Most evenings, Andrea Carlson can be found in the kitchen at Burdock & Co. (2702 Main Street). Since opening the Mount Pleasant restaurant in April, the Vancouver-born executive chef has rarely taken a night off, so when she is home for dinner, Carlson often asks her partner, architect Kevin Bismanis—who designed Burdock & Co.’s interiors—to fire up the grill.
“He has a great love of barbecuing. He is very comfortable slowing down and barbecuing, whereas I, as a professional cook, can be very impatient,” Carlson tells the Georgia Straight during a recent interview at the restaurant. “He has sort of brought that element of the barbecue into our dinners and it’s been great. It’s a charcoal barbecue and it takes time, so you need to relax.”
Carlson has spent most of her life working in fast-paced kitchens. She enrolled at the Dubrulle culinary school shortly after graduating from high school and began her career at the now-closed Star Anise restaurant.
“I was garde manger, and that was my first real kitchen job. After that, I worked at places like Raincity Grill, C Restaurant, and Sooke Harbour House, and those were the ones that made the strongest impression,” she explains.
The idea for Burdock & Co. came to Carlson right before she started cooking at Bishop’s seven years ago. She was passionate about organic, sustainable, locally grown food, but at the time it was available almost exclusively in upscale restaurants.
“I was thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could create an environment that was casual, that was more neighbourhood, and that brought everything that I was really enjoying together?’ ” Carlson says. “I spent four-and-a-half years at Bishop’s, which was a fantastic experience, and I learned a tremendous amount from John [Bishop], but my desire to do that was still there.”
At home, the chef also favours local and organic ingredients. Her go-to dish when she’s craving something simple and comforting is handmade orecchiette pasta topped with a smoky tomato sauce, which is made by smoking tomatoes on the grill over applewood chips. Carlson suggests that cooks who don’t have a barbecue use a cast-iron grill pan instead.
Making pasta from scratch can be intimidating, but Carlson insists that her semolina flour–based orecchiette are easy.
“Just don’t let it get too wet—that’s a mistake that most people make,” she advises. “A really wet dough is not easy to work with, and it doesn’t cook out well.”
To drink with the dish, Carlson recommends a sparkling rosé.
Andrea Carlson’s smoky grilled tomato sauce orecchiette
½ cup (125 mL) applewood smoking chips
4 large heirloom tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp (45 mL) olive oil, divided
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
¾ tsp (3 mL) salt, divided
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh marjoram or rosemary, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 cup (250 mL) durum semolina flour (not all-purpose flour)
⅓ cup (90 mL) warm water
3 oz (85 g) fermière cheese or aged Gouda, grated
- Begin soaking the wood chips in a bowl of warm water one hour prior to barbecuing.
- In a second bowl, toss tomatoes with garlic, 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of olive oil, pepper, and ¼ tsp (1 mL) of the salt.
- Make a charcoal fire and set grill close to the coals. Drain wood chips and place on coals, with grill on top. Place tomatoes on grill. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove tomatoes from grill and set aside. (If not using a barbecue, forgo the wood chips and heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat on the stove. When hot, add tomatoes, place a lid on top, and cook for 10 minutes.)
- In a small saucepan, sauté onion over medium heat in remaining 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes and marjoram or rosemary, and cook for 10 minutes, or until mixture breaks down to a saucy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm on low heat.
- Mix flour, remaining ½ tsp (2 mL) of salt, and warm water in a medium bowl with your hands. Once the dough forms, knead until smooth, adding more water if necessary. Set aside and let dough rest for 10 minutes.
- On a floured work surface, divide dough into four portions. Roll each portion into a log a half-inch in diameter. Cut each log into pieces a quarter-inch thick, and press each piece flat with your thumb.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook for 1 minute, or until al dente. Drain pasta and toss in tomato sauce. Top with grated cheese.
Yield: 2 main-course servings.
Recipe has not been tested by the Georgia Straight.