Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Foodie Day With My Lill' Sister

With a few personal days in between jobs this week-end it seems to only make sense that at least one of these days would center around food. I picked Michelle up somewhere around noon, time was not an issue. We spoke about going to one of the Asian markets in Chinatown in the neighborhood around East 30th and Payne. It also seemed like a no brainer to stop off at the West Side Market. I have not been there in quite some time and I now regret such a long sabbatical. While I’m a professional chef Michelle is a true foodie and it’s great to have that bridge, that common communication to relay on.

The Hong Kong Market is the most hard core of all the Asian markets in town. You are very lucky if anyone approaches you, and count it a true blessing if someone speaks English to you. I consider this part of the intrigue. They have great fresh produce, golden chives, boc choy of every variety, durian, pears, citrus, eggs…a lot of very interesting stuff. The seafood area was a real eye opener too. Live lobster, crabs, clams, really nice looking razor clams, tilapia and the always heart wrenching frogs are available for purchase at very reasonable prices. We bought some sandalwood soap, wonton soup base, Thai logan fruit, a dragon fruit, pickled Thai gooseberries, and a dolphin snow globe thingy for Kari! We figured a lot of things out on our own on this trip, but we are still not sure what a code “5199” is? I’m guessing it’s “we need help at the registers,” or “there are silly white people here.” Being able to laugh at yourself is true humility.

And, on to the next one. The West Side Market looked crazy, and I even questioned myself, “Why bother on a Saturday?” In retrospect why the hell did I even question myself? I’ve visited the WSM an uncountable number of times. When I was child we did a considerable amount of shopping for the family there. When I worked east of the WSM I went there often in search of inspiration and/or something specific. While working on East 4th we went to the market every Wednesday for 8 months. Why did I take something so great for granted? It’s been about a year since I went to the WSM, and I’m so happy we went yesterday. Almost every stall was full, open and well stocked. There were a lot of people there. Not an insanely mass you ask yourself, “How many kids am I going to knock down to get out of here?” It was very encouraging to see so many younger people shopping there. Surely you can imagine grandma with here push cart shopping at the same meat stand for the past 30 years. Hopefully the young people there yesterday are forging the same type of relationships.

I love the apple wood smoked stand, and bought some wicked awesome pastrami, smoked sauerkraut, and pork chops there. I also grabbed huge loaf of asiago bread from a stand just down the way. Lil’ sis got some dill pickle popcorn, interesting! Sabastian Meats is one of my all time favorite stands and we got some brisket, ground beef and a veal tongue. Kate’s Fish looked well stocked. The Ohio City Pasta and herbs at Chef Cubed looked ready to rock. Our final buy was a small slab of double smoked paprika rubbed bacon from the Hungarian stand. A nod to our great grandmother.

While gazing at the variety of cuts at the Sebastian stand I was asked a perfectly honest question, “Have you ever eaten tongue? What is it like?” Well that was an idea to run with. And sure enough 4 hours later we munched on braised veal tongue. Michelle was the brave one to peel it. That makes my stomach turn and I’ve done it a few times. To my great surprise everyone found it as pleasant as possible. The undertone of the situation was, “If I didn’t know what it was I’d eat more, but…..tongue is kinda gross,” and I don’t deny that sentiment.

Veal Tongue

One small veal tongue about one pound
Five whole cloves
Two bay leaf
One tablespoon whole black peppercorns
One tablespoon coriander
One small onion chopped in half
Water to cover

I rinsed the tongue under cold water for a few minutes cause there seemed to be some blood and guts that come with it at no extra charge. Put everything in a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer on low for an hour. Now the gross out part is peeling the skin off the meat. After that eat it with some mustard, pickles and bread.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kitchen Talk...take one.

I took my gift card to books-a-million and bought two books. 1001 Smartest Things Ever Said, and I doubt most of them were ever uttered, rather written, but that is pins and needles. The other book was Anthony Bourdains newest semi-non-fiction concoction and it's so intense I can't put it down, but I picked this gem out, and those of you who know me will get the humor "Dean" I'm not sure which book the quote should be in but let's go.....

"And they don't even ask for a reach around.
It kind of begs to question: why?'

The most simple easy soup ever.

There will come a time, and you are never sure when it will creep up, but it will and you have to throw something together that Works. Yes, capital just needs to work! Because when there are 20 something other equally important things to prep some things are just going to have to Work, not shine but not suck either. This is my go to Work soup.

Roasted Red Pepper - Tomato Bisque

One onion carmalized in butter
One part can/jar roasted red pepper
Two parts whole peeled canned tomato
One big pinch black pepper

Simple....sautee onion then add everything else. Bring to a boil, simmer for 2o min. Puree! Hurray! Add some basil, blue cheese and/or croutons.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


We brought in a wonderfull fish as a feature a few weeks back and it was amazing. I’ve seen Wreckfish on sales sheets on and off the past few years and always stayed away from it mostly and ignorantly in favor of a more universally named species. Well, when this same fish is marketed as American Sea Bass we jumped on it. We received large off white filets that were easy to bone out and produced beautiful rectangular portions. The fish cooks up very moist with a large sweet flake. It is like the best attributes of Red Grouper and Chilean Sea Bass. I looked into Wreckfish a bit so let me share what I found.

There are currently only 7 commercial vessels harvesting Wreckfish in the American fishery. All the fresh fish brought to market in the U.S. is caught domestically off the south-east coast. The fishery is completely shut down from the end of January till mid-April allowing the fish to spawn. This makes the Wreckfish fishery a sustainability success story.

Wreckfish and named as such because the often eat and spawn in and around ship wrecks and the aquaculture that surrounds such events. Fishing boats us heavy duty hydraulic reels and cables with multiple hooks usually baited with squid lowered just above the sea floor to catch Wreckfish. There is considered little bycatch among the 7 commercial vessels.
Wreakfish can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans usually in water depths from 140 feet up to 3000 feet. The upper end of the size range reaches 220 pounds and 6.5 feet long. The fish do migrate but most of the domestic commercial catch comes off the South Carolina coast.

If you have the opportunity to enjoy Wreckfish I highly suggest it. You won’t be disappointed.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Soup D'jour

Thrown together

I’m not going to lie to you and make up a story of how I contemplated this recipe for years or anything of that BS. I needed chicken wings and the pack size from the purveyor was 40 pounds. That is way more than I actually needed so I had to come up with a way to use the surplus. I have seen a few recipes in the past for chicken stock that called or a considerable amount of chicken wings so I went with that idea. The reason I’m sharing this with you is that the soup turned out great, made a lot of customers happy, my boss especially, and it’s something that can translate to the home kitchen easily.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

5# chicken wings

One large carrot
Three ribs of celery
One large onion
3 garlic cloves

Six quarts of water or enough to cover everything in the pot you use

One quart cream
One teaspoon each chopped thyme and parsley
Salt and pepper

One batch of spatzle, purchased spatzle or egg noodles

Put the chicken wings on a sheet tray and roast in a hot oven till they are browned successfully. Disguard the chicken fat or save it for something else? In a large pot combine the vegetables cut in a large dice, the browned chicken wings and water. Bring this to a boil then set on simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain off the liquid and return to the oven. Pick the wings off the bone. Be careful to remove the hard tendons at the end yet don’t worry about the skin. It is very tasty. Rough chop the meat and return to the liquid. Puree the vegetable until smooth with some of the warm liquid. Return everything to the same pot add the cream and herbs. Season with salt and black pepper. Let this mixture simmer for half an hour.

To serve brown off the spatzle. Then heat the soup over it. Garnish with some more fresh herbs, parmesan or croutons.

Grocery Store Nightmare

Sometimes in life you don’t really understand how good you have it. I experienced this earlier in the evening when Kari and I decided to make our monthly trip to the grocery store. We went to the Giant Eagle in Lakewood, Ohio. I was absolutely disgusted by what I saw. I feel so bad for the people who go there and think they are getting something of quality. And it isn’t cheap by any means.

The Super Bowl set up was in full swing. About 100# of ‘hard as a rock avocados’ sat next to dried guacamole mix in pouch. Really? There was a fair selection of mushrooms….. if you wanted ‘dried out been sitting on the shelf the past week’ kind of mushrooms. All the green herbs, which are ridiculously expensive, were either yellow or brown yet shelved above tubes of herb puree. The parsnips and carrots I actually touched were so flaccid I don’t believe anyone would actually buy them. They are root vegetables not marshmallows.

The seafood was even worse. The oysters where all dried out and open. If the shrimp wasn’t frozen it looked either dehydrated or slimy. Salmon was all the tail cuts, which are not prime seafood. The rest of the case was full of things in various shapes and sizes that where coated in bread crumbs. What a dishonor to seafood.

I understand that breadcrumbs are cheap, but half the stuff in the meat case consisted of a good amount of breadcrumbs as well. The meat was too red to be true. The ‘filet mignon’ they are charging twenty some dollars a pound for was cut into steaks, but completely un-trimmed of any sliverskin and cut at an angle making the steak look quite big, but not so thick. Is this what people want I have to ask myself. There were a few rib-eyes out and it looked as If someone pushed all the fat out of them and they were all loose, flabby, and full of holes. Amazingly none of the meat was covered yet it was more red than anything we ever get at the restaurant in cryo.

In the end we found one ripe avocado (nobody else in Lakewood is eating a ripe avocado cause I think I squeezed them all) some cherry tomatoes that won’t last more than 2 days, the only stiff cucumber in the place, four bananas, some cold cuts and bread. What an eye opener. It turned my stomach and it makes me more worrisome than ever that people don’t have a grasp of what quality food should be.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Breakfast at Night

Cooking breakfast food for dinner just seems to make sense. Figuring that fast and furious meal while half asleep and starving is the most efficient meal of the day. Come on, we can slip In a lunch, especially if it’s not the home cooked kind, and dinner can go in a crock-pot or take a few hours of unattended cooking time. Breakfast has to take less than 10 minutes to cook, if that much time at all. So in this day and age why wouldn’t we just sync up and make the nighttime food just as efficient as the morning one.

Eggs and most likely bacon came in as the most popular breakfast item to cook for dinner with a whole %42 of votes. The very similar dish of an omelet came in second. Eggs are wonderful. It takes no longer than 3 minutes to cook a good egg, and I personally do love eggs. In the past few years I’ve come to fully enjoy a poached egg which for the remaining early years of my life I would have refused with great passion. See all it takes a some water, a nip of vinegar, and a hand that doesn’t break the yolk. Oh, and three minutes! That is it. Put a good soft succulent poached egg over toast…wow.