Tag Archives: Dr. Jessie Voigt

I8tonite: with Friends, Team Changes and Mashed Cauliflower

Courtesy of Apatow Productions
Courtesy of Apatow Productions

I was watching “Bridesmaids”, the hysterical friends and relationship comedy with Kristen Wiig.  Though the movie is heavily based on deep female friendships, there is a poignancy — that as a gay man with a multitude of amazing women comrades I can identify — that underlies the relationships. In one side-splitting scene, and there are so many, Melissa McCarthy’s character visits Wiig’s Annie, who is feeling sorry for herself. Her baking business went belly-up. She’s lost her apartment because she doesn’t have a job, lives with her mother. Her car is a junker. The only thing she isn’t doing is entering rehab. Basically, she’s hit rock bottom. But McCarthy, with her robustness, throttles Wiig’s character, by knocking her upside the head, proclaiming, “I’m life. Is life bothering you?” And yes it is…,.and it’s not going away, like McCarthy in the scene.

Six years, ago it was like that for me. A 14-year relationship went into the toilet. My business tanked. My ex-partner in business and in life, well — turned out not to be such a significant other. Broke. No home. No car. And starting life again past the age of forty. After leaving everything behind in San Francisco– including the dog – (heartbreaking), I retreated to Los Angeles and to my best friends: Shelley, Lulu, and Bonnie. There are also my dear friends such as Kim, Pat, Sophia, Margot, Barbara, Kathy, and Jenny – many of whom I have known since the beginning of my career — but the pattern for me is women. With a couple of exceptions, such as my oldest friend Sean, John and former therapist Peter, these women, plus many more (Tanya, Annie, Myra, Myrna, Linda Chester, Katherine Lape, Julie, Charlotte, Teryann, Rita, Beverly, Katherine, Christine, Beth, Janet, Penny, Sharon – I know I’m forgetting someone. Forgive me if I am as the list is lovingly long) have been my salvation. My family. My friends. My confidantes.

I know the fairer sex isn’t all peaches and cream. There are some women I would never want in my corner: Lizzie Borden, the female half of Bonnie and Clyde, and Sarah Palin to name a select few.

Overall, the ladies in my life have been strong, resilient and loving. (This is what my memoir is about: a series of personal essays on the women I have loved as a gay man.)

Jessie with Mallard Cottage's chef Todd Perrin - site of one of my favorite meals this year! St. John's, Newfoundland
Jessie with Mallard Cottage’s chef Todd Perrin

With all that said, in less than five months – I can’t believe it – i8tonite.com has grown as a site to roughly over 10,000 unique visitors per month. I can’t keep up with its content and rapid growth. So, I have brought on Dr. Jessie Voigts to become my collaborator, co-publisher, and co-editor to assist in the endeavor. Another great feminine presence – to keep my ass moving forward.

Jessie has another site called Wandering Educators. There she is Queen Bee, holding court amongst her loyal subjects discussing the importance of travel in education.

Cauliflower by Liz West.
Cauliflower by Liz West.

Mashed Cauliflower: This holiday eating season, I baked up cheesecakes, biscuits, breads, assorted pies, and cakes. Now, I need a sugar and flour respite and some weight loss. I’m getting older, and it doesn’t come off as fast as it once did. Additionally, I’m 49. I want to look good as I hit that mid-century, I want to look Daniel Craig-splendid, all sinew, and muscle, one more time before I hang up the Speedo. Not for anyone else…..but for me, and Nick.

I made this dish, and I may never ever go back to mashed potatoes again. (I love potatoes!) It held the pot roast gravy perfectly and was luxuriantly delectable. Who cared that there wasn’t a spud in it? And it’s low carb.

To Make: Boil a head or two of chopped cauliflower, minus the outer leaves, along with several garlic cloves. Cook until it falls apart. Strain. While, the vegetables and garlic are still hot, add a dollop of cream cheese (don’t argue), grated parmesan or asiago. Use an immersion blender to puree. Add some chives. Serve this puppy with anything. Game-changer.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite in New Brunswick, Canada: Executive Chef Jesse MacDonald, 1809

This is a guest post from Dr. Jessie Voigts of WanderingEducators.com

20150814_092224Tucked away on the mighty Miramichi River in Miramichi, New Brunswick is a long, yellow hotel with a big heart. The Rodd Miramichi River Hotel shows, like all Rodd hotels, the essence of friendliness and luxury. And the restaurant, 1809, at Rodd Miramichi is exquisite. We dined there this summer, at first on the riverside deck and then inside by the fireplace, as mosquitoes chased us in after dark.

Of course, the menu featured plenty of fish, including freshly caught Atlantic salmon (which New Brunswick, one of Canada’s Maritime Provinces, is known for) prepared 5 ways. There’s also lobster, classically prepared chicken, fresh pastas, and sandwiches and burgers. The seafood chowder was the best I’ve ever had – even with daily seafood chowder eating in Ireland – and my stuffed haddock filet was divine.

Chef Jesse MacDonald, 1809 Restaurant. Photo by Jessie Voight
Chef Jesse MacDonald, 1809 Restaurant. Courtesy by Jesse MacDonald

Executive Chef Jesse MacDonald hails from nearby Prince Edward Island, a 4th generation fishing family that led to him captaining a lobster boat. Jesse is young for an executive chef – he graduated from The Culinary Institute of Canada in 2010 – and it shows in his rapport with the staff and the delicious output of the high-volume kitchen. Known as the youngest Executive Chef in New Brunswick, his vision for sharing and eating locally sourced seafood and other fine ingredients sets him apart from the crowd. I had a chance to talk with him and share his vision (Watch an interview with Chef Jesse MacDonald) , which made me all the more impressed.

20150813_210707How long have you been cooking? 10 years.

What is your favorite food to cook? Anything seafood.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Not much sometimes– life of a chef, water/Gatorade/milk.

What do you cook at home? Depends on the day.

20150813_215613What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Willingness to experiment.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Preconceived opinions.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Beer to drink, wine to cook.

Your favorite cookbook author? Tough one, I love to read, I’ve been enjoying a lot of Michael Ruhlman’s books lately, currently in the middle of “Salumi“. I intend to read “Ratio: The Simple Codes behind the Craft of everyday Cooking” by the same author once I am finished. Michel Bras and Anthony Bourdain are toward the top of my list as well.

New Brunswick, Canada. Courtesy of Tourism New Brunswick

Your favorite kitchen tool? 10 ” Shun Classic Chefs Knife. I have a set of Richmond Plating Spoons my Grandmother got me for Christmas a few year back I am quite partial to.

Your favorite ingredient? Anything pork.

Your least favorite ingredient? Kale.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? I started out in the dish-pit (washing dishes), so I really believe no job is too big or too small for anyone in a kitchen.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian or French.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Hard to beat a good steak but, pork, not even a question.

Favorite vegetable? Cucumber.

Chef you most admire? Chef Dave Mottershall of Loka in Toronto, Ontario & Chef Warren Barr of Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino, British Columbia. I had the privilege to work for both of these Chefs in the past and they had a huge influence on me in my young career. Both of them have the desire and passion to allow you to see food differently. It was a huge eye opening experience for me. If you don’t know who these two are yet, give it time, you will.

Food you like the most to eat? That’s too tough. Although, I’ll always be satisfied with some fresh bread, cured meat, and something  “pickley“.

Food you dislike the most? Lobster.

How many tattoos?  Two. None of food yet, but there will be in the future.

Blackened Atlantic Salmon with Mango Pineapple Chutney

Blackened Salmon with Mango Pineapple Chutney. Photo by Jessie Voight
Blackened Salmon with Mango Pineapple Chutney. Courtesy of Chef Jesse MacDonald.

 Blackening Spice:

  • 4 Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp White Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Seasoning Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Dry Thyme

1) Mix all above ingredients well, set aside in bowl.

2) Roll filets of Salmon in Blackening Spice Mixture. Ensure to get all sides/edges of the fish. Discard remaining spice.

3) Once salmon is seasoned, sear in a  pan with olive oil on medium-high heat. Your fish is ready to place in the pan once the oil is almost smoking.

4) Sear the salmon show side down. (The show side is the top piece of the fillet, the bottom piece of the filet will be a slightly different colour pink as that’s where the skin was present at one time). Once a nice caramelization has formed, flip it and sear the bottom for about 2 minutes.

Miramachi River. New Brunswick. Courtesy of Tourism New Brunswick

5) Finish in oven for 4-9 minutes depending on the thickness of your salmon filet, or until the fish just begins to flake.

6) Remove from oven and let rest for 1 minute. Top salmon with a hearty tablespoon of Pineapple-Mango Chutney.

7) Serve with choice of Starch and your favourite mix of Local New Brunswick Vegetables!

Pineapple-Mango Chutney:

  • Mango, fresh     10 oz
  • Pineapple, fresh   1 whole
  • Curry Powder    1.5 oz
  • White Wine Vinegar       4 oz
  • Red Pepper, diced           8 oz
  • Red Onion, brunoise      3 oz

1) Combine all ingredients.

2) Simmer on medium-low heat for 35-60 minutes. Stirring well every 2-5 minutes.

3) There should be no residual moisture when the chutney is completed, it should be “au sec” a French cooking term which means “almost dry.” 

The End. Go Eat.