Need a new ideas for a mid summer menu

Joined Jun 30, 2010
Hi all, first timer here, glad to see such an informative site.  

I am looking for new ideas to present to my chef.  We run a seasonal menu and are about to change our evening menu.  I live in NB, Canada(east coast).  The proteins I'm looking to work on are lamb rack, duck breast, chicken supreme and salmon.  It's a fine dining restaurant. 

I had thought to do something with blueberries and duck as they are comming in soon.  Do they pair?  The lamb we can't do an herb crust on because we do that on our lunch menu.  Salmon I'm a little lost on.  I feel like I've been doing cream sauces for salmon all my life and I want something light and fresh.  The chicken always seems to end up stuffed with something or other.  What else can I do?  All thoughts, input and comments appreciated.

P.S.  Garnish is not my responsibility but if any suggestions for food pairing are welcomed.
Joined Oct 23, 2008
Considering how fatty salmon is, I find that it grills very well. I also enjoy pairing grilled salmon with couscous, and often a fresh salad/salsa including cucumbers and cilantro to crisp things up.
Joined Jun 30, 2010
I should point out that the restaurant is very small, at least in the kitchen area.  We have one range, 6 burner plus 24 inch flattop that we never use.  It also has a salamander and the radiant heat ovens.  So all the ideas have to be limited to pan or oven cooking.

I love the couscous idea thank you.  Also a big fan of cilantro.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I've got a little trouble getting my head around the idea of a restaurant in New Brunswick serving pacific salmon. But that's just me.

If you can get them from your supplier (they seem to be less and less common, nowadays) think about getting true steaks. Truss 'em, and cook on the grill, any of innumerable ways, such as

Bourbon-Glazed Salmon

1 cup brown sugar, packed

6 tbls bourbon

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbls fresh lime juice

Zest of one lime

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 garlic cloves, mashed

4 salmon steaks, trussed

Combine all ingredients except salmon in a zipper bag. Mix well to combine. Add salmon and marinate for 30 minutes.

Grill the salmon (or pop under the broiler) 4-5 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, reduce marinade until slightly thickened. Drizzle over fish.  

So far as pairing, I like this with shoestring potatoes and an orange/beet salad.
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
How hard to you want to work on prep? Reason I ask is I have a great way of preparing fish, but it's time consuming.

What you do is take salmon filets and filets of a firm, white-fleshed fish. Cut them into strips about a quarter inch square and 8 or so inches long. Then braid them, using two salmon strips and one white, and two white and one salmon. They come out neater if you braid from the middle. The finished braids should wind up about six inches long.

Cook these by broiling, using any fruity glaze of your choice. Serve 2 of these on a bed of faro, with a fruity salad that matches the glaze. For instance, if you use an orange glaze, then an orange/red onion salad might be a good complement.
Joined Mar 9, 2010
Basil Pesto Salmon

Start using that flat top for some serious searing ....

Sear Salmon on the flat top both finish off in the oven with Pesto ontop and drizzle with a lemon buerre blanc when plating ....And nice side of organic greens

It really is too bad you can't grill ...being such a summer thing to do

The Supremes you can marinate them in lemon juice, thyme, oregano,fresh cracked pepper,and EVVO for about an hour

sear on flat top ,,,dip supremes back into marinade and finish off in the oven (second marinade an old Greek trick)

A light cucumber cold sauce is in order for this make up your own!  Tabbouleh to accompany makes cool summer treat

For your Rack and Duck think of ways to use that flat would be nice to have a grill but we can always create with what we have ...just gotta get those creative juices flowing
Joined Aug 25, 2009
 Great ideas Gypsy.....

Duck Breast is wonderful with a rich sauce.

For me there are so many wonderful sauces to put with this:

Cranberry Port sauce



Creamy mushroom - Basic , olive oil, onion, buttoon mushrooms, oyster, shiitake (or others), thyme, parsley, white wine, cream, salt and pepper


Chinese duck sauce

Then there is chocolate......(yes )

Fried Duck, with a chocolate port reduction

Braised – Chocolate and cherry

Chocolate and blackberry

And Mario Batali's has a nice one you should check (when he was in Spain) Anatra Al Cioccolato .

There is another favorite of mine which I make with my sister in law , (recipe supplied by Chef BDL) called “ Duck in the Spanish Style “ which is wonderful also.

Duck with sour cream and green onion

Salmon : Laced with horseradish , maple syrup and lemon, served on a bed of 3 color vegetables

Salmon Caponata

Lamb : Do a Madras rub- salt, garlic, tomato paste, grated ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon, mustard seeds, tumeric, coriander, cayenne.

Lebanese chicken: Do a rub – juice and zest of 2 lemons, a lot of chopped garlic, olive oil, cinnamon, saffron, cumin, thyme, lots of parsley, salt and pepper. (measure to your taste)

Chicken laced with maple syrup and rosemary, 5 spice, garlic, fresh ginger, mirin, fresh rosemary, white wine (marinade)

Serve with roasted potatoes and thick red onions and greens

Kebabs of Chicken with a mayo Harissa

some thoughts....
Joined Nov 5, 2007
Something that might work with either the salmon or the chicken is a basic teriyaki style sauce on the protein, grilled in the salamander.  Saute some zucchini, mushrooms and onion with cashew pieces and a bit of hoisin sauce as a side.

Joined Feb 13, 2008
How upscale and complicated is your kitchen willing to go?  Does your restaurant have its own identity or are you very open?  I'm thinking of something very specific for the lamb, do you guys do French-Mediterranean/California? 

Thanks to Petals for reminding me of that duck recipe... It could work very well for you.  Won't you take a look at it?  I'm a big fan of smoked duck.  I'm also a big fan of duck bigarade.  Retro, retro, retro, but what's old again is new again.

If the salmon is very good, it might be worthwhile to do at least some of that salmon as a raw app ... either gravlaks with a creme fraice/horse radish sauce chaud, or as a cruda -- pounded thing and dressed with best olive oil, fleur de sel and pepper.  And let's not forget that crisp-broiled salmon skin can be oh so profitably used in a salad.

But really, it would help to know a lot more about your place and your clientele before posting recipes or getting too specific.  Team's teriyaki salmon and broiled vegetables might be just the thing... or not.

Joined Mar 9, 2010
I agree with BDL it's hard to comment when we really don't know the dynamics

I just hate to see a piece of equipment sitting there not being utilized ( flat top )
Joined Nov 5, 2007
  Team's teriyaki salmon and broiled vegetables might be just the thing... or not.
That's what I fixed for dinner a couple of days ago, so it was fresh on my mind.

And yes indeed, it may be appropriate as an entree at Applebys or some such place, but a bit weak for a high end place.  I could see a salmon three ways, though - the grilled teriyaki, a cruda as BDL suggested, perhaps wrapped around a stalk or two of chilled white asparagus, and a salmon salad of bits poached in white wine, finely minced capers, garlic and dill.

Regarding the rack of lamb, I'm in favor of a simple, traditional approach, don't get overly fancy with it.  Simple roast with salt and pepper, a little garlic and rosemary, served with a traditional style Welsh mint sauce, not that ghastly green jelly.

Having said that I'll contradict myself a bit.  Roast the lamb with some middle eastern or north african spices and serve with a Sudanese style spinach - sweat diced onion with cumin and cinnamon, add some chicken broth, wilt some spinach in the mix and serve it over Israeli couscous.

On the one hand knowing more details about the whole situation can provide more specific, focused replies.  Then on the other hand just throwing out ideas with no constraints could lead to a useful end result as well.  At any rate, I hope we here are able to help you out.

Joined Feb 1, 2007
I just hate to see a piece of equipment sitting there not being utilized ( flat top )

Just imagine how I feel, Gypsy. As a former short-order cook, the idea of a flattop sitting idle is reprehensible to me. It is, after all, the most versitile piece of equipment in the kitchen. Or can be, in the right hands.
Joined Jun 30, 2010
Thank you all for posting.  

To clarify: We are willing to go complicated on the proteins but we don't have the means to get tricky with garnishes.  We do a starch and vegetable of the day that goes with every dinner item for example: sauteed fingerling potatoes and roasted beets one day, boiled new potatoes with herbs and asparagus the next.  It may not go best with the rest of the plate and it may be uninspired but it has to be this way because more often than not it's just one person in the kitchen at dinner service who does prep, apps, mains, desserts and dishes.

 Our dinner menu consists of 4 apps, 5 mains and we also have a lunch menu that is passed out at dinner that has another 12 items or so.  It can get overwhelming pretty quick sometimes depending on what people order so fancying up the starches and vegetables is something I would rather avoid.

The place definitely needs work but as of this month it has come under new ownership and we're trying to get things going again.  The main problems are more on the service side of the place but there is certainly room for improvement in the kitchen.

I hope I've clarified a little and haven't rambled too much.

P.S.  The salmon is farmed Atlantic Salmon, just 45 minutes drive down the coast.  It's very good.  I would like to do gravlax, do you have a recipe for that horseradish/creme fraiche?  That sounds delicious.  Also I just bought a smoker and I do love smoked duck breast but I had also thought so do something with duck "prosciutto".  Any ideas?
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Joined Jun 30, 2010
Also a note about the patrons.  Most people around here like they're food very traditional so not much fusion cooking going on here.  The lamb with garlic and rosemary fits right into what people like around here.

How do I make the broiled salmon skin?  I've had it in sushi and it was delish.

Thanks again.
Joined Jun 30, 2010
Did I mention I'm on a deadline?  I don't understand, I get personal and now there's no responses?
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Salmon skin:   Rinse the skin.  Dry it thoroughly with a paper towel.  Put it on a piece of foil and cook it on the toaster setting of a toaster-oven at highest heat until crisp.

Other:   If your clientele wants very straight forward, roasted or grilled meat and fish, there's not a lot I can help you with.  You already know as much as I do, so for me to suggest garnishes like "chipotle aioli" with roast chicken would be redundant. 

And, I did make some specific suggestions but you never responded.  So, while I wish I could do more for you...

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Joined May 20, 2009
Sole charge?....your flattop is your friend!
We have the same gear as you and max out at 100pax in season (not alone!)

Right side hot for searing, left side cooler for simmering with a cake rack in the corner for resting /parking.
Back of the hot side sears steak, chicken, lamb rump & pork fillet in oil then into the cranked oven on something similar to small pizza trays...need my pans for sauces.
Front of the hot side sears scallys, prawns (cutlets) & 'pan-fried' fish in 50/50 ghee/olive oil...straight on the plate.
Salmon gets the treatment Gypsy mentioned but I prefer to cook it out gently on the cold (broken) side of the salamander...set n forget M/R. The oven is still there if you need in a hurry...Blues & rares live there too.

The burners are then free to do the sauteeing, get reductions & pastas started then they can finish on the simmer side of the hotplate. I keep a pot of simmering water with a ladle on a back burner for reworking the cream sauces/pastas just before serving.

My point is use your gear to take the pressure off your burners and pans. For the setup your looking for the secret lies in the sauce. For variety & flexibility with fixed starch & vege consider daily sauce with certain dishes e.g. salmon this allows you to match more critically & feel around for a winner. Salmon with boiled new potatoes, asparagus & hollandaise will sell.
For meat sauces I now use BDL's (thanks) half-a**sed Espagnole as a base, portion them into the stubby, silicone muffin trays & freeze....a portion in a pan on the simmer side, mount it....see u later.

For chicken it works to pre-make any stuffing, form it into wedges, cook to set & freeze. Your breasts (the chicken's) are prepped with a slit in the side. To serve slip in the wedge, season, sear & oven. This method speeds up the cook because the breast is semi butterflied and, if the particular stuffing is hardy enough to defrost in the mike...say pork, pecan & sage, your putting a warm brick in the middle. If you use one bound with cream cheese & egg whites, dont defrost &  it will stay together after the cook.

Salmon can stuffed through a sloping slit to the side of the darne &, cooked as above, a strip of bacon laid on top with the ends folded under crisps on the first sear.

We use a small benchtop fryer full of water to reheat blanched vege. For a simple starch try 'crushed potato cake'...take warm new pots skin on 'crush'/cut with a kitchen spoon, add butter, seasoning &....pesto or s/crm & nutmeg or cream cheese & wholegrain mustard etc.

I'm just trying to help with proven technique for fast, easy delivery....this stuff wont win any awards but the punters are very happy &, right now (off season) in a really unpredictable market, we are open 101.5 hrs/wk with chefs rostered for 109 hrs/wk (with flexible backup plans) is doable.

As for flavours & pairing that's what your boss pays one of you the big bucks for...editorial control....good luck & good management!
Joined Jun 30, 2010
Ok so the new owner is trying to bring in younger people so out with the old and in with the new.   Chipotle aioli is right up their alley now.  Once again thank you everyone, all your posts have been helpful.

Here's what I've got so far:

Soup du Jour

Salmon Trio

Three styles of salmon: gravlax, salmon rillette and salmon cakes; capers, lemon, horse-radish crème-fraiche, crispy salmon skin, bread triangles

Shrimp and Corn Fritters

Corn fritters, fried jumbo shrimp, garlic-parsley sauce, red pepper coulis

Smoked Duck Salad

Artisan lettuce, smoked duck breast, orange and peach segments, grand Marnier vinaigrette



Lamb rack with Merlot glaze and cherry reduction

Lamb rack madras rub


Duck breast with blueberry -port sauce

Duck with chocolate-blackberry sauce


Supreme with cilantro-coconut sauce

Marinated supreme with cucumber-yogurt sauce


Halibut with vanilla rum sauce and roasted pineapple


Bourbon Glazed Salmon Fillet

Pesto Salmon with Beurre Blanc


Striploin or tenderloin with au jus

Steak Diane


Pork chop with Bigarade sauce

Pork chop stuffed with wine soaked pears and Brie

Any suggestions for changes, additions or what not?

Guests also get the lunch menu at dinner time which has a garden salad, caesar salad, gazpacho, and dips as appetizers.
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