Monday, November 30, 2009

Comforting Chicken

As it gets deeper into fall, I like to make straight forward meals that don't take much time to prep and toss in the oven. I want something that fights off the cold and lets you enjoy the soothing flavors, like grilled rosemary and olive oil, or the filling heartiness of potatoes.

This chicken bake is quick and easy and hits all of those savory notes without much effort. You get the lovely feeling of crunchy chicken skin as well as the moisture of dark meat, the filling feeling of boiled and roasted potatoes mixing with tomatoes and olive oil. It's almost guiltless comfort food and you can (and should) serve the meal directly from the roasting pan on the table.

All in all the meal takes 45 minutes to cook, but most of that time is waiting for the goodness to come out of the oven.

6 chicken thighs - de-boned
2 pounds small potatoes
8 cloves of garlic
4 whole tomatoes or 2 14 ounce cans of tomatoes (drained and rough chopped)
4 sprigs of rosemary
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash potatoes and boil in 2 quarts of water for seven minutes. Once you are able to squeeze and burst a potato with a pair of tongs easily, drain and roughly tear them up with your fingers and place in your 13x9 baking pan.

Thoroughly wash and de-bone chicken thighs and pat dry. After all of the chicken has been cleaned and dried, roughly chop into chunks around two inches and place in a large bowl. Pour one tablespoon of olive oil over chicken and toss lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a skillet (I prefer stainless for a better browning process) and cook chicken skin side down for three minutes and then flip for another few minutes. You don't need to cook it all the way through, just create a good sear for the skin. Drain on a cooling rack. Once cooler to the touch place in your baking pan.

With the tomatoes you have two options -- blanching or using canned.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, blanch them to remove their skins. To blanch you will need to cut an "X" on the top of each tomato and place them in boiling water for one minute. Immediately remove the from heat and into a container of ice cold water. The skins should come right off. If they don't, use a paring knife and carefully remove the stubborn skin.

If you're going the simple route, open the can and drain the excess juice out.

With either approach you'll be roughly chopping them and placing them into you baking pan. Peel and coarsely chop your garlic and rosemary and also toss into the pan. Pour the remaining olive oil over the mixture and toss with your hands.

Bake for 30 minutes and enjoy. Pair with a tossed salad or mixed greens.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Seared, Sizzling and Satisfying

When you think of a steak, what comes to mind? A seared top and when you cut into it, you see that warm and juicy pink center.

Everyone says that they can make a steak but rarely does this come to fruition. It's really because people often try to add too many things and end up taking away from the meat itself. How many times have you seen something like this on a menu: rosemary infused, balsamic threaded or some other dreadful thing the chef came up with. In the end you spend the money and time to have a well prepared piece of meat cooked to your liking and paired with something that compliments the aforementioned steak.

Simple is always going to be better. Remember this. If you go to a friend's house and they try to shove garlic in the meat, or pound the steak for "tenderness," walk away and save yourself the pain to follow. The only thing that should be asked is how pink would you like the steak.

So how do you get to this magical place of meat bliss? You only need four food related items: a thick (an inch to an inch and a half) cut of NY Strip, olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and an oven proof skillet and tongs.


3/4 pound NY Strip, roughly an inch and a half thick
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Kosher salt
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper

Side Dish
1/2 pound of butternut squash, peeled and rough chopped
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel butternut squash and roughly chop into similar sizes for even cooking. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and cook for 30-40 minutes.

After thoroughly defrosting your steak, lightly squeeze it together to create more height. This action will give you greater control of doneness. Keep this in mind when buying your steaks as it's worth the money to go bigger not necessarily wider. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a plate. Sprinkle and press 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 tablespoon of pepper on steak and then repeat on the other side. It may look like too much seasoning but remember that some will fall off during the cooking process. Coat each side of the steak in olive oil and place in a preheated, oven proof skillet.

Cook on each side for three minutes. Do not touch nor move it around. Just let it cook and create a good sear. Once you have seared the meat, place in the oven with the butternut squash. Cook for another 10 minutes for medium rare.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Beautiful Simplicity of Fall

As we get deeper into fall, the food gets easier to cook as we all just want something filling, warm and savory to make us feel better. I love that really all it ever takes is a few ingredients and time. So with five ingredients and 45 minutes, I've put together a meal that recalls many of the things I love about this season -- crispy and savory skin on a moist bird, hints of heavy flavors with the herbs and the sweetness found in corn, oh and butter.

Have a go at this recipe.

2 1 1/2-pound Cornish hens, rinsed and patted dry
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp crumbled dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sweet corn


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons of the butter with two tablespoons of sage and the salt. This is made far easier by letting the butter come to room temperature first. Resist the urge to pop the butter in the microwave or put it on the stove top. Believe me on this. The mixture should still have some resistance to it.

Loosen the skin covering the breast meat on each hen by slipping your fingers under the skin and sliding them between the skin and the meat. It'll feel a bit weird to be lifting the skin up but its' all worth it once you get in there. Be careful when you're doing this because you don't want to tear the skin.

Once you create some loose space under the skin of the hens, break up the butter mixture into equal portions and begin filling in the space underneath. Be sure to spread the butter out underneath the skin and get in as many spaces as you can. Afterwards season the hens with salt and pepper. If you'd like you can tie each hen's legs together with kitchen string. I don't find this step needed but some cooks really enjoy this presentation piece.

There are two options at this point.

If you have a large enough ovenproof skillet, you can heat the remaining butter and and sage sear the hens with the breast side up for one to two minutes and then place the skillet in the oven.

If you do not, heat butter and sage in a skillet and brown the hens one at a time (depending on space restraints) for one minute and then transfer hens to roasting pans with all of the juices.

Once the birds are in the oven, cook for 45 minutes. You should baste the hens in their juices every ten minutes. Continue to monitor the temperature until it reaches 180 degrees at the inner portion of the thigh.

I prefer using a steamer to prepare vegetables. Just keeps everything moist and it's just easier. Pop that corn into a steamer and cook for 12 minutes. Once done, place on plate and cover in some of the juices from the hens. The sage butter will really boost the flavor of the corn.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bringing Back the Brussels

Thought it was time that Brussel sprouts made an appearance on the table but I know that many don't really fond memories of them. What to do? Well I figured why not cover them in nature's elixir? BACON! You know when I think about it, there's nothing I wouldn't eat if it were coated in bacon grease and cooked again.

I also needed something to pair with these morsels of goodness but didn't want to take away from the this star side so I balanced it out with shrimp in a butter tarragon sauce over couscous.

It's a great meal and isn't too heavy.

Whatcha Need

10-12 medium shrimp (de-veined and shelled)
4 cups whole Brussels sprouts
1/2 package of bacon (Center Cut is really the way to go)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 package couscous
4 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp tarragon
Salt and Pepper

Whatcha Do With It

Clean and shell the shrimp. If you can find fresh shrimp in your area, all the power to you but if not, you know that frozen is just as good. Actually it's better as most fisheries freeze them right off of the boat and seal in the freshness and you can use the amount at your leisure, but I digress. Once cleaned, place in a bowl, cover and place in fridge.

Fill a large saucepan with 2 cups of water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook them for about 8 minutes. Remove the sprouts from the heat, drain, and then chill them in the refrigerator. Slice the sprouts in half when they have cooled.

While this is going on, boil 2 cups of water. Once it begins to boil, stir in your couscous, cover the pan and remove from heat.

Rough chop the bacon and render over medium heat until it is done. Discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat and grease from the pan, leaving the 2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a skillet or wok and then melt 2 tbsp of unsalted butter with tarragon and toss in shrimp until done. This should take roughly 7 minutes. Fluff couscous and place shrimp atop with Brussel sprouts on the side.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Feeling a bit like Fall

The temperature decided it was time for a change and let us all know by blowing out the badness of the late summer heat and left us with the briskness of Fall. With each degree drop, i thought oh yes it's almost that time again. The time when butternut and pumpkins come out and beg to be roasted, chopped, mixed into tasty treats to fill you right up.

Get ready to make your home smell like the holidays!

14oz butternut squash, skin on, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 1/4 cups light soft brown sugar
4 large free-range or organic eggs
sea salt
2 1/2 cups plain flour, unsifted
2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon - I prefer grinding down a stick in my coffee grinder.
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
A handful of walnuts

zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ a lemon
1/2 cup soured cream
2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out

Get your oven preheated to 350°F. You can either go with pre-lined muffin/cupcake cups or a muffin tin. I also love using mini muffin pans for parties as these bite sized portions are really irresistible.

Pulse the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. As I don't have an commercial size processor, I transfer this my mixer. It makes things far easier in my opinion. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts (if you want), cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. You may need to pause the machine at some point to scrape the mix down the sides with a rubber spatula. Try not to overdo it with the mixing – you want to just combine everything and no more.

Fill the paper cases with the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife right into one of the cakes – if it comes out clean, they’re done. If it’s a bit sticky, pop them back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

As soon as the muffins are in the oven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Remember to taste this mixture and correct the mix accordingly. Set in your fridge to chill until your muffins are ready to bathed in this tastiness.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thai'ing One On

My wealthy and beautiful benefactor wanted something light on the menu and I suggested the nice combination of a hot and spicy Thai soup. She smirked and challenged me to see what I could come up with without heading out to the store for more supplies.

Thankfully I'd already made a run and came back with my trusty weapon against colds -- Tom Yum paste. If you don't have any, you need to head out to your local Asian market and grab some. You'll be hard pressed to find any in the "Asian" section of your local grocer as they tend to stock those "Thai Dinner" blends and well these work for some; I just choose to go with something a bit closer to the core of the dish I'm trying to create.

Just so you know, this sop cooks up in less than ten minutes and actually takes longer to prep than to make.

Once you start making this, you may never get sick nor order it at a restaurant again!


2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
10 shrimp, de-veined, shelled with tails removed
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced finely
1 large carrot, cut into sticks or grated lengthwise
1 zucchini, cut into sticks
1 cup of broccoli, cut into florets (small pieces)
2 tbsp of Tom Yum paste
3 cups boiling water
1 cup of coconut milk
2 ounces wide rice noodles
2 limes sliced in halves
3/4 cup of bean sprouts (optional)
4 tbsp cilantro (optional)

(Substitute for Tom Yum paste - 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste with 4 cups of vegetable broth.)


Start by cleaning shrimp. Anyone that knows me, already is reaching for that bag of frozen shrimp and setting them in a bowl of room temperature water. For everyone else, you can either clean the little fellas from the grocery store and set them aside.

For the veggies -- I like grating the carrots into long strands as opposed to chopping them into sticks as I've found that they cook faster this way and really this soup doesn't need a firm texture/feeling. This is all about subtle spice and comfort with all of the items being slightly firm but not crunchy. I like using a mandolin to slice the zucchini into ribbons to keep everything small yet uniform. I also rough chop the broccoli to ensure that everything cooks quickly.

I prefer using two woks. I have a smaller one for the majority of my stir frying and a larger one (with a handle) for soups. This may sound excessive but anyone that's been using a wok for awhile can attest to the heat levels being higher when cooking and plays well with these soups and grilling methods.

In the larger wok (or pot) get the three cups of water going to a boil. While this is happening, heat oil and cook the onion and garlic in the other wok for ~ 2-3 minutes.

Once the garlic starts to brown, add the carrot, broccoli and zucchini and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

As the water reaches a boil, stir in 2 tbsp of Tom Yum paste in and combine well. Once the paste has mixed completely, add rice noodles and coconut milk. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Combine vegetables into broth and shrimp. Cook for another 3 minutes or until done. Be sure to remove from heat just as the shrimp turn pink as prolonged cooking will make the shrimp too tough.

Here you can decide to toss in cilantro and/or bean sprouts just before serving or serve as is.

Provide limes to cut the spice of the soup and enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Everything's Better With Bacon

1 Package of Wheat Angel Hair
1/2 Pound Shrimp
1 Pound Swiss Chard
1/2 cup mushrooms - diced
1/2 Pound Bacon
2 tbls of Unsalted Butter
2 tbls Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic Powder
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Last week, I'd jumped back in the kitchen and whipped up a fresh and easy pasta dish with bok choy and bamboo. It was good, filling and yet I knew that it needed something. It needed extra flavors to take it to where it really needed to be. Enter my two favorite things in the refrigerator - bacon and shrimp.

Normally all that's needed is one of these heavyweights, but when you bring them both to the party, it's like well bacon and shrimp. No need to get all pretty with language. It's frigging shrimp and bacon. Since i was dressing this up, I also decided to swap out the bok choy's delicate flavors for something that wanted to take part in this forbidden dance -- Swiss Chard. I know, I know the Swiss are known for not wanting to get involved in disputes, but should not forget that what they do, they do well. Chocolate, banking, watch making and chard.

The bitterness of the chard is a welcome compliment to the rich flavors of the shrimp, bacon and butter and we also need some foliage to assist in digestion so it's a win win!

So off we go.

Boil pasta to package specifications.

Clean and shell shrimp. I often grab big bags of frozen shrimp from the mega mart. They are flash frozen and really who has the time to run off to the store all the time? So run these under cool water to defrost. Shell them, cover and set aside.

I admit that this sounds strange but when I saw my idol, Alton Brown, do this the other day I couldn't do anything but laugh and shake my head. If you happen to have a waffle maker, you'll get a kick out of this -- cook your bacon in it. That's right. You take that half pound of bacon, slice those long strips in half and place them in the waffle maker. It's just like using a panini press except smaller. Turn it on medium, toss those bad boys on and wait for the sizzle. It should really only take three to four minutes to cook.

Once done set on a paper covered plate to drain. One great thing to appreciate about this method is the lack of grease flying everywhere and the easier clean up. Roughly chop once all of the pieces are cooked and dry. Set aside.

Now grab your chard, lay the leaves on top of each other, cut off the stems at the base of the leaf, roll into a cigar and then slice thinly (chiffonade) and throw into your salad spinner to clean. It could take a few whirls to get all of the dirt out so be patient. Pre-heat a wok or large skillet and insert butter, olive oil, mushroom, greens and garlic powder.

Toss together until greens wilt and soften, roughly four minutes. Remove from heat and place in a bowl for later. using the same wok/skillet, cook shrimp with a bit of salt and pepper. There should still be reside of butter and olive oil in the pan to help with the browning process. Throw in bacon pieces and toss again and then add greens and thoroughly combine.

By this time the pasta should be ready to go. Again, plating is up to you but I prefer to have the majority of the creation atop and in the middle of the pasta.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Keeping It Simple

It seems like it's been forever since the kitchen's been open. We've had a lot going on with the loss of one the inspirations for the restaurant on the whole. We are almost back to getting the place open everyday again but it'll take some time. Tonight thought, I wanted to keep things even more simple than i normally do and also wanted to cook something I know that she'd love.

1 Package of Wheat Angel Hair - any thin or small, ribbon pasta would work
1 Pound Bok Choy
1/2 cup Bamboo Shoots - Normally found canned in the Asian section of your grocery store
3 Cloves of Garlic - diced
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 Baguette - Sliced on a angle and roughly an inch wide
2 tbls of Unsalted Butter
2 tbls Olive Oil
1 Cup of Freshly grated Parmesean cheese.

Boil pasta to package specifications.

Melt 1 tablespoon on unsalted butter. I use a microwave but you can just as easily use a small pot. Dice one garlic clove and mix into melted butter. Slice your baguette and drizzle the melted butter and garlic mixture. One teaspoon is more than enough. Cover each piece with Parmesan and set on either your broiler pan or on your toaster oven pan. Broil for 10 - 12 minutes. Be watchful as it only takes a second to go from tasty goodness to charcoal.

I love using bok choy as it's as versatile as spinach and basil put together. Instead of steaming or grilling it, I decided to pull the individual stalks from the base, lay them on top of each other and then roll just the leafy portions together and slice them into ribbons. If you want to use the white stems feel free, but I prefer to get the crunch from the thin bamboo shoots.

Doing this allows for more freedom to use this vegetable going forward but I just tossed these into my salad spinner and set aside. Dice two of the the garlic cloves and saute them lightly in a wok (or large non stick pan) with a tablespoons of butter and the olive oil. Just as the garlic begins to brown, carefully introduce the bamboo and freshly washed and dried bok choy. Toss together until greens wilt and reduce to a third of original size.

By now your pasta should be just about done. Drain it and decided what you'd like to next. You have two real options from here -- toss the mixture and pasta together or go for presentation by placing a serving in the middle of the plated pasta.

Either path you choose, it'll be loved by your patrons.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Feeling Fishy

For some reason, people are always afraid of fish. I don't get it. You rarely do you need a lot of ingredients to make a tasty meal and it's normally healthier and faster to make.

Maybe it's the smell or texture that throws people off but here's a simple recipe with a fish that is thick like a steak and doesn't really have that smell.

What's Needed:

2 5oz Yellowtail Steaks
1 medium cantaloupe, peeled and seeded
1 cup yellow sweet corn
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons Olive oil

What Do You Do?

Wash and clean Yellowtail steaks and pat dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides and lightly spray with olive oil. Set aside. Cut cantaloupe in half and slice into thin slivers, 1/4 inch if possible.

Steam corn for 7 minutes. Do not boil or you will lose a majority of the crunch and sweetness of this wonderful vegetable.

While you are steaming, heat your skillet with olive oil. Just before it begins to smoke, place steaks in pan. Do not touch them once they are down. Just let them be. I know you may be tempted to check but no, let them cook for 4 minutes on each side.

Plate and serve.

A Bit of Sweetness

With the summer upon us, I thought why don't we break out something special for one of Jake and Ed's favorite patron's birthday? So I went to the cupboard looked around and then it happened. Well really I heard some D'Angelo on the radio and for those that know all he said was "Brown Sugar babe, I gets high off your love/I don't know how to behave."

Well that locked it down for me. What more can you can say about love and cooking. And thus we all enjoyed the beast that this wonderful mix of sugar, a bit of butter and a whole lot of love.


Pound Cake
1 cup softened butter, plus 2 tablespoons melted
2 1/3 cups of firmly packed light brown sugar
6 eggs
3 cups of sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of yogurt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/3 poppy seeds (optional)

Peach Frosting
1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 cup peach preserves
1/4 cup peach yogurt
1 pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups of sifted powdered sugar


Preheat your oven to 325. Grease up a 10" bundt pan with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

In your mixing bowl, cream 1 cup of softened butter and add sugar. Continue to mix this until it becomes lift and fluffy. This should take about ten minutes on high. Don't forget to keep scraping down the sides to allow for thorough mixing. After everything is light continue to mix and add 1 egg at a time. Continue until all eggs are mixed.

In another bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add 1/3 of flour mixture to batter at a time. After first portion, add 1/2 cup of yogurt. Alternate portions until flour and yogurt are completely mixed. Stir in vanilla and poppy seeds if you choose to use them.

Pour batter into your greased pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check for doneness with a knife. If it comes out cleanly, then you're good to go. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

While cooling, it time to make the frosting.

In a small bowl cream 1/2 cup of butter until smooth. Add the 1/4 cup of preserves, 1/4 cup of peach yogurt and salt. Beat on high until smooth. Reduce speed to low and begin adding powdered sugar in sections until all of it is blended. Spread it on over a cooled cake.

For those purists, go without the frosting. Actually the frosting itself is wickedly tasty, but you would be fine going without it. So save this frosting recipe for something else, maybe a lemon cake! Either way, just make this and you'll know exactly what D'Angelo meant.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Quick Pasta Salad


1/2 pound of pasta (Half a box) - I prefer Rotini or Fusilli
2 garlic cloves
1/2 container of extra firm tofu
3 zucchini
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Feta cheese (optional)
Green and Black Olives (optional)

In a large pot, season water with olive oil and salt and bring to a boil. Cook pasta roughly 7-8 to al dente, drain and set aside.

While this is going on, thinly slice the garlic into chips. No need to dice the garlic as you want the pieces to crunch nicely in the salad. Also scrub and rough chop the zucchini and tofu into sizes roughly the same size as the pasta you're using.

In a skillet, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil and bring to medium high heat. Once the oil is ready, slowly introduce the zucchini and toss until cooked through. This should take no more than three to four minutes. Remove from heat, place in a large mixing bowl.

In the same skillet, place another tablespoon of olive oil in and heat with the slivers of garlic. Once the garlic starts to darken, slowly introduce the chopped tofu and cooked for four mintues. At this time return the zucchini to the skillet and mix everything together. Cook for another couple of minutes.

Blend this mixture into the cooked pasta and drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Options for this meal are the inclusion of feta cheese and/or chopped olives. If you chose either route, reduce the amount of salt.

Can be served warm or cold.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fridays are More Fun with Dip

After a long week, some of my patrons just said that they needed something comforting to start the weekend or they'd be forced to open too many bottles of their weapon of choice. At the very least I could provide something to coat their stomachs before the madness began.


* 1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach
* 11/2 cups artichoke hearts - I prefer the jars of marinated artichokes
* 6 ounces cream cheese
* 1/4 cup light sour cream
* 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 Sourdough bread bowl
* tortilla chips (if desired)


Boil spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water until tender and drain. Discard liquid. Heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft.

Pulse in rest of ingredients in food processor and serve hot.

I prefer inserting a small bowl in the center of the bread to allow for easier heating.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Handheld Fun

Sometimes dinner is just meant to be fun and that's all it was today. Gliders, sliders, whatever you'd like to call them, I made handheld goodness made from ground turkey. No need to act like it's anything more than that. Let's get to it!

1 pound of ground turkey
1 bag of King Hawaiian dinner rolls
2 teaspoons of garlic salt
1 small onion
1 1/2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
salt and pepper
sweet relish
mozzarella cheese (optional)

how they came together
Dice onion and place in a small skillet with butter. Slowly grill onions until slightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, place turkey meat, garlic salt, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper together and knead together. Lightly pat meat into three inch wide patties and cook for two to three minutes on each side. One thing to remember when cooking these or any NOT press down. No matter how much you want to hear that sizzle, just don't do it. The more you do the drier the meat will be.

Once the meat is done, you can begin the meat delivery system. Take your dinner rolls and tear them in half. On the bottom half place one spoonful of grilled onions and then place patty on top. On the top portion, place one spoonful of sweet relish and lettuce.

Bring it together and enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Feeling Eggy

I went to the market and for some reason these wonderful brown eggs caught my eye. I mean really, how many times do eggs get noticed for anything other than something that comes out of a chicken's butt? Especially when it's not breakfast time but they called to me today.

I started looking around and saw my usual suspects of bell peppers (I'm so in love with their sweet crunch that I would marry them if i weren't already spoken for), potatoes and cheese. I held them in my loving arms and they said something different with us. We don't want to just be used in big tortilla or a quesadilla.

I looked down and thought, why the fugg are these vegetables talking to me, but I knew that they were right. They deserved more than the same ol same ol and so did my customers. So back I went to the kitchen with my booty and tried to come up with something different but all I kept hearing was tortilla, tortilla, tortilla. I wasn't going to break out anything flour nor corn related and then I understood....Spanish tortilla is what I was hearing.

Simple and still palatable to my customers. I knew that this would be a success but I still needed something else cause I bought far too many eggs (they were talking to me and said that they didn't want to be at the market anymore). I decided to go with something I hadn't made in years..."deviled" eggs, but since I'm an Atheist I call them simply "Eggs & Cheese."


olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and rough cut
4 scallions
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
6oz potato, boiled , peeled and diced
3.5 oz of sour cream (you can easily use light as the cream is more for texture)
6 large eggs
6oz cheese - I prefer Parmesan
Salt and Pepper


Preheat your oven to 375 and grab your baking pan (7x10) and line it with foil and then with brush olive oil and set aside for a bit.

Drizzle some olive oil in your skillet and toss in your garlic. Let this crisp up and just as it's turning brown put your bell peppers in with the scallions. Slowly cook these down, roughly ten minutes . Please remember to toss lightly or stir to avoid burning. Once the peppers and onions have softened, remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl the eggs, sour cream and cheese together. Stir in the cooled vegetables and pour into your baking pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown on top. Once puffed and set in the center, remove from oven and let cool.

This is what's wonderful about using foil as a a cutting board on top of the pan and invert. Peel off the foil and cut in two inch squares.

Serve either on toothpicks as an appetizer or with a green salad or tossed greens as a meal.

Eggs & Cheese

6 hard boiled eggs
3 tbsp of grated Manchego or cheddar
2 tbsp of light mayonnaise
2 tbsp snipped chives
salt and pepper

Straight forward comfort food.

Slice hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise and use a spoon to remove in a bowl with the mayonnaise, chives and cheese. Place egg white halves on a plate and mix yolk mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture back into egg halves and serve immediately or chill.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cajun Shrimp Skewers

After an up and down week in the kitchen (Monday was a seared beef with Chinese spinach, Tuesday ended up a wash, Wednesday was a mussels kinda day and Thursday was Flamenco Eggs) I had to close the kitchen down with something in line with my philosophy. Good and simple.

Paired down food that does exactly what food should in my opinion -- delight and comfort you. So I decided that I would go with a meal that has simple ingredients that don't need a lot of attention but if you give it to them, they sing arias in your honor.

Enough talk....

  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 drops hot pepper sauce


Before you even think about dealing with the ingredients, check if you are using metal or wooden skewers. If metal move on, if wooden is your skewer of choice then grab 8-10 and inspect them for breaks.

After you gently run your fingers over them and find them to your liking, soak them in water. I'm talking completely submerge them and set them aside.

Now you can combine everything but the shrimp in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the shrimp in a large resealable plastic bag; add half of the marinade. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting.

There is another way to approach this if you're like me and don't always plan one to two hours ahead. Instead of the long marinades, I just
go with my FoodSaver and force the action when and where I can.

This cuts the time needed from 1 -2 hours to 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the Cajun butter ingredients; heat until butter is melted. Keep warm.

Drain and discard marinade from shrimp. Thread shrimp onto eight me
tal or soaked wooden skewers. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 2-4 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink, basting once with reserved marinade. Serve with Cajun butter.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jake and Ed's Does French Bistro Day

Sometimes you get an idea in your head that you'd like to try something and in your heart you know that you can fail miserably or possibly pull it out. This was one of those days. I don't know why I thought that this was a good idea earlier in the week, but hell the worst thing that could happen was that I could make my Managing Business Partner violently ill and we'd have to really close up shop for a few days.

And really from all of the times that I've had this dish, I never thought it could be that hard to make...and I trust other places so why shouldn't I trust my own cooking.

I sat there with that nagging doubt of am I really gonna do this or no? So I just decided to grow a pair ventured off to my local fishmonger and said "Give me two and a half pounds!"

"Of what" was the answer, slightly perplexed but amused.

I realized that I hadn't said anything but rather had been pointing at those lovely beauties sitting on ice just waiting for a fool like me to come by.

"Oh Black mussels."

I looked up and the fishmonger knew I had the fear. That fear that all cooks get, especially with a new seafood item.

She nodded, and got her bag ready and said, "Oh they're a bit sandy today, be sure to really get in there and wash em up good."

I'm thinking yeah uh OK. It's not like I already didn't have the fear but now sand?!?!

Either way I took the bag and headed on out and began the joy. The wonderful feeling of anticipation and wonder. I filled up a massive bowl with cold water and let those bad boys soak it up.

I gathered up my ingredients, started chopping, drinking copious amounts of water, and set everything up knowing that my MBP would be in for the night's tasting soon.

So I said well it's now or never -- cleaned up the mussels, got my broth ready in the stock pot and went for it.

Here's what she had.

Here's how I got there:


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
half a medium onion diced
4-six cloves of garlic - diced
1 1/2 cup white wine -- I prefer Sauvigon Blanc
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2-2 1/2 pounds mussels
2 tablespoons heavy cream


When you return from the store, remove your mussels from the plastic and paper wrapping and place in a large bowl. If you aren't going to use them immediately, then place the bowl in the fridge. If you plan on throwing down, then take them to your sink, fill up a bowl and soak them for 20 minutes.

That's right just let them sit. As the mussels soak they will begin filtering the water in and out and are helping you expel all of the sand that they may have inside them.

After 20 minutes, come back to them and take them out one by one and scrub the outside to remove any barnacles and dirt. If there is a beard still attached hold the mussel and pull the beard towards the shorter end.

Check each mussel and do NOT use any cracked or damaged ones. Additionally, if you see any mussels that are opened, toss it out. It's not worth you getting sick.

Once you've cleaned them all and placed them in a different container move on to the broth.

In a stock pot melt butter and onions. Just as butter finishes melting, stir in onions. Cook for 5 minutes and then add garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes more.

Once the onions become slightly translucent, slowly pour in the wine, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Slowly bring to a boil.

Add mussels, stir and swirl mixture over mussels and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes. You should stir the mixture every couple of minutes to prevent sticking.

Scoop out the mussels into a bowl with a slotted spoon. Once everything has been parsed out return to stock pot and taste the broth. Some people enjoy this just as it but I prefer adding two table spoons of heavy cream to round out the taste before pouring on the mussels. Others throw in two tablespoons of bleu cheese for a stronger compliment to the mussels. This final bit is entirely up to you.

Thinly slice up French bread and have at it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekly Menu

Green Pea Tortilla with Mixed Greens

Mussels in White Wine with Smashed Potatoes

Thai Scallops and Rice Soup

Antipasta Pita Pizzas

Chicken Breasts with Balsamic and Garlic with Roasted Zucchini

Cheese Celebration

Over the weekend, we locked down a new location for the restaurant and wanted to celebrate a dear patron's partner's birthday with something I hold extremely dear to my heart -- cheese.

Those that know me know that my affinity for cheese has no limit. I crave the creaminess of brie and Camembert, the saltiness of Manchego, the pungent power of Roquefort and Bleus. There was this time at Patina where I was, for lack of a better term, humbled by a Munster.

I asked for something that would essentially force me to take notice of it. To act as an affront to my senses and make me weep in adulation.

I found this completely with a Munster. That's right a Munster!

A cheese that is often so soft in texture and feel that it may as well not exist, but this one was nothing of the sort. As soon as it hit my tongue and my mouth closed around it I lost myself in its power and balance.

I was punched full force in the mouth and I loved each bite. I wish I knew that name of this abuser but I was knocked unconscious and woke with amnesia, save the beauty of this taste.

As for our platter, I went with Irish Ivernia, President Camembert, Societe Roquefort and Andanzas Manchego with honey, walnuts and dried apricots.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Just Another Monday

With the remodel going on I thought it would be good to get a menu up and set to give some sense of normalcy to the mess of the kitchen. As is my MO, I prefer the the straightforward fare -- the simple food that sticks to your ribs (or at least acts like it does).

Today's choice:

Fried fish with roasted mushrooms with rosemary and garlic

Normally I would think that attempting to pair anything roasted with a white fish would be an exercise in futility and honestly during the process I was more than a bit concerned. Whenever I've been out and about and had fish, fried or grilled, it tends to end up next to some light vegetables or a rice concoction.

No more!

I know now that you should just go with what you feel in your gut. And my gut felt like this would be a good idea when I came up with the menu and maybe my trepidation was the reason that this was the first item of the week as I could always make it up with better meals.

Funny that now I'm wondering if that was foolish as the rest of the week will be a challenge to beat.

Here's how I got there:


1 pound thinly sliced whitefish - I like red snapper, but flounder works just as well
2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 cups breadcrumbs (homemade if you like but store bought works -- if you've got time, use ground pistachios as they really bring our some great flavors)
2 tablespoons of butter
1 pound of mixed mushrooms - I went with random hand fulls of brown and white mushrooms
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 smashed and split cloves of garlic
3-4 sprigs of rosemary
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup water

Preheat your oven to 450F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms. You can toss them in if you like but I prefer to get rid of them as some mushroom stems like Shitake take a long time to cook and it'll really throw off the textures of the finished meal. Your choice entirely. Peel and mash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife.

Place the mushrooms and garlic in a roasting pan. Peel away the rosemary and toss in as well. Pour the olive oil over the mixture and toss about to cover the mixture and place in the oven.

Cook for 20-25 minutes.

While this is a brewing in the oven, get three pans/plates out. One for flour, one for the beaten egg mix and the last for the breadcrumbs in that order.

Rinse off and pat dry your fish fillets.

I make sure to de-bone them as well. If you've got needle nose pliers, now would be the time to have them handy. If you don't, you can use your knife and carefully pry them out.

Now before you get to battering take a moment to look at your hands. Your right hand will be "dry" and your left will be "wet." Follow this model:

Right hand grabs dry fish fillet and places it in the flour. With the same hand, cover fillet with flour and shake off excess. Right hand slides fillet into egg bath.

Left hand swirls fillet around, flips fillet over and repeat. The left hand then places fish fillet into pan containing bread crumbs.

Right hand then covers the fillet with breadcrumbs, flips fish over and repeats. Right hand then places breaded fish on a rack.

Perform this process until all fillets are covered.

Melt butter in pan on medium high heat. As soon as froth or bubbles begin to form, place in the fillets. Cook for 3-5 minutes depending on each side depending on thickness.

Once done remove and place on a cooking rack with paper towel underneath to catch drippings.

Repeat for all fillets.

You should be hearing a ding from a timer just in case you forgot about the mushrooms.

Remove from oven and pour the water into the pan. With thongs or a spatula, remove the mushrooms if stuck to the bottom and swirl the mixture around to loosen everything up.

Plate and serve with the white wine of your choice.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

This Week's Menu

I decided to keep my head in the game and well kitchen even if it's not mine.

Just a preview for the week:


Fried fish with roasted mushrooms with rosemary and garlic


Scallops with leek and carrot rice


Wheat pasta salad with asparagus and chicken


Chicken soup with gnocchi and spinach


Turkey Burgers with garlic mayo and fries

Now I'm off to the market to buy everything for the week since I'm ghost chefing.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Closed for Remodeling

Folks We are doing a massive remodel on the kitchen and the grounds. I will be doing some guest chefing as it were for the next two months. Check back for updates. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Getting Granola

Sundays tend to be maintenance and prep days for the week. You know, getting all of that day to day crap out of the way and time to find out what the counter items will be.

This week I decided to go with granola bars. I've been modifying a recipe I saw years ago on Good Eats (I do love me some Alton, but then again who doesn't?)

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries - my regulars prefer the combo of apricots and cranberries.

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.

I've found the easiest way to complete this sticky task is with some plastic wrap. Unfurl a piece large enough to cover the pan and press down with even pressure.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. I flip out the granola mixture onto a cookie rack for faster drying time and it also prevents additional cooking from the pan.

Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ginger's Good For You!

A good of friend came in the other day and started saying that she wasn't feeling that hot, like she's had a brutal headache for days and days. I asked what the deal was and she wasn't sure just that she didn't feel right and was a bit sensitive to light.

Sounded like a migraine or the verge of one to me so I started looking up things that could help with the pain. Oddly enough the first thing that popped up was ginger! I knew that it helped get rid of motion sickness but who know that this magical root was good for the soul crushing woe of the migraine.

Aside from gnawing on the root I was trying to find the fastest way to make this cure-all palatable and functional and that's when I decided to roll with a seasonal soup! Carrots and Ginger.

Remember when you were a kid and folks said that carrots were good for your eyes? Well she said that her eyes hurt and carrots help so why not kill two birds with one soup?

Here is what I rocked out...


* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 cup diced onions
* 1/2 cup diced celery
* 1/4 cup minced ginger
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
* 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1/4 cup sour cream
* Chopped chives, for garnish


Set a 4-quart stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pot. Once the butter is melted, place the onions and celery in the pot. Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic to the pot and cook for 30 seconds. Place all of the carrots in the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are lightly caramelized and start to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the stock, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the soup until the carrots are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf from the pot and using an immersion blender puree the soup directly in the pot or in batches in a bar blender. Adjust the seasoning, add the heavy cream to the pot.

To serve, garnish with 1 tablespoon of sour cream per serving and a sprinkling of fresh chives.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Special of the Day - Sweet, Hard-Boiled Risotto

I was talking to one of my regulars today and wondered if they wouldn't mind me jumping off the reservation and doing something surprisingly simple. It had been one of those days when you don't know what to make for the folks and you stand there looking at what's around and you know that if you tried to be "new and innovative" that it would fail like pug trying to not eat chocolate?

Well thankfully I got a "yeah sure whatever" response and got a chance to shake my head again and look freshly at the fridge and cupboards. What was there and what would fit my mood...there wasn't much left as we'd been throwing together some mean dishes lately -- tamales, red and bell pepper tofu tosses, asparagus cheese bombs, etc, and I felt that I should go the opposite way entirely.

I thought breakfast for dinner! Chicken and Mexican Cheese omelets....naw, but chicken and something I was sure. Then I glanced up and saw that tin of rice and it clicked. Risotto with a hard boiled egg. It felt like I would be missing something and then I tried thinking like a chicken...what would a chicken want with this dish? Sweet corn!

That was it and now I just had to throw it all together as I was sure that the egg would match the creaminess of the non dairy risotto and the sweet corn kernels would be a wonderful compliment to the soft saltiness.

Suffice it to say it was a success. Sometimes simple is really the way to go.

Let's get down to the process no?

1 cup risotto rice
3 cups chicken broth (you can substitute veggie just as easily)
2 tbls butter (unsalted)
2 tbls Olive Oil
1-2 cloves of garlic (diced)
1 egg
1 can of sweet corn

Dice the garlic and toss in a medium sized sauce pan with the olive oil and butter. Saute over a medium heat. Just as the garlic pieces start to turn lightly brown, pour in the risotto rice.

Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice for four to five minutes. Just as the rice becomes translucent, pour half a cup of the broth into the sauce pan and begin slowly stirring. Once the broth is absorbed, pour another half cup in.

Continue this process of stirring and half cup of broth at a time until all of the broth is gone. (Should take ~30 minutes)

In the meantime, hard boil your egg and get your can of corn open. Drain the corn if needed and slice the egg thinly for plating.

Serve immediately or cover and let rest.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Butternut Squash, Corn, Feta and Cheddar Tart


85g cold butter, chopped into 1cm-ish cubes
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting/incorporating later
1/2 cup wheatgerm
4Tbs approx ice water, cold buttermilk, or cold milk.
1/2tsp salt if using unsalted butter

Rub the butter and flour and wheatgerm together in a medium sized bowl, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the cold water, buttermilk, or milk, and still using the pastry cutter or your fingers, half mix and half knead the mixture until it comes together to form a dough. Just keep adding milk/water until you feel some firmness in the dough.

Ok are you ready to try to get this bad boy into your tart pan? If yes then remember to lightly grease it first and then place the ball of ball lovingly into the center and begin working it out evenly to the edges.

One might be inclined to use a grease spatula, but believe me your hands are the best utensil you have at your disposal.

**But you can just as easily use a pre-made crust or break out some puff pasrty in a tin as well.


One medium sized butternut squash, peeled, and roughly chopped
1/2 a medium onion, chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch fresh oregano
1 cup of corn - I prefer one can of sweet summer corn
100g feta cheese, about one containter of Athena feta
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1/2 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper
cooking oil

Heat a medium sized non stick pan on medium heat with about a Tablespoon of oil, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook your onions until they begin to turn translucent. Add squash, cover, and let cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover, flip and re-cover the pan, letting the squash cook for another 2-3 minutes. Uncover, and let all the steam evaporate, then add garlic and corn, and stir occasionally. The squash should eventually have some golden flecks on it. Here's the good stuff as the squash and onion start to carmelize.

Once it is easily mashable with your spatula, remove from heat, and add oregano if you want. Mix through, and then let cool. Preheat oven to 400F, with a rack in the middle or if using the middle rack for roast potatoes, arrange a rack on the bottom for the tart.


There are two options for you here: 1) you can place the items as there are into the crust, or 2) place all of the mixture into a food processor or use a hand/stick mixer to blend into a paste and then pour into the crust. Either way you choose, you can now add the feta, parmesan and third cheese. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over. Bake for 25 or until cheese is golden brown.

Serve with a fresh leafy salad or roast potatoes.

*not the best photo but hey you're here for the recipes right?

Turkey Rolls

A very simple recipe for party appetizers

1 tbsp of butter
1 onion, finely chopped (you can also use shallots if you like)
1 pound turkey
1-3 mixed herbs (I used oregon, tarragon, sage, thyme and marjoram and pepper corns and blend in a food processor)
1 ounce of ground pistachio (easiest to peel them and toss them in a food processor)
12 ounces or One package of puff pastry (wait for this to completely thaw)
4-6 tbsp of Parmesean
salt and pepper
1 egg for glazing

Melt butter and slowly cook onions in frying pan until onions are softened and set aside. It should take around five mintues for this. Transfer to a bowl and mix in turkey meat, nuts and herbs. Season with salt and pepper with spoon until completely mixed.

Break up mixture into four equally sized rolls or strips -- maybe ten to twelve inches in length.

On a lightly floured surface, unroll the puff pastry and cut into four sections for the meat that you just rolled out. Place the meat in the center of the puff pastry sections and then sprinkle Parmesan over the top.

Roll one side of the pastry over the meat and then lightly rub the egg wash on one side of the pastry and then roll the other side over to seal the meat mixture in. Place the closed roll seam side down to seal completely. Glaze the top of the puff pastry strips with egg.

Preheat your oven to 425. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cut the puff pastry strips into inch sections and place on sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until puff pastry is crisp and brown. They will raise up a bit, don't worry.

Serve warm or let cool -- both are damn tasty.