If you were curious enough to read the About Me section (which needs some serious updating!), you would have seen I spend my days working in a bank and the rest of the time I like to think of myself as a frustrated cook. Who would have thought that these two seemingly opposite interests would one day marry? This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago when I was invited (along with two other coworkers) by an investment bank for the first ever private lesson with Peter Gilmore at the kitchen of Quay Restaurant!
Peter Gilmore is the executive chef of Quay Restaurant and has been running the kitchen since 2001. Recognized as one of Australia’s finest restaurant, Quay has been awarded Restaurant of the Year for two consecutive years by both the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and the Australian Gourmet Traveller for 2009 and 2010. Additionally, they have been named as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants awarded by S. Pellegrino for 2009.
So you can imagine, being one in a group of only six people to watch Peter Gilmore cook was somewhat like a child being invited to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!
The first part of the class was a three hour session where Peter demonstrated three of his signature dishes. The first dish was the his Confit of Shaved South Australian Squid, Garlic Custard and Roasted Squid Consomme. I asked Peter how he got the squid so finely shaved. Apparently they stack layers of squid, freeze them and then pass them through a slicer. At this point, I am already adding slicer to my Christmas wish list!
I think this dish epitomizes Peter’s philosophy of looking to nature for inspiration and letting natural produce speak for itself. Decorated with baby radishes and native violets, the dish is so beautiful I am hesitant to taste the finished product – but do anyway – and what can I say – it’s love at first bite!
The next dish up was the truffle poached chicken with early spring vegetables. To prepare this dish does take some skill. The first the skin of the chicken is removed, and then the dark meat is separated from the breast (the dark meat is not used in this dish), the skin is then laid on a flat surface and the breast meat and truffle butter is laid on top of the skin and rolled with cling film like a sausage. The meat is then allowed to rest in the refrigerator for four hours to allow the protein to set.
Once the chicken is ready, it is cooked in a temperature controlled water bath set at 68c for around 40 minutes. Simultaneously, the vegetables are prepared and cooked in boiling salted water and dressed with butter. Once the chicken is cooked and rested (around 5 minutes), more truffle butter is added and the chicken is finished in a moderate oven.
If you are so inclined to try Quay’s signature recipe ( I am still working up the courage to try it myself!) here it is.
Gently Poached South Australian Squid, Garlic Custard, Baby Radishes, Native Violets, Roasted Squid Broth
Recipe (serves 4)
- 1 kilo whole Southern squid
- 2 Chinese red core radishes or 4 regular red radishes
- 500 mls clarified butter
- 16 small cherry bell radishes
- 16 native violet flowers (optional)
- 12 social garlic flowers (optional)
- 2 small cloves garlic
- 20 grams unsalted butter
- 180 mls full cream milk
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
Roasted Squid Broth
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 500 grams squid trimmings
- 500 grams chicken wings
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 golden eschallots
- 2 stocks white celery
- 50 grams shitake mushrooms
- 1 small carrot
- 200 mls dry sake
- 25 ml olive oil
For the Roasted Squid Broth
In a heavy based saucepan heat the olive oil and add the squid trimmings, and chicken wings. Roast in the oil until the squid and chicken wings are golden brown. Moving them around with a wooden spoon as much as possible will help. Once they are browned, finely chop all the vegetables and add them to the pot. Saute for a further minute or two, add all of the sake to deglaze the pot and reduce until the sake has almost reduced completely. Add the litre or chicken stock and simmer gently for 1 hour skimming any scum that comes to the surface using a ladle. Turn the heat off and allow to infuse for 1 mor ehour. Pass the broth through a fine muslin cloth lined strainer, discard the solids, keep the liquid, skim any remaining fat from the top, adjust the seasoning with sea salt. You should have approximately 1/2 a litre or liquid left. If you have more, reduce until you have 1/2 a litre remaining. Place in the refrigerator until needed.
For the garlic custard, melt the butter in a small saucepan and chop the two garlic gloves roughly. Gently sweat the garlic in the butter but do not allow it to colour. Add the 180 mls of milk and bring the liquid to the point just before simmering (about 90c). Remove the pot from the heat and allow the garlic to infuse into the milk for about 15 minutes. Strain the milk and discard the garlic. Season the milk with sea salt to taste. When the milk has cooled sufficiently, whisk the milk onto the egg and egg yolk in a stainless steel bowl. Place the egg and milk mixture into 4 ceramic containers, approximately 50 mls in each. Cover the container with cling film and place in the refrigerator until needed.
Squid and Radishes
Clean the squid, removing all the guts. Cut the tubes in half and with a clean kitchen towel, rub off all the skin. Slice the squid tubes into 1 cm wide strips – put aside. For the red core radishes, peel the radishes and slice into fine discs. If you are using regular radishes do not peel them, just slice into fine discs. Cut the tiny cherry bell radishes in half and put aside.
Place the garlic custard ramekins into a steamer and steam on high for approximately 8 minutes. In the meantime blanche the radishes for 1 minute in boiling salted water and in a shallow fry pan heat all of the clarified butter on a medium heat. Quickly saute the sliced squid for less than 1 minute, you are just looking for the squid to turn opaque and slightly curled. Drain the squid on kitchen paper. Reheat the squid broth to just before boiling point.
To assemble, place the sliced radishes in a ring around each bowl. Place a spoonful of each garlic custard in the center of each bowl. Top the custard with the squid slices. Garnish the squid with cherry bell radishes, native violets and social garlic flowers in using. Pour the squid broth into a jug and pour a little onto the dish at the table in front of your guests. The idea with this dish is that you have a spoonful of lush garlic custard, hot silky squid and roasted squid broth all at once.
The last dish was the Vanilla Mousse with Raspberries. The recipe can be found here.
Which restaurant kitchen would you want to spend a day in?