green onion ends and a sizable chunk of peeled and bruised (bang it with the side of your knife) ginger.  If you've got them, toss in a whack of those cheap dried shitake mushrooms that come in large sacks at the Asian markets.

My Chicken stock went something like this:

7 chicken carcasses
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tbsp black pepper
6 sprigs thyme
10 green onion tops
2 inch piece of bruised ginger
3 star anise

Water to partially cover the chicken
Simmered for 3 hours, but never to a boil

Enoki Mushroom Soup

800 grams of Enoki
8 cups of stock
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp shoju (or chinese cooking wine)
1 tbsp mirin
1 large sprig of thyme (to be removed at the end)
1 cup cream
Truffle - more is better, obviously - a substitute might be a dash of truffle oil, but I'm not a huge fan of the truffle oil

First, I clean my enoki mushrooms, by chopping off the dirt-blackened bottoms removing any soggy bits, and then giving them a good rinse.  I toss them in the blender with the stock, and then toss them in a pot with the other ingredients. Heat the soup and simmer for 5 mins prior to serving.  Serve with shaved truffle on top.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas - Part 1 - Chopping myself to bits with Global Knives

Happy Christmas dear reader.

Christmas is a special time for us here on the Ste-Marie. It is a time that we split between two (and sometimes more) families.  It is a time of celebration and feasting. As it is for many others, it is a time for gift giving and gift receiving. For folks of my persuasion, friends, it is also and always a time for celebratory cooking. This year I thanked my family quite sincerely for offering me the opportunity of cooking them an 8 course meal. Sincere because the two happiest folk that night, I can assure you, were my sister and I, who spent the day cooking for the family. 

My darling wife had bought me fresh black truffles.

My darling parents bought me a new global knife.

You see my friends, they knew that even though I would be using these gifts to prepare food for them, that these were, in fact, the best gifts to give me.  For men of my persuasion, rather for those who are alimentary-inclined in general, the greatest gift to us is to give us the gift of giving back to you.  Of course, we're showing off when we cook for you.  Of course, if you didn't ooh and aah, we'd maybe never want to cook for you again.  We cook because we love to share our passion for food with you. So, our whole endeavour is already always in the holiday spirit.  So, you can understand why I love it right?  And this is also what makes my wife so special to me, because she really gets it.  I mean, she gets me.  She gets that even though the truffles won't last until Saturday, I am going to love them.  She also gets that I would never buy them for myself and that their purchase must must must coincide with my opportunity to cook for a large group of people.

That, my readers, is why she is amazing.

My parents are also amazing.  However, I nearly lost a few limbs preparing my holiday meal, because of this amazing knife: a Global 8" chef's knife that they got me.

My parents got me this knife because I completely obliterated my previous chef's knife while butchering a lamb with a fever of 104F.  And, that, I think is what makes me amazing.  At least I think it's pretty amazingly ridiculous to be hammering a Lagostina chef's knife through the spine of an unbutchered (but dead) lamb with that now shattered blade and an old rolling pin, covered in sweat and in the middle of a 4-day stint in bed with the flu.

Global knives, however, they don't shatter so easily.  This chef's knife is my second knife from Global; my first being a single-edged sushi knife that still handily carves ultra-thin pieces of fresh fish with incredible precision , 4 years and 3 sharpenings later.  There are 3 things I adore about the knives from Global:

1) They are all metal and I have bashed the hell out of too many (almost) equally priced plastic-handled knives to care to get another.

2) With a good steel to put the edge back on they stay sharp a lot longer than your typical kitchen knife.  I'm told this is because a lot of the knives coming out of Japan are made of a harder steel.  I'm not sure this is true for the Global knives compared to other Japanese knives, since I managed to somehow put a pretty good dent in my sushi knife on a fishing excursion.  To be fair to the knife, I don't quite know *how* I knicked it, but it was my bachelor party so the possibilities are endless. Anyhow, it's still pretty damn tough as far as knives go and that sushi knife has not rusted a whit, in spite of terribly horrible abuse.  To justify my experience, you may read about it how it is corroborated in this more technical review.

3) The factory-sharpening on these knives is unparalleled.  Sure, I know, it only lasts a couple of weeks.  But I'll be damned if they don't slice the thinnest slices, cutting through tomatoes, foil, squash, truffles, and sluice through my own digits to the bone, all as though they were hot butter. 

In fact, if my fingers weren't so disfigured from the last experience, I'd be inclined to post a picture of the gory blood-bespattered and terrible scars that my factory-sharpened Global knife has worked on me.  

Marked with blood, my Global knife and I made this awesome holiday meal on Thursday the 22nd this year, which was Leggo Christmas in Montreal:

1. A Vancouver Crab BLT Canape with Shiso Miso Mayonnaise
2. Cream of Enoki Mushroom with Black Truffle Garnish (Chicken Demi-Glace base)
3. Vancouver Crab Ravioli with Black Truffle Beurre Blanc with Poached Pear Carpaccio
4. Macerated Oranges
5. Butter Chicken and Hand-Made Cashew Butter Candy
6. Red Beer Caramelized Onion Thin-Crust Pizza with Organic Gruyere
7. Roast Leg of Lamb with Fresh Herbs, Lemon, Olive Oil
8. Basil/Mint Ice Cream, Banana Rum Raisin Gelato topped with a Peanut Butter stuffed Truffle