Smoking Gun

Smoking Gun
Highly useful kitchen gadget

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dialogue and discussion!

I've been having some interesting dialogue going on on Facebook and I want to share that with you.

Firstly, I sent musician friend Bekki Williams a tomato sauce recipe and a few uses for the base sauce. This is that recipe;

Tomato Sauce!!!

2 Tins chopped plum tomatoes in juice
2 Carrots, peeled
1 Medium onion, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt (to taste)
Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)
2 Table spoons Olive oil
1 Tea spoon Oregano

Using a food a food processor, finely chop the carrots, onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the garlic, carrots and onion.
Cook over a low heat for twenty minute and than add the tomatoes and oregano. Bring to the boil and season to taste with salt and cracked black pepper.
Lower the heat and simmer gently for one hour.
Once cooled Store in the fridge for up to three days.

The sauce can be used as it is. Just reheat and toss with your favourite pasta. Fresh basil is a great addition to enhance the flavour.

Or, fry some diced smoke bacon and red onion in a little oil, add 1 finely chopped red chilli and some of the tomato sauce. Then toss in your favourite pasta and sprinkle with
freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Or fry some thinly sliced button mushrooms in a little oil, add some diced ham, the tomato sauce, a little double cream. Bring to the boil and reduce until thickened and then toss
 in your favourite pasta. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. That led onto the following discussion;

In response to the tomato sauce recipe. Using the carrots adds a natural sweetness as they are very high in natural sugars and olive oil gives a greater depth of flavour to the sauce. I like your use of honey as it reminds of something I read the other day. It was an article on Rene Redzepi, the worlds number one chef and owner of Restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. He said that he always uses honey as a sweetener as sugar is the enemy. Anyway, anytime you want recipe or food ideas just drop me a line. Always happy to help in that department!!!

Bekki Williams; Tell you where I love the use of carrots (really finely diced, so they almost disappear in the dish eventually): Cottage pie. Just made one for myself and a couple of mates who are due over in a bit, and it's such a simple recipe that a kid of 5 could make it - but my goodness, it's lovely! Real 'comfort food', really rustic. Would love to hear your recipe for that, as although mine really is nice, I'm sure it could be improved by a chef's take on things. :)

Paul Walker; I always add carrots to cottage pie. You need to create depths of flavour in a dish, no matter how simple.

Bekki Williams; The thing I love about rustic and homely food like this is that not only is it easy and fun to prepare, it tastes like what it's supposed to. Had a meal once at a restaurant where everything was shaped and stacked into a massive pile - noooooo! Gimme food that looks and tastes like the stuff it actually came from!

Paul Walker; At home, I keep things simple butr I don't think you would like my reataurant food. But having said that, my opion is, that, when you go out, you want to be excited and have somethinng that you just couldn't do at home.

Bekki Williams; Hmm, I suppose. But then again, this is probably why I don't visit restaurants. (Well, that, and being agoraphobic! Although nowhere near as bad as I used to be). Personally I like to grow stuff and cook it. You'd probably hate my food! That said though, we both appreciate depth, texture and taste in our cooking. Obviously you more than me, being a chef. But at least I'm not one of the 'ready meal' brigade! :D

Paul Walker; I've done a lot of research into vegetables and there is an amazing wealth of varieties out there that you jus can't buy in the shops. Growing your own is the future and the real forward. Also, very eco friendly as it leaves a zero carbon footprint.

Bekki Williams; Exactly! The other thing is, it's seasonal. Nowadays you can buy anything at any time of the year in the shops... and I don't like that. I like to look forward to tomatoes, and apples, and cabbage, and all kinds of other things at certain times of the year. You make the most of things that way and come up with some amazing recipes. :)

Paul Walker; Yes and thst is what is Inspires me about Rene Redzepi, who I mentioned earlier!

Bekki Williams; Sounds like you have some great inspiration... and therefore must be a passionate and wonderful chef. Ooh, I wish you lived in Derby, I'd pay you to come and do me a meal! :D

Paul Walker; Yes, I do have some seriously great inspiration and I am very passionate about my cooking. Maybe someday soon, I'll have the chance to cook for you?

A recent staus update on facebook was this.......My dream job is out there but it's not in the job centre or any website but it will find me!

I was aked to define my dream and the answer that I gave was as follows!

My dream job would be to have an employer who would encourage me to develop my ideas in terms of creative and innovative cuisine to there fullest potential. An employer who would be encouraging and not afreaid to venture into the unknown and is willing to develop new concepts and ideas. Somone who is not afraid to look at things from a different perspective and who, like me. likes to think outside the box!

Then I thought about the restaurant Frantzen/Lindeberg in Stockholm and I borrowed their philosophy as a part of mine answer to defining my dream job and this is......

Our philosophy is to let whatever raw materials available to us at the time dictate and decide on our menu. To awaken your desire and imagination, we offer the finest ingredients we can find. What we create with these ingredients is then presented as a finely-crafted series of surprises at your table. Each list of ingredients and produce is the result of intense daily discussions with local livestock farmers, growers, fishermen and wine makers – with the understanding that they deliver the absolute best quality to us.

The result? Instead of being locked into set menus, we give ourselves the freedom to use whatever are the best quality ingredients at the time.

In our world, and out of respect for all our guests, we constantly strive for perfection.

We look forward to welcoming you in to share that world.

(copywright Frantzen/Lindeberg 2011)!

I added the following in addition to that;

It's the way forward and the future. Freedom from the constraints of having to work to something that has been preconceived.

That then led onto more dialogue with another Facebook friend that went something like this;

Lee M Sanders;
Interesting reading Paul. Makes me think about some of the crap we eat, pre-produced microwave crap. I try to cook as much as I can, but not always possible.

Paul Walker; I know what you mean. Too many chemicals and unnatural substances in so much pre - packaged food.

Lee M Sanders; Allergies etc. E numbers aghhhhh. What do we put in our mouths. Insecticides, pest control chemicals etc must get into us somehow.

Paul Walker; That's also why I'm interested in growing my own produce. You know how it has been produced and you can also find hundreds of really unusal varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs that you can just can't get from rugular supplie sources!!!

Lee M Sanders; Interesting stuff, always open to try new things. Wish I had a garden to that kind of thing. So much out there in the world i know little about.

Paul Walker; I've done loads of research on the subject and it's fascinating. A chef in chicago has built a greenhouse on the roof of his restaurant and is using a system to heat the greenhouse with excess heat from the kitchen. He will be able to grow all kinds of exotic produce with zero carbon footprint. Very eco friendly.

Anyway, that is some of the food related stuff that I've had going on at facebook this week. Hope it is of interest to you.

Also on the subject of Fratzen/Lindeberg, I like this from the Restaurant Magazine website;

Owners Björn Frantzén and Daniel Lindeberg's rise thus far has been nothing short of meteoric, with their restaurant Frantzén/Lindeberg gaining two Michelin stars within just two years of opening, and the pair are tipped for even greater things.

What makes their Stockholm restaurant so exciting is that there's no traditional menu – instead they cook 'free-form' based on what comes in that day – with many dishes feature intriguing ingredients. The result is a truly magnificent dining experience.

(copywright 2011 William Reed Business Publishing Ltd)!

ANd to round things out, enjoy this video og the restaurant Frantzen/Lindeberg!!!

Well, that's all for now and I hope that this has given you some more insight into my culinary thinking and inspirarions!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

More culinary insights!!!!!!

Firstly I would like to thank all of those of you have taken the time and trouble to view this blog and I hope that you
have enjoyed my thoughts, views, opinions and overall, my vision and concept of cuisine.

Sometimes, in all the rush to explore new technology and new techniques, coupled with the use of a fantastic and fascinating array of new products, it is so easy to forget that there are literally thousands of tried and tested combinations of flavour combinations out there. Not only that but there are also many, many tried and tested techniques that in today's world of food are being forgotten about. Going off on a tangent here for a moment, one thing that many of today's young chefs have no idea about is the great skill of making a classic hollandaise sauce as it is so often the case that these days many establishments just use a packet Hollandaise sauce. The problem with this is that traditional skills are slowly but surely being lost. It is the same with Mayonnaise. Ever since the Salmonella scare with eggs in the late eighties, the making of Mayonnaise has become something of a forgotten skill as it has been replaced by the use of commercially made substitutes that taste nothing like the real thing. The very same can be said with the packet Hollandaise sauce. All
you need to make a classic Hollandaise is butter, egg yolks, a few black peppercorns, some white wine vinegar and that's about it. But look at a packet of pre – made hollandaise and it contains a mass of other ingredients that are just not necessary and the product ends
up tasting nothing like the genuine article.

Anyway, enough on that subject. One of my favourite menu creations of this year is Pan Fried Sea Bass, Cous - Cous, Tomato, Dill and
Lemon butter sauce. I won't bore all you chefs and foodies that are reading this with the details of how to Pan Fry a fillet of Sea Bass as I'm sure that that is something that you are very much experts in. However, the subject of Cous Cous is an entirely different matter. Many people often say to me they have had this North African delicacy and not enjoyed it. That is probably due to the fact that it was
prepared in to simple a way. On it's own, it can be very bland and so here is my recipe for Cous – Cous!

200g Cous – Cous
200mls Chicken Stock (fresh is preferable but a stock cube will suffice)!
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 Lemon.
Finely grated zest and juice of one orange.
3 cloves garlic, crushed.
50 grams salted butter.
50 Mls extra virgin olive oil.
50 grams chopped parsley
50 grams chopped coriander
50 grams chopped mint
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

Place the Cous – Cous, fruit zest and juices into a bowl along with the olive oil and butter. Bring the chicken stock to the boil and
pour over the Cous – Cous. Cover with cling film and leave for ten minutes. After the ten minutes are up, remove the cling film and stir everything together, Season to taste with the salt and cracked black pepper and stir in the herbs. Divide the mixture between four ramekins and cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed. When required, simply reheat in the microwave for two minutes.

I occasionally add finely chopped black and green Kalamata olives along with some diced red chilli to give an extra depth of flavour.

Now, onto the Tomato, Lemon and Dill Butter sauce.

For this you will need:

1 litre of fish stock (again, fresh is best but it will work with a fish stock cube)!
500 grams of ripe Tomatoes
2 Lemons (cut these in to quarters and remove the seed and central pith)!
100 mls Dry white wine.
1 Bunch of dill, finely chopped
100 grams of butter

Place the fish stock into a pan along with the tomatoes, white wine and the lemons. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and simmer gently for one hour until the tomatoes have completely broken down. Place the sauce, a little at a time into a food liquidiser and blend until very smooth. Then pass through a fine sieve to remove the skin and seeds from the tomatoes along with any other unwanted solids.
Repeat the process until of the sauce has been liquidised and passed. Put all the sieved sauce into a clean pan and pan and bring back to the boil. Then, over a low heat, whisk in the butter a little at a time until has all been incorporated and then stir in the chopped dill. Serve with your Pan Fried Sea Bass Fillets and Cous – Cous.

Onto some other culinary creations that I have developed this year!

Tartare of Tuna, Bitter sweet Lemon dressing, guacamole!

For this dish I cut the tuna into a small dice and seasoned it with some smoked Cornish sea salt, cracked black pepper and lime juice. Then I added some very finely diced shallots, chopped chives and coriander and left that to marinate for a few hours. The Bitter sweet lemon dressing was made by making a simple syrup of equal quantities of sugar and water. You then take four lemons, cut them in quarters, removing the central pith. These are then placed into a liquidiser and, as the machine is running, you pour in the syrup to create a dressing of you desired thickness. I also tried it with the addition of fresh basil and that also created a great flavour combination. Once you have liquidised your lemons, pass the mixture through a fine sieve.

For my Guacamole, I take 2 avocados, cut them in half and remove the stone and the skin and then place the flesh into a bowl with the juice of 2 limes, 1 finely chopped red chilli (if you like it hot, then leave the seeds in)! To this, I add two tomatoes which have been skinned, de-seeded and finely diced, halve a small red onion, again, finely diced. This is then just mashed together with a fork and seasoned to taste with salt and cracked black pepper. To serve, I usually quenelle the guacamole with a couple of teaspoons.

OK, so there you have the components of another dish. Just use your imagination as to how you would like to present it!

Some other combinations of flavour that I have worked with this year are!

Roast Hake, Lemon Mash Potato, Apricot curry sauce, Citrus braised carrots!

With this one, I would like to try the idea of puréeing the potatoes, lemon and cream in a food processor and then placing them
in a cream whipper (the type you can get for hot liquids) and then charging it up with a couple of N2O cartridges and serving it as a foam. The carrots in the dish are braised in butter with honey, lemon juice, orange juice, black pepper and thyme. As an interesting additional texture to the dish, I would use Tapioca maltodextrin to turn the butter from the carrots into a powder.

I also did a great Rack of Lamb with a Sweet Potato Cloud (based on a Ferran Adria technique) and Smoked Aubergine stuffed with
Goats Cheese. The whole dish was rounded off with an Orange, garlic and rosemary jus. I almost forgot to mention that the Sweet potato cloud also contained Maple Syrup. This is a wicked flavour combination that I learned from a Canadian chef that I used to know!!!!

Well, I hope that that has given you some food for thought (excuse the pun)!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More background info!!!

Many of you are probably wondering where I got the name for this blog from?

Well, I have always enjoyed visiting food stores and markets and searching unusual ingredients that I can use to add excitement and great interest to my cooking. Anyway, about ten years ago I was seriously thinking about a term to describe my style of cooking and I realised that I was using a great variety of produce from all over the globe and so I came up with this name, EXPERIMENTAL FOOD FROM THE GLOBAL VILLAGE.

A recently added chef friend at Facebook asked me to describe my style and this is the answer that I came up with........

OK, so I would describe my style as experimental/avant garde as I have always had an interest in creating unusual combinations of flavours and textures. I you have checked out the blog you will have seen a list of some extremely experimental and daring dishes that I was doing back in the 1990s' but they were the dishes that customers ordered the most. Another point is that food is not only about taste and texture, there is also a psychological element to it. If a dish is stunningly presented then your brain starts think , 'wow, this is going to taste good'! Like I also mentioned, it is about creating different elements and components so that each mouthful offers something different in terms of flavour, taste and texture. With a Pizza or a bowl of Pasta, you know what it tastes like after a few mouthfuls and your brain kind of gets bored with the repetitiveness of the food. Hope that explains things?

I also added this.........Also, there three basics things that you need to think about. Ingredients, flavour combinations and techniques!

This leads me onto something that another Chef friend at Facebook asked me.....What would be my vision of modern Italian cuisine?

Well first off you probably need some inspiration. In this day and age, with the vast information source that is the Internet, finding such inspiration is very easy to is all done with a few clicks.

One of the things that I find with the vast majority of so called Italian restaurants in the UK is that the food is so generic and there is no real variety. Also, if you do some serious research into Italian food, you will find that much of what these restaurant serve has very little to do with the genuine article. So on to the inspiration part.

I recently added Scarpetta, an Italian restaurant in New York to my list of friend's and here is a link to their menu......Scarpetta....New York

Now, having viewed that menu, when was the last time that you went to an Italian restaurant in the UK and had food like that? It just doesn't happen. To me that menu is full of vision and excitement.

I also recently signed up to the Indie Food Network and added a place called Novita, also in New York to my list of friends there and this is the link to their menu.....Novita

Again it is a menu full of excitement, vision and fantastic flavour combinations.

Another thing that can easily be done is to search for great products that originate from Italy and to make use of them and here are a couple of UK suppliers that  deal in authentic Italian products that you never see used at your local Italian.

. One such company is Ciborio and this is a link to their PDF catalogue of fresh produce......Ciborio Fresh Produce!!!

Also check out their PDF provisions list here.....Ciborio Provisions....

The list has some unusual varieties of pasta that could add a unique selling point to any menu. One suggestion would be Seared Tuna Loin, Squid Ink Spaghetti, Pink Grapefruit and ginger sauce, Chargrilled spring onions.

Not authentically Italian but the Italians love yo use lemon and so all I am doing is replacing that with the pink grapefruit. Italian cuisine also heavily features onions and so I'm just using spring onions in place of the more usual varieties.

Another supplier that is well worth taking a look at is The Cheese Cellar, as they offer a great range of Italian Cheeses that a rarely, if, ever seen on Italian restaurant menus in the UK. Take a look at their PDF here.....The Cheese Cellar speciality cheese!

Also worth taking a look at is the PDF of Speciality products form a company called Dell Ami.....The Cheese Cellar Dell ami products

And finally, also from the Cheese Cellar is this PDF of speciality foods......The Cheese cellar....speciality products!!!  Again, this has a fabulous range of great products.

There are other great suppliers of authentic Italian produce that can be found and all this requires is an hour or so searching the web. So now that you have some inspiration and sources of great products all that you have to do is apply alot of imagination and creativity and you can come up with something that is unique, exciting and innovative.

The finally thing that needs to be applied is technique and this can be in the form of using the latest kitchen technology ( see previous posts for further information on this )! Then there is the application techniques and methods developed by chefs such as Ferran Adria or Grant Achatz. This very easily done as all you need to do is go on google and type in the search terms 'Ferran Adria Recipes' or 'El Bulli Recipes' and you will find a wealth of information on the subject that you can then apply to your own cooking.

Thanks for your time and interest and until next time.....Happy cooking!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scallops and Passionfruit!

In 2002 I was working at a hotel near Wrexham in Noerth Wales and was asked to creat a menu for a Lunch for Cheshire Life Magazine. Anyway, as a first course, I created a dish of Seared Scallops, Passionfruit vinaigrette and a garnish of Baby salad leaves. Fast forward to 2011 and, due to the fact that I am now aware of alot great new products, I would do the dish so much differently. The Scallops would still be seared but the Passion fruit would be in various forms and textures. I would include a Passionfruit mayonaise, Passionfruit Flavour Freshburst pearls (based on the technique of Spherification as developed by Ferran Adria. For more on this product........Freshburst Pearls.....Mango and Passionfruit Flavour

There would also be a Passionfruit flavour Airspuma....For product information......Airspuma...Passionfruit!

The idea for the Passionfruit mayonaise cam from a restaurant menu that I was looking at and they were using it in a dessert but I like the idea. For a complete temprature contrast I wouls also include a small scoop of Passionfruit sorbet. And for garnish I would use some Shiso cress and Micro purple Basil to add more of a savoury contrast.

REcently, looking through El Bulli 1998 - 2002, I came across a Scallop and Passionfruit dish that they had been doing at El Bulli during that time. However, in 2002 I had not heard of the restaurant or it's chef Ferran Adria. So I lay claim to this concept being all my own! What can I say? Great minds think alike!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Post Modern Kitchen!!!!

Well from top to bottom we have some of the vast array of equipment that is required for the production of experimental, post modern or avant garde cuisine, (feel free to choose your own label)!

Anyway, starting at the top, we have a food dehydrator, which offers an amazing array of possibilities for creating great new food textures to excite the dinner and to tantalise his or her taste buds.

Next up is the Induction hob. This is a great piece of kit as it offers very precise temperature control. This particular model is around £70 to £80 in cost, which, considering today's economic climate and budget constraints that we are all facing, is a real bargain. Due to the nature of its very precise temperature control, this, used in conjunction with second to last pictured item, a vacuum packing machine, offers a very economic entry into the world of Sous Vide cooking,. This is something that I have referred to earlier, so please check previous posts.

The pressure cook is something that can be used to speed up the process of making stocks or doing braised Oxtails. Again, a very brilliant idea in terms of reducing gas usage and cutting costs. Then we have the stove top smoker which offers a diverse array of new flavour, especially with the huge range of smoking chips that are available from cream supplies. For more information, click here......Smoking chips......

The last piece of equipment is a juice extractor and this can offer a huge range of possibilities for creating great sauces and dressings or jellies based on vegetable juices as opposed to the conventional meat or fish based stock.

Anyway, I've been really busy promoting this blog via my Facebook page and have been getting some great feedback form some important people. John Bowman - baker, the MD of Galdstoneparkchefs had this to say;

CHEF'S TRUST? Well trust me have a look at one of our member's blog. His name is Paul Walker. He is totally passionate about following and contributing to the latest industry trends.

YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!! Sign up on the blog and he will keep you totally up to date.

Eddie shepherd, thee leading vegetarian chef in the UK, (who I mentioned in the last post), had this to say;

Great blog, and cheers for the mention in your 'Stuff that has inspired me' section, I'm very flattered. Thanks Chef .

And finally, an American chef by the name of Nathan Placentia, had this to say;

Chef I just read your bio and blog. You are the type of Chef that I aspire to be. I love the creative side of you. as you, when I look at a recipe I cant help but let my mind run away and create something new! I look forward to the knowledge I will gain from you!! Please lets keep in contact and challenge each other to higher levels of great food!!

So who knows? Maybe that opportunity to find the creative freedom and fulfilment that I long for is just around the corner.

OK, a few other taste combinations and sensations that I have toyed with over the years.

Chocolate and beetroot cake, Turmeric custard (not actually as strange as you may think. Ginger is commonly used with desserts and Turmeric is actually a member of the ginger family, so it was a case of go for it)! This dish was also accompanied by a Blackcurrant sorbet and blueberry coulis.

In the Nineteen Nineties, I had a phase of experimenting with Thai ingredients and here are two desserts that I developed during that period that are mainstays of my repertoire;

Chilled Coconut rice pudding with Passion fruits sorbet, Lime Syrup and Mango Coulis

Of course, since originally developing this dish, I have learnt many new techniques and discovered a great many new products, so I have a lot of ideas to revamp this dish and make into something more modern.

And finally;

Coconut and Lemongrass Panna Cotta, Purple Basil Sorbet, White Chocolate Ice cream and kaffir Lime syrup.

Well until next, happy cooking!!!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stuff that has inspired me.

The pictures above are some of the books that have influenced and inspired me ovee the course of my career. All of thest books had something to offer and opened my imagintion to what is possible in terms of food and cooking. The one thing I never was to follow recipes to the letter as for me that was tedious and not interesting. They were only ever use as points of reference for creating my own possiblities.
The book by Wolfgang Puck was a real eye opener, as it was my first insight into the possiblities of Fusion, East/West, Pacific Rim (call it what you will) cuisine.

THe first person to real generate any interst in cooking for me was my Grandmother (OK, so that is such a cliche but it is very true)! I was never into sports in anyway and as I was growing up, that is all that was on TV on Saturday afternoon ans so I would end up in the kitchen with my Grandmother doing the baking. Things like Apple Pie, Rubarb Crumble and Baked Egg Custard. All things that hold fond memories for me.

Two other people from that time who inspired me to cook were Graham Kerr ( Tha Galloping Gourmet) and here is a clip of him that I found on Youtube.........The Galloping Gourmet

The other person who inspired me to cook was the late Robert Carrier and here is a clip of him 9also from Youtube).........Robert Carrier

In terms of todays Chefs and the possibiliteis that are offered in terms of ingridients, techniques and equipment, these two guys are dinosaurs but in their day they were real pioneers who showed people a wholw world of new ideas in food.

These days I am much more inspoired by the wealth of products and suppliers that are around and when I look at some of what I see, my mind goes into overdrive just thinking about the possible creations that could be developed.

The following are some links to suppliers that I would be using given the opportunity!!!

Infusions For Chefs....Ingredients

Cream Supplies....Gourmet Food Products

MSK Specailist Ingredients


And one final link to a guy by the name of Eddie Shepherd who is doing some awesome stuff with vegetarian food, (almost makes me want to turn veggie)........The Veggie Chef (Eddie Shepherd)!!!!!

Oh and Chek out this video of Mr.Shepherd inaction......Eddie Shepherd video!!!!!

So, yeah, over the years a wide variety of things have influenced and inspired me and thos inflences and inspirations are in a constant state of flux and evolution. I suppose foos is the same as I have recentle been looking back over some old menus from the 1990s and thinking about some of the dishes from back then and how they could be done so much differently with todays methods.

Well, that's all for now. Off to work on another idea that I have just had. more coming soon!!!!