Monday, March 31, 2008


I have wanted to pass on a few recipes for those of you who might want be interested. Here is our recipe for pickled asparagus and pickled jalapenos. These jalapenos should replace the jar of store bought you have in your pantry. We serve the pickled jalapenos with a tempura frie shrimp. They have quite a kick.

Pickled Asparagus

Water 3 L
Ice 850 grams
Tarragon Vinegar 300 L
Salt 60 grams
Sugar 100 grams
Crushed Garlic cloves 5 ea
Large Shallot Sliced 1 ea
Fennel Seed 3 Grams
Fresh Tarragon 10 Grams
Asparagus 3 bunches


Place water, vinegar, sugar, salt and fennel seeds in a pot and bring to simmer dissolving all of the sugar and salt. Pour over vegetables and allow to steep for 3 minutes. Add ice to cool. Rest for 1 day and serve.

Pickled Jalapenos
Water 500 ml
Ice 425 grams
Rice Wine Vinegar 50 ml
Salt 30 grams
Sugar 50 grams
Garlic crushed 6 ea
Ginger Sliced 30 grams
Jalapenos Shaved 6 ea

Bring water, salt, sugar, and vinegar to a simmer dissolving all. Pour over vegetables and allow to steep for 3 minutes. Pour in ice to cool. Let sit for 1 day.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

On the Fly

We often have a limited amount of time to prepare items especially when certain line cooks fail to prepare their stations for the night. We use a tomato tomato concasse pretty regularly at the restaurant. Not having prepared our concasse for the night and needing some quickly I was reminded about a method I had used before for terrine of tomatoes and shrimp. We actually use our creme brulee torch in order to char the skin of the tomato. It adds a very light almost grilled flavor to the tomato and actually keeps the flesh in better condition than blanching in water because the heat is so extreme. I enjoyed the change so much we are actually using this method for our grilled tuna special.

The tuna is marinated and grilled for a Basque style plate.

Pickled Aparagus

We pickled asparagus in order to offer a cooler version with the warm weather we have been having. Our first attempt we used a 5% brine solution with salt and 5% sugar, tarragon vinegar, tarragon, shallots and fennel seed. It was really surprising the flavor but the salt content was a little too much. We tried again with 3% salt and kept the sugar at 5%. We can't stop eating the asparagus as a snack.

We put it to use on an Eden Farms Berkshire pork chop and truffled mac and cheese. The finished dish:

Grilled Eden Farms Berkshire pork chop, orzo enriched with marscapone, grana padano, and truffle oil and pickled asparagus with sweet vermouth-bourbon thyme jus

What a plate.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Things to work on

Cauliflower soup with Chocolate Balsamic orzo
Pickled Asparagus wrapped in Jamon de Bayonne
Cauliflower Panna Cotta, Black Olive Caviar and Jamon De Bayonne
Sliced tuna, mung bean sprouts, shitakes, and daikon with spicy miso
Tournedos, sauce perigueax, Potato and Olive oil custard
Edamame Hummus
Crispy Fennel without loosing fennel Flavor
Leg of lamb, smoked mushrooms relish, chevre gnocchi
Pork butt "Pot Roast" truffled marscapone enriched orzo, pickled asparagus and bourbon jus
Vegetable tians
Ribeye Caps
Ribeye Filets
Lobster Ceviche, roasted peaches,

Friday, March 21, 2008


I often go through a day and have about 1000 thoughts on food. Can we do this or how about plating this way or that way? How do can I keep these things organized and what are valid and worth keeping? At work we use a dry erase board and we write ideas down as they come to us. Some have been up for a month and other get put into play immediately. The eggs with soy sauce and porcini in the blog below is a good example. Things didn't work out as hoped so we moved on, and tried something new.
But for all of our ideas how do we organize and utilize so many of these ideas? And how do we use them to produce a memorable dining experience without being completely off the charts in what is expected?
I found a video online of Grant Achatz the chef/owner of Alinea in Chicago. Here is a chef in the US who is really working on cutting edge food but still stays true to the idea of taste first, innovation second. I really recommend you watch the video for a real insight into how chefs come up with ideas.

I felt like I was in a little bit of a slump with the long work week. I was a little lost as to where we should go next week with specials, but after watching such a hard working, high end chef go through his process, I felt reassured and went back to the dry erase board. Next week is looking fun!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Our main saute is worked by a guy named Cisco. He is the maestro of fish and on even on busy nights manages to put up beautiful plates. He is exactly what exery chef looks for in a main saute. The finished dish Halibut, romesco, chorizo-artichoke and vegetable barigoule and almond parsley gremolata.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The Halibut came in looking beautiful. We also have hit the artichoke season. As we prepare the artichokes I kept mulling around about what to do with them. Being such a nice day thoughts of Spain started to pop into my head and I wondered what how we could incorporate the elements of Spanish cooking I really love so much. I have played around using artichokes for Barigoule and still really liked the idea. Then it all clicked, romesco sauce and vegetable barigoule using our dry cured Spanish chorizo made here in NC.

We are able to buy this stuff from a local Spanish wine purveyor. If you live in the Chapel Hill area you can sometimes find this chorizo at Weaver Street Market or Harris Teeter. For the est of you you can buy it online. Here is the website:

It's all natural and awesome stuff.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Week Ahead

We started a special appetizer of mussels using green curry and coconut milk. Wow, this dish really pops. We bought a prepared green curry which is quite good and really matches well with the unbelievably plump mussels we have been getting. So many chefs use these premade products because of there ease. I did the same and for the fact I hadn't really worked with green curry before. I think we will make our own by the end of the week. I like the product we have but it is extremely salty to the palette and tends to overwhelm. I think a more subtle but still spicy green curry will send this dish over the edge.

Halibut season has finally kicked off. Halibut is one of my favorite fish to work with. So versatile in it's uses, but also such a great fish by itself. I think we will keep it a little more simple with the fish this week and really let so early spring ingredients, including the fish, speak for themselves.

This really is great time of year for ingredients as things really begin to grow. Let's hope we can avoid another drought.

Chef's do make mistakes

Sometimes we do make mistakes and experiments go south. I rushed to fast when working on or pommes maxim yesterday for the amuse bouche and had to change gears mid shift. The good thing is I know why the potatoes didn't work. We always learn from our mistakes. We still made the de-constructed Shepard's pie for the Amuse Bouche. Instead of the thin crispy pommes maxim we ended up making pommes Dauphine. To make the Dauphine we took some Grana Padano water as our cooking medium for the potatoes before pureeing them. It added a really nice subtle cheese flavor to the potatoes making them a perfect topper for the Shepard's pie. People really enjoyed seeing an Irish Flag on the plate going to every table. Here are our three vegetables, peas, cauliflower, and carrots.

School is back from spring break so it's back to business as usual. Here we are plating bouches for a 25 person party. It was a hectic night but a good one nonetheless.
In the end, although we do make mistakes, I beleive it is how we react to them as chefs. I've seen it all from screaming to cussing to removing oneself to the solitude of a cooler to yell and scream. I used to to these things but found myself only with less time to correct the problems at hand. Now, I just change gears and keep moving forward.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Eggs Rethought

We fried up our egg experiment on Saturday night. The porcini and soy infused eggs were good but the flavor didn't come through as well as we had hoped. We believe that our paste was to thick to permeate the eggs quickly. More time might work but we will try again with a wetter mixture and maybe try some other aromatics. Lavender by itself would be a great option especially with how aromatic it is.
For our amuse bouche tonight we are inspired by St. Patrick's Day. We will return to the use of agar for gelling what should be a pretty cool interpretation
of an Irish Shepard's pie.

Finely chopped beef tenderloin with veal jus, a gel of cauliflower, peas, and carrots and pommes Maxim. I will have a picture later tonight.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Friday, March 14, 2008

Veal Demi

In the kitchen since I have started we have really been working on or technique for veal demi. We have been refining and reducing in order to get a great sauce consistency that is both flavorful, clean and not at all bitter. I think we finally hit it today.
This is the cold gelled sauce. We are so proud we had to take a picture. It looks like a beautifully ganached chocolate cake. It is pure veal stock reduced. We really love the sheen on it. This was about 3 days of work but totally worth it.

Agar and Shrimp Chorizo

I was really excited today to work on our Amuse Bouche for the night. I had had the idea written on our dry erase board for a while but I was waiting on one essential element: Agar. Agar is a hydrocolloid or to other people a gelling agent. Agar is all natural and derived from certain types of seaweed. The great thing about agar is that it's melting point once gelled is around 185F. So like the jello you were served as a kid which melted in your mouth Agar will not allowing you to make gels which can be served hot.

We first started by making shrimp chorizo. A mixture of pureed and chopped shrimp. I got the recipe from Alex and Aki at Ideas in Food. Really simple but I don't have activa so I used 1 egg white. Here are two pictures one of the mixture piped before rolling and the other the "sausages" are poaching.

We put the shrimp chorizo with a hot cauliflower cube, chipotle powder and chives. I loved the look of this dish and we had a lot of fun send these out. Here is the picture. We will be serving this tomorrow as well.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A slow Spring Break Thursday

We had a lot of time on our hands tonight seeing as it is spring break in Chapel Hill. We rolled out some cool special items tonight and also had some time to start some experiments. We finalized the Kona Kampachi stuffed with a scallop. Here is the final dish:

Kona Kampachi stuffed with nori wrapped scallop, forbidden and jasmine rice, cinnamon and star anise red wine syrup, and tahini dressed sugar snap beans.

Duck Breast, edamame succotash, thyme oil and port-plum jus

We also started an experiment spawned by the ideas of Aki and Alex at ideas in food (link to the right). They talk about the fact that eggs are porous and the French have been infusing eggs with truffles for I don't know how long. So the idea is what else can we infuse and egg with. We had some porcini powder on hand and really good soy sauce so why not make a paste with these two items. I couldn't think of a better way to try and touch on umami.

We smothered the eegs tonight and will sample on saturday after 48 hours. It should be pretty intense.

Tomorrow's Amuse Bouche: Shrimp Chorizo, Hot Cauliflower Cubes and Chives. Should be interesting.

A Few Pics

I just wanted to get a few pictures up of some of the stuff we have been doing. For this weekend we are stuffing Kona Kampachi with nori wrapped scallops. Here is picture of the first try.
We ran this butter poached shrimp dish last week. Butterpoached shrimp, mango, avocado and tomato fan with carrot and yuzu puree and fresh mint on top.

And I had to put a picture of this wild stripped bass we had last week. Beautiful and big.
I hope you enjoy. Sorry for the quality and the typos. These pictures are off of my camera phone.

First Time

I am starting this blog too late on a Wednesday and keeping my poor wife up too late but I hope it will help me keep track of my thoughts on food and also help share them with whomever would like. I look forward to posting many of the things my team and I are creating at Azure Grille. Currently, I have been dabbing into hydro colloids but mostly just working on a style of food that is both eclectic and approachable to my clientèle here in Chapel Hill. I have really been searching out new products that I have not worked with before. For example, we received today 15 pounds of Kona Kampachi which is a beautiful ocean farm raised fish from Hawaii. Here is a link to the website of this fisherie: Their Product is extremely nice. This weekend we are butterflying the fish and stuffing it with scallops wrapped in nori. We will serve the dish with a mix of Forbidden and Jasmine rice, A red wine reduction of sorts and julienned sugar sanp beans tossed with tahini dressing. It should be interesting. I look forward to comments and the trading of ideas.