One Very Sexy Salad

One Very Sexy Salad









Over the years working as a chef for high profile socialites you get a lot of requests to be inventive and perform outside the box when it comes to pleasing clients who have tried it all.

Back in 1984 I was working for a hospitality agency that found small projects for maverick chefs that were between jobs. A lot of projects that I was involved in were being designed and built to specs and would fall behind schedule for whatever reason. This gave me lots of slack time to take on other short term cooking positions.

I was contacted by Gino Emprio of the Royal York asking me to produce a menu for a fundraiser that would be hosted by Liz Taylor, Carol Burnet along with a lot of high society Torontonians.

Back then I was at my best and you were only as good as your last meal.

I just finished a high profile stint at the Elm Club while waiting to head a new concept restaurant which was under construction. I was asked to incorporate a menu style containing new fusion food items.

In other words you could put your own spin on a recipe making it a signature dish.

The marriage of foods from different cultures was the in thing and plate presentation was pushed to the wow factor.

Being a chef with an open food cost meant that the sky was the limit and the creation of new recipes included using foods like blue fin tuna, Kobe beef, Iranian caviar, truffles, exotic air dried meats, unpasteurized cheeses, and specialty seafood, legumes and condiments from around the world.

The first time I was served smoke tuna my flavour buds were totally aroused. It tasted like x rated smoked salmon.

My first recipe creation was using it as the foundation for an eggs benny which Pierre Trudeau was served and he gave me a “holy fuddle duddle” two thumbs up. It wasn’t till I was asked to make a salad to showcase smoked tuna did I come up with this recipe for the fund raiser.

The ingredients for this recipe are key to getting the full effect of this salad.

Fresh figs are available at a good vegetable market. Smoked tuna and walnut oil is available at most gourmet food shops.

You will need for this recipe:

  • 6 fresh ripe figs
  • 6 oz. of thin sliced Smoked Tuna
  • 1 cup of fresh stem less basil leaves
  • 3 cups of stem less spinach leaves
  • 3 oz. of Blue Chevre cheese crumbled into bite size pieces.

Honey and Lemon Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh clover or lavender honey
  • 6 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 pinch of cayenne powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

In a jar add all the dressing ingredients and shake vigorously till well blended. Refrigerate.

Now cut into the figs crown, but not quite to the bottom. Using your thumb and forefinger, squeeze the base of the fig to reveal the inside which should open like a new tulip and cut into six sections. Place ½ cup spinach leaves on a plate.

Place figs strategically a little off centre on top of the spinach for best presentation. Then scatter ripped pieces of the smoked tuna around each fig section Top with the ripped up basil and crumbled the Bleu Chevre cheese.

Drizzle the honey and lemon dressing making sure to pour some over the figs and over the spinach leaves.

Side with some fresh toasted baguette crisps, some frozen vodka or a good sparkling wine.