Monday, December 27, 2010

You Cook a Pretty Cake Too?

The Amateur Cake Decorating Competition at the 201 Central Ohio Home & Garden Show needs five (5) talented amateur cake decorators as participants on stage at the show. The top three winners receive cash prizes and bragging rights, with the Grand Prize winner receiving $500 cash. Second place recieves $250 cash and thirst place receives $100 cash. Entries are due by noon, Wednesday, February 2 to

For rules and detailed information visit

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Menu

While I'm one lucky cook to have the eve and the day of Christmas off work I'm still working with my wonderful fam' on a menu. I think this is what we are having, and this post might get updated to the actuall happenings.

Baked Ham
Baked Beans
Cheesy potato casserole (mine)
some random vegetable
lot's of cookies
beer, wine, spirits!

Done, Hey'yo.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For the Intellectual Foodie

I recieved a link from one of this blog's readers for 20 Great TED Talks for Total Foodies. This was a few weeks ago and I took the time to look into almost all 20. They are all very interesting. I'm sure if you visit the site you will find something plesantly intellectual, educational, and inspirational. Enjoy!

Funniest Thing I've Seen in a While

The folks over at Xtranormal have put together some seriously funny stuff. Check it out HERE.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coconut-Vegetable Chowder

Last week I used this recipe as both the sauce and vegetable component to our weekly fish special. As the name implies it would work equally well as a stand alone soup.

Coconut-Vegetable Chowder

one onion, small dice
one inch piece of ginger chopped fine
one small jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine
one clove garlic chopped fine
one teaspoon curry powder
one quart coconut milk
two cups vegetable stock
two cups carrot juice
two tablespoons brown sugar
two tablespoons fish sauce
juice and zest of one lime

one each sweet potato, idaho potato, carrot, celery, red bell pepper, diced
one cup sugar snap peas large diced

------Sweat the onion till soft then add the ginger, garlic and jalapeno and cook another 2 minutes before adding the curry powder and topping that with the rest of the liquid ingredients. Bring this to a boil then reduce to low while chopping up all the vegetables. Add the vegetables to the soup holding back the peas as they take only a few minutes to cook. Set the soup over medium heat and simmer for about 10 minutes untill the vegetables are tender. Optional garnishes would be fresh cilantro, chopped scallions or rice.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Random Pics

No we didn't cook'em you sick'o. That's my dude Mojo

A lil' carrot snow man, how cute?

Mr. carrot snow man went for a swim in the soup d'jour.

Wild stripped bass, herb rice, coconut-vegetable chowder.

BBQ Shrimp and Veal Sweetbreads, cheesy grits, fresh herbs.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Food Truck Poll Examined

Let us swing our sporks in the air and lay claim to conquering the mighty food truck…..or not!?!?

The only conclusion to be drawn from the recent food truck poll is that people are very polarized as to their willingness to embrace this up and coming trend. Either you’re willing to drive across town for a food truck treat or you wouldn’t touch their tacos if they pulled right up in your cull de sac. Eliminate my vote and it’s split straight 50/50.

Is that biodesial? Does that fryer oil run straight through the engine? How does the Department of Health visit if you don’t have an address? How long have those dogs been in that water or how long has that foie terrine been around? I got some warm nuts while in NYC a long time ago. They where the best nuts I’ve ever had. I tried the hot dog cart a few times working down town….give it up for the dog cart guys that’s a tough life! I think I even had a bite from the famed OU burrito buggy back in the day. Obviously I’ve not died since and it seems logical that for these individuals to continue doing business they need to be clean which seems to be a lot of peoples concern.

There seems to be a lot more prepared food out there for our consumption. For instance I remember going to the West Side Market as a child and the only prepared food available was a pizza bagel, and boy these were a great treat, but now there are an overflowing handful of prepared food stands. The deli counter has made similar progressions, along with the frozen food sections. People want a meal, they want it quick and easy, and the food truck is helping us get that.

Here in Cleveland we are just now embracing the food truck, but in Columbus there seems to be a much more established community. Blogger Bethia Woolff has a great insight on the capital cities local taco truck scene. And Jamie Wright brought to light some other transportable kitchens of interest such as the Rad Dog offering some vegan items, or Foodie Cart which offers Japanese crepes and can be accessed on Facebook.

What’s my take? As a chef I can appreciate the food truck as a now viable option to get a foothold in the business aspect of the culinary arts. As a consumer I can appreciate the price point that comes with a food truck. Yet I’m somewhat skeptical about food safety, but like I stated before it is in the best interest of the food truck operator to keep up sanitary conditions. Looking into it more I would be interested in seeking out an ethnic based food truck, something unique. On the other hand if I can get the same thing at the corner restaurant I’m willing to pay a few extra dollars for the giant flat screen with Sportscenter and the A/C blasting.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Visiting Deagan's Kitchen & Bar

While downtown Lakewood, Ohio might not be a flexing metropolitan hub there are plenty of quality, unique and affordable dining options: Alladins, Pacers, Melt, Souper Market, Chipotle, a brand spanking new Panera, Einstein Bro's, The Root Cafe, Dave's Cosmic, and I'll even throw in Boston Market, Burger King, and Taco Bell just to bulk up the list. The new kid on the block is Deagan's Kitchen & Bar. Taking up the old digs of the oft mentioned Crazy Rita's and short lived Cleats the people behind Deagans have revamped what was the red headed stepchild of a kitsch Mexican come sports bar space with great success. Pounding shots of tequila then getting a roll of paper towels with my wings was nice, but I'm a bit older now, a bit smarter, wiser, and more sophisticated and so is Deagan's K&B

.I visited during a week-day lunch service with a rather large group of around 15 people including 3 children. One of which was only 9 days old. Babies are so cute, and luckily for us she was very quiet too. The server was great with the group as we all arrived independently over a 20 minute span, and by no means was the place empty! Our server quite easily could have got an attitude and been salty with us as a whole, but instead we were treated very, very well with a visit from both the chef and the owner. It is amazing how good service can slip below the radar when you dine out, but we didn't even have good service… I would call this excellent service!

Deagan's K&B is a self proclaimed gastropub. The idea of beer and food paired together occurred about 5 minutes after the first beer was made so it's not unique, but what Deagan's brings to the table is a great selection of beers and a superb menu. There is a definition of 'gastropub' on the chalk board near the front door; you'll see it right next to the specials and the seasonal beer selections. I just dig the chalk boards. Chalk boards are way cooler than the wholesome 'I picked this font out special' sheet of ream paper with a mix match of ingredients most likely miss spelled with someone else’s greasy fingerprints on it "Daily Specials" sheet.There is a lot of cross over between the lunch and dinner menus. I totally appreciate this and think it is a very wise business discussion. Then again there is just enough difference that exists both a lunch and dinner experiences are available. Along with the afore mentioned daily specials.

I had two glasses of water, a heifwiezen, and the house salad. To me a house salad doesn't have avocado, hearts of palm, tomatoes, mushrooms and shallot vinaigrette, but Deagan's does. What a great salad. Everyone was very happy with their food. Even the kids couldn't eat enough. We were warned that the mac&cheese wasn't up to par by one of the tables guests who had been to Deagan's before yet the description was so tempting another in the party went for it and she was pleased. Around the table we had the reuben, burger, chicken and waffles, grilled cheese and vegan chili. Duck confit mac&cheese, I mean are you kidding me? On this day everyone walked away full and happy.

The space is sparse yet occupied. There are a few painting, and very interesting ones at that. Just enough to keep your eye occupied when the child across from you sticks a fork in his mouth and you just hope he doesn't poke out a tooth and by no means do you want to be held responsible. The walls are covered with recovered barn shingles as I understand along with the exposed ceiling and steel beams the room has a lot of texture. The bathrooms, the most overlooked rooms that we tend not to speak about were just amazing! The bar area is a full circle centered around a few giant flat screen TVs’so you can have your sports and eat lunch too.

I just loved my Deagan's experience. On the flip side I can't leave a table un-leveled and unfortunately I was the culprit of just that. I sat at a split in the four tables put together and one was wholly and annoyingly unlevel. Since they were most likely pushed together at the last moment I'll give it a pass and try the amazingly sounding duck confit mac&cheese upon my next visit.

Random Thankgiving Day Thoughts



My regularly scheduled day off...Thursday....Thanksgiving...Thursday....I don't skip a beat!

I took my camera in for service about two months ago and I get an e-mail today, of all days. The day before the busiest shopping day of the year...."Your camera is fixed come get it!!!" It has to be a scam.

What is up with Four Loko? I just found it to be way too sweet.

If you might be interested in a long lost descendant of Genghis Khan who is currently interested in wack food and dope hip-hop then there is a good chance you would enjoy the chef of Xiao Ye's blog.

My fantasy football team is currently 5-6 and projected to lose my more than 100 points this week-end. Bet I would kill it if there was fantasy Iron Chef!

Salty sold his knife for 8g's. Who uses a 8g knife? I wouldn't cut a mushy carrot with 8g's. I'll stick with my pink Pure Komachi.

If I see another in depth piece about cooking turkey, stuffing or cranberry sauce I might very well explode.

Is bacon over rated? I mean it's good and all, but come on. Some people have taken it a bit too far for a bit too long.

Where do vegan eggs come from? Vegan chickens of course.

Why are people so hung up on what wine to drink with their Thanksgiving dinner. I mean the only thing I can think of that will make that dry ass turkey taste any better is some bourbon, or rum, or vodka......

Best Thanksgiving dinner idea ever? Tacos. Pure genius un-realized.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I got cool knives too!

My blogger friend Salty has an amazing collection of knives. Some of which he has currently offered up for sale. F'ing amazing stuff. So I thought I would show off my collection also.

On top is my favorite Pure Komachi II that I got at Target almost 3 years ago. The handle is cheap ass plastic aka. very light, and the blade is very thin and sharp as a razor. The best part is it only takes about 5 swipes over a stone and I could shave with this thing.

Second is my Nenohi Nenox G-Type Sujihiki. It is a single edged blade which I find dificult to sharpen, but when sharp is stays that way for a long time. This knife was a gift and I'm very embarassed that the tip has since been broken off. Fortunatly it's a clean break and I can manage to manuver the knife in a way that makes it fully usefull.

Lastly is a nice Kyocera peeler. Actually I'm not 100% sure it's a Kyocera, but if it isn't it should be cause I had one of their fixed blade mandolines and it was awsome.

Obviously I have a limited collection, but I have a great respect for those who are more educated about blades, and even more appreciation for the producers of excusite knives like those that Bob Framer and Michael Rader make.

Oh, wait, the best thing about the pink Pure Komachi is that it is in fact PINK, and nobody in the kitchen will ever ask, "hey dude, can I dig on that sharp ass pink knife for a quick second?" ha ha ha.

Coconut Curry Sauce

I found myself battling another installment of insomnia a few nights back and two great things happened at the same time; I began to nod off, and which ever cooking show airs around 3 am had a chef preparing a Southern Indian coconut curry. I took the basic idea, from what I remember at least, and put something rather tastey together. It's my own sort of Indian-Thai fusion.

The basic ingredients included sliced onions, coconut milk, garam massala, chili flakes, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom.

After cooking the onions to a deep dark brown I removed some from the main pot, added fresh ginger, lemongrass, the dried spiced and sauteed till fragrant. This mixture was then pureed smooth with a can of coconut milk and married back into the main onion pot then topped off with more coconut milk, a bit of soy sauce and lime juice.

Part of the whole dish was nice and naturally sweet Jasmine rice to which I added chopped dried dates and raisins. I like to add the fruit at the begining of the rice cooking because I enjoy the more toothsome fruit allowing it to actually flavor the rice as opposed to having plain rice with some fruit tossed in.

Pan seared Mahi-Mahi in coconut curry with vegetable egg-rolls and date-raisin rice. I plan on adding fresh corriander and a squeeze of lime juice over everything before serving this week-end.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Candy Corn Poll Results

Turn that frown upside down Mr. Candy Corn cause we love you!

I’m not sure what there is not to like about candy corn. Especially compared to some other Halloween related candies, for instance wax lips. Three quarters of the poll results showed love toward those little candy kernels. So soft, chewy and sweet with the wonderful fall hues!

It was in the 1880’s that George Renninger created candy corn while working for the Wunderlee Candy Company. The kernels are made from a secret mixture of sugar, corn syrup, stabalizers, and artificial coloring. It is estimated that over 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold annually. Brach’s is currently the top peddler of candy corn boasting that they sell enough kernels each year that if laid end to end would circle the Earth…over four times!

For those who love candy corn, but have spent their whole life wishing it was acceptable in social circles to eat year round. You are lucky! Candy companies are currently launching kernels with a variety of color variations intended to suit other holidays like Christmas and Easter.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thai Seafood Stew

With the help of Blogger these photos got uploaded backwards. So we are going to breakdown the Thai Fish Stew I prepard In reverse order of how it was actually made.

This is the final product...Thai seafood stew with meifun rice noodles, squid, crab, sea bass, marlin, swordfish and mussels in a Thai vegetable broth.

Her we have iced portions of the seafood that goes in the stew.

The broth cooking with easily extraced yet smashed lemongrass.

The flavorings.

Everything nicely diced, choped and microplane'd.

All the raw ingrediants.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I love my veggies....

This might give all my vegan friends nighmares...Oh wait, do I have any? Click here to check it out.

Fresh French Innards

In today’s issue of the New York Times Maia de La Baume wrote a great piece about ‘A Feast of Innards Nourishes French Nostalgia.’ There is great insight into the who and why of La Frairie des Petits Ventures or the brotherhood of small bellies. It’s a festival in Limoges, France that celebrates the old world culinary traditions that center on, well, sheep testicles cooked in garlic, parsley and port. If for no other reason and I greatly suggest you read the whole article as it is worth the time, there is a wonderful picture that looks almost medieval…and who gave those kids swords?

I would love to try some of the sautéed sheep testicles. I have not enjoyed testicles in my culinary adventures. I saw some bull’s testicles at the West Side Market, but I didn’t have the ‘balls’ to buy them and cook them for myself. It’s a lot like how I feel about tongue. Its great meat that I’ve enjoyed a few times, but if I am the one who has to peel that thick gross skin off it…yuck!

Blood sausage is another major item at this French festival. I’ve had Black Pudding in the setting of an Irish restaurant, and if I scoop enough egg yolk over it I’ll manage to get it down. By no means am I going to order a side of it though, and I said that before I even knew what it was I had eaten.

Tripe is another item that I’ve managed to avoid. It is featured in the hot counter of every Asian Market in town, but I just have not had the ‘stomach’ to order it. I am not offended by it. Nor am I avoiding it, the right time just has not come up. I’ve never asked, “instead of the General Tao’s chicken do you have a tripe dish.” I will have to think about that next time.

As for other innards…I love foie gras, sweetbreads, cheeks and tails. I’ve made pork head cheese and it’s great, but I’m not sure what that stuff is at the deli counter? Crackling, pig ears, braised snout, and even baby duck egg have all been agreeable to me. Chicken liver I’ll take ‘em or leave ‘em as they are great deep fried with a crunchy crust, but then again what isn’t? Other livers taste like eating a penny to me….yet I’ve not had them deep fried with a crunchy crust. Ha!

Rabbit hearts and livers skewered on a rosemary stem were very pleasing as they got sent to the grill on a whim one day. Pig’s feet I’ve used in stock, but there doesn’t seem to be enough there worth eating as a standalone item. Chicken feet are right next to the tripe at the Asian Market, but I’ve not ‘stepped’ up to the plate on that item either. They look crispy and good though.

We don’t eat much fish innards do we? Monk fish liver is something I’ve seen on TV. Shad roe was just downright nasty, and I was so excited to try it. Sturgeon caviars are just not worth it to me considering the environmental strain, even though farmed product is available these days. Tabiko is ok, it’s like fishy pop rocks, but unlike sheep testicles you wouldn’t dare to center a whole dish around it, let alone a whole festival.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Street Art Meets Foodie

I found my way onto this pretty amazing collection of street art (graffiti) that centers around food. I once displayed some public art, but that was a long time ago. Check out graffEATinyc for a good show.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Imaginary Poll Results

What an interesting poll. I surely thought it would have caught some more attention that the whole un-impressive 5 votes. But what the hell, let’s talk about it.

I constructed the idea that we might be invited to a hypothetical dinner party thrown by some of the most popular cartoon families of the past 50 years. Since it’s my imagination let me explain what might be expected.

One vote went to the mumbling Peanuts parents. Since I think of only three things when it comes to Peanuts and they are Snoopy, The Great Pumpkin, and the needless Christmas tree I am going to say the PP (Peanuts Parents) are going to stick with the regular holiday foods. Think roast turkey, stuffing, mashers, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce…ect. I also figure they would have a NA punch bowl seeing there are a bunch of neighborhood kids around and they are already mumbling. The PP would do a great party, but only for that 5 week period of the year when such foods are acceptable.

Lois Griffin also got one vote. There are plenty of scenes in Family Guy where the family sits around the dinner table, but more times than not it’s not about the food. Food just isn’t that funny. Plus they don’t have a proper dining room with the table dropped right in the middle of the kitchen. Based solely on this clip I am guessing Lois would replicate that meatloaf.

Lastly, and sole winners of more than one vote Ms. Flintstone and Ms Rubble would undoutably put for the best dinner party. I envision a full bar of gin martinis, imported champagne, huge wooden mugs of fermented barley and hops and clean water filtered through the wing of a bird that giggles and says something witty like, “I’m all wet” when you pour water on him. Bam Bam would hit Dino over the head, steal his dinosaur treat and share it with the little Flintstone girl. Fred would attempt to grill out, but after leaving Barney to man the grill while he chased a little green fairy Martian Barney would let everything burn because he is a big wimp and the grill was hot. So the final straw is the baked dinasor shank casserole, but everyone would be so full of gin they pass out and in a few hours when Bam Bam needs a diaper change he would bang on the ground shaking the whole house until everyone wakes up.

Those with no votes are Marge Simpson who I don’t recall cooking much so that dinner party would center on Duff beer. Frylock, Meatwad, and Master Shake are all food stuffs themselves so that is just kind of weird to think about. Granddad Freeman and Riley would fully enjoy a picnic of fried chicken and watermelon while Uncle and Huey would chastise them for such stereotypical choices most likely opting for some type of Italian dish.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Comfort Food ???

I saw this piece about comfort food at and it got me thinking about what ‘comfort food’ means. Well, after some thought I’ve decided that comfort food has a few different personalities. One is nice, sweet and sincere, another is unhealthy yet therapeutic, and yet another is out to get your money (aka get me a pay check). Let me share what I’ve found.

The pairing of the words comfort and food first appeared in Webster’s Dictionary in 1977 and refers to food that improve one’s emotional state, sense of well-being, or comfort…go figure. It is a rather current development that American chef’s in an effort to define ‘American cuisine’ invented a fine dining model of comfort food that includes expert cooking, quality ingredients, but also higher prices compared to the Mom & Pop places costumers previously went for comfort food. What it comes down to from my viewpoint is that in the past comfort food at a restaurant might have consisted of instant mashed potatoes topped with a goopy brown graves and beef meatloaf topped with ketchup, costing you about $7. Today, and in the same fashion we have been tricked with horribly effective marketing that we will be comforted spending $34 on Yukon gold whipped potatoes topped with Veal demi-glace and truffled veal meatloaf under a heirloom tomato compote…Oh, and it will be even better paired with a silky smooth bottle of Siler Oak wine. I agree and I’m sure most readers agree that the second option sounds just divine, but why? Whicked nasty marketing, the boys down in R&D got the mission accomplished.

How could something that is supposed to make you feel emotionally good be physically unhealthy? Well it is all about where we look for comfort. What isn’t comforting to anyone…and I mean anyone? Let’s start with some rice wafers with fake cheese flavoring, some raw carrots, yogurt, and alfalfa sprouts. Does that sound like it would make you feel better? No, it sounds like a colon cleanse. What does sound good and consequently make us feel good unfortunately does not turn out to be very healthy. It doesn’t take much explaining really. Just think chocolate, ice cream, chips, Big Mac, even ‘Happy Hour’ are things we all take comfort in but turn on us after consumption. According to good ole’ Wikipedia somewhere around 33% of college age women make healthy eating choices when looking to improve their mental well being.

So what is that nice, sweet and sincere part that was mentioned? It all looks like cloaks and mirrors of unhealthy eating and overspending all of a sudden. Do not distress. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. What brings me comfort in the culinary world? Surely it isn’t the duck confit, grilled pizza, or vegetable pie as Epicurious might have you think. What brings me comfort is what I grew up on. Whatever it is that my mom pieced together after work that we shared as a family all sitting at one table. Sure at the time I would rather have played football in the street with by buddies or kicking my sister under the table or done anything else than eat what my mom made while not understand why dad was so grumpy (I understand now, The Grind). So what really brings me comfort in food and for most readers who fall into the same generation/economic class? I’ll start with city chicken, that shit is good. Taco night and we are talking straight Ortega out of the box powdered taco blend! The f’ing shells always broke, but a scoopable mixture of meat, cheese and sour cream was fine. Lastly is Beef Stew, which is very basic yet executed to a tee even under a chef’s scrutiny? Plus I learned from my father, to the chagrin of my mother that mashing up the vegetables and meat made something of a homogenous porridge that tasted even better than eating all the pieces parts separately.

Comfort food is quite diverse. Does Epicurious hit the nail on the head? Not a chance, but I still like Epicurious. Can dumfoundedly mixed results be expected from our comfort food habits? Yes! Yet Mom is most likely still the best cook we know.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Respecting Apple Butter

How time flies! It seems like not all that long ago we were sweating away long hours, now I’m looking for a sweater! The copious amounts of water and Gatorade have given way to warming cups of coffee and sore throat soothing teas. Oh, and the food, what a rollercoaster. First the ramps, fiddleheads and soft shell crabs, then we got slammed with a ton (literally) of tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. Now I’m staring at a butternut squash the size of my leg! I wonder to myself “Did we give all the food its proper respect? Did we cherish our short time with each?”

Apples are something we tend not to cherish or respect as much as a proper apple deserves respect. By a ‘proper’ apple I’m talking about one without wax, without a sticker on it, one that hasn’t been on an airplane, cargo ship, or big rig truck. Luckily this is the best time of year for just such a thing. While taking a bite out of a big sweet rosey red apple is awesome I prefer to stretch out my apple expedience by making apple butter. On a whim I tossed in a bunch of butternut squash in my apple butter pot and was very excited about what turned out.

Apple-butternut squash butter

Five large local Macintosh apples
Equal amount of butternut squash
Half cup liquid (apple juice, cider, hard cider, whiskey, bourbon, applejack….water)
One teaspoon each ground cinnamon & coriander
Two cloves
One quarter to three quarters of a cup brown sugar
One pinch salt

The key to making successful apple butter is understanding that this will take some time on the stove and if you try to hurry things up at any point there is a good chance that it will burn! Also a stick blender is perfect for this recipe because you keep it a one pot dish, and a stick blender is a very inexpensive and useful piece of kitchen equipment.

Start with a large heavy bottom pot and add diced apples, squash and liquid. Leave the peel on the apples because this is where the natural pectin is and this will help the butter firm up upon chilling. As for your choice of liquid it just depends on what flavors you want to add to the game. Water works just fine for the purpose of breaking down the apple and getting those juices flowing without burning anything.

Over medium heat cover this pot and cook for ten minutes giving a stir every so often until the apples give up their liquid and everything starts to break down. Now comes the patience. Turn the heat to low, keep off the lid, and wait. It doesn’t do any harm to give the pot a stir every so often. It is tempting to turn up the heat at this point, but I guarantee you it will burn if you do. I’m guessing this will cook for about 45 minutes and at this point blend the mixture smooth and add the spices.

When is it done? I test the doneness by taking a teaspoon from the pot, let it cool off for a few seconds and putting it out onto a plate. If liquid separates from the mound of pulp it’s got to cook some more. Once enough liquid reduces out of the butter this will not happen. When this happens add the sugar and cook another five minutes making sure to keep the heat low and stir. Adding the sugar earlier, and/or not keeping a stir on the pot at this point and I guarantee it will burn. Why can I make such bold promises of burnt butter, because I’ve made those critical mistakes before.

Now it’s apple butter.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Textures of Fall

Butternut squash edged out root vegetables as a favorite fall cooking item. I have to agree that the versatility of butternut squash and in turn other fall root vegetables is very agreeable. For a long time I thought of butternut squash along with acorn squash, Cinderella, spaghetti and the many other varieties as nothing more than a puree-able pulp to be made into soup. I’ve learned the past few years that spaghetti squash is great when you cut it into rings and oh yes, it does in fact resemble spaghetti. Also butternut and acorn take well to being diced and sautéed. The key is not to overcook them, thus controlling their texture. The easy out is to cook the hell out of it and puree it into a soup like I’ve done so many times before, instead leaving a bite to it and getting a good sear will give you a great fall vegetable item.

While thinking about texture you can use parsnips, celery root, rutabaga and turnips the same way as squash. It is easy to cook them to death and puree them, but if you enjoy that flavor you will ultimately enjoy the caramelized and firm textured version as well. I’m really excited about the fall flavors this year and hope to share a few more ideas with you, but for now, here are two non-pureed ideas that I’ve found success with in the past.

Vegan Curry Butternut Squash Stew

One large onion diced
Just enough oil or roasted garlic oil

One tablespoon ginger
One teaspoon garlic if you don’t have roasted garlic oil

Two quarts medium diced butternut squash
Two tablespoons curry powder
Fresh crack black pepper

One quart diced tomatoes

Two quarts vegetable stock

Deeply caramelize the onions in oil. Add ginger, squash and curry powder to onion mix and cook a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and let its juices run, then add the stock and bring to a boil. This should take about ten minutes and at this point the squash should be tender but not mushy…perfect.

Butternut squash risotto

This is less of a recipe. What I like about it is the procedure so we will skip all the measurements and such. We all know how to make risotto. I like to take a large squash and make a perfect medium dice, but reserve all the scraps and chop them up in the food processor. I sauté this processed squash with an onion then proceed with making risotto. After the second third of liquid to the risotto I add the diced squash and continue on my way. This way I get a nice orange risotto with a resounding flavor of butternut squash, but also have the diced pieces of squash kind of like ‘flavor crystals’ in your gum. This is especially good with maple syrup!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Food Songs

I was thinking about songs that involved food and decided that this one is my favorite: Satan Gave Me a Taco by Beck. It is and older song, but there are some nice animations on YouTube. Check out this version or a black and white one. This song always makes me smile...from taco shack to rock star and back to taco shack.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Graham Kerr, a Poll Favorite

Graham and Julia are the runaway favorite cooking personalities in this last poll. Everyone knows about Julia, but this Graham Kerr character put together some great on screen moments himself introducing much of North America to his European culinary specialties. Currently you can see Julia and Graham back to back during the 2 o’clock hour on The Cooking Channel. But here is a little more about Mr. Kerr.

Graham Kerr was born in London, England 1934. By the age of 20 he was the General Manager of England’s Royal Ascot Hotel. While working in New Zealand as a catering chef his first book was published in 1963, ‘Entertaining with Kerr’. Beginning in 1969 on a Canadian soundstage in front of a live audience Kerr spent two years producing the beloved television show ‘The Galloping Gourmet’. Tragically a 1971 car accident put an end to the show, but Kerr went on to do plenty of short features for North American television. Kerr has been involved with the production of well over 20 cookbooks. While his early work and television persona featured copious amounts of butter, fat, and cream Kerr has become a huge advocate of responsible and healthy eating. He currently works with Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington looking for innovational and healthy culinary options

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Get some gas cause we're grilling out.

The good old gas grill. An almost given to be tucked away in every American back yard. Some of these grills get better treatment or at least more frequant use than others, but what we most overlook and underapreciate is that all import tank of gas. The tank of gas that most of us reach for when we think, "let's grill out." I've gone ahead and culled a few facts about the fuel for the fire, propane.

Propane is a three-carbon alkane, normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid packaged into the familiar 20 pound tanks now commonly available.

Propane was first isolated as a volatile component in gasoline by Dr. Walter Snelling in 1910. By 1913 his method of processing and producing propane was issued a patent and he helped establish the American Gasol Company, the first commercial marketer of propane.

Propane is derived from other petroleum products during oil or natural gas processing. The processing of natural gas involves removal of butane, propane and large amounts of ethane from the raw gas, in order to prevent condensation of these volatiles in natural gas pipelines.

After it is produced, North American propane is stored in huge salt caverns located in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta; Mont Belvieu, Texas and Conway, Kansas. These salt caverns were hollowed out in the 1940s,[7] and they can store 80 million or more barrels of propane.

The outdoor gas grill was invented in the 1960’s in Little Rock, Arkansas by William G. Wepfer and Melton Lancaster while working for ARKLA, the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company. Wepfer, a graduate of the U.S.Naval Academy, was Director of Marketing, charged with finding new ways to sell natural gas to ARKLA residential customers, and therefore bought a basic charcoal grill and re-designed it in the Wepfer's garage so that natural gas provided the fuel for the grill.

Propane is a popular choice for barbecues and portable stoves because its low boiling point of −42 °C (−44 °F) makes it vaporize as soon as it is released from its pressurized container. Therefore, no carburetor or other vaporizing device is required; a simple metering nozzle suffices.
All these facts are from Wikipedia, and the hyper-links will lead you there as well.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I found this illustration just a hoot! But dread not there are plenty more cleaver creations HERE. Enjoy

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Incredible Edible.....Tomato!

The tomato is the worlds most consumed fruit ahead of apples and bannanas.

Spanish explorer Cortés may have been the first to transfer the small yellow tomato to Europe after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtítlan, now Mexico City, in 1521.

Tomatoes were not grown in England until the 1590s.

Currently China produces almost 34 million tonnes of tomatoes. That is three times as much as the U.S.

The pronunciation of tomato differs in different English-speaking countries; the two most common variants are /təˈmɑːtoʊ/ and /təˈmeɪtoʊ/. Speakers from the British Isles, most of the Commonwealth, and speakers of Southern American English typically say /təˈmɑːtoʊ/, while most American and Canadian speakers usually say /təˈmeɪtoʊ/

The heaviest tomato ever was one of 3.51 kg (7 lb 12 oz)

On August 30, 2007, 40,000 Spaniards gathered in Buñol to throw 115,000 kilograms (250,000 lb) of tomatoes at each other in the yearly Tomatina festival.

Botanically, a tomato is a fruit: the ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant.

In 2009, the state of Ohio passed a law making the tomato the state's official fruit. Tomato juice has been the official beverage of Ohio since 1965

The U.S. Supreme Court on May 10, 1893 declared that the tomato is a vegetable, based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use, that they are generally served with dinner and not dessert. Thus collecting a higher tariff tax at the time.

The poll resaults are clear and consistant with what the whole world has to say.... Give me my tomatoes!!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

100 Reasons toward a sustainable table

Has it even come close to crossing your mind to go in on the 50 McNuggets for ten bucks? Have you even thought about how that price is possible or what exactly is in those ‘nuggets’? Well if you have that is only human, but you may need to purify yourself. In fact there are many reasons all of us might need to get back on track. Do we need 100 inspirations? Too late, already have them!

My friends at the Massage Therapy Schools website have taken considerable effort to provide us with exactly 100 reasons to have a more sustainable table. We think it’s so easy, but when confronted with a list like this it feels like we can do so much more. From the ‘Basics’ to social out reach all topics are covered. I personally appreciate #’s 95, 83, 79, 65, 59, 49, 44, 30, 14, 5, and 1.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chilled soup update 2

Chilled soup season is winding down. To catch up on a few from the past month: Jen made a carrot-ginger soup that was quite zippy and full flavored. The only credit I can take for that creation is the mistake of ordering 5 pounds of ginger. If you don’t know now you do, 5 pounds of ginger is a lot of ginger.
Next was a chilled tomato soup. I pureed a small amount of mire poix with the tomatoes and it turned out tasting a lot like a standard gazpacho. Deciding to drizzle it with truffle oil and fresh cracked black pepper made it exciting.

Just for shits and giggles I tried a clarified tomato gelled topped with house cured wild Coho salmon and preserved lemon salad. The back story goes like this; we serve a chopped tomato salad all summer. We sell a whole lot of them, and that is an understatement. In an effort to keep up the pantry chef cuts the tomatoes up at the beginning of service and holds them in a strainer allowing liquid to drain away from them in an effort to not serve soggy tomato pieces as a salad two hours down the road. Well that wonderful elixir had been going down the drain until I rescued it and now it is saved! Hence this soup and it turned out quite well. I made six and sold four over three days. Not too bad.

The flop of the summer goes to a chilled buttermilk soup with cured salmon and dill. The soup base is a classic Polish soup called Cholnik. I’ve written about it before. It’s tangy, sweet, and refreshing, but didn’t sell at all. What a shame!

Most recently I made somewhat of a clique soup, cucumber-melon. I don’t know if that is more of a lotion scent or a culinary experience, but I lucked out. I used honeydew melons that where so sweet and juicy I couldn’t believe it. The addition of just enough cucumber evened out the sweetness, and lemon-pepper cucumbers as a garnish leveled the field on sweet and savory.

With only a few more swealtering days of August heat I’m planning to try a peach-cantaloupe soup. I also have a few random pieces of tropical fruit and am still stuck on a savory fruit gazpacho.

3 Fresh Photos

Grilled prime flat iron steak, herb frites, creamy spinach with artichokes and pine nutes, tarragon mayo.

Dry aged NY strip steak, pickled ramps, buttered brussel sprouts, radishs, and apples, spicy sweet potato puree.

Blue cheese stuffed and smoked proscutto wraped fresh figs, pickled peaches & basil, truffle honey.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Chilled soup update

The cold soup experience of O-10 has come with metered success. Cucumber-avocado went over with great success. It is a classic in the chilled soup world. I did add a measure of gin to the mix. For that mystery flavor if you will?

Chilled apricot soup was a wash. The apricots just were not very flavorful. I tried to save things with peach schnapps and orange liquor, but to no avail. The garnish was very good though. A preserved lemon, strawberry and pistachio chutney with mint was good enough to save the whole dish.

Most recently the spicy watermelon soup is going over well. I start with a base of fresh ginger, Midori liquor, and sirachi. I especially enjoy the contrast of temperature with this soup and prefer to serve it with grilled shrimp. On the other hand a nice citrus shrimp salad has fared well this past week-end. A mixture of lemon, lime, orange, cilantro, and red peppers are good partners to both shrimp and melon.

I’m thinking about a mixed melon gazpacho for the future. I’m also thinking about a chilled pesto soup where a basil broth is the base. Peaches will defiantly fit in somewhere sooner than later. And of course a chilled tomato will evolve more around a garnish than a base. Wish me luck!

Funny sniffings

I knew we did it right all these years! First you poke it and if it isn’t ‘too’ slimy or mushy then you smell it, and if it doesn’t smell ‘too’ bad then you ok it for human consumption. Looks like the government does the same thing with oily fish….and we aren’t talking about canned tuna.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiter, my soup is cold!

In the mist of the most humid, hot and sticky mid-summer in recent memory I’ve decided to undertake the daunting task of making a heaping handful of chilled soups. Not the few I’ve done before, and nothing that obviously won’t sell. It is ‘daunting’ in that chilled soups don’t seem to go over very well. Not just now, but in the past I’ve seen beautiful product go into a soup that is absolutely mind blowing delish, and it sits in the cooler with a stack of cold plates next to it rotting away. Not this summer, and not on my watch. I’ve already started this week. So here is the recipe scaled down for home use…..

Chilled Peach Soup

Six peaches
Half cup sour cream
Quarter cup each lemon juice and honey
Half cup orange juice
Four ounces peach schnapps
Salt and white pepper

Start by peeling the pesky little sticker off the peaches and then remove the pit. Everything goes in a blender for a few minutes. If there isn’t a dusty bottle of peach schnapps under you sink look for one or two of the tiny ‘airline’ bottles at your local liquor store. Be sure to serve ice cold.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm so over Top Chef

I know there was a time when I had an opinion about every little happening on Top Chef, and then again on Top Chef Masters. But I’m so over it now. A second season of TC Masters came and went. A new season of Top Chef D.C. is three episodes in and I can’t stomach watching a full episode. What changed, me or them?

I will start by saying that I’m a huge fan of Marcus Samuelsson. His cookbook, Aquavit is to this day one of my favorites. He has a unique take on cuisine, a truly global one. I’m very happy for him, his staff and his family that he won Top Chef Masters. On the flip side, I’m slightly glad I didn’t see any of it. Taking someone who has spent a life time mastering a craft and giving them half the time, half the tools, and shoving a camera in their face does them no justice. For a really cool look into great chef’s and their kitchens I’ll just have to keep watching ‘After Hours’ on Hulu.

As for Top Chef D.C. I’m not even going to temp my nerves. Put away the bow-ties, the fake glasses, the bandanas, the piercings, and don’t make an effort to show off your silly tattoos. It’s kooky carnival, these people are more and more looking and acting like they should be running the traveling circus or the county fair. Their food is a mess. The judges have expectations that are most times unreasonable. And once again the ‘challenge’ of Top Chef is to handicap these chefs by way of time, tools and space. It’s old. I guess that always was the gimmick. Think about some other contestant shows, even non-food shows like American Idol. Those contestants get the best stage, lights, equipment that they ever used before, most likely. Even the evil screamer of Ramsey puts a chef in a proper kitchen. What if Iron Chef said bye to kitchen stadium and put Bobby at a hot dog stand?

It looks like I am the one that has changed. Top Chef always had the personalities and the human drama, but I’ve seen enough of it. Every season they will find another 14 people to be on TV, and every season people will watch it. Heck maybe even I’ll stop being so stiff and watch and episode for old times sake. But you won’t find me caring much about it.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ahhh the 70's

I saw this headline on a friend's blog and with the change in weather the past few days I just assumed he was talking about the tempurature, but no!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I wanna be a vegetarian!

Well, maybe that statement goes a little too far. I would like to make a proper effort in making a vegetarian out of myself one day a week. I think a poll and subsequent post in the recent past shows I'm not alone in this effort. In the mean time I've learned a few things I'd like to share.

Flexitarian? I'd never seen the word either, and for due reason. It's a new word first uttered in 1992. That's pretty new as far as words go! A flexitarian is anyone who makes an effort to lessen the amount of meat in their diet. Genius! Personally, I'd rather stick to calling myself a once a week vegetarian. No disrespect to either faction.

Meatless Monday is a movement that has transformed over the past century. Yep, it was during World War 1 that Herbert Hoover took to a movement intended to urge families to reduce consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. The MM campaign has become a global effort to improve the health of individuals as well as the planet.

Lightlife is more than just another pop-up veggie food label. I mean it's contributed 5% of their net profits to organizations that work to protect children, the environment and human rights, all the while producing quality products that help those of us who choose a vegetarian lifestyle live one that is full of healthy, flavorful, and interesting dining options. Lighlife has a vast product offering, but I have come to like their line of entrees. They offer six international flavors all easy to prepare and a full meal. I particularly enjoy the Indian Veggie Malsala entree. They are available at Giant Eagle grocery stores in the Cleveland area, but they have a product locater here.

If you are like me, and find it somewhat difficult to go meatless any further into the week than Monday Lightlife offers a great line of meat substitutes. Like hot dogs, burgers, deli meats, even wings. Or consider one the delish entrees a perfect side dish for that fat T-bone off the grill.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Heat

The temperatures here in the Cleveland area have been about 10 degrees above normal the past 6 weeks or so. It seems to rain, no disappearance of the scorching sun needed right about 15 minutes before service. Service being the time when all the heat discharging equipment needs to be on. After a short rain (90% humidity), turning on all the equipment and wiping the sweet of the past four hours of prep from you brow it's time to hunker down for another 5 hours in front of the grill pushing out the kind of heat that turns a one pound raw hunk of meat into a medium-rare steak in about ten minutes.

There comes a time when you contemplate turning the fan off because it just seems to blow hot air on you. Not long after that you find yourself asking for another quart of ice water, but either can't find the few seconds to take a gulp, or you feel so bloated from the past 5 quarts you sucked down it almost hurts to take a sip. I'll spare you the amount of liquid your clothes can absorb, the chafing, or where the drips of sweet tend to drop. Of course this is nothing new for us, but it is a smack in the face comes this time of year when people actually stop complaining about the snow. Oh how I would love to see, "flurries" in the forecast later in the week.

It's part of the job, part of the challenge, part of what going to work as a chef and going home with a sense of fulfillment entails.The funny part comes when Kari cooks dinner for me at home. A very nice gesture and great meal prepared. But with only two burners going and the window wide open she says to me, "God it's hot in here. I don't know how you do it all day." That comment brought a huge smile to my face and a good night’s sleep.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

2010 Farmers Market...Ready, Set, Go!

I stopped at my first farmers market of 2010 today. It was the opening of the Lakewood location today. Kamm's Corner kicks off this coming Sunday. Plenty or asparagus, nice looking lettuce, some supper sweet but small strawberries and apples. I got some asparagus that is about 18 inches long with 17.5 inches of beautiful green stalks. Knife sharpener was on hand, and hanging basket tomato plants that were pushing little green gems out already. Exciting.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mixed emotions about these poll results.

I find my interests and my actions in disaccord with regards to this post question. I can agree with the majority of poll votes that I take sustainability, local and organic (SLO) interest very seriously on a daily basis, but I do find myself slow at putting things into action. I ask myself, “Is it difficult to implement a serious stance on SLO daily?” and my answer is, “No.” But it sure is a whole lot easier not to! When convenient I will choose the SLO route. By putting myself in good situations a lot of these choices are already made for me. By good situations I mean eating out at indie restaurants over major chains or shopping the farmers market/Natures Bin instead of mass market grocery stores.

SLO is for the masses now. The glory days are over. SLO is a marketing tool and there is nothing we can do about it. The meaning or ‘organic’ has become so far reaching, and it’s meaning has become so muddled that nobody really understands it. But it does make us feel better if that word is on the label.

What is sustainable? We can come up with thousands of examples of what sustainable is… high efficiency this, low emissions that, natural products, ect. But if the guy next to you is soaked in toxic waste, sucking up power and spewing a cloud of death into the air what does our ‘sustainable’ practice do beside make us feel better about ourselves? Surely this does not imply that on an individual basis we should ignore aspects in life where sustainable choices might be made. It does appear the meaning behind making these choices though is often more personal than planetary.

The wholesomeness of what the word ‘local’ means with regard to food has been totally and completely destroyed within the past decade. Kraft wants me to buy ketchup that is labeled as ‘local’ because the tomato farm and the processing plant are in close proximity! Consumers have become obsessed with this idea of local that you can feed them any conjured up idea of what local means. What does this mean for you and I who are very serious about SLO? In my opinion it means there are even fewer trustworthy options in our desire to purchase local food products. Fortunately we are turning the corner on the planting season in the mid-west and it’s almost farmer’s market time, and for these few months out of the year we can fill our baskets with most assured ‘local’ products.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Poll

It's been a roller coaster week thinking about the quality and source of my food. It's a clear personal choice. But when purchasing for a third party or the restaurant I work for the question comes up, "should my personal opinions impact my descisions about purchases for the restaurant?" These are my personal battles I'll have to think about. How important do the issues of sustainability, local, or organic relate to your everyday eating? That is the current poll

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Links of Interest

Michael Ruhlman’s take on Ruth Reichl’s remarks on the end of Gourmet Magazine

New York Time’s piece about the changing food television landscape with The Cooking Channel's birth May 31.

Here is the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s “Restaurant Issue.” Nothing groundbreaking, but decant synopsis of over 100 of the area’s most popular and successful restaurants.

Can’t figure out my grandma is the best cook you’ll ever know? Here is a blog dedicated to cooking real food the way your grandmother used to.

Chef Pete Joyce and the patio at Bistro on Lincoln Park are looking like a great combination. Also check out the Bistro’s Facebook page for frequent updates.


MMMMMM, Bacon!

Like this pic, check out this site.

The bacon cooking poll has closed with the pan and oven methods coming in neck and neck. I Bing searched ‘best way to cook bacon’ and this seems to be a common theme. Pepper in a few fans of the microwave and we are only left with wacky gadgets and grandma’s tips on how to cook up the best piece of bacon possible.

I can understand why the microwave method has its fans. With a cooking time of one minute per slice, there is no dispute this is the fastest way. I just don’t like cooking things in the microwave. Surely it’s my favorite way to heat something up, just not a tool to cook with in my opinion. I’ve had bacon cooked in the microwave, and the end product is more like warm pork jerky than a nice greasy crisp piece of bacon.

The pan method did get one more vote than the oven so it is the winner. I like bacon cooked in a pan, but it’s messy, and takes a lot of attention. I don’t have a pan big enough to cook more than 4-5 slices of bacon at a time, which is a great reason to cook bacon in the oven. The oven method is the cleanest of them all, especially if the bacon is set on a wire rack over a baking sheet, which also offers the benefit of more even cooking. All it takes is setting a timer so you don’t forget your bacon. I think the oven method is the most efficient, clean and easy way to cook up the best piece of bacon possible.

In the restaurant we always cook large batches of strip bacon in the oven. On the other hand for diced bacon we use a pot, and add bacon fat we saved from the last batch. This makes for evenly cooked bacon that doesn’t take a lot of attention to not burn. This method is a lot like deep-frying bacon, just in a pot of bacon fat instead of a fry-o-later filled with canola oil. And if you do have a fryer, and most restaurant kitchens do, as a bored cook you will eventually try to deep fry just about anything. Bacon is no exception to this rule. While I have assumed this discussion to be about strip bacon up until now, I will say that frying large pieces of bacon (or pork belly) in a fryer is a preferred method. As for the thick cut, beer battered, and deep fried bacon…..I tried it, and hot damn it was good!

When just cooking up a simple strip of bacon becomes boring don’t quit. It has come to light that bacon plays well with other ingredients like brown sugar, maple syrup, black pepper and chocolate per suggestions of other. I say, “Why stop there?” I’m ready to try a whole mess of other combinations. How about curry powder, apple butter, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard, coco powder, roasted garlic, fresh herbs, you begin to see the possibilities.

Enjoy your bacon!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Times

I shucked my first English Peas of the season. Ten pounds down, countless more to go. I love English Peas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Quinoa has come to light on a lot of menus across the nation lately. We’ve used it on specials over the past two years so I’d like to think we are riding the crest of this specific culinary wave. I have known only a few things about quinoa until deciding to write this post, and its correct spelling has often eluded me. Ok, it’s a grain……..wrong, and that’s where my knowledge stopped. Let me share with you what I’ve learned.

Quinoa is a seed of a plant that is closely related to beets and spinach. Quinoa greens are edible, but do to the overwhelming un-popularity of the hardy quinoa seed the greens are very very hard to find. Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America and has been an important food crop for over 6,000 years. Unfortunately quinoa has a relatively long growing period and when grown in over fertilized soil it tends to accumulate high amounts of nitrates. Peru commands over half of the quinoa market to date at over 32,000 metric tons. Very little of it is grown in the U.S. although in the past quinoa was a hearty crop on the eastern seaboard before maize agriculture became popular.

Quinoa is about 15% protein thus a good source of such, especially for vegetarians, and is an unusually complete protein source containing a balanced set of amino acids, specifically lysine, which are almost non-existent in wheat or rice. Quinoa is also gluten free, yet can be ground into a flour consistency.

Let’s get cooking…. Quinoa can be cooked very much like rice. You can even cook it in a rice cooker if you like. It takes about 15 minutes at a simmer to be completely cooked. Using just water and salt gives you a nice nutty flavored end product that is light and fluffy. You know the quinoa is done when it ‘grows tails’ meaning when fully cooked the seeds open and look like a twisting tail has come out of the shell. It is not easy to overcook quinoa, unlike rice, so don’t fret.

Recipe for Quinoa with shallots, sweet corn and artichoke

Six shallots

One cup quinoa
Two cups water/vegetable stock/chicken stock

One cup corn kernels
One 8oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Caramelize the sliced shallots in butter until golden brown. Add quinoa and liquid, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add corn and artichokes, salt and pepper, and taste.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Purchasing Seafood

Consumer interest in sustainable seafood is lackluster and overshadowed by food safety, according to the results of a consumer survey discussed at the Seafood Business Summit: Consumer Insights on Sustainable Seafood at the International Boston Seafood Show.

The online survey, which polled more than 1,000 consumers, was conducted by the Perishables Group of West Dundee, Ill., in conjunction with Diversified Business Communications of Portland, Maine, which publishes SeaFood Business magazine and

Survey respondents were asked to rank various factors influencing their purchasing decisions, and “environmental friendliness” ranked No. 6. Food safety ranked 1, followed by type of fish 2 and price at 3.

“With this presentation it’s pretty clear that consumers lack understanding of, or are confused about, sustainable seafood,” added Matthew Owens, director of operations for FishWise, a Santa Cruz, Calif., organization that works with retailers to develop and implement sustainable seafood purchasing policies.

“Based on that, some critics might say that this stuff is a waste of time. But that’s pretty shortsighted for several reasons,” he said. “First, the topic is vital to the future [seafood] supply. Second, the younger generation is the most aware, and they’re going to dominate the marketplace in the future. Third, knowledgeable consumers eat more seafood. And, fourth, we’re at this critical stage between the early adopters and [sustainable seafood] becoming fairly mainstream, and at that stage the first movers have the advantage and other companies are going to get left behind. Sustainable seafood is here to stay, and it’s pretty important that we start to understand what’s resonating with consumers.”

For an easy to use guide to purchasing resposable seafood also explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list of everything seafood and sustainable.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Incredible Edible Egg

What great poll results! Scrambled, fried, and poached all come in neck in neck at the finish line. I love eggs. I love them on their own as a standalone protein, but I also admire their coagulation abilities in making things like custards, puddings, mousses, ice cream, sauces and the such. Eggs seem such an oversight in the professional kitchen. It’s like, “go grab 30 eggs and let’s get going here.” Sometimes you need to stop and smell the roses…or the egg shells.

I suppose the poll really hits home about those eggs we cook at 8 am, in a fog, and hungery. I would have guessed the omelette to garner more votes. I guess they are more of a restaurant item than an everyday thing to make at home. Scrambled eggs are great, but take an extra bowl, and in the home kitchen one more thing to clean is one more reason to not go that direction. Fried eggs are versatile, from soft to hard to sunny side up….ect. The only thing about those two cooking methods is I really hate caramelized/brown eggs. It’s an absolute tragedy in my opinion to cook an egg until it browns.

I’ve really come on to poached eggs lately. No fat, butter, or oil is a healthy decision. Cleaning a poaching pan is easiest of them all. Lastly you can still get that great runny yolk. Three minutes is all it takes! On top of that you don’t have to stop with poached eggs in acidulated water. ElSalvadorian spicy chicken soup with eggs dropped in to poach were a weekly hangover cure for a few years. Eggs poached in a saucy black bean puree topped with Tabasco are equally impressive.

No matter how you enjoy your eggs do your best to support local, humane, organic, sustainable or otherwise responsible egg farmers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Good Fun

Check this out.

My favorite is 23, Croutons. I mean come on. I don't even want to try not breaking my tooth on a 2 month old crouton. Good fun all around though. All the N/A items are a gas.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meatless Not so Meaningless

I’ve never given much thought into going meatless. I mean of course I’ve had only pancakes and French toast for breakfast before, but that isn’t really what we’re talking about here. Most of my eating decisions start with, “do I want beef, pork, chicken, fish or shrimp,” and especially when dining out I really don’t mind whatever starch or vegetable they come with. It’s just how I and many others think. This isn’t necessarily a conscious thought process it’s just how we are. We are mid-westerners and beef and potatoes is dinner. That’s it; we don’t even have to put any thought into it. Such an easy decision!

I was watching one of the morning news programs during a spell of insomnia, and through my personal morning fog I saw an interview with Tom Colicchio of all people advocating meatless meals. He claimed to be currently eating at least one meatless meal a week. A bold claim for a man known coast to coast for high end steak house restaurants. This got me thinking. How many people out there are interested in meatless eating? Vegetarians have made that decision, but for those of us who keep meat as an option how viable is going meatless occasionally. Why go meatless? I guess there are health reasons, and veggies are ‘green’ plus, why not? Currently only 20% go meatless intentionally while a majority of almost 60% don’t give it much of a thought.

I feel personally challenged to go meatless once a week. I want to turn a new leaf. Try something new, a challenge to myself. I want to take one day a week and intentionally eat no meat. Why? I’m not sure. It’s as if in that haze of insomnia chef Colicchi double dog dared me to do it. We will see how it goes. I’ll keep you updated.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tom Yum Soup

Tom Yum is one of my personal favorite soups. I put a batch together yesterday at work and did a little research on it as well....

Aside from being one of the most popular soups in Thailand, Tom Yum Soup has many health benefits, due to its potent combination of herbs and spices. In fact, this Thai soup is currently under scientific study, as it appears to have immune-boosting power as a natural remedy for cold and flu viruses.

There are a ton of recipes online as you could imagine so let me share with you my version which has a few more ingredients than others. Working out of a restaurant pantry is very accommodating. On the other hand if you have not been to an Asian market in a while maybe this is the inspiration that you need?

Mike's Tom Yum Soup

Part One Veg

one small onion, equal parts carrot and celery

two stalks lemon grass, equal parts ginger

six cloves of garlic

half cup mushroom stems

one heaping teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


three quarts chicken stock, stir in one teaspoon corn starch

one cup coconut milk

zest of one lime

one quarter cup brown sugar

one quarter cup tomato paste or 6 ripe roma tomato. If using ripe tomato then put into Part Two Veg.

Part Two Veg

one cup shitake mushrooms

one cup thinly sliced chicken meat

tablespoon cilantro

mixture of equal parts lime juice, soy sauce and fish sauce, about one tablespoon each

The glaring omission is Kaffir Lime Leaf. It is a constant in most other Tom Yum soup recipes, and I've followed such recipes. In my opinion it's optional at best. I'm guessing the lime leafs fresh off the tree in Thailand are very different from the graying frozen nasty bits I find at the Asian grocery.

To get started cooking take all the produce from Part One Veg and rough chop it then sauté in oil until fragrant. Add the Liquids making sure to stir cornstarch into cold liquid. Simmer this for about an hour then strain. This is your basic broth. When you want to complete the process add the first three items from Part Two Veg and bring to a boil. Add the lime mixture last, off the heat and adjust seasoning.

Notice that there is no call for salt, we leave that for the soy and fish sauce at the end. Also, there is the trinity of flavors, hot, sweet, and sour from the chili flakes, brown sugar, and lime. This is what Tom Yum is known for.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Heat now airing on FLN

I’ve stumbled upon a new kitchen show that some of you might not have found yet. The show is from a chef out of Toronto who owns multiple units with multiple concepts and employs multiple chefs to do the elbow work. Mark McEwan is the celebrity chef on hand and his antics are great! The food that comes out of his kitchens looks great. It’s speaks volumes to pricey over-garnished dishes that leave you hungry yet star struck. Chef McEwan does a great job of motivation, and I’ll give him credit for organization, but his Egyptian cotton chef coat isn’t going to lose a crease, let alone get dirty. The show is compelling though. I’ve been sucked in and want to see what happens at the catered wedding, or the Winterlicious week, or the steak cook off. There are enough interesting shots of the kitchens and plated food to keep any foodie interested. In a good way Chef McEwan and 'The Heat' lacks the ‘annoying’ factor that chases me away from most kitchen shows.

You can find the show on The Fine Living Network at 11 am, or online here.

I hope you find the show as enjoyable as I have.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Early March Pictures

I kicked off March with an offering of boneless lamb loin paired with braised Tuscan kale, sauteed apples, chedder cheese, and crispy potato in a blueberry-balsamic demi-glace

More recently I dished up this beef tenderloin drenched in Frescobaldi extra-virgin olive oil over braised white beans and Tuscan kale in a spicy tomato-fennel sauce topped with crspy cappicolla.

I don't have anything against vegans or veg-heads, but I do find this picture humorous.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Movie Night

I didn’t expect such a landslide of a vote for a favorite foodie movie. Looking at the options I am seeing a foodie movie and a romance that happens to have a chocolate shop involved. Big Night is a great movie. I really enjoy it. I’ve watched it more than a few times as I get sucked in after only a few minutes. But there is a story there about life struggles, about hope, success, family and the funny bits about Italian American cuisine, angry chefs, and general kitchen behavior. I can’t think of another movie before or since that has centered around a kitchen/restaurant that shed light on some of the real emotional struggles we go through. Big Night is in my opinion and yours a top notch foodie movie and one I can’t wait to see again.

Wait, there is one movie that comes to mind that centers on a kitchen, has real emotional themes, and is at least sometimes honest…. ‘Waiting’ I don’t consider this a foodie movie. It is a shock and awe comedy at best. It’s a mis-mash of dinner’s most extravagant fears and put them in a semi-realistic setting. The personality types, the corporate environment, and the personal interaction among the staff are humorous. Those of us in the business can usually pick at least one character and admit we worked with someone just like that. By no means am I implying that Waiting is a good representation of any professional kitchen that I’ve ever worked, but it does take every aspect of what does exist and push it to the max. In this way Waiting is a funny restaurant movie.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chicken and Winter Vegetable Soup

It's that time of the year when chicken soup becomes not only dinner, but medicine as well. I patched this recipe together at work the other day and thought I would translate it into a home style recipe because it was so good. Give it a try.

1 pcs 3 1/2 #chicken
water to cover

A few pieces of carrot peelings, onion skins and celery leafs.

one small onion
one good size carrot
two long stalks of celery
one sweet potato
one medium sized Idaho potato
one large portabello cap
one small head of cauliflower
three garlic cloves
one small turnip
four parsnips
one small rhutabega
a sprig of thyme and rosemary
black pepper and salt

To begin cover the whole chicken with water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 1/2 an hour until fully cooked. Shread the chicken meat and roast the left over bones for 20 min at 500 degrees. Add the roasted bones and vegetable trim to the water you cooked the chicken in to begin with. Let this simmer for at least three hours, any longer than six is overkill. Stain this mixture, and chill. Recover the fat from the stock.

Cut up the vegetables how ever you like. Ideally they will be small enough to fit on a spoon since we are making a soup. Using the recovered fat off the stock sautee the vegetables until 50% cooked. Add the stock, and shreaded chicken to the vegetable mixture and bring to a boil. At this point everything should be cooked through. Season and remove herb stems.

*Roasting the bones adds a deeper complexity to the soup and warms up the house this time of year. It is the step I suggest you not skip.