Sunday, November 29, 2009

Would you like a hot dog?

Hot Dog Facts

7-Eleven sells over 100 million grilled hot dogs yearly, considered tops in North America.

The world’s longest hot dog was prepared in August of 2006 in Tokyo, Japan and measured 196.85 feet.

The term “dog” dates back to 1845 when accusations that dog meat was used to make the sausages.

Words associated with hot dog production; advanced meat recovery, meat slurry, wiener, mechanically separated poultry, sodium nitrite, listeriosia.

I’m not sure who eats one hot dog a day over years, but according to the American Institute for Cancer Research this daily consumption increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent.

Two things come to mind when I think of hot dogs: baseball, and hot dog eating contests. In both cases the hot dog has only grown in popularity in the recent past. Dollar dog night seems to be a huge attraction at Tribe games. A few years ago only a few select week-nights offered such promotions, but this past season included almost a dozen. Obviously hot dogs can draw a crowd, and they draw no bigger crowd than at the Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Seen, and replayed on ESPN as if it was a top tier sporting event the popularity has put both Joey Chestnut and Nathan’s on the map. I can remember when most hot dog sales outside of a sports stadium came from a street cart. No longer is this the case as places like Nathan’s have shown there is money to be made in the hot dog restaurant business. Locally the opening of Happy Dog by already successful restaurateurs puts the local foodie stamp of approval on the nationwide love affair with the wiener and bun combination.

It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in a hot dog. It may be as long as a year now. I’m interested checking out the Happy Dog and their hundred toppings. Then again a pack of dogs and some buns aren’t going to break the bank, but I would hate to have a wiener without a bun. Let’s try to figure this out. How many packages of wieners do I get and how many packages of buns do I need if there are 6 dogs per package and 8 buns per bag, but one person is a vegetarian, another doesn’t eat pork, two other people are sensitive to sodium, three people are on a low carb diet, and someone won’t eat theirs without relish and I don’t want to buy relish?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey day eve

Thanksgiving eve.

With the great holiday of Thanksgiving less than an hour away, I begin to wonder what I have in this past year of the culinary world to give thanks for? Let me try to conjure up a few things.
I give thanks……

Kari and I have jobs in the biz currently.

Bacon, house cured bacon, and the raise of pork nation.

The people I’ve meet with this blog… Scott, Corry, Diane, Amarillo, Bob, Michelle, Dorenburg, Dana, Stuart,Dino-mite, and anyone else who has commented or visited my little piece of the internet.

Blackbird bakery, as they have enlightened me on the idea of a croissant.

The West Side Market, Lakewood Farmers Market and every honest hard working farmer I’ve meet.

Tom, Tiffany, Chris, Dave, Rich, Ludwick, Glenna, and any other of the many purveyors who I’ve dealt with.

The upkeep of the I-90 corridor.

While this list is incomplete, I’m done with it. Thanks to everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This past week

This was our week-end special that I put together; grilled lamb chops, butternut squash-apple risotto, raspberry-walnut mustarda, sauté of snap peas and heirloom carrots.

I’ve stumbled upon the flavor combo of using our house porcini compound butter with sauté mushrooms and a hint of orange, works well with chicken, salmon, and maybe grouper.

All this talk of Thanksgiving and traditional eats made me sit down with a pen and paper to come up with something unique to try in the near future. Here are a few…..

Corn nut encrusted shrimp.

Boneless duck confit, as in remove the bone before cooking, maybe even pound them out in hopes of getting a thin, flat piece in the end.

Rockefeller vinaigrette is something I’ve done before but think the combination of spinach, bacon, and ouzo or fennel is one that should be examined in more detail.

Oven dried strawberries seem like a no brainer since we dry our tomatoes this time of the year because they need some increased flavor intensity. To me strawberries are in the same state this time of year.

Pork butt or 'shoulder' if you don’t want to think of butt. I miss my pork butt.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big Time Review

I haven’t been out to eat much as money if very tight right now, but I wanted to ‘review’ something. So I’ll give a review of the last meal I cooked at home.

I give myself no stars.

The setting was familiar. I do appreciate a television in the bar area, but to be seated about 8 feet from one is not ideal for a decent meal, but wait, the meal might well be considered sufficient instead of decant. Plus, if the television has anything beside sports on during a meal it is considered a distraction, and I consider OC Housewives a distraction.

The service was horrible. The server (me) had limited wine knowledge, but a good grasp of bourbon…as in he had some in his hand. The flatware was strewn about the table without regard and a single somewhat dirty cloth towel was thrown down in leuw of a proper napkin. Glasses went empty unless you got up and got yourself another drink, and the dirty plates stayed on the table for a good 12 hours or so. On the good side I think there was a candle lit somewhere in the room, for ambiance of course.

The food was digestible at best, not so much nourishing, but edible and tasty. Everyone likes chicken breast right? No, its crap, but it’s cheap. So it’s a sauté of chicken breast with Spanish rice and broccoli. A whole two pans were used to prepare this meal, so that makes it fancy for a home cooked meal. I don’t know exactly what made the rice the chef (me) poured out of the bag ‘Spanish’ but I’m sticking with that description. The heavy additions of butter, salt, and hot sauce made this concoction edible. I would only eat this meal again if I was starving at 11pm…..and this is likely to happen.

We were not greeted by nor sent away with a folly from a matre’d. There was no offer of coffee, after dinner drinks of port of cognac, nor was a single desert offered. While the setting was ‘homey’ and the meal was ‘edible’ at the very best I have s sneaking suspicion that there are many meals like this in my future.

Please call for reservations as we are very busy. BYOB/W/Booze. There is no valet, and there is no elevator or handicap access. The washroom is unisex, and there is only one community table. Absolutely no special request are taken nor are temp’s on steaks or any other special requests that don’t involve a microwave. Gratuity is accepted only in adult beverages, and we are not responsible for anything that happens before, during, or after you leave the premise. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My fearless Thanksgiving suggestion.

Green bean casserole goes down and goes down hard. Sweet potatoes don’t seem to be on anyone’s favorite list either, and a appreciable percentage of you think I’m crazy. Well sort of. At least I completely disagree with removing green bean casserole (GBC) from MY Thanksgiving table.

Honestly, I think Thanksgiving can do without the turkey… you’re thinking I really am crazy, but listen. The turkey is likely the most expensive item, it is easy, and I mean way too easy to mess up, and there is always too much of it left over. The side dishes are what Thanksgiving dinner is all about, next to leftovers. If you are lucky enough to get a moist piece of turkey on Thursday, I can guarantee you aren’t going to be so lucky on Friday. What I can say for my beloved GBC is that it is consistently good. From year to year, and from Thrusday to Friday GBC is good. So what if it comes from a can, and you would never think to make it any other day of the year?

So if I’m going to have Thanksgiving without turkey what kind of meat is going to be at the center of the table your asking? I’m suggesting roast pork shoulder! It’s a white meat, it’s relatively light, easy to prepare properly, inexpensive, and leftovers don’t turn into jerky by Monday.

As for sweet potatoes, let’s face it, once the marshmallows are gone you can just about remove the sweet potatoes from the table. Unless you have a sweet tooth and want to moisten your turkey with sweet potato syrup. Cranberry sauce goes the same way. Either use it to liven up the turkey or push it to the side. What a shame too because cranberry jelly out of the can is really a complex and interesting thing.

Carrot Cake

I found this great recipe in Food Arts magazine and wanted to share it because it's far and few between times when I find solid, quality recipes. The pastry chef from Aureole, Jennifer Yee presented this recipe to the magazine.

Carrot Cake

2 1/4 cup AP Flour
1 tsps baking soda
1 tsps salt
1 tsps cinnamon
2 cup sugar
4 lg eggs
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cup grated carrots
2 tblps fresh ginger grated

Wisk wet ingredients on medium for 5 minutes then add the carrots and ginger. Mix the dry ingredients together first then add to wet mixing on low in 4 additions taking time to scrap down the bowl each time. Cook in floured loaf pans at 350 until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The above list and directions are straight from the magazine. Of course I took some liberties when I prepared my cake. I replaced half the carrot with red beet, and used extra virgin olive oil in place of vegetable oil.

I whipped up a goat cheese frosting to go with mine. To one cup of whipped cream I added about 4 ounces of goat cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar and pinch of salt. Add the cheese before the cream is fully whipped to achieve a smooth end product.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And the wheels are rolling.....

It has not been tough getting the creative juices going again. In fact it is quite motivating to think about food in other ways than, “what am I going to eat tonight.” Which is what I was limited to in the recent past. I was able to put a few specials together for this week;

Braised mushroom and Chicken Linguini consisting of tender chicken breast and Killbruck farms mushrooms braised in a rich mushroom broth with goat cheese, leeks, and fresh herbs.

Sweet soy glazed sea bass with Okinawa purple sweet potato puree and boc choy sautéed with mushrooms and ginger.

Classic carrot cake baked with a hint of red beets served with goat cheese frosting, candied pecans and a Frangelico syrup.

The desert ran one night and was a bust, but I’m not surprised. The other two sold well over a few slower week nights.

For this week end we will be serving a 16 oz Cowboy steak with bourbon sauce, and a braised duck appetizer that Steve is working on. For more details about these and continued weekly specials at Nemo Grille subscribe for our newsletter at the website here.

I’m not sure where my camera ended up as I’ve had nothing to take pictures of recently, but I hope to get things back together and post pictures as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Back on Track

It has been some time now without a full time job, but the time has come to get back on the line and get back on track. I start back at Nemo Grille this week. That might sound familiar to some of you, and it should as I worked most of last year there only to leave regretfully due to economic reasons. Luckily business is on the up and up and the trickle down has finally hit me. I’m really excited to get back to work. The great upside to this situation; there is almost no training to be done, and only a few new faces to meet. It will be like riding a bike, but with hot things that burn, and sharp things that can cut you.

Nemo Grille has evolved a bit as the dining room has been refitted with a fresh coat of paint and some new artwork which really updates the space nicely. The menu has expanded a bit with a full bar menu offering a few sandwiches and a selection of steaks that rivals any steakhouse I’ve been to. The most important thing to me as a chef is that all the product we bring in at Nemos is quality product, and it is described in an honest, and fairly priced. I’ve been around the block a few times and know that this isn’t always the case, but Bob, Nemos chef/owner is a stand-up guy. One of the few people in this business I have any trust in. This is why I’m so excited to get back on track.

Now, I’m not going to get too intellectual and try to convey that I didn’t mind all that time off. I got a lot accomplished. For instance I bought an X-box 360 and played Madden football 3 full seasons! I’ve also spent a lot of time online, shoot I must have logged on to Craig’s List ten thousand times the past few months. Unfortunately, all non-productive things must eventually come to an end, and here we go again. I look forward to providing more interesting post than poll results in the future.