Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Hawthornes Attend Cooking Class At The North Carolina Aquarium. Chef Bud Gruninger Of Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe Is Guest Chef.

Today, the Hawthornes went to Manteo to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, for the last of our cooking classes this season.
You know I always stop by to chat with my otters. Shhhh. They're sleeping.
The turtles were happy to see me.
The alligators ignored me. On to our class.
Today's class is being conducted by Chef Bud Gruninger of Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe. While Chef Gruninger prepared his dishes, he gave us a bit of his history. Born in Philadelphia, he was reared in Long Beach Island, N.J., and began cooking at 13 in a family business. I found it interesting that he took off 1 1/2 years to camp in each of the lower 48 states and in Canada and Mexico, where he studied the area and got a feel for the local cuisines and cultures, assimilating this knowledge with his education from the CIA. It is fortunate for us that he finally ended up on the Outer Banks. At Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe, Executive Chef Gruninger is committed to serving 100% local seafood. Basnight's is the only restaurant on the Outer Banks to do this. He is party to the Outer Banks Catch, a project to brand Outer Banks seafood in an effort to sustain our local fishing industry. One of the goals of Outer Banks Catch is to get our restaurants to offer local seafood products. Unfortunately, 85% of the seafood consumption in the United States is imported, with limited or no regulation and inspection. (2% is FDA inspected.) Outer Banks Catch is designed to promote local seafood and to educate seafood lovers to request what's in season and what's locally caught. Chef Gruninger does his best to be environmentally responsible and to "go green." He actually applied for green certification with the Green Restaurant Association and found out he was already doing everything required for certification. He also found out there was only one restaurant in the entire state of North Carolina that was green certified. That restaurant was Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro. Since he checked there's another restaurant with green certification - Posana Cafe in Asheville. Now for Lone Cedar's green certification, the gentleman Chef Gruninger talked to said all he needed to do now was to send in an application fee for $1500! Suffice it to say that Chef Gruninger is green, but not green certified. Chef Gruninger explained some of the hardships of being ecologically correct. The prices of styrofoam containers are a fraction of the cost of green plates and cups. It's hard, and economically difficult, to follow a higher path. Don't I know that. I recycle. The hallway from my kitchen to my bathroom is always lined with paper bags from grocery stores. Usually, you have to walk sideways down my hallway. I have a bag of gallon plastic containers. A bag of cans. A bag of water bottles. A bag of glass. A bag of paper. It's horrible. Chef Gruninger prides himself on using 100% local seafood. His vegetables, greens, and herbs, if not grown on site at Lone Cedar, are procured from North Carolina purveyors. His pork and chicken come from North Carolina. "If it's not local, it's not on the menu." The only exception to this is his beef. The beef at Lone Cedar comes from Harris Ranch Beef Company, in California. Harris Farms is one of the largest integrated farming operation in Central San Joaquin Valley, which is among the largest and most productive farming areas in the world. Harris Farms takes care of the beef from birth to slaughter, one of the few operations that does this. Usually, each stage of the cow's life is relegated to a different producer. Harris Beef takes great pride in their beef and their quality control. They monitor every step of the production process starting at Harris Feeding Company and continuing through processing at Harris Ranch Beef Company. Their careful attention to detail allows them to meet the government's exacting standards for quality and wholesomeness. According to the USDA, any fresh beef that has been minimally processed and which contains no preservatives can be termed natural. Harris Beef surpasses the USDA guidelines. Their cattle are routinely tested for anitbiotic residues and all feed is tested for pesticide residues. Harris Ranch Beef Company is California's largest fed cattle processor, producing nearly 200 million pounds of beef annually. In August 2010, Chef Gruninger was selected by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture to represent the Outer Banks and North Carolina in the 2010 Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans. In the contest, he had one hour to create a domestic seafood dish that reflected the cuisine of his home state. I believe this event will be aired on the Food Network sometime soon. Chef Gruninger was joking about his efforts at the cook-off. The winning chef, he said, had 4 ingredients in his dish. Gruninger said he had about thirty. I looked up the recipe and here's Chef Gruninger's:

Cajun Cream Sauce 1 Pint Heavy Cream 40% 8 oz Andouille Sausage small dice 1 Small Red Pepper small dice 1 T Chives 1 Small Onion small dice 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper - Sauté sausage, onions, and peppers until lightly browned - Add heavy cream and Cayenne pepper reduce volume by ½ - Add chives to serve - Reserve Corn Fritter 2 Jumbo Eggs ½ tsp Pepper ½ C Self Rising Flour 1 tsp Sugar ½ C All Purpose Flour 1 T Chives 3 Ears Sweet Corn (Green Leaf Farms Rocky Hock, NC) 2 oz Oil ¼ Onion Diced Small (“Mattamaskeet Sweets” Alligator River Growers) 2 tsp Salt - In a bowl whip eggs and add onions, and corn - Mix dry ingredients together & add to egg mixture - Heat oil in skillet and add 1 T fritter mix - Brown on each side for approximately 2 minutes - Snowy Grouper Cheeks (O’Neal’s Sea Harvest Wanchese, NC) - Salt and pepper cheek - Heat 2oz of oil when pan is hot pan sear cheeks approximately 2 minutes on each side - Plate Plating - Place corn fritter on left side of plate - Top with seared Grouper cheeks - Drizzle with Cajun cream sauce - Garnish with Thyme

Stuffed Soft Crabs Succotash 1 Ear Sweet Corn (Green Leaf Farms Rocky Hock, NC) 1 C Sweet Onion (“Mattamaskeet Sweets” Alligator River Growers) ½ C Butter Beans (Weaksville NC) 1 C Fresh Okra cut pieces inch lengths (Basnight’s Lone Cedar Café’s own vegetable garden) 1 C Seeded Zucchini medium diced (Birch Farms Faslon, NC) 1 C Purple Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes cut in half (Roanoke Island, NC) 1 T Salt & Crack Pepper 2 T Unsalted Butter 1 T Fresh Chives 1 qt Water - Cut corn off of the cob - Place butter beans, corn cob and water in pan and cook over medium heat until liquid is reduced approximately 15 minutes - Remove cob and add sweet onion, corn and 1 T butter simmer 2 minutes - Add okra, salt and pepper cook 1 minute - Add zucchini cook 1 minute - Add halved Cherry tomatoes, chives and 1 T butter, remove from heat - Reserve Soft Crab (Capt. Neil’s Columbia, NC) - Clean thoroughly removing face, underside, lungs and stomach - Lift back and stuff with jumbo lump crabmeat - Dip in egg wash - Dredge in self rising flour, salt and pepper - Deep fry at 350 degrees approximately 1 1/2 -2 minutes taking care to maintain shape Garnish - Sauté 1oz jumbo lump crab meat (Capt. Neil’s Columbia, NC) in butter, salt and pepper - Fried Lemon- Paper thin slice lemons dip in egg wash and self rising flour and salt and pepper. Deep Fry approximately 1 min drain Plating - Place Succotash in center of plate, place soft crab in middle of Succotash. Top soft crab with jumbo lump crab meat garnish with fried lemon.

Pepper Jelly 1 Roast Red Pepper (roast, peel and seed) Chop 1 Roast Jalapeno (roast, peel and seed) Chop 1 ½ C White Vinegar 1 C Sugar 1 tsp Salt - Combine all ingredients and reduce approximately 15 minutes over medium-high heat until slightly thickened - Reserve Prosciutto (Johnson County Ham Smithfield, NC) Slice very thin and render in pan till extra crispy Reserve for garnish Green Tomatoes (Green Leaf Farms Rocky Hock, NC) 2 Green Tomatoes Sliced (Green Leaf Farms Rocky Hock, NC) ¼” thick 1 C Panko Bread Crumbs 1 Whole Orange Zest 1 T Chop Parsley 2 T Romano Cheese 1 C All Purpose Flour 1 C Buttermilk - Mix Panko breadcrumbs, orange zest and parsley and cheese - Dredge tomato slice in flour - Dip in Buttermilk - Coat in breadcrumb mixture - Deep Fry at 350 degrees until brown on both sides Mama’s Herb’s Goats Cheese (Oak Moon Farm & Creamery Bakersville NC) - Whip Goat’s cheese Herbs place in pastry bags - Chill Shrimp (William’s Seafood Swan Quarter, NC) - 8 Jumbo Shrimp Sauté lightly with butter, salt and pepper approximately 2 minutes Plating - Place fried green tomato on right side of plate top with dollop of Goat’s cheese top that with shrimp and Prosciutto - Drizzle with pepper jelly

Hee! And I thought he was kidding. And here's the winning dish: Sebastian Inlet Clams BBLT (Bacon, Basil, Lettuce, and Tomato)

Fish Stock: (you can substitute canned clam broth for this if necessary) 1 lb. halibut fish bones 1 rib celery 1 onion pinch of salt 1 quarts water Rinse the fish bones clean and place them in a pot with the chopped celery and onion. Cover the bones with the water and salt. Bring the stock to a boil and turn it down to simmer for 40 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes before straining. Cool and refrigerate.

Tomato Sauce: 6 large red tomatoes 1 Tbs. chopped garlic 1 Tbs. minced Calabrese peppers 2 minced shallot 2 Tbs. Olive oil 2 Tbs. reserved bacon fat Half, seed, and grate the flesh of the tomatoes and discard the skin. Sauté the garlic and shallots with the olive oil and bacon fat, and add in the tomato. Cook the mixture until it becomes thick. Refrigerate until needed.

Bacon: ¼ lb. double smoked bacon (we use Benton’s family farm) Over a medium heat, render off the bacon 75 % of the way (meaning don’t cook it until all the fat is released) then reserve the bacon pieces separate from the fat.

Basil bubbles: 2 cups basil leaves (stems removed) ¼ cup reserved hot fish stock Plunge the basil leaves in a small pot of boiling water to shock them for 20 seconds, and then transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool them down. In a blender combine the hot fish stock, and the blanched basil and blend until smooth, strain through a fine mesh strainer, and scoop the bubbles from the top and serve on the clams.

Steaming the clams: 6 dozen littleneck clams 2 Tbs. garlic ½ bottle white wine 1 quart fish stock ½ lb. butter 1 pint cherry tomatoes (peeled of their skin) 4 Tbs. Basil chiffanade 2 lemon Clean the clams and discard any open dead ones. In a large pot, sauté the garlic with four tablespoons of the butter, and add the clams and tomato sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze with the white wine and add in the fish stock as well. Cover the clams until they open and scoop equal portions of them in to 6 bowls. Reduce the sauce by half and add the rest of the butter, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Lightly season with salt and add the lemon juice.

Ready to serve: 1 ciabatta bread loaf (cut in six equal lengthwise portions) 6 each baby romaine lettuce heads 4 Tbs. xtra virgin olive oil 2 Tbs. lemon juice 24 micro red romaine (optional) tossed in a bit of olive oil and lemon juice Trim the ciabatta bread to match the shape of the serving vessel. Brush the ciabatta bread with two tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. In a mixing bowl toss the romaine with the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, salt and fresh ground pepper. On a hot grill, mark the bread and romaine for 45 seconds each side, then reserve. In a large bowl style plate, place the grilled bread down first and top with the wilted romaine. Scatter the clams on and around the bread. Spoon the tomato broth from the clams all over the dish like a shallow soup. Scatter some of the crispy bacon around and some of the micro romaine as a garnish. Ladle a large spoon of the basil bubbles over the clams right before serving.

For those of you who are interested, here are the all the chefs and their recipes. Sorry, I got carried away. Now, let's cook. On the menu today is a lovely salad, seared flounder with roasted tomatoes, asparagus, and sauteed shrimp.
Chef Gruninger started out with Roasted Roma Tomatoes. He sliced the tomatoes in half and tossed with olive oil, roasted garlic, salt, and pepper. Baked at 300 degrees for 1/2 hour. I use Roma tomatoes a lot. They're the only tomato I will buy during the winter, since they al ... most have a tomato flavor.
While the Romas baked, Chef started on his salad and dressing. Here, he's pouring his Lemon Honey Vinaigrette into his mixed greens.
A good toss to coat the leaves.
The Salad Mixed greens Chopped green apples and pears Sundried cranberries Cajun candied pecans Lemon Honey Vinaigrette lemon thyme roasted garlic lemon juice Dijon mustard honey s & p olive oil Combine ingredients, whisking in the olive oil to emulsify. As always, taste test. Chef tip: For a vinaigrette, the usual ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and/or citrus with flavorings. /Rosie Rant: I would like to request that people don't pronounce "vi-ni -gret" as "vi- ni- gar-ette. The same applies to those who pronounce "real-tor" as "rea-la-tor." End Rant\ For salad accoutrements, we had sun-dried cranberries, chopped green apples and pears (which he kept in acidulated water to keep from browning- that means squeeze some lemon juice, add some water, and protect the fruit cuts from brownage.) Cajun candied pecans radishes tomatoes The Cajun Candied Pecans Oh YEAH! pecans brown sugar water Cajun spice: cayenne paprika thyme s & p I'd add oregano. I don't think Chef Bud - May I call you Bud? - added oregano but I may be wrong. I wasn't paying attention when he said how he did this. Wait. Did he say the how-to?? I just asked Mr. Hawthorne if he knew how he did the pecans. Why do I bother? I know how I'd do them. I'd mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Be sure sugar is dissolved, then spread out on a baking pan and bake at 300 degrees until lightly toasted. That's how I'd do 'em.
Chef Gruninger plates his salad.
Light. Nice flavors. I want cheese. Cheese is calling me.
I saved the pecans for last.
Did I mention that the Lone Cedar Cafe has their own garden? The lettuces and radishes were fresh picked.
As we ate our salads, Chef Gruninger prepared the flounder filets. I liked the picture of the menancing pan handle threatening the woman's head in front of me.
Flounder filets. Just salt and pepper.
Heat oil in heavy skillet. Sear flounder for about 2 minutes each side over high heat.
In another pan, heat butter. Add shrimp, roasted garlic, and asparagus. Cook about 2 minutes. Add a splash of white wine, S & P, and more butter.
Chef Gruninger started plating.
Chef Gruninger brought his special cornbread, "special" meaning he won't give out the recipe for the cornbread. But it does contain creamed corn and sour cream. I believe there were two other recipes at Lone Cedar he doesn't give out - maybe a crab soup? and I can't remember the other one. I knew Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe was an extremely popular restaurant. What I didn't know was the volume they produce. I believe Chef Gruninger mentioned turning out 1300 dishes in a 3 hour period.
The seared flounder was plated, along with asparagus and shrimp, with the mystery cornbread, and roasted tomatoes.
Thank you, Chef Bud Gruninger, for a lovely lunch. My otters were awake and ready to perform for me when we left.


Marilyn said...

Thanks for the interesting info.

And I sense a challenge for Rosie: recreate that cornbread recipe.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

You know me all too well, Mar.