Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cooking With Top Chef 1.20.2010

Jenn Murphy of Sweet Water is an avid cook and photographer and the combination makes for some drool-worthy posts. Over the past two months, Jenn has prepared four recipes from the sixth season of Top Chef, and she was kind enough to share her experiences with us at All Top Chef. So without further ado, please to enjoy the fruits of her labor. At least virtually. :)

Every season of Top Chef has outdone the last. After Top Chef: Vegas I'm not sure how it could get any better.

The talent on the show was incredible. The food produced was both beautiful and, more importantly, yummy.

Or at least I think it was yummy. I'm mostly taking the judges' word for it that having to decide a winning dish based on basic use of salt and pepper as seasoning because the overall taste level was so high means that the food was incredibly good.

Why didn't it occur to me until now to actually attempt to cook some of my favourite dishes from the show?

I'm gonna go with the old stand-by and say that my general lack of the use of logic had a lot to do with it.

But no more will I sit idly by and drool at my television.

Of course, that's partly because the Top Chef season is over (and I'm crying inside).

I started with Kevin's recipe from the second last episode. I was totally in love with the dish the moment I saw it. It was gorgeous on the plate and a beautiful showcase of the flavours of carrot and beet.

Roasted Beets and Carrots with Carrot Top Puree
(adapted from recipe by Kevin Gillespie)


1 pound Beets (I used the local golden and candy-cane beets I had)
1 lb Baby carrots
2 tablespoons Butter
* 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Syrup
1 cup carrot tops
** 1/3 cup green onion (green parts only)
1/3 cup parsley
1/3 cup tarragon
1Z2 cup honey
2 cups olive oil
*** Dubliner cheese

* I made a syrup by cooking down apple cider until thick.
** The original recipe called for chives, which I couldn't find.
*** Original recipe called for San Andre cheese - a no go for me. As a note, San Andre is apparently made in the style of a pecorino so the next time I make this, I'll be going with that type of cheese.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Trim ends off beets making one side a flat surface.
Place beets in a large pan with the flat side down
Cover the bottom with 1/8 inch of water.
Cover pan with foil.
Cook at 400 degrees for 90 minutes.

When cooked keep covered with foil until beets reach room temp.
Remove beet skins.

Peel carrots and halve.
Cut into similar shapes.

Place carrots in single layer in deep saute pan.
Cover with water, butter and apple cider syrup.
Cook uncovered on medium high heat until liquid is absorbed and carrots are just tender. If carrots are not tender add more butter, water, syrup and cook a little longer. Remove from pan immediately and let cool.

Carrot Top Puree:
Combine carrot tops, green onion (chives), parsley and tarragon in blender.
Add 6 ice cubes. Add enough olive oil to cover 3/4 ingredients.
Blend on high. Add water if mixture gets too thick. Season with s&p. Strain mixture.
Put strained mixture in covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Honey Vinaigrette:
Boil honey in pot. Keep close eye on honey to observe it darkening by stages. When it has darkened a few stages add apple cider vinegar. Bring to boil. Season with s&p.
Whisk in 1 cup olive oil.

Putting it all together:
Toss the carrots and beets with vinaigrette. Spoon puree on to plate. Top with vegetables. Add thinly shaved cheese.

The verdict: This was SO good. I had to beg SeaBass to leave me enough veggies to take photos today. Immediately after posting this I will be finishing that little bit off!

A couple of days before Christmas I tackled my second top chef experiment: Georgia Style Braised Pork Shoulder.

I went with another Kevin Gillespie recipe (let me tell you now that there will be no rhyme nor reason to the dishes I choose to cook other than what local ingredients I have to choose from and what sounds tasty at the time.)

Kevin's food is really appealing to me in it's flavour profiles and also in the simplicity of the preparations. As a home cook I feel comfortable with his recipes.

Pork Shoulder
1 pork shoulder roast
4 pieces celery diced
3 onions diced
1 very large carrot diced
1 cup yellow mustard
1 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
dash black pepper
8 cups water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Slice pork shoulder into 8 oz. portions. Season with s&p. 2 tbsp. oil in large stock pot. Heat oil to sear pork shoulder portions until browned. Transfer to large vessel to collect juices. Add vegetables to same stock pot and carmelize until golden.
Return pork shoulder (and juices) to pot on top of vegetables. Add in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Place in oven for 2 1/2 hours. Remove from braising liquid and shred.

Serve with Eli's potato salad (recipe to follow)

I found my shoulder a little dry so I decided to add light coating of a Georgia style (vinegar based) barbecue sauce. It ended up going really beautifully with the flavours of Eli's potato salad and really brought the two components together.

Georgia Style Barbecue Sauce
3 1/2 tbsp. white vinegar
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp butter
1/4 of 6 oz. can tomato paste

Combine everything but tomato paste in small pot. Bring to boil. Add tomato paste and stir until well blended and thickened.

Eli's Potato Salad
1 lb. russet potatoes
1/2 red onion julienned
1 piece celery small diced
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup yellow mustard
1/16 cup pickled relish
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/8 cup sour cream

Boil potatoes and red onions in salted water until tender. Shock in ice bath and drain. In a large bowl mix vegetables and egg. Mix together mayo, mustard, relish, vinegar and sour cream. Season dressing with s&p. Add to salad and mix until potatoes cream together.

Serve with Kevin's pork shoulder on top.

My verdict on the dish: Deliciously tasty. The only potato salad I generally enjoy is my mother's but this one was wonderful and creamy, the mustard adding a nice boost of flavour.

The pork shoulder was subtly seasoned with the pork flavour really coming through. It had a beautiful texture.

I couldn't stop snacking on it and SeaBass was totally into it. Definitely worth trying.

Please tune in next week for another installment of Cooking With Top Chef. Jenn shares with us her experiences making Michael Voltaggio's miso-cured cod and Kevin's southern-fried chicken skin.

If you've been cooking up some delectable dishes with Top Chef recipes, we'd love if you shared them with us. If you're interested in doing so, please drop us a line at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yay! love seeing my stuff on your site!
thanks again, can't wait to do more with you!