Valerie Harrison takes a cooking class with Chef Darin Paterson, and comes back with a few new tricks up her sleeve.
Text And Photo By Valerie Harrison
In the fall when I attended Jennifer Cockrall-King’s Food and Wine Writers Workshop in Penticton, British Columbia one of the many highlights of the weekend was attending a dinner at Bogners. The sous vide lamb and smoked beet tart are one of my Top 5 Best Food Memories of all time!! Heading the culinary team at this world class community institution for the last five years is Chef Darin Paterson, armed with techniques acquired in European kitchens. He has reinvented the heritage manor’s menu to boast refined French-inspired fare to match the changing seasons and local produce available in the stunning Okanagan Valley. Right outside their kitchen door the Bogner’s team nourishes herbs and greens and even operate a two-acre farm just outside of town to bring the best the valley has to offer to their customers.
I was excited to find that on Sunday evenings Chef Darin is now offering cooking classes with different cuisines in mind. A few weeks ago I attended an Italian cooking class where we perfected a few classic dishes. On the menu for us to prepare was Parmesan Potato Gnocchi With Braised Baby Squid, Saltimbocca Of Chicken With Sage, Lemon Fennel Salad and Sicilian Cannoli With Black Pepper Strawberry Salad.
It was an exceptional experience to be cooking in a professional kitchen! What goes into making the meals that show up on your plate in the restaurant is a labour of love from the homemade proscuitto that Chef Darin ages for over 3 years to the smoker he has on site. His smoker is frequently stuffed with garlic bulbs, butternut squash, cauliflower and eggplant for his “farm-to-table” wine country menus. Smoked vegetables, notes Chef Darin, have an affinity for well-made Okanagan wines.
I would highly recommend taking a class with a professional chef. Chef Darin is a wealth of knowledge and even though I have made gnocchi and saltimbocca before I learned techniques and tricks to recreate these recipes at home to wow my guests as well as tips on wine, kitchen gadgets and local sustainable ingredients. We learned that when preparing gnocchi you only use the egg yolk; slice your chicken breasts thinly instead of pounding to create a more succulent dish that is cooked in a few short minutes; squid can be cooked very quickly at high heat or braised slowly for a long period; whip up a succulent strawberry sauce with only sugar and pureed strawberries.
There were no recipes given since Chef Darin states “they use science instead of recipes” but the methods are now ingrained in my mind to recreate these dishes to the best of ability in my home kitchen. Although I couldn’t match the homemade proscuitto or the handmade chocolate cannoli at home without cannoli molds and a fryer I think I came up with a pretty reasonable facsimile of the main course to share with you!
Get ready for the warmer weather with this refreshing, light and easy salad. Anise-flavoured crisp fennel, simply dressed, makes a fresh tasting opening dish or accompaniment to grilled or roasted foods. Be sure to buy firm, round bulbs which tend to be less stringy than slimmer varieties. This salad keeps for a couple of days in the fridge, and tastes even more eye-popping the next day. Make this brightly flavoured fennel salad with Meyer lemons to add a burst of sunshine to any meal. The slightly orange flavour of Meyer lemons makes them sweet enough to eat plain in this salad although the combination of ordinary Eureka lemons, fennel and citrus is pretty close to perfection too. You’ll want to “shave” the fennel as thinly as possible. My mandolin did not shave my fennel or the lemon as thinly as I would have liked but I found that if I used a very light touch the lemon was sliced very thinly (skin, pith and all) and compliments the salad and does not overpower it just as Chef Darin suggested. Perhaps it’s the saltiness of the proscuitto or the piquant citrus notes of the shaved fennel salad but Chef Darin came up with a winning combination here to bring a touch of spring flavours to your table.
In Italian, saltimbocca means “to jump in the mouth”. The saltimbocca and the citrusy fennel salad do just that and have your taste buds dancing across the table. The beauty of cooking with ingredients that are freshest in the Spring months are their pure simplicity. The standout flavours are the fresh, natural ingredients themselves… the sweet taste of a carrot or the pop of a freshly shelled pea. As with the meals served to diners at his restaurant and at events in the Okanagan, this meal was one for the memory books and I simply needed to share. I have done my best to create actual recipes because we are not all capable of cooking by “feel” as Chef Darin is. I will definitely be taking more classes at Bogners. There is always room for improvement and I love to learn new techniques.
Chef Darin Paterson, Chef and Owner
302 Eckhardt Avenue West
Penticton, BC, V2A 2A9
Phone: 250 493 2711
Chicken Saltimbocca with Shaved Lemon Fennel Salad
- 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) all purpose white flour
- 6 leaves fresh sage
- 3 slices Parma ham/Prosciutto, thinly sliced 6 toothpicks
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- salt to taste
- ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup (65 mL) chicken broth
- 2 teaspoon (9 g) butter, unsalted
1. Slice the breasts horizontally into very thin cutlets. Place a leaf of sage on each piece and cover with a slice of prosciutto. Use a toothpick to keep the small package together if you wish. Coat each cutlet with the flour; then shake off the excess.
2. Heat the oil in a pan. Working in batches, add a few cutlets at a time. Start with the proscuitto side down, and cook over high heat. After 3 min, turn to brown the other side. Lower the heat, cover, and cook 2 min. Season with a little salt (prosciutto is already fairly salty) and pepper to taste. Remove the cutlets from the pan and keep them warm. Repeat the operation with the remaining cutlets.
3. Pour the wine into the pan to deglaze. Add broth into the pan, then cook over high-heat until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the butter until it has melted, about 30 seconds.
4. Place the cutlets onto warmed plates, remove the toothpicks (if using). Spoon the sauce over the cutlets then serve.
Shaved Lemon Fennel Salad
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, greens attached (fronds to be used in salad)
- 1 lemon plus 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 8 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Trim the stalks and root ends from the fennel bulbs. Pull off any tough and bruised outer layers. Cut the bulbs in half and cut out most of the core, leaving just enough to hold the layers together. Shave the fennel using the smallest thickness on a mandolin or other slicer. The slices should be almost paper thin. You can core each fennel bulb before hand or simply remove the core from the thin slices. The core has a flavour that would not be suitable for this salad.
2. Cut the stem end from one lemon. Using the same thickness shave your lemon. With a very light touch your lemon slices will be paper thin. Stir the lemon slices and fennel together in a large bowl.
3. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in small bowl until blended.
4. Add sliced fennel and lemon and toss until coated. Handpick fennel fronds and toss into salad. Your hands are the best tools for the job. Don’t worry you can always wash them. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour before serving.
Cook’s Note: This salad can be made up to 1 day in advance. Bring to room temperature toss once or twice and check seasonings before serving.