Sunday, April 1, 2012

Seafood Soup by Request



Had some requests for this recipe that we served at the Ottawa Travel and Leisure Show, so here it is!


Seafood Soup          serves 8-10



1 onion

1 leek

1 bulb fennel

2 stalks celery

1 carrot

2 tablespoons fennel seed

½ tablespoon dried chilli flakes

1 cup white wine

1 cup fish stock

2 -  28 oz cans whole tomatoes, crushed

20 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt, pepper

2 lb atlantic cod or halibut, 1 inch dice

8 oz crab leg meat, shredded



1.      Small dice all of the vegetables, sauté until slightly softened

2.      Add fennel seed and chilli flakes and stir

3.      Add white wine & fish stock, reduce by half

4.      Add crushed tomatos, cherry tomato halves and bring to simmer

5.      Season with salt & pepper to taste

6.      Add brown sugar and balsamic vinegar

7.      Simmer 30 – 45 minutes

8.      Add cod/halibut continue simmering until fish is just cooked through, around 7 or 8 minutes.

9.      Reserve a couple of ounces of crab meat for garnish, add remaining to soup and just heat through

10.   Warm reserved crab meat in a little simmering fish stock

11.   Serve, garnish each bowl with a little of the reserved, warmed crab meat and fennel frond

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mallard Clean up & Planning


Here are some shots from the first few days of clean up and planning around the Cottage.  Chatting with architects and general clean up.  These pics will give you some sense of where we are and where we have to go!
The one above is me chatting with one of our architects about the beaded clapboard on the exterior walls. Original cladding that we will have to preserve as best we can.

Here we are outside the front. This pic gives you a sense of the scale of the building.  It looks like I could shingle the roof on a stool, which is almost accurate!

This is upstairs in the cottage in what will likely be our office. Chatting structural integrity, a little boring but necessary - obviously!

The front porch plus a hold over from who knows when. Still trying to determine the breed.



The small hallway between what will be the two small dining rooms in the cottage proper

A good shot of one of the dining rooms with the fireplace. Imagine a cozy evening around the fire surrounded by 200 years of history. Something to warm you inside and out.

Another shot in what will be our upstairs office.


This is an add on from 30 years ago or so.  This will not be saved as we intend to remove this building and build a new add on to compliment the Cottage.  This new structure will house the main dining room and our new "open" kitchen.

Here we are out back discussing the deck that we will build here. Planning a NL friendly deck, that means it will have walls and 2 roof plus a thermal mass masonry heater, at least that's the idea.

Tearing out the old to expose the older.

Here's where you'll need to watch your head.

Long on ideas here. All about our vision and getting to be a reality right now. Not afraid of it, but definately aware of our challenges.

Stay tuned for more!! Lots of these posts to come.
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mallard Cottage Pre Reno





Just a couple of pics before we get the work started!  The Cottage itself and another of the proud owners!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Resto Biz here we come......!

Well, it's been a while since I posted here!  Apologies again for that, but it's been a busy few months!  Still riding the wave of Top Chef Canada, at least while I can, and at the same time working on what's next for me.

The Chef's Inn had a great year!!  Busiest one yet and our guests keep getting more interesting - if you can believe that!  We so enjoy being a window for folks into Newfoundland - St. John's in particular and with the growing interest in our part of the world we seem to get to do that for a constantly expanding variety of tourist.
We look forward to next year, which is already shaping up to be busier than this one just past.  Busy times in St. John's.

On top of our Chef's Inn commitments, we have had a busy few months with "Roots, Rants & Roars" in Elliston, NL (www.rootsrantsandroars.ca), "What's On the Table" in TO, (http://thestop.org/event/02-nov-2011), instructing at a Culinary Tourism course at the Bonavista Institute for Cultural Tourism, & a Gala fundraiser for Ronald MacDonald House hosted by the good folks at Cohen's - to name a few!

Now we have decided to jump back into the restaurant business.  Well, "jump" might be a bit strong given we have been thinking long and hard about it.  It is hardly a rash move, but it did come along at a time that was unexpected.  Sometimes you just have an opportunity that comes along that seems too good to pass up.  Too good, but still full of headaches, long hours and things that are beyond your control. 
If you are afraid of these pitfalls than the resto biz is not for you to begin with.  Fortunately or unfortunately, these things do not warn me off.

I am in the fortunate position to have the chance to purchase what is one of the oldest wooden structures in NL(http://www.heritage.nf.ca/society/rhs/rs_listing/119.html), that happens to be practically in my front yard, that happens to be in one of the most beautiful and interesting part of St. John's, which happens to be one of the best cities in the country to open a restaurant today!

Also fortunate that my wife and daughter both think it's a great idea!! So here it goes, we start work on what will be our "Family Restaurant"!

Many, many details still to be sorted.  Lots of balls to drop, but the process has begun.  Keep watching this space for updates, videos and pics.  We intend to take you all along for what will be an amazing, fun and tumultuous ride.  At the end of which we hope that we will have created not only a solid restaurant where "foodies" can get what they need, but most importantly a comfortable, inviting, FUN and delicious place to fulfill the promise of  Newfoundland's and Canada's great ingredients.

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 9, 2011

The summer, the CNE and a recipe!

I have been absent from this space for a while, so for the five of you who are interested in what I write here - I am sorry!:)

Been a busy summer around home and The Chef's Inn, lots of tourists and things to do as our summer passed.  And passed it did with one of the most horrible summers,  in terms of weather,  that St. John's has suffered in recent memory.
Even the NL Folk Festival was forced from Bannerman Park and into Mile One Stadium.  Let me tell you, I have spent some fabulous soggy weekends in the "most easterly beer tent" in North America and for the weather to be so bad that the Festival had to be moved is, well - Epic!

The worst thing about the bad weather has been it's effect on our gardens this year, with no tomatoes, no cucumber, barely any zucchini, no pumpkins and generally poor yields.  But there is always next year!
Having said that, we have been eating successfully from the garden since early August with several good weeks left yet.  Potatos, garlic and onions have done well, so we have that much. To be honest several of the best meals I have ever had have started with just those three ingredients, so I haven't too much gumption to complain.

The summer has also brought some travel and cool experiences for me, the latest being my "Celebrity Chef" appearance at the CNE in August.  What a laugh!  Was frightened to death really, but I think I gave the folks that attended a decent show.  Most of all it was fun to have my wife and daughter there for my "moment".  Best part of the week was after my first demo, when my girl Alex came up with a big hug and says, "I'm proud of you, Daddy" - could have died a happy man right there!

That was my first time at the CNE since I was probably 12 years old and I had forgotten what it was all about.  The CNE is to Toronto, what the "Regatta" is to St. John's.  It has the same love/hate dynamic.  Some people love the CNE, some hate it, just as the Regatta has it's fans and those who loathe a trip to Quidi Vidi Lake on that first Wednesday in August.

Was funny to me to have that comparison on my mind as I walked around, all reinforced by the fact that I am sure it's the same guys running the concessions in Toronto as here in St. John's! They at least all have the same Mom.

All in all a successful summer with some exciting times ahead!  Some irons in fires that are getting hotter, and a couple of cool projects ongoing.  The biggest of which is "Roots, Rants and Roars", a very cool culinary/music/cultural weekend in Elliston, NL that I am organizing.  Lots of great food, wine and fun in one of the most spectacular settings you can imagine!  Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 will be rooting, ranting and roaring on the Bonavista Peninsula for sure! Check it our here www.rootsrantsandroars.ca

Other fall highlights, a trip to James Beard House in October with a group of NL chefs.  Another trip to TO in November to work on a big charity event - deets to come. A teaching gig at the Bonavista Institute for Culinary Tourism for a few days, a long overdue visit from some great friends and a trip to MTL for a weekend of foolishness.  Will be worn down to the nub by Christmas! 

Will end this blog with the recipe from the dish I made at the CNE.  Some folks were interested in it so here it is:

Szechuan Chicken Marinade
20 basil leaves (or cilantro)
4-8 whole dried red chilies (to taste)
1/2 TSP. szechuan peppercorns
1 cup ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
8 TBS. honey
1 cup soya sauce
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup seasame oil

Combine all in blender and process until smooth.  Marinate chicken (boneless thighs are best) 6-8 hours or overnight.

Grill, bake, roast your chicken as you like.  Great on pasta with a curry cream sauce, or on fresh garden salad or in a wrap with some sesame scented vegetable slaw.

Let me know how it turns out!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Long Time, No Blog

Well I have finally grabbed a few moments to update this space - long overdue but such is life in the B&B business! Once the season begins it takes a few weeks to get back into the routine and get a schedule set.  Until that happens you find yourself a little scattered and blogs don't find themselves high up on the priority list.

Much has happened since my last posting, not the least of which was my ousting from Top Chef Canada!  #8 on Top Chef, #1 in your heart - I hoped anyway?  It turns out that #1 in your heart has proved true, at least with some folks.  I have written here before that when I signed up for TCC I didn't know what to expect.  In that vein, I certainly did not expect to have "Fans", but I have found out that "Fans" I do have - a goodly number it seems.  About all I can say about that is AWESOME!! and THANK YOU to all the folks who have offered support, pats on the back, words of thanks and encouragement to me since I was chopped from the show.

It is a great feeling to know that people appreciate your style, both personal and professional.  Validation, not exactly, but I have always tried to do my thing, my way and that has only gotten stronger as I have aged. The TCC experience reinforced to me that I have made some good choices in my life and in my food.

Do I have adoring groupies beating down my door or business offers and appearance requests pouring in?

Not exactly

But do I feel I had success on TCC, absolutely yes.  I got to highlight ingredients from my own backyard on a National platform, I got to meet and work with an amazing group of Chefs who I can count now as my friends and I didn't embarrass myself or my family. WIN, WIN, WIN!

What's next, well off to TO next week for a Top Chef Canada Dinner at Great Cooks with Andrea, Steve, Patrick, and Michael. The Chef's Inn rolls along keeping me busy with breakfasts and dinners. An appearance at the CNE is coming up in August, planning a cool Culinary/Cultural event in late Sept. in a place not unlike this one,




and it looks like I may be off to James Beard in NYC with a group of NL Chefs in the fall! 

All good!

Will my "fans" (even writing it makes me smile), get to see more of me on Food Network Canada?

Just keep watching!!