Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sweet, sweet corn

I saw the ads for my local farm market in Hilliard, Ohio and was very excited. For you see I love farm markets. I love talking to the farmers, photographing their hard work, and most of all eating their produce. There are several items that always catch my eye and trigger my senses like Pavlov's dogs. Tomatoes, full ripe and red, peaches full and ripe and sweet corn picked only hours before. As I walk up on our market I eye the usual tents, fresh baked goods, cider pressed from the local orchards, local honey and home made soaps, my eyes are scanning and searching for the years first ears (sorry bad pun). And then there it is basket upon basket of deep green cloaked sweetness..$.50/ear or 13 for $5, but the cost is not important, because I want it, I have to have it. I pick up my bag and start to go to work finding the best of the best and a conversation strikes up about the actual preparation. Boiled, grilled, pan fried, eating it raw and microwaved...what microwaved...what was this blasphemy coming out of the farmer's daughter's mouth, we all looked at each other trying to recover from what she just said..."microwaved". Peel it and microwave one ear for one minute in a standard microwave, I am a chef for Christ's sake and we only use microwaves to reheat food. I could not believe what I was hearing, with much skeptism, I took my purchases home and selected an ear of corn, peeled away the husk, removed the silk, gave it a rinse and place it in the microwave for one minute. After thirty seconds I could smell it now, alchemy as the nukrawave did it's job, I started counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 beep. I removed the lone ear smeared it with softened real butter, sprinkled kosher salt and cracked black pepper over it's body. Now was the true test, I took a bite and could not believe that this was the absolute best corn I had ever tasted. This method left the corn tender and crisp, hot throughout and perfect. I am now a covert to this method. In large groups I will still get out my large stock pot and fill with lightly salted water and cook at a boil for 4 minutes like I have done for years, but when I am alone with just that sweet ear of corn I will microwave it. How do you do your corn? Let me know and until next time......

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicken Wings Anyone?

What can you say about the chicken wing......  At almost every semi casual restaurant you will find chicken wings on the menu, in an array of flavors. They are common and loved by most everyone. Hell, you can even get wings delivered with your pizza. BUT, can you find a good one? If they are delivered there soggy, most restaurants don't cook them long enough, some places bread them and then they soak up so much sauce thats all you taste! Great chicken wings are few and far between.
 At our restaurant we do wings a little different and people say they are the best they have eaten. I know they are my personal favorite. I'm going to share our secret with you for your snacking pleasure.
First, we we rince our wings in cold water, dry them, and toss them in a little olive oil and season them with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place your wings on a sheet pan lined with foil (I find it works better than parchment paper) and roast them in a 375 degree oven just until they are done and a little brown. Remove them from the oven and cool completely. When you are ready to eat, heat your oil to 350 degrees and fry the wings until they are crispy, this won't take long as they are fully cooked. Remove from the fryer and toss in the wing sauce that follows....
This sauce is amazing and is my favorite of all time... I can't remember where I found it, but it is the best. Its a little unusual, but trust me on this it is worth the trouble. Enjoy........

Sauce Recipe

3/4 pound of salted butter

36 oz. Frank's Red Hot sauce
2-3 tablespoons of chopped, minced garlic
1/4 cup finely minced ( I use a grater) sweet onions
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup clover honey
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mayonnaise

This should be enough sauce for quite a few wings, but lasts a good couple of weeks in the refrigerator.


Add butter and Red Hot Sauce to a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Wait until all butter has melted.
Slowly stir in in all dry spices (cayenne, black, crushed red, white pepper & cumin) along with the garlic & onion.
At this point you should still have the lemon juice, honey, ketchup and mayonnaise on the side.
Bring that initial sauce to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 20-30 minutes, drop heat to low.
Add lemon juice, ketchup, and honey.
Let that sit for about 10-15 minutes on low.
Put the sauce (still in the saucepan) in the fridge for about 4-6 hours. (This allows the butter fat to rise to the top and solidify)
Once the butterfat has solidified, cut it out with a knife and discard. You should be left with a very thick sauce underneath.
Add the mayonnaise and wisk into sauce.
Lastly, re-heat the sauce over med-low heat. Bring it up to a slow simmer.
Toss your crispy wings in the sauce and serve at once with good blue cheese dressing and carrot and celery sticks.
This sauce is truly amazing. If you want it hotter, use more cayenne. If you want it more mild, cut out the cayenne and crushed red peppers in the beginning.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fried seafood? You'll need Tartar Sauce!

Growing up in the south on the coast and living in the Lowcountry is a blessing to me. Right now the fishing is amazing and the shrimp are running. What a great time of year to be on the coast. One of my favorite things to eat this time of year is a wonderful platter of fried seafood. Fried flounder, triggerfish, grouper, Spanish mackerel and of course fried shrimp and oysters.
When I was a kid I remember my mother frying up a mess of speckled trout that my dad and I had caught earlier that morning. She would dust the fish in seasoned cornmeal and fry it up in her big black cast iron skillet. The smells coming out of her kitchen were tantalizing and we could hardly wait for her to finish.
  Supper time at my house was always special, especially when there was fresh seafood involved.
When the fish, shrimp, oysters and hushpuppies hit the table it was heaven and always served with our fried seafood was this wonderful bowl of tartar sauce. A little sweet, a little sour with chopped up capers, hard cooked egg, pickles, and just the right amount of lemon juice. Such a delicious accompaniment to that big platter of goodness.
Here is my recipe for the tartar sauce that I use in my restaurant. So go get some fresh seafood and have a fish fry. Invite your family and friends and enjoy the fruits of the sea, with a big cold bowl of tartar sauce! Enjoy.........


½ cup of mayonnaise
1 hard-boiled egg
2 tbsp chopped onion
1 chopped dill pickle
1 tbsp of capers
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of chives
salt and pepper


Cut the hard-boiled egg, dill pickle and onion into small pieces.
Chop the chives into small pieces.
Place all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and mix until the ingredients have combined together.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden,,,it's not too late

I walked out into my garden today, as I usually do on my days off, surveying this year's crop. Tomatoes coming along fine, hot pepper plants two feet tall and what did I spy. My first zucchini blossom peering between the leaves..a good sign. Why am I telling you this? They are meant to be words of encouragement, to start you off with your own's not too late. Don't get my wrong I love farmer's markets and the like, but nothing beats gathering vegetables from your own little plot of earth. Talk about local, you know where your food was grown, who the farmer was and what methods (organic or not) were used in the production of your food. Taking a salt shaker out to the garden, pluck a full ripe tomato, gently salting and taking a bite as the warm juice runs down your chin is almost sexual definately sensual. I digress, go out dig up your yard or not, use a small raised bed, no land some large clay pots or flower boxes, some good soil mix a few seeds, water and a little love and you will be farming in no time. If you have children it is even better, it shows them where their food comes from and what it takes to make all it happen. It teaches patience and reconnects with our roots. Memories flood back of helping mom, dad or grandma work in their gardens and how great the meals that followed. It is not too late to start. Let me know what you are growing and how it's going and until next time........

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is possibly one of the most delicious and one of the most screwed up desserts I have had the pleasure of eating. When made right it is heaven, when made wrong you might as well be eating a bowl of pudding. The KEY to a great creme brulee is the egg to cream ratio and it must be made in a proper shallow creme brulee dish. There have been way to many times I have had my mouth ready for a great finish to my meal and order a creme brulee and get a soup cup full of custard, ice cold inside with way to much caramelized sugar on top. Disappointing!
This really is not difficult to make, and the recipe that follows is a great one. Not to sweet and a treat when it hits your mouth. So go for it and give this a try. I've tried to explain it in detail for you so don't be scared and enjoy this very old delight.
Want to know the history behind this dessert follow the link. :-)


1 quart heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean split and scraped
1 tbsp sugar for Brulee

 Preheat oven to 325. In a stainless steel sauce pan stir heavy cream, sugar and vanilla bean seeds until sugar is dissolved and cream is hot. Separate and place egg yolks in a small bowl. When cream mixture almost comes to a simmer whisk a little of the hot cream with the egg yolks to temper them, about a cup of the cream mixture should do. (This keeps the egg yolks from becoming scrambled eggs). Then add the egg mixture back into the pot with the rest of the cream whisking constantly until incorporated.

Ladle hot cream mixture into shallow Creme Brulee dishes and place in a water bath (A pan filled with hot water to about a 1" depth). Cover with foil and bake about 35 minutes, until custard is set. Remove from oven and gently remove dishes from water bath and chill thoroughly.

Sprinkle 1/2 tbsp sugar over top of each custard and place cups on baking sheet. Broil 4" from heat until sugar is caramelized, or use a torch to caramelize the sugar, which ever way you are most comfortable with.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rolling Rock

I have drank many a beer in my time. Large Breweries, small breweries, a lot of microbrews and even some my friends basement concoctions, but through the years there has been a constant in my beer drinking habits. Good old number "33" from Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Rolling Rock is a very decent pale ale, nothing fancy or exotic just a very good beer. It goes great with bbq in the summer and the slow braised meats of winter. Oh I may stray and try new beers, but I always return to my old number"33". What is your favorite beer. When you are in the grocery store staring at the ocean of variety, what are you grabbing to satisfy your thirst and your soul?...Until next time........

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer treats...Deviled eggs

The ubiquitious summer picnic staple..the deviled egg. When people walk up to the picnic table and view the endless array of potato, pasta, tossed and fruit salads, the nine layer dips, what is the first thing to go onto the plate? Well if you are me it is the deviled egg, because I know when I go up for seconds it will be gone. I was going to put a recipe below and thought I would make this a treasure hunt and encourage you to go to your grannies, aunts, uncles, brothers, sister, mothers, fathers or your next door neighbor and get their recipes. On the surface it is so simple, boil eggs, scoop out yolks mix with mayo, mustard, salt and pepper, top with paprika and voila deviled eggs. Every family makes them different, what variation makes yours special? Is it dijon instead of yellow mustard or does your family top them them with a briny caviar, standard paprika or smoked paprika(oops! my secret escaped)? So go back to the family recipe cards, get grannie's or Aunt Megs secret or experiment with your own, but get out into the kitchen and get cooking. Until next time......