Recipe: Fairmont JPL’s Bacon, Lentil and Tomato Bisque

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge‘s Executive Chef Christopher Chafe and his culinary team served an incredible number of meals to three waves of guests at this year’s Christmas in November. As part of the 30th anniversary menu, chef Chafe shared a Bacon, Lentil and Tomato Bisque that warmed my soul, and my belly.

The tasty twist in this BLT soup is the popped lentils, which give the smoky bacon soup a wonderful crunch. * You’ll need to pop the lentils overnight before making this savoury soup, but it’s worth it!

What you’ll need…

Popped lentils
¼ cup green lentils
¾ cup vegetable stock or water
¼ cup canola oil

Bacon lardons
20 strips thick cut bacon

Tomato Bisque
1 thyme spring
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
½ tsp peppercorns
2 onion; chopped
1 fresh red peppers; chopped
1 celery stalk; chopped
4 cloves garlic; minced
4-500mL can of tomatoes
2 L (8 Cups) vegetable stock or water
½ bunch basil; thinly sliced
200 mL whipping cream
to taste kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and sour cream

Directions:

Popped lentils
One day prior to making the soup, Cook over low heat for 40 to 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain.

Set on an oiled baking sheet one layer thick, in a preheated oven at the lowest temperature setting (160 F) overnight.

The next day, heat a frying pan with ¼ cup of canola oil until oil is about to smoke.

Fry the dehydrated lentils in the shallow frying pan in the hot canola oil until crispy. Drain and reserve.

Bacon lardons
Lay out bacon on a sheet tray one slice at a time and ensure that they do not touch each other.

Bake in preheated oven, 14 minutes or until done, in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F. Drain fat and reserve aside to cool.

Chop bacon into coarse bacon bits.

Tomato Bisque
Strain the canned tomatoes, reserving the juice.

Lightly coat the tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast the tomatoes at 450˚F for 30 minutes and set aside.

Make a spice bag (sachet). Use a piece of cheesecloth and place the thyme sprig, bay leaves, fennel seeds and peppercorns. You can tie the sachet with a piece of string to keep it together.

In a large pot, sauté the onion, garlic and celery in 2tbsp olive oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Add the roasted tomatoes and juice. Add your sachet, a pinch of salt and reduce for 10 min bringing remaining moisture from the tomatoes. Add the stock and simmer for another half hour.

Remove the sachet; add in half the basil and purée the soup in your blender until the smooth.

Using a fine sieve strain the soup back into your pot. Add the whipping cream and bring to a simmer. Set aside and keep warm.

To assemble, add half a teaspoon of crispy lentils and half a teaspoon of bacon bits to the bottom of the bowl, ladle in a serving of the soup, and spoon in a dollop of sour cream you may add some fresh ground pepper and basil as additional garnish. Enjoy!

Recap: RGC Bench Creek Brewery Swine & Dine

Last Thursday night, chef Steve Buzak at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton’s river valley teamed up with Bench Creek Brewing to deliver our first Swine & Dine of 2018. Two years ago, chef Buzak was the first to deliver a beer-paired Swine & Dine to rave reviews, and last week’s event was another Passion for Pork success.

Irvings Farm back wrapped prunes with blue cheese.

I arrived early so I could sneak a peek in the kitchen. Chef Buzak was happy to show off the sous vide Bear & The Flower pork belly, Memphis Style ribs, and devil on horseback appetizer with a prune and blue cheese twist.

Bear & the Flower Farm ribs.
Bear & the Flower Farm Alberta pork belly

Guests were welcomed to the tray passed appetizers of Memphis Style Ribs (a recipe that chef Buzak shared during a previous June is Pork month), and bacon-wrapped prunes were paired with Bench Cree Brewery’s Black Spruce Porter (5.8 %).

After all guests were seated we were greeted by chef Buzak and the Royal Glenora Club (RGC) team, who shared his excitement at hosting another beer-paired Swine & Dine.

After explaining that beer is easier to pair with food than wine – he introduced his first course for the evening – a fennel roasted pork belly served with a sweet potato puree, smoked corn, apricot and orange gastrique.

Our first course was served with  Naked Woodsman Pale Ale (5.2%), which was introduced by our Bench Creek Brewery guru Cassandra. The beer is known for notes of fresh bread and light caramel malt flavours mixed with bright floral, grapefruit and orange hop aromatics. There’s a sweetness to it – apricot and peach hop flavours combine with subdued citrus. It finishes with a star of anise spiciness that makes you think this somewhat fruit-forward brew.

We joked with chef Buzak that my boyfriend’s only complaint with the first course was that it was too small – he could have eaten six more! Chef Buzak warned us there were many courses to come – and our second surf & turf course was sure to fill us up. I loved the seafood chowder chef Buzak served with double smoked Irvings Farm bacon croutons. The potato veloute soup was velvety smooth and served with blackened prawn & scallops and topped with a citrus foam.

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Our soup was served with Bench Creek’s White Raven IPA (6.5%), a robust beer with huge aromatics of orange, grapefruit, passion fruit and mango with a touch of pine. The signature flavours of Munich and crystal malts contribute a complex toffee-caramel backbone that nicely balances the bitterness from the hops.

As our main course was being plated, I snuck back into the kitchen for a preview of our main course.

Once our plates were ready to be served, chef Buzak came back to the dining room to introduce our next dish – the RGC signature spice-rubbed Bear & the Flower Farm pork loin. The tender Alberta pork was served with a cider jus and accompanied by Brussels sprouts and a Fuge Meats chorizo and northern bean cassoulet.

Our main was paired with Bench Creek’s Northern Grace Red Rye India Pale Ale (6.2%), which boasts flavours of rich toffee, dark caramel, dried plum, and spicy, earthy malt notes mixed with juicy orange, passionfruit, geranium, and stone fruit flavours.

For dessert, chef Buzak turned my memories of building fireside s’mores into a flavourful creme brûlée that had my spoon searching for just one more bite.

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Chef Buzak’s s’mores creme brulee & maple candied Irvings Farm bacon was accented with cardamom marshmallows, Peruvian cacao nibs, and an espresso melt away chocolate that chef made with coconut oil.

I’ve confessed it many times while recapping swine & dine dinners – I’m not a fan of chocolate, but I was a huge fan of this dessert. There were so many flavours and textures at play in this playful dessert – I would happily order this dessert again!

Our final Bench Creek pairing of the night was from the brewery’s Villainous Series – with the can showcasing an ode to Drexl Spivey from the movie True Romance. The Drexl Blackstrap Imperial Stout (11%) is barrel-aged, pitch black, dark and I’m told it paired wonderfully with Chef Buzak’s campfire creation.

I’d like to thank the chef Steve Buzak, Derek, and the entire team at the RGC for hosting another incredible Swine & Dine dinner. It was great to learn more about Bench Creek Brewing (I know a few people at my table were more than happy to claim this gluten-free girl’s beers throughout the dinner).

Chef Buzak is a great chef that is consistently hosting unique food events at the RGC that are open to non members. Check out their website or follow their social media feeds to learn more about upcoming events, including their monthly brunch series.

I’m hoping to work with chef Buzak to come up with some way to celebrate June is Pork month at the RGC, so stay tuned! That river valley patio sounds like the perfect place to enjoy some pig & pinot.

Swine & Dine with Bench Creek Brewing Mar 15 at the Royal Glenora Club

On March 15, 2018, chef Steve Buzak is pairing up with Alberta craft brewery Bench Creek Brewing for a beer-paired Swine & Dine at the Royal Glenora Club.

Two years ago, Chef Buzak treated swine & beer diners to our first ever beer-paired Swine & Dine. The event was a hit, and we are so excited to be heading back to Edmonton’s river valley RGC for another round.

Swine & Dine at the RGC with Bench Creek Brewing
Thursday, March 15, 2018
6:30 – 9:30 pm
$75, Seating is limited – reserve your space on Eventbrite.

If you love Alberta Pork and beer, you won’t want to miss this event. Check out this menu:

1st COURSE-
FENNEL ROASTED PORK BELLY
sweet potato puree, smoked corn, cherry gastric

2nd COURSE
SEAFOOD CHOWDER WITH DOUBLE SMOKED BACON CROUTON
voulte. wild prawn, scallop, bacon foam

3rd COURSE
SIGNATURE SPICE RUBBED BEAR AND THE FLOWER PORK LOIN
cider Jus, chorizo northern bean cassoulet & brussel sprouts

4th COURSE
S’MORES CRÈME BRULE & MAPLE CANDIED BACON
cardamom marshmallow cream, chocolate graham cracker

Featured Bench Creek Brewing Beers

  • Naked Woodsman Pale Ale
  • White Raven IPA
  • Northern Grace RRIPA
  • Black Spruce Porter
  • Drexl – Imperial Stout (February’s Villain)

Recipe: Graceland Squares

At this year’s Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, chef Anna Olson brought some retro flavour to their Alberta Pork sponsored session. Knowing that everyone loves church squares –  you know those squares made with coloured marshmallows, peanut butter and butterscotch chips – Anna added a few elements that would have had Elvis singing Lord Have Mercy.

This classic version has the added touch of a chocolate cookie crumb base, plus bacon and banana. These are ideal for any holiday cookie exchange – you will not be having a ‘Blue Christmas’ with these in your cookie tin.

Anna Olson‘s Graceland Squares

Base
1 1/2 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Topping
1 3/4 cups butterscotch chips
1 cup pure peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 strips of cooked bacon, finely chopped
2 small bananas, or 1 large, small dice
4 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Lightly grease an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan and line it with parchment paper so the paper comes up the sides.

Base
Combine the cookie crumbs and butter in a small mixing bowl and then press this into the prepared pan. Bake it for 10 minutes (just to set the crust – no change will be visible) and then cool on a rack while preparing the topping.

Topping
Place the butterscotch chips, peanut butter and butter into a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Remove this from the heat until the mixture is smooth. Remove this from the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl to cool for five minutes. Stir in the bacon and banana and then add the marshmallows, stirring so that they are fully coated.

Spread the mixture over the chocolate crumb bake and then chill for at least two hours to set. The squares cut wonderfully when chilled, but can then be stored in an airtight container and be served at room temperature.

The squares will keep in an airtight container for up to three days, or to store longer, keep for up to a week refrigerated.

Makes one 8-inch (20 cm) square pan
Cut into 36 squares