Monday, December 27, 2010

Some New Year's culinary idea for ya

For those of you hosting some form of New Year's event at your house here are some suggestions.

1.  Invite me

2.  Have you ever tried fondue?  You can buy a fondue set and they aren't very expensive.  Fondue is easy to make and interactive.  You can do either a cheese fondue or a dessert one, such as chocolate

3.  Home made pig in a blanket.
Buy some frozen puff pastry sheets and wrap a whole sausage with it and then bake it.  Find a nice sausage like a chorizo or something.  Make sure the puff pastry is large enough to cover it.  Don't worry about sealing the sides as you will cut them off.  Brush the pastry with egg wash and then bake in the oven at about 350-375F.
slice into bite size pieces and serve with dijon or whole grain mustard.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

One of my favorite questions

I was in the dining room the other night and a guest signaled for me to come to the table.
He asked, "what is good on the menu?"  I have heard people ask that question before and I never quite understood it.  I mean, I am the chef, what do they think I will say? "Everything on the menu is lousy and you should eat somewhere else?"  Now I understand sometimes people don't know how to ask questions and that is fine. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Today's Christmas tip

Here is another Christmas tip for your holiday dinner.

For dessert try a chocolate fondue.  It is very easy to make, more interactive and not very expensive.  Of course you would need a fondue pot but they are not very expensive. 
You can put it in the middle of your holiday dinner table and everyone can help themselves.
I like to take brownies and pound cake and cut them up into bite-sized squares to be used for dipping.  Then, make a small plate of the cut up brownies and pound cake and maybe some cut fruit for each person to facilitate their dipping.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today's Christmas idea-beets

Here you go.

I know many people eat beets during the winter and while they may not be the most appealing vegetable but that is because it gets a bad rap.  Most people are familiar with the canned beets but have you tried roasting or boiling fresh beets? 

Go to the market and get some beets.  Boil them whole in salted water until a thin knife is inserted in the center of the largest one and comes out easily-just like when you cook a potato.
While the beets are cooking, julienne some red onions and cook them over medium heat in some oil and butter until cooked. 
Take some fresh rosemary and chop it fine.
Take one orange and zest it.
Once the beets are cooked and have cooled down until they can be handled, peel the skin using a towel by simply rubbing the skin. 
Cut the beets into wedges.
Take a pan large enough to accomodate the beets and put some olive oil, the onions, rosemary, orange zest and a bit of the juice from the orange.
Heat this up and add your beet wedges to it. 
Saute this over medium heat until the beets are heated.
Add salt and pepper.

The beets can be made up to a few days ahead of time so when it comes time to serve them they are already cooked so all you have to do is saute them with the flavoring.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Ideas

For those of you celebrating Christmas here are some twists to traditional holiday items.

Sweet potatoes roasted with orange, paprika and cumin
Cut each sweet potato into six to eight pieces, toss them with enough olive oil to coat, salt and pepper, a dash of paprika and cumin and roast at 400F until done. 
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, zest one orange.  Melt enough butter in a small pan with the orange zest to coat the sweet potatoes.  Once the potatoes are done, toss them with the orange butter and some chopped parsley.  The juxtaposition of the sweet, citrus flavor of the orange with the earthy flavors of the cumin and paprika work quite nice.

Stuffed turkey breast with giblet gravy
Make sure you have a sharp boning or cook's knife.
Take a turkey breast and lay it skin side down laying perpendicular to you. To help you visualize, imagine you are looking at a turkey.  You want the turkey's rear facing you, that is how the breast should be laying.
  You will be butterflying it.
Make and incision from one side to the other, down the middle of the breast lengthwise. 
NOTE you not want to cut all the way through the turkey breast otherwise you will have two pieces.
After you have made the incision,  place your knife where the incision ends and slice towards the outside of the breast, cutting parallel to the cutting board.  Think of an upside down letter "T"
NOTE you do not want to cut all the way.  You only want to cut about half an inch or more away from the side.  You only want to cut enough to open up the breast.
When cutting-do not push, let your knife do the work using a gentle sawing motion.
Repeat the same motion with the other side. Open the breast and season the inside with salt and pepper

For the stuffing:
Get some ground pork and add some fine chopped white onion, garlic, herbs (I recommend something like thyme, rosemary or sage) and mix together with some salt, pepper and if you can find it some chorizo spice.You can even use a bit of cajun spice to.

Take the stuffing and spread it over the butterflied turkey breast.  You want it to be about a half inch thick. 
Take the turkey breast and turn it a quarter turn so it would be parallel to you as opposed to how it was before.
Roll the turkey breast up as if you were rolling a jelly roll cake or perhaps even a joint if that is your thing.  Make sure it is fairly tightly rolled.
If your turkey breast was not turned in the right direction before you stuffed it it will be much fatter and not as long. 
Tie butcher's twine at every two inches and place in a roasting pan and cook at about 350F-400F depending on the size of your breast.
Cook for approximately 40 or more minutes.
Once cooked, let it rest about fifteen minutes prior to slicing.
Serve with giblet gravy as you normally would.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today's tip-goat cheese and Sancerre

Here is a quick tip for you all.  I am in the market for a new computer so getting on to my blog hasn't been easy.

For those of you who like cheese and wine here is a perfect pairing:  Goat cheese and Sancerre. 

Generally the rule of thumb is the best pairings come from food and wine from the same region but if you can't find wine and cheese from the same region get a nice goat cheese and Sancerre or nice Savignon blanc and you can't go wrong........................unless of course, you do go wrong.:)


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A simple point on seasoning

OK, typing is a pain.  I have a band aid on my finger due to a cut so it is twice the size.  The saying "trying to fit a round peg in a square hole" comes to mind when trying to type on this keyboard.

Here is a tip for you about seasoning. Whenever you make something to be served as an accompaniment (such as a dressing for salad, sauce, a dip, sauce for sandwiches) to something else, make sure you over season it. 
Try it.  Make a sauce to go on a sandwich.  Season the sauce as if you were eating it alone.  It will taste fine.  Then put it on a sandwich.  The reason for this is because you have to impart that flavor to something else.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Recipe-Butternut squash soup

With the holidays here I am going to continue to give holiday themed recipes and tips.  Here is a soup I have been doing for the past fifteen years and is always a hit during the winter.

As I have mentioned before, I do not have recipes for many items so I will give you estimates here.....sorry.

Butternut squash  1 ea
Water or chicken stock
Yellow onion,  julienned
Garlic, minced
Pumpkin pie spice
Salt and pepper   
Olive oil

Since I don't have an exact recipe here are the proportions

The garlic and onion should be about 25% of the amount of the squash
The chicken stock or water should be about two parts to one part cream.
If you do not wish to add cream that is fine too, then just add more stock or water

Preheat your oven to 300F.  That is about 160C if I am not mistaken.  If the temperature is too low that is no problem.  You just don't want the temperature too high because you do not want the squash browned.
Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Place both halves of the squash on a baking sheet, cut side up.
Add about an inch of water (if your pan has high enough sides) to the pan and cover the pan completely with foil. If you can't add water that is not a problem, just lower your temperature a bit.
Bake the squash for about an hour. 
While the squash is baking:
Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add just enough olive oil to barely coat the bottom. 
Saute your onion and garlic for about five or more minutes until cooked but not brown.
Set the pot aside off the heat until the squash is cooked.

To check the squash, stick a small knife in the center.  If it is cooked it should feel like sticking a knife into soft butter.
Don't worry about overcooking it as the soup will be pureed.  Just don't overcook it to the point where it is like mush and you have trouble separating the skin from the flesh.
Once cooked, remove the squash from the oven and let rest for about fifteen minutes or so.
Place a folded towel in your hand and pick up one half of the squash. 
Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh.  Make sure you do not scoop out the skin.
Add the scooped out flesh of the squash and the juice from the baking pan (if you have it) to the pot with the cooked onions and garlic.
Add your chicken stock or water and heavy cream (if you desire cream)-the amount of liquid should be enough to cover the squash by about one inch.
Add salt and pepper to taste and approximately one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes. 
Puree in a blender until smooth.
The consistency should be about half as thick as commercial ketchup.
I personally like my pureed soups to be a bit thinner as it gives it a more silky texture on the tongue but if you want a thicker soup simply add less liquid.
The pumpkin pie spice should not be the predominate taste.  This isn't a strong flavored soup like chili con carne for example, it is more delicate, for lack of a better way of putting it.

To garnish, I like to toast hazelnuts and chop them up

Happy cooking

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wine and food lessons

I have been very busy with the Thanksgiving holiday and other events so I am keeping my blogs a bit brief but will get back to doing more stories after the holidays.

Here is an experiment you can do at home to learn how different wines and foods work together.

Here is what you will need:

A glass of wine that you typically drink. Please note that for this experiment you should pick something that will most likely work together.  I wouldn't suggest picking Chardonnay if you are going to cook a piece of steak.

A piece of meat, chicken or fish that you like.

Glass of water.

Six types of condiments.  For example, if you are using a piece of steak have barbeque sauce, dijon mustard, horseradish, mushroom sauce, an Asian condiment like chili sauce and a lemon wedge.  This is just an example but I picked things that one may normally eat with steak. I picked six condiments but you can use more or less.

Take your condiments and pour a small amount of them on separate, small plates.

Cook your meat, chicken or fish then cut it into at least one more portion than you have condiments.  For example, if you have six condiments, cut your piece of meat, chicken or fish into seven pieces.

Take a taste of your wine. Then take a piece of the meat, chicken or fish and eat it plain.  How does it work with the wine? 
How can you tell if you food and wine are a good or bad pairing?  If you take a drink of wine, then eat the food, if you get a burning sensation in your mouth that is not good.

Rinse your mouth with water.  Take another drink of wine and taste it with a piece of your meat, chicken or fish with one of the condiments.  Note how different the pairing is.

Now repeat this process tasting the wine with a piece of your protein dipped in a different condiment and note how different the taste is.  This is how you learn and develop your palate.

Another way to do this is just the opposite.  Take a piece of meat for example and try it with six different wines. 

The ways you can try this experiment are endless but not only is it fun, it is also educational.  If you do this enough you will also learn that red wine does not always go with red meat and white wine does not always go with white meat such as fish.