STYLE

Vancouver chef's favourites: blinis with caviar, clam chowder, beef tenderloin

01/21/2013 12:34 EST | Updated 03/23/2013 05:12 EDT
Here are some favourite recipes from Vancouver chef Alex Chen, Canada's contender in this year's international Bocuse D'Or cooking championship in Lyon, France.

Smoked Salmon Potato Blini With Creme Fraiche and Caviar

These canapes are topped with caviar.

1 russet potato

15 ml (1 tbsp) flour

1 egg

5 ml (1 tsp) creme fraiche plus 100 ml (3 1/2 oz) creme fraiche

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch grated nutmeg

15 ml (1 tbsp) finely chopped chives

125 g (4 oz) unsliced smoked salmon

30 ml (2 tbsp) whipping cream

15 ml (1 tbsp) unsalted butter

30 g (1 oz) Northern Divine caviar or small amount of salmon roe

1 sprig fresh dill, divided into 8 smaller fronds

Wrap potato in aluminum foil and bake in a 180 C (350 F) oven until soft. Immediately remove skin and discard. Mash potato with a fork or use a potato ricer.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, egg, 5 ml (1 tsp) creme fraiche, salt, pepper and nutmeg into potato. Pass potato mixture through a strainer to remove all lumps. Fold chives into potato mixture. Scoop potato mixture into a piping bag and set aside.

Cut smoked salmon into 8 equal square pieces; set aside.

Whisk 100 ml (3 1/2 oz) creme fraiche with whipping cream until peaks form. Scoop into a separate piping bag and refrigerate.

In a skillet, slowly melt butter on low heat, being careful not to burn it. Gently pipe 8 small dollops of the potato mix (about the size of a toonie) onto the pan. Use your moistened hand to gently flatten potato dollops to form blinis (be careful to avoid burning hand). Cook blinis for 1 minute on each side. Remove blinis from heat and slightly pat dry with a paper towel.

Place a piece of smoked salmon on top of each potato blini. Pipe a small dollop of creme fraiche on top of each piece of smoked salmon.

Spoon a generous amount of caviar on top of creme fraiche (the amount of caviar depends on your preference).

Place a small frond of dill on top of caviar.

Arrange canapes on a serving platter.

Makes 8 servings.

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Clam Chowder

This clam chowder is inspired by Chen's youth on the West Coast of British Columbia.

Clam Stock

2 kg (5 lb) littleneck clams

15 ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil

10 ml (2 tsp) chopped shallots

2 cloves garlic

500 ml (2 cups) dry white wine

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

Rinse clams under cold water for 10 minutes. Drain.

In a heavy-bottom pot with a lid, warm oil; sweat shallots and garlic for 2 minutes over low heat. Add white wine, thyme, bay leaf and clams. Cover and steam until shells open.

Drain clams and liquid through a strainer, saving liquid for use in chowder.

Let clams cool for 20 minutes. Remove clams from shells and set aside for use in chowder. Discard shells and shallot mixture.

Chowder

45 ml (3 tbsp) unsalted butter

15 ml (1 tbsp) oil

60 g (2 oz) salt pork

75 ml (1/3 cup) medium-diced leeks

150 ml (2/3 cup) chopped white onions

75 ml (1/3 cup) medium-diced fennel

75 ml (1/3 cup) medium-diced celery

1 clove garlic, chopped

30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped shallots

150 ml (2/3 cup) medium-diced potatoes

20 ml (1 tbsp plus 1 tsp) all-purpose flour

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) clam stock

250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream

2 kg (5 lb) clams, shells removed (from clam stock recipe)

3 sprigs fresh thyme

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) fennel pollen

Zest of 1/4 of a lemon

1 sprig fresh dill, chopped

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) cayenne pepper

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Juice of 1/8 of a lemon

Warm butter and oil in a heavy-bottom pot on medium heat.

Add salt pork, leeks, onions, fennel, celery, garlic, shallots and potatoes. Sweat for 3 minutes.

Add flour and stir for another 30 seconds. Slowly add clam stock. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add cream. Simmer slowly for 15 minutes over low heat.

Stir in clams, thyme leaves, fennel pollen, lemon zest, dill and cayenne.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper. Balance flavours with lemon juice.

Makes 4 servings.

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Roasted Beef Tenderloin

This roasted beef recipe reflects Chen's cooking style — roasting at a low temperature and allowing meat to rest before serving. He pairs it with a robust Merlot.

4 pieces prime beef tenderloin (250 g/8 oz each)

Sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste

15 ml (1 tbsp) oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 shallots, quartered

30 ml (2 tbsp) unsalted butter

Let meat sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. Heat oven to 100 C (200 F).

Season meat generously with sea salt and pepper.

Using a heavy-bottom cast-iron pan that's ovenproof, heat oil to a light smoking point. Sear meat for 2 minutes on each side. Reduce heat; add garlic, thyme, shallots and butter to pan and turn meat to cover with mixture. Insert thermometer into meat and place pan in oven.

Baste beef with butter-herb mixture as often as possible during cooking. Bake until desired temperature is reached: 55 C (130 F) for rare, 57 C (135 F) for medium-rare, 60 C (140 F) for medium, 65 C (150 F) for medium well, and 70 C (160 F) for well-done beef.

Let meat rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Finish with touch of sea salt.

Makes 4 servings.

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