Bring your imagination to the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon as it is a prerequisite if you want to make a decent meal from the residue of the weekend selection. The remnants of a romaine lettuce picked over and fondled by a mob, the surviving members of a bunch of grapes, ten containers of sage, the only fresh herb available, may not motivate one to create.
Yet a nearly hopeless situation can be a burgeoning opportunity for those with ingenuity and above all, persistence. You don't have to be an executive chef but it sure helps. Chef Jason Duffy from Arc The. Hotel prepares an amusing dish from random ingredients proving that a Sunday night supper does not have to be uninspiring.
I am diligently scraping the last velvety silk cream from my ramekin with the rounded curve of my spoon, trying in vain to capture a fleeting sense of bliss. It is the depth of textures, the crispness of buttery seeds, the toothsome crunch of burnt raw sugar and the underlying smooth custard that delights my tactical sense. Arc The.Hotel's Executive Chef Jason Duffy is serving up an autumn treat and has shared his recipe for all of us to enjoy.
Spiced Acorn Squash Creme Brulee with Butter Toasted Seeds
For the brulée:
500 ml 35% cream
6 egg yolks
50 g sugar
Sugar to sprinkle (we used raw sugar)
Purée from half of an acorn squash
Salt and pepper
Whisk yolks, sugar and purée. Add cream, salt and pepper. Cook in ramequins in
a bain marie at 375F for approx. 40 minutes. Let cool. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to sever sprinkle top with sugar and either broil in the oven or use a kitchen torch until sugar becomes dark golden to dark brown in colour. Top with butter toasted seeds.
For the Squash purée:
Half the acorn squash and remove the seeds. Cover with melted butter, brown
sugar, salt, pepper, ground cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake in the oven, skin
side up at 400F for approx. 45 minutes or until tender. Remove the skin and purée
in a blender.
Butter toasted seeds:
Seeds from acorn squash
a pat of butter
salt to taste
Remove seeds from squash, clean and pat dry with paper towel. Place seeds on a baking sheet and cook in a preheated 425F oven for approx. 10 minutes. Remove and put aside, In a saucepan over medium-high heat, met butter and cook until brown. Add seeds and sauté. Sprinkle with salt.
A little piece of Quebec has crossed a bridge and landed his pots and pans in the nation's capital. Jason Duffy is the executive chef of the trendsetting Arc the.Hotel in Ottawa, Canada. Jason became chef at only 21 in Montreal after graduating from the famed ITHQ. An apprenticeship in France and a career in restaurants in Quebec's metropolis contributed to who Jason is today. However, it was his natural ability to turn food into art that brought him success where ever he went. One Whole Clove has the exclusive on this talent and will be featuring his passion on posts to come.
The sirens from the trucks cut through the dimday but no one would have presupposed their destination. Families continued to stir their supper pots and cut their fresh baked bakery baguette with quiet innocence. In the usual Monday afternoon doldrums, a few citizens of town may have strolled along Principale and come to the realization, it was La Vieille Alliance that was in flames...again!
My phone started to ring at quarter to six at which point I had yet to be au courant with the ill-fated news. In my after work languor, I collected my failing energy to answer the call.
"La Vieille Alliance is in flames...again."
I felt my heart slump. The news was implausible. There was only so much adversity one could face in a lifetime, I thought to myself. In the spring of 2005, the bakery encountered misfortune as one of several shops who fell victim to arson. With resolution and patronage, the owners set up their storefront in an old heritage building known to locals as Danny's Bar-B-Q, during the late fall of 2005.
And now this...
I wrote a review of their second endeavor back in January 2006. It wasn't until April 20, 2007, ten days before the ruin of flames and water damage, I received an e-mail from owners Frances and Bruno who had come across my piece. In my detection of her accent alone, I, a former languages major and college drop-out decided Frances was Irish. To my pleasure she corrected my delusion and provided me with a bit of background information.
"...I’m only half-Irish and really consider myself Scottish...La Vieille Alliance is the name of an agreement between France and Scotland that dates from the ‘year of our Lord 1295’ and we chose the name to represent our origins..."
On the night of April 30, I sat at my computer unable to work. My head felt heavy from the days events. I resolved to write to our local paper and advance an excerpt to Frances and Bruno.
"The Auld Alliance is a story of reoccurring defeat as much as it holds onto a history of perseverance. Like the Scottish and French before them, La Vieille Alliance, the bakery, as it is so named, took one romantic notion merging two separate entities to withstand adversity. In the cusp of a quaint-town, their sweet determination, detectable in their Chantilly chouxs and lemon tartelettes left patrons enchanted. If there is some semblance to the small town of which I speak, I implore us all to do what we can in restoring faith in the hearts that have lost once again on this night."
I never took chances. I was a person who let life pass me by for way too many years. Now I am older and maybe wiser. While there is a certain comfort in watching the world progress in routine silence, pursuing risks can be much more gratifying. I am reassured of this more than ever when I hear back from Frances the day after the fire,
“…We will start again and you will have another chance to sample our wonderful cakes, bread, cheeses etc…We just need to get everything out, get it cleaned and find a new place. Hoping to meet you properly there.”