Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Taste of Elegance Denver Chefs Get Serious!

2009 Taste of Elegance Denver:
Chefs Get Serious!
Story and photos by Christopher J Davies

Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg , Claire Walter Food Critic/Author,
Amanda Faison, 5280 magazine, Teresa Farney, The Gazette, Colorado Springs

The 2009 Denver International Wine Festival Taste of Elegance Chef's Competition took place on Thursday November 12, 2009 at The Mile High Station, Denver.

This year's event was our biggest and best ever, with 15 Colorado Master Chef's participating. Top Chef Season 5 Winner Hosea Rosenberg, our previous three time champion joined on as our celebrity Judge and Master of Ceremonies. Hosea has had a whirlwind year due to his TV stardom. We are so proud of him and his accomplishments.

This year's TOE drew an impressive bevy of serious chefs from as far away as Telluride. Our only female contestant was Eliza H. S. Gavin, Chef/Owner, 221 South Oak Bistro, Telluride. Eliza is a cook book author and seriously talented chef. Visit her restaurant the next time you happen to be in Telluride:

Photo Left: Chef Corey & Hosea
The winner of the "Most Creative Chef" category was Rob Corey of Sandoval's Kitchen, which is part of Master Chef Richard Sandoval's restaurant group (Tamayo,Zengo La Sandia, Pampano, to name a few!).

Chef Corey has extensive culinary credentials himself. Even recently having spent a 3 month "stag" with America's Superstar Chef, Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Napa Valley.

We assigned him 2 different Spanish Gold Medal winning wines from the Denver International Wine Competition. View list of winners:

When I asked Chef Corey to provide recipe's for his winning dishes. I was shocked to receive such extensive procedures as well as professional quality tasting notes for the wines. This man is a serious contender folks! Try these recipe's at home if you dare. Be prepared to spend a lot of prep time for it took Chef Corey three days to create these masterpieces.

Taste of Elegance – Wine Tasting & Recipes
By Chef Rob Corey
Thursday, November 12, 2009
6 to 9 pm
The Mile High Station
2027 West Lower Colfax Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80204

Wine 1 – Castillo de Maetierra Libalis 2008 - Melodic white wine blend from Northern Spain's Valles de Sadacia region. The majority of the grapes are Muscat with a small percentage of lesser-known white varietals, Viura and Malvasia. Incredibly aromatic, slightly sweet, and very floral. Smooth, silky, with a flavor that's almost tropical. Valles de Sadacia is a Spanish geographical indication for Vino de la Tierra wines located in the autonomous region of La Rioja . Vino de la Tierra is one step below the mainstream Denominación de Origen indication on the Spanish wine quality ladder. Only white wines are included in Valles de Sadacia. Three types are considered: dry (seco), semi-dry (semiseco or semidulce) and sweet (dulce).

Tasting notes: Apricots, peach flesh, vanilla-oak, honeysuckle.

Libalis 2008 & Small Plate:

Braised Bacon - Pain Perdue - Foie Gras - Chutney - Chocolate

(A “Mosaic” of Cherry & Maple-Glazed Braised Bacon with Brioche Pain Perdue, Cardamom Creme Anglaise and Foie Gras Butter with a Green Apple, Dried Apricot & Raisin Chutney, aside Chocolate Truffle Texture)

Wine 2 – Matsu 2006 - Tinta de toro is a local varietal found in the western half of Spain, near the town of Zamora. It’s thought that the varietal is an adaptation of traditional Spanish tempranillo. The province of Zamora, where the D.O. Toro is located is in the extreme western part of the region of Castillo Y Leon in western Spain, near the border with Portugal. The D.O.Toro vineyards are in the southeastern part of the province. Toro is best known for its tinta de toro but they also grow malvasia, garnacha and the white varietal, verdejo. The Tinta de Toro red wines are known for being lusher and richer versions of tempranillo due to the vineyards more southerly situation.

Tasting notes: Leather, cigar smoke, small raisins, plums, cherries, barnyard must, fig
Matsu 2006 & Small Plate:

Croquette “Egg” – Chile Morita – Pistachio - Fig

(Toasted Almond, Grilled Chicken, Caramelized Onion & Mornay Fried Croquette “Egg” atop Chile Morita Sauce, Frisee Salad with Jerez Sherry Vinaigrette, Toasted Pistachio Crumbs & a Fig Jam Glaze)

Braised Bacon - Pain Perdue - Foie Gras - Chutney – Chocolate

For the Braised Bacon in Cherry-Infused Maple Syrup:
Notes on Sous Vide: Slab Bacon is used in order to braise the bacon in its own fat, essentially “confit”. Cut the bacon into manageable sizes (9”X6”) to fit the vacuum bags that you have. A house-version Seal-A-Meal works fine for this application. A professional vacuum chamber is preferable (Koch). Make sure the bacon is totally chilled when it is put under pressure in the bag. Work clean and sanitary. Chill the vacuum bag with the pork (33 degrees) before immersing in the water bath with the immersion circulator. Once cooked (12 hours @ 68.8 degrees C.) place the bag with the pork in it into an ice bath to shock it back to temperature (33 degrees). Refrigerate until you are ready to use the bacon.
1. Sous Vide Slab Bacon 1-2# ea.

2. Cook in water bath @ 68.8 degrees C. for 12 hours.

3. Shock in ice bath.

4. Press for 24 hours with 5-6 pounds of weight.

5. Cut into large lardons and fry until crisp.

6. Glaze in hot Cherry-Infused Maple Syrup (add frozen Sour Cherries with juices to the pure Maple Syrup and reduce back to a syrup, using the cherries as garnish), 5 minutes.

For the Pain Perdue:
1 C. Milk
3 ea. Eggs
1 t. Salt
2 T. Honey
Dry Brioche Bread, cut into Pont-Neuf (2” X ½”)
1. Dry bread slices for 8 hours, or overnight, on a wire rack.
2. Soak dry bread slices in batter for 30 seconds on each side.
3. Drain on rack and let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Brown on all sides in clarified butter.
5. Bake on sheet pan for 5-10 minutes @ 375 degrees.

For the Crème Anglaise:

2 C. Light Cream or ½ & ½ (12-18% Butterfat)
1 bean Vanilla, split lengthwise, or 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
12 pods Cardamom, crushed, black seeds only
1/3 C. Granulated White Sugar
5 large Egg Yolks

1. Crush Cardamom and split Vanilla Beans. Add to cream.

2. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar and whip until light lemon color and creamy.

3. Bring cream to just under a boil.

4. Temper the cream (adding a little of the cream to the eggs at a time) into the eggs, stirring the two mixtures together with a wooden spoon in order not to make any bubbles.

5. When all the cream is added to the eggs, put the mixture in a bowl and cook over a double boiler until 185 degrees F., or the mixture holds its shape when you draw your finger across the spoon.

6. Put the bowl of Crème Anglaise over a bowl of ice and continue to stir while the custard cools.

7. Store in squirt bottles and refrigerate.

For the Foie Gras Butter:
1 ¼# Foie Gras
Milk, to cover the foie gras
2 t. Kosher Salt
¼ t. Fresh ground white pepper
¼ t. Sugar
½ t. Curing Salt (6%)
2 qts. Chicken stock
1# Sweet, unsalted butter

1. Rinse the foie gras under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place in an airtight container and cover with milk. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours to degourge.
2. Remove the foie gras from the milk, rinse and pat dry. Cover it with a damp towel and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes (it will be easier to work with).
3. Pull apart the two lobes. Keep one covered with the towel while you work with the other. Remove any membranes. Starting with the large lobe, locate the start of the primary vein. Slice through the lobe to the vein, pulling the foie gras apart to see the vein clearly. Butterfly at a 45 degree angle. Expose the interior of the liver and remove the primary vein.
4. Keeping the outside of the liver intact, locate and remove as many of the smaller veins as possible. No matter how much you scrape and cut inside the lobes, you’ll be able to reform the lobes.
5. Cut away and discard any bruised areas. Once the foie gras is cleaned, fold over the sides and return it to an approximation of its original shape.
6. Repeat with the small lobe.
7. Mix the kosher salt, white pepper, sugar, and pink salt together. Press the foie gras into a container in an even layer ¾ to 1-inch thick. Sprinkle and press half the marinating mixture over and into the liver. Flip the foie gras and repeat on the other side. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the foie gras and enclose the container completely in more plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
8. Remove the liver from the container, place it on a piece of parchment paper, and break it up as necessary to form a loaf about 6 inches long and 3 ½ inches wide. Using the parchment, roll the foie gras into a log, twisting and squeezing the ends of the parchment paper to help compact the foie gras.
9. Unwrap the foie gras, discard the paper, transfer the log to a piece of cheesecloth, 1 foot wide by 2 feet long, and place it along one of the short ends of the cheesecloth. Rolling it away from you, roll it into a tight log.
10. Loop an end of twine around your index finger. With the same hand, hold one end of the cheesecloth tightly and wind the string around the end of the foie gras. Repeat on the other end, wrapping and tying both ends tight enough so that some of the foie gras comes through the cheesecloth. Tie three strips of twine around the torchon, spaced equally.
11. Poach the torchon for 90 seconds in simmering stock. Refresh in an ice-water bath, to cool.
12. Pass the foie gras through a tamis and reform the foie gras into a torchon.
13. Compress the torchon in a thin dish towel to reform. Twist and tie the ends of the towel to return the torchon to its former shape. Tie the ends of the towel with string and hang in the refrigerator overnight.
14. Remove the torchon from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature. Do the same with an equal amount of unsalted sweet cream butter.
15. When both are soft whip together in a mixer with the paddle attachment. When the butter is smooth, load into squirt bottles or refrigerate in a crock, covered for up a week.

For the Chutney:

2 T. Butter
4 T. Shallots, brunoise (1/8-inch dice)
½ C. Red Bell Peppers, brunoise
½ C. Green Bell Peppers, brunoise
½ C. Yellow Bell Peppers, brunoise
½ C. Orange Bell Peppers, brunoise
1 T. Honey
2 T. Light Brown Sugar
2 sticks Cinnamon
5 pods Star Anise
1 C. Apricots, dried and diced
1 C. Black Raisins, diced
1 C. Golden Raisins, diced
2 t. Chile Ancho powder
S&P t.t.
½ C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 apple Sliced thin and halved OR oven-dried OR Dehydrated in a dehydrator

1. Melt butter over medium heat and add shallots. When the shallots are just translucent, add all the peppers and cook 2 minutes, making sure that the peppers are still firm.

2. Add all the other ingredients and cook until almost all the liquid is reduced.

3. Taste and adjust as necessary.

4. Put the chutney into a bowl and let it cool at room temperature. Let the chutney sit in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.

For the Truffle Texture:

2¾# Bittersweet Chocolate
2 C. Heavy Cream
4 oz. Kahlua
1 T. Ancho Powder
½ t. Chipotle Powder
1 ea. Chopped Serrano Pepper
1 C. Coffee Beans
1 t. Vanilla
6 oz. Very-Softened Unsalted Butter (room temperature, 65 degrees F., or higher), cut into ½” pieces
1. Chop the chocolate into very, very small pieces, making sure they are all the same size (1/8” or less). Put the chocolate into a bowl twice the size of the chocolate mound.

2. Heat the cream, Kahlua, Ancho Powder, Chipotle Powder, Serrano Pepper, Coffee Beans and Vanilla slowly over medium-high heat. When almost to the boil, pour the mixture through a sieve over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 30 seconds and then, with a wooden spoon, begin in the middle of the mixture and stir the cream into the chocolate.

3. Add the soft butter and continue to stir it into the ganache.

4. When the ganache is silky smooth put it into the bowl of a mixer and beat it on medium-high to high with the whip attachment until it is cool/room temperature. Be careful not to overbeat.

5. Put the truffle texture into a plastic container and store, covered, at room temperature.

To Assemble:
1. In a shallow white bowl, put a dollop of chutney off center. Put the halved apple slice through the middle of the chutney.

2. Put two Pont-Neuf Brioche Pain Perdue, one on top of the other, in the center of the bowl.

3. With a small palette knife, put a small round of the truffle texture on the right side of the Pain Perdue and drag the palette knife through the texture, very quickly, to make a “comma”.

4. Place the fried and glazed braised bacon (3 pieces) around the Pain Perdue.

5. Drizzle the Pain Perdue with the Cardamom Crème Anglaise.

6. Add a small squirt, in front of the Pain Perdue, with the Foie Gras Butter.

Croquette “Egg” - Chile Morita – Frisee - Pistachio - Fig
For the Croquette “Egg”:
1# Skinless Chicken Breast, on the bone
½ # Onions, julienne.
2 T. Butter
3 bulbs Garlic, cooked in 1 gallon of chicken stock (infused with onions and caramelized jalapenos). Reserve the chicken stock.
1/4# Toasted Hazelnuts (skins removed and chopped).
1C. Thick Mornay
S & P
Standard Breading: Flour, Eggs (whipped) and Panko Crumbs
Truffle Oil and Truffle Salt

1. Grill the chicken breasts almost through, then rub them with garlic, spritz with lemon, and coat with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Cool. Remove the breasts from the bone. Let marinate overnight, covered, with the garlic and lemon.

2. Caramelize the onions in butter.

3. Stew the chicken breasts (with the garlic) and the caramelized onions, covered, in chicken stock until the breasts shred. Add stock as necessary. When chicken and onion mixture is cooled, hache (chop) very fine.

4. Toast the hazelnuts @ 350 degrees F. Cool. Chop in food processor until quite fine. Add to the chopped chicken. Cool the mixture.

5. Prepare the thick Mornay. A 50:50 ratio of flour and butter, cooked to a pale roux, add hot milk (1 quart:4 oz. roux). Cook 30 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Remove from the heat and add grated cheese (Manchego, Oaxaca, Mennonita), salt and pepper. Chill the sauce.

6. With gloved hands, mix the chilled Mornay into the chilled Chicken mixture.

7. Prepare the standard breading procedure.

8. Using a spoon, make a quenelle and roll it in the flour, then the eggs and finally the panko crumbs.

9. Fry the quenelles @ 350 degrees F. When crisp, remove from the oil and dust with truffled salt and a touch of white truffle oil.

For the Frisee “Nest” and Jerez Sherry Chive Vinaigrette
1 T. Frisee Lettuce, snipped with scissors into tree/branches.
1 t. 3:1 Vinaigrette (3 parts chive oil, recipe below, to 1 part Jerez Sherry, seasoned with kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper).
For the Chive Oil:
1 packed C. Chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 C. Canola Oil
1. Place the chives in a strainer and run hot water over them for about 2 minutes to soften and remove the chlorophyll taste.

2. Shock the blanched herbs in an ice bath to chill.
3. Drain the cold herbs and squeeze as dry as possible. Use scissors to cut them into small pieces.
4. Put the chives in a blender with enough of the specified oil, just to cover.
5. Blend on medium speed and allow the herbs to blend for one minute. If the herbs aren’t turning freely, add slightly more oil.
6. Turn speed to high and blend for 2 more minutes. Remove the stopper to allow some air in. Check the oil occasionally, as it will begin to warm up. It should not get too hot or there will be a loss of color. If the machine or the puree becomes hot, refrigerate the puree.
7. Add half the remaining herbs to the machine and blend for 2 more minutes.
8. Add the remaining herbs and blend for another 2 minutes.
9. Put the puree in a clean container and refrigerate for at least a day to intensify the color. The puree can be stored for up to a week. It can be frozen for up to 2 weeks, with little lose of color.
10. Place a piece of cheesecloth over a container and secure with a rubber band or string. Place the puree on a cheesecloth and let the oil filter through for about an hour.
11. Discard the cheesecloth and the remaining puree. DO NOT WRING OUT THE CHEESECLOTH. That will cloud the oil. You may need to do this in batches. Store oil in the refrigerator, or freeze it. Once strained, the oil will discolor in 2 days.
12. Store the oil in clean plastic squeeze bottles.

For the Chile Morita Sauce:
5# Tomatillos, roasted on one side until black.
¾ oz. Garlic
¾ oz. Chile Morita, lightly toasted in fryer (10 seconds or less) @ 350 degrees F.
½ oz. Cilantro, chopped
1 oz. Sea Salt
1. Under a salamander, or on the grill, blacken the tomatillos on one side only. Remove from heat.

2. Fry the Morita peppers very carefully, making sure not to burn them.

3. Add remaining ingredients and puree with a burr-mixer (hand wand).

4. Cool, label and store in the refrigerator.

For the Pistachio “Crumble”:
Pistachios, raw, unsalted, shelled
Panko Crumbs
1. Hache (chop) the pistachios almost to a powder.

2. Add ¼ panko crumbs to the volume of pistachios.

3. Toast the pistachio/panko mixture (at 350 degrees F,) until golden brown. Cool.

4. Store the crumbs in a covered plastic container.

For the Fig Jam Glaze:
6 qt. Boiling water
6 qt. Fresh figs
1 qt. Water
8 slices Lemon

1. Pour boiling water over figs and let stand 15 minutes.

2. Drain and thoroughly rinse in cold water.

3. Pat dry. Remove stems and crush.

4. Measure figs (by weight) and place in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole.

5. Add ½ C. sugar for each cup of crushed figs.

6. Add 1 quart water.

7. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 3 hours (or until thickened), stirring occasionally.

8. Ladle jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼ -inch head space.

9. Add a slice of lemon to each jar.

10. Cover at once with metal lids and screw on bands.

11. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes or until jars “pop”.

12. Yields 8 ½ pints.

13. Strain the seeds through a tamis and load a squirt bottle with the Jam Glaze.

To assemble:
1. Place a dollop of the Morita Sauce just left of middle of a long plate and draw a spoon through it.

2. Add a bit of vinaigrette to the frisee lettuce and place the nest in the middle of the Morita swatch. Top it with the fried, truffled, salted and truffle-oiled croquette.

3. Cross the Morita with fine threads of Fig Jam and then the Pistachio crumble.

Story and photos © 2009 by Christopher J Davies, all rights reserved

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recipe & Pairing From The Denver International Wine Festival

Recipe from The Best Chef of The 2008 Denver International Wine Festival

My absolutely most enjoyable event of the year is The Denver International Wine Festival's Taste of Elegance Chef's Competition.

We provide only Gold Medal winning wines from the Denver International Wine Competition to 14 of Colorado's Master Chef's. Each Chef is assigned two different Gold Medal wines just one week before the event. Their assignment is to create a custom paired dish to go with each wine. At the Taste of Elegance, they create 400 appetizer portions to serve some of Colorado's most devoted food and wine lovers.

Our 2008 "Best Chef" was Jean-Luc Voegele, the Executive Chef of The Westin Tabor Center Hotel in Downtown Denver. Jean-Luc is a French native and may have been fed wine with his Cheerios as a youngster. His pairing at the event was one of the most unusual combinations, yet it worked quite deliciously!

Roasted Beets Salad with whipped Goat Cheese served with a
Tomato-Ginger Vinaigrette

Paired with R&B Cellars, Zwingville Zin 2006

By Executive Chef Jean-Luc Voegele, Westin Hotels

Serves 12

Roasted Beets Salad Ingredients:
3 Lbs. Red Beets
1/2 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Banyuls Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Chopped Chives
1 Tbsp. Chopped Italian Parsley
2 Tbsp. Chopped Shallots
1 Tbsp. Dried Cherries (Blanched and Chopped)
1 Tbsp. Macadamia Nuts (small pieces)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger Minced
1 cup Tomato cubes peeled & seeded
2 T. Kosher Salt
1 T. White ground pepper

Goat Cheese Mixture Ingredients:
1/2 c. half & half
1 Lbs. Goat Cheese (Logs)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. White ground pepper

Tomato Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 cup Tomato cubes peeled & seeded
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup Banyuls Vinegar
1 Tbsp Chopped Italian Parsley
1 Tbsp. Chopped Shallots
1 Tbsp. Chopped Chives
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger Minced
2 T. Kosher Salt
1 T. White ground pepper

Garnishing Ingredients:

12 ea. Italian parsley springs
12 ea. Cherry tomatoes cut in half


To prepare the beets salad:
Wash the beets in running water and scrap off all the dirt. Drain them and wrap the beets in aluminum foil and bake in 350(F) oven until soft, approximately2- 3 hours.
After they cool down, peel of the skin. Then shred them.
In a large bowl mix with a whip the oil and vinegar with the salt & pepper like a vinaigrette, then add chives, parsley, shallots, dried cherries, ginger, tomato, Mac nuts. Check the seasoning.
To prepare the goat cheese:
Mix the cheese with the half & half in a kitchen aid mixer and add the seasoning. Let it get smooth. Then reserve it in a piping bag with a star tip.
To prepare the vinaigrette:
In a bowl mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper with a Wisk to emulsify the vinaigrette. Then add all the other ingredients and check the seasoning.

Assembly of the salad:
Use a 3 inch round circle and start filling it up ¾ with the beet salad, then add the goat cheese. Drizzle the vinaigrette around the plate and decorate with cherry tomatoes and a spring of parsley.

Note: Chef Jean-Luc Voegele returns to the Denver International Wine Festival, Taste of Elegance on Thursday November 12, 2009 at The Mile High Station. I can't wait to taste his new pairings! For tickets visit:

Additional Information & Resources:

The Denver International Wine Festival

The Denver International Wine Competition

R&B Cellars Wine Information:

R&B Cellars homepage:

The Westin Tabor Center, Denver Colorado

Story and photos (C) 2009 by Christopher J. Davies, All rights reserved.