Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pastelón de plátanos amarillos ( Ripe Plantain Casserole)

The first time we saw this dish being served we thought it to be the Caribbean equivalent of shepherd's pie, and in a lot of ways the two dishes are very similar. Additional vegetables may be added to the filling, however in the Dominican Republic the dishes served as the recipe has been written.


6 plantains, very ripe

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

4 jalapeno chilies, seeds, stems removed, diced

1 pound lean ground beef

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeds, stems, ribs removed, diced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground oregano

2 avocados, seeds removed, peeled, sliced (wait until dish is completed)


preheat oven to 350°

1. In a large skillet, brown the beef in the oil.

2. Add the onion, garlic, chilies, bell pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and oregano and sauté for two minutes.

3. Add tomato paste and 1/4 cup cold water to the beef mixture. Stir to incorporate. Allow to simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated. Remove from heat and reserve.

4. Peel the plantains and boil in salted water. When the plantains are very tender remove from the heat. Carefully remove the plantains from the hot water, drain. Add butter and mash with a fork until very smooth.

5. Place one half of the mashed plantains into a 9x9x3 baking dish, and spread to cover the bottom.

6. Add ground beef mixture into the baking dish on top of the plantains and spread evenly, sprinkle with one half of the shredded cheese.

7. Add remaining plantains to cover the beef mixture, spread evenly, cover with remaining cheddar cheese.

8. Bake in 350° oven for 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

9. Serve with sliced fresh avocado

Thursday, November 4, 2010

West Indies Banana Bread


1 pound very ripe bananas, (3 to 4 medium size bananas)

1 teaspoon dark rum

2/3 cup golden raisins

2 cups all purpose flour

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon orange zest, grated

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan

3. Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork and add the rum.

4. In another bowl toss the raisins with 2 tablespoons of the flour.

5. Cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy and light.

6. Add the egg and beat until smooth.

7. In another bowl sift the remaining flour with the baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

8. Add the grated orange rind.

9. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add half the banana mixture, blending

10. well, and then half the butter mixture.

11. Repeat the process with the rest of the bananas and the remaining butter mixture.

12. Stir in the raisins and nuts.

13. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

14. Bake for 1 hour until the loaf is golden brown or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

15. Remove the pan to a wire rack.

16. Cool for 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan.

17. Remove bread from the pan and allow to cool completely on wire rack.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 pound sliced pineapple rings

2 cups cake flour, Sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup warm milk

1 tablespoon spiced rum

1 1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 dozen maraschino cherries, halved

5 eggs

1 tablespoon of lemon juice


1. Preheat oven at 350°F

2. Brush a 8 X 12 rectangle pan or round equivalent with the melted butter making sure to get the entire surface.

3. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with the brown sugar.

4. Line the bottom of the pan with pineapple slices in a uniformed manner as not to overlap, but cover the bottom.

5. Now place the cherry halves into the center of each pineapple ring. If you prefer, the cherries can be omitted all together.

6. Sift the flour and baking powder together several times, set aside.

7. Beat the eggs at medium speed until they appear thick and fluffy.

8. Gradually add the sugar, in several additions, into the eggs while the mixer is on a low speed. Then add in the lemon juice, and rum.

9. Fold in the flour and baking soda mixture while gradually adding the warm milk.

10. Once the cake batter is blended smooth, pour it over the fruit inside the pan.

11. Bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center is removed clean.

12. Turn over onto a dish while still warm, and reserve for service.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Caribbean Spicy Fried Chicken

Many people vacationing in the tropics for the first time more often than not have arrived by cruise ship or booked an all-inclusive vacation that includes recreational activities, and meals that have been planned with the assistance of an event coordinator. You will find that these meal periods often include the availability of American favorites like, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, and even Fried Chicken. The reason for this is that the tourism industry is what drives the economy in most of these islands, and it takes a little time before the tourists relax. Comfort foods are a safe harbor for those afraid of Goat Curries, and Callaloo. I happen to enjoy the fact that a active evening filled with Rum Punch, and Steel Drums can be followed by a restful day in the hammock with fried chicken serving as the Concierge that welcomes you back to planet Earth. The Fried Chicken that has developed from this accommodation is actually very tasty, and upon your return to the mainland you may just find that you miss having it around.


11/2 Cups Buttermilk

3/4 Cup Red Stripe Lager Beer

1 Whole Chicken, Cut 8 way

1/2 Cup Yellow Cornmeal

1 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Cornstarch

1/2 Cup Boston Beach Jerk Seasoning

1 Tablespoon Paprika

2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

2 Tablespoons Ground Black Pepper

Vegetable or Peanut Oil for Frying


1. Preheat Deep Fryer, or Large stock pot filled with oil to 350°F.

2. Combine the Chicken, Red Strip Beer, Buttermilk, and mix well. Allow to chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.

3. Mix the Flour, Cornstarch, Cornmeal, Jerk Seasoning, Paprika, Salt, Pepper in a large bowl, and mix well.

4. Drain the Chicken, and discard the liquid.

5. Toss Chicken pieces, one at a time, in the flour mixture to coat. When all has been coated place all the Chicken pieces into the bowl, toss well, and refrigerate 1 hour.

6. Remove Chicken from Flour, and shake to remove any excess flour from chicken.

7. Deep Fry Chicken, 2 -3 pieces at a time, approximately 8 minutes( 4 minutes each side), or until Golden Brown. Check chicken with internal thermometer to make sure it has reached 180°F internal temperature.

8. Remove from oil, and place on a towel to drain. Reserve Chicken on a sheet pan, or oven safe dish placed in a warming drawer, or 200°F oven until ready to serve.

Friday, September 10, 2010



2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened
4 Large Eggs
1 Cup Pineapple Juice, Unsweetened
1/2 Cup Cream of Coconut
1 teaspoon Coconut extract
1 Tablespoon Dark Spiced Rum
3 Cups Cake Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt


In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter together. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In separate bowl, combine pineapple juice, cream of coconut, coconut extract and rum. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together. Add pineapple juice mixture to sugar and egg mixture alternating with dry ingredients. Mix well and pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan and chill on rack.



1/2 Cup Pineapple Juice
1 Tablespoon Gelatin powder
1 Cup Crushed Pineapple
1 1/2 Cup Whipped Cream
1/2 Cup Confectioners' Sugar
1 teaspoon Coconut Extract
Toasted Shredded Coconut for garnish


In a small pan, combine pineapple juice and gelatin. Let stand for 5 minutes. Heat to dissolve gelatin( Do Not Boil). Pour into blender, puree with crushed pineapple until smooth. Pour into bowl and chill until half set.

In another bowl, add whipped cream, confectioners' sugar and coconut extract. Whip until it forms a stiff peak. Then fold half of mixture into chilled pineapple mixture and spread half of filling on top of one layer. Place other layer on top and spread the remaining filler. Frost the side with the other half of whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut and chill!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Red Beans & Rice

Generally speaking when asking a chef what their favorite meal to prepare is you're going to be told a dish comprised of exotic ingredients, and preparation methods that leave most scratching their head. After some serious thought on the subject I have concluded that my favorite dish to prepare is red beans and rice. That's not to say I don't enjoy cooking with some of the more exotic ingredients out there, but there's no other dish that puts a smile on my face in the kitchen like this one......


1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted
1/4 cup smoked bacon, chopped
1/2 pound andouille sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound beef smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ham hock
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onions
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced green bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock, or water
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
4 cups cooked white rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions, optional


Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with 3 inches of water. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.

1. In a large pot, heat the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until it just starts to crisp. Do not remove grease when done. Add ham hock and brown.

2. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the bacon pieces in the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes.

3. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

4. Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)

5. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and starting to break down. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.

6. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions, or chopped parsley

How to make a Roux..

Peanut Butter Roux
Blonde Roux
All roux starts with two basic ingredients, one being flour, and the other, a fat of some type, generally it's butter, but many will use some type of oil. I cook my roux over low heat in a cast-iron skillet until it reaches the desired degree of doneness. When it comes to Cajun food you'll need a roux known throughout the Gulf Coast region as a "peanut butter" roux. This roux is cooked until it looks the same color as peanut butter, or in the case of a "Dark Gumbo" the color of a melted chocolate bar. When I'm cooking Cajun food my roux will always start with bacon grease as the fat. I know many out there will frown upon the health implications of cooking with bacon grease, but I'm a firm believer that bacon grease as a part of my diet will do less harm than the stress of rush-hour traffic. You'll need to stir the roux continuously while cooking to prevent burning. My Rule number one in cooking-when it's black, it's done! There is no saving it, please don't serve it, just throw it away, and start over! The consistency of your roux should be that of wet sand as the tide just starts to roll away. Blonde roux, a roux that has been cooked until just starting to turn golden in color, is used for cream sauces, and a darker roux for deeper sauces. It takes some practice, but a properly cooked roux with liquid slowly added will not result in a lumpy sauce.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jamaican Lobster Fritters

One of my favorite ways to relax is over a basket of fritters, and a couple frosties at a little waterside place in Key Largo, Florida. I've been going there for years to check out the Tarpon after a day of diving the reef.....Here's how to make them!

1 Cup diced Red Bell Pepper
2 Onions, Minced
6 Green Onions, Minced
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Thyme
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2, Habañero Peppers, seeds and stems removed, minced
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 Pounds Cooked Lobster Meat, Diced
2 Cups Mayonnaise
1 1/2 Pounds Sweet Potatoes, peeled, cooked, and coarsely mashed
3 Egg Yolks, lightly beaten
1 Teaspoon Ground Allspice
Vegetable oil, for frying


1. Heat skillet, and sauté the bell pepper, onions, thyme, garlic, and chilies in the butter for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Place approximately 1/2 pound of the lobster in a food processor with the mayonnaise and purée until smooth. Transfer the purée to a bowl and stir in the remaining lobster, sautéed mixture, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, and allspice. Mix well and form into patties.

3. Deep fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bombay Chiwda- Snack Mix

Bombay Chiwda is a traditional side dish that originates from the city of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India. This dish is often served as a snack, and can be found all over the world. Bombay Chiwda made its way to the Caribbean islands by way of the laborers brought to the region by the Europeans. Many from India and China came to the Caribbean to work the various plantations and brought their traditional style of cuisine with them. Much of the Indian influence remains alive and well in the Caribbean of today with the introduction of curried meats and curry powder. Indians call it kari podi, and we have come to know this pungent flavor as curry.


3 Cups Canola oil or Ghee( Clarified Butter) for frying
1/3 Cup salted Peanuts
1/3Cup saltedCashew
1/4 Cup whole Almond
1/4 Cup blanched Pistachio
1/4 Cup Pumpkin seeds
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
2-3 thin sliced hot Green chilies
1 Tablespoon Fennel seeds
5 Curry Leaves
3 Tablespoon fresh Coriander Leaves
2/3 Cup thick pounded Flat Rice( Rice flakes available at your Asian Market)
1/4 Cup Raisins
1/4 Cup dried Currants( substitute with additional Raisins if Currants are not available)
1/4 Cup chopped Dates
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Madras Curry Powder
2 Tablespoon Maple or Date Sugar
1/3 Cup green lentils
1Cup deep fried Sev Noodles ( Chickpea Flour Noodles)*

1. Heat oil or ghee in a deep-frying pan over a moderate heat.

2. Place the peanuts in a wire-mesh sieve and lower it into the oil.

3. Fry until golden brown, lift out the sieve, and transfer the nuts to paper towels to drain.

4. In separate batches, fry the cashews, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts until golden brown, and drain on paper towels.

5. Pat the nuts dry with more paper towels, blot off any excess oil.

6. Transfer all the nuts to a bowl.

7. Increase the heat of the oil and place the green chilies in the sieve and lower them into the oil and fry until crisp.

8. Lift out the sieve and transfer the chilies to the paper towels to drain.

9. Add the fennel seeds, curry leaves and fresh coriander to the sieve and fry in the same way until the leaves are dark green and crisp.

10. Drain on paper towels.

11. Now add half of flat rice to the sieve, lower it into the oil and fry for 1 minute or until the frothing oil subsides and rice floats (It should not brown only turn golden).

12. Fry the remaining flat rice and dry on paper towel. Blot all the excess oil while still hot.

13. Add the flat rice to the bowl of nuts and toss to mix.

14. Add the salt , sugar & spices in a small bowl, and mix to incorporate.

15. Combine the raisins, currants and dates in a bowl.

16. Sprinkle 1/2 of the spice mixture into the dried fruit and the remaining into the nuts, toss well.

17. Finally, combine all the ingredients and toss gently to mix.

18. Cool to room temperature and store in an air tight container.

* Should you not be able to locate Sev noodles at your local Asian Market, purchase Rice Flour noodles as a substitute

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pastelles- Caribbean Style Tamales

Since I've spent the past couple months working on the island inspired foods for a company that I will soon launch, I thought I would post one of my favorite island recipes. These little beauties are called Pastelles, and are a common snack in many of the places I like to spend my time. If you're a fan of Tamales you're going to enjoy making this version.These tasty snacks arrived in the Caribbean islands by way of South America, where banana leaves are used as wrappers instead of corn husks. They are served with a variety of hot sauces depending on which island you happen to be located on, and should be eaten by hand. Should you be able to locate a couple bottles of chilled Caribbean Style Lager, and a white sand beach overlooking the sea you too will enjoy Pastelles the way they should be eaten.

1/2 pound ground pork
1 large onion, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 habanero pepper, seeds and stem removed, minced
1 cup diced, peeled yam
1 cup cooked and drained black beans
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced basil
2 tomatoes, killed and chopped
1/4 cup drained capers, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup beef broth

3 cups coarse cornmeal
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
23/4 cups boiling water
4 each banana leaves, cut into 18 rectangle shaped 8"x10" inch pieces.


To make the filling, sauté the pork in a skillet until browned, breaking it up as it cooks. Add the onion, garlic, and chilies and sauté for an additional couple of minutes. Add all the remaining filling ingredients and bring to a boil.Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

To make the dough, place the cornmeal in a bowl and, using a pastry blender, stir in the oil and salt. Then pour the boiling water into the cornmeal slowly mix to form a smooth dough. Divide the dough into 18 equal portions and form each portion into a ball.

Place a ball of dough in the center of a banana-leaf rectangle and press it out to form a 1/4-inch-thick round. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center. Fold half of the leaf over, bringing the cornmeal with it, and flatten into a rectangle. Repeat with the other half of the rectangle so that the dough encloses the meat. Fold up the leaf rectangle to make a package and tie securely with butchers twine.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add the packets, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered, for one half hours. Remove and drain. Snip the strings from the bundles prior to service. Serve with hot sauce.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cedar Plank Smoked Salmon

Brining is a popular way to infuse moisture and flavor into a piece of salmon before smoking. It provides a subtle, pervasive flavoring of the salmon and can make a dry piece of salmon juicy and flavorful. It's a simple process that requires little experience and prep time, yet can transform your smoked salmon from boring and dry to plump, flavorful and moist.

A basic brining recipe is salt and water, but that's just for beginners. Some brines are mixtures of salt and sugar, while others use maple syrup, corn syrup or even fruit juices. You can brine salmon in wine or apple cider and salt or add such flavorings as pepper, herbs, spices, citrus peels, fresh berries, cinnamon sticks, cloves or garlic. What type of brine you use will determine what flavors the smoked salmon will assume.

You will always want to brine your cut of salmon in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, but 24 hours is ideal. Choose your wood chips for smoking such that they compliment the flavors used in the brine such as juniper berries for cedar plank Salmon, or cherry wood for sun dried cherries in the brine mixture.

Cedar Plank Smoked Salmon


2 Quarts Pineapple-Orange Juice
2 Quarts Water
1 Cup Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
2 cups light Brown Sugar
1 Cup Molasses
2 Cloves Chopped Garlic
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1 Teaspoon Fresh Ginger, Chopped


Preheat Grill to 350°F
1). Soak Cedar Planks in Warm Salted Water for at least 2 hours
2). Combine all ingredients listed above and soak salmon in brine for 12 to 24 hours.
3). Place Salmon on Cedar Planks, and place plank on preheated grill for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked as desired.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Does a 10 pound bag of flour make a really big biscuit?

Am I the only one who wanted to know the answer to this question? Ok so the advertising executives at a big insurance company decided to ask, and needless to say I set out to discover the answer. I started this task knowing that the parameters for my recipe only stipulated the use of a 10 pound bag of flour. I decided to re-scale my recipe for Southern style beaten biscuits and here's a scaled up version for those that are interested.....

29 1/8 cups all-purpose flour- That leave just enough flour to dust your counter)
14 5/8 teaspoons granulated sugar
7 1/4 teaspoons of salt
7 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
7 1/4 cups vegetable shortening, cold
3 2/3 cups half-and-half
3 2/3 cups ice water


preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Place flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Cover and pulse to mix. Add shortening; cover and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. With the food processor running, add the half-and-half in ice water in a slow, steady stream through the food chute.

3. Process until the dough forms a ball. Continue processing three additional minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a floured board. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness; fold dough over onto itself to make 2 layers.

Plaistow on and on greased baking sheet; talk with a fork bake 30 minutes (if you're seriously making a big biscuit, you may want to reduce the oven temperature to 300° and bake for approximately one hour allowing the center of the biscuit to cook), or until lightly browned.

Now just in case you want to make beaten biscuits, and just don't have the necessary group of people it will take to consume a larger version here is a smaller recipe...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup ice water

The answer to the question I just had to see for myself: Yes it does..... about 3 foot diameter

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Starting the day with a wonderful Croissant...........

A fresh baked Croissant
One of my favorite smells of all time is the wonderful scent of a freshly baked Croissant, and  the once daily ritual of  slathering croissants with warm butter and black currant preserves is still a cherished memory of my time overseas.. I find it difficult to track down a properly made croissant these days with so many places serving a proof & bake product! If you are lucky enough to run across a bakery who still actually bakes from scratch pick up a couple croissants. For my blog followers willing to spend a little time in the kitchen you will find the rewards for your efforts will be abundant!

1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110°F)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup +1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


1. Dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand five minutes.

2. Place milk in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, until thoroughly (approximately 180°F) heated but not boiling.

3. Combine milk, sugar, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large bowl; mix well.

4. Allow the mixture to cool to 110°F. Add yeast mixture and egg.

5. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Place dough mixture into a well greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover; chill one hour.

6. Place dough on a lightly floured surface; roll out into a 12 inch square. Spread 1/4 cup of the butter evenly over dough. Fold corners to center; then fold dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

7. Repeat rolling, buttering, and folding procedure twice more; cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

8. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a 14 inch circle on a lightly floured surface; cut into six wedges.

9. Roll up each wedge, beginning at the wide end. Seal points; Place croissants point side down on a greased baking sheet; let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for one hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

10. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

yield: 1 dozen

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chess Pie

Chess Pie

I'm sure many of you reading this recipe today have never even had the pleasure of eating Chess pie. This dessert is perfect for humid summer afternoons, and has been served in the parlors of Southern homes since colonial times. With the addition of 1 teaspoon distilled vinegar to cut the sweetness, it becomes what is known throughout the South as vinegar pie. While many will debate the exact origins of the name chess pie, it is regarded as a classic southern desert and just may be the basis for traditional pecan pie. I highly recommend this recipe as a dessert to be paired when cooking any of my barbecued entree recipes such as pulled pork.

Chess Pie

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 pie crust- recipe follows


Preheat up into 350°F
1. Combine sugar, corn meal, and salt in a small bowl; mix well.
2. Combine eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl; beat well.
3. Add the combined dry ingredients, milk, and melted butter to the egg mixture; beat until smooth.
4. Pour filling into a prepared  pie crust and bake for 30 minutes, or until set.

Pie dough

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup +2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons ice water
1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl; cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with cold water, one tablespoon at a time, mix with a fork, until all ingredients are moistened. Shape dough into a ball; chill in the refrigerator.
2. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until approximately 1/8 inch thick.
3. Place dough into pie dish and press lightly with a small scrap to make sure dough is pressed into the corners. Trim edges, and dock bottom with a fork. Reserve.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Smoked Pork Shoulder with Watermelon Barbecue Sauce

Smoked Pork
When I opened the refrigerator this morning I found myself staring at the most beautiful wedge of watermelon. The fact I had a few minutes while waiting for the coffee to finish brewing allowed my mind to start thinking of ways to use that thing up.....It's going to be a hot day, and that means it's the perfect weather for barbecue! Yeah so it's 7 AM, but that means I get a head start on the neighborhood....

Here's the recipe for the sauce, and just throw some on that Pork Shoulder that's been in the smoker at 250° F. for a couple hours, glaze, and let it be until it pulls apart....It should be ready by lunchtime!

That leaves just enough time to make a little coleslaw, and potato salad while you're working on that pot of coffee! Have a great day everyone!!!!
Raw Pork waiting to go into the Smoker

Watermelon Barbecue Sauce
1 Cup puréed Watermelon Rind( Green Skin Removed, Just the White Part is used in this recipe)

1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Paprika
1 Tablespoon Basil, Chopped
1 Tablespoon Oregano
1 Tablespoon Thyme
1 Tablespoon Onion, Minced
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Teaspoon Lemon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic, Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Molasses
1/2 cup Southern Comfort
1 cup Ketchup
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Cup Apple Juice
3/4 Teaspoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1.Peel Watermelon, keeping the part of the watermelon that is white. Save the red part for eating later....

2.Put the rind into a food processor and pulse for about only 30 seconds. Strain the liquid from the pulp, and reserve pulp.

3.Combine the pulp with remaining ingredients in a medium size saucepan over medium- high heat.

4.Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 1/2 hour or until it is as thickened

Monday, May 10, 2010


Today I share with you a favorite fruit that was once thought to be bad for you but actually turns out to be good. A fruit that once had a reputation for being an aphrodisiac and because of this it wasn’t purchased by anyone wishing to protect their reputation. A fruit, that in Brazil is wrapped up and given as a wedding present. A creamy, and delicate fruit that can never ripen on a tree called the alligator pear.

The Dutch call it avocaat; Spain abogado; France avocatier; Trinidad and Tobago zaboca.... The alligator pear has many aliases, but some of us that just call them avocados without knowing that more creative names exist. I like the Alligator Pear name the most, and the wonderful reptiles laying beside the waterways of South Florida do appear to have the same skin appearance!
 Like so many other culinary ingredients I love, the Hass Avocado was a complete accidental discovery that has become the most popular variety of this wonderful fruit served in America today! Today is all about burning out leftovers from a weekend of grilling. I'm think of a sandwich served on grilled Naan bread that has been brushed generously with melted butter, and topped with shredded jerk chicken, and fruit salsa.

Jerk Chicken

2 large,8 piece chickens
3 tablespoons spiced rum
2 tablespoons coconut water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup scallions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons fresh thyme
2 Habañero chilies, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons ground allspice
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup mango ketchup- you can sub regular if mango can't be found
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice


1.Make Jerk Seasoning: Boil rum and coconut water in small saucepan until bubbles just appear. Transfer rum mixture to blender; add cider vinegar, scallions, garlic, fresh thyme, Habañero chilies, extra virgin olive oil, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, kosher salt, and blend until almost smooth. Reserve.

2.Add 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning to small bowl; mix in ketchup and soy sauce to make sauce.

3.Arrange chicken in large roasting pan or baking dish. Pour lime juice over; turn to coat. Spoon jerk seasoning over chicken and rub in. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Prepare barbecue grill to medium-heat heat. Remove chicken from jerk seasoning marinade; sprinkle with salt and pepper If grilling chicken, place chicken, skin side down, on grill rack, cover, and grill until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally and adjusting heat if browning too quickly. Cook until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with fork, about 1 hour for breasts.



1/2 cup diced kiwi
1/2 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup diced papaya
2 Avocados, pitted, peeled, and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 fresh jalapeño, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper to taste


Gently toss all ingredients to incorporate evenly, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What if you wanted to make a Fig Newton?

This morning as we are standing around the shop polishing off the last remnants of our coffee the topic of cookies came up*. We discussed all of our favorites, and came upon the common theme that our spouses would likely never approve of our being seen consuming a box of cookies while driving around town. Cookies are after all “Junkfood”, but that stigma likely can be forgiven if the Chocolate Chips are miraculously replaced with fruit….Enter the Fig Newton, because as children we had no such thing as a choice to a fruit filling, it was fig, and we still love them today. I had one of the guys ask if I knew how to make them, and so I decided to share the recipe today….

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
6 ounces Unsalted Butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
4 Eggs

2 cups Dried Figs, Chopped
1 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Apple Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
4 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon orange zest, Minced



1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter pieces until the dough is the texture of coarse sand.

2. Whisk 3 eggs together and add to the dough. Mix to combine. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

1. Combine the Figs, Orange Juice, Apple Juice, Cinnamon, Sugar, and Orange Zest in a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat until all the liquid is absorbed by the figs and the mixture is thick. Remove from heat.

2. Let the filling cool slightly, then puree in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to bake.

3. Preheat the oven to 375F.

4. Make an egg wash by whisking the remaining egg with 2 tsp. of water.

5. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. On a lightly floured surface roll out each portion of dough into a rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick, and cut the dough lengthwise into strips, at least 2 1/2 inches wide.

6. Brush the edges of each dough strip with egg wash.

7. Spoon the fig filling down the center of the strip and then fold the dough over to enclose the filling in bars.

8. Place the bars, seam side down, on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.

9. Press down lightly to flatten. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Brush the bars with the egg wash and bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Let cool, then cut with a sharp knife into pieces.

*This undoubtedly was a result of my week long fascination with Peanut Butter Crackers, and the fact I was only going to begin the day with 2 packages since I‘ve consumed the complete cracker inventory of the market up the road. There’s a whole bunch of energy packed into a package of these crackers, and since I’ve noticed the requirements of my time here in Minnesota leave little time for nourishment during our day I take them on the road with me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Making Homemade Sausages

Grilled Italian Sausages
 It's wonderful to share my love of food with a whole new group of people as we come together to celebrate friendships, family, and the art of sausage making. Today is going to be our version of the annual La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns that takes place in Louisiana, and has become one of my favorite Mardi Gras events. As we fire up the Smokers, Grinders, and imagination we continue a tradition that has been around since at least 1500 B.C….. we'll break bread, share stories, and may even sample some adult beverages…What a great way to end a week! Food Coma here I come, and I'm bringing friends!!!

….I’ve posted a couple of recipes that I’ve decided to pass along to my new friends in Minnesota…..

Venison Bratwursts

2 lbs ground deer meat ( coarsely cubed)
2 lbs pork butt, or shoulder (coarsely cubed)
1 large white onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 tablespoon fresh Sage, chopped
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 cup Whole milk

Casings, soaked in water for two hours and rinsed thoroughly (place casing end over tap and letting water run through)


1. Mix ingredients thoroughly and place meat mixture into refrigerator overnight.

2. Fill food grinder with ingredients, and gradually grind with large die until all ingredients have been coarsely ground. Mix well to incorporate ingredients evenly. Return to tray, and prepare filling tube for sausage casing.

3. Place casing end over stuffing tube and hold. Turn grinder on at low speed. When casing starts to fill with air, stop machine and squeeze air out. Tie end off.

4. Push meat thru steadily, filling casing. Twist sausage off at 4 inch links, coil as you fill.

Grill over hardwood for 20-30 minutes, or until well done. Serve immediately.

Chicken, Habanero & Tequila Sausage Recipe

2 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs with skin, cut into chunks
2 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts with skin, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced
1 Tablespoon cilantro leaves, crushed
1 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
½ Teaspoon ground cumin
½ Teaspoon chili powder
½ Teaspoon paprika
2 habanero peppers, seeded and minced
1 large egg
1/2 cup Tequila

Casings as needed, soaked & rinsed


1. Grind the meat through a large sausage plate. Grind in small batches.

2. Combine the salt, sugar, garlic, basil, cilantro, ginger, paprika, cumin, chili powder in a small bowl and blend well. Set aside.

3. Mince the habanero and set aside.
Use care here, wear gloves and don't touch anything that you don't want to burn.

4. Place the ground meat in a large bowl with the habanero, and tequila. Add egg, mix well to incorporate the ingredients. Add 1/3 of the seasoning, and mix. Repeat this process until the spices are completely incorporated.

5. Cover the sausage and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
2. Fill food grinder with ingredients, and gradually grind with large die until all ingredients have been coarsely ground. Mix well to incorporate ingredients evenly. Return to tray, and prepare filling tube for sausage casing.

3. Place casing end over stuffing tube and hold. Turn grinder on at low speed. When casing starts to fill with air, stop machine and squeeze air out. Tie end off.

4. Push meat thru steadily, filling casing. Twist sausage off at 4 inch links, coil as you fill.

5. Smoke with fruitwood, or mesquite for 45 minutes at 225° F.

6. Grill over hardwood for 20-30 minutes, or until to an internal temp of 175° F. is reached. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Linzer Torte

Linzer Torte
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 egg
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
Sifted powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 375°F.

1. Process hazelnuts in food processor until ground, but not pasty. Combine flour, hazelnuts, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Beat granulated sugar, butter and lemon peel in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping down side of bowl once. Beat in egg until well blended. Beat in flour mixture at low speed until well blended.

2. Spoon 2/3 of dough onto bottom of 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Pat dough evenly over bottom and up side of pan. Spread jam over bottom of dough. Roll remaining 1/3 of dough on lightly floured surface into 10X5-inch rectangle. Cut dough into ten 1/2-inch-wide strips using pizza wheel or sharp knife.

3. Arrange 4 or 5 strips of dough lengthwise across jam. Arrange another 4 or 5 strips of dough crosswise across top. Trim and press ends of dough strips into edge of crust. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Remove torte from pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just prior to service.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Duck Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls on FoodistaSpring Rolls1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 ounces duck meat, cooked and shredded
1/2 ounce carrots, julienned
1/2 ounce water chestnuts, julienned
1/2 ounce bell peppers, julienned
1/2 ounce snow peas, julienned
1/2 ounce bean sprouts, julienned
1/2 ounce green onions, sliced
2 Cups Nappa cabbage, chiffonade
1 Cup bok choy, chiffonade
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
½ teaspoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon oyster sauce
Sesame seeds for garnish
fresh cilantro for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste


In a hot sauté pan, add sesame oil and quickly cook all the vegetables, garlic, and ginger. Then add duck meat and sauce. Place the filling in soaked spring roll wrapper, add sprouts, cilantro,then roll. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beef Enchiladas Rojas

Beef Enchiladas
6 Ancho Chiles

1 pound Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Onions, finely chopped
1 Clove Garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig of Epazote
¼ Cup Chili Powder
¼ Cup Ground Cumin

¼ Cup Ground Paprika
2 Cups Lard
½ Teaspoon Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
pinch of Sugar
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Pound Shredded Beef
2 Cups Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
2 dozen Corn Tortillas


1. Wash the chiles in cold water, remove the veins, stems and seeds; place in a bowl and soak them in hot water, for approximately one hour.

2. Combine the prepared chiles, tomatoes, cumin, paprika, chili powder,half the chopped onion, garlic, and epazote in the electric blender and blend until well pureed.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of lard in a skillet and add the puree. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. Stir in the cream to incorporate, then remove from the heat. Set the sauce aside.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of lard or oil in a skillet, add the beef and cook until lightly browned. Drain fat. Mix the shredded beef with a little of the sauce mixture and 1/3 of the grated cheese.

5. Heat 3 tablespoons of lard in a skillet. Dip the cold tortillas, one by one, in the chile sauce and then fry on both sides in the hot lard for a few seconds, until limp. Add a little bit of beef mixture on each tortilla then roll them up and place them in an ovenproof baking dish. When all the tortillas are filled and rolled, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and chopped onion. Pour the remaining sauce over all of the enchiladas and place into a preheated oven at 350 F until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding

Old Fashion Bread Pudding on FoodistaOld Fashion Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is flexible in its demand for specific ingredients, and more importantly it can be tailored to fit any dining situation. I have served bread pudding as a dessert in fine dining restaurants, and even sliced cold leftover bread pudding to make the most wonderful French Toast breakfast. I always keep a basic recipe on hand wherever I travel, and still use this as a basic introduction to dessert with any young apprentice that enters the kitchen. Today's recipe is going to be with just a couple bits leftover from a typical weekend brunch. You can change up the breads, or fruits as much as you want to fit your individual flavor preferences.

Bread Pudding:

1 French Baguette, Cubed
2 Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, Cubed
1 Croissant, Cubed
1 Quart Heavy Cream
1 Cup Whole Milk
1 Fluid Ounce Clarified Butter
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla extract
12 Ounces Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Sun Dried Cherries
1/2 Cup Figs, Chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon ground Cardamom

1/4 Cup Spiced Rum
1/4 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Pecan Pieces


1. Preheat oven to 350° F

2. Mix sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter, cream, milk, cinnamon, and cardamom together. Whisk mixture to incorporate.

3. Add chopped breads and fruits. Toss, and allow to rest 5 minutes.

4. Lightly butter a baking dish large enough that the mixture will only come half way up the sides.

5. Add mixture to pan, and cover with Aluminum foil.

6. Bake, covered at 350° F. for 30 minutes.

7.Make Sauce by combing water, rum, and 2 ounces of sugar in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium-high heat reducing liquid until golden brown. Remove from heat, and  immediately add 1/2 Cup heavy cream, while whisking to incorporate. Add chopped pecans, and reserve.

8. Remove cover from baking dish, and bake approximately 20 minutes more uncovered, or until all liquid has been absorbed, and pudding has a golden brown crust.

9. Serve warm, drizzled with sauce.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Alhambra(Rich Chocolate Cake) - Metric

Chocolate Cake on FoodistaChocolate CakeIn my opinion the king of all chocolate cakes is the Alhambra. The techniques to make this cake are very involved, and the glacage coating step at the end is one of the most difficult skills to perfect*. During my time at Le Cordon Bleu this cake was our introduction to decorative piping, and marzipan work. I still to this day teach those wishing to perfect these skills to pick up a jar of clay just like the one you used as a child, and a tube of toothpaste to use in your practice. Both can be reused, and will save you a great deal of money over throwing away costly ingredients. For a variation of the Alhambra try the Sacher Torte which is identical in every way with the exception of the filling. The Sacher Torte is filled with Apricot jam in place of the Ganache.

Sachertorte aux Noisettes( Very Dense Sponge)
Cocoa Pods
55 g ground hazelnuts
40 g soft flour
40 g cocoa powder
110 g caster sugar
135 g unsalted butter
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
60 g caster sugar

120 mL water
150 g sugar
1x5 mL spoon coffee extract
75 mL rum

250 mL cream
250 g dark chocolate couverture

150 mL cream
150 g dark chocolate couverture
50 g butter

Finition/Décoration- Optional
Ganache or chocolate couverture for writing and other piping
Marzipan or modeling chocolate for roses and leaves
Cocoa powder


1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Double butter an 10 inch cake pan and line with parchment. Lightly dust pan with flour.
2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, hazelnuts together
3. Cream the butter and 110 g of caster sugar together
4. Lightly beat the egg yolks, cream the yolks into the butter
5. Whisk egg whites to soft peak
6. Add 60 g caster sugar to the egg whites, whisk whites to stiff peak
7. In a separate bowl fold in 1/3 of the egg whites with 1/2 of the dry ingredients until just incorporated, add an additional 1/3 of the egg whites and fold in.
8. Add the remaining 1/2 of the dry ingredients, and fold gently into your mixture. Fold in the remaining 1/3 of the egg whites.
9. Pour batter into your cake pan and level. Bake the sponge at 160°C for approximately 45 minutes, or a toothpick inserted in the center is removed clean.

Make the Ganache-

1. Place cream into a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat.
2. Once cream is boiled add all chocolate at once.
3. Whisk until smooth, transfer to a stainless bowl, cover, and allow to sit overnight.

Make the Imbibage-
1. Mix 120 mL of water and 150 g of sugar together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce by 1/2, remove from heat and add 5 mL of coffee extract and 75 mL rum. Whisk to incorporate. Reserve.


1. When you're sponge is cold, slice horizontally to divide the sponge into two separate discs of equal thickness. The top portion will now become the base of your cake, and must now be inverted onto your cake card with the cut facing up.
2. Using a pastry brush gently dab the Imbibage onto the sponge making sure to coat evenly. Do not allow yourself to go overboard, the purpose is to provide moisture to the cake without making your cake soggy.
3. Using a pastry bag pipe the ganache starting from the center of your sponge in a circular pattern until the sponge is completely covered.
4. Add the remaining layer of sponge creating a sandwich appearance with sponge, ganache, sponge as your cake.
5. Brush top layer of the sponge with the Imbibage, and immediately place the whole cake into the freezer.
6. Make the glacage-by boiling 150 mL of cream and immediately removing from heat. Add 150 g of dark chocolate couverture, and 50 g of unsalted butter and whisk smooth using a spoon to prevent incorporating air into your mixture.
7. Place a wire cake cooling rack over the top of the sheet pan. Place cake on the rack and gently pour 1/3 of the glacage on the top of the sponge slowly just until the cake is covered. Smooth with a cake spatula and return the cake to the freezer for several minutes.
8. Remove the cake from the freezer, and gently smooth the glacage with a cake spatula. Add 1/3 of the glacage to the sponge however this time to not smooth with a spatula. Wait several minutes, and pour the remaining glacage on making sure the cake is completely covered. This process should leave you with a perfectly smooth exterior coating on the cake. If not, make a second batch of glacage and repeat the process over the previous glacage layer.

*Most commercial glacage applications are performed using an enrobing machine as it speeds up the process a great deal.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Margarita Chicken with Smoked Tomato Salsa

4 chicken breasts, boneless skinless
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons tequila
1jalapeño, sliced
1clove garlic, minced
1lime, wedged
Kosher salt
1 cup smoked salsa-see recipe


1. combine chicken, olive oil, lime juice,orange juice, tequila, jalapeño, and garlic in a nonreactive glass bowl. Marinate in refrigerator for at least two hours.
2. While the chicken marinades make the salsa.
3. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until completely cooked. Discard the marinade.

Smoked heirloom tomato salsa

1/2 pound heirloom tomatoes
1 onion
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 jalapeño, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
salt and black pepper to taste


1. Peel onion, and smoke with the tomatoes for approximately 20 minutes over desired wood.
2. When cooled chop the tomatoes, and onion, then combine in a nonreactive glass bowl.
3. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cilantro, jalapeño and lime juice.
4. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reserve until ready to serve.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The not so complex world of Food, Wine, and Beer...

With summer grilling season upon us I felt now would be the perfect time to talk beverages. While the current trend tends to stray away traditional pairings and incorporates more of an anything goes philosophy I still find many are confused when it comes to beverages. It's great after all to feel as though the pressures been removed but the reality is nobody wants to show up with the wrong thing.

I find that people tend to be more willing to try new foods if it's an appetizer versus an entrée. I would assume they take my approach to it and tell themselves it's okay to experiment when you know something you're comfortable with is there to fall back on. The same is true of beverages, and as long as you keep this in mind there's no way you can go wrong.

I've thrown together some basic examples of how you can successfully not only pair wine with food, but also a beer. From appetizer to dessert these parameters are guaranteed to fit any price point, and any crowd. Whether you're the host of the party, or an invited guest it's important to remember that unless everyone is comfortable your party will never reach its full potential.


Belgian Witbier complements salads with light citrus dressings and feta or goat cheese as well as ceviches and other light, citrus-flavored dishes.

American Wheat Ale complements the lighter foods like grilled lobster tails, seared scallops, or shrimp scampi.

Hefeweizen pairs nicely with grilled sausages, or bold flavors such as mustards, pickles, horseradish and cured meats.

Blonde Ale/Cream Ale pairs perfectly with sweet, hot, or spicy foods including many Asian dishes, chili, mango or jalapeño salsa.

Pale Ale contrasts with spicy, heat-charred, smoky, or aromatic flavors such as those in Stilton and Gorgonzola cheeses.

India Pale Ale complements intensely flavorful, highly spiced dishes, such as curry, and bold, sweet desserts like flourless chocolate cake and crème brulée.

Amber Ale complements rich, aromatic, spicy and smoked foods such as chili, barbecue, grilled chicken, and beef.

Brown Ale pairs well with roasted pork, smoked sausage, chicken satay, cashew chicken, pecan pie and peanut sauces.

Porter works well with smoked meats, especially bacon; complements chocolate, espresso or coffee-flavored desserts and soft, creamy cheeses.

Stout complements salty foods like oysters on the half shell.

Lambic complements light, fruity dishes; best served as a companion with after-meal foods like desserts featuring fruit or dark chocolate.


Light Lager complements lemongrass, ginger, garlic, cilantro and similar flavors.

American Style Lager is the perfect contrast to Thai, Pan-Asian, Latino, Mexican, Peruvian and other spicy cuisines.

Pilsner works well with salmon, tuna & other high-fat, oily fish and with marbled meats; bitterness offers pleasing contrast with sweet reductions and sauces.

Amber Lager pairs well with tomato reduction sauces, pizza, or foods flavored with basil or oregano.

Märzen Oktoberfest complements the flavors of char-grilled and seared meats or spicy Mexican dishes

Bock the rich sweetness balances strong spice components & intense flavors of Cajun, jerk, slow-roasted and seared foods.

Red Wines

Zinfandel will be able to handle a wide variety of red meats. This bold red wine holds up to meaty, smoky flavors. A Zin will also work well with barbeque sauce, steak sauce and mild salsas as long as there isn't a great deal of spicy characteristic to them.

Merlot is the answer to spicy foods, and salsas! Grilled pork chops, chicken and garden salads with lighter dressings also mingle well with Merlot.

Shiraz or Syrah are both delicious with just about any red meat, and lend themselves extremely well to barbecue.

Cabernet Sauvignon is made for steaks with a higher fat content such as Ribeye, or Strips. This wine pairs great with burgers regardless if made with beef or turkey. Top your burgers with bold cheeses, like blue or sharp cheddar and this wine gets even better!

Pinot Noir is great with everything from grilled fish to a juicy Burger! Pinot Noir is an ideal candidate for grilled salmon, burgers or chicken breast. If you aren’t sure if what wine will work with your grilled dinner serve a Pinot.

White Wines

Chardonnay will work with grilled fish, shellfish, chicken, creamy sauces, and cheese fondue

Riesling is the perfect with grilled brats, shrimp, barbecue chicken, grilled pineapple and grilled veggies.

Sauvignon blanc goes great with roasted peppers, veggies with pesto or fresh herbs, grilled fish or marinated meats such as grilled chicken that has been doused in Italian dressing or a citrus marinade.

Gewürztraminer would be a great choice to go with Sweet & Spicy foods such as Blackened Mahi Mahi, or Cajun Chicken with fresh mango salsa.

Please remember that if you drink don't drive! Designate a driver, and everyone can have a great summer!