REFLECTIONS AND NEW HORIZONS FOR 2023 WITH CHEF JEAN PIERRE
Inspired by his journey with Out & About during 2022, Chef Jean Pierre shares some inspiring thoughts and recipes for 2023
As we go out with a bang for this New Year, we are reflecting under the Northern Lights, which point to new horizons in the Scandinavian skies.
The untamed phenomenon of the Northern Lights – or “Aurora Borealis” – is, in fact, a surreal visual journey of energy, colour and light. Having personally experienced the visual articulation or, as I call it, the dance of particles (a transition of such immense positive energy), I thought that I would make this my message for the year ahead. Charge yourself with positive energy from your surroundings and it will resonate straight back to you.
At the end of a year, thoughts of both failures and successes are always the collateral beauty (and unfortunately damage) in our lives. But focussing on and harnessing the beauty is makes us instinctively seek new horizons when looking to the future.
So, heads up guys, here is a bit of history and some future generation dishes that populate my surreal skies …
My editor wrote the most amazing piece about a well-known Swedish interior designer, entrepreneur and restauranteur and it is this feature that has inspired me to give you my visual and taste interpretation that welcomes 2023 (https://outandabout.africa/gonana-embracing-local-beauty/).
Since the beginning of recorded history, the likes of Aurora Borealis has kept us in awe – this natural light that apparently looked like Scholes or herrings, which brings me to my starter.
The science behind the phenomenon is that nitrogen and phosphorus around the poles creates a reflection of the sun’s rays in electromagnetic charged particles. The array of colours even had science baffled when it came to the formation of so many colourful hues and has been described as supernatural and unreal. But, real it is, and became an intrinsic part of Swedish and Nordic heritage.
At the time of finishing my art studies in 1994, I, like all South Africans, came face to face with a complete change in mind set and the almost surreal re-opening of a global economy. I guess it was inevitable that I became part of the Absolute Vodka generation!
Most vodkas are made from potatoes, some with grain and some just with panache and flair.
For me, Double Absolute on the rocks with some fresh limes was my poison. I have since then tasted Finnish vodka in Helsinki , Old St Tomas vodka in Estonia. But, my absolute favourite still remains Absolut.
FULL ARTIC CIRCLE
This dish was created by drawing on my knowledge of culinary collaborations from four different countries – one element from Finland, one from Denmark, another from Norway and finally, and element from Northern Canada. Hence, the name the Arctic Circle.
Ingredients include a fennel bulb, a boiled egg, a kipper/herring fillet, Danish feta and good old maple syrup.
This dish is quite a flavour combustion with sharp notes and aromatics – the saltiness from the fish, the aromatics from the fennel, the texture of the egg and the sweetness of Maple syrup.
Pan fry your herring or kippers in some Irish butter. Boil your egg the way you desire. Slice some cucumber and add a good dollop of Danish feta on to the plate. Add some fresh crackling black pepper and drizzle some Canadian maple syrup over your dish to balance the texture and taste sensations. There you have it – a perfect Arctic Circle that is a balanced and healthy meal.
Taking this into consideration, next year I am going to create more dishes that reflect just how much different cultures can both collude and collide when it comes to food. But I will definitely be steering clear of the age old “Irish platter.” of chips, baked potato and mash!
For decades, Iceland was a forgotten island. But, it has become a cultural hotspot for travellers and the culinary arts with Nordic influences that have resulted because even the Irish and Scottish have been residing there.
With all of these cultural influences, Reykjavik has been noted as a culinary hot pot. Apart from just fresh and pickled fish, their desserts have become even more trendy. Hence the ice cream cake that I am making today. The traditional dessert is an almond cake with frosting and fruit – aka Mondlukaka.
Although my baking skills has improved somewhat over the last year, I still needed a helping hand from mother as we followed the Northern Lights.
FROM YOUR IGLOO PANTRY:
1 x 250 Madeira sponge cake
2 litre Haagen Das vanilla ice cream
100 grams dark chocolate cut into small bite size pieces
150 g Oreo biscuits, crumbed
75 grams Mascarpone cheese
75 grams double cream
100 grams white chocolate
For the topping:
20 grams Granadilla pulp
125 grams mixed berries
20 grams gooseberry powdered jelly
50 ml Absolut Vodka
Line a spring form medium pan with cling wrap. Place half of the cake at the bottom of the pan. Soften the ice cream and mix in the biscuit and dark chocolate. Spread this on the bottom half the cake, ending with the ice cream. Freeze overnight.
Take the cake out the pan. Melt the white chocolate with the cream and the Mascarpone and pour over the cake. Decorate with the berry mix and the granadilla pulp. End off with the frosting – a combination of flambéed vodka and the jelly powder. This will crystallise and add that Scandinavian flair.
CHEF JEAN PIERRE’S PERFECT BLOODY MARY
Making the perfect Bloody Mary is quite an art as I have discovered. I’ve also been known for the best in town and, as with creating any folk lore, it’s all in making.
Finding the best tomato juice is the key to creating a masterpiece and, in the past, I used to use only Polish tomato juice. But, with shipping these days, I had to go local and, trust me, I tasted them all. Then, eureka, I discovered ZZ2 “KE TZWA TZWEO ” which is made locally in Tarton (Gauteng) using 100% Romanita tomatoes. It is not made from concentrate and is preservative and flavourant free with no added water or sugar. This is just the perfect tomato juice so, move over Poles!
50 ml Absolut Swedish Vodka (made from winter wheat, funnily enough in a town called Anus)
250 ml ZZ2 tomato juice
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
a dash of My Kitchen hot pepper sauce
salt and black pepper
hydroponically grown celery leaves to garnish
Having Jeeves as my mascot for nearly 10 years now, I also pay a tribute to him as my constant Northern Star as yet another year draws to a close. He doesn’t say much, but he is always there lighting up our virtual lives. Take it from me, Jeeves he is quite like Pinocchio – he is a wooden gem. The good news is that he absolutely never tells fibs and also just likes good Absolut Vodka.
So, cheers to a wonderful year ahead. Positive frequency alert!!!
See you guys in 2023 with new horizons in mind and bright lights ahead.
Chef Jean Pierre and the O and A Team.