Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lavender Tea Cakes

Lavender on FoodistaLavenderI've written before of my love of cooking with edible flowers, and this is one of the best applications I have for the practice. Almond cakes on their own are wonderful, but with the subtle taste of Lavender added they are superb.

For the Cake
4 Teaspoons Dried Lavender
9 Ounces Granulated Sugar
8 Ounces Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
Finely Grated Zest from 2 Oranges
Juice from 2 Large Oranges
¼ Teaspoon Almond Extract
4 Whole Eggs
¾ Teaspoon Salt
7 Ounces All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Ounces Ground Almond Flour

For the Topping ( Garnish)

2 Ounces Sliced, Toasted Almonds
Confectioners Sugar for Dusting
1 Teaspoon dried Lavender

1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
2. Grease Muffin Pan, and lightly dust with flour
3. Put the Lavender, and some of the Sugar into a clean coffee grinder, and grind until a fine powder is formed. Combine powdered Lavender mixture with remaining Sugar and reserve.
4. Cream the Lavender Sugar with Butter until light and fluffy.
5. Add Orange Juice, Orange Zest, Almond Extract and Eggs. Mix well.
6. Sift together Flour, Baking Powder and Salt. Beat into the wet ingredients and add Ground Almonds.
7. Pour Batter into prepared Muffin molds, leaving ¼ Inch from the top.
8. Sprinkle Almonds evenly over the top of the batter, and dust with Confectioners Sugar.
9. Bake for 35-40 Minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool 10 minutes, and remove from pan.
Sprinkle with dried Lavender and serve.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vote for your favorite Comfort Food.

Most of us associate the term “Comfort Foods” with a dish that reminds us of home. It may even be a dish that people turn to when they are not feeling well, or need that added boost to get them through the day. I created this poll to find what really is number 1! I tried to get a good sample audience of all age groups, and took some serious abuse in the process so please log in and click on your favorite! If yours is not on the list please add it to the comments section below this post.


Thursday, February 25, 2010


I was asked to share my recipe for making Lasagna so here it is broken down into several different recipes because you’ll be making everything if you want my Lasagna…No boxes, or cans just a whole bunch of fresh ingredients assembled in stages like a big edible puzzle!
Lasagna Pan on FoodistaLasagna Pan


5 Cups All Purpose Flour
4 Eggs
2 Egg Yolk
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

In a food processor add 2 1/2 Cup Flour, Salt, Eggs, Egg Yolk, and Olive Oil. Pulse until all ingredients are Incorporated evenly. Add Remaining 2 ½ Cups flour a little at a time until a soft dough is formed. Turn Dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth*. Dust lightly with flour, cover, and allow to rest 20 minutes. Roll pasta into sheets using your pasta machine, or you can go old school and use a rolling pin to roll thin sheets that will cover the bottom of your baking dish leaving ½ Inch of space from all sides.
* At this point I use my home vacuum packing machine to package the pasta dough. I find this makes for a better quality product.

¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Cup Yellow Onion, Diced ½ Inch
3/4 Cup Green Bell Pepper, Diced ½ Inch
¼ Cup Carrots, Peeled, and Diced
½ Cup Celery, Diced
½ Cup Sliced Crimini Mushroom
3 Pounds Ripe Roma Tomatoes, Diced
½ Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
1 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano, Chopped
½ Cup Fresh Basil, Chiffonade
2 tsp. basil
½ Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
1 ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 Each Fresh Bay leaves
¼ Cup Red Wine- Good Quality as always…
2 Cups Water

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add Garlic, Carrots, Onions, and Celery and sweat down your product, while stirring occasionally until your onions become translucent. Add Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, and Roma Tomatoes and continue to cook several minutes until the onions start to caramelize. Add Red Wine to deglaze pan, and stir to remove any product that has adhered to the bottom of the pan. Add all remaining Ingredients, stir, and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer covered for 3 hours while checking periodically to make sure your sauce does not burn on the bottom by giving it a quick stir*. Remove from heat, and blend using your submersible stick mixer until a smooth sauce develops. Reserve your sauce for service.
* At this point you can transfer the product to a crockpot, and allow your sauce to be cooking on low for several hours. This makes a wonderful sauce when prepared this way.

1 Pound Ground Beef
1 Pound Mild Italian Sausage
1 Pound Sliced Pepperoni Sausage
½ Cup Yellow Onion, Diced
½ Cup Green Bell Pepper, Diced
1 Clove, Garlic Minced
1/8 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Marinara Sauce
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning, Made using fresh Herbs (Equal Parts Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, and Basil)

In a large skillet over medium heat add Ground Beef, and Italian Sausage.Brown over medium heat until fully cooked, and crumbled. Remove from heat, and drain meat of any oil. Return to pan over medium heat. Add Pepperoni, garlic, and olive oil. Stir over heat for a couple minute. Add remaining ingredients, and reduce heat to simmer. Stir to incorporate evenly, and allow simmering 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and reserve your meat sauce for service.


2 Pounds Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
1/2 Pound Provolone Cheese, Shredded
1/2 Pound, Romano Cheese, Shredded
1 Pound Parmesan Cheese, Shredded

Mix all Cheeses in a large bowl until incorporated evenly. Reserve


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
****Use a Large Casserole Dish, or 4 Inch Deep Roasting Pan to build your Lasagna
1).Ladle a thin layer of Marinara sauce to cover the bottom of your pan, this will serve to keep your Lasagna from sticking.
2).Place a layer of fresh pasta sheet on top of your sauce base making sure to keep a space ½ inch from the sides.
3).Place a thin layer of meat sauce on top of your pasta sheet.
4).Top with Shredded Cheese layer.
5). Repeat steps 1-4 building layers of your Lasagna until you reach ½ Inch from the top of your baking dish making sure to end with a pasta sheet on top.
6). Cover pasta sheet completely with a thin layer of Marinara Sauce.
7). Cover dish with parchment paper, and then Aluminum Foil..This will keep the Acid from the Marinara Sauce from eating your foil.
8). Bake covered,at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from Oven, and uncover.
9). Top with a generous portion of shredded cheese, and return to 350 degree oven for another 30 minutes, or the cheese is melted, and has browned lightly on the top.
10). Open Bottle of Red Wine-(Jordan, Cabernet is a great choice) you’ve made it this far so you may as well celebrate while the Lasagna cooks Chef…..

11). Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 20 minutes at room temperature so your Lasagna will set up.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd on FoodistaLemon Curd4 tablespoons grated Lemon Zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
3 large eggs

Remove the zest from the lemons
Juice the lemons after removing the zest.
Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a saucepan* over medium heat and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Add butter and stir until it has melted.
Remove from heat
Beat eggs in a separate bowl, and add 1/3 of hot mixture in stages to the eggs while beating. This will temper the eggs, and allow you to add all remaining juice mixture without cooking the eggs.
Return to heat and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon.

*Do not use aluminum, or copper saucepan as a metallic taste, and discoloration will develop due to the acidity of the lemon. Stainless steel is great for this!!

Just what exactly is a Scone?

Basic Scones on FoodistaBasic Scones
I have many people ask me what scones are, and to be honest until I moved to England I too had no idea what these thing were. The only way I know to describe them is for you to think of your favorite muffin crossed with a sugar cookie, and shaped like a biscuit. That’s a scone, and they sure are tasty!!!! Scones are traditionally served with tea, but you can find them in most coffee shops these days. While I discuss scones I should probably mention tea for a moment, and so I will following the recipe.*

Lemon Poppyseed Scones
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare baking sheet with Butter, and flour, or use a silicone mat to prevent scones from sticking.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, poppy seeds, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until particles are the size of small peas. In a medium bowl, beat (1) one egg lightly with lemon juice and lemon zest. Add to flour mixture; stir just until mixed.
On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently. Pat or roll out the dough into a circle 1/2-inch thick. Using a lightly greased and floured 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut into scones, Dip cutter into flour as often as necessary to keep dough from sticking. Space 2-inches apart onto silicone mat lined baking sheet*.
In a small bowl, combine 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk; brush onto top of scones. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve hot with Lemon Curd, or Clotted Cream.

* Most people refer to afternoon tea as high tea because they think they sound refined, or well schooled when in all actuality, high tea served across the pond is what we call dinner in America. “Tea time” in England tends to be a heavier meal just as we serve here. Most people want to offer a selection of fancy pastries( Petite Fours)and cakes on fine china when they offer a "high tea." This type of service should be called “Light Tea”.
Traditional afternoon tea is also called "low tea" because it is normally taken in a living room type setting with low tables (like a coffee table) and people can socialize in a less formal environment.

There are three basic types of Afternoon, or Low Tea:

Cream tea - Tea, scones, jam and cream

Light Tea - Tea, scones and petite fours

Full Tea - Tea, savory items (appetizers or tiny sandwiches), scones, petite fours and dessert such as whole cakes

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A great Chef to check out......Alan Kerr

I wanted to spotlight a fellow Chef who’s doing great things. Chef Alan Kerr from Niagara, Ontario, Canada. A professional chef, Kerr is an instructor at the Niagara Culinary Institute and has recently been selected to present a class in dangerous cuisine pairing at The Little Mexican Cooking School located in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. The Chef’s selection of some great ingredients such as Tequila and Chili Peppers have me excited. A big shout out to Alan, and I hope everyone checks out some of his tasting notes and articles at Gang of Pour that focus primarily on the Canadian wine industry and recent releases from Ontario's LCBO.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why we eat the foods we eat

I like to tell my cooks that the best way to write interesting menus is to pick up a history book. If you want to know about the cuisine of a region get beyond the ingredients in front of you, and find out how they came to be there. The history of food in America differs little from how it’s evolved around the world.
Simplified…Someone wanted a task accomplished, and sent someone else out to get it done. They brought snacks, and knowledge with them…..
Columbus is credited with the discovery of the new world, and we covered a lot of that in school growing up. Ironic it seems we skipped out discussing why across America every region has different cuisine and cultural influences, or how that even came to be. I love to read up on history, and the fact it intertwines with my love of cooking has held my cooks hostage for years. It never fails that I’ll start teaching a specific type of cuisine, and get into some of the forgotten history behind it. Food it seems dictates our history more than one would think. You don’t have to look that hard to find the stories behind menus that touch our lives everyday….Remember the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock…..Good story, a little bit on the embellished side, but we still celebrate Thanksgiving. We all celebrate holidays with predetermined menus based upon our own traditions. European immigrants, African Slaves, Asian railway workers all brought to our shores much more than a cheap labor force. The painful memories of how things came to be are often forgotten, but it’s up to us as “foodies” to show them respect.
American might just be the melting pot of the world, but I think the term refers to the fact we can take the best of ingredients, and traditions from around the globe and make them our own. Food it seems is the very centerpiece of every celebration or gathering. You might not remember if Uncle Don missed family Christmas last year, but you will never forget if Mom didn’t bake her traditional Apple pie. I go nuts for Brown & Serve dinner rolls twice a year only to be reminded by my wife that I can get them year round. It’s just not Thanksgiving, or Christmas without them. Cheap, and not what most would call the highest quality of product, but they remind me of home. Food is how we show homage to those that came before us, and those whom we share our moments with today. Most of us can associate a food with the influential moments in our lives. Often I am reminded of this fact when just a simple aroma turns the head of a person walking past.
I think menu planning is perhaps the most important thing we do as Chef’s because we are never just planning a menu, but planning the next memory in a persons life. The people most of us are cooking for most likely will never see our face, or remember our name if they do. Good or Bad the people you’re serving most likely won’t forget the meal so you too will be making history when you step in the kitchen.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Clickable links added to the Blog

I have decided to add some shopping links to my posts that help you find the things I am talking about. If for example you were to read my post titled “ Reading Materials” you’ll see pictures of the books I’ve listed as my top 5 must own cookbooks! A simple click on the picture takes you to where you can order the thing for yourself, or add it to a wish list so someone else can pick it up for you. That’s right…we’re getting fancy, and your getting a good deal on your stuff. You will not find a link on my blog for any product I would not, or do not own myself….Our next cooking class has us gathered around the grill discussing Barbecue so it would be a good time to brush up on the book Serious Barbecue by Adam Perry Lang in my top 5 must own books to get the juices flowing….

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Brownies Anyone?????

I thought I would share my recipes for brownies today......
Homemade Brownies on FoodistaHomemade Brownies

Fudge Brownies
1/2 cup Unsalted butter
2 Ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all- purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8x2 inch baking pan.
Melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat lightly until ingredients are combined (do not over beat or the brownies will rise too much and fall over the pan).
Stir in the flour and nuts. Spread in the pan.
Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. Cool then cut into bars.

Blonde Brownies
2 cups all- purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a bowl.
Mix together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter and stir until well mixed.
Add walnuts to the flour mixture. Slowly add flour mixture to the sugar mix.
Spread in the pan. Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into bars while warm.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Roasted Pork Lo Mein

I have been known to sit down for Asian food on a pretty regular basis. I’m not talking Sushi over cocktails, but a roll your sleeves up, and put a hurt on the Dim Sum Trolley kind of sit down for Asian Cuisine. I have always had my favorites, and here's one of them!

Pork Lo Mein

½ Cup Sliced Shitake Mushrooms
½ Cup Chopped Napa Cabbage
½ Cup Bok Choy, Chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean Pork Loin, Sliced into Strips
¼ Cup Scallions, Chopped
1/2 cup Julienned Carrots
1/2 Cup Julienned Yellow Onion
1 Pound Fresh Lo Mein Noodles
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
½ Teaspoon fresh Ginger, Minced
2 cups fresh Bean Sprouts, soaked in water and drained
3 Tbsp. sherry
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Purchase Lo Mein, or Udon noodles from your local Asian Market…
Cook the noodles, drain, rinse in cold water, drain again, and toss with the sesame oil. Set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or skillet. Stir fry the pork about 5 minutes until browned, then add onions, and carrots. Sauté until just starting to soften, and add the mushrooms. Stir-fry for 1 minute longer. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, bean sprouts, sherry, soy and oyster sauces. Add Noodles, Mix and stir-fry an additional 4 minutes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Florida Lobster Cakes with Spicy Lobster Reduction

We have 3 primary seasons in south Florida that include Tourist Season, Hurricane Season, and Lobster Season…Two of them happen to be pretty exciting for me when they come around. Summertime has the locals diving for lobsters by day hanging around the grill come sundown. Summertime means a large portion of the food consumed in our home comes from the sea, and that goes over well for the company that we know is coming to visit. This is a pretty simple dish to make, and just goes without saying that it’s popular….

1 pound lump crab meat, picked over for shells
1/2 pound cooked lobster meat, chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 each large egg
1/2 Cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 dash Tabasco sauce
¼ teaspoon old bay seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ Cup diced red onion
1 teaspoon blackening spice
½ cup cocoa butter, ground
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup red onion, julienned
1 cup fennel, julienned
¼ cup matchstick carrots
½ cup red bell pepper, julienned
½ cup lobster stock
¼ cup heavy cream
1 pinch paprika
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cognac
1 teaspoon butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix Mayonnaise, egg, mustard, Tabasco, bay seasoning, and lemon juice together. Fold crab, lobster, scallions, panko, onion, garlic gently into mixture until ingredients are incorporated evenly.
Portion into 3 oz cakes, and reserve in the refrigerator until service.
Mix lobster stock, and heavy cream in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add cayenne, paprika, Worcestershire, and reduce by 2/3. Remove from heat, and add cognac, and 1 teaspoon butter. Whisk to incorporate evenly. Reserve for service.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat while you generously sprinkle lobster cakes with blackening spice, and cocoa butter. Place into skillet, and brown on both sides. Remove from skillet, and reserve.
Add 1 teaspoon butter to hot skillet. Sauté Red Onion, Carrot, Fennel, and bell pepper until vegetables just start to wilt. Season with salt & pepper, and remove for service.**
To plate place seared lobster cake on plate, and drizzle with lobster stock reduction. Top with small amount of fennel slaw, and serve.
**Don’t be afraid to break out some remoulade sauce and potato rolls to make one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever have…

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Strawberry Red Wine Soup

1 Pound Fresh Strawberries, Sliced
1 Cup Red Wine*
2 Tablespoons Blackberry Brandy
2 Tablespoons Chambord
3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
2 lemon slices
1 cinnamon stick
3 Whole Cloves
2 Juniper Berries
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
2 Tablespoons Cold Water
Chopped fresh mint and mint leaves for
garnish (optional)
Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 5 minutes, Cool and chill time: at least 1 1/2 hours

Slice Strawberries and set aside for service. Stir together Wine, Sugar, Lemon slices and Cinnamon stick, Juniper Berries, and Cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Mix Cornstarch, and Water in a small measuring cup; then pour into boiling mixture**. Add Chambord, and Blackberry Brandy. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and discard Lemon, Cloves, Juniper Berries and Cinnamon; let cool. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until well chilled. Stir in a small pinch of chopped fresh mint, if you like, and spoon over sliced Strawberries divided into 2 soup bowls. Garnish each with a mint sprig, if you like.

Makes 2 servings.
* I use a 2005 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon -Jordan is not only my favorite wine to drink, but it’s unique flavor profile made me go searching for other uses for it. Jordan comes from the Alexander Valley region of Sonoma County, California.

**This is known as a slurry, and will thicken your sauces. Stir constantly while you allow to boil 2 minutes otherwise you will have a chalky taste to your food.

Pan Seared Salmon with Lingonberry Sauce

As mentioned in the Pacific North West Cooking Class Notes

4 Each Salmon Filets, Skin removed and cut 6 Ounces
¼ Cup Cocoa Butter Powder
2 Tablespoons Shallots, Chopped
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
¼ Cup Red Wine
¼ Cup Lingonberry Preserves
1/2 Teaspoon Unsalted Butter
Fresh Milled Peppercorns, and Quality Salt To Taste- As discussed in previous Cooking Classes
Juniper Berry Brine- Ingredients
2 Quarts Water
1/3 Cup Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Light Brown sugar
1 Sprig fresh thyme
¼ Teaspoon Dill Weed
3 Each Fresh Bay Leaves
20 Juniper Berries
1 Teaspoon Peppercorns
Make Brine-Place all Brine ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil and the remove from heat. Allow the brine cool to room temperature, and then place your salmon filets into a large baking dish, and cover with the brine. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to prepare, but at least 2 hours
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place large Skillet on stove over medium-high heat. Remove Salmon from Brine, and pat dry with a towel. Season Salmon with salt & Pepper, and dust generously with cocoa Butter.
Add to skillet, and sear on presentation side until golden, and flip. Place into preheated oven to cook until desired doneness is reached. Remove from oven.
Remove Salmon from hot skillet, and reserve.
Return Skillet to stove over medium heat, add Butter, Shallots, Garlic and stir. Deglaze with Red Wine. Add Preserves. Stir until smooth. Allow to reduce until sauce consistency is reached. Adjust seasoning. Remove from heat.
Spoon Sauce over Fish to serve

What's Cooking....

Cuisine of the Pacific North West

This month our cooking class will feature some of the cuisine that was the hot topic of conversation when I entered the culinary profession. Long before I was cruising the Florida Keys in search of Bonefish, or Tarpon I lived in Southern California. I would take regular trips up north casting the rivers, and oceans as a retreat from the chaos of the city. Though it‘s been some time since I last visited the area I have many fond memories, and influences that I carry with me to this day.
My days of week long furloughs to Stenson Beach are in the past yet there is something to be said in the fact I could wake up at 3 AM to seek out my favorite fishing hole and pick fresh Fennel from the side of the roadway on my way home. Bodega Bay, or Point Reyes Oysters made the best mid-morning snack when washed down with a cold beer after a few hours of standing in bone chilling water. Late night surfcasting in anticipation of the Grunion runs was also a tradition in those days, and sometimes the two activities would go back to back….. The point is it was a fresh balance of man paired with nature, and that still hasn’t changed for that part of the world.

This months Features….
Blackberry Braised Duck with Sun Dried Cherry Compote
Juniper brined Salmon with Lingonberry sauce
Braised Fennel with Mustard Greens
Roasted Fingerling Potato
Strawberry Red Wine Soup

Friday, February 5, 2010

Banana Layer Cake

3 Cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Cup Unsalted butter, Room temperature
2 1/4 Cups Granulated sugar
3 Each Eggs, Well beaten
5 Each Ripe bananas, Mashed
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla, Extract
1 Cup Pecans, Finely chopped

Frosting and filling
1/2 Cup Mashed bananas
2 Teaspoons Fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup Unsalted butter, Room temperature
1 Pound Confectioners' sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
3 Each Bananas, Sliced thin

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 3 nine inch cake pans. Sift together the flour and baking soda, and set aside. Put the butter and sugar and a large mixing bowl and cream together until smooth. Slowly pour in the eggs, mixing well between each addition. Stir in the bananas.

2. Add the dry ingredients into the buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract and pecans. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are brown and the edges pull away from the pans, or a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for five to ten minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

3. Make the frosting. In a small bowl, mix the mash bananas and the lemon juice together and set aside. In another bowl, with an electric mixer cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the mash bananas, blending well. Stir in the vanilla extract. To assemble, spread a layer of icing on one of the cake rounds, then top with a layer of sliced bananas. Place the second cake layer on top of the bananas and repeat with more icing, then bananas. After placing the third layer on top, spread the remaining icing over the sides and top of the cake.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Making and Fixing Common Mistakes in the Kitchen ….

The number one mistake made in the kitchen is that few read the recipe all the way through until it says “reserve for service“. People see the ingredients list and start to go, while the best thing to do is read the recipe, and then read the recipe again. Most times people, and that includes many out there cooking for a living often fail to read a recipe in its entirety before getting started with their dish. Reading the recipe multiple times teaches you the process to cooking management. It is so important to go all the way through the recipe and understand the process before you start. “Failing to do this leads to step-by-step cooking and being overwhelmed by your recipe. A Tablespoon vs. Teaspoon or Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda are often mistakes made in the kitchen due to not reading the recipe carefully.
Some mistakes happen because of a lack of confidence in the Kitchen. Proper seasoning is gradual and should be done throughout the cooking process. Recipes don't often state this, so it is something that is commonly missed or neglected.
Also missed because it is not expressly stated in a recipe is controlling the heat. Heat needs to be adjusted throughout the process for stovetop cooking. Being able to step away from the recipe is key to good cooking. Do not rely on times given in a recipe to assume that a dish is done or not, but to instead judge based on its “taste, tenderness, firmness, or appearance. I get asked all the time “ How long do I cook it?”…My response will forever be the same…”Until it’s done!”
It’s absolutely mandatory to make mistakes, How do you know that something is right until you’ve seen that something is wrong? Will you recognize the mistakes when they are made? That’s the question of the day….
I have seen my share of mistakes in the kitchen, and our industry is no different from many others in the fact that complacency even unintentional is deadly to any successful operation. It is with this in mind that I believe that every single student attending a culinary, or hospitality school today should be required to study IBM, and Xerox. IBM failed to realize that trends had shifted away from Mainframe based computing, and that they needed to change with it. IBM declined to market the Photocopier, or PC. Xerox failed to see that fresh talent and insight could actually be helpful when they informed a young Bill Gates that his ideas for a new computer operating system was unimaginative, and chose to decline his offer to produce it for them. Is there anyone out there that hasn’t had their life changed by the introduction of Windows?

Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Asian Pear & Crystallized Ginger Confit

Pork Tenderloin on FoodistaPork Tenderloin2 Each Pork Tenderloin, Silver skin Removed*
1 Cup Apple Juice
1 Teaspoon ExtraVirgin Olive Oil
4 Ounces Apple wood Smoked Maple Pepper Bacon, Chopped
3 Each Ripe Asian Pears. Peeled, Cored, and diced
4 Ounces Vidalia Onion, Julienned
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
½ Ounce Crystalized Ginger, Julienned
1 Tablespoon cilantro, Chopped
½ Teaspoon Chives, Chopped
Juice of ½ Lemon
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Clove Garlic, Sliced
Salt & Pepper To Taste

1).Mix ¾ Cup of Apple Juice, Cider Vinegar, 2 Ounces of Onion, Garlic, and Olive oil in a small glass bowl. Add Pork Tenderloin to Marinade and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
2). Preheat Smoker, or Grill to be used. Heat oven to 325 Degrees
3). Cook Bacon in a heavy ovenproof saucepan until Just turning crisp. Add Onions, and continue cooking until onions wilt. Add Pears, sugar, Lemon juice, Ginger, and Stir Gently so as not to break the pears. Cover with a lid, and place into heated oven for 20 Minutes , stiring a couple times in the cooking process. Remove from oven, and reserve for service.
4). Mix remaining ¼ Cup of Apple Juice with Maple Syrup. Reserve
5). Cook Pork Tenderloin until it reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees. Begin basting with Juice, and Syrup mixture, turning over flames between applications. When all glaze has been applied, and the Pork has reached the desired Internal Temperature( I like mine around 140) remove from heat, and allow to rest 10 minutes.
6). After the pork has rested the full time period slice, and arrange on a serving platter. Cilantro with Confit, and Spoon generously over Pork. Sprinkle with Chopped Chives, and Serve.

*This is a wonderful dish for those that like smoked meats. Should you find yourself without a smoker you can simple throw some soaked Cherry wood chips onto your burning Charcoal. If smoker will be used; eat to 325 Degrees and Smoke Tenderloin for approximately 20 Minutes prior to the application of the glaze.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spanish Rum Flan with Caramelized Oranges

1 2/3 Cups Granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons Water
8 Each Large eggs
1 Pinch Iodized salt
24 Fluid Ounces Evaporated milk, 2 each 12 ounce cans
2 Tablespoons Dark rum

Caramelized oranges
1 Each Valencia Orange, Peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 Cup Granulated sugar
1/3 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Dark rum

1. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Place the 2/3 cup sugar in a large heavy skillet and stir over moderate heat until it turns golden. Workout any lumps, taking care not to let the sugar barn. Stir in the water with a long handled spoon (the hot syrup will splatter). cook, stirring, a minute or two, until blended. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, told the pan to coat the sides and bottom, and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a baking dish large enough to hold the loaf pan in the oven. Pour hot water to the depth of 1/2-inch into the baking dish.

3. In a medium-size bowl, beat eggs with the remaining 1 cup sugar until blended. Add the salt and stir in the undiluted evaporated milk and the rum. Mix well and pour over the caramel in the loaf pan. Place the loaf pan in the baking dish with the water in the oven. Bake 11/2 hours, or until a table knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the water bath and cool the custard, then chill overnight or for at least eight hours.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the oranges. Cut the orange slices crosswise into half circles. Place the sugar in water into a large heavy skillet. Cook and stir over moderate heat until golden brown. Add the oranges to the hot caramel. If the caramel steaks, stirring a bit more water. Sprinkle with the rum and cool mixture.

5. To turn out the flan, loosen around the edges with a thin bladed knife, invert a platter over the pan, and invert it quickly, so as not to lose any of the Carmel; lift off the loaf pan.

Classic Mango Chutney

MangoYou know coming to my house for a little gathering of the masses I'll be serving Coconut Shrimp. Many ask for a little Chutney as that seems to be used around here like Ketchup in most American Houses. It pairs great with that Rogan Josh, and other Curries as well!

2 1/2 Cups Apple cider vinegar
1 Pound Light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
2 Each Jalapeno chili peppers, Chopped fine
3 Each Yellow onions, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh ginger, Minced
1/2 Cup Lime juice
1 1/2 Teaspoons Mustard seed
1 1/2 Teaspoons Celery seed
1 1/2 Teaspoons Cinnamon stick, Broken into fine pieces
1 1/2 Teaspoons Whole allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Whole cloves
1 Cup Raisins
1 Cup Dried currents
3 1/2 Pounds Chopped mango
1/2 Cup Tamarind pulp

1. In large stainless stockpot combine the vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and jalapeno. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. And the remaining ingredients, mix well, and bring to a boil again.

2. Cover, remove from the heat, and let the check the stand overnight. The following day, stir the chutney together, bringing to a boil, and simmer two to three hours, until the mango pieces are tender, but not mushy.

3. Cook over low heat and stir often to prevent scorching. Spoon the chutney into hot, sterilized 1/2 pint jars, Seal immediately, and refrigerate.

4. For long-term storage in a cabinet, the chutney should be processed 10 minutes in a boiling water bath, using manufactures instructions for sealing the jars.

Note 1: mango should be half green and hard and half firm to ripe. Peeling chop them roughly in the syrup before adding the other ingredients.

Note 2: tamarind paste should be chopped into pieces. Combine the pieces with hot water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer 2 or 3 minutes. Drain the mixture into a sieve and press the pulp to extract water.