What our guests say about their KITCHEN experience

DINNER PARTY 013

I love what I do, and there’s nothing more rewarding than watching people leave KITCHEN with smiles on their faces and their bellies happy and full.

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But admittedly, I also love getting feedback from people after their experience. Gratefully, it’s overwhelmingly positive.

I could write at length about how fabulous I think our parties and cooking classes are, but I thought it would be better if you heard directly from some of the past guests in my KITCHEN. Here’s a few of their testimonials on what it is like to have a party at KITCHEN:

 

Well it’s 3:15 p.m. and we’re still full!  That is the sign of a fantastic meal.  We want to thank you so much for another amazing evening at “Kitchen by Brad”.  We are running out of ways to compliment your food. It would really be ideal if you could somehow be in each of the vehicles on the drive home as everyone describes their favourite dishes and the overall impressions of the evening.  Suffice it to say, the raves continue and we truly cannot believe how inventive, creative and delicious every single offering is year after year. 

I know that you feel so strongly about the importance of food and friendship and the ability of both to lead to that great evening filled with special memories.  All we can say is mission accomplished! Thanks so much Brad for sharing your talent and time with us again!

Kathy and Damien

 

I just wanted to thank you for an exceptional dinner last night.  It’s a great location and I really appreciate all of the work that you did in putting together an absolutely amazing meal.

 Susan

 

Thank you, Brad. It was a terrific experience and our Travel Alberta team were blown away. Honestly, we continue to be blown away each time we visit you. You, sir, are an easy experience to sell!

Brent
Edmonton Tourism

 

As I was describing the meal to my husband (he enjoyed spaghetti with the kids last night while I was at KITCHEN), I found myself repeatedly saying ‘it was so amazing’, and indeed it was. Thank you for a wonderful evening!

Camille

 

Thanks again for the amazing dinner on Saturday. Everyone had a great time and loved your food. It was truly a unique experience. Just wondering if you are able to provide me with the recipes for the dishes you made. I’ve been getting requests from the guests.

Chelsea

 

Thanks again for the wonderful meal, wine and service last night.  The evening is very special. Is it possible for me to obtain the recipe for the Korean duck?  I thought the flavours were outstanding.

Arthur 

 

Thanks again for such a wonderful evening on Saturday. Everyone had such an amazing time and Chelsea said it was the best birthday she ever had!

Amy

 

Brad, just wanted to say thanks again for hosting the event the other night.  You gave me a dessert to go, which was a big hit for my wife later that night!

Larry

 

Wow!  You made me look GOOD to our guests! Thank you so much for the wonderful evening. We have rave reviews all around. 

Cindy

 

I wanted to send you an email to thank you so much for everything last night.  Everyone really enjoyed themselves and everyone thought the food was fantastic!

Kathy 

My new “prep” cook

Rational oven at Kitchen web

Whether you are a home cook or a professional chef, it takes time to prepare a meal or more complicated recipe.

Doing most of my own “prep” work over the past year has led to some pretty long days at KITCHEN. To help carry some of the load, I got a “prep” cook. But I didn’t hire an employee. Instead, I bought a new oven.

My new oven is called a RATIONAL and it is made in Germany. This country has always been known for its automotive engineering, and I believe they should add kitchen equipment to their “famous for” list.

This new oven does so much work for me at KITCHEN it’s like having another set of hands. The oven is about the size of a small front load washing machine, and it’s hooked up to my water line allowing me to program the oven to generate steam for moist cooking applications.

Where I once had to stand over a hot cook top to brown pieces of beef for a beef stew, now I simply toss the beef with seasonings and oil, place in the oven, insert the probe and leave the rest to RATIONAL. The oven tells me how long to cook, when to add liquid, keeps a constant temperature so the meat doesn’t overcook and get tough, and of course, buzzes when everything is done. This is just one of a thousand applications. As a example, I can make bacon on two baking sheets and my RATIONAL cooks it to perfect crispness in 9 minutes with no grease, no mess and no fuss.

And here is the best part – when the oven get dirty, you simple add tablets like you would to a dishwasher, hit a few buttons and the oven washes itself sparkling clean in only 2 hours!

I can use my oven for canning, as a pressure cooker, to slow cook over night, make stock, cook pasta, steam vegetables and grill steaks. Truthfully, it is so much more than an oven. The possibilities are endless.

My family laughs at me when I talk about my new kitchen toy. It’s like the cooking version of an iPhone or iPad because it is that much fun. But my RATIONAL is more than just a nice to have kitchen gadget. As a research and product development chef for food service, I have to create dishes and menus that match what manufacturers or large food service providers would have in their own kitchens. The RATIONAL is an example of the new equipment they are purchasing as the oven maximizes yields, eliminate mistakes, provides consistency and most importantly, helps to make food taste better.

Because even the best cooks and chefs among us can use a little help from time to time.

KITCHEN products sale! Just in time for your Easter dinner

Brads product web shot

We are having another 2-day sale of KITCHEN food products – all of the things you need to make your Easter entertaining easier.

You can buy all of our signature products at KITCHEN on: THURSDAY MARCH 28, from 11am – 6pm, and SATURDAY MARCH 30 10am – 6pm. 

Our KITCHEN food products save you time and effort as they take the work out of some of the dishes on your Easter menu. These tasty items also make great hostess gifts:

  • Bacon Jam – transforms into many quick and easy appetizers, and it is spectacular on grilled cheese. Here are a few more ideas on how Bacon Jam can make your entertaining simple. $9.49 for 125ml jar
  • Saskatoon Compote – braised Saskatoons with honey, lemon & a touch of cinnamon. Great on ice cream or take Easter cakes to another level. $7.50 for 250ml jar
  • Hot Fudge Sauce – some say this is the best hot fudge sauce ever. All I know is that it is good on everything from ice cream to brownies. $7.50 for 250ml jar
  • Pomegranate Dressing – Not only is this great on salads, but it awesome on roasted lamb or as a glaze for your Easter ham. $7.50
  • BBQ Rub – this rub works with pretty much any meat. Chicken, beef, pork, shrimp. Keep your protein moist and juicy while adding just a hint of spice. $7.50 for 250ml jar
  • Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce – this rich, flavourful sauce is great mixed with pasta, or on chicken, fish, potatoes or perogies. $10.00 for 250ml jar

Supplies are limited so get here early!

While shopping for KITCHEN products, you can also stock up on some other great, local products. We will also have for sale: Newget, Bryanne’s Hunny (100% Alberta honey), DeFazio Biscotti, and cookies from The Art of Cake.

KITCHEN is located at: #101, 10130 – 105 Street, Edmonton, Alberta

If you want more details, would like to reserve your order, or need directions, give Brad a call at 780-757-7704.

Happy Easter! See you soon in our KITCHEN.

My thoughts on food trends

read ingredient label

There’s always something new and exciting in food. But is it any of it any good? Are these new products and approaches to food here for awhile, or are they a flash in the pan? And how do you distinguish between something that is built to last, or will be gone by next season?

Food trends are a big part of my business as a chef and particularly as a research chef. Companies hire me to help them develop their next “big” food product. As a result, I spend a lot of time in grocery stores and restaurants, watching people make food choices, and so I can check out different food products and concepts.

A few of the things I have noticed or have learned in my trend watching and travels:

- On average, families have an average of 28 minutes to get dinner on the table for the entire family, which is not a long time. Even though the time crunch is on, expectations are high. Families want well balanced meals that taste great and deliver value. The definition of value can change depending on the day of the week; cheap and cheerful on weekdays, a willingness to “treat” yourself on a Friday, and more savory, time intensive cooking on the weekend. This reality influences the recipes and food products I create for my clients.

- Most people like to cook, but what they don’t like is: the prep work, handling raw chicken, chopping garlic. Everyone just wants to cook like Gordon Ramsey. Make it look and feel easy, with minimal effort.

- For most people, cooking is treated as a hobby more than a life skill. Because of this, it’s important to find ways to make food and cooking fun.

- People are reading labels more, reviewing the ingredients that go into what they eat.

- The big growth in processed food products will be in the premium and discount categories.

- There will be more and new uses for iconic products. For example, crackers are becoming coatings and toppings.

- Heritage chicken is making more of a presence in markets, stores and on dinner tables.

- People are looking for smaller portions so they can try a wider variety of foods in one sitting, instead of filling up on the 12 oz steak.

I spend a lot of time in the grocery store or in restaurants watching how people interact with and experience food. When I was a kid growing up, McDonalds, A&W and Harvey’s were all considered “treats”, not a substitute for a home cooked meal. Whereas today, a fast food meal often fills in for what could have been prepared at home. I don’t say that as a criticism, but as an observation about how we view family meal times.

I also go to four to six food shows/conference a year; from the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, to the annual Research Chefs Conference held in different parts of the US. These are places where I get to see the products that are going to make it on the shelves in the near future. It’s a heads up on what’s next.

I am very fortunate at KITCHEN because my clients and guests let me try new things with the food I cook for them. I like to think outside the box, cooking just beyond the perimeter of where most people think about, prepare and cook food. At all times, I focus on making food approachable while still giving it a funky “Brad” twist. For example, I just came back from the Research Chefs Conference in North Carolina. My travels and dining out there inspired me to play around with different Southern flavors. As a result, I created my own version of a dipping sauce I had at a Carolina restaurant one night. The end result was unveiled last Friday at a KITCHEN Party. I can confidently say my new “Devils Butter” was a hit.

Whatever the trend or product, I encourage you to experiment and see how new ideas, ingredients, flavours or approaches to food can inspire you to cook more and taste new things. At the very least, it will create great conversations points around your dinner table.

 

Seeing our food through someone else’s eyes

Chinese food

Who doesn’t remember as a kid going out with your parents for Chinese food? Back then, Chinese food was the only Asian-style cooking available. There wasn’t much Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, etc. And this was years before we distinguished Chinese food by the region it came from in China – Szechuan, Hunan, Cantonese and others.

Now the tables have turned on us, so to speak.

I recently had the privilege to host a group of tour operators from China at KITCHEN. These travel professionals sell tour packages to visit Edmonton and Alberta to people living in China. And from what I gathered from this group, interest in travelling to Edmonton, Alberta and Canada is growing.

Much like us North Americans who explored the Asian food scene first with “western” Chinese, then Szechuan, then Hunan and so on, the Chinese have a growing interest in our cuisine. Their hunger has progressed beyond the typical North American burger and fries.

For my guests, there was as much excitement in seeing a bison or moose for the first time, as there was in tasting bison or moose for the first time. While there is more than beef in Alberta, beef is what we are known for. When I served braised boneless short ribs from Spring Creek Ranch with locally made Brassica Mustard, my guests were amazed that the ranch where the beef came from was only a hundred kilometres away. They were equally impressed that the beets were locally grown, served with honey from a town just a short drive away (Wetaskwin). Potatoes from The Little Potato Company were a fascination because of their size, and in part because they were topped with horseradish cream fraiche. With a Saskatoon tart for dessert; a berry virtually unknown in many other countries, served with homemade honey ice cream, their perspective of Edmonton, Alberta and Canada went from good to great.

My time with these international travel professionals was proof that Canada and Alberta are becoming known for more than our environment and beautiful surroundings.

This KITCHEN party was an eye opener for me. It made me realize how important “the experience” is. It was cool to watch people from other cultures experience and enjoy what we have to offer. It also reinforced the idea that if we celebrated our food a little bit more and really told its story, more people would be more interested in exploring what we have in our own backyard. You don’t need to leave the city or province to experience and taste something new.

And finally, this experience made me realize that sometimes you need to see your world through someone else’s eyes to truly appreciate what we have – including our food. We are fortunate to have so many great food products in Edmonton and around Alberta.

No matter where you come from, it is food that connects us all.

Recipes from 2013 Edmonton Woman’s Show

I had the opportunity to do a few cooking demonstrations at the Edmonton Woman’s Show this weekend.  If you caught the demo and want to make the recipes in your own kitchen, here you go!

Potato Alfredo

2lbs             par boiled baby potatoes

Sauce

2 tablespoons     cornstarch
1 tablespoon     crushed garlic (or more)
2 cup     10% cream
2 tablespoons     Butter
1-2 teaspoons  salt
½ teaspoon    black pepper
¼ teaspoon    ground nutmeg

½ cup    grated parmesan cheese

Place all of the ingredients for the sauce in a heavy saucepan and whisk over medium heat until sauce has reached a boil and has thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

(You can make the sauce with parmesan cheese one day ahead of time.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix potatoes with sauce and pour into greased baking dish and bake uncovered for 1 ½ to two hours, or until the sauce has thickened, and is golden brown around the edges.

Serve immediately.

 

Roasted Root Vegetables with Honey Vinaigrette

1 lb   brussel sprouts, halved
1 lb    butternut squash, cubed
1 lb    diced onions, (1/2 inch in size)
1 lb    diced carrots (1/2 ince in size)
2 tablespoons  canola oil
pepper to taste

Honey Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon    Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons     honey
2 tablespoons    red wine vinegar or any other vinegar, other than plain white
½ cup   cold pressed canola oil
1-2    garlic cloves (whole), optional

Salt/pepper

Place all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small glass container and shake well.  Taste the dressing to make sure the seasoning is correct and that the dressing tastes balanced.  Do not be afraid to adjust to your liking.

Place all the vegetables in a large bowl, toss with the canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour onto a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree degree oven for 30-40 minutes, checking once to stir the vegetables. Once vegetables are done, sprinkle with fresh herbs, the honey vinaigrette, add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

Host your breakfast or lunch meeting at KITCHEN

KITCHEN boardroom table

Meetings have a bad reputation. But we’re giving them an image make-over now that you can host your business meeting in our KITCHEN.

I know from experience that it can be hard to find a convenient, central location to hold a breakfast or lunch meeting. Add in that you require privacy, and it becomes even more difficult. That’s why it made sense to have KITCHEN play host to breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings. We have a private, boardroom-style table (as you can see in the photo above) that’s perfect for meetings, retreats and planning sessions for up to 12 people.

Plan your meeting, invite your colleagues or guests, and we take care of the rest!

If it’s an early morning meeting, we can prepare a breakfast of waffles, sausages and maple syrup. Or we can go European and lay out an assortment of cold meats, cheese and fresh baking.

If it’s a midday meeting, we can prepare a lunch of chicken pot pie with our famous KITCHEN sink salad and olive oil bread. Or perhaps our take on beef bourguignon might be more your style.

We also create mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks to fuel smart thinking all day long.

All of our food is made from scratch, on site, using local ingredients wherever possible.

The best part about holding your meeting at KITCHEN is that we throw in all the little extras. Every time you book a meeting it includes complimentary coffee, tea, sparkling water, wifi, a large screen TV, and flip chart and markers.

Pricing depends on your menu and of course, the number of people participating in your meeting. Contact us to discuss your needs and we can provide you with menu options and more details.

 

 

 

I’d rather be a “cook”

Kitchen_By_Brad_Smoliak_dinner_party

It is true. I’d rather be called a cook than a chef.

I had the honour of recently being profiled in NAIT‘s Techlife magazine. One of my good friends and favourite authors, Jennifer Cockrall-King, wrote the article and I thought the photo from Blaise van Malsen turned out pretty good too. Read the article and let me know what you think.

But what I liked most about this feature story is that it highlighted my philosophy on food and cooking. I believe food should be tasty to eat AND fun to prepare. I enjoy spending the time creating new dishes and coming up with recipes. The article mentions how I commented that many chefs get caught up in the business of running their restaurant, managing staff and minding the bottom line. These are all important responsibilities, but they take away from being able to love and create food.

No matter where KITCHEN and my career takes me, I always want to have the the time and freedom to love food. If that makes me a cook, so be it!

Holiday gift giving & entertaining made simple

Brads product web shot

Many of KITCHEN’s signature products are perfect for your holiday entertaining or gift giving:

  • Bacon Jam – a perfect stocking stuffer for the men on your Christmas list. And, it transforms into many quick and easy appetizers for that upcoming holiday party. Here are a few more ideas on how Bacon Jam can make your holiday entertaining and cooking simple. $9.49 for a 125ml jar
  • Espresso Caramel – a buttery caramel sauce with a subtle coffee flavour that takes ice cream or cake to another level. $7.50 for a 250ml jar
  • Hot Fudge Sauce – some say this is the best hot fudge sauce ever. All I know is that it is damn good on everything from ice cream to brownies, and when paired with the espresso caramel it makes for a perfect gift for the dessert lovers on your naughty and nice lists. $7.50 for a 250ml jar
  • BBQ Rub – this rub works with pretty much any meat. Chicken, beef, pork, shrimp. Keep your protein moist and juicy while adding just a hint of spice. $7.50 for a 250ml jar
  • Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce – this rich, flavourful sauce is great mixed with pasta, or on chicken, fish, potatoes or perogies. $7.50 for a 250ml jar

Buy these products at KITCHEN for three days from Wednesday, December 19 to Friday, December 21 from 11am to 7pm. Drop by for a sample, purchase your gifts from KITCHEN (stock is limited!), and check off tasks on your holiday entertaining list and gifts from your shopping list.

You can also stock up on two other great, local products while you are here – Newget and Mojo’s Pickles are also available for purchase.

KITCHEN is located at: #101, 10130 – 105 Street, Edmonton, Alberta

If you want more details, or need directions, give me a call at 780-757-7704.

Happy Holidays! See you soon in the KITCHEN.

The many different ways to use Bacon Jam

Bacon jam and pasta web

I’ve been asked how and where to use my new Bacon Jam. There are so many different ways to incorporate Bacon Jam into your regular recipes and cooking. Get creative and see what you come up with (and share your ideas with me in the comments section below).

To inspire you, here are some ideas on how to use Bacon Jam:

  • make your standard grilled cheese sandwich, but spread some Bacon Jam on the inside of one of the slices of bread before you grill it
  • put a dab of Bacon Jam on a cracker with a slice of old cheese
  • stir in some Bacon Jam into leftover tomato or alfredo sauce and toss with some pasta (try ravioli like I did in the photo above) for a bacony good pasta dish
  • love BLTs? Make this classic sandwich but substitute Bacon Jam for the strips of bacon
  • Bacon Jam is a great condiment on a burger. Spread on a toasted bun, add your homemade burger and cheese, and top with a little arugula or lettuce.
  • stir Bacon Jam into your mashed potatoes
  • Mix it with ground meat for an amazing meatloaf
  • Stir in with scrambled  eggs for a ready-made bacon and eggs
  • Top some oysters on the half shell with bacon jam and bake
  • Tossed with roasted little potatoes

Enjoy!  Now tell me how you’ve used Bacon Jam in your cooking.

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