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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rack of Pork.......with walnuts, orange and rosemary

This recipe was made at the Celebrated Chefs Alumni Summit in Chicago by my class of Celebrated Chefs, Chef Michael Foley, Rhys Lewis, Charles Wiley, Suzette Gresham - Tognetti and myself. It was a true honor to be picked by the pork industry to represent them and there growers. I serve center of the plate pork entrees in all of my restaurants and utilize pork in every means possible. Pork lends itself to so many different types of preparations the possibilities are endless. That was a great competition, lots of fun and it was great to see all the amazingly talented Chefs assembled in one place....
This recipe is delicious and very simple to prepare, perfect for this time of year as well.  Enjoy............

1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt
Ground white pepper
2 tbsp dried rosemary
1 cup whole walnuts
½ tsp garlic powder
1 egg
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves minced garlic

To prepare the racks of pork: Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over high heat. Season the racks of pork with salt and pepper (I use fresh ground sea salt and ground white pepper). Sear the racks on all sides until nicely browned. Remove racks to a platter and allow to cool enough to handle. At this point preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To make the walnut crust: Put dried rosemary into a food processor and pulse several times to grind, If you don’t do this the rosemary pieces will be too large. Add walnuts, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of white pepper, and garlic powder. Pulse several times until mixture is the consistency of bread crumbs. Pour mixture onto a large dinner plate or a platter.

To make the mustard mixture: In a dish combine the egg, mustard and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Mix well with a fork until egg and mustard are completely incorporated.

To coat the racks of pork: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Once the racks are cool enough to handle, place 1 rack in the mustard mixture and coat all sides. Next place the coated rack into the walnut mixture and coat well. Using your hand press the walnut mixture firmly onto the coated rack. Transfer rack to the baking sheet. Repeat steps for each rack. You can make the recipe to this point and place in refrigerator until ready to cook.

To cook: Place the racks of pork into the oven and roast for 30 minutes for medium well. I use a temperature probe in one of the racks, and remove meat from oven when it registers between 150 to 155 degrees F. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hamburger Aficionado ! Tabbuli Grill is the place to get one!

OK, there are hamburgers...... and then there are Hamburgers! Well I found a great one at Tabbuli Grill.
Big, Juicy, seasoned perfectly and cooked to perfection.
First they take chuck and grind it, then they take all the trim from the prime rib the cut for there Kabobs and grind that. Then they mix the two and run it through one more grind to get the perfect texture. They hand patty the burgers into half pound giants and let then chill.
OK, now for the cooking part. They season the burger properly with a generous amount of salt and pepper and start the cooking process on the flattop griddle. This sears the burger and gives it the that nice brown crispy crust we all like and when its close to the cooking temperature you want it is transferred to the charbroiler just to finish cooking it and to give it the hint of that char flavor only a grill can give. It is remove from the grill and served on a toasted corn meal dusted kaiser roll with all the trimmings, lettuce tomato and onion. I don't get cheese on mine because I don't want to infringe on the flavor of the beef.
Next, the french fries! If you want a truly great french fry as well then get ready because they have them too!
French fries if you are cooking them from scratch is an art form in itself. First you start with an Idaho potato, they use a 60 count which is a big potato. It is run through a potato slicer so every fry has the same thickness. They are soaked in a bucket of water with a little vinegar overnight and then drained. Then they are blanched in hot oil for about 2-3 minutes, just to soften them and then they are cooled completely. Now when you place your order for you burger those cold, blanched fries are dropped in the fryer again and fried until golden and crispy. They come right out of the fryer into a bowl where they are seasoned immediately and serve to you at once! Ummmmm......I can taste them now... So my friends, that is how you cook a great burger and fries. So instead of going through all that trouble, come on down to Tabbuli Grill at 6 North Market Street and see for yourself. You will be glad you did...........

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tabbuli Grill! Amazing little place on North Market Street....

         Can you say.....Mediterranean Food?
 Well Tabbuli Grill is the place to be! Absolutely some of the best I have ever had anywhere. To find this little gem you have to travel to Charleston SC, That's right I said Charleston! Right in the middle of the lowcountry, the epicenter of southern cuisine. Right downtown on Market Street, 6 North Market to be exact is this wonderful little place.
Owner Sam Mustafa had a vision of home when he designed the place, cozy interior with middle eastern accents and the beautiful outside patio is just the place to be on most any day. Sit back and relax and order a Hooka with you favorite flavor of tobacco, order a beer or glass of wine from there nice selection of wines by the glass. If your a mimosa fan well your definitely in the right place because everyday, all day they have bottomless mimosa's and for only ten bucks a head!

Now about the food......well, you need to go hungry. The well rounded menu lets you go where you want. Breakfast anyone? How about a nice lunch on the patio or a romantic dinner under the stars, Tabbuli has it.




We started with the combo platter which came with Falafel with tahini, Baba Ghanoush, Hummus, Tabouli salad, Jerusalem salad and warm pita. Simply delicious! Didn't want it to end. Then I went with the beef kabob platter, another winner. The beef was marinated and so tender you could cut it with a fork. It came with basmati rice and Jerusalem salad. If this is the way everything on the menu tastes I'm in trouble! I would eat here daily if I could and I just might. My friend that day had the Kofta pita, a delicious blend of ground beef and spices grilled and stuffed in a warm pita and served with some of the best french fries on the planet. 

                                                                                                                                                                                         
OK, now for the finishing touch of the meal. Baklava! It was not terribly sweet like most but the perfect blend of walnuts, cinnamon and sugar and just the right amount of syrup so the pastry isn't soggy but nice and crisp with the great bite you can only get from phyllo. The perfect end to this fantastic meal. So, for you locals who want some great food and if you are ever visiting Charleston, find your way to North Market Street and head down to the water where the cruise ships dock and enjoy this great little place, you will be glad you did.......

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting back into the swing of things!

Well my last post was Sept 30 and that is entirely to long! I have gotten a new job and moved to a new city since then and all for the better. I have moved to one of the great food cities in the south and am so excited to be here! The Town is Charleston SC and I am the corporate chef for the Charleston Hospitality Group. As far as jobs go you couldn't ask for a better job as a chef. Never a dull moment, never boring and so much work to be done it can be overwhelming but its my passion and the joy of my life.

The Charleston Hospitality Group has three concepts and 4 restaurants with a fifth on the way. We have Tabbuli Grill on Market Street, Toast and two Market Street Saloons with fantastic barbecue.
Today, December 5 we cooked at an event called "Wine under the Oaks" we fed around 600 people with some fantastic food from Tabbuli Grill, our Mediterranean restaurant. http://www.tabbuligrill.com/ . We offered people marinated beef kabob (made with prime rib), Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and Tabouli Salad. We had people 40 deep in line from the time we started cooking until we finally ran out of food! The venue was Boone Hall Plantation. http://boonehallplantation.com/
Boone Hall is one of Americas Oldest working living Plantations and is truly amazing, a must see if you are ever in Charleston. What a great event today and if you are ever in Charleston come look me up at one of our restaurants, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Low and slow..aka..For love of smoke...

The leaves are turning and I am
starting to feel a chill in the air, so it
it must be time to put away the charcoal grill. No never, never, never.....I grill year round all the way through winter, until spring has come again. The smell of smoking meat in the winter is intensified by the cold air. There is something primal about fire and cooking meat over it. I am no anthropologist, but I think it is hardwired in our souls..the connection between our early existence and fire is so intertwined that it can never be seperated.
When I grill in fall and winter I choose large more primal pieces of meat, whole chickens, turkeys, prime ribs, sirloins, beef briskets, pork shoulders, picnic hams, legs of lamb etc. Build a hot fire, while it burns down a bit, rub the meat down and go low and slow for up to six hours depending on the type of meat it is, letting the gentle heat and the smoke go to work. This sort of time scale gives me more time to sit by the fire with a hot cider or hot chocolate, a good book and the company of my family. Maybe roast some root vegetables, spaghetti squash or the like, bake a loaf of bread and wait for the meat to simply get done. This is a patient deliberate method of cooking that requires a little planning and an full afternoon to enjoy. Keep some charcoal on hand this fall and winter, broom the snow and ice off your grill or smoker and cook low and slow with some heat and smoke. You will be amply rewarded for your patience....Until next time Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cafe du Monde-New Orleans, La

Every morning I have coffee, well let me be honest here, I have a lot of coffee. Two-twenty ounce mugs to be specific, just to prime the pumps and get the day started. and then I get to work, I might have a couple more. I see nothing wrong with this. Coffee and caffeine are the jet fuel that drives everyone in the hospitality business and the rest of working America for that matter. There are times I drink coffee for a wholly different reason, times that are not as rushed, a day off, quiet time with a book, a newspaper on my deck in the middle of the afternoon. It is these times when coffee becomes more than a mere stimulant, it transform into a spirit raising friend, almost spiritual at times. It was in New Orleans that I had what had to be my most transcendant moments with this magic potion. Oh I had heard of the mecca of coffee, Cafe du Monde, but it was abstract. We were in New Orleans visiting Tulane with my daughter and needed to get the morning started. Out of our hotel and to the cab we went, Cafe du Monde please..five short minutes we are there world famous coffee house on Decateur street. The place was packed, we grabbed a table by the sidwalk, and sit. Servers dressed in black and white are scurrying around trays loaded making deliveries, bussing tables, dodging each other and the patrons. A take out window thirty deep, line, the moving quickly, kitchen behind glass furious with activity. The neighborhood coffee house this was not, more frantic and chaotic than relaxing. Our server comes with water and takes our order, three cafe au laits (half coffee and half milk) and a sack full of beignets (french style doughnuts topped powdered sugar). While we wait we watch the crowds on the street. the muscians and artists in Jackson Square, and are fellow patrons, all the time anticipation building. Our order arrives and I ask for sugar for my coffee. I am met with oddest look and our server suggested I use the excess powdered sugar from the beignets, which we did...silly us for not knowing. The beignets were hot and fresh and the coffee strong, but smooth...this was magic, time stopped, no past no future only the now. Two cups of coffee and three beignets later I was at peace with all that swirled around me. If you are ever in New Orleans , Cafe du Monde is at the top of the must do list...the original one in the French Market on Decateur acrossed from Jackson Square. For more info and history try http://www.cafedumonde.com/ . They also sell the coffee and beignet mix in grocery stores..for an afternoon getaway....until next time

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Basil Pesto.... My favorite version ever!

Pesto.....Yes its easy and maybe used way to much in restaurants but it is still a great quick sauce you can make for dinner to dress your favorite pasta, marinate shrimp, brush on grilled fish, chicken and even vegetables. Very versatile and equally delicious. Pesto originated in Genoa, the northern part of Italy and did not become popular in North America until the 1980s and 1990s.  My version I like because of the different flavors the mixed nuts give the sauce and the little bite of the baby arugula. Pine nuts to me are over rated and have very little flavor even when toasted. So I use just plain old Planters salted mixed nuts. You will be amazed at the difference it makes in the flavor. Nowadays you can find fresh arugula in your local grocery stores. Enjoy......... 



Ingredients

2 cup fresh basil
1 cup baby arugula
1/2 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c salted mixed nuts
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c Parmesan cheese



Method

In the bowl of a food processor add the fresh basil, arugula, garlic, salted mixed nuts, kosher salt and Parmesan cheese. With the motor running add olive oil slowly until all ingredients are finely pureed. Remove pesto from bowl and place in a clean container. Cover until needed for service.
Pesto will last a good week in the refrigerator and freezes very well for later use.

For a little history of Pesto follow the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesto

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Linguini with White Clam Sauce.... So easy, so delicious!

Living on the coast has its rewards. Like fresh seafood, especially oysters and clams. I have been digging clams, gathering oysters and crabbing for Blue Crabs ever since I was a kid. Clams are easy to dig and you can have enough for dinner in no time. Clams seem to grow in groups so when you find one, more should be close at hand. For this pasta recipe we are using fresh littlenecks and minced clams as well.
When digging clams we would save the small littlenecks to eat in the shell and use the large chowder clams or Quahogs for minced clams, soups or fritters. There are many versions of white clam sauce, some with cream, some without, some with fresh clams, some without, its up to you and if you have access to fresh clams. If you are land locked just use the canned minced clams and bottled clam juice from your local grocery store which will work just fine.
A tip for shucking the fresh clams is to freeze the large clams making them very easy to shuck, then you can mince them with a knife, food processor or meat grinder. Enjoy........

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
2 cup clam juice
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley
2/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
2 cup chopped clams
2 dozen fresh clams washed

Method

In medium sauce pan over medium heat melt butter and olive oil together. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute (do not brown garlic). Add flour to garlic butter mixture and mix flour into garlic butter thoroughly. Cook roux 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add clam juice and cook until thickened stirring constantly. Add Parsley, white wine, lemon juice, fresh basil, nutmeg and heavy cream and cook sauce over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add fresh and chopped clams and cook until clams are cooked and opened. Remove sauce from heat and toss with your favorite pasta.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spit Roasted Chicken with Lemon Garlic and Rosemary

I really like to cook on the grill, I can't get enough of it this time of year or anytime of the year really. I have a spit attachment on my grill and have a grilling basket where I can cook two split chickens. The reason I like cooking chickens split is, for one they cook faster and second the flavor is amazing because you are roasting both sides of the bird and the coals or wood you use is tasted throughout the meat and the skin is fantastic!. The marinade for this is delicious, simple and also works well with fish and seafood. What I do is heat my olive oil up in a large skillet and add my rosemary, garlic and saute them for about one minute or so and remove from the skillet from the heat and let the oil cool with everything in it. When the oil is cool I strain it and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, mixing thoroughly. Basically you are making a quick infused oil and adding lemon and seasonings. (the garlic and rosemary tend to burn on the chicken that is why I strain it out) I don't cut the chickens in half , I just remove the backbone and open the chicken up and cut through the cartilage in the breast and butterfly it open. I add each bird to a gallon baggie and add half of the marinade to each. I try to let the chicken rest in the marinade at least over night.  When ready to cook, remove the chickens from the marinade and place in the grilling basket or just cook them over medium heat on your grill turning frequently. If you are cooking straight on the grill use a lid on your grill to help keep the fire at bay. Flare ups from the fat can cause your chicken to brown or burn before its done.  Grilling baskets for your spit or baskets that you can flip by hand are pretty inexpensive and work great.  Enjoy.......

Ingredients

The juice of 4 large lemons
1/2 cup fresh rosemary 
1 cup of olive
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp of white pepper

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wonderful Olive Raisin Tapenade...... Eat it up!

Tapenade, an olive spread from the mediteranian is as delicious tasting as it is amazingly easy to make. It is a great appitizer or is the perfect midnight snack. Tapenade the provencal word for capers is popular in the south of France and at my house! Not only is it tasty on a good loaf of crusty bread, its fantastic on flatbread, pita chips and raw veggies. Its wonderful spooned over pork, chicken and fish or use it as a pasta sauce with tomato concasse or even use it in a viniagrette to dress a salad. I like the raisins in it to counter the saltiness of the olive and the capers.
Incredibly versatile and addictive, I keep it around all the time. With many variations of this possible, let your imagination run wild. Add nuts like toasted pine nuts, almonds and pistachio's. Leave out most of the olives and use roasted red peppers as the base instead, its up to you and whats in your pantry! Enjoy..........

Ingredients


20 pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp rinsed, drained, and chopped capers
2 tbsp golden raisins
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Fresh cracked black pepper
Method

In the bowl of a food processor add the olives, capers golden raisins, basil, garlic, parmesan, lemon jiuce, olive oil and fresh ground black pepper. Pulse tapenade until chopped and the consistancy of pesto. You don't want it smooth, but with little bits of olive visible but still spreadable. Tapenade will last a good week or two covered in the refrigerator for your snacking pleasure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hickory Roasted Pork Loin...... So Good!

As you may have realized by now, I am a huge fan of pork. It is so versatile and lends itself so well to so many types of preparations, no wonder its one of the most consumed meats in the world. I like to brine my pork loins and roast them on the grill. As you can see in the photo that I had already smoked a turkey on one side of the grill over indirect heat. I used hickory wood this time for my fire and when my bird was done I cranked up the fire and roasted these pork loins over direct heat so they got that nice crust on them. Pork loins today are much leaner than they used to be, so that's why I brine them. Brining adds water to the loins so when you are roasting them they don't dry out and stay juicy and tender.
 When cooking a pork loin be sure to turn them evenly, like they have four sides. This ensures even cooking and they get that proper char on all sides. Another key is not to overcook the meat. Always cook pork loins, tenderloins and thick cut pork chops to 155 degrees and nothing more as they are done. This brine and wet rub are very good and the end result is excellent as well when cooked properly. So the next time you want to cook a pork loin, Brine it! Enjoy..........  

Brine

3 gallons of warm water
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups kosher salt
1 large onion chopped
2 pork loins

Place pork loins in a large deep pan, big enough to submerge pork loins.
In a large stock pot add sugar and salt and add 3 gallons of warm water. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Add chopped onion and stir well. Pour brine over pork loins, cover and place in refrigerator for two days. After two days remove pork loins from brine and rinse off and pat dry, to prepare for seasoning.

Wet Rub

1/2 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh rosemary
¼ cup fresh thyme
The zest of 2 lemons
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor add garlic, fresh rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, kosher salt and olive oil. Pulse in processor until all ingredients are finely chopped. Rub the pork with the wet rub generously. cover and let sit for a few hours to let flavors meld.

To roast the pork loins on the grill is not hard, your fire has to be hot and make sure you have a good bed of coals. When your fire is ready, place pork loins over direct heat and start roasting them watching for flare ups of fire because of the fat and olive oil on them. After a few minutes you won't have to worry about flare ups once the fat cooks off the outside of the loins.
Roast the loins turning them evenly until golden brown and they have a nice crust about 35 to 40 minutes or the internal temperature of 150 degrees. When pork loins are at 150 pull of grill and cover with foil to rest.  The pork will continue to cook another 5-10 degrees when removed from the grill. After they rest for about 10-15 minute it is ready to carve. Pork is completely done at 155 degrees and will still be a hare pink in the middle. Its perfect!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chicken Bog and Fried Okra..... Sunday Dinner!

Chicken Bog and Fried Okra
















Ok, your probably saying "Chicken Bog"! WTH..... Well it is amazing. Today, a friend of my mothers stopped by with this huge bage of fresh okra. I was definetly thinking fried okra today, but what else to go with it. My mother said "use that fresh chicken up in the refigerator" and I knew we had some good smoked sausage, so I decided on chicken bog. Chicken Bog is a chicken and rice dish from the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. Here is the interesting history of chicken bog and my version of the recipe. Enjoy..........

Chicken Bog

A real Southern gourmet delight with a colorful history.
Sandlapper magazine - January, 1968 - By: Edward B. Borden

The dish looks as if the cook went on a binge the night before, but legend has it one Yankee officer liked it so much he switched uniforms. It's called Chicken Bog, and it's a conglomeration of rice spices and chicken, topped with bacon. To Pee Dee natives, the dish is as traditional on Fourth of July and other holidays as barbecue and cole slaw is to the rest of the south.

A distant, but more savory cousin of pilau, Chicken Bog combines the best qualities of both chicken & rice. Cooked properly, the chicken is juicy and tender and piqued with spices. The rice assumes the flavor of the chicken and other ingredients, and in best Southern style, the grains don't stick together. Chicken Bog apparently gets it's name because the "chicken is bogged in rice." An out-of-stater, who now claims South Carolina as her home, however claims it is named so because it is a "boggy, soggy mess." (It's a favorite dish of hers however.)

The recipe is liked by many Palmetto State residents because it is easy to prepare; it can accommodate large crowds (10 or more people); and can be served formally or informally. One Darlington native remembers when men cooked Chicken Bog on the banks of the Pee Dee River in big black iron pots and served it with butter beans, artichoke relish, and tomatoes. "That's all we had on holidays," she recalls, "and it was the best thing ever." Old-timers believe that is probably had its origin years ago at the tobacco barns or warehouses since it was served traditionally at the barn supper, usually held at the season.

A well known cook of this dish is Mrs. M. Chisollm Wallace of Florence's Red Doe Plantation. Mrs. Wallace's recipe has been carefully reproduced here so that this specialty dish can be enjoyed by all sandlappers. She says, "We like it. With a little bit of cole slaw, it's a meal in itself."


Ingredients

For the stock

1 5lb to 6 lb fat hen
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 large carrot chopped
1 bay leaf
2 sage laeves
a pinch of salt and pepper

For the Bog

2 small onions, chopped
1 large green bell pepper,chopped
3 stalks of cerlery, chopped
1/4 lb bacon
1 pound of good smoked sausage, sliced into rounds about 1/4" thick
2 tsp garlic salt
1 rounded tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
6 1/2 cups of chicken stock
3 cups Carolina Plantation Rice (if you can find it) or any long grained rice
salt and black pepper

Method

Use a heavy aluminum pot with lid

Put chicken, mirepoix, herbs, salt and pepper in pot and cover with hot water. Be sure there is enough water so that there will be at least six cups of stock after cooking chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is very tender (an hour or more)
While the chicken is cooking chop onions, bell pepper and celery into small pieces.
When chicken is very tender, remove pot from stove and let cool until the chicken can be handled.
Take chicken from pot, and pull meat from bones in large pieces; do not cut it up. Discarding skin.
Pour broth from pot into a bowl, skimming as much fat off the stock a possible.
Wash pot, then put bacon in pot and cook slowly until bacon is crisp.
Take bacon from pot and drain leaving bacon fat in pot.
Add smoked sausage and cook until sausage is golden.
Put in chopped onion, green pepper, celery, garlic salt, paprika, oregano and brown slightly.
Add the pulled chicken to pot and add 6 cups chicken stock, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Taste your stock at this point because your rice will taste like your stock does, so season accordingly.
Increase heat, bringing stock to a boil and add rice to pot, bring back to a boil, cover with lid and reduce heat to low and simmer slowly for about twenty minutes.

To avoid gooey rice, Do not stir or lift lid during cooking time!
When rice is tender and has absorbed the liquids, remove from stove. Serve hot with crumbled bacon if you like.

 
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Letfover Roast Beef Hash.... Yum!

One of the reasons that I enjoy having roast beef or pot roast for dinner is that I get to make hash in the morning with the leftovers! Whoo Hoo! I love homemade roast beef or corned beef hash. So simple to make and very easy to enjoy. Here are some tips and variations for your hash. If I have leftover corned beef I will usually run it through my grinder attachment on my KitchenAid mixer. You don't have to but I like to. Next you can add peppers, roasted or fresh to your hash as well. I will saute my onions and peppers first to get them soft before I add the rest of my ingredients since they are already cooked. If you are looking for a really crisp hash add some stock to it when everything is together and put a lid on it to get it hot, steaming it, then remove the lid and let all the stock evaporate and the remaining fat will crisp the bottom nicely. One of the keys to getting it brown and crunchy is to not MESS with it. I see people and even some of my cooks wanting to flip a steak to soon or keep messing with a sauteed dish when all you have to do is leave it alone and let it cook! I drives me crazy sometimes... If you like your hash a little saucier you can add a little of the gravy you made from your dinner the night before. You won't get that crisp crust but it will still be fantastic. Enjoy..........


1 1/2 lb cold roast beef (about 3 cups chopped)
1 lb cooked diced potatoes (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, grated  
1 cup beef stock or gravy
1 tbsp tomato paste 
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Eggs to order

Chop or grind the roast beef, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. If you like a wet hash use gravy and a dryer hash use stock. The stock will steam the hash and evaporate leaving you with a dryer hash. The gravy will make your hash have more of a sauce like consistency. Turn the mixture into a greased, preheated frying pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the hash is thoroughly hot. Let cook until brown and crusted underneath. Season with salt and pepper. Turn out on a hot platter and top with your favorite style eggs.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chicken Salad.... A lunchtime favorite

This chicken salad recipe is easy and has a little twist to it. I like chicken salad but I am not a big fan of it with fruits and nuts and a sweet dressing. I do like types of cold chicken salads like Asian, where the chicken is lightly breaded and fried and tossed in a sweet dressing with Asian veggies, but for a sandwich I like it pretty simple.
For this chicken salad I poach my chicken breasts in chicken stock with mirepoix (2 parts onion to one part each celery and carrots) and some fresh herbs. I rough cut the veggies and leave the carrots in bigger chunks so I can easily grate them for the salad. The carrots are partially cooked and give the chicken salad good texture and a nice sweetness in contrast to the lemon juice in the dressing. I always save the stock I poach the chicken in for soup or sauces and the stock freezes well. Serve this chicken salad on good toasted bread. Its is great in a warm pita and excellent in a wrap as well. Enjoy..........

Ingredients for poaching

1 qt of chicken stock for poaching
2 carrots cut in half
2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh thyme and sage leaves
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breast

Chicken Salad

4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup red onion, finely diced
1 cup celery, finely diced
1/2 cup grated cooked carrots
1 1/2 cup of Duke's or Hellmann's mayonnaise
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice

Method

In a medium stock pot add chicken stock, carrots, celery, onions and fresh herbs and bring to a simmer. Simmer stock for 5 minutes then add the chicken breasts and cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is done but not overcooked! Remove chicken and carrots from stock and cool completely. (Strain stock and reserve for another use) When chicken is cool, finely shred it and add it to a medium size mixing bowl. Coarsely grate the carrots and add to the shredded chicken. Add diced red onion and celery and lightly toss together.
In a small mixing bowl add the mayonnaise, salt, pepper and lemon juice and mix dressing well. Pour over chicken mixture and mix well. Place salad in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Simple Pasta Salad......Delicious!

OK, I love pasta salad and this is a good pasta salad recipe. I make different versions of this recipe by the adding and subtracting of ingredients but always leave the dressing the same. For example, I will use roasted red peppers instead of green ones. I leave out the carrots an add quartered up artichokes, finely dice a red chile pepper and add it to the salad. The tuna is wonderful in this dish, and I really like making it with the shells because they seem to gobble up the ingredients and each shell is a great little bite.
Now for the mayonnaise question! I'm sure most people will ask (if your not from the south) what is Duke's mayonnaise? Well its the only mayonnaise. Living up north I would buy the next best thing, Hellmann's and anytime I would visit family or friends down south I would load up on the Duke's. It is just a wonderful mayo, I think it has a little more lemon in it than the others. Anyway if you ever get the chance to try it, you will love it!
This is a really good side dish for any BBQ or picnic, so hurry up and have another one before summer fades away. Enjoy..........

16 oz box medium shell pasta, cooked 
1 can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
1 cup Dukes or Hellmann's mayo
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
1/4 cup pitted calamata olives cut in half, optional
4 oz feta cheese crumbled
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrot
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 hard cooked egg sliced for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, mix mayo, vinegar, mustard, honey,  pepper, salt, basil and mix dressing until smooth. Add pasta, tuna, olives, feta, celery, green pepper, carrot and onion. Toss all together mixing well and let sit in the refrigerator overnight so flavors can meld. When serving sprinkle with some good smoked paprika and top with sliced hard cooked eggs. Serve at once.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Love of my Life


Banana Pancakes
Cooking has never been a task or a chore, it is a joy for me, it is a way of life. Food and cooking is a bond that everyone shares. For some people food is just a means of nourishment, but I believe for most it is an object of comfort, pleasure and a experience to be shared.
When I was a child watching my mother cook I was fascinated. It was like watching an artist. I would say "Wow! I want to do that" and she would teach me. When I got out of culinary school and started cooking in restaurants that fascination has never left me and I've always had this hunger to learn as much about food and cooking as I could.

Eggs Benedict

Today I cook not only because it is truly what I love to do most, but because I like to please people with my cooking. There is nothing more gratifying to me as to watch someone at home or the restaurant take a bite of the food I have made them, see them close their eyes and savour that bite, then the smile comes to their face and I know at that very moment, that in a very small way I have made there life a little better, even just for a second. That's why I cook.
My goal and hope for this Blog is to accomplish the same thing. By sharing these recipes and stories with people, I can in a small way make there life a little better with the enjoyment of food. To inspire people to get back in the kitchen to cook and share that enjoyment with others.

Peach Cobbler
As long as I can remember every birthday, holiday, day at the beach, family camping trip the food was the center of attention. There was always excitement around what Mom was cooking, what other dishes people were bringing and what time we were going to eat! Nightly dinners at my house growing up were as a family. My Mom would say "Eric, don't go far dinner will be ready soon". (My first name is Eric, but have been going by Michael for years) Trust me I didn't go far! We sat down at the dining room table, with no television on and had dinner together talking about our day. The only thing that has changed over the years, we still eat as a family when we all get together, but there are more of us.

Hot Chocolate and Toast

Spinach Quiche

I was born and raised in the south and southern cuisine has been a major influence in my life. I have cooked all over the United States and no matter where I cook or what type of cuisine, my southern roots come out in the food that I make. Those roots define my style of cooking and always will. I cook comfort food, I am not a food architect. Food can be cooked simply and still be beautiful. Southern food was and always will be about flavor and I cook for flavor. So enjoy these recipes, the stories and try to find the time to cook a little. It is my hope that you will be as happy cooking and eating this food as it makes me to share it with you! 




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Friday, September 10, 2010

Carolyn Coleman Richardson’s Texas Chili.......

A little Chili history for you................

Chili Queens  From the article by Linda Stradley, from the website: What's Cooking America


1880s - San Antonio was a wide-open town (a cattle town, a railroad town, and an army town) and by day a municipal food market and by night a wild and open place. An authoritative early account is provided in an article published in the July 1927 issue of Frontier Times. In this article, Frank H. Bushick, San Antonio Commissioner of Taxation, reminisces about the Chili Queens and their origin at Military Plaza before they were moved to Market Square in 1887. According to Bushick:

"The chili stand and chili queens are peculiarities, or unique institutions, of the Alamo City. They started away back there when the Spanish army camped on the plaza. They were started to feed the soldiers. Every class of people in every station of life patronized them in the old days. Some were attracted by the novelty of it, some by the cheapness. A big plate of chili and beans, with a tortilla on the side, cost a dime. A Mexican bootblack and a silk-hatted tourist would line up and eat side by side, [each] unconscious or oblivious of the other."

Latino women nicknamed "Chili Queens" sold stew they called "chili" made with dried red chiles and beef from open-air stalls at the Military Plaza Mercado. They made their chili at home, loaded it onto colorful chili wagons, and transported the wagons and chili to the plaza. They build mesquite fires on the square to keep the chili warm, lighted their wagons with colored lanterns, and squatted on the ground beside the cart, dishing out chili to customers who sat on wooden stools to eat their fiery stew. In those days, the world "chili" referred strictly to the pepper. They served a variation of simple, chile-spiked dishes (tamales, tortillas, chili con carne, and enchiladas). A night was not considered complete without a visit to one of these "chili queens."


1937 - In 1937 they were put out of business due to their inability to conform to sanitary standards enforced in the town's restaurants (public officials objected to flies and poorly washed dishes). Unable to provide laatorial facilities, they disappeared overnight. The following is reprinted from the San Antonio Light of September 12, 1937:

Recent action of the city health department in ordering removal from Haymarket square of the chili queens and their stands brought an end to a 200-year-old tradition. The chili queens made their first appearance a couple of centuries back after a group of Spanish soldiers camped on what is now the city hall site and gave the place the name, Military Plaza. At one time the chili queens had stands on Military, Haymarket and Alamo plazas but years ago the city confined them to Haymarket plaza. According to Tax Commissioner Frank Bushick, a contemporary and a historian of those times, the greatest of all the queens was no Mexican but an American named Sadie. Another famous queen was a senorita named Martha who later went on the stage. Writing men like Stephen Crane and O. Henry were impressed enough to immortalize the queens in their writings. With the disappearance from the plaza of the chili stands, the troubadors who roamed the plaza for years also have disappeared into the night. Some of the chili queens have simply gone out of business. Others, like Mrs. Eufemia Lopez and her daughters, Juanita and Esperanza Garcia, have opened indoor cafes elsewhere. But henceforth the San Antonio visitor must forego his dining on chili al fresco.

They were restored by Mayor Maury Maverick in 1939, but their stands were closed again shortly after the start of World War II.

1930s - During the 1980s, San Antonio began staging what they call "historic re-enactments" of the chili queens. As an tribute to chili, the state dish, the city of San Antonio holds an annual "Return of the Chili Queens Festival" in Market Square during the Memorial Day celebrations in May, sponsored by the El Mercado Merchants.

This chili recipe comes from a high school friend of my mothers of fifty five years. It makes enough to feed 10 to 12 people easily. It is a wonderful chili recipe and I use it often.

Ingredients


1/2 c canola oil
3 # ground beef
3 c chopped onion
3 cloves garlic chopped
8 c beef broth
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
18 oz tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 c chili powder
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cans of lite kidney beans

Method 

In a large soup pot add oil. Brown ground beef and remove any excess fat from pot. Add onions, garlic and cook until slightly soft. Add rest of ingredients and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours stirring often to prevent the chili from settling to the bottom of the pot and scorching. Serve with cheese, sour cream, green onions, salsa, corn chips or your favorite toppings.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pumpkin Bisque........Is it fall already?

I went into the grocery store today to pick up a couple of things and when I walked into the produce department the first thing I saw were PUMPKINS! Suddenly my brain was screaming, NO, NOT YET! Where did the summer go?
 It has just dawned on me that fall is less than two weeks away. Going from one season to another, I need some warning, just don't throw some pumpkins out there and make me have a panic attack for Pete's sake, it hasn't even been chilly here yet! So with autumn rushing at us I thought I would share with you my Pumpkin Bisque so that when you see those pumpkins you have a little ammunition for them!
Fall is maybe my favorite season of the year. When the leaves start to change and you wake up to frost on the ground, leaves rustling and the smell of a fireplace lingering in the morning air, its a wonderful time of the year. Time for making apple butter, fruitcakes, hearty stews and belly warming soups.
You can use pumpkin for this soup but any good winter squash will work just fine like butternut, acorn and the cushaw. I especially like the cushaw, a striped crook neck winter squash which is very hearty and will last you all winter and sometimes till the next harvest if it is stored right.
So one bright sunny crisp fall day put a pot of this on the stove and have this delicious soup for dinner with some great bread, a nice salad of bitter greens and a great glass of wine, you will be glad you did. Enjoy...........

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter
4 cloves garlic chopped
3 leeks sliced and rinsed
2 stalks celery diced
1 large onion diced
6 cups pumpkin or other winter squash
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh sage
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups heavy cream or half n half
1/2 cup brown sugar
Creme fraiche
Fresh chives

Directions:

In large soup pot melt butter and saute garlic, leeks, celery and onions until soft. Add pumpkin, bay leaves, thyme, sage, chicken stock, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook until veggies are soft. Add heavy cream and puree soup. Adjust seasonings as needed and serve at once. Soup is great with a dollop of creme fraiche and a few snipped chives.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smoked Turkey, its a wonderful thing.......

Papa's Smoked Turkey
Smoked turkey is such a wonderful treat I ponder why I don't smoke one more often. I remember watching in awe when I was a child my grandfather smoking turkey's on a spit low and slow. With that bird spinning away slowly on the spit and the smell of the bird smoking was amazing and watching him baste it with his secret blend of ingredients, well I was fascinated. The anticipation of the turkey coming off the spit was agonizing and all of the family would want to reach in and snag a little crispy piece of the turkey every time he would lift the lid to mop it! His method of cooking his turkey was he used indirect heat and on a spit. He would put a drip pan underneath the turkey and build the fire around the bird. He would keep his fire around 250 degrees and baste the turkey every thirty minutes or so. The key to all this was what he used for smoke and the ingredients he used to mop the bird to give it the nice crust and flavor I remember. I can't give you the exact recipe for the turkey or my family would disown me but i will give you one that is very, very good and your family will love it! One secret I will give you is that he would only smoke his turkey's over hickory nuts. That's right I said hickory huts! It is what he used and the flavor it imparts is not the same as the hickory wood, the nuts are a sweeter smoke and really amazing. So this fall I would suggest that when the hickory nuts start dropping getting a sack and going nut hunting. Not only is it a nice way to spend the day in the woods but will bring you much enjoyment when using those gems in your smoker. The mop I am giving you is easy and will give your bird a wonderful flavor and skin is fantastically delicious. In a saucepan add one cup each of orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp of paprika, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp black pepper and a 1/4 cup of olive oil. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat and use it to baste your turkey with about every half hour.  Enjoy.......

Note: if you don't have a spit you can use a Weber and place your bird in the center under a drip pan and build you fire around the pan, the skin won't be as crispy but still a great turkey. That's the way I did this one after I burnt up the motor to my spit.   :-( 
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cider braised pork steaks with apples, onion and garlic

Loving pork as I do, I thought I would share this recipe that I stole from a friend and tweaked when I lived in Pittsburgh. This friend of mine made a similar dish but was breaded like schnitzel and fried and served with the apple and onion mixture. I had these pork steaks and thought I would brown them and braise the steaks in my dutch oven instead and it worked fantastically. I lived in Pittsburgh for several years and grew to really like the town (don't miss the winters though) because of its ethnicity and the great food found in the city. This recipe is easy and delicious and a great dinner on a fall night. Since fall is right around the corner, thought I would post it early for your enjoyment.  

Ingredients

4 large shoulder chops
salt and pepper
3 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into a large dice.
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 large granny smith apples
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups apple cider
1 tbsp cider vinegar 
3 sage leaves
Cooked egg noodles
Sweet pickles
 
Method
 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Cut the chops in half leaving bone on.

Heat the oil and brown the pork on both sides and transfer to Dutch oven
Brown the onions and place on top of pork.
Peel, core and dice both apples and place on top of onions.
Stir mustard, vinegar and garlic into cider and pour over pork chops, apple and onion mixture.
Add sage leaves, cover with lid and put in oven and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
When pork is tender remove from dutch oven and strain the cooking liquid and save apples and onions.
Add cooking liquid back to dutch oven and cook until reduced and is sauce consistency.
I boil egg noodles and once sauce is reduced I add the noodles to reduced sauce, folding in the cooked apples and onions.
Serve the egg noodles with the braised pork steaks.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Conch Salad....... I miss the Bahamas!

Conch Salad
Living and cooking in the Bahamas is a memory I will never forget. Not only was it so very beautiful but I fell in love with the people. Their traditions and culture are fascinating and I miss it to this day. My friend Tony has a conch stand called Tony Macaroni's Conch Experience at Taino Beach in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. At this thatch-roofed shack he introduced me to Conch. The first time I ate it I was hooked! I had one day off a week and I made sure I had all my chores done so I could hang out on Sundays at Tony's. Let me try to describe the scene for you. The Conch fisherman would leave live conch on a chain that tony had in the ocean right off the beach, he would wade out and get the conch he needed. He had fresh lobsters and shrimp, fresh fish and conch all roasted in a drum over wood he would gather. But his specialty was his Conch Salad, my mouth waters when I think about it! He sold Kalik beer from the Bahamas and he made this drink called Gully Wash, which tasted SO good and after a few would sneak up and get ya!
My friend Tony
Gully Wash is made by mixing 1/2 liter of good gin, 1/4 liter of coconut rum, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and coconut water to taste. Coconut water comes straight out of the coconut and is wonderful.
 My typical and very appreciated Sunday was when I would get down to the beach around noon and go for a swim. Enjoying the water I would catch a smell of the grill being fired up and I knew it was time. Watching him tend to everything was fascinating, what a way to make a living. I always ordered a conch salad first and I could hardly wait for him to make it. He would take a fresh conch and remove the snail from its shell (yes a conch is a sea snail) and clean it, mince it up and put it in a mixing bowl. He would dice up onion, tomato and add it to the bowl, then he would take the juice of a key lime, sour orange and his fiery bird pepper sauce and mix it all together and it was served. I would go sit in the sand with my Kalik beer and devour that bowl of goodness!
Tony would have a cooler full of these aluminum foil packages and some might have mahi, snapper, lobster, conch or what ever he could find fresh off the fisherman, and each package always had different veggies and a compound butter in them. He would put them on the fire and in ten minutes or so they were ready to enjoy.
Tony's Conch  Stand
After a half dozen Kaliks and a few Gully Washes I needed some dinner so I would order up and he would hand me my package and it was always delicious. As the sun went down, the bonfire was lit and it was another day in paradise. Experiences like that are treasured and don't come often enough. I haven't been back since I left the islands but as I am writing about it, it seems like I was there yesterday...........     






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