Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Should We Ban the Boiling of Lobsters?

            The best way for cooking almost all foods is from the freshest possible ingredients. Seafood, is no different, and if anything, even more imperative to do so for premium texture and flavour. With shellfish specifically, it has been long standing tradition in the chef’s world to cook from live whenever possible to be assured of optimal guaranteed freshness. Thus, recently when it was announced that Switzerland is planning to ban the boiling of live lobsters, it caught my attention.

            Upon further investigation, supposedly this practice of boiling live lobsters has already been banned in New Zealand for close to two decades. So, why has this recently been brought to the forefront of Swiss law? In my opinion it has been just a matter of time for this topic to be in the news (and the law) again.

            As expected, there are many opinions about not only this, but as always, the treatment of food animals in general by us humans. Overall, I believe we are in better times, where we are generally more aware of how animals are treated in the process of being prepared for the journey to the marketplace, and ultimately our dinner table. Making sure cattle, pigs, lamb, and chickens for example, have a good life and are killed humanely are of the utmost importance with many more people than ever before. However, where do we draw the line? Can we honestly say that the humane treatment of a cow going to butcher, is of the same importance and concern of a lobster being boiled alive?

            When I first heard this new story, my initial reaction and comment was “how ridiculous! This has gone too far!” It wasn’t long after though, that I started thinking about this more, and I believe that’s where the value is: being aware. I don’t think we need our government to decide in legal rulings what we can or can’t do in our kitchens, but I appreciate news stories like this keeping me more conscious of my actions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I will stop boiling live lobsters in the future, but my overall consciousness of respect for living creatures has been heightened… and that is never a bad thing. So thus, I may think twice before choosing to, or not to.

            However, I honestly don’t believe that crustaceans have the same feelings, or central nervous system, as mammals do, and thus how can we treat them in the same respect? Again, where do we draw the line then? If we care to this degree in the ethical treatment of lobsters, then it could also be argued that all crustaceans, including crabs, crayfish, and prawns for example should be treated with the same respect and recognition. Then if we are honoring all crustaceans in this manner, then what about the feelings of mollusks like cephalopods such as octopus and squid; or bivalves such as clams, mussels and oysters? Aren’t they living creatures as well, and the treatment of them should also be considered when it comes time for harvesting and preparation? Quite literally food for thought, but I think you can understand how this discussion could be never ending, let alone encompass it completely in a single food column.

            If this is a concern for you however, how are you expected to cook your live lobster in the future? It is recommended that the lobster is “knocked out” first before entering the boiling water, by the process of freezing or other means.

Being more caring in our actions is never a bad thing, but let’s just keep it in a perspective that you are comfortable with. In the meantime… Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Quick Breakfast on the Run for Your Busy Life

            Store bought, premade breakfast bars are not always the healthiest solution to breakfasts on the run, so I want to share this recipe made with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and ground flax.

            Make them ahead of time and freeze each of the sixteen bars individually. For those hurried mornings, microwave one frozen bar on high for 30 seconds, and you are out the door with warm oatmeal in your hand. Yes, the recipe does have butter in it for moisture and tenderness, but remember this makes sixteen bars: that’s only just over two teaspoons of butter per bar.

            I hope this recipe will take a bite out of your busy mornings. Until next time... Happy Cooking!

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Recipe created by Chef Dez    www.chefdez.com
“The benefit of oatmeal in a convenient bar. Great for Breakfast on the run too – Microwave each bar from frozen for 30 seconds on high power.”
Makes 16 bars

2 ¼ (two and a quarter) cups whole wheat flour
2 ¼ (two and a quarter) cups quick oats
¾ (three quarters) cup raisins
3 tbsp ground flax seed
1½ (one and one half) tsp baking soda
1½ (one and one half) tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
¾ (three quarters) cup butter, room temperature
½ (one half) cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1½ (one and one half) tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 x 13 inch cake pan with baking spray. Tip: Line the pan with parchment paper leaving the ends sticking out to make the uncut product easier to remove from the pan once cooled.
2.     Combine the whole wheat flour, quick oats, raisins, ground flax seed, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl.
3.     Beat the butter and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend together in a separate bowl.
4.     Add the apple sauce, vanilla extract and eggs to the butter and Splenda/butter mixture. Continue beating until thoroughly combined.
5.     Combine the mixtures in the two bowls together. It will be a very thick batter.
6.     Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
7.     Bake for 18-20 minutes until firm.
8.     Cool in the pan until room temperature.
9.     Cut into 16 equal bars by removing the product from the pan first.

Makes 16 bars

Friday, January 12, 2018

Pan Seared Sage Scallops

            What is the first food you think of when I mention the herb "sage"? Probably turkey stuffing, or poultry in general. But I'm here to tell you that sage, fresh sage, is an incredible aromatic herb that can be utilized in many other applications.
            One of our all-time favorite things to do with fresh sage is to pan sear scallops with it in
browned butter. I have personally made this recipe for so many people and it always pleases. I have even convinced scallop haters to love this recipe! The aromas that come from the fresh sage being fried in the butter is incredible, and the crispy bits of sage on the scallops is to die for!
           To help you along with this recipe, I will also include a video link of the preparation of this dish. I know, it's an older video of me... I apologize for that, but it's a good rendition of how easy this dish is. I am hoping to make more videos of different dishes in 2018. Click HERE
            Here is the recipe. Let me know how you like it. It is also on page 18 of my cookbook "The Best In Your Kitchen". Happy Cooking!
Pan Seared Sage Scallops
 “The essential oils released from the fresh sage in this sauce make these scallops to die for”

12 large scallops
Salt & Pepper
1 – 2 tsp grape-seed oil or canola oil
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed into tbsp pieces
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

1.     Preheat a heavy bottomed medium/large pan over medium-high heat until it is very hot.

2.     Pat dry the scallops and season them on both sides with salt & pepper.

3.     Add the oil to the pan and then immediately add the scallops one or two at a time. Cook in the hot pan for about 30 seconds to a minute on the one side until they are seared/browned.

4.     Flip them over, cook for another 30 seconds, then add the butter pieces one or two at a time until it has all been added. The butter will brown very quickly and immediately add the sage, stir and coat the scallops with the infused brown butter sauce and serve immediately.