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Milk Braised Rabbit Casonsei with Mike Perez.

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It should come as no surprise that tentop’s recent Pastafarian dinner was a resounding success.  Pasta is universally loved around the world and our guests were happy to eat five courses of it. The highly exalted Flying Spaghetti Monster was pleased and we felt his benevolent smile shining upon us all. The guest Chef, one Michael Perez; is a talented cook, one as immersed in the Chef life as I’ve seen. Fucking guy lives and breathes kitchens, and this pasta dinner proved his skill. It was a blast working with him again, we’ve got a rich history. Each dish was more succulent than the last, but recipe that follows was by far my favorite. As I was picking the meat off the rabbit carcasses I kept popping the plump little milk braised garlic cloves into my mouth. Your supposed to save those for the farce I guess. Use this filling to stuff your favorite pasta, we did casonsei, which look like little candy wrappers. Don’t be afraid to bust out your dick shaped cutter for other fun filled shape. I bet it would also make a great burrito filling.

Milk Braised Rabbit farce by Mike Perez

1 rabbit (hind quarters)
4 Spanish yellow onions(julienne)
1 gallon milk
1 bulb garlic
6 oz Pecorino Romano
1 bunch thyme (1/2 picked and chopped)
1 bunch rosemary (1/2 picked and chopped)
Salt
Pepper

Season legs and sear. Rest on a rack. Add onions to pan and caramelize, reserve half of the caramelized onions for later. Add all the garlic to the onions in the pan with the thyme and rosemary (whole) sauté until you smell the aromatics. Add legs back to pan and add milk to cover. Braise at 300*f until meat is falling off bone.
Shred pecorino. While hot pick rabbit off bone and salvage any garlic left in the milk, discard milk (it will be separated) and braised onions. In a food processor; process rabbit, fresh milk, chopped herbs(to taste), reserved onions, pecorino, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Balls deep.
-side note
You HAVE to process everything while hot or it will not be emulsify correctly or have a proper consistency. When the farce cools it will tighten up and be ready to pipe into any number of dick shaped pastas.


Ten Top.

As faithful readers know, I’ve cooked my whole working life.  In my seventeen years of kitchen work, I’ve only had one job that wasn’t food related; driving a horse carriage in Vail. I still hesitate to call myself a Chef, as it is a moniker for which I hold much respect. Even though I’ve had the word in my title as pastry chef for a few years now, Chef with a capital “c” is something else altogether.  Jack Yoss is a Chef. Compared to him I will always be a cook. Semantics aside, the gods have somehow seen fit to land me in a Chef role of sorts, and I couldn’t be happier. As Chef jobs go, this one is breezy. It’s an invite only pop up restaurant for ten people, hence the name. The counter at Kitchen Cru was just begging for this model, and why shouldn’t it be me who answers the call.  I was able to convince Michael, the owner of KitchenCru and my employer to try. Him being far from a slouch in the kitchen, a very experienced home cook, in fact, he came on board as co-chef. TenTop was born.  We had very keen ideas from the beginning about what this would be; very small; very exclusive, the two of us having fun with food and friends. The idea to implement a Twitter/Facebook update blackout came to us very early, my friend and mentor Adam Berger having suggested it. Make this a true experience, one that didn’t need validation from the internet. Any blogging, tweeting or Facebooking that took place would happen on our end, before and after the event.
Our first dinner was Satan’s Feast, a heavy metal themed dinner. I wanted to make it fun and have an element of another driving force in my life: music. The menu descriptions were cryptic, as I tried to make them sound as metal as possible. I played some Instrametal like Pelican and Animals as Leaders during the dinner which at a lower volume seemed quite nice to eat to. Our first course was a freshly shucked oyster, because what is more metal than eating something that was alive only moments before? Second was my favorite dish of the evening, poached leeks with and Arrabbiata vinaigrette and duchess potato garnished with fried pepperoni. A last minute course we put together before the entree turned out to be the most metal of all, chicken heart dipped in agro dulce served on a duplex nail with a shot of grappa. Our entree was a fra diavolo surf & turf sandwich with some chioggia beet chips. Served on a house made pullman loaf, this sando was something to behold. It didn’t eat as well as I hoped, it ended up being a little cumbersome. The flavors were spot on though, hell of decadent. For dessert, I looked to make pastry metal by using the most brutal ingredient of all, blood. A pig’s blood custard with lemon sherbet, smoked pickled cherries, and blood caramel. This was a successful dish, the flavor of pig’s blood goes quite well with cocoa, the panna cotta’s other main flavoring ingredient. A subtle coppery earthiness and a slightly viscous texture created a nice complexity.

All in all, our first dinner was a huge success. In the near future I’m going to be bringing in some buddies of mine, fellow cooks and sous Chef’s who want to unleash their own food on the public, but don’t have a venue because they work in another chef’s kitchen. Also, you’ll see plenty of these dinners blogged about here with pictures and recipes, a la mrjeffmccarthy.com. For now you can download the recipes here. Check out all the photos for this event on my Flickr page. Follow TenTop on twitter @tentopcru, or check out the facebook page.


Arturo Bakes a Cake.

My good friend and fellow Chef Arturo Lopez was quite suddenly and shamefully deported back to Mexico over a year ago.  It was so sad the way it went down; one day he was there, the life of our kitchen, the backbone of it’s mise en place, the next he was gone.  It was hard to shake the bottomless pit feeling of this for some time, hard to come to terms with an inconsiderate and fucked up system.  In my mind it was the beginning of the end for my friend and mentor Jack Yoss at ten01.  I know it just wasn’t the same for him anymore; this place that he and Arturo built together.  Fortunately however, Arturo and Jack both still prosper on.  Pictured below is some proof that my good Latino buddy is doing well.  He sent me these pictures a few weeks ago and I just had to get them up here.  This is him baking a cake for his new girlfriend.  We miss you Arturo!!


Chepe

I’ve run into a diverse cross-section of chefs, and Mike Perez is one of the best I’ve known.  He’s more gringo than Mexican, but he’s still a great cook.  He’s got the humble pan pusher work-ethic, and the passionate drive to make the best food.  We’ve got an easy raport that sometimes speaks volumes in a look, the kind of in-the-trenches kind of friendship that only true kitchen lifers know.  Sometimes during service, deep in humping out food, he’ll just crack a sly smile.  “Ain’t nothin’ to a boss!” Sometimes, he’ll look at me like Murderface, and I’ll know what he means; you nasty, girl! As a faithful reader, our jokes got jokes, laughter comes easy.  I’m proud to rank him among the top people I’ve met in this business, and as a lifelong friend.  As all cooks know, you run into those people in your careers; the kind of peeps you say you’ll work with again, maybe even open up your own place, and with Chepe it’s no different.  With him I can almost see it actually happening.  We both were privileged to be mentored by Chef Jack Yoss, and as anyone who has worked with Jack knows, that’s something. I’ve learned a lot working with Perez, watching him cook, lead the cooks. I’ve jumped down, I’ve turned around, I’ve picked a bag of cotton.  I’ve been violated. I’ve enjoyed some long services, some outlandish circumstances. We’ve even spent some time together off the clock, riding the mountain, eating and drinking.  Drinking, eating, cooking, drinking.  The guy loves food. I recall once I was drinking creme anglaise out of the blender.  Perez walks up and laughs, then asks for a hit.   You really have to respect a guy that will drink creme anglaise out of a blender.  Well…I do anyway.


Jack Yoss Caps Career in Oregon with Epic Plated, Speech.

I stood behind Chef Jack and watched him address the crowd.  His words numbed me, the lights were warm and dazzling.  My body was worked and my brain was out of breath, the past weeks whirlwind had me winded.  Having been pitted against a punishing prep list, long days and busy nights, I end up here.  On a stage, people applauding; dessert service forks and tinkling wine glasses, laughter in my ears.  My mind flashed back onstage, the past year, month, week, moment.  My career’s skyrocket since meeting Jack and starting at Ten-01. Working, always working.  So many great dinners, so many memories.  Perez and I working Sunday before investor sponsored staff party. This whole day, prepping and plating; flashing in my mind.  We just kicked out the best dinner this group’s seen, over a thousand plates over five courses in 2 hours. I left the hall elated and grabbed an icy cold bottle of white and hit the showers.  That night, its was late night shots and darts with one of the best chefs I’ll meet, a friend and mentor. He believed in my talent and demanded my proper execution, encouraging and strong.  It was an easy parting for him and I; just farewell, both sure of our permanent friendship. Besides, I know he’ll never really get lost out there.  Our paths will cross again.


Back in the Day.

Pictured above are two younger men, at a time that seems like a forever ago.  Myself and my old friend and mentor Chris Boos, whom I’ve recently gotten reaquainted with   He posted some pics on Facebook that I had to get up here.  These were taken at the 131st  Salon of Culinary Arts in New York in 1999.  Chris was the captain the culinary team at Mohonk Mountain House, where we worked.  Everyone on the team won first prize for thier work, myself included.  Pictured below is my gold-medal winning sugar showpiece, which I called The Winemaker.  I remember as we were sliding the glass dome over it, the arm broke off and sugar shattered everywhere.  Chris, fortunately, had brought his entire sugar shop with him.  We had the piece fixed and back on the table in no time.  I learned a powerful lesson that day about preparedness, and also about never giving up.  Just one of the numerous lessons I learned working with this talented Chef. He was my first mentor in the pastry biz, and I owe a large part of my success to him.


Thanks Arturo.

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Here’s a pork loin sandwich created by Ten-01 sous chef Arturo Lopez. Brined and slow roasted pork loin with provolone, pickled shallots, and pea tendril salad. Arturo puts such love and concentration into everything he cooks, I love when he cooks me food. For example, on this sandwich, he puts the shallots in between the slices of cheese so they don’t slide around. He thinks about shit like that. He’s got the love, simply put. He always sends extra food my way or over to the dishers. Like Thai-Style Pork Ribs. Lately I’ve been enjoying the new Lamb set, with the ever-delicious goat cheese gnocchi (which Arturo always makes) and artichokes. I watched him cook me one up the other night. He knew it was for me but he still bent over it in concentration, standing up the pieces just right. Arturo is the kind of chef who watches all day. He even observes when I don’t eat, and then brings me some food. “I saw you ate some fries but…” He knows the mise on my station, so he’s always asking me if I need this or that, and if I know about today’s party. He’ fucking on it. Chingon. I’ve learned so much working with this him that I feel like I’ve known him for years. He humbly knows all I know, and if he doesn’t know he can still do it better than me. He’s always got a better way, from the simple to the complex. Chef and he have been working together for a long time, and I can see why. It’s like father and son almost. Also coming off Arturo’s station is Chef’s new Squab Dish (below.) The legs are meticulously de-boned and stuffed with foie-gras torchon. Then they get bacon wrapped. I haven’t eaten this one yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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Cinco de Mayo Weekend.

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On Saturday I rolled into work and found out I’d be doing an off-site catering event. I scrambled to get my prep done so I could be off to the Portland Indie Wine Festival. We were serving Chef’s delicious Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Dungeness Crab Salad and Trout Roe. We got there a little late and by the time we set up our table, throngs of people surrounded us. The panna cotta was flying off our display at such a rate at first we were totally going down, even though we had brought about six hundred of them. It was all we could do to keep up. After the initial rush, we noticed peoplefatty.jpg were setting our little appetizer cups into their wine glasses so they could walk, talk, and eat. There was some cool stuff at this event, but the general consensus was that we had the best food. Some folks came back three or four times. We sold every single one we brought, and after cleaning up, we took a quick cab back to the restaurant to help with a busy night of service. Kate and her friend showed up for happy hour, and I knew Jaybill and Keri were coming in for his birthday dinner. With 80 something on the books we were in for a fun night. While the boys cooked their assess off, put up a multi-course (eight?) tasting dinner for my brother and his wife, I played gopher-boy for the line and plated desserts. I brought Kate a dessert sampler platter, and my brothers table had three dessert courses. They were gushing with satisfaction at thier meal. The following day, Chef threw a party at his house for Cinco de Mayo. I got up early and made empanadas with sausage and cheese. I started drinking PBR early and by 4:00, I was completely shnaukered. The sun was out, Salty Dogs were poured, and I made a dipping sauce from all the available items on the buffet. Guac, , sour cream, ceviche, bean dip, and who knows what all went in there. I got hella sick and stunk out the bathroom. It was a nightmare of clogged sinks, overflowing toilets, no paper, and people were pounding on the door!! I was embarrassed, but party kept on, and among friends all was well. We’ll remember this party. I fell of early, and Kate picked me up and we hit up Kennedy School for burgers and cheesecake.
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We Deal in Delicious.

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Here’s Chef’s Bluefin Tuna Sashimi and Hamachi Tartare with Yuzu, Kosho, Green Apple, Beet Chips, and Balsamic Brown Butter.  This was the first course his Oregon Food & Wine Feast, which he did for the James Beard house in New York this month.  This past monday we re-created experience for  some PDX high rollers and media types.  Chef commented on how the dinner was a little easier to pull off at The Beard House, as our back kitchen is a little tight on plating space. Also delicious was Seared Sea Scallop with Stewed Oysters, Buttered Leeks, Tarragon Oil, and American Caviar. There were some cool passed apps, but I only got a blurry picture of the Foie, ’cause we were busy plating.  For the dessert course, he had me prep his bomber Goat Cheese Panna Cotta, pictured below.  I was stoked to learn this one, because it had great flavor, texture, and was way easy to bank together.  The brunoise pears took was time consuming, but well worth the effort.

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Two Weeks Notice.

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So yesterday it was official, I quit both my jobs at Carlyle and Roux. I’m taking my knives, and I’m going home.   That’s right, in two weeks, I’ll be the new pastry chef at Ten-01. The brevity of my stay at Carlyle is new and weird, I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it yet.  I’ve certainly learned things there, I learn from everything, but ultimately I’ve just never felt at home there.  Leaving Roux is bitter-sweet, I gave my notice the same day I got my first paycheck and christmas present.  I’ve had fun there these past few weeks line-cookin’, but sadly its not what I really wanna be doing.  Working saute has taught me a new respect for the job.  Timing and temperature control, baby.  When you’re on, that shit is fun.  But seriously, anyone actually reading this…did you hear what I said?  I’m the new pastry chef at Ten-o1!!  FucK YEAH!!  I’ve finally made it.  I’ve  been waiting my whole life for a position like this to come along, and now that it has, I’m still trying to get my mind around it.  The restaurant is at a hoppin’ locale right across the street from one of my favorite spots in the city, Powell’s Bookstore.  The pastry station looks right out onto 10th avenue.  Everyone that works there is cool.  The Chef wants to teach me.  They’re buying me Gelatoo-D2.  They’re busy enough that I can use bigger recipes.  Every image has fit into every panel on every page of the comic book that is my life.  Finally.