Monday, October 15, 2007

Pajo's Tasting Menu 10-13-07

Hello to everyone! Well, another dinner bites the dust. Yup, I successfully pulled off yet another dinner party for friends and family. This dinner was a special dinner for me because it was the celebration for me of the development of a new business venture. I have acquired a business license doing catering for private parties. The new business is "Pajo's". I am really excited about this because I finally am cooking the food I love to cook for people, and may even quite possibly make a few dollars doing it!

This particular dinner was a fun one to put together. As many of you may already know I took a job at Hawk's Restaurant in Granite Bay. After a short stint their I decided that the position would not work out for myself. I vowed to myself to enjoy my passion of cooking, and standing at the station of Garde Mange, plating salads all day in an assembly line was not my idea of creativity and fun. I really feel that I have a talent and want to get my work out there. Staying at Hawks would have taught me much in the long run, but for me to advance to the position I desired would have had taken me much time I am sure. The sacrifices financially and on my personal life with Angie were far too much for my taste. I decided to pursue a different avenue.

Currently I am still with Sierra Express Parts and Service, acting as Vice President. I have also developed "Pajo's" in order to cook for private parties, make some money and follow my passion. In addition, I am also working part time evenings at Carpe Vino in Auburn, primarily for fun and to get my cooking itch scratched!

I will tell you a little about each course I have prepared for this menu below.
First off, I again would like to thank all of you for attending this dinner party! It is you, my guests that make these dinners a reality. Your willingness to spend good money on a new venue like this is brave and I thank you all! I would like to let you all know a little about the menu that I have prepared for you this evening.

The menu this evening is a tasting menu. For any of you that know what a tastingmenu is, then you will have a better understanding of the progression this evening. A tasting menu is supposed to have several components; an introduction or starter, a first, second, third course, etc, and a closing. I will demonstrate all of these this evening. Most chefs in most restaurants will try and satisfy a customer's hunger with a single dish. We are all growing accustomed to a fast paced lifestyle, leaving little time left to enjoy the true joys of life. Food is intended to be enjoyed and appreciated, and I intend to demonstrate thatthis evening as well. I will try and put the food first, and focus on intensifying the flavor of particular ingredients.

For starters we have our canapes. Canapes are small starters to a meal; appetizers if you will. They are supposed to be the start of a good meal. The idea here is give a small portion, a few bites which will leave the customer thinking, " I want another bite"; then we take it away! However, considering that I am serving them prior to dinner service, buffet style, it is up to you to control any urges that may emerge!

Canapes will be a Shrimp Cocktail. The shrimp are cooked in a "court bouillon". Court bouillon is a stock of fennel, carrots, celery, leeks, herbs, peppercorns, white wine, lemon and lime juice. The shrimp is delicately poached. To accompany the shrimp will be a classic cocktail sauce. The sauce will contain horseradish, ketchup, worcestershire, herbs, vinegar and dijon. In addition, I will be making some candied almonds, which have been glazed with simple syrup, maple syrup and honey. Lastly, I have some marinated mixed olives. I will marinate them overnight in Orange and Lemon peel, garlic, rosemary, lemon thyme, "California Olive Ranch" olive oil, along with additional spices. In addition, I also added some shafts blue cheese, morbier French ash cheese, and some Manchester gouda with some crackers.

When we sit down to dinner, you will be served a very small portion of Cucumbersorbet. This is an "amuse buche". It is intended to be a single bite or two of something to spark your palate and get your taste buds opened and ready for what is to come. I have juiced Local Ueki farms "Diva" cucumbers, some belvedere vodka, some simple syrup, lime zest, honey, ginger and served with a yogurt sauce, which I have added sugar, heavy cream and fresh dill to. On top you will find some fresh mint chiffonade.

Your first formal course is the "Foie Gras au Torchon". This is one of the most difficult French techniques to master I have been told. "Torchon" in French, literally translates to "dish-towel". For this preparation I first had to source out the Foie Gras. I am always looking for local ingredients first. Through Preferred Meats of the Bay Area, a leading meat supplier to many of the best restaurants of the area, I found that there is only two companies in the US that are allowed to produce Foie Gras for resale. To my pleasant surprise they supply one that is right here almost in our backyards, Sonoma Saveur. Foie is rated in 3 categories, "A", "B", "C". "A" is of course the most sought after, and most expensive. It runs $50 per lb, and for this preparation I was able to get 4 lbs!

This technique starts with cleaning the lobes. It is a tedious and time consumingprocess which, if not done correctly, will not end in the "superb" resulting texture and flavor. Once that is complete, I have soaked in a milk bath over night to clarify and further "enhance" the end result. The next day it is cured in a mixture of fluer rose, or pink salt which has natural nitrates in it, sugar, white pepper. It is cured overnight which essentially then "cooks" the meats if you will. The following day it is rolled into a log using parchment paper, to form a cylinder. I then wrap it in cheesecloth, after removing the paper. It is wrapped again in a towel, tied with twine, and poached in chicken stock at 180 degrees to cook. It is then cooled rapidly in an ice bath, and hung overnight in the refrigerator to release any liquids. The last day it is opened up, and sliced to serve. Foie oxidizes, so I will remove any oxidized parts and serve cold.

Last minute on the fly, I decided that I had enough Foie to do a dual preparation. After Joanne Neft said to me two days prior that she preferred Foie seared, I thought I would let those new comers have a taste of both. This would give a complete and total contrast between the two, and is a good way to see which you prefer. So the torchon was also seared, and everyone recvd 2 pieces of foie.

The apple gelee, is freshly juiced apples, calvados brandy, fresh apples, sugar, saltand gelatin sheets. The sauce will be a reduction of calvados brandy and freshly juiced apples. The salad will be a mixture of pickled apples batons, celery leaves, chives, and pickled shallots. For the Brioche, it is indeed homemade by myself, and I am sorry that I forgot to serve it, it was pretty fast paced at first in the kitchen.

The Chilean sea bass is my favorite fish. I acquired this fish from Brand Little of the Auburn Farmers Market, as I do all my fish. He has the absolute freshest and best fish I have been able to find. It has an extremely buttery flavor andtexture due to very high fat content. I will saute it and serve it with homemade ravioli. The ravioli dough is a seminola based dough that I made by hand. The process is actually done on the countertop, mixed by hand! The filling is a combination of freshly juiced white corn, risotto, polenta, bread crumbs and marscapone cheese. The sauce is a reduction made of lobster bodies, tomatoes, carrots, onions, lemon thyme, fennel & heavy cream. There will be a basil infused olive oil and some pearl onions. The "foam" is a lemon scented milky froth, which is actually a reduction of white wine, shallots, lemon thyme, heavy cream, milk and lots of lemon zest and juice.

For the "Poussin", Poussin is actually a spring chicken, or baby chicken. They are first frenched, at the breast, the legs and thighs portioned, then brined for 6 hours in a mixture of water, lemon juice, rosemary, lemon thyme, honey and salt. The breaking down of the poussin was a fun and lenghty process! This brine gives moisture to the finished piece of cooked meat, along with a nice crisp crust and salty flavor. They were pan seared, and finished in the oven. Once finished cooking they were basted with butter, garlic and thyme. The Jus Reduction is a sauce made from the bones, some water, wine, garlic, carrots, onions, and fresh herbs. It is reduced down to a nice dark brown color, thick consistency, and rich flavor. It is finished with chives and butter. The risotto is going to be cooked with white wine, chicken stock, onions, finished with carrot juice. Mushrooms that have been cooked in shallots, garlic, chicken stock, thyme and white wine were also added to the jus. Heavy cream and marscapone cheese will also be added to the risotto to finish. The Parmesan "essence" is afrothy milk and Parmesan mixture, similar to the lemon essence.

For dessert, I poached green apples in white wine, sugar, water, cinnamon, and spices. I will then add star anise and honey, and reduce and caramelize to a thick sauce. I will mix cooked cream de farina, or cream of wheat, mix with marscapone cheese and refrigerate. To serve I coat them with panko, and fry in oil. The Ice cream is homemade, and is a burnt caramel ice cream with fluer de sel salt. The cookies are from a puff pastry dough which is made by hand. It requires a tedious repetition of folding, rolling, resting, folding, rolling, resting, - large amounts of butter into a flour dough. They are wonderful light and crunchy cookies.

Now that dinner has come to an end, it is time for the closing. Think of this dinner like a play. There are different scenes and takes. Same with a tasting menu. To finish you will be served Petit Fours. They are generally served buffet style. For this dinner I made some homemade chocolate cups filled with vanilla chantilly creme and fresh raspberries. It is a tempered chocolate shell, a creamy filling and topped with raspberry. There are also homemade chocolate truffles, & lastly there are little butter cookies with a lemon sabayon filling, that have been rolled in crystal sugar and finished with lime zest.I thank you all for coming and trusting me to provide a wonderful meal. I am truly grateful that each and everyone of you has made the effort to support me, and to spend the kind of money required to get an education on food and cooking, and to eat such a refined meal. I hope to see you all again at a future dinner! Please feel free to leave any comments you may have!

I want all of you to be on the lookout, I am planning on putting together a "Desserts & Appetizers" only party coming around December. Please email me if you think you may be interested... should be a very social event! Pajo.

The Chef...
The Table

The Guests...

The Chef & Sous Chef....
Isaac and Ashley

Need I explain?

Cucumber Sorbet

Foie Two Ways

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