Salmon Tortellini

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We live on an Island and you would think all Islanders go to the beach, eat fish and Seafood all the time. Well, let me tell you; it doesn’t work that way. I have lived 27 years in this beautiful corner of the Caribbean; I certainly decided to stay because of my love to the ocean and the fresh produce it provides us with but, not everybody does.

On the other hand, as servers, we have the responsibility to provide the best experience with the best product available and we get the chance sometimes to educate by sharing what we do best. In this shores, we have a lot of Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi, Red Snapper, Snapper, and many other species and time have taught me that Tuna, for example, is not a local´s favorite. Its flavor is a little stronger to the rest of the white fishes that swim in our waters. Salmon, just like Tuna, is not the first or even second choice for our local customers plus, it is not a local product. We try to create dishes that will help introduce this new and uncommon flavors into their palates so they have more options on our menu.

Starting with the Salmon empanadas in the Tapas menu and the Spinach salad with Salmon we have had thumbs up from our clients. That is great and allows our kitchen to experiment with new dishes. This time Monserrat came up with another great dish. She is a great cook and has shared plenty of ideas for the specials and the caterings we have done. She likes her pasta thin but “al dente”; today we had a great Salmon Tortellini with Alfredo sauce and some grilled julienne Zucchini that helps the contrast of flavors and cleans the palate.

Thank you Monserrat, this is an excellent pasta!

This is a dish that you can’t miss and that I am sure will have a lot of followers very soon.

Pairings: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio

 

 

 

 

 

Empanadas

 

Marinara sauce and Chimichurri dippings
Salmon and goat cheese and Corn with Spinach

 

How many cultures do you think our world has? So many different people, languages and costumes. All kind of food and ingredients and ideas and yet, many times we see preparations that remind us of something we grew up with, they hit home.

Food is fantastic, it gathers families, friends together and defines costumes and nations. Its influence is so powerful that can make unbearable life away from home or make someone happy reminding them of it.

When you hear the word Empanada , it brings an image of something you know, a feeling and a taste that makes you feel good. You can say it anywhere in the world, and most people would smile, raise their hand and say yes! This is the ultimate example of comfort food, made with corn or wheat; fried or baked, with meat, fish, vegetarian, savory or sweet.

Mexico, Argentina, Panama, all Latin America; Greece, Italy, Spain and yes, the rest of the world.

I remember my kids learning to work the dough in their Grandma´s home. It was like an initiation ritual once they were able to walk. Their little hands and their happy faces. The mess.

This week we decided to make some appetizer that would bring our customers to this family moments, to home and family. This great appetizer from our head cook Montserrat was made the first time for a tapas menu  at an art exhibition we hosted at Le Chef. Four empanadas, two with corn and spinach and two with salmon and goat cheese; on the side, marinara sauce and chimichurri. They are awesome, every time tables order a second plate.

Pairing: House Sangria, Beer, Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc.

Go for them, Have a great weekend!

Salsa Picante

 

 

There are countless cooking styles in our planet; from sweet to savory and indigenous ingredients tha mixed with all kind of rare products thanks to Mankind´s nomadic nature. Pasta originated in China and Marco Polo brought it to the west; nowadays, Italy claims its creation or at least the proper knowledge and best quality to prepare it. We all agree that they may have been the ones who helped making it famous worldwide.

Today, most of food is recognizable and available all over the world, adapted and modified to specific tastes and local preferences. Food has reached a global influence and belongs to humanity more than to a particular group.

One of the most famous and better welcome condiments may come from Mexico or Latin America. I don’t really want to get into controversy about this since, it is my belief that food is meant to share and to nurture our souls while bringing friends and families together. How many love stories started or grew around food. It is the fastest route to a womans heart. It works!

Lets go back to salsa, we have them red, green, borrachas, mild hot extra hot and extra-extra-extra hot. You can see people from all ages, and cultures willingly making their mouths catch on fire and not being able to stop. Why?, I don’t know, it is addictive.

Ours has become a must on every service at the table, locals, tourists, expats, old and young patrons had made it clear it should come to the table by default.

Roast Xcatic, Habanero, Poblano, Serrano peppers, garlic and onion. Season and add extra virgin olive oil. Add tomatoes for red. Can it and enjoy.

Pairing : Anything.

Angel Kiss Shrimp

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I know, sometimes when I see bacon in a dish, I doubt initially. Some ingredients are so powerful and so many people like them that for someone who has been in this business for so long sounded like cheating.

We use it in our signature dish the LBS and thought a lot before offering on our menu, trying to avoid that criticism. This dish, I have to say is not original from us but we did gave it a little spin with higher quality ingredients. It is a hit, no regrets or worries from possible comments towards taking the Bacon easy road.

One night, sat down to have  dinner after the service rush, a waiter come and asked me what would I order. “Sh…!, I don’t know, to be honest. Let me think please.”

He replied with great confidence: “Why don’t you get an Angel Kiss Shrimp?”… -Mmh, what the heck is that? I’ve never had it “Well you cook shrimp with cheese and bacon” – OK, let’s do something, tell the kitchen to butterfly the shrimp, slide in a slice of fresh Mozarella, then wrap it in bacon, broil it and add some Pesto sauce on top of it, please. “Do you care for any garnish?” – Yes, rice and veggies please.

And it came to the table, wasnt sure really. Again was afraid that it was only cutting corners and have never liked to do it personally. I would be giving a hard time to myself for a long time.

I was wrong, It was great, I have to say. He had a great idea and stands proudly on our menu as one of the items people love the most.

Pair it with a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc (or nowadays, with a coke for me).

Lobster and Bacon Sandwich

It was 2009, and the Island of Cozumel was having a terrible year; right after the economic crisis when lots of people lost their homes and their money. To make it worse, in the first quarter of the year we got “the swine flu,” and our economy collapsed. By then I had lived in Cozumel for 18 years and had never seen something like this. People were asking for money or any job they can have. This is common in big cities, and indeed, in Mexico city where I was born and raised but here, it was not only new, it was outrageous. We had opened a new restaurant in a beautiful Thatched Roof House on a  corner south of Le Chef´s location.

One of the first homes built on the Island, a lovely spot with a backyard and a magnificent Bougainvillea; it had been a Lobster place for a few years, but they closed it down after hurricane Wilma; so I wanted to take a chance and went on a new venture, and that’s when  Le Bistrot was born. I decided to make a little more elaborated menu than Le Chef since I was curious to cook some higher level cuisine and lobster was the perfect excuse to be the center of a new item. However, the loss of all Cruise ship visits to the Island because of the stupid quarantine left us with a ton of Lobster in our freezers. I had no idea how to sell a costly product in a situation like this.

Taking ingredients we had from the breakfast menu and whatever we had; we started testing. The result of our testing equaled three different dishes with the same ingredients in different presentations: a Pasta, a Pizza and a Sandwich. The pasta dish and the pizza were liked but didn’t get any wows from our patrons. However, the sandwich, well, that is another story, to this day, our number one best-selling dish, and the reason we cut all our advertising. The Lobster and Bacon sandwich on its own brings the customer to our restaurant.  My best mistake ever,  I call it!

The name says it all, and we don’t even have to hide the main ingredients from anybody.

One time a guy eating at Le Chef looked at me and said, “I know what you did here, I got you! I know why this works! Of course, Lobster, Bacon, Rye, and? What’s in this dressing and the spread on the bread?” I went, ” Oh, maybe you don’t get me, seems you don’t know what I did there. ”

Yes, it has and does work!

We got ourselves our own signature dish, and we are thankful for it. You should definitely come to try our famous “Lobster & Bacon Sandwich,  while you are in Cozumel and it will have you coming back for more!

Pairing: Just about anything, it really doesn’t matter. You will only remember you had a Lobster & Bacon Sandwich at Le Chef Cozumel.

Ramsay´s Summer Night Salmon

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Salmon is a character; some people love it and others don’t like it at all. Personally I believe it is a matter of culture sometimes but many others the final result is totally in the hands of the cook. This is a beautiful product that has a personality and should be treated with a little bit of knowledge and care. If you do so, the outcome is without a doubt a great memory and experience for the guest.

The dish we present today needs a little skill but at the same time its simplicity creates the perfect set and balance. Besides, it came to or menu as a way to pay respect to Chefs that play an important role in modern cuisine.

Green vegetables that normally will go into a fresh salad /Lettuce, cucumber, olives, tomato) are thrown into a pan for a very light sauteing with butter and olive oil. Yes, it  sounds a little odd but believe me, you will be pleasantly surprised.  A sweet tomato sauce softens and melts the fresh of the veggies and the personality of the fish and makes them flow in each other perfectly.

My son came over with this recipe from Gordon Ramsey said we should try.  People loves it. It has introduced and hooked  into Salmon to customers wich had never tasted it before.

Pair with Chardonnay or even with a Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy!

Mahi-Mahi “en Nogada”

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The traditional Chile en Nogada is from Puebla; it is tied to the independence of this country since it is said they were prepared for the first time to entertain the future emperor Agustín de Iturbide when he came to the city after the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba. This dish is a source of pride for the inhabitants of the state of Puebla.[2]

Some Mexican historians believe the inventors of this dish were the Monjas Clarisas, although others think they were the Madres Contemplativas Agustinas of the convent of Santa Mónica, Puebla.

There are dishes that represent countries and its important moments or occasions and this is definitely one that has become a Mexican signature dish. In September our Patriotic month, you can have this dish everywhere. First time for us since our menu is not based on Mexican food.We decided that (no disrespect), we didnt want to go with the flow completely doing what everybody does and we tried to switch the game a little.

We took a Mahi-Mahi fillet, wrapped it in Poblano pepper, soak it in a very light batter and fried it lightly until gently cooked. Once plated, added the Nogada sauce and the Granada seeds. I have to tell you; it came out beautiful. It does pay respects to such an important dish for our Country. Sauvignon Blanc will be our pairing suggestion.

¡Viva Mexico!

Tortelloni Le Chef

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Along the years restaurant menus transform as our need to express, show new discoveries, requests from customers and personal experimentation. In 2004 we started as a Gourmet Store with the intention of providing quality products and hard to find ingredients for restaurants and food enthusiasts in our community. After a couple of hurricanes we had to make a survival move back into the Restaurant operation. In the beginning we wanted t keep it simple and our prepared food offer was limited to simple items where we can showcase the ingredients we had in stock. Sandwiches and salads were mostly it.

Soon we had to add dishes in order to satisfy the increasing demand. Eventually once you have a regular clientele you need to get creative  order to keep outr patrons interested and our staff motivated. The Specials Menu made its appearance.

This time, we have a dish that made its appearance in our Special´s Menu and slowly got a permanent spot in the regular menu after various requests from our regular local customers.

The tortellini Le Chef is a Red Bell Pepper pasta with Ricotta and Herbs filling, our Soy sautéed Mushrooms and the Lobster cream sauce. We add sautéed Garlic Shrimp and Parmesan cheese.

I would go with the Borgo Magredo Pinot Grigio with this one. Enjoy!

Portobelli con Ratatouille

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Some ingredients have a personality on its own that take them to a level where they stand out from what labels expect from them. When you think of mushrooms we all picture the earthy taste but maybe just see them as a part of the main dish, or a sauce.

With Portobelli we get so much more. Maybe because of the size? It is certainly a lot more mushroom than the rest; but it is not just that. This great one have a  texture and    a  taste that make him a main ingredient in its own right. Sometimes we found it in a vegetarian or vegan burger.

For us, it was the best product for an amazing appetizer. Being a mediterranean style restaurant we don’t necessarily fall into a vegetarian category, We have to admit that most of our food has ingredients that bring the best tastes to dishes no doubt but, they dont  always fall into the most healthy category.

We decided to try them and make a dish that could be prepared both to our regular customers but that can accommodate to healthier or even vegetarian patrons. So we prepared some Ratatouille and stuffed this big guys with it. If you want to adventure  a little more ask for them with grated cheese. For our vegetarian or vegan friends skip the cheese and enjoy a great and tasty dish that will definitely will satisfy your taste buds.

Chardonnay Estacion from Chile makes a great match.

Enjoy!

Clam Casino Pizelle

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According to legend, the recipe for clams casino was originally developed in 1917 in the Little Casino in Narrangasset Rhode Island, by a maitre d´hotel for a woman of means wanting something special for her guests. She named the dish after the hotel, and word and popularity of the dish has since spread across the United States, including New Orleans, where oysters are substituted for clams

People love appetizers, they are great for conversation and are a perfect start for an evening you will always remember. At Le Chef, we are always trying to create new ideas for them. We like to use the classics and present them in a way that provokes a great opening to a memorable dining experience.

This time we thought of an amazing famous appetizer that we can personalize to our style and that matches our Menu. Clam Casino is a well-known recipe. The name on its own evokes good times, I  can imagine an Opera or Theater opening season night cocktail evening in New York city or Chicago.

As we can not always get the Clams delivered fresh we thought of a tasty alternative that would fit the taste. Using smoked oysters instea , we made finger food size Pizzas (Pizzelle) that works as the holding element; with our Cambozola cheese sauce and home-made roasted mixed Bell Peppers in Olive oil & Garlic topping together with the Oysters.

Easy to prepare, appealing to the eye, this great starter is amazing. Believe me, it works!

Poggiobello Pinot Grigio would be a made in Heaven pairing.