Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Chef Meets Bridgeport Mill - The Machining Began

Chef Meets Bridgeport Mill - The Machining Began

One of the reasons I really enjoy catering has to do with food, but not
with preparing food. In catering you must be on the cutting edge of the
game or suffer the low margin consequences of doing what everyone else
does. Catering allows me to constant explore new foods, new themes and
most important new preparation methods. I like the challenge of doing
something correctly, live in front of everyone that attends the event.
It is part ego, part challenge but most importantly, it is something I
know most competitors won't take on for fear of falling flat on their
face in the publics' eye!

And so after we finally got sushi off the ground after two years, then
finally introduced the churrasco to the world at the wedding show this
year. I have been intrigued by the Benny Hannah's type presentation for
years now. Problem for catering is the damn big equipment necessary and
the ventilation required.

So for about a year now I have been thinking on how to put tappenyaki
into catering. Not some small wasted little table side grill thingy,
but a true small version of the tappenyaki station on the floor doing
tapas of the famous Japanese Steakhouse offerings.

I would grab up an old stainless steel prep table to start yet another
project in pursuit of the EDGE!

Come along for the start of the project and as I progress I will post
other blogs on the development.

First this is the table that I picked.

An explanation is in order, I choose this old table because it is solid
stainless steel, and this drawer interested me. I wish to be able to
support the sushi station by broiling the unagi and such as required. So
I will order in the stainless and insulation to create a salamander in
place of the draw.

But for today let us concentrate on the tappen part, for me that is
stainless steel. So over to the scrap metal yard to find a piece of 310

So I found a nice scrap piece (scrap is half the price of new) and have
it cut to 18 inches by 24 inches. Which will cover the entire drawer
area. This will allow me to use the tappenyaki burner to heat the steel
and act as the broiler in the drawer, oven unit.

But first I must change the steel into a usable piece of metal. And for
that I call on my trusty Bridgeport. (While most people have hobbies,
all mine are taken to the extreme.) So we will start to square up the

After mounting the stainless plate to the machine I begin the cutting of
the .850 inch slab to make it square. A roughing bit is required to

At 2 horsepower I can tear up material with this little tool! And

And so I will create, first two adjacent edges that meet at 90 degrees
and then finish the rectangle so all corners are right angles.

Then I will begin to insure the entire surface is the same thickness.
Since I have been building grills and cookers for years. I understand
that to skip this step is to speed the project up, but a variation of
.15 inches in thickness changes the temperature of the surface by 44
degrees. And that makes not for a good grill at all!

So the work begins to create what will be the finished grilling surface.
And several hours later this is what you end up with! I will add in the
grease grooves when that tool arrives from the supplier.

Now isn't that purdy! You bet it is, and now that it is .750 inches all
the way around, it will cook real purdy as well! While I was out I did
spec out the controls for the beast. They were in stock so I picked them
up as I will need to start plumbing the gas lines soon. I am using all
RobertShaw control. And opted to put on an oven control that allows me
to set the thermostat and have the temp probe do the heat control. I
also picked up the RobertShaw safety pilot so the gas will shut down
automatically if the pilot goes out.

All in all not a bad start to another little task that should keep us on
the cutting edge in the catering world.

'til we talk again, get out in the shop and make something, feels great
to form something to your idea!

Chef Bob Ballantyne

The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

Grand Junction, Colorado, USA

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Scallops, Slow Smoked, With Palm Sugar Mayonnaise

Scallops, Slow Smoked, With Palm Sugar

Ah the grill, many people have sent e-mails asking why I prefer the two

Char-broil charcoal

We will explore that a little further as I describe to you the slow
smoked scallops with an interesting palm sugar mayonnaise. Follow along
as I create the Super Bowl dinner! First I was down at the market
picking up some real nice wild caught walleye fillets, when the scallops
looked at me and begged me to buy them so they did not have to sit in
the retail case any longer! What is a chef to do? So along with the
walleye I picked up a pound of the 10 count scallops.

I have been doing a lot of scallops lately. They are so sweet and cook
so nicely I just kind of got on this kick of seeing what they would
accept as a base dish. Seems like they accept about everything. So today
I decided to break out a little palm sugar and go to work on the sweet
scallops with a sweeter still glaze!

To make this a balance I had to get some solids behind the palm sugar.
So a little thinking and the whole prep seems to appear in my mind. I
throw together the mise en place for the sauté reduction to start things

Basically I am using, Maui sweet onion, macadamia nuts, pineapple,
chopped crystallized dates, coconut, bamboo, and a decent size chunk of
palm sugar. Not shown cause it is already in the pan is a little dark
sesame oil.

First I sauté the macadamia nuts 'til they are starting to toast.

Then I pile in the rest of the mise en place to get things reducing and
flavors a blending!

This is basically an extraction process that will create two of the
finals I need to complete the dish. First it will create the palm sugar
sauce I need to marinate the scallops, that same sauce will also create
the mayonnaise that I will baste the scallops with and plate the scallop
with for final plating. It will also create the reduction I want to turn
into the solids for the scallop bed to be formed on the plates.

So first the reduction is drained into a pyrex mise cup for use in the
marinade and the mayonnaise.

The solids are returned to the heat where I add a microwaved sweet
potato that has been peeled and sliced. I really wanted a tight starch
to pull the sweet scallop bed together. The sweet tater was just laying
there left over from a dinner a few nights ago. That sucker gave its
life for this dish!

Chef Rant ON:

Ok folks lets not get on the microwave high horse here! I have received
the e-mails inferring it is not a real oven, it can not be used in a
real setting. To which I say "if you are that limited in ability, don't
use it!" I prefer to master something that is different, not run away
from it. While I respect those that don't want to master it, I won't
accept the bashing of the appliance from people who can not master it.
Besides they do better taters than any other method I have tried!

Chef Rant OFF:

So once the sauté has warmed up the baked sweet tater slices it is into
the food processor. Now I have one of the large 11 plus cuisinarts that
will make mounds of food. But for Christmas I got this little mini
Kitchen Aid process that only has chop blades, no slicing, dicing and
shredding for this little pup. But I have come to use it a few times a
week, fast to clean, keeps prep more toward the size for the wife and I!
A big plus when you consider I can not use an appliance without filling
it to the brim!

So into the processor with the sauté!

While that was finishing in the oven, I set myself a pot with some nice
brown rice. I figured a brown rice vegetable pilaf would be just the
starch and veggie to finish the plate.

Then I clean the small processor and get to work on my mayo, two egg
yolks, one whole egg, little lemon juice, salt, pepper, and all
vegetable oil for this one since I am infusing it with the palm sugar

This is how she came out after mixing in the reduction sugars strained
from the sauté pan. Now it is important to let mayo sit for a few
minutes, so I busy myself getting the

Char-broil charcoal grill
set for cooking use. We are going to smoke
these scallops so I want a fire in the firebox and just heat and smoke
in the large chamber. But scallops and the salmon my son wants, require
a little more work that just smoking. I like the scallop seared and the
son likes the grill marks on the salmon. So first I open the draft and
get the firebox hot, I mean over 550F. Toss in one of my black iron fry
pans and let it heat to screaming hot (to borrow a term from Derek
Thomas) so I can do the searing and the grill marks all at once. And
that is why I love the double chamber charcoal grill, I have high heat
if I need it, I have a burner for an iron pan if I need it, and I have a
large cooking chamber!

At this point the scallops have been marinated in half the liquid from
the sauté pan, the other half was used in the mayo creation. Once they
are seared I am using one of those grill vegetable trays you can
purchase at Home Depot. This keeps the scallops (and most seafood) from
falling through the grates to the fire gods! And who can blame the fire
gods for partaking of the grilled foods from time to time? With the
smells the food gives off I am surprised they don't take all of the food
all of the time! I place the scallops and salmon on the veggie grill and
place it into the large cook chamber!

Then I place a pan rigged with mesquite wood on the firebox side.
Regular readers understand my use of the tin pan covered for maximum
even smoke time. If you are not a regular you can review the info

here about two thirds down the page.

In a few minutes the mesquite begins to add the magic! This is what we
look like as the large chamber climbs through 325 F where I will hold it
for 15 minutes or so.

And at that point I start to paint the scallops with the mayo. I will
put three coatings on the scallops, then I will sauce the area of the
plate where the palm sugar reduction will be placed in preparation for
the bedding of the scallops. All that will be finished by surrounding
the scallop bed with our brown rice vegetable pilaf! And this is what it
ends up looking like at the finish!

Four scallops plus the underlying palm sugar reduction made a very nice
sweet dish, and the brown rice vegetable pilaf gave the dish the light
sides it required! This was the first time I ever thought of doing this,
I think I would change one thing, I would have also toasted some coconut
to finish the scallop with as a garnish instead of just the mayo finish.

'til we talk again do two things, first pick up some palm sugar and mess
with it, this stuff has it all over maple sugar and make an infused
mayonnaise for yourself. It is easy to do and you will be amazed how fast
you start customizing a mayo to complement a meal you are trying!

Chef Bob Ballantyne

The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

Grand Junction, Colorado, USA