Monday, August 30, 2010

BBQ Ribs....... A treat for your weekend!

With Labor Day weekend coming up and the summers last hurrah, I couldn't think of a better item to put on the grill than a meaty slab of BBQ ribs! Here's a little rib trivia for you..... Back Ribs or Baby Backs are taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. The designation "baby" indicates the cuts are from market weight hogs, rather than sows. What ever type of ribs you choose is up to you, but my favorite is the St. Louis Style rib. Cut from the spare rib and usually from bigger hogs, they are meatier and with a little more fat, I like the way they cook up on my smoker.  Just warning you, this might seem like a pain the the ass but it really is not and SO worth the effort.
 I will share the way I smoke my ribs and finish them before they are served. First things first, place your ribs on a cutting board meat side down showing the inside of the ribs. The membrane on the ribs needs to be removed. Take a pairing knife and cut up under the membrane on the corner to start removing it. When you get enough to hold on to, grab it with a paper towel or rag and pull it off the ribs and with any luck it will all come off in one piece, if not repeat the process until it is peeled off. Now the ribs are ready to be rubbed. There are many different rubs on the market or you can make your own. Here are some common ingredients in rubs for pork. Usually the base spice is paprika and if you like your ribs a little spicy you can add a little cayenne pepper. I like brown sugar in my rub as well as salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, ect..... The list goes on and on. After the ribs are rubbed I refrigerate them at least 4 hours, I prefer overnight. Don't forget to soak your wood chips that night as well.
The next day prepare your coals and I use a Weber grill and it works awesome. Pile your coals on one side of the grill and place a pan on the other side for water to go in and to catch the fat drippings. Try to keep you fire temperature between 225 and 250 degrees. Place your ribs on the grill over indirect heat, throw a few wood chips on the coals (I prefer hickory wood) and place the lid on you grill. I keep a spray bottle with apple cider to spray on the ribs 4 or 5 times through out the smoking process for flavor and to help keep them moist. Smoke the ribs 3 1/2 to 4 hours (making sure to keep water in your drip pan to keep a moist heat in your grill and remember to add charcoal as well or your fire will go out) or until you can easily pull the ribs apart with your fingers, they should be tender.
To finish your ribs, remove them from your grill to a sheet tray, lift your grate, remove your drip pan and spread your coals out evenly. Place your ribs back on the grill over direct heat and baste with your favorite BBQ sauce then flip them and baste the other side. Let the ribs cook until the sauce caramelizes and flip back to the other side and let that side do the same repeating the process several times. When caramelized and sticky brown they are done. Remove from grill and cut into pieces and serve at once with your favorite sides. Enjoy............
P.S. I can smoke about 300 racks of ribs a day with my smoker at the restaurant so I know you can smoke a couple.....    :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The last peaches of the season......Cobbler Time!

Peach season is coming to an end in South Carolina and another long year in wait until next June when they start picking these amazing fruits again. One of my favorite fruits, I make all I can from them in the few short months they are available here. I know you say, "you can buy peaches year around", but not like these here in the south. I have eaten peaches from all over and nothing compares to the peaches of this area. So juicy you better have a wad of paper towels or its all over you, and the flavor is astounding! I make peach preserves, peach jalapeno preserves, peach jelly, peach pies, peach salsa, peach ice cream, freeze them for the winter months and then I must have cobbler! 
The wonderful peach is from China and was brought to the America's in the 1700's and planted in Virginia. Various American Indian tribes are credited for spreading the peach to different areas across the country.
There are many varieties of peaches, yellow and white, different shapes but the terms, cling, semi-free, and free stone, refer to the meat and the pit of the peach. When a peach is clingstone, the meat of the peach does not fall off the pit. When a peach is semi-freestone, the meat of the peach only falls off the pit if the peach is fully ripe. When a peach is freestone, the meat of the peach falls off the pit. These three type of peaches produce during different times of the season. Clingstone peaches are the first ones picked. Their season usually runs from late May until the middle of June. The season for the semi-freestone usually runs from late June until the middle of July. The season for the freestone usually runs from late July until the middle of August. So get them while you can and make something! Quick! I love this recipe and hope you do as well.  Enjoy......   

1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 cup sliced peeled peaches
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 egg whites, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Lightly grease 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish.
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Add peaches and toss to mix. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Combine flours and baking powder in a small mixing bowl and mix thouroghly. Beat together butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg whites. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla, stirring just to combine. Drop batter by spoonfuls
over peach mixture; Spread gently.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until peaches are tender and crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meyer Lemon Pie.....It does a body good!

This pie is made very similar to the classic Key Lime pie recipes with egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. The crust is a little different than the classic with ground almonds and graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. I made this in the dish I bake my quiche in, but a regular pie plate works just fine. I love Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or common orange. My mother has grown these for years in Noth Carolina. She grows them in pots and has them on her patio in the summer and brings them in on her enclosed porch in the winter. They still got plenty of sun and seemed to winter just fine there. She would zest and juice them, freeze the juice and dry the zest to use year around in her kitchen.
Originally from China and brought to America in the early 1900's, they did not get popular until Chefs
like Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower rediscovered them in the early seventies during the California cuisine revelution. Sweeter than a regular lemon and a little less acidic, they are a great alternative to use in any recipe calling for fresh lemons or lemon juice.


12oz graham cracker crumbs
4 oz ground almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 lb butter, melted


4 extra large egg yolks
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice 
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Whipping Cream For Garnish

3/4 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla



Preheated 350 degrees
In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix together. Press them into a 9" tart pan or pie plate. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Pie Filling

In a large mixing bowl beat the egg yolks until they are thick and are a light yellow. Add the sweetened condensed milk and mix in half of the lemon juice. Once the juice is incorporated add the other half of the juice and the zest, beat until blended (just a few seconds). Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes until pie is set.


Use a dollop of whipping cream to garnish.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hot Chocolate and Toast...... I just can't help myself!

I remember as a child with excitement and anticipation when my mother would surprise my two sisters and I with a mug of hot chocolate and buttered toast. It was a fantastic treat she would make for us before we went to bed. We would sit on the floor around the coffee table and dunk our toast in the hot chocolate and savor the sweetness of the chocolate with the mild saltiness of the buttered toast, together they were heaven. We hated for it to end.
Well nothing has changed, I still get that silly anticipation and comforting feeling in my soul when I sit down to this simple delight.
There are many versions of this drink some made with milk, cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla ( that's the one my mother would make for us). There are powdered versions of it you can buy in a jar, but the crazy rich version I make is from milk, a little cocoa, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla and heavy cream. Its ridiculously good and addictive, just warning you. So make this drink with a side of toast and enjoy it on occasion.....if you can.  :-)

Want to know the history of this fascinating chocolate drink follow the link:


1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
2 T cocoa
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream


In a small saucepan, add milk, cocoa powder, brown sugar and heat slowly. Add chopped chocolate, vanilla and stir until melted and smooth. Add heavy cream and heat through. Do not boil!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Braised Pork Belly with Mustard Greens...... So Delicious!

Pork belly cooked right is tender, succulent, sticky and unbelievably flavorful. Most often bacon is made from the belly. It is fatty but when seared and slow cooked it renders its fat and becomes this wonderfully amazing piece of meat! I make this dish with garlic, ginger, scallions, chile's and oyster sauce then cook my mustard greens in the leftover stock where I cooked the pork. I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. Enjoy..........


1/2 slab pork belly
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 dried chili
4 thick slices of ginger
1 bunch scallions chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
3 cups chicken stock
2 star anise
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 bunches of mustard greens, rinsed, cleaned, chopped and drained


In medium sauce pan add oil and sear pork belly fat side down until browned. Remove pork belly from pan and reserve. In the same pot add chile's, ginger, scallions, garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the star anise, brown sugar, rice wine and red wine vinegar and return to a simmer. Return pork to pan fat side up, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You want the pork belly to be fork tender.
When pork is done, remove from pan to a plate and cover with foil. In the pan that you braised the pork belly in and skim fat from braising liquid and remove the star anise and discard. Bring braising liquid to a boil and add mustard greens and reduce heat. Cook mustard greens in stock until wilted and tender about 20 minutes.
When greens are done check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
To serve, slice pork belly and place in a bowl, place wilted mustard greens on the side in the bowl and ladle braising liquid over the braised pork belly. Serve at once.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lowcountry Perloo!

Perloo! One of my favorite dishes of all time. Perloo is from the Lowcountry of South Carolina and is the sister of Jambalaya with its French and Spanish influences and its origin is from the middle eastern dish called Pilau or pilaf. It seems every culture has its one pot meals. The Spanish have their Paella, Italians have their risotto, the Middle East have their Pilau and in America in different parts of the country we have ours like Chicken Bog, Perloo, and Jambalaya.
When making these one pot meals is all about building your flavors, layers and layers of flavor. This a wonderful meal and doubles and triples well if you want to feed a crowd. Here is some advice if you are cooking this rice dish for a crowd. Wider is better than deeper!! I have seen many of people trying to make a large batch of perloo, jambalaya or chicken bog and have all their ingredients in a narrow tall pot like a stock pot and scorch the rice or basically ruin the whole batch. You can't fix scorched! So I suggest using a wide shallower pot so the rice can cook evenly. When you use a tall pot all your ingredients have a tendency to settle to the bottom and subsequently will scorch.
This recipe is a good one with a ton of good flavor and is a real joy to make. Serve this dish with a good buttery chardonnay like Cakebread or Mer Soleil. Enjoy............ 

18 sm hard shell clams, thoroughly rinsed, scrubbed
1 lb fresh shrimp, peeled, with tails left on

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 lb finely diced country ham
1 lg onion, finely minced
2 tsp finely minced garlic
2 lg ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup of Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
2 sm hot dry chili peppers
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
2 c raw short grain rice
4-5 cups hot chicken or shrimp stock 
1 cup shelled fresh peas (blanched in boiling water for 5 mins)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


I make this dish like you would make paella. Most versions, people will cook there ingredients in a pot, add the rice, stock, seafood and put the lid on it and let it go for twenty minutes or so and you ready to eat. I make it differently. Pay attention! Lol!
In a large paella pan or large skillet add your olive oil and saute the country ham until nice and brown a little crispy. Add the onion, garlic and tomatoes (called sofrito in Spanish) and cook until most of the moisture is cooked out of the tomatoes and the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld .
Add to pan the parsley, red pepper, chile's, oregano and basil and cook for 2 minutes. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains.
Add 4 cups of the stock and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. At this point taste your stock for seasoning because this is what your rice will taste like. Add salt and pepper as needed. Simmer perloo for about 15 minutes. Add your clams, shrimp and fresh peas to pan and nestle into rice, add more stock if needed, cover and simmer for the last 10 minutes. Remove lid and test rice to make sure its done. Rice should be tender and perloo should be nice and moist. Serve at once..... 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Crustless Spinach Quiche

 I was invited to a friends house today for lunch and on the menu was a homemade tomato pie from tomatoes picked right from her garden, a really nice mixed green salad and a great loaf of homemade bread. A perfect summertime lunch. When I was on my Harley riding back home through the countryside, I decided to give you my crustless spinach quiche recipe. Serve this with fresh sliced tomatoes or a simple salad. It is a wonderful quiche and easy to make. Great for any meal you desire. Enjoy.......


2 tbsp good olive oil 
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup scallions chopped
10 ounces wilted fresh spinach, chopped and drained (10 ounces after it is wilted and drained)
5 eggs, beaten
3 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Lightly grease a 9 or 10 inch glass pie plate
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and scallions, cook stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Stir in spinach and continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend. Pour into prepared pie plate.
Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30-45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Learn the history of the quiche, what you will find might surprise you.  :-)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Grilled Cobia, the pork chop of the sea.......

If you are a seafood lover and want to dine on the unquestionably best eating fish in the ocean then go to your local fish monger and request a slab of Cobia as they are known on the east coast, Ling in the gulf and pacific.
Cobia and Spadefish
Before I started cooking I fished for a living and it was a real treat when we caught some Cobia. They are a tremendous fighting fish and can be caught around reefs, wrecks, buoys and sometimes just a piece of floating debris in the water. Cobia are very curious fish showing no fear of boats. There were days when we would have these fish swimming around the boat where you could reach out and touch them. Primarily feeding on crabs, squid and other fish the Cobia's flesh is firm and has a delectable flavor.
Cobia is perfect for grilling, sauteing, poaching, baking or any of your other favorite ways to cook fish. I prefer it on the grill. Another thing I love about this fish is taking the rib cage and seasoning it real well and grilling it. The ribs of the fish are large and when the fish is done the ribs pull right out of the meat. The rib meat is sweet and luscious and my favorite part of the fish.
The recipe below is simple. You don't want to put to much seasonings on the fish or you will over power the beautiful flavor of the meat, simpler is better here. It would benefit you to search this fish out, well worth the effort. Enjoy......


4 Cobia fillets about 8 oz each
olive oil
2 Tbsp of lemon thyme
1/2 tsp of chopped garlic
1 tsp grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste


Fire your gas or charcoal grill up and get it hot.
Rub Cobia fillets with olive oil. On a cutting board place lemon thyme, garlic and lemon zest and finely chop.
Season fish with salt, pepper and sprinkle with the chopped thyme, garlic and lemon zest mixture.
Over medium heat grill Cobia fillets until  fish is golden on one side and flip and cook the fillets until just done. Do not over cook! If you don't know if they are done, pick one end the the fillet up and lightly bend it so it starts to crack in the middle, being careful not to break it in half. Look inside the fish and see if it is cooked through. Fish should be white and juicy throughout.
To serve place on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Simple and Delightful, Tuna Fish Salad.........

As a chef and cooking everyday for a living sometimes simple is exactly what I need. Its funny when you are surrounded by some of the worlds finest ingredients at you finger tips, and can make anything you want from them and a simple tuna fish sandwich is what your heart desires. I guess its comfort food to me, like homemade chicken noodle soup or some fried fish and grits, its what I crave! So today for lunch I made a tuna salad sandwich with some chips and a ice cold glass of milk, sat outside by the garden and enjoyed this simple pleasure. Tuna fish lends itself to a wide range of preparations and ingredients. Most people use mayonnaise as a binder, but others use yogurt, sour cream and sometimes salad dressings to bind theirs. The tuna fish I made today I used a 6 oz can of tuna packed in olive oil. I never use tuna in water, just don't like it. I drain it, add a little fine diced onion, celery and a couple of dollops of Dukes mayonnaise. Then I add a tbsp of sweet relish, a tsp of chopped capers and a grate or two of lemon zest. Mix it, check and see if it needs salt or pepper and that's it. Pile it on your favorite bread with lettuce, thinly sliced tomato and have at it! Enjoy...........

Friday, August 13, 2010

The World of Infused Oils

Infused oils with your favorite herbs and spices are a wonderful alternative to rich sauces over fish, amazing drizzled over your favorite salad and makes a great dipping sauce for a crusty loaf of bread.
There are as many ways to use infused oils as there are combinations of herbs and spices to make them so I will leave that to your creative imagination! What I want to share with you is the different ways of making them, and I'm only sharing a couple today.
First decide what type of type of oil you want to use. The oils I use are pure or extra virgin olive oil, depending on what you want to use it for, extra virgin oil can over power your herbs or spices. I typically use pure olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil or grapeseed oil because the essence of many of our favorite ingredients are fat soluble, fat or oil is an ideal flavor carrier and these oils are mostly neutral in flavor. Ever notice how flavorful a piece or steak or pork fat is when you cook your favorite seasoning on them? Same principle, fat is a perfect medium for carrying different flavors.
Using the blender or food processor for making infused oil works great when using fresh ingredients like herbs, garlic, ginger where there is oils and moisture in the ingredients. I add my collage of ingredients and a little oil at first and give it a pulse or two then add the rest of my oil and blend until everything is coarsely ground. Run oil mixture through a strainer and bottle. This will definitely need to be stored in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling.
Using the method of heating your oil to around 185-200 degrees and adding you herbs and spices and basically steeping your ingredients (the heat of the oil will release the essential oils in the herbs and spices). After your oil cools, strain the oil and bottle. I still highly recommend refrigerating your oil to prevent spoiling. A ratio to use for your concoctions is for every pint of oil add from 2-8 tbsp of fresh herbs depending on there strength and freshness, experiment! If you need your infused oil warm or at room temperature for a dish pour desired amount you need in a bowl and microwave for just a second or two or just leave it out until it warms.
So buy some bottles, pick your herbs, gather your favorite spices and make some fragrant and wonderful infused oils!  Enjoy.......

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hot Dog!

Sometimes, well most times chef's don't eat as fancy as they cook on the job, especially after they have just gotten off and don't feel like cooking. We go for comfort food and food that is just well, easy.

I offer the humble smoked sausauge, this could be a hot dog, brat, polish sausage or anyting in tube form. Almost every food culture on the planet has meat in tube form..from chicken and spinach to andouille and boudin. My personal favorite is grilled smoked sausage with the works..yes yes I frequent hot carts and I am not ashamed. It's great quickfood, fairly inexpensive, throw on a chips and a soda you are talking about $6. If you make it at home it is much cheaper. I justify the jump in my cholesterol by piling vegetables on top, tomatoes, relish, jalapenos, saurkraut, banana peppers, and diced onions. Mustard, spicy brown of course, yellow only in an emergency. On the instant gratification chart this combo blows the roof off. So now I want to know what is your favorite meat in tube form?, what about toppings? Hot Dog joint or Hot Dog stand?....let me know...until next time

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Braised Pork Shanks with Wilted Chard and a Pork Jus

Pork Shanks

In the south pork has been a very big part of cooking since the Spanish brought pigs to Florida in the 1500's. Domesticated pigs have remained ever since. Feral pigs or the modern day razorbacks are the descendants of those first pigs brought here by Hernando de Soto.
 This cut, with its deep flavor, can be braised whole or cut into cross sections for a less-expensive alternative to veal osso buco.

Pork hocks are the lower portion of the shank, traditionally used in Eastern European and American Southern cooking. Hocks lend themselves to numerous comfort-foods. Pork hocks make a tasty flavoring for soups, bean dishes, and stocks. If you have never eaten a pork shank you are in for a treat. Cooked Low and slow they are fall off the bone tender with amazing flavor. The recipe below is simple and delicious, so enjoy this cheap cut of meat, once you try it you will eat it more often. Enjoy........


4 pork shanks weighing about 8-10 ounces each
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
fresh rosemary
fresh thyme
fresh sage
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 cups white wine
2 cups beef or pork stock
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 large bunch of swiss chard, cleaned and rough chopped


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a large dutch oven heat olive oil over medium heat. Season pork shanks generously with salt and pepper and brown in hot olive oil, 2 at a time, on all sides until a deep golden brown. Remove from dutch oven and reserve. When shanks are browned add onion, celery and carrots to pot and cook vegetables until nicely browned and caramelized. Add white wine and stock to pot scraping any browned bits off the bottom of your pan (called deglazing). Add fresh herbs to pot and return pork shanks nestling them among the vegetables so they are covered with stock. Replace lid, place in preheated oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
 Check for tenderness. If shanks are not super tender place back in oven and cook until fork tender probably another 1/2 hour of so. When shanks are done remove to a platter and cover with foil.
Strain vegetables and cooking liquid from pot and reserving stock and discarding the rest. Skim fat from reserved stock and return to dutch oven. Bring stock to a boil and reduce by a third.
Add chopped swiss chard to pot and wilt, this will take 3-4 minutes. When chard is wilted season with salt and pepper.
In a large soup bowl place a nest of wilted chard in bottom. Place a pork shank on top of chard and ladle some pork jus on top of shank and in the bowl. Serve at once.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Banana Pancakes with Toasted Pecans

Pancakes, you gotta love them, but a little history first! A pancake is a thin cake, considered a quick bread. There are yeast raised, fermented or sour batters. Depending on the area or region you live in pancakes are eaten at most any meal with a variety to toppings or fillings like, of course syrup, jellies or preserves and even different meats. The french make crepes, a thinner version of our traditional pancake. Germans make their pancakes out of potatoes and the Italians will fry theirs and fill them with ricotta and chocolate for the cannoli. There are so many recipes for a pancake. I have seen them with cottage cheese in the batter, folding stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter for a lighter pancake, using different flours like whole wheat, buckwheat and rye for a more savory pancake for fish and meats. However you decide to make them sweet or savory, they are delicious so make them often! Enjoy.......


1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg beaten
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp. banana flavoring
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 bananas
1/2 cup of toasted pecans


Sift dry ingredients together. Add beaten egg, buttermilk, melted butter, flavorings and 1 mashed banana. With a few quick stirs with a wooden spoon mix batter just until incorporated. Drop batter, about a quarter cup at a time onto medium hot griddle. Cook until small bubbles form on top of pancakes and bottom is golden. Flip pancakes and cook until done. Top with butter, toasted pecans and plenty of maple syrup! Yum!

(Note: Over mixing of the batter makes for a tough pancake, and only flip your pancakes once!)

Grilled Watermelon

This will be a quick entry. I was at a farm mar-ket in Upper Arligton, Ohio and I saw something I had only heard about until today...grilled watermelon!?! Get your grill (real charcoal, hopefully not propane, but your call), while coals are getting hot cut your watermelon into wedges, get some local honey, a couple of limes cut into wedges, sea salt(kosher is fine), and some cayenne pepper in a shaker. Season both sides of the melon with salt and cayenne, sqeeze limes on both sides and lay on your lightly oiled grill rack. Grill two minutes and turn, brush grilled side with honey, let grill two more minutes, and pull from the grill and plate..if you wanted to be more decadent add a scoop of vanilla ice cream...but for me simple as possible. I fell in love with this dish instantly and so will you...maybe even try with honeydew or canteloupe....enjoy and until next time...
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jeni's Ice Cream Columbus Ohio

What is more summer than ice cream? Think back to some of your fondest summer memories with family and friends growing up. Think of of those long hot dog days of summers when the only relief could be found in ice cream. Whether it was handmade or bought from the local ice cream parlor. One bite of Jeni's Ice cream in Columbus, Ohio (or shipped on dry ice to your home), will bring all those memories flooding back and put a tear in your eye..oh yeah it is that good. Jeni Britton Bauer is the sorceress behind this operation. I say sorceress because she combines flavors that don't at first thought seem to match, but it works. She is an alchemist as she combines chocolate and cayenne in the Queen city cayenne(favorite #2) or the Blackberry and Sweet corn. Oh there is more how about Peach Lambic sorbet or Backyard mint that is actually a blend of fresh mints not the neon green food colored concoctions that rears it's ugly head. This stuff is good, it is inspired by Ohio's seasons and about Strawberry buttermilk or cherry and goat cheese(my favorite #1). She offers a lot of seasonal ingredients from Ohio's farms..peaches,sourcing the milk and cream from the Snowville creamery in Pomeroy, Ohio ( This is the reason this all works, the absolute best ingredients put together with love. These ice cream ,sorbets, yogurts and frozen treats put flavor over sugared sweetness, that so many other ice creams seem to value, masking otherwise quality ingredients. There are now five shops and a main kitchen in Columbus, with more to follow, this is great stuff. If you are outside the city(Columbus, Ohio), it can be shipped to your doorstep by the pint and well worth the price. For more information, addresses and hours go to Jeni's website ( ) and more info about Jeni and her crew and their quest for better ice cream, you can check out her blog ( seek it out and until next time.... Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake

OK folks, here is a really ridiculous and decadent cake that I sometimes make when I have chocolate junkies in town and begging me to make them something chocolate for desert. It is kind of like eating a soft and gooey fudge. I use a large spring form pan but you can make it in cake pans as long as you line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease your pans lightly with butter.  It is so rich and delicious you only need a little slice of it with some vanilla ice cream a little raspberry coulis and some homemade whipped cream. Its almost as good as.......well lets just say its really good. It is very easy to make and won't last long once you make it. This is a good one! Enjoy........


1 c chambord liquor
½ tsp salt
1 ½ c sugar
36 oz of bittersweet or milk chocolate
2 c unsalted butter softened
12 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrease. Butter 1 12 x 3 inch spring form pan and set aside. Wrap springform pan in heavy duty foil to prevent water from getting inside of pan.
In a small sauce pan add chambord, sugar and salt and heat until sugar is dissolved and syrup is hot, set syrup aside.
In the top half of a double boiler melt chocolate until smooth. Pour into bowl of your mixer and beat the softened butter into chocolate one piece at a time until all butter is incorporated and smooth. Beat in hot sugar syrup. Slowly beat in eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Place spring form pan into a roasting pan and pour enough water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake the cake until it is slightly firm and set, but the center still looks a little wet. Remove cake from roasting pan and chill cake in springform pan overnight. To loosen cake from pan, dip pan in hot water for about 15 seconds and remove from pan.

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The Lowly Greens

The lowly green, mustard, kale, mustard, turnip, and collard, why has this beautiful family of vegetables been delegated to poor folks food. We associate it with low or no culture and this couldn't be further from the truth, for this is a noble set of vegetables that have nurtured many a generation. It may of started out as poor people's food, but now it is a gateway to fonder memories and and comfort on a cold fall night. I enjoy them the old fashioned way, mixed greens in a big pot with some garlic, smoked ham hocks or fatback, white wine, apple cider vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes and some Vidalia onion slow simmered for several hours and served with some fried chicken, ribs or brisket, some black eyed peas and some corn bread. But that is just one way to enjoy them, I have a served a lighter version on some of my menus, and this is how it goes. Soak and rinse the greens of choice in cold water, dry, remove the stem (ribs), julienne the leaves. In a hot saute pan put a touch of olive oil, some small diced pancetta, let render. Next a little minced garlic, julienned red onion, and the greens, saute until the greens are wilted and splash a little white whine and apple cider vinegar, touch of salt and crushed red pepper. Saute until tender and side with some sweet potato hash and oven roasted pork tenderloin...those recipes available upon enjoy greens of all sort, seek them out and until next time... Posted by Picasa

Ode to the tomato

You say tomato and so do I, we are at a point in the season in Ohio where there is such abundance. Cherries, Brandywines, Early girls, and too many heirlooms to name, but we shal press on. What should we do with all these tomatoes. Firstly we treasure the bounty, think to the depth of winter when you are cursing the grocery store managers for placing the tasteless red orbs on display and calling them tomatoes. Secondly cook , cook and cook some more fresh salads, pastas, sauces, salsas, stewed tomatoes, fried green tomatoes, toast and tomato sandwiches, heck sandwich toppers in general, pizzas, bruschettas. Tired of eating it why not drink it make tomato juice, either in the morning with breakfast or later on in the afternoon with a bit of vodka and a celery stick. How about sundried, oven dried, or canned for later. If the truth be told all through the season I eat them sliced with my eggs in the morning, on a sandwich for lunch, and sliced and tossed with red onion, banana peppers and a red wine vinegraitte as a side dish for dinner. Red, yellow, gold, orange, pink ,green, purple and tiger striped, I'm addicted, like a kid jonesing for candy, I gotta have them. They are truly a gift, not to be forsaken, because soon enough the leaves will start changing and they will be gone. Oh sure they will, or a likeness thereof will appear in the grocery store, you will be tempted, but don't fall for it....these are not the tomatoes you are looking for(sorry geeky Star Wars reference). Enjoy now all that you can eat....until next time

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sweet Potato and Chipotle Tamales with an Orange Beurre Blanc

Tamales, the little lowly tamale..... Most people don't know what they are unless you live in the southwestern United States or any area bordering Mexico and if you have heard of them most have never tried one! The origins of the tamale is an old and fascinating one dating back to the Mesoamerica age and used as portable food often to support their armies but also for hunters and travelers. Classically corn based and usually have a filling then wrapped in a corn husk, banana or plantain leaf and steamed. Follow the link for the complete history:  These tamales are made with sweet potatoes and chipotles and are a little spicy. I top them with a little orange butter sauce, orange zest and cilantro. They are simply delicious, and that is an understatement! They are very easy and fun to make. You will most likely have some leftovers unless you invite a gang of friends over to eat these beauties. These tamales reheat very well and will last at least a week in baggies in the refrigerator. They are nice and creamy and loaded with flavor and the sauce is a brilliant accompaniment to these little packages of goodness. Enjoy.........


¼ cup butter
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 ½ #sweet potatoes cooked and cooled
¼ c shortening
1 cup vegetable broth
1 ½ c Masa
1 tbsp baking powder
1 can chipotle chilies
Salt and pepper to taste
20 Corn husks soaked in water


In the bowl of your mixer or with your electric hand mixer, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Scoop flesh from cooked sweet potatoes into mixing bowl and mix again until smooth. In small sauce pan melt shortening and add veggie stock. Mix well. Add broth mixture to sweet potatoes and mix well. Gradually add Masa flour mixing well. Add baking powder and chipotles and season with salt and pepper to taste mixing thoroughly. Add 1/3 c filling to each soft soaked corn husk and wrap. Place tamales in a steamer and steam for about 1 hour. Remove tamales from the pot and place on plate, open up corn husks and ladle a little orange beurre blanc over top of the tamales. Garnish with a little orange zest and fresh cilantro.


4 cups orange juice
1 cup white wine
1 large shallot chopped
1 bay leaf
10-12 peppercorns
3/4 pound of unsalted butter cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized sauce pan add orange juice, white wine, shallot, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring orange juice mixture to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and reduce the sauce to a very thick syrup being careful not to burn it. When reduced to a syrup, on low heat add butter a piece at a time whisking into sauce until each is incorporated and all butter is used. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce through a fine mesh strainer to remove the shallot, bay leaf and peppercorns. Serve beurre blanc over tamales.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Grilled Pork Kabobs with a Sticky Peach Glaze

Living in Florida on the coast we had an abundance of fresh seafood and produce pretty much year around. But one thing we ate a lot of was pork, used as a seasoning as in smoked jowls or hocks, salt pork or fatback. Eaten smoked, roasted on a spit, fried, stewed, about anyway you can think of to eat a pig.....
As a former national spokesperson for the pork industry and one of there Celebrated Chefs I am always looking for new techniques, seasoning, marinades and sauces for my pork dishes. With the variety of cuts and versatility of pork the culinary possibilities are endless. On my way to to the beach this summer I stopped at McLeod Farms in McBee SC and bought the peaches to make this marinade and sauce. They are absolutly the best peaches I have ever eaten. Here is the link if you would like to have some shipped to your home. Worth every penny.  This marinade and sauce recipe is one I have been using for years and is mouth watering on the kabobs in the photograph above. The sauce gets nice and sticky and caramelizes well and the flavors will make you smile. Enjoy........


2-3 pounds of pork loin cubed
2 large vidella onions, peeled and cut into pieces
2 green peppers, seeded, cut in half and quartered
2 red peppers, seeded, cut in half and quartered
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of fresh grated ginger
3 cups fresh peach puree
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp of Sriracha chili sauce
1 cup water
1 tsp salt


Soak in water 6-8 skewers to prevent them from burning.
Cube the pork leaving a little of the fat on the pork as this will crisp up and give the pork more flavor.
In a large mixing bowl add your minced garlic, grated ginger, peach puree, hoisin sauce, honey, soy, rice vinegar, Sriracha, water and salt and mix thoroughly. Add the cubed pork to the marinade and let the pork soak in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Remove pork from marinade and skewer pork alternating with red peppers, green peppers and onion. Place skewers back in refrigerator until ready to grill.
In medium sauce pan add marinade from pork and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until marinade becomes sauce consistency.
Heat your grill to a medium heat and grill kabobs until pork is a little crispy. and veggies start to brown. Glaze kabobs with sauce and grill until sauce is caramelized and pork is done. Serve at once with your favorite side dishes.

For peaches I blanch them in boiling water for a minute or so and remove peaches from water and put into an ice bath to stop the cooking. The skins then come off easily. Remove pit and puree peaches in a blender or food processor.

Prince Edward Island Mussels

Just north of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Cananda, lies Prince Edward Island, this wind swept outcropping with it's cold nutrient rich waters is home to all sorts of great seafood including the Prince Edward Island mussel. This farmed mussel has become a favorite in many
restaurants around the country. I'm sure many of you have eaten this briny treat, but have you ever thought of making this at home? It is incredibly easy to do and you will amaze your friends and family with your new found culinary prowess. First go to your local fishmonger, seafood shop or high quality grocery store. It is so very important that the mussels are treated right since they are and should living until you cook them. Several indicators of a fresh mussel is clean ocean like smell, they should not smell fishy. Next if the mussel is open pinch it closed, if it stays closed then it is still alive and kicking. If it pops back open then it is dead and now a bacteria sponge, discard immediatly. Now that you have found fresh mussels how much do you need, if you are serving them as an appetizer then 10-12 per person is appropriate. If you are serving as main then between 22-25 are the norm. First step in cooking is to make the toast, this is important, as the lowly toast setting at the bottom of the plate or bowl soaks up the incredible sauce you are about to make. Any crusty french bread, foccacia, or ciabbata with do. Cut into 1/2 inch thickness, rub with some olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper and toast in the oven until crusty. for a twist in flavor grill the bread over charcoal or in a grill pan and reserve for later use. Steaming is the preferred method for cooking these little guys, but we need to do some prep work to insure sucess...we call this mis en place or things in place. First clean your mussels by pulling the beards out and gently scrubbing under cool water with scratch gentle they are alive, place into a container and cover with a moist towel. Never put mussels, clams, oysters into an air tight contatiner you will kill them and thus kill the freshness. Next small dice some tomatoes, shallots or red onion, mince fresh garlic, mince fresh herbs and find some extra virgin olive oil, knob of whole butter, and white wine. You will also need a small pot or large saute pan with a lid and a long wooden spoon. The reason we gather mis en place and have everything ready is that this process goes really fast. Place your toasted croutons in the bottom of the bowl or on the serving platter. Ready here we go, over medium high heat add a little olive oil and let get hot, next add onion, garlic, tomatoes and mussels, toss to coat the mussels, add white wine , minced herbs, salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Saute for two minutes or so, remove lid and stir with your spoon at this point mussels will be starting to open. When they are open they are done, remove mussels from pan to a bowl or serving plate on top of the croutons, leave the cooking liquid going and and add your kob of whole real butter this will bring the sauce together.
This will only take a minute when sauce has come together drizzle over cooked mussels and croutons, strap on a bibb and enjoy...what a great quick share dish....until next time

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Inspiration and Perspiration

So where do you go for inspiration? Food Network, the internet with its now countless recipe sights and food blogs, neighborhood bookstore, or your local library. The truth is that inspiration is all around us. The local farmer's market, our neighbor's cookout, the countless family meals whether it be a bar-b-que or thanksgiving dinner. Inspiration can only take us so far if we are not grounded in basic cooking technique. There are some great resources to teach us technique, how to cut an onion, how to make a stock, how to roast a chicken, or how to make a sauce. The internet is magic when it comes to this, located on the world wide web are countless how to blogs and videos on how to prepare, pretty much anything your heart desires. As a true foodie there are a couple of bibles you must keep in your cookbook library. The Culinary Institute of America's handbook "The New Professional Chef" is a great source of beginning and intermediate technique loaded with schematics, measurements, great photos and many recipes...a used copy on Amazon will run you about $30 and worth every penny. The next must have is "The Joy of Cooking", the 75th edition is updated with both classic and modern recipes and is very descripive. One of my personal favorities is "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" this is Julia Child's epic two volume ode the cuisine and culinary tradition of France. She takes the mystique out and puts it in easy to understand terms. When it comes to recipes and finding something to cook the internet is becoming a goto source from which to find any number of variations on the recipe. Some of my favorites with loads of great recipes, with print options are,,,, and Beyond that many other great recipe sites and chef blogs are out there to offer great how-tos and recipes. Remember that inspiration without technique and knowledge is like a pilot without an airplane. It is all out there for you, you love food, you love to cook, refine your technique, increase your knowledge and the culinary mysteries will open up like flowers to you.......until next time

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Amazing Corn and Seafood Chowder

Chowder, who doesn't like chowder? There are so many varieties of chowder there is something for everyone. Chowder is typically flavored with salt pork or fatback and thickened with flour or more classically with crushed saltine crackers and finished with milk or cream in most places.
There are red or tomato based versions of chowder like Manhattan and Minorcan (originating on the island of Minorca off the coast of Spain) and is fiery, its heat derived from the Datil pepper. I like both varieties and am giving you the recipe for my version of this creamy American favorite.
It is a comfort food to me and I enjoy it year around, with a good loaf of crusty bread and butter. Enjoy.........


1/4 cup butter
2 ounces salt pork cut into small pieces
1 large onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
3 tbsp AP flour
1 quart of stock, clam of fish
2 large potatoes peeled and diced 
3 cups fresh corn cut off the cob 
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
1/4 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
3 cups light cream
1/2 lb shrimp peeled and deveined 
1/2 lb bay scallops
3 dozen littleneck clams shucked or 2 7oz cans of chopped clams 
1 good size fillet of grouper or any firm white fish cut into approx 2 inch pieces
1/2 lb calamari tubes thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste


In a large stock or chowder pot melt butter and saute salt pork until golden and crispy. Add your onion and garlic and cook until onions are softened about 5 minutes.
Add the flour to onion mixture and make your roux and mix thoroughly. Add your stock and bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.
Add the potatoes, corn, bay leaf, thyme and Italian parsley. Simmer until the potatoes are just tender.
Add cream and bring back to a low simmer and add the shrimp, scallops, shucked clams and fish pieces.
Cook until fish is just done and then add sliced calamari and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Season chowder with salt and pepper and server at once.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Walleye, Lake Erie

I am a seafood junkie, shellfish, ocean and fresh water fish. An incredible bounty from our waters, that can be prepared in a myriad of ways. I love grouper, catfish, scallops, squid, bass, you name it I have tried it. There is one fish that is nearer and dearer to my heart than any other and that is Walleye from Lake Erie. The fish is sweet, delicate, with a buttery finish. It will stand up to the deep fryer or in a grill basket over a lower frame, but this is not where this fish shines, In a hot saute pan, a little clarified butter and or olive oil, dusted with flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Saute each side until golden brown and remove from pan to plate, a little fresh lemon juice and zest and the Walleye's true character emerges. If you wanted to add a little jalapeno dill aoli, I guess there would be no crime in that. Whatever preparation you choose, just remember in this case less is more and the simpler the better. In season from early spring to late fall this fish is truly worth seeking out.....until next time....

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wonderful Carrot and Coriander Soup!

This wonderful soup is fantastic hot on a cold winters night and just as refreshing cold in the dog days of summer. It is a very easy soup to make and holds well in the refrigerator for several days. The combination of the onion, sweet potato, carrots, orange and chile's are amazing and will have your taste buds jumping.
Serve with a dollop of basil or tarragon pesto if you serve it hot or a little sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of good chili powder as a garnish if you serve it cold. Enjoy.......


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
3 # carrots chopped
2 c onion chopped
4 clove garlic chopped
1-2 Serrano chilies chopped (How hot do you like it?)
2 large sweet potatoes chopped
1/4 cup cracked coriander seeds
1 qt vegetable broth
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup grand mariner
2 cups heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste


In  medium sized stock pot add olive oil and butter, add the carrots, onion, garlic and chile's. Cook vegetable mixture until onions and carrots start to brown lightly. Add sweet potatoes to pot and cook 5 minutes. Add coriander seeds, veggie broth, orange juice, grand mariner and cook until veggies are tender. Puree soup and run through a medium mesh strainer to remove any bits of the coriander seeds (can be hard and a little chewy) and add heavy cream. Mix soup thoroughly and return to heat. Heat soup through and season with salt and pepper.
If you serve the soup hot add a dollop of basil or tarragon pesto. If you are serving it cold add a dollop of sour cream and some fresh chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of good chili powder.