Tag Archives: jason mcleod

Pork & Clams Love This Combination

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I am always looking for ways to expand what Jana will try when it comes to food, and in all honestly she has come a very long way since we met. I have found that the trick is to combine ingredients/dishes that she loves with ingredients/dishes that she might be a little reluctant to try. Steamed Clams is a dish that she really has no desire to eat (a texture thing as it is for most people) So I decided to add some delicious Pork Meatballs to the mix (everyone loves meatballs) and see if this was enough to bribe her to dig into a beautiful bowl of Manilla Clams. Well yes it was enough for her to try but in the end the meatballs and grilled Country Levain disappeared much faster out of her bowl than the clams. I did find myself wondering if this was such a bad thing as I did end up with to large bowls of steamed clams for myself 🙂 (maybe deep down that is what I was hoping for?).

I picked 2 fantastic beers to pair with this dish the 1st beer being Magic Hat #9, I was very excited about this pairing as it is one of my favorite beers and at $3.99 for a 22oz bottle you cant beat it. TRY THIS BEER. For the 2nd beer I picked a beer I had not yet tried The Lost Abbey’s Avant Garde, and this was a perfect match, I found myself wanting more (could have been that it was my second bottle and I was in a very happy place) and at $8.99 for 750ml bottle, worth every penny. Yes Beer & Clams should be a classic combination if it is not considered one yet!! Jana is not much of a beer drinker so I picked up one of her favorite go to sparklings, LaMarca Prosecco D.O.C Prosecco is made from the white grape, Glera. This expressive grape is prized for its delicate flavors and aromatics, and this creates a very nice combination with most shellfish dishes. Sells for $14.99.

Our resident Wine Expert Amy Payne is still in London finishing up her externship at Decanter Magazine but stay tuned for her pairings to return very soon.


2 lbs Clams Soak in Salted Water, Changing the water until there is no more dirt in the bowl
1 Leek White Only, Cleaned and Chopped
1 Fennel Bulb Core Removed and Sliced
2 Shallots Sliced
2 Garlic Cloves Chopped
10pc Fennel Seed
1/4 Cup Magic Hat #9 Beer
1/4 Cup Fresh Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup Chopped Italian Parsley
Fennel Fronds
2 TBSP Butter Cold

Pork Meatballs
1/2 Lb Ground Pork
1 Shallot Fine Diced Shallot
1 TBSP Fine Diced Fennel
1 Garlic Clove Fine Diced
4 Leaves Italian Parsley Chopped
1/2 TSP Chopped Fennel Fronds
Orange Zest (couple scrapes along the microplane)
6 Fennel Seeds Crushed
Salt & Pepper
TSP Grape Seed Oil

Add oil to a saute pan on low to medium heat
Add Shallot, fennel, garlic and fennel seed (constantly stirring) cook for about 2 minutes then cool
In a mixing bowl add ground pork and mix in rest of ingredients (keeping as cold as possible)
Form meatballs about 1 oz in weight.

For the grilled bread I used a Country Levain brushed with olive oil and then finished with a little parsley and Fleur de Sel. grilled on a panini machine my mom and dad gave us for christmas. (best gift by the way) If you have a favorite bread that grills well then use that. (does not need to be fresh bread, a day or two old is just fine)

Putting the dish together

Cook the meatballs in a large pan (something with sides and a lid) with a little oil
Once the meatballs are about 3/4 cooked remove from the pan and put aside.
Using the same pan (you want to keep all the amazing flavor left over from the meatballs) add the leeks, shallot, fennel and fennel seeds.
Cook for about 2 mins on medium heat.
Add Garlic and Clams at the same time and mix
Turn on high heat and add Beer, Juice, Stock and cover
Cook until all the clams have opened.

Remove Clams from pan, leaving the liquid behind.
Add meatballs to liquid and finish with butter, parsley and fennel fronds check for seasoning.

Place clams in bowl with meatballs and cover with liquid
Serve with Grilled Bread and a glass of your favorite wine or beer.

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Valentine’s Dinner Ideas

We asked, “What would you like your Valentine to make you for dinner?” and you answered risotto, crepes, something french, a dinner that begins with Champagne and more than a few said reservations. Personally, I’d take the latter as dinner prepared by my beloved family means heaps of dishes and too many questions on where to find things. Jason had a great gig going for the kitchen-impared guy on Valentine’s Day. Those who wanted to impress their significant other with a “home cooked meal” signed up for an afternoon with my brother, who opened the hotel kitchens for a Valentines inspired cooking lesson. Not only would the eager to please men learn how to prepare a three course meal, but they took the entire meal (prepared) home with them to re-heat! Genius.

We’ve included a couple of our greatest hits. If you don’t have time to pull these off tonight, get it together for Friday or Saturday! Add a bouquet of pretty flowers and a bottle of this Cremant de Bourgogne.

Crêpes with Poached Chicken, Herbs and Gruyere Cheese
For the actual crêpes, use the recipe listed below; OMIT the sugar and add 1 tbsp of fresh chopped herbs.
3-4 boneless chicken breasts
milk, enough to cover
italian flat leaf parsley
fresh thyme
fresh tarragon
fennel, sliced thinly (about 1/2 cup)
salt & pepper
deep saute pan with lid

Butterfly the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper. Pour in enough milk to cover the bottom of the pan and put in half of your herbs (no need to chop the herbs up, just the fennel into slices). Place your chicken breasts into the pan and lay the remaining herbs over them. Add enough milk to almost cover the chicken. Cover and simmer at a very low heat; about 15 minutes. Do not boil. Flip once during the cooking time and cook for another 15 mintues. Once the chicken is cooked and tender, remove from the pan and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it into thin strips.

In a bowl, add enough of the cheese sauce to coat the chicken. Place desired amount of chicken into each crêpe, roll it up and spoon the cheese sauce over the rolled up crêpe. Garnish with chopped fresh chives. Serve with asparagus.

Gruyere Cheese Sauce
5 tbsp butter
5 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt & pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a very thick sauce. This is called a roux! Add the milk 1 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the stock, whisk well (the stock will thin out the sauce and add flavor). Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cheese in three stages, whisking well. You can make this ahead and re-heat just before serving.

1 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup water
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter
small pinch of salt
1/4 cup peanut oil

Combine flour, sugar, salt in a mixing bowl and form a small well. Combine eggs and buttermilk and mix well. Combine Egg mixture to flour mix well. Add the water a little at a time, you are looking for consistency of slightly thickened whole milk (you may not need all the water). Finish batter with melted butter. Warm a small amount of oil on medium heat, making sure the oil is spread throughout the pan. Pour about 1/8 of a cup batter in the center of the pan and tilt the pan in all directions, moving the batter around until it is a very thin layer. You will need to work quickly. The crepe will take about 90 seconds to cook. Flip over and cook for about 30 more seconds. Place on baking paper and let cool.
The crepes can be cooked ahead of time, wrapped and stored in plastic. Cook your crepes in a 8 inch non stick pan (if you are confident you can use a well seasoned stainless steel pan).

350 grams Acquerello rice
300 ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock), needs to be hot
75 ml white wine
1 shallot, finely diced
2 large fennel bulbs, small dice
1 tbsp oil
1 L chicken or vegetable stock, needs to be hot, for use in the second stage of cooking
1/2 c parmesan, freshly grated
acid butter (recipe below)

In a sauce pot, add oil and fennel, cooking on medium heat for about 5 minutes; until fennel is brown. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute, be careful not to burn shallots. Add the rice and toss well with fennel and shallots, cooking for about 1 minute. Season with a pinch of salt and a couple turns of white pepper. Add wine and reduce until dry. Add all of the 300 ml of stock at once and cook until all the stock is reduced. Stir constantly. Once the liquid is reduced dry, remove from heat and spread on a baking sheet and cover tight with plastic wrap. Let is sit on counter until cool. Once the rice is completely cooled, you can store in an airtight container for 1 day.

The key to the best risotto, is to ensure that the stock is boiling when it is added to the rice. You do not want to shock the rice with cold liquid as this will damage the rice grains and start to break them down.

Finishing the Rice
Bring 1 litre of stock to a boil. Place the cooled rice in a sauce pot and turn on the element onto medium-high heat. Add a 1/4 of the liquid and stir. Add more liquid to the rice a little at a time until the kernels are soft but still have a slight bite to them. This should take about 8-10 minutes. To finish the rice, add about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and a 1/2 cup acid butter; this needs to be added at the very last second, just before serving. Season to taste.

Acid Butter
1 small onion, sliced thin
250 g salted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
150 ml white wine vinegar
200 ml white wine

In a sauce pot add onion, vinegar and white wine all at once and reduce until completely dry; this is very important – there needs to be no liquid left in the pot, but do not brown the onions. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter a little at a time; this will create an emulsion. Keep whisking until you will have a creamy emulsion. Strain through a very fine sieve. Place in the refrigerator with a thin layer of plastic wrap, but do not cover air tight as you need to leave room for steam to escape. Once this is cool, the butter will solidify. Now cover it with airtight lid. This can be done the day before.

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Sausage the Newest/Oldest Celebrity

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Is there anything better than having as much time as you like to do something you enjoy? I was up early to attend a couple of meetings downtown and on my way back home I decided to swing by Siesel’s Old Fashion Meats to pick up some Pork Shoulder, Belly, Hog Casings and a few other treats to spend a rainy afternoon cooking at home. There is not to many rainy days in SD so I thought I would take advantage of the chilly wet weather and prepare Homemade Sausage with Braised Purple Cabbage.
A few months ago I purchased the grinding and stuffing attachments for my Kitchen Aid and have been excited about trying it out ever since. All in all the attachments work well. I would give the grinding attachment a 9/10 and the stuffing attachment a 6/10. The stuffing attachment should come with something to push the ground meat down the hole, this would help the process a great deal.
There was a time not to long ago when North America was not considered a culinary destination (and I think the Europeans would still argue the fact that we are not as great of cooks or diners) but times have changed and North America is going where Europe used to be. Butcher shops in Europe are closing but in North America they are on the rise. Places like The Butcher & Larder in Chicago, Lindy & Grundy in LA, 4505 Meats in San Francisco to name a few are becoming celebrities in their own right. Not only can you buy incredible meat at these spots but all of them offer cooking/butchery classes, how great is that? Restaurants specializing in sausage are also making great progress such as Wurstkuche in LA, Hot Dougs in Chicago, even the up and coming food city San Diego has a sausage themed restaurant The Linkery. Yes it is a great time to be living in North America.
Butchery, Sausage making and Charcuterie are all arts that when done well can be life changing for someone eating the finished product. So get to know your local butcher, sign up for a class ask plenty of questions and hopefully you will have as much fun as we chefs have creating these delicious links…..

SAUSAGE RECIPE Makes 8 Sausages about 5-6 inches long
900 g Pork Shoulder (Trimmed and cut into small cubes)
230 g Pork Belly (Trimmed and cut into small cubes)
12 g Salt
15 g Finely Diced Garlic
325 g Finley Diced Onion
Splash of Oil
1 TSP Chopped Fresh Sage
2 TSP Chopped Fresh Thyme Leaves
Freshly Grated Nutmeg
125 ml Red Wine

5-6 Feet Hog Casings

Place a saute pan on medium heat with a splash of oil, add onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, do not brown. Add the herbs and remove from heat.
Cool mixture
In a large bowl add the cubes of shoulder, belly, and salt, place in fridge for about 3 hours until completely cold.
Put the meat through the grinder attachment using the small die (if you like more texture use a larger die) into a stainless steal bowl on ice. (key is to keep meat very cold)
Once meat is ground fold in red wine and then onion, garlic and herb mixture finish with nutmeg.

To Prepare the Casings
Rinse under running water to remove salt
Soak in 70 F water for 2 hours, Rinse
Soak in 90 F water for 1 hour, Rinse

Braised Cabbage
500 g Purple Cabbage (Cut into thin strips)
100 ml Port Wine
100 ml Red Wine
1.5 TBSP Sugar
2 TBSP Oil

75 ml Red Wine Vinegar
1 TBSP Sugar
50 g Red Currant Jelly

In a large pot on medium heat add oil and cabbage, cook for about 5 minutes stirring
Add Port, Red Wine, 1.5 TBSP sugar and cook cover until all liquid is gone stirring every so often
In a sauce pan add vinegar, sugar, jelly and bring to a boil to melt jelly.
Add mixture to cabbage and cook covered until liquid is almost gone.

I like to finish my cabbage with a spoonful or 2 of cold butter, makes a nice sauce to coat the cabbage.

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Common Threads, World Festival LA

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Throughout my career I have been very fortunate to work with many amazing charities. Most of my participation has been showing up at a scheduled time and cooking a specific dish for a specific amount of guests, occasionally donating myself to be auctioned off to cook a dinner.

In May of 2009 I was doing a photo shoot in Chicago for a Magazine that was featuring Canadian Chefs that worked outside of Canada. I was just finishing up when a lady walking her dog approached me and asked if I was a new chef in town. She introduced herself as Linda Novick, Executive Director of Common Threads and began to tell me about the mission of this charity. The minute she told me this was a chef driven charity that works with children to teach them how to cook, eat and shop healthier I knew I wanted to get involved.

My very first Common Threads experience was attending a lunch served by the Little Threads. What made this such a special lunch was the kids were cooking for their parents and to see how proud each parent was of their child was life changing. The typical Common Threads child comes from broken and low income homes and to listen to their stories on how learning how to cook has changed their lives was incredible. When speaking to a few of the parents at the lunch there was a common message, each parent spoke about how their child’s confidence had grown and the friendships that were made between the classmates.

What made Common Threads special to me was seeing how involved Chefs were in teaching classes and cooking at the fundraisers. These chefs were some of the most talented and successful chefs in the country and had restaurants that were full night after night but they still found time to work with the children.

Fast forward a couple of years and living back in Southern California, I learned very quickly that there is much more to creating a successful fundraising event than just showing up and cooking food for a couple of hours and then heading home. We started planning the very 1st LA World Festival in March and we capped it off with the main event on November 8th. A truly amazing night of great food and friends showing that Common Threads will succeed in LA.

Not only does Common Threads bring children together to create friendships and bonds that will probably last a life time, it also brings a group of chefs together to form a bond and a friendship that is so very important to the success of our business.

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Brussels Sprouts

Probably the most underrated vegetable in the garden…..

I am not sure why but my guess is that as a child most of us had to endure boiled way to long sprouts with our turkey dinners. Well its time to block this from your memory because Brussels Sprouts are damn good and can be enjoyed much more often than with your turkey dinner. Be creative, they can hold their own with many different ingredients.

For those of you who did not know, Canadian Thanksgiving was on October 10th and yes we Canadians give thanks as well 🙂 Instead of cooking a turkey I decided to Sous Vide some duck legs along with a beautiful side of Brussels Sprouts and Madeira Jus. I actually decided to create two different sprout sides, the first is my wife Jana’s favorite (amazing for someone who hated Brussels Sprouts until she tried this dish a few years back) charred with crispy pork belly, roasted grapes tossed with shallots. The second dish is a variation of a side that we served with squab when I was working in England (back then we used almonds and no grapes) Brussels Sprout leaves, toasted hazelnuts and roasted grapes. The bitterness of the sprouts and the intense sweetness of the grapes with the beautiful crunch of the hazelnuts works so well with the crispy skin and just so ever saltiness of the Sous Vide duck leg.

Jana was not to excited about eating what she calls boil (sous vide) in the bag duck leg but I convinced her to give it a try with the sprouts and she was a believer after the first bite. Just remember there is no water necessary for these two recipes so leave the boiled to death Brussels Sprout memories in the past where they belong.

Amy’s Wine Picks
For Chef McLeod’s Sous Vide Duck leg, I recommend a wine that is bold enough to stand up to the fall flavors, yet subtle enough to not steal the show. Besides the rich protein, you must consider the sweet Madeira Jus, nutty hazelnuts and earthy Brussels sprouts. Depending on the style, Châteauneuf-du-Pape tends to have a residual sweetness that will accentuate the Madeira Jus and an earthy component that complements the Brussels sprouts. Pinot Noir is a classic pairing with Duck and will enhance its flavors. Riesling, well…it simply goes with everything. An off-dry to sweet selection will pair beautifully with the Madeira Jus. Its acidity will cleanse the palate, preparing for the next delightful bite. And if you select an older vintage, it develops a nutty quality that will be perfect with the hazelnuts. Overall, I think all three wines would complement Chef McLeod’s dish.

Top pick: Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Playing it safe: Pinot Noir

Off the beaten track: Riesling

Amy Payne

Charred Brussels Sprouts

1lb Brussel Sprouts
2 Strips Bacon or 3 oz Pork Belly
1 Shallot
15pc Red Grapes
Safflower Oil

Trim the stem of the sprouts, cut in 1/2 and remove and excess leaves
Cut the bacon in batons
Finely dice the shallots
Roast the Grapes in a 400F oven for about 20 to 25 mins
Cook bacon batons in just a drop of oil
Once bacon is cooked remove from pan
Add the sprouts to Bacon Fat and add a splash of oil and cook on high heat
Season with salt and pepper
It is key to really char the sprouts, the darker the better (just don’t burn)
This should take about 5 to 7 mins
Strain any excess fat/oil from pan add shallots and toss quickly
Add bacon and grapes

Brussels Sprout Leaves, Hazelnuts, Roasted Grapes

1/2 lb Brussels Sprouts
15 Grapes
1/4 cup Toasted Hazelnuts
1 Shallot Finely Diced
1 tbsp Safflower Oil

Cut off the stem on the sprouts and remove the leaves one by one
Roast the Grapes in a 400F oven for about 20 to 25 mins
Crush the hazelnuts but not to small
Place a saute pan on medium to high heat and add oil
Quickly add the leaves and toss for about 60 to 90 seconds you want to just wilt the leaves
Season with salt and pepper
Add the shallots and remove from heat
Toss in the grapes and last second add the nuts

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Green & Black’s Organic

About a month ago Karlin and I received an email from a lady named Barbara Maldonado letting us know she had stumbled across our blog and really enjoyed the pictures and recipes. Barbara was organizing a tweet up in LA on behalf of Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate and asked if we wanted to attend the event along with other local bloggers, media & foodies. Unfortunately the timing just did not work for us and we were unable to attend, but a friendship was born.

Fast forward a few weeks and Karlin receives an email from Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate saying that they are going to send us some samples so we can create a recipe for Michelin and a Mom. Needles to say we were both very flattered and excited to create a couple of recipes. 4 days later I arrived home to find 2 bars of 70% Dark Chocolate and 2 bars 60% Dark Chocolate with Whole Cherries.

I had a hard time deciding on just one dessert so I decided to create 2 recipes (those of you that know me, know how much I love chocolate). I have been making these 2 desserts for a very long time and I knew that they would be just perfect for this post. The first recipe is for a Chocolate Pate a recipe I have carried with me since I was an apprentice. Second recipe is for a Chocolate Tart a recipe that I loved from my time working in England, with one exception I replaced the honey with Burton’s Maplewood Farms Rum infused maple syrup.

A very big thank you to Green & Black’s Organic Chocolates

Hope you enjoy…

Chocolate Pate

200g 60% Dark Chocolate with whole cherries
200g 60% Dark Chocolate with hazelnuts and currants
100g 70% Dark Chocolate
400 ml Heavy Cream
5 Egg Yolks
50g Sugar

Break chocolate into small pieces and melt
Heat cream until just before it boils
Add sugar and yolks together and heat over a water bath until pail yellow (be careful not to scramble)
Add cream to yolks slowly
Add cream/yolk mixture to melted chocolate
Set plastic wrap into mold leaving enough plastic to hang over sides
Pour mixture into mold and place in refrigerator and let set for at least 6 hours.
The mixture will be set up still feel slightly soft.

Chocolate Tart

Pastry Shell
250g Flour
150g Almond Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
200g Butter cut into cubes & very cold
90 ml Very cold water

In a food processor add dry ingredients and butter
Pulse for about 20 seconds until small balls form
Place mixture into a very cold bowl
Add 1/2 water and mix quickly
Add remaining water
Quickly knead the dough for about 5 – 6 turns
Cover and place in refrigerator
Once cool roll out to desired thickness lay in tart shell and blind bake at 375F for about 10 minutes and then uncover and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
Let Cool

Chocolate Mixture
500ml Heavy Cream
300g 70% Dark Chocolate
100ml Burton Maplewood Farm’s Rum infused maple syrup (replace with honey if you do not have)
2 Eggs

Melt chocolate with syrup/honey
Heat cream until just before it boils
Add cream to chocolate
Whisk eggs and slowly add mixture little at a time
Pour mixture into pre-baked tart shell and cook at 200F for about 18-20 minutes
Remove and let cool
Serve at room temperature with your favorite garnish

Amy’s Wine Picks

An obvious pairing for Chef McLeod’s Green & Black’s organic chocolate tart would be a ruby port. Because the dark chocolate is so decadent, contrasting flavors are optimal. The best pairing I have ever had with chocolate was chili mead by Makana Meadery. The meadery, located in Grahamstown on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, was founded in 2000 to make iQhilika, a traditional honey-based beverage. Mead is made my fermenting honey sugars into alcohol until it reaches 12 percent. It is made from habanero chilies and has a strong spiced palate that adds a new dimension to Chef McLeod’s dark chocolate tart.

Amy Payne

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Madeleines & Strawberry Preserve

Of course there are many theories to where these delicious little sponge cakes get their name, but to be honest WHO REALLY CARES :-). All we really care about is how incredibly delicious they are.
I mentioned to my Wife that I wanted to make some Madeleines for a blog post and the smile that came across her face was heart warming. The problem with this conversation was the timing, we just happened to be walking by a tea shop called Teavana, yes a perfect match for freshly baked Madeleines. Well 30 minutes later we walked out of the store dropping $120 on tea and appropriate tea making paraphernalia. Later that night it was proven to be well worth the shopping spree as we sipped on a cup of tea named Spice of Life and devoured 10 perfectly cooked Madeleines right out of the oven. (We would have finished them all if I did not have to take pictures for the post.) We truly could have been sitting in a small shop somewhere in Paris, the recipe was just how I remembered it from my days working in Europe, it had been some time since I made this recipe but now that I have tasted them again I will be making them often (plus we have a lot of tea to drink :-))
If you have made Madeleines in the past you probably notice a few difference in this recipe compared to the one you used, for example whole eggs and baking powder. I use egg whites and no baking powder, but to me there is one step in my recipe that truly makes the difference and that is browning the butter or Beurre noisette translation Hazelnut butter. This adds such a unique nutty flavor to the recipe.

There is nothing better than a warm batch of Madeleines for breakfast served with homemade Strawberry Preserve, now this is a way to impress your friends when you have them over for Brunch.

Hope you Enjoy….Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks

Top Pick: I recently poured the Cave Spring Riesling “Indian Summer SLH” Ice Wine for an event. It immediately came to mind as the perfect complement to chef McLeod’s warm Madeleine recipe. It is from the Lincoln Lakeshore region of the Niagara Peninsula along the south shore of Lake Ontario.
Ice wine was discovered by accident in Germany in 1974 by farmers trying to save their harvest after a sudden frost. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Ontario recognized its cold winters as an ideal climate for ice wine production. The Pennachetti family was among the pioneers, planting Riesling and Chardonnay vines on the Niagara Peninsula in 1978.
It has aromas of honeysuckle, dried apricots, canned pineapples and overripe peaches. At 12 percent alcohol, the ice wine retains a pleasant acidity that makes it ideal for pairing with food. When it is served chilled (45 degrees Fahrenheit), it accents the warm Madeleine perfectly!
Another fabulous and affordable ice wine producer is Jackson-Triggs.

Amy Payne

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Kabocha Squash or Japanese Pumpkin

I know it is a little early to be thinking fall or maybe we just don’t want to admit summer has come and gone so quickly? Fall is such a spectacular time of year (depending on where you live it is a little more spectacular) and the product you start to find at the market just screams full bold flavors and the Kabocha Squash is a perfect example of these flavors. Sunday morning I was up early and off to the La Jolla Market as I usually do, I was a little more excited than usual as the week before I had met a farmer that was selling fresh dates from Indio, CA (just outside Palm Springs) and they were just simply perfect, but this is for another time, stay tuned 😉
As I was walking around the market admiring the beautiful tomatoes I stumbled across a booth that had Kabocha Squash and I think I even let out a little yelp of excitement, had a quick chat with the farmer and then off I went with my 5lb Squash.
One of my favorite soups is a squash, and this is the squash to make it with, but I was even a little more excited about making this recipe for I had just received in the mail from my good friend Mr. Tim Burton from Maplewood Farms in Medora, Indiana a bottle of Bourbon Ale infused Maple Syrup. (a creation he created with Goose Island Brewery in Chicago). This was going to some how make it into the squash soup.
Over the years in this industry I have had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing individuals that share such a passion for their product that they grow, harvest and create. This passion challenges you even more to respect and create the best dish you possibly can. As you will see in this recipe there are really only 5 ingredients, I want to let the main ingredients shine with out masking their flavors. Each one of the ingredients is there to support the main ingredient in this case the Kabocha Squash. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

5lb Squash Peeled, seeds removed and rough chopped
1 Small Onion peeled and chopped
1 Quart Chicken or Vegetable Stock
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup (get your hands on Tim’s Syrup it is so worth it, you can buy on line)
Crème fraiche
(You can add a few pieces of bacon to this recipe and it creates a nice hint of smokiness, Beautiful)

Pre-heat oven to 450 F
Toss squash and onion in a little oil and seasoning place in oven and cook for about 30 mins the squash will start to brown this is good. Add the Maple Syrup 5 mins before squash is cooked.
In a large pot heat the chicken stock and add the squash right out of the oven, cook for 5 mins
Place mixture in blender and puree until smooth, pass through a fine mesh strainer
At this point you have the base and the soup can be stored in the fridge until needed.
To serve heat the soup and add desired about of crème fraiche and a little stock if the soup is to thick.

Garnish with a few croutons for crunch, I used a squaw bread crouton, works very well with this soup.

Amy’s Wine Picks

Chef McLeod’s Kabocha squash soup is a perfect dish for a brisk fall evening. I have selected wines that have warm flavors to complement the change of the season.

Top pick: Chardonnay. It will accentuate the buttery flavors of the soup. I am partial to French Burgundy, because I prefer a Chardonnay that expresses terroir and hasn’t been masked with over-the-top oak treatment. But there are some Burgundian-style producers in California that are allowing the grape to show its true colors. Some affordable examples are Talbott and Au Bon Climat.

Playing it safe: Pinot Noir. Typical aromas for Pinot Noir include red fruit of cherries, strawberries, and cranberries, violets, tomato leaf, cured meats and black tea. It is a perfect fall wine and will complement the roasted onions. Try Cold Heaven Cellars from Santa Barbara County.

Off the beaten track: Beaujolais. Typical aromas for Gamay include strawberry, black cherry, pear drop, bubblegum, violets, banana and crushed granite. I recommend serving it slightly chilled. It will bring out the naturally sweet flavors of the Kabocha squash. Try Jean Paul Brun Morgon Terres Dorées, $19.99.

Amy Payne

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Not Your Every Day Gnocchi

Most individuals think of Gnocchi as an Italian potato dumpling, and yes this is the more popular of the dumplings but most countries have their own recipes for dumplings. The Parisienne Gnocchi is a French recipe typically served with a Béchamel or Mornay Sauce and baked. As you can imagine dumplings baked with cheese sauce is out of this world, but I went a little different direction and served the gnocchi with a Bolognese sauce (Italian meat sauce) as with the gnocchi Bolognese has many different forms. The more traditional Bolognese consists of beef, pancetta, onions, tomato, broth, white wine, milk or cream. I stayed some what true to the traditional recipe but added a few twists. The most exciting part of learning this dumpling recipe is that it uses the same base as cream puffs and eclairs. Hope you enjoy….Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks
Top Pick: Brunello di Montalcino. One of my favorite descriptors for Sangiovese is stewed tomatoes (which I get made fun of for frequently), which complement the crushed tomatoes in Chef Mcleod’s Parisienne Gnocchi. Other typical aromas include sour red cherry, red licorice or Twizzlers (yes, another favorite descriptor), fennel bulb, stewed black tea and twigs. Unfortunately, Brunello usually costs a pretty penny, but is well worth the investment. Some of my favorite producers are Valdicava, Mastrojanni and Banfi.
Playing it safe: California Pinot Noir. Typical aromas include red fruit, such as cherries, strawberries and cranberries, violets, tomato leaf, bacon fat and black tea. I recommend Belle Glos “Meiomi” and Calera for everyday wines, Failla and Walter Hansel for a treat, and Kosta Brown (if you can find it) for a splurge. I could honestly recommend dozens more, but these should get you started.
Off the beaten track: Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Mount Etna, Sicily. The flavors are basically a cross between Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. How could you go wrong? Located on Sicily’s Mount Etna, it is a recently re-discovered region that is believed to be the highest vineyards in Italy and Europe. The late-ripening indigenous Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio yield wines of notable aromatic complexity. It is aged in 25 percent new French oak and in a classic Burgundian style.

Amy Payne

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Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs are one of my summer favorites. I love to eat them with a simple green salad and beautiful sweet corn on the cob. One thing I will tell you is that there are countless thoughts, beliefs & recipes on how to prepare ribs. Depending on where you come from also has a large impact on how you might prepare ribs. After doing a little research I did find a tip that I thought was very interesting and I had not taken this into consideration in the past, but it makes perfect sense. Do not boil the ribs, I was guilty of this in the past, instead slow roast or braise them. When boiling meat and bones you are essentially extracting flavor into the water (think making stock) and you run the risk of drying the meat out if boiled to long.
The recipe I created is not your typical BBQ Ribs, I decided to go with more Asian inspired flavors. One of the ingredients I used was Black Garlic and is perfect for this recipe as it is adds a unique richness with out the pungent fresh garlic acid bite. Mythology also says that it grants immortality so why not give it a try :-). Hope You Enjoy…Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks

Top pick: Riesling from Germany, preferably a dry style. Riesling is one of the best values in the world, is nearly every sommelier’s desert-island wine and has the most diverse range in styles for a noble grape. The residual sweetness will contrast the salty soy flavors, while complementing the orange, honey and ginger. Some of my favorite producers are St. Urbans-Hof, Joh. Jos. Prüm and Blees-Ferber.

Playing it safe: California or Washington Syrah. Syrah has aromas of red and black fruit, freshly crashed pepper, smoked meat, leather and Picholine olives. The tannins will cut through the proteins and it will add another dimension to the already flavorful dish. Some of my favorite California producers are Failla, Ojai and Copain. My favorite producers from Washington are Efeste, Charles Smith and Long Shadows.

Off the beaten track: Plavic Mali from Croatia. Plavac Mali was originally thought to be an ancestor of Zinfandel. In 1998 it was discovered that it’s actually the offspring of Zinfandel and Dobričić, a grape from the island of Solta. The DNA fingerprinting was conducted by Dr. Carole Meredith at UC Davis with the urging of Mike Grgich and researchers from the University of Zagreb. Plavo means blue in Croatian and mali means small. It is a full bodied, peppery and fruit dominant red wine. The flavors of jammed fruits and spice will complement chef McLeod’s glaze. My favorite producers are Zlatan, Bura Dinga, Korta Katarina and Saints Hills.

Amy Payne

Send us your favorite rib recipes to michelinandmom@gmail.com we would love to hear about them. Stay tuned for a very special gnocchi recipe and cooking with Kale.

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