Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Banana's Foster

OK guys, here is the deal on this recipe.  Girls, talk amongst yourselves and don't listen to this guy talk here.  OK guys.  We alone?  If you happen to get a girl you've been dating to be brave enough to come to your place for dinner, or even dessert, and you make this recipe...  It's almost a guaranteed trip around a couple of bases.  I won't guarantee a homerun here, but you can almost count on a double, and I mean a solid one.  No sliding into the base, or need for an umpire's ruling here.  OK, call the ladies back.  Girls, we were talking about sports, don't worry.  

2 large bananas sliced in half lengthwise and then in half widthwise (get a couple on the greenish side, they will hold up better in the pan.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup coconut rum

ice cream for serving

Place a saute pan on medium high heat.  Let it sit for a couple of seconds to bring the temperature of the pan up.  Add the butter, and and bananas flat side down.  Fry them until you see a caramel color develop on the bananas.  Turn the bananas over, and add the brown sugar to the pan, begin to slowly stir with your spoon to make sure the butter and sugar come together as best you can get them.  Add the salt, and cayenne, continue to stir until the butter and sugar mixture begins to bubble.  Stand back, and add your liquor.  If you have one of those long grill lighters, you can light it over the pan to flambe.  This is not necessary for any reason except the ooh and ah factor, which just might get you an extra base.  After the fire goes out, stir to combine and serve immediately over vanilla ice cream.  This is one of my wife's favorite desserts, I ended up married to her, so I guess you can say it was my biggest home run of all.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Why My Cooking Tastes Better Than Yours. Volume Three. Cookware.

OK, by now you are getting the message that I'm simply titling these posts the way I do to just get your attention.  Again I don't think I'm realy a better cook than you, blah, blah, blah.  Let's just get to the post shall we?

I will call this post Cookware.

Listen to me.  You have two choices here.  You can go out and pay about $100 or $150 for a set of cookware that will do a good job for about a year or two, or you can save up, spend $1000 and NEVER BUY ANOTHER SET FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!  Does a great set of cookware make any difference at all?  HELL YES IT DOES!  Does your dentist buy his tools at walmart?  Or if he did, would you really want him rooting around in your mouth with a seven dollar drill that just might shatter on your tooth?  Does a carpenter use tools that are made from cheap plastic or does he invest in Snap On or MAC tools that have lifetime warranties and are extremely reliable?  A good set of cookware is a tool, just like anything else, and it is something you are going to use every day.  It doesn't matter if you fancy yourself a great home cook or not, your tool chest will help you along your way to perfecting your abilities in your kitchen.  First things first.  Don't invest in a set.  You will get stuck with pieces you may not use, and not all pieces are made alike.  I strongly suggest you stay away from anything that says "coated, or non-stick, or anotized," in the description.  This stuff will, after time, come off in your food regardless of the price.  The only piece of non-stick I recommend it a small 8 inch fry pan to do your eggs in.  There are two basic groups you want to stay with, and don't stray from these.  Beware of celebrity chefware, I'm sorry, but Emeril does not cook with Emerilware, he uses allclad (which makes Emerilware as a low cost alternative) and he uses Le Crueset.  Just watch his show.  You want stainless steel for two reasons.  Allclad, and my personal favorite Viking cookware have aluminum cores.  For those of you afraid of Alzheimer's disease don't worry, the aluminum is inside of the stainless steel, and your food will never have any contact with the aluminum.  Allclad has 3 plys of aluminum, Viking has 7.  Aluminum is one of the best conductors of heat, and since these pots and pans are clad all across the bottom, and up the sides, you will have an even distribution of heat through-out the entire pot.  So no matter what kind of burner you have, you will not end up with any hot spots, which is very important.  The other thing about stainless / aluminum cookware is when you take it off the burner it begins to immediately cool.  When you are finished sauteing, you don't want your food to continue to cook after you are done with it.  This is a problem with other cookware.  Something that is perfect can end up burnt even after 2 or 3 minutes off the burner.  I suggest your fry pans, and sauce pans you buy in stainless steel.  Get a nice 11 inch fry pan, and a 1 quart sauce and a 2 quart sauce.  You can also invest in a saute pan if you do dishes that require browning, and then covering.  Stainless cookware can also go stovetop to oven, and does not have a plastic handle that can melt.  Stainless steel does not conduct heat (hence the aluminum core) so the handles will not get hot on the stovetop (they will in the oven though, so don't be a fool, and grab it barehanded out of a 400 degree oven, unless your name happens to be Clark Kent.)  

Next I suggest cast iron.  Now a good cast iron skillet is a beautiful thing.  Grandma's old black skillets are truly prized possessions, so if they are offered to you, take them with glee.  You never wash these, you simply wipe them out with a paper towel, rub some oil into them, and put them away.  Over time they develop a non-stick coating better than any teflon pan could every have.  This sounds gross, but culinarily speaking, any bacteria that could be on these pans will turn to cinders the moment that skillet hits the heat, so don't let your delicate sensibilities ruffle your tailfeathers.  Aside from copper (which you can't afford probably) cast iron is the best conductor of heat, and it's cheap.  For those of you who like cast iron cooking but don't want the responsibility of seasoning their pans, enameled cast iron is the way to go.  Now there are only two companies to buy from they are the original purveyors of this kind of cookware, and no one else can touch them.  Le Crueset, and Staub.  Both are French companies, and both have lifetime warranties.  A little old lady brought her Le Crueset pot into the Rolling Pin Cooking Store last year that she had been given as a gift for her wedding almost 50 years ago.  The enamel had begun to chip off the inside of the pot, and she wanted to buy a new one.  Rather than selling her one, the owner called Le Crueset customer service, and they sent her a brand new pot free of charge no questions asked.  They take their lifetime warranty very seriously.  The items you want would be a 7 and 1/4 quart dutch oven.  This is what you would do all your slow cooking in.  You can roast a chicken, pot roast, pork roast, Chili, etc.  You can even bake a loaf of bread in it.  Now cast iron retains it's heat very well.  A pot of chili will still be hot even an hour after you shut the heat off.  This is great for some things, and not for others.  A stainless steel dutch oven is not worth the money, you want cast iron every time, hands down.  You also may want a grill pan, or a skillet.

A cheap, thin, frying pan is just like throwing your food directly onto the burner.  There is no insulation between the food and the burner, and your meat, eggs, sauces, etc. are almost guaranteed to burn.  In a good Viking pan, you can heat the pan up, add your food, and get a great even browning without any worry about hotspots.  You will definitely see a difference.  

In Athens, you can get everything you need at the Rolling Pin in Beechwood shopping center.  Yes it's expensive, but it's worth the cost.  Spend the money, and be done with it forever.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Dumpling Making Experience

Place 1 tsp filling in center of Goyza skin

Bring centers together

Make 4 pleats in the side of the dumpling

Finished Dumpling

I have had some really exiting things happen to me in my life.  I've met Pavarotti, and shook his flabby sweaty hand while probably acting like a 16 year old girl meeting Brad Pitt.  He was actually kind of a jerk to me, but I didn't care, the man could do no wrong in my eyes at the time and he had just finished singing a beautiful concert in Miami where some friends of mine and I scored tickets.  I had been talking about nothing else but seeing Pavarotti for a whole week.  I stood in line for 3 plus hours for Star Wars episode one tickets with the same level of excitement I had when I was seven years old seeing the original for the first time.  How was I supposed to know my intelligence would be insulted by Jar Jar Binks the most irritating character of any movie ever made?  I still talked about nothing else but the premier of that movie for at least a week before hand.  My business partner Jeremy Hankins has told me that since he's worked for a long time as a wok chef he could teach me how to make Asian dumplings any time I wanted to learn, but when my buddy En-chi Anna Ho told me she wanted to teach me how to make her dumpling recipe, it was Pavarotti and Star Wars all over again.  I was exited about it all week, and was not disappointed for one second, because I got a double experience.  I GOT ANNA'S MOM TOO!  Sorry Jeremy, but there's nothing better than learning how to make truly authentic Northern Chinese dumplings from a woman that can only communicate with you with smiles, gestures, and a few shared words in English.  I'll never forget it.  I'm going to give you the gist of Anna and her Mom's recipe here without any embellishments on my part, but it's kinda hard to be truly accurate in my measurements by what I saw with my eyes since no measuring implements were utilized at any time during the event.  Here is my best guess.  This recipe makes wonderful chive dumplings.  We did vegetarian dumplings because a lot of her friends at her party were vegetarians, but I will include the meat option here as well.  If you want all vegetarian, just leave the meat out.  I will do this again later this week and try to upload some pictures to help you along the way.


2 cups finely chopped chives
2 cups finely chopped pork, turkey, shrimp, or whatever your carnivorous heart desires
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp white pepper
1 Tbsp minced ginger or powdered ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
pinch of salt

Seriously.  This is it.  Combine all ingredients in a big bowl, mix well, and set aside to stuff.  You should be able to get at least 50 dumplings out of this recipe I think, so one package of goyza skins should do it.  Get a small bowl of water.  Put one tsp of filling in the center of the skin, and with your finger trace a thin line of water around the edge of half the skin.  Do this so that the half moon of wetted wrapper is away from you.  Fold in half and let the centers come together.  On one side of the wrapper create 4 pleats and stick them to the other side.  Dumpling should stand up by itself.  Trust me, I will upload pictures.

In a pan on medium high heat, add a thin layer of oil, arrange the dumplings around the pan in the oil, don't worry about crowding the pan.  Your dumplings might stick, Don't touch them.  Let them fry for 3 minutes.  Add half a cup of water or possibly chicken stock if you have it.  Immediately cover the pan and let the dumplings steam cook the rest of the way, approximately 7 minutes.  The liquid in the pan will release the stuck dumplings from the bottom.  


1 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced scallions
1 tsp minced cilantro
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl.  Dip your dumplings and enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why my cooking tastes better than yours. Volume two. Herbs and spices, or the dead and dying!

Again, don't judge me from the title of this post.  I don't believe for a moment that I have more natural cooking talent that the next guy.  It's just that I have lived and learned in the kitchen more than most, and have some basic knowledge to pass on to those frustrated individuals who just can't seem to get their dishes to taste like they think their recipes should.  One cause of this dilemma might be what you use in your pantry.  Do you remember those jars of herbs and spices from that nice little spice cabinet you received back in 1967 when you married your husband?  The stuff that's still in those jars that might look perfectly fine is just as bad as using little pinches of King Tut to cook with.  It's dead.  It's mummified, and if it's all not totally dead, if you listen closely enough, you'll be able to hear the death rattle.  

Now this might be hard for you to believe, but the shelf life of dried herbs and spices is only about 6 months, AT THE MOST!  After that, the structure of what's in there begins to break down, and all the flavor begins to go away.  Now throwing this stuff away might seem like a waste, but it's no longer food.  Put it in your compost pile (I can't guarantee the worms will even like it.)  Here is another thing that's hard to believe.  The major spice manufacturers may not ship their inventory for a few weeks after it is made.  Why?  Well, they don't have enough orders to fill, so they keep stuff in stock to sell.  Also, your mega mart may have the same bottles of spices on their shelves for several days before you come to buy it.  All told, you may be purchasing spices that are already a month or two old.  Stay away from the bargain bins!  These have already expired.  Cheap yes, but you actually need twice the amount your recipe calls for if you want to truly draw out the real flavor profile your recipe calls for.  So what it the answer?  Most towns have an organic market with a bulk spice bin.  Buy your herbs and spices in small amounts and use old jars to keep them in.  After a couple months if you still have any left, toss it.  Throwing away a couple teaspoons of something hurts a lot less that a whole jar.

Now if you want to keep your spices longer, buy them whole and grind them yourself.  If you like cumin, buy whole seeds, toast them in a pan for a couple minutes, and put them in a spice grinder.  If you have a recipe that calls for chili powder, buy some real dried chilis and grind them yourself.  I'll post a wonderful recipe for that later.  Buy a microplane and grate your nutmeg (by the way, in large quantities nutmeg is a hallucinogenic.).  Cinnamon ground from sticks has much more flavor than the already ground stuff.  When purchasing cinnamon sticks, look for long sticks that are still malleable, the McCormick stuff is crap, don't use it.

Contrary to what people might say, dried herbs are not evil.  When I think of the Italian grandmothers who hang the abundance of herbs they grow in their gardens up to dry for the winter, I think, "Wow, there has to be a reason for this."  In many instances I prefer dried herbs over fresh.  They have a more pungent taste and aroma than the fresh, and are great in dishes that cook for long periods of time.  I tend to prefer fresh herbs to finish a dish.  They add a brighter flavor at the end.  Marinara sauce especially is a sauce made from canned tomatoes.  It's made traditionally from canned tomatoes because it is a wintertime sauce.  Sauce pomodoro is made in the summer.  Marinara to me cries out for dried basil over fresh every time.  I like to add the fresh on the top as a garnish when I serve it, but that deep robust basil flavor infused into the sauce can only really come from the dried stuff. 

The important thing to remember is to throw the old stuff away.  Be frugal in other ways, but don't subscribe to the theater of the bland by torturing your family and friends with herbs and spices that have lost their flavor.

Pizza on the Grill

Thai Chicken Pizza

It's grilling season again, and aside from the heat of summer, (of which I am not a fan, and what the hell am I doing living in Georgia?) grilling season is my favorite.  I love opening up a fine craft beer, sitting on my adirondack chair, and letting 500 degrees of searing coals send an envious wave of delectable smells into the air ducts of my neighbor's house.  Yes I BBQ too, which (for those of you who don't know the difference) means to cook a roast, brisket, chicken, rack of ribs, leg of lamb, etc., at a very low temperature over indirect heat (usually utilizing smoke) until the object is literally falling off the bone, or succulently tender just waiting for my Texas toast and sauce.  Do not get me started on grilling!

My other favorite food has got to be pizza.  Now in Athens, aside from a couple of places, (Namely Ferrandos Pizzaria), you cannot find a real authentic Italian style or New York style pie.  This is not to say that the pizzarias in Athens suck, I am all for corporate pizza when I'm watching the game, and I really like Depalma's wild mushroom pie.  There is fantastic pizza in Athens, but if we really want to go back to the roots of pizza in this country we have to go to New York.  In 1897 an Italian immigrant reinvented a Napoletana staple food into one of the worlds most eaten foods. New York City was the birth place of New York style pizza. During the year of 1905Lombardi's was licensed by the City of New York, becoming America's First Pizzeria.  (www.firstpizza.com) They still use their original coal burning oven to make the pizza, and it is truly the most perfect pizza I've ever had, until I started making it for myself ON MY FREAKIN' BACKYARD GRILL.

For truly authentic Italian pizza there are a couple of rules.  There is no such thing as a meat lover's pie, or supreme pizza where there are more toppings than crust.  Pizza is all about the crust, the toppings are an afterthought.  Usually on a really well balanced Italian wood fired pizza, there are only three or four ingredients.  Sauce (usually just olive oil and garlic, however tomato sauce is appropriate), cheese (usually sliced or balls of mozzarella, provolone, or even shaved parmigiano reggiano) one topping of your choice (pepperoni, prosciutto, calamata olives, etc.) and finally a fresh herb, (usually added after the pizza is cooked)  you can also add fresh chopped tomatoes, or other cold items after the pizza is cooked.  This balances cold and hot, fresh and crispy with salty and meaty, etc.  When doing pizza on the grill it's important to not overload your pie or it will end up not happy.

Next is this.  You want your grill hot.  You will be doing this pizza on direct heat, so get your coals ready, or turn your gas burners on high and get the space nice and hot.  You are going to want a covered grill for this.  If you don't have one, a nice wok lid will work great.  If you don't have one of those, well... make your pizza inside in the oven, and forget about this recipe.

For the Dough

1 packet of active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water (bathwater temperature)
3 cups of bread flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a large stainless steel bowl or the bowl from your trusty stand mixer, bloom your yeast with the water and sugar.  (blooming is the act of dissolving your yeast in warm water, and waiting for a nice froth to develop on the top.)  Attach your dough hook to your mixer, and add the flour, salt and 1 Tbsp of the olive oil.  Knead on low speed for 6-10 minutes.  The longer you knead, the more elastic your dough will be.  If you don't have a stand mixer, simply stir in your flour, and knead by hand for 10 minutes, allowing the dough to rest for a minute in the middle of the kneading process.  When the dough is kneaded, place in a bowl and toss with olive oil to completely coat.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit one hour.  After an hour, punch the dough down, and let it re-rise for another hour.


I love Italian sausage, especially the hot kind.  If you use any meat on your pizza that isn't cured (like pepperoni, prosciutto, etc.) you need to make sure and cook the meat completely before topping your pizza with it!  The total cooking time for this pizza is just around 4 minutes, so there is not enough time to actually cook raw meat.  If you happen to be a werewolf, don't worry about cooking your meat, you'll like it much better raw.

Prosciutto, as thinly sliced as possible makes a lovely pizza topping, as does pancetta (an Italian cured bacon).  Pepperoni is of course a staple, but hold out for a good one.  Nothing against the Hormel company, it's just that there is much better out there.  In other words, look for quality ingredients.  As my best friend in high school used to say, "don't marry the girl just because she'll put out, find one to bring home to Mamma!"  If you are shopping at a local mega mart, and don't happen to have a market in your neighborhood with a short, balding, squatty guy at the counter wearing an apron that talks in broken English, Boars Head actually makes a decent pepperoni; but the kind wrapped in wax paper hanging from the ceilings at a real Italian deli is the Pavarotti of pepperoni.  If they have a black pepperoni, get that too, but just eat it by itself with a nice baguette, block of cheese and fine Chianti.  I am Italian by the way, so my reference to Italian Americans is made with tremendous respect and admiration.

For cheese, my choice is smoked mozzarella.  It has the same very mild flavor as regular mozzarella, but with a hint of smoke.  Cut this into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Also provolone cheese slices are fantastic, but make sure you don't use meat that's too salty, otherwise you will overpower your pie with salt.  The rule is, the saltier the cheese, the milder the toppings, or the milder the cheese, the saltier the toppings.  If you want to use mozzarella cheese, PLEASE DON'T BUY THE GRATED STUFF IN YOUR CHEESE CASE!  If you want Dominos pizza, order Dominos for goodness sake, but if you're taking the time to make it from scratch, why create something that will taste the same as something that arrives at your house in 30 minutes or less and only costs you 5 bucks.  It's not worth the extra work involved.  Get real mozzarella, the kind packed in water, in balls.  I like the mini balls, and just toss a few of them on my pizza.  However the king is the real mozzarella di buffalo.  This cheese is made from the milk of water buffalos.  You can buy it, or find it on-line.  It's more expensive yes, but it's the best, and dammit, you deserve the best don't you?


My favorite is this.  Take a few Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and put them in a small saucepan on the stove.  turn on low heat.  Add 8 cloves of garlic, uncut, and 3 Tbsp white wine.  Cook until the garlic is mashed potato soft.  Add a liberal amount of freshly cracked black pepper and some french grey salt.  Smash the garlic into the oil with a fork, and baste liberally over your pizza.  YUM!

I also like a nice olive tapenade.  If you want to try something fun, use the peanut sauce I posted as my very first post with chicken, cilantro, and cheddar cheese for a Thai style pizza.


OK, finally.  This is it.  Take your dough, and divide it into 4 equal sized portions.  Roll your dough out about 1/4 inch thick, and brush one side with olive oil.  Place the oiled side directly on the grill, and don't touch it for two minutes.  watch for flare-ups.  After two minutes, turn the pizza over with a pair of tongs or a pizza peel, and be ready.  As soon as that cooked side hits the grill, top your pizza as fast as you can and immediately cover the grill.  Wait 2 more minutes.  Your pizza is now done.  Eat it with relish, and tell your friends.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why my cooking tastes better than yours. Volume one. Salt.

Does this blog title piss you off?  Don't worry, I don't think I'm a better cook than you.  This isn't a my food tastes better than yours does nah nah nah nah nah nah!  There are a few simple reasons why a trained chef's dishes might taste different or better than yours even while following the same recipe, and these blog postings are here to enlighten you.  Much of the reason might simply be your pantry, and what's inside of it.  So this posting is all about my favorite ingredient, and one of the most important of all ingredients.  Salt.  

You may not know it, but that dark blue container with the cute little girl on it is only good for about one thing.  Defrosting the ice on your steps.  I'm sorry, but Morton Iodinized Salt is not a great culinary ingredient.  Yes, it's salt, yes it tastes like salt, but not all salts are made the same, and once you learn the differences in their unique flavor profiles, the can of salt you have that hangs out in your pantry, and fills your salt shakers will hopefully become a thing of the past.

There are two categories of salts.  One to use during the cooking process, and the other is what we will call finishing salts.   Cooking salts have a deeper and more robust flavor, while finishing salts are meant to add just a little extra flavor to the dish, and are very light and mild in flavor.  Some can have a mineral flavor, some can have a very soft flavor.  For cooking I really like kosher salt.  When I'm seasoning meats like beef, pork or lamb, that's what I reach for.  Kosher salt is generally mined, and has a nice robust flavor.  When I'm seasoning fish, or poultry which has a milder flavor I like to use sea salt, which is a salt made from evaporating sea salt.  A heavy table salt like a kosher salt which generally has a larger grain than sea salt can overpower fish, and sea salt goes with fish well.  Perhaps using the salt from where a fish actually comes from might contribute to the harmony, since most commercial fish comes from the ocean, and not from a mine in the ground.  

For pasta water, soups, braising, grilling, etc., I use kosher salt on the first application.  I find that kosher salt when added to sauteing vegetables, onions, mushrooms, etc., will cause the liquid inside to evaporate a lot quicker than a sea salt.  This is important when you want to caramelize onions or mushrooms, since the quicker you can achieve a good browning the better.  Longer cooking times can turn your vegetables to mush rather than give it the texture you desire. 

When a dish is finished, and you are ready to season it a final time, that's when you use a lighter salt.  Sea salts are best for this.  Overly salted food can ruin a dish, and you can always add more salt, but you can't take it back.  My favorite is a grey sea salt from France.  You can find this in any whole foods, or most specialty gourmet shops.  Or you can get it online.


I also like fleur de sel which gets it's name from the aroma of violets that emerges as the salt dries.  It gives an incredible flavor to a dish, but can be very expensive.  It doesn't take a lot however.  If you are on a budget, just plain sea salt can be purchased at any mega mart, and gives a nice flavor for about $3 a container.

Please throw your iodinized salt away, and buy some kosher salt at least.  It will make a big difference in the flavor profile of your dishes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tropical Fruit Ketchup

Once you try this Ketchup, you will never eat Heinz again!

1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes in puree
1 medium onion chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cidar vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 soaked and seeded ancho chili
1 grilled mango
1/2 grilled banana

Puree tomatoes (with puree from can) in a blender until smooth.

Cook onion in oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, mango, banana, salt, and chili pepper and simmer, uncovered sirring occasionally, until very thick, about 1 hour.  (Stir more frequently towards the end of the cooking time to avoid scorching.)  Puree Ketchup in 2 batches until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids.) Chill, covered, at least 2 hours (for flavors to develop.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Turn your cooler into a warmer

Here is an old catering trick.  Warmers are very expensive, but you can create one very easily from a cooler, garden bricks and tea towels.  Here's how it works.  Go to Lowes, Home Depot or other garden supply store.  Buy 6 unglazed garden bricks for about $.35 cents a piece.  Wrap them in aluminum foil, and place them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, take your large cooler, and line the bottom with wet tea towels.  Place the hot bricks on top, and them another layer of wet tea towels.  At this point, you can add whatever you want to the cooler to keep warm.  I used this technique last year at Thanksgiving to give myself more oven space.  I baked off a couple of my side dishes early, and just put them in the warmer.  Believe it or not, this works like a thermos, and will keep whatever is inside warm for about 6 hours (if you don't open it too often.)  This is a great thing for tailgating as well.  For catering parties I like to use this warmer to keep dishes warm for plating, and keep sauces inside to clear the stovetop.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ragu alla Bolognese Nessun Dorma

I've called this Bolognese sauce "Nessun Dorma" for two reasons.  First being, "Nessun Dorma" is the meatiest, richest, and most decadent of all operatic arias, and this sauce is the meatiest, richest, and most decadent of all Italian sauces.  See the parallels?  Second is that "Nessun Dorma" is translated literally as "no one sleeps" in Italian, and if you eat too much of this bolognese, well... you get the message.  Bolognese is a dish that originated from Bologna.  I can almost guarantee many people who have tried Bolognese in many "Italian" restaurants have never really tried this sauce.  Most places break up a large amount of their meatballs, combine with their house marinara, and call it Bolognese.  EVIL!!!  Get thee behind me Satan!!!  To you demon spawn chefs who perpetuate this hideous lie I only say to you, SHAME ON YOU!  Call it "house meat sauce," or something that does not lower the name of one of the most perfect dishes of all time.  Bolognese is not a tomato sauce with meat in it, in fact it has very little tomato in it.  

This dish takes time to cook, time to prepare, and hopefully time to eat (if you savor it as much as I do), so plan a special day to make it.  Also, go to a butcher you like, and stay away from the mega mart meat cases.  If you have established a relationship with the butcher of your mega mart, all the better.  These guys want to work for you.  They are tired of doing the cuts for the masses, and love taking custom orders for people who are making special dishes.  Ask them if they have the trimmings left from the steaks they butchered earlier in the day, and get them to grind that.  Usually these are trimmings from ribeye, New Yorks, tenderloins, porterhouse, etc. and are a lot better than ground chuck.  Ask them to put it through the grinder 4 times so that you get a very fine grind.  Bolognese is much better if it is smooth rather than chunky.

3 lbs finely ground beef. (if you like the taste you can substitute 1 lb of ground lamb for one of the lbs of beef)
1/2 lb cubed pancetta (a cured Italian bacon found in the deli section of most mega marts.  Have your deli person slice the pancetta 1/4 inch thick and cut it into cubes.
1/2 cup finely chopped Mortadella (Italian Bologna) Optional
2 carrots finely chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
1 stalk celery finely chopped
5 cloves minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 12 oz can tomato paste
2 quarts beef stock
1 cup dry red wine
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry basil
2 Tbsp sugar
fresh cracked pepper
1 cup heavy cream

In a large dutch oven on medium heat, brown your pancetta and mortadella in olive oil.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and sweat for 3 minutes.  Add the beef, basil, oregano and continue to stir as it browns.  This step takes a while.  If you let the meat just sit without continuous motion you will get clumps, and you want a very smooth texture.  As it clumps, simply break them with your wooden spoon and keep going.  When the meat has browned, add the stock, tomato paste, wine, sugar, bay leaves, and pepper.  Let the sauce begin to bubble, and reduce heat to a low simmer.  At this point I would leave the salt out of the dish until it has had an opportunity to cook down a couple of hours.  As the sauce reduces, the flavors intensify, and if you salt it too early, you may end up with a salty sauce.  Remember, you can always add salt, but you can't take it back.  As sauce cooks, stir every ten minutes or so to avoid burning to the bottom or the pot.  If too much liquid is lost, simply add more stock.  After about 4 hours, taste the sauce and if it needs salt, add it.  At this point, stir in the cream and continue to cook another 10 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves, and serve with Rigatoni, or tagliatelle.  Garnish with plenty of parmesan cheese.  Enjoy

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pomme Frites or French Fries with Roasted Garlic Mayo

For those of you that say McDonalds has the best fries, this recipe may not be for you.  For those of you who call them "Freedom Fries," French fries come from Belgium and not France, so you're not as patriotic as you think and you look kinda dumb too.  The traditional condiment for Pomme frites is mayonnaise.  This is not Hellman's Mayo, but a homemade concoction of egg yolks, clarified butter or oil, cracked black pepper, garlic, perhaps Bourbon, and other yummies.  If you have a real order of pomme frites with a homemade tangy Belgian mayo, fast food fries will fade from your memory forever.  This recipe is more of a description of how these wonderful fries are made.  

4-5 large potatoes
4 - 5 quarts of oil depending on the size of your dutch oven
1 deep fry thermometer
sea salt

cut your fries to desired thickness.  I have a handy dandy French fry cutter, but I like them about 1/4 inch in thickness.  Put your cut potatoes in a large bowl, and cover them completely in cold water.  Refrigerate and drain the water every 3 hours.  If you can do this the day before, the fries will be better.  The water leaches out the starch from the potatoes and if you do this, you won't have gummy fries.  

Bring your oil to 300 degrees in a large dutch oven.  Drain and dry your potatoes, and add them to the oil in about 4 different batches.  A crowded fryer will bring the oil temperature down too much, and you want these fries to cook at a high temperature, otherwise the oil will soak into the potatoes and you'll have greasy fries.  When fries turn a nice blond color, remove them and let them drain on paper towels.  Let the fries cool completely.  After about an hour, turn the temperature on the fryer up to about 380.  Fry the fries again, this time letting them turn golden brown and crispy.  The second frying is imperative otherwise you will have soft limp fries and wonder why yours never taste the same way as the restaurants.  Salt the fries immediately and serve with the condiment of your choice.

Bourbon Roasted Garlic Mayo

3 egg yolks
1 cup clarified butter
3 roasted garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 shot bourbon
pinch salt

In a blender, add egg yolks, garlic, bourbon, pepper, and salt.  Turn blender on, and drizzle clarified butter in through the top slowly to create an emulsion.  Serve with pomme frites.  Many will argue that using clarified butter instead of oil makes this basically a hollandaise, not a mayo.  True, but the butter tastes better.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Another family favorite.  Use this as a condiment on a turkey sandwich instead of mayo or mustard and it will make your eyes roll back in your head.

2 cans artichoke hearts quartered
1 can cheap shaker parmesan cheese
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 block frozen spinach drained and wringed out in a tea towel
1 cup mayo
3 tbsp pesto (Classico makes one good enough for this dish)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
3 Tbsp melted butter

In a large bowl combine all ingredients except the panko and butter.  Put in a 9" by 13" baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with the panko and drizzle with melted butter.  Bake at 400 degrees until top is golden brown.  Serve with focaccia bread or pita points.  Enjoy!

Coconut Shrimp

I'm kickin' back in Corolla North Carolina at the outer banks, enjoying a very much needed vacation.  What do I do on vacation?  I cook of course.  Tonight I made a really good coconut shrimp.  This recipe was given to me by my partner Jeremy, and it kicked butt.  Using panko makes the shrimp really crispy.   I used the Mae Ploy brand of sweet chili sauce to dip them in. (I could bathe in that stuff.)  You can find this sauce in any asian market, or on Amazon.


1 lb jumbo shrimp 16 - 20 per pound peeled
1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and black pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup Coco Lopez or other sweetened cream of coconut 
1 egg
1/4 cup water
Oil to fry

Set up your deep fryer to 370 degrees, or put oil in a large dutch oven with a deep fry thermometer.  Set up fry station.

Combine cream of coconut with egg and water, whisk to combine.  Put seasoned flour in another bowl, and combine shredded coconut with panko and put in another bowl.  Dredge the shrimp in flour, then the cream of coconut mixture, then finally the bread crumbs.  Put in fryer basket 8 at a time and fry for 4 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Birthday

Today I am one step closer to 40.  I will not post today because I am protesting aging.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The World's Greatest Salsa

I don't know how traditional this salsa recipe is, but I love it for it's many different levels of flavor.  Salsa should be fresh, yet have deep undertones of warmth, not necessarily just heat, but something that makes you say "Hummm...."  I'm using chilis three different ways, fresh, roasted, and dried.  Also, I'm using roasted tomatoes and fresh tomatoes.  Trust me, this is worth the extra work

10 medium vine ripened tomatoes seeded
1 fresh jalapeno pepper minced
1 fresh poblano pepper
1 fresh chili habanero (optional) halved
1 dried ancho chili, soaked in hot water for 1 hour, seeds and stem removed minced
2 canned chipotle chilis + 1 tsp of reserved adobo sauce minced
1 small red or Vidalia onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
juice and zest of one lime
1 Tbsp tequilla
1/4 cup corn removed from cob (optional)
1/8 cup loose cilantro leaves roughly chopped
black pepper

In a cast iron skillet, add 5 of the tomatoes, and the poblano pepper.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and roast at 400 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes or until tomatoes have reached a caramel color.  Remove from oven and let cool in a bowl for 15 minutes.  Chop the remaining tomatoes up roughly.  Chop the roasted tomatoes.  Remove seeds and skin from the poblano pepper.  Chop into the bowl.  mince the onion and the garlic, add to the bowl.  Add the Jalapeno, ancho, chipotle, and the halved habanero (you might want to wear a rubber glove when handling these peppers, and for God's sake don't rub your eyes) Add the corn, cilantro, pinch of salt, and cracked pepper to taste.  Toss in the lime juice and zest and finish with the tequilla.  Let the salsa sit AT ROOM TEMPERATURE to allow the flavors to co-mingle.  After about an hour, remove the halved Habanero unless you want to play hide the Habanero with your friends and watch them squeal when they get it.  Serve with tortilla chips or as a condiment for fresh fish.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

This is one of the ultimate (and easiest) pasta dishes of all time.  I have to prepare emotionally to eat this dish because it can make me cry like a little girl it's so good.  This is also one of the worst dishes to order in a restaurant.  Most of the times I've ordered this dish at an "Italian" restaurant I've always been very disappointed.  If the word "cream" appears in the menu description, or your server says it, do not order this dish.  Most mediocre Italian themed restaurant make this dish by putting bacon together with their house Alfredo sauce and call it Carbonara.  This is evil, and the chef should be beaten with those very noodles he's trying to pass of as the greatest of Italian dishes.  Carbonara is the ultimate in Italian comfort food, and my wife is nuts for it.  This recipe is the real deal, and once you have it prepared this way, you'll probably never order it in a restaurant again.

Carbonara is a derivative of the Italian word for charcoal.  As legend has it, it was created as a hearty meal for coal miners.  Also as a tribute to the "Carbonari" a secret society partially responsible for the unification of Italy.  

1 Lb dry high quality semolina spaghetti
4 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves crushed and minced garlic
4 ounces Guanciale or Pancetta (Guanciale is hard to find unless you have a local Italian store.  It is a mildly cured bacon made from pig cheeks.  Pancetta is made from the belly just like normal bacon, but is cured, not smoked.)  If you like a smokey flavor you can use American bacon, but it won't be as good.  Pancetta can be found in the deli case in most mega marts.  Have them slice it 1/4 inch thick.
3 whole eggs
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (preferably Reggiano)
1/2 cup reserved starchy pasta water
generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper

In a large pot full of salted boiling water, add your pasta and cook till al dente (which means to the teeth, or still slightly chewy.)  If you don't know how much salt to use in your pasta water, the Italians say "come del mar" or "like the sea."  

While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce so it is ready as soon as the pasta is done.  You want the spaghetti hot so it actually cooks the eggs.  In a large skillet, add your olive oil and Pancetta cut into matchstick like strips called lardons.  While it is browning whisk together the eggs and parmesan.   When the pancetta is lightly browned, add the garlic, and 30 seconds later, add the cooked spaghetti.  Toss with the pancetta for about a minute or two or until every strand of that pasta is shiny with the oil and bacon fat.  (This is not a dish you want to make every day unless you have a crush on your cardiologist.)  Remove from the heat.  Immediately add the egg mixture right over the spaghetti stirring constantly or the eggs will scramble.  If you keep the pasta moving you will basically make a custard and not scrambled eggs.  Add the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce out, (it will resemble Alfredo in consistency but will be oh so much better!)  Garnish with a liberal amount of fresh cracked black pepper and parsley.  You can pass around more cheese for the top.  Don't add salt, remember the pasta water has salt, and so does the parmesan.

The French are the first to add cream to this dish.  They also have been known to add peas or broccoli for color.  I kind of like the peas, but the broccoli has to go.  The peas are not authentic.  If you want to be strictly authentic, stick with the original recipe.  ENJOY!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Shrimp Fra Diavolo (Devil's Shrimp)

This is one of my favorite Italian dishes.  I use this a lot when I cater.  The presentation is beautiful for family style dinners.  This is a dish with a ton of flavor, yet extremely simple.  If you want it spicier add more pepper flakes but not hot sauce, or the flavor profile will change.

For Shrimp
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb fresh jumbo shrimp (head and shell removed; leave tail for presentation)
1/8 cup hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot is best)
1/8 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 cloves crushed garlic
1 16oz can crushed plum tomatoes (San Marzano is the best if you can find it)
1 Tbsp dried basil
several fresh basil leaves julianned
1 Tbsp sugar
About 1 Tbsp fresh parsley

In a medium saucepan, heat a Tbsp of Olive oil.  Add garlic and quickly stir, (don't allow it to brown or it will be bitter.)  Add the tomaotes, sugar, and dried basil.  Reduce to a simmer.

In a large hot saute pan, add 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and Shrimp.  Season with salt pepper.  Let the shrimp turn pink and deglaze pan with White wine and Hot sauce.  Add the rosemary, lemon zest, and pepper flakes.  Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine.  Toss with linguine and serve garnished with fresh basil and parsley.  A few slices of lemon on the sides of the platter look nice as well.  Since this is a seafood dish I don't suggest serving it with cheese.  Enjoy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cream Cheese Icing

This is the world's greatest icing.  Spread it on carrot cake, red velvet cake, graham crackers, an old tire... Whatever.   Cake recipes will follow.

2 8oz packages of softened cream cheese
1 stick of unsalted butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

In your mixing bowl, put the softened cream cheese and butter.  Whip together until smooth.  Add the vanilla, and the confectioner's sugar one cup at a time (unless you like a kitchen full of powdered sugar.)  Put the mixer on low speed with every addition.  Finally put in the lemon zest.  If you keep the frosting at room temperature it will spread much easier.  Then refrigerate to set up after the cake, or tire or whatever is frosted.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Coq au vin (chicken in wine sauce)

This is the classic French recipe, I think at it's simplest form.  THIS IS REALLY EASY TO MAKE, DON'T LET THE LENGTH OF THE RECIPE INTIMIDATE YOU!  Feel better? This recipe was invented not for a hen, but for the rooster.  Yeah, when the poor old guy starts either shootin' blanks or shows no interest in the ladies anymore, the farmer had to figure out something to do with the old bird.  Now a rooster has a lot of connective tissue and it's meat is very tough, so a slow cooking method had to be employed.  A lot of that connective tissue breaks down into the sauce and gelatinizes.  The result is a rich wine stock that cannot be believed.  Where can one find a rooster to make the real thing?  Definately not at your local mega mart.  So we are using a roasting chicken here in this recipe.  If you have a friend that owns a farm, offer to cook his rooster for him and follow the instructions at the end of this recipe.  The difference is huge when you use the real deal.

for soak
2 cups dry red wine
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sea salt

1/2 lb high quality bacon, rind removed
20 pearl onions peeled (you can use frozen, but they are really easy to peel. drop the onions into boiling water for 40 seconds or so and the skin will slide right off.)
1 lg roasting chicken cut up into serving pieces or 3 lbs chicken parts fat trimmed but skin on
4-6 cloves of garlic
2 cups low sodium chicken broth (preferably homemade)
2 cups dry red wine (preferably the same kind of wine as in the soak)
2 bay leaves
several sprigs of thyme
several sprigs of parsley
1/2 lb button mushrooms halved
2 tbsp softened butter

Day one
Rinse your chicken and put it in a large zip top bag with all the ingredients for the soak.  Squeeze out as much air as you can so the chicken is completely surrounded by the wine.  Refrigerate overnight.  The soak can be skipped and you can just begin the recipe on day two if you like, but it won't be nearly as good, so I don't recommend it.

Day two
Remove your chicken from the soak and pat dry with a towel.  Yes the chicken will appear as if it has been dyed by the wine is places.  This is the intended result.  Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

Blanch your bacon to remove much of the salt.  Take your bacon and place it into a pot of cold water, bring it to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat, and drain.  Please don't skip this step or you won't be able to control the salt content of your chicken and it might be too salty.   Pat the bacon dry with a towel, and then slice it into matchstick size pieces, (the French call these lardons).  Place into the bottom of a heavy dutch oven and brown the bacon.  Remove from bacon grease and set aside.  KEEP THE GREASE.  Add your chicken to the hot bacon grease skin side down and brown.  Now this is important.  Turn on the fans, open the windows, but let some smoke come off that chicken, I mean really allow it to brown.  Not burn of course, but a rich caramel color is what you want.  Brown on both sides.  The dish will taste much better if you really get a good browning.  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Add the onions, and brown for about 5 minutes.  Remove the onions and add the mushrooms.  Brown the mushrooms as well.  A pinch of sea salt will help the mushrooms expel their water content a little quicker.   Remove the mushrooms.  There will be some fat at the bottom of the pot, and a lot of stuff that looks like burnt stuff you want to wash away before you finish.  THAT IS ALL FLAVOR.  KEEP IT!  While the fire is still on, add the 2 cups of red wine.  It should immedietely start to boil.  Scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula, all that yummy burnt stuff (The French call this stuff fond)  will dissipate into the wine.  Add the stock, Chicken, herbs, garlic and onions back to the Dutch oven, reduce to a simmer and cover to finish for approximately 20 minutes.  When the leg pieces seem to pull away from the bone slightly the chicken is done.  Remove the chicken, and with your tongs fish out the herbs.  Do not add any seasoning yet.  Turn the heat up to medium high and reduce the remaining cooking liquid by 75%.  This might take a few minutes, don't worry.  When the liquid has reduced, remove from heat and whisk in your softened butter, add the mushrooms, and add the chicken back in.  At this point, taste the sauce and if it needs salt, go ahead and add it a little at a time.  Remember with salt you can always add more but you can't take it back, so be careful.  Serve with a healthy amount of sauce ladled over the chicken and garnish with the crispy bacon and some chopped parsley.  This dish is sublime, so enjoy.  The best accompaniment is simply boiled egg noodles with butter and chopped parsley.  The chicken sauce will run into the pasta and flavor it as well.  

If you have a rooster, simply cook the bad boy longer and make sure it is at the lowest setting possible on your stovetop where you still see some simmering bubbles.  Cook for a full hour.  Then follow the rest of the steps.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Restaurant don'ts

As a chef that has cooked in some upscale restaurants, there are a few things we absolutely hate.  As soon as a perky server comes bounding through the kitchen door with a list of requests our evenings begin to deteriorate.  You may find your culinary needs cute and quirky, we find them downright offensive.  Remember how Sally ordered her lunch in "When Harry Met Sally?" Yeah, not cute or funny.  This is for finer dining establishments for the most part, at Applebys you can do what you want.  Here we go.

1. Do not under any circumstances bring your own sauces, salad dressings, or condiments of any kind into a nice restaurant.  I don't care if you don't have any taste buds left and that bottle of "Smack my Ass and Call me Sally" hot sauce is the only thing that will allow you to taste your Coq au vin, I don't want to see it or hear about it.  If you feel that eating our caramelized pear and Vidalia onion vinaigrette will mess up your "points" and you have your trusty bottle of low fat ranch dressing standing by, don't be surprised if you're wearing your ranch on your head.  This is fine dining, trust me, with all the butter that's in your food at these places that bottle of low fat whatever is like a fly on an elephant.  Just enjoy it, and don't eat like that every day.

2. Restaurants specialize in certain cuisines.  Don't go into an Italian restaurant that specializes in fresh pasta and tell the waiter that you are allergic to all glutens.  If you then begin to complain when your choices are limited please know.  WE DON'T CARE if you decide never to eat at our restaurant again.  Please don't!  In fact you can go and tell your "Non Gluten Eaters Unite" support group what service you got at that pasta restaurant you went to and maybe they won't darken our doorstep either.  If you can't have gluten, simply go to a steakhouse.  There, problem solved.  The only problem you might have is a crouton or two you can pick off of your salad. (Believe it or not this has happened to me on many occasions, and I've always wondered how people who seem to be intelligent enough to drive, dress themselves, and comb their own hair can have such a lack of common sense.)  If you are only at the pasta place because you are part of a group that doesn't care about your dietary needs, seek other friends!  If you are allergic to even the smell of shellfish, WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN A SEAFOOD RESTAURANT?!  If you are a militant vegan don't come into my French inspired bistro and sneer at my port wine glazed veal sweetbreads!  Better yet stay home and cook for yourself.

3. DO NOT ORDER THE DINNER SPECIAL AND THEN ASK FOR SUBSTITUTIONS!  A good chef designs, or agonizes over what he's going to make for a dinner special for a long time.  It is his passion.  He pours his soul and creativity into the process.  When you ask to not add this, or add that instead, you are basically telling the chef you are a better cook than he or she is, and you think his food isn't worth a crap.  (Chefs have egos.)  When these requests come back to the kitchen I've actually seen a chef throw a fry pan against the wall and crack the tile.  A mexican chef I know called a customer "porco dio" which means pig of god.  Remember, chefs serve, but they are not servants.  They have feelings.  Also, if a chef balances his flavors well, the substitution or removal of an item will throw off the whole flavor profile of a dish.  He made it the way he did for a reason, there's a good chance that the subtraction of an item will cause a dish to frankly, not taste well.  I have seen many a customer re-design a dish and not like the way it tasted.  Then they have the gaul to complain.  If this is you, make sure you leave in a group and don't pass by the kitchen back door on the way to your car.  If you don't think you like the way a dinner special sounds, don't order it and save everyone the pain.

4.  Your friends are not impressed by you if you treat your server like a sub-human.  Don't snap at your server, don't call them "honey", don't talk to them like you are a teacher and they are a kindergardener.  Don't run your server.  If you need a series of items, ask for them all at once, and not one at a time just to "make them work for their tip."  Trust me, they work.  As a server in a fine dining restaurant I wore a pedometer for a few evenings.  I averaged 25,000 steps per night.  If you take each step and figure each one is about 3 feet I walked almost 5 miles per night, on tiled floors in uncomfortable black shoes carrying trays.  Two hours after the restaurant closes, the wait staff is still there folding napkins, cleaning, sweeping, mopping. Many career servers require foot surgery in later years.  It is back breaking manual labor and deserves your respect.  I can't tell you how many guests returned after their party had left to give me an extra tip because their host was a jerk. 

5.  Have an open mind and heart when you go out to eat.  Dine with a spirit of enjoyment, and anticipate the best from your experience.  Yes, I've eaten a few bad meals, even more mediocre ones, but the good ones have far outweighed the bad.  Yes, you'll have a few lousy meals as a diner.  Don't throw a tantrum about it, just don't go back.  Usually the bad places will fail sooner or later.

The Greatest Meat Marinade of ALL TIME!!!

A lot of these items have to be found at an Asian market, so if you don't have one, you'll probably have to order it online.  Sorry about that.  This is great for beef, pork, and chicken.  I even use this marinade mixture thinned out with a little pineapple juice for a spicy lo mein sauce.  Enjoy

1/2 cup Korean chili paste
1/2 cup Kecap manis (a sweet indonesian molasses soy sauce)
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
3 scallions finely chopped both white and green parts

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir together.  Marinade beef and pork overnight, chicken for about 6 hours.  Grill your meat and experience the love!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pisco Sours

Wikipedia: Pisco is a South American Liquor distilled from grapes. Developed by Spanish settlers in the sixteenth century, it takes its name from the conical pottery in which it was originally aged, which was also the name of one of the cites where it was produced:  

This is my favorite drink, and is the national drink of Peru.  My friends Billy and Shannon introduced me to this flavorful cocktail last year after a mission trip to Peru.  Be careful, enough of these will knock you on your butt!

1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
8 oz Pisco (can be purchased at most major liquor stores)
2 1/2 oz Key lime juice, or fresh lime juice
1 egg white
double the volume in ice

Bitters to garnish

in a saucepot melt the sugar and water together until desolved.  Set aside and let cool.  Put the sugar simple syrup in blender with the remaining ingredients and liquify.  The egg white will make a wonderful froth on the top.  (use a pasteurized egg if worried about bacteria.)  A splash of bitters on the top adds another level of flavor and is very traditional.  Drink, enjoy.