Bogner’s has always had a special place in my heart. Even back when it was the restaurant called Granny Bogner’s, and vicariously, even before that.
Back in 1978/79, when I was a young reporter-photographer with the Penticton Herald, I learned from one of my colleagues, and still close friend, Sonni Bone, that this beautiful property was once her home. Many years before, she had been married to Jack Bone and he had broken her heart by selling the historic mansion.
Last year one of the highlights of the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers’ Workshop, organized by food writer Jennifer Cockrall-King, was a fabulous food and wine paired dinner at Bogner’s. Chef and Owner Darin Paterson presented a most amazing menu that had even the most jaded food writers of the group in awe. So, when I heard he was offering cooking classes, I couldn’t wait to be part of it.
Unfortunately, the first dates didn’t work out for me and I had to live vicariously, once again, through my food blogger buddy Val Harrison’s experience. (See her blog at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/2011/04/chicken-saltimbocca-with-shaved-lemon.html)
I think I was the first to register when he announced his May 15 French Cooking Class and after attending it, I will be back for more! Jennifer came along on assignment as she took time out from her soon-to-be-released book on urban agriculture.
The menu included Spinach Salad with Rhubarb Compote Yoghurt Dressing garnished with Crisp Candied Bacon & Almonds; Pot au Feu de la Mer – Fennel Stuffed Sea Bass with Blanched Root Vegetables and Beurre Blanc Potatoes; and Dark Chocolate Tart with Vanilla Whipped Cream.
After reviewing the menu with the eclectic group of eager participants, Bogner’s Chef/Proprietor Darin Paterson led us through the preparation in his commercial kitchen assisted by First Cook Shawn Roux. If you love food, there’s nothing quite like getting a behind the scenes look into the kitchen.
The lesson went beyond the kitchen and into the gardens Chef Darin has developed in the yard just outside the restaurant.
We picked spinach, chives, rhubarb and parsnips. Yes, that’s right – we picked big, beautiful parsnips from a garden in May in the northern hemisphere! Chef Darin had planted them back in October.
While we stayed on the property for this class, Bogner’s also maintains an acreage garden just north of Penticton to supply the restaurant. When they say local and farm-to-table on this menu, they really mean it!
Back in the kitchen, after our vegetables and herbs had been gathered, Chef Darin showed us how to make a Pate Brisee. While Chef Darin provided the recipe for Chocolate Tart Filling and Pate Brisee components of the dessert, he explained that much of what was done in this kitchen was by sight and tasting based on the proportion being made at the time. It would rest in the fridge while we built the other components of the meal.
He then demonstrated how to scale and filet the sea bass.
We each had to filet our own fish and every scrap left from bones to head was set into a pot to create a stock.
At various stages yellow onion, celery, fennel, garlic, lightly sautéed mushrooms, and chardonnay were added.
Next we prepared the candied bacon and almonds that would play a starring role in our salads. All the while Chef Darin reinforced the importance of using the best of ingredients.
For example, with the cured bacon he recommended a local supplier, A & K Grimm’s Sausage Ltd. The slices were laid out on a silicone lined baking sheet, sprinkled with shifted icing sugar which would ultimately give it a glossy appearance, then covered with a sheet of silicone, another baking sheet, weighted to make it flat and placed in a 420 F oven and baked to crispy perfection.
For the almonds, we were instructed to place them in a bowl of water and then transfer them to a dry bowl, gently agitating them while adding sugar and a pinch of Chinese five spice seasoning. Once uniformly coated, these, too, would be placed in the oven under high heat 450 F to roast.
“Don’t walk away from this process,” Chef Darin warned because they roast up quickly and you’ll know they are done from the dry candied look they take on.
We then learned how to create thin slices of crisp rhubarb, which Bogner’s does in advance, blanching fresh rhubarb slices, adding sugar and storing in Cryovac bags. We learned about making our own yogurt and its versatility. As you might expect, there is very little coming out of Bogner’s kitchen that is not made on site. Some rhubarb was peeled and the skin used for consommé, while the other part was diced for compote with sugar, all to be part of our Rhubarb Compote Yoghurt Dressing.
It was time to prepare our vegetables. The potatoes with skins were set to happily boil for our Beurre Blanc Potatoes with chives.
The fish stock strained and split into one larger pot to cook the parsnips and regular carrots while a second pot cooked the Black Knight carrots, an attractive purple variety that needed to be cooked separately so as not to bleed into the pale parsnips and orange carrots.
Our attention then turned the pastry and preparing the chocolate tart. We added the chocolate custard and set them to bake.
In a kitchen where so much is done from scratch, there is no time to waste. When Shawn wasn’t assisting to provide us the tools and ingredients we needed to try to emulate the process, he was in the back kitchen getting a jump on elements for the week’s menu such as pasta.
Thinly sliced fennel tossed with a few sprigs of its deep green tops was mixed with microplaned lemon peel, olive oil, salt and pepper, and then stacked inside our fish filet.
We had been sipping glasses of wine all along and sampled a few items such as the candied nuts and bacon. However, by this time with all the talk and handling of food, we were famished and delighted to build our salad and head into the dining room.
The salad was superb and we had an opportunity to probe further into the science and art of the steps we had followed. The Blue Mountain Pinot Noir was highly appreciated as well. Hunger pangs knocked back for the moment, we returned to the kitchen to complete the main course.
In piping hot pans with just a touch of oil we flash fried both sides of our filet to crisp the skin and lock in flavours before finishing it in the oven. The potatoes were mashed with lots of butter and chives and our plate construction began.
A ring of potatoes served as base. The colourful vegetables were strategically stacked, the gorgeous lightly browned filet placed, luscious fish stock ladled over top, chives added to garnish and finally a squirt or two of herb oil to punctuate the masterpiece.
Once more we were off to the dining room to consume our creations with a lovely Kettle Valley Rock Oven 2005 to complement them.
The contrasts were amazing with the fennel stuffing keeping the sea bass moist while the crisp skin added a crunch. The vegetables were cooked enough to intensify their distinct characters without losing some bite. The mashed potatoes graciously soaked up the sauces and ensured not an element was sacrificed. (When I initially saw the plated course, I was concerned no soup spoons had been set out to lap up the last of the aromatic broth. No worries though, not a morsel was lost.)
Then it was back to the kitchen to snag the final course.
The dessert gave testament to the term loving spoonful, each taste a celebration of flavour. Dense, rich chocolate that was not overly cloying highlighted by the vanilla whipped cream and sweet sauce. Did I mention the chocolate ice cream was homemade and the vanilla in the whipped cream Bogner’s own extract?
This delectable treat was a fitting close to a fine meal. And the experience would have qualified as exquisite had it ended there. Ah, but it did not end there. Did I mention what a thrill it was to me to be in this house, let alone the kitchen of such an accomplished chef? Then, you might appreciate my joy when Chef Darin invited anyone interested to venture into the cellar to view the home-cured meats. Oh yes, Bogner’s cures meats such as ham and lamb with the patience to age them over a number of years to bring them to peak.
Below, with permission, I’ve included the recipes that Chef Darin provided. He noted that these are highly flexible recipes that can be altered to accommodate a variety of applications. For the May 15, 2011 French Cooking Class the total cost including tax, gratuities, food-wine pairing, and amazing culinary information was $70.
By the way, if cooking classes aren’t your thing, Bogner’s is a restaurant. You don’t have to share my fascination with chefs’ kitchens to have a wonderful experience here! Check out the website for seasonal menu offerings and special events.
302 Eckhardt Ave W
Penticton, BC V2A 2A9
Chocolate Tart Filling
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup milk
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
To make the filling: Heat the heavy cream and milk in a pot over medium-low flame, until it simmers slightly around the edges. Remove from the heat; add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smoothed out. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until well incorporated. Beat the eggs in a small bowl until blended and add them to the chocolate mixture, stir until completely blended. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake at 325 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes until the filling is set and the surface is glossy. If you see any bubbles or cracks forming on the surface, take the tart out right away – that means it is beginning to become over baked. Cool before cutting.
In a food processor, place the flour salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. Add remaining water, if necessary. Do not process more than 30 seconds.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface and gather it into a ball. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, flatten each portion into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour before using. This will chill the butter and allow the gluten in the flour to relax. At this point you can also freeze the dough for later use.
For each disk of pastry, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to fit into a 8 or 9 inch (20 to 23 cm) tart or pie pan. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart or pie pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than your pan.
2 ½ cups (350 grams) flour
1 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
¼ to ½ cup (60 to 120 ml) ice water
***For chocolate dough, exchange 15% of flour for cocoa powder***