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.