here and there

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

eating out-Sky 360

After reading about the Sky 360 in Herald in the fall, we were most eager to try out the restaurant and enjoy the great view. A Tower salad simply served on a white plate was an organic spring mix with goat’s cheese along with tomato, cucumber and baby carrots and white Balsamic vinaigrette and was a sizable serving. Both of my companions were disappointed as both did expect some height to this salad based on the name. The salad lacked imagination or skill as it could easy be duplicated having a box of spring mix from any Supermarket. I ordered the feature of the day which was described as Tuna Carpaccio and Tuna Tartare with avocado and cucumber salad. The daily features are not written out but recited by the server. This was an attractive dish but the word salad was a bit misleading. Paper thin sliced marinated cucumber slices were arranged in a small circle with a small piece of tuna marinated in lime arranged on top. A deconstructed Tuna Tartate was served shaped by two spoons as an avocado salad and diced Tuna served with three crostini. The large white plate this was served on was laughable as the portions were lost on this huge plate. It would have been much better for the three of us to have tasted this dish as it was delicious but left me hungry and wishing I had ordered something else. For our entrees, my husband ordered the Herb crusted rack of lamb with mashed potatoes, zucchini & pepper ragout with a truffle honey mustard jus. The lamb which he ordered medium rare was over cooked much to his disappointment. Our American companion and I ordered the pan seared Beef tenderloin with wine jus medium rare along with the Asiago and potato gratin. The 6 oz of beef was thinly sliced and arranged over the gratin with 2 small beets with its greens tucked under the gratin. Again the meat was dry and over cooked and bitter to taste along with being over salted. In the Calgary Herald’s January 14, 2009, Eric Akis wrote about trying “a little TLC for beef tenderloin as it's the most expensive cut of beef, and the most tender, but yet some chefs still don't give it respect: The gratin was delicious. In ordering a glass of white wine, the waiter indicated that they may be out of Sauvignon; I stated that any white wine that was dry, tart and citrus tasting would be fine. In my opinion a Sauvignon is a good wine for food as I do not like the taste of red wine, mainly the oak flavour. The wine he brought me was spicy and smokey, flavored with oak , when questioned about the wine and that I did not like the Oak tasting wine and wanted something more tart and citrus, his solution was to pour me a glass of red wine that my husband had ordered and leave the glass of white wine in front of me. Although the restaurant was not busy, our waiters serve was too task-driven as he would interpret conversation for his purpose.
Tuna Tartare Ina Garten
3 3/4 pounds very fresh tuna steak
1 1/4 cups olive oil
5 limes, zest grated
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 1/2 teaspoons wasabi powder
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups minced scallions, white and green parts (12 scallions)
3 1/4 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
5 ripe Hass avocados
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, optional
Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, hot red pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno, and mix well. Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut the avocados into 1/4-inch dice. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture. Add the toasted sesame seeds, if using, and season to taste. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Serve on crackers.
How to Make Tuna Carpaccio
Serving tuna in a Carpaccio style is a great way to experience the texture and flavor of the fish. Most tuna Carpaccio recipes call for the raw fish to be marinated in lemon juice, however this is a bit different in that limes are used.
Things You’ll Need:
1 pound of fresh tuna
5 limes
2 tbsp. of capers
4 tbsp. of olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped sweet onion
Go to your local fish market, and ask for a 1 pound block of fresh tuna.
Upon arriving home, trim any skin off of the outside of the block of tuna.
Slice the entire block of tuna into thin strips. Do your best to cut them all the same width so that they marinate evenly.
Cut the limes into halves and juice them into a large bowl. Take care to make sure that no seeds end up in the juice.
Add the olive oil, capers and chopped onion to the lime juice. Lightly stir the ingredients to mix the flavors.
Place the strips of tuna into a rectangular container, and pour the lime juice mixture over it. Make sure that all of the tuna strips are entirely covered, and place the container into the refrigerator.
Allow the tuna Carpaccio to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. At this point, it will have turned color from a dark red to gray. The tuna has been "cooked" by the lime juice, and is now ready to serve.
Pan-seared Filet Mignon ( Beef Tenderloin ) with Shiraz Sauce
4 Servings
Simple, impressive and elegant. The sauce is very concentrated in flavor and velvety in consistency.
0 : 20
0 : 10

4 (8-ounce) center-cut filets mignons*, 2-inches thick, trimmed of fat and silver
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
Olive oil
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
-- Shiraz Sauce (optional) --
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1/2 cup Shiraz or other bold red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup beef stock (preferably homemade), or beef consomme

Instructions for Pan-seared Filet Mignon (Beef Tenderloin) with Shiraz Sauce
* Note: I usually buy a 2 to 2 1/2-pound center-cut tenderloin roast and portion it into four 8-ounce steaks myself to produce more consistent results.Bring steaks to room temperature before cooking. Thoroughly dry steaks with paper towels. Lightly coat steaks with olive oil and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper (pressing seasonings into meat with your fingers). Gently press sides of steaks until uniform 2-inches thick.Set a 10-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof pan or cast-iron skillet on a rimmed baking sheet and place both on oven rack adjusted to lower-middle position, and heat oven to 500 degrees F. When oven reaches temperature (about 15 to 20 minutes), remove skillet from oven and transfer to stove top over high heat (be careful -- pan and handle will be extremely hot).Immediately place steaks in skillet, being careful that they are not touching each other. Sear steaks for 2 to 3 minutes without disturbing, turn with tongs and sear second side another 2 to 3 minutes without disturbing, or until both sides are well-browned and have a nice crust. Remove skillet from heat, and using tongs, transfer steaks to hot baking sheet in oven. (After transferring steaks to oven, proceed with pan sauce.)Roast 4 to 6 minutes for rare (red in center and warm throughout), 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare (pinkish red in center and fairly hot), or 8 to 10 minutes for medium (pink in center, grayish brown surrounding and hot throughout). Remember, residual heat built up in steaks will continue to cook the meat until it begins to cool off, meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven. This means you should undercook your steaks, removing them from oven before they reach desired temperature.When steaks are done to your liking, transfer to large plate. Double check doneness by thermometer (rare - 130 to 140 degrees F, medium-rare - 140 to 150 degrees F, medium - 150 to 160 degrees F), or touch (very rare feels soft and squishy, rare is soft to the touch, medium-rare yields gently to the touch, while medium yields only slightly to the touch and is beginning to firm up, and medium-well is firm to the touch). Tent steaks loosely with foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing steaks to finish cooking from residual heat, and meat juices to redistribute and settle before serving. Serve as individual steaks or slice just before serving on warmed plates.Shiraz Sauce: After transferring steaks to oven, melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet with fond (brown bits in pan leftover from cooking) and residual fat that it was cooked in. Add shallots and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.Raise heat to medium-high, add wine, and bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir and scrap to loosen any flavorful browned bits stuck to skillet and incorporate them into sauce. When wine is almost gone, add stock, herbs (if using dry herbs, just a pinch), tomato paste and sugar, bring to a boil and cook until reaching the sauce consistency you desire. It should be thick enough to coat back of a regular spoon.Remove from heat, whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter until melted and sauce is thickened, smooth, and glossy. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in any accumulated juices from the steak plate. Spoon sauce over cooked steaks just before serving.Safety Note:Doneness is an issue of personal preference. However, it is recommended that beef be cooked to medium-rare doneness, the internal temperature should reach 145 degrees F to ensure that harmful bacteria have been destroyed. A thick cut of beef that has been cooked to an internal temperature of 140 degrees F, may be removed from the oven, loosely covered, and allowed to rest a few minutes. The temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees F, reaching proper doneness.
Asiago Potato Gratin.
Ingredients (12 servings)
5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 cups Asiago cheese (coarsely grated)
2 tbsps butter
1 cup of heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Butter a 9" by 13" pyrex baking dish
Peel and thinly slice potatoes using a mandoline
Layer potatoes into the pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cheese
Continue to apply layers of potatoes, cheese, and salt and pepper until the potatoes reach the top, pressing lightly from time to time
Pour cream into the dish and over potatoes, taking care that the cream covers the top
Place dish in oven and bake for about an hour (the top will brown and the cheese and cream will be bubbly)
Allow to cool before serving
Cook's Notes--We allow the gratin to cool and set in the freezer. When it is set, we use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut rounds. We place the rounds on a baking sheet sprayed with Baker's Joy and re-heat just prior to serving. Garnish by pressing a rosemary sprig into the rounds.

Herb-crusted rack of lamb
IngredientsFor the crustlarge handful flatleaf parsley, coarsely chopped2 garlic cloves, crushed1 fresh thyme sprig, roughly chopped2 fresh rosemary sprigs, roughly choppedhandful breadcrumbsFor the vinaigrette5 tbsp olive oil2 tbsp balsamic vinegarsalt and freshly ground pepperFor the vegetables6-8 cherry tomatoesolive oil, to drizzlesalt and freshly ground black peppera few fresh thyme leaves4 baby fennel, cut in half at an angle50-100ml/1¾fl oz-3½fl oz water knob of butter2 baby courgettes, sliced into thick pieces at an anglea few basil leaves, tornFor the lamb100g/3½oz butter1 tbsp olive oil2 racks (best end of neck) lamb, French-trimmed (ask your butcher to do this for you)1 fresh rosemary sprig, roughly chopped2 garlic cloves, crushed1-2 tsp Dijon mustard

Method1. Preheat the oven to 170C/340F/Gas 3.2. For the herb crust, combine the parsley, the crushed garlic cloves, the thyme and the rosemary in a food processor and blend to a pulp. Add the breadcrumbs and pulse together. Tip the breadcrumb mixture onto a tray and set aside.3. For the vinaigrette, whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and freshly ground black pepper together in a small bowl and set aside.4. For the vegetables, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and spread on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sprinkle a few thyme leaves over. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until semi-dry.5. Preheat the oven to its highest setting. 6. For the lamb, heat the butter in an ovenproof pan and add the olive oil. Place the lamb in the pan along with the remaining rosemary sprig and crushed garlic cloves and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. As it is searing, baste the meat with the pan juices and cover the bones with foil. Transfer the lamb to the oven and roast for 4-5 minutes. 7. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to rest for five minutes. Once the lamb has rested, brush it with the Dijon mustard and roll the meat in the breadcrumb mixture to coat. Return to the oven for a further 4-5 minutes, then remove and allow to rest again.8. For the vegetables, heat a little oil in a frying pan and lightly cook the fennel with the water and a knob of butter for a few minutes to soften. Add the courgettes a continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, add the semi-dried tomatoes and a drizzle of the vinaigrette. Stir in a few torn basil leaves.9. To serve, spoon the vegetables onto the centre of four serving plates. Carve the lamb into cutlets and arrange on top. Drizzle lightly with the remaining vinaigrette and serve.
Zucchini Ragout
2008, Michael Symon
3 ounces olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, large diced
1 yellow pepper, large diced
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
4 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups fresh basil leaves
Heat an 8-quart saucepan over medium heat with olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, and sweat for 2 minutes. Add the peppers and saute for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini, and cook down for 10 more minutes. Add the vinegar and simmer for 2 more minutes. Check seasonings and remove from heat. Add the basil and serve.
Avocado, Tomato and Mozzarella Tower Salad
Photo: California Avocado Commission
YIELD: 24 servings
2 lbs., 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, small dice4 lbs. California avocados, small dice 2½ lbs. tomatoes, small dice salt, as needed white balsamic vinegar, as needed micro greens, as needed hot chili oil, as needed
1. In a 3-in. ring mold, layer ¼ cup mozzarella, ⅓ cup avocado and ¼ cup tomato. Repeat with remaining 23 molds.
2. Using a spatula, slide each mold onto a rack over a sheet pan to drain; refrigerate until service.
3. Per portion: Slide 1 ring mold onto a serving plate; carefully remove ring mold. Lightly sprinkle with salt and lightly drizzle with vinegar. Garnish with micro greens and drops of chili oil.
Recipe by Robert Noble, Dining and Culinary Senior Manager, Sodexo Senior
Ingredients4 Tbsp Micro Pepper or Micro Watercress10 oz.’s wt. Dungeness Crab Salad – recipe follows12 each slices Grapefruit, Red or Pink – fresh, sections, membrane removed8 each slices Avocado – sliced 1/4" lengthwise4 Tbsp Tomato-Thyme Emulsion – recipe follows
Dungeness Crab Salad3/4 cup Crabmeat, Dungeness – fresh, lightly squeezed2 ¾ tsp Celery – minced, very fine1 Tbsp Onion, White – minced, very fine1 ½ tsp Chives – sliced 1/8" 2 Tbsp Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing – see recipe1/2 Avocado – fresh, firm but tender, diced 1/8"
Mix the crab, celery, onion, chives together. Then add the dressing.
Fold together the two ingredients carefully as to not break up all of the crab meat.
Right before serving add the diced avocado fold it in together with the crabmeat.
Tomato Thyme Emulsion Dressing 1 Tbsp Onion Juice – fresh, white 3 Tbsp Tomato Paste – double concentrate1/4 cup Tomato, Red Roma – ripe, peeled, seeded, diced 1/4"1/4 cup White Balsamic Vinegar2 Tbsp Sugar – granulated 3/4 tsp Thyme – fresh, leaves only, chopped1/4 tsp Black Pepper – ground1/8 tsp Pepper, White – ground1/2 cup Olive Oil
Place all ingredients, except oil, into the a blender and blend until pureed. Then slowly drizzle in the oil.
Cover, label, and refrigerate at least 12 hours for flavors to blend. Stir thoroughly before using.
To Serve
Place a 2" plastic ring in the center of the plate, fill the ring with the crab salad, lightly press the salad down into the ring, and pull the ring off.
Place the grapefruit and avocado slices on the right side of the crab salad tower, fanned toward the bottom of the plate.
Next starting with a large drop on the upper left side of the plate and working down toward the bottom of the plate, place four more drops smaller in size each time. Top the crabmeat tower with the micro cress. Serve
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