Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lime Ginger Green Beans

Yesterday I made a side dish that I was very pleased with, I have always liked the flavor of Ginger, fresh that is, it bears so little resemblance to it's dried counterpart you can hardly call them the same thing. This dish was very easy to prepare first I trimmed then blanched some fresh green beans (a good sized hand full, I didn't measure at all) then shocked them in an ice bath and set them aside until I was ready for them. In this case I was baking some chicken and making pasta too so I wanted to get the timing right.

I melted 1 1/2 TBS Butter then added about a tsp of fresh minced ginger and the grated zest of one lime and a quick squeeze of the lime juice. When it was time I tossed in the blanched Green Beans and Sauteed for about 5 minutes.

This was really a wonderful dish, the warm feeling that you get from fresh ginger and the bright pop that lime zest adds. I shouldn't have served it with Chicken though, the flavor took over the meal. It would have worked better with beef or something with a bolder flavor.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

One of my Favorites

I was off work yesterday so I picked up lunch from one of my favorite restaurants, as you read more about me you will find that I have quite a few favorites from the little hole in the wall Mexican carry out to the Gyro place down the street to Japanese. Today I am going to talk about Daruma it is a small Sushi Restaurant down the street from my house. I have only picked up from there, never dined in, but I really like it.
Yesterday I picked up the "Rainbow" from their ala carte menu and an order of Edamame. It is just a beautiful dish with the Salmon, Tuna and Avocado wrapped around the Seaweed, Rice and Roe. It reminds me of spring with the bright colors and the mild flavor and a texture that just pops.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Quote of the day

I still love making hamburgers on the grill. I guess whenever I eat them
childhood memories come up for me.
Bobby Flay


Just a quick quote for the day, I plan to grill tonight, at least a couple of things because I want Chicken Wings and nobody but me likes them, I will tell you the top secret ingredients later today (it is so simple and so good).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Grill Season

I love to grill out in the Spring and Summer from Hamburgers to Brats, marinated Chicken or Vegetables so many foods lend themselves to the charcoal grill. I actually like to use Charwood instead of Charcoal I find that it is a little easier to control... the more air I allow in the hotter it is close the cover and it cools pretty quickly. To me it is very easy to work with. A couple of days ago I picked up some steaks, a small tenderloin for my Lovely Bride and a NY strip for me and some fresh Mushrooms. Just before I lit the grill I cooked the Mushrooms.
I started with Minced Garlic and clarified butter in a saute pan while those were going I sliced up half an onion and put it in the pan and then put in the quartered mushrooms (these are Baby Bellas).
That is about when I lit the grill, I use a chimney to it is ready in 10 minutes while during that time I added salt, pepper and a little Bourbon to my mushrooms and did a quick flambe, that burned off the liquid in the pan, put on a show for the kids and added a nice flavor to the mushroom saute.
While that was cooking down I put the steaks on the grill and got them going, about 3 minutes on one side then turned them over and added my mushrooms to the top, closed the lid and let them cook for 4-5 minutes more.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Gift

One of my regular customers at work took a trip to Poland last week. He brought me back a little bottle of his favorite Vodka, well an airline, bottle I think he may be a little cheap. We had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about our favorite Vodka's mine is Stolichnaya, I have always liked the taste of it, the way it feels in my mouth, the slightly earthy finish to it. It also stands on its own or in a Martini well, and isn't too expencive.

My friend brought me back Zubrowka it has a slight amber color and a blade of buffalo grass it it. I had a little sip of it neat and it was very smooth then had the rest 50/50 with Apple Juice as was suggested and wow it was good! It had just a hint of mint like a light herbal tea and a sweet vanilla finish to it. It was really refreshing. My friend keeps telling me that this mixture tastes like apple pie, I don't get that If you see this at the store give it a try and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ahh Spring

One of the things that I love about Spring is the Fresh Vegetables that are not only available but taste good. Last week Asparagus was $1.39 per pound at the Grocery Store. I bought a few pounds at that price, I like to cook off a little extra and keep it in the refrigerator to snack on.

The Asparagus pictured here is some of that, I made Steaks that day and love asparagus with grilled Steaks. I peeled these and blanched them for about 3-4 minutes so they were still crisp them shocked them in an ice bath to keep them the bright beautiful green that they are. When it was time to serve I put it on the plate squeezed some fresh lemon juice on then garnished with some lemon zest.

Fresh Asparagus is one of my favorite Spring/Summer side dishes. This time for fun I boiled the peels and made Creamed Asparagus Sauce. I put the peels in the water that I had blanched the Asparagus in along with a little fresh garlic, salt and pepper and cooked it for about half an hour or so then I used a stick blender to puree until smooth. Even after pureeing there were solids left in the pan that needed to be strained off so I pored it through a screen sieve into a smaller pan then added milk and cooked for about an hour. This became a very smooth light cream soup. I served it chilled the next day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quote for today

“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It
requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”

-Marcel Boulestin
I like that quote, it is very much how I feel about recipes, I have always said that recipes are a great list of suggestions that worked well for someone else.
I planted Basil and Oregano this weekend so I have all of the needed Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce that I promised my daughter assuming the Tomato thing actually works we will be able to cook with things that we grew.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cocktails for the Cookout

My lovely bride and I both had kind of hard weeks this week which got me thinking about a Friday afternoon cocktail. It is spring bordering on summer so a Martini is the first thing that I think of. It seems like only a few years ago the Martini stopped being an"Old Man" beverage (think Manhattan or Old Fashion people make fun of me when I order these). In recent years Martinis have become trendy again. Since it is almost Memorial day I thought I would do Red, White and Blue Martinis. Mix them for your guests as they arrive for the cookout or make them up ahead and keep in the refrigerator. All of these are made with Vodka because I never did learn to like Gin. I use a Cocktail Shaker because I like to. Some people say there is a difference between shaken and stirred Gin Martinis but I can't tell.
White is simple I use a "Dirty Martini" because I like them.
3 oz Vodka
Splash of Dry Vermouth about 1/2 oz
Splash of Olive Brine
Put all ingredients into a shaker with a generous amount of ice cover and shake. Poor into a Martini Glass and garnish with a few olives.
Red is the new classic "Cosmo"
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Cranberry juice
a splash of lemon or lime juice
Put all ingredients into the shaker with ice, Shake and Poor into a Martini Glass and Garnish with a Lemon zest. Sometimes I add a little Grenadine to intensify the color.
The Blue one doesn't have a name that I know of so call it what you like:
3 oz Vodka
1 oz Blue Curacao
Splash of Lemon or lime juice
Again Shake, Strain and Serve ice cold usually I garnish this with a Lemon zest too.
I have to say that Martinis, especially the sweet ones can get away from you, if you know what I mean. Be sure to eat well while you are enjoying them (I will have some cookout recipes later this week) and drink lots of water. Wow I never thought I would lecture about that!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Citrus Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin came up with my Mother's Day menu. It is one of my favorite dishes to prepare on the grill, it is an extremely versatile meat. You can prepare it with a light Citrus Marinade that makes for the perfect Spring Entree or a bold Bourbon and Brown Sugar Glaze that adds a surprising depth to it. Pork Tenderloin adapts well to anything that I am doing with it and when cut into medallions looks great on a plate or served family style on a platter.

The last time I prepared it I started in the morning with a simple Marinate of:

1/2 cup Orange Juice
Juice from two limes
1/4 cup of Rice wine Vinegar
3 or 4 cloves of fresh Garlic Minced
1/2 cup of Olive Oil
2 TBS of minced Cilantro
1 TBS honey
Salt and Pepper

This is an extremely forgiving marinate if you make it at home add more or less of anything to suit your taste sometimes I use Lemon juice instead of Lime or add citrus zest for a little added pop. I marinated this for about 3 hours in the refrigerator then let it temper on the counter for about an hour before I grilled it.

Once the grill is going and the coals are hot (I can hold my hand about 3 inches over the grill for 3-4 seconds) I am ready to go. I put the Tenderloin on the grill (if there are any flair ups I close it quickly) and let it cook for 2-3 minutes, then take it out and put it back into the marinate. Then it goes back on the grill for another 2-3 minutes and I put it back in the marinate. Dipping it in the marinate a couple of times while grilling gets a nice glaze on the pork so the honey and sugars from the fruit caramelize well in the next step. After that it goes back on the grill again and I cook it closed for another 7-8 minutes or so turning once.

I never cook Pork Tenderloin past medium about 145 f internal temp or if you cut it open it will still be pink in the middle. When it comes off the grill I but it on a plate and tent with foil for a few minutes while I get everything ready. Then I slice it about 1/2 inch thick and serve. This is great on its own or you can add a little Citrus Vinaigrette.

05-13 09 The "Garden"

While I was shopping for the ingredients for the Mother’s Day Lunch I put together for my Mom and Lovely Bride I picked up one of those upside down tomato planters.
I thought it would be fun to grow some tomatoes then use them later. I like to grow some little things
but I am by no means a Gardener. The rest of my garden venture this year consists of a 6 foot patch of dirt by the back fence. Where we planted Sunflowers and Pumpkins along with a couple of kinds of flowers.
When my 7 year old daughter saw me put the planter in the cart she said, “Daddy you are the only one who will eat tomatoes.” Which is true in our house, I promised to make her some Red Sauce when we harvested all of the ingredients. From there I went to Home Depot to get a Tomato Seedling I looked at the different kinds of Tomatoes that are available I didn’t imagine that Home Depot would have so many to choose from. My first thought was to get something different, maybe multi-colored Heirlooms or Tigerellas because I like to be a little different. Then I thought of trying to
get a 7 year old to try Marinara made with purple and gold tomatoes and thought better of
that idea. I chose simple Plum tomatoes, they are probably the most versatile ones out there anyway. From the promised Marinara Sauce to Caprese Salad or fresh Salsa they work well.

The process of putting the planter was a little cumbersome because the plant goes in upside down to begin with then I had to put dirt into the planter so I am holding it by the wires with my left hand and scooping potting soil in with my right. As you can see above I succeeded, and have the planter hanging by my kitchen door. I plan to update everyone on this plants progress throughout the growing season so we can see how this goes from seedling to plate(s).

Monday, May 11, 2009

05-11-09 Mother's day

So my mom visited us on Mother's day, My wife works for FTD in the IT department so she was pretty busy at work and we couldn't go to my mom's house. I for one hate going to brunch/lunch on Mother's day, mostly from the memory of waiting tables then cooking in a restaurant on that day. I rather enjoy cooking at home anyway I made a Citrus Glazed Pork Tenderloin, Cheesy Grilled Potatoes, and Grilled Radicchio. The meal started with a Mango Jicama Slaw served on top of Butter Lettuce, you can see the picture.

The Slaw contains:
2 Oranges segmented
1/2 a Red Onion diced
2 Mango's julienned
1/4 pound Jicama julienned
Lime zest
Orange Juice and a splash of Tequila

Early that day I peeled and segmented the Oranges diced the Red Onion and added the Mangos and Jicama. I grated two cloves of garlic on a micro grater then grated the zest of one lime being careful not to get too much of the white in the slaw. I chopped the Cilantro added the OJ, just a bit a Tequila and a pinch of Salt and Pepper. I let this sit for about three hours, about as long as the Tenderloin marinated. After I put the rest of lunch on the grill I broke up one head of Butter Lettuce, put the slaw on the plates and topped with just a bit of Chopped Cilantro. I served it with a Citrus Vinaigrette.
I made that with:
1/2 Cup OJ
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Juice from 2 limes
Zest from one lime
about 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard to bind it
I put that in a blender and emulsified and served that on the side. The Vinaigrette worked well as a dressing for the Salad/Slaw or as a light sauce for the Pork Tenderloin.

Friday, May 8, 2009

05-08-09 something spicey

I was just reading an article yesterday highlighting some of the Spiciest foods on earth. I was a work at the time so I tried emailing it to myself and using my combination of skill and luck with all things digital lost all record of the article. The idea they were talking about was trying some food that were just too hot they mentioned Vindaloo at a place in India and a Curry made with Habanero Chilies. The one that I remember was Hot Wings or “Suicide Wings” as they are called at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap in Chicago they are made from Red Savina Peppers that are said to be twice as hot a an Habanero. They are Served with a waiver that says “Jake Melnick’s is not responsible for any damage done to you or your ability to taste anything ever again” (or something along those lines) and an alarm to summon wait staff touting Sour Cream, Sugar and White Bread if things should get out of hand.

Though Jake Melnick’s does have a marketing tool that I am sure brings some customers in to show off for their Friends I prefer a little more subtly and depth than throwing Pureed Habaneros into perfectly good food just to say a dish is spicier than the rest.

A more suitable use for Habaneros for me is to make a spicy glaze with them. Something like this:
2 TBS Oil (canola)
½ red onion
4-5 cloves Garlic
2 TBS Chopped Cilantro
½ habanero finely Chopped (like to wear vinal gloves when I chop these because it is hard to wash off your hands and can hurt when you touch your eyes even hours later)
2 Cups Orange Juice
Juice from one lime
A little bit of honey to thicken

Heat the oil in a sauce pan and add Onion and Garlic Sautee until they sweat. Then add the habaneros… I wouldn’t cook them for very long because the steam is going to make you cry. Then add Orange Juice Lime Juice and Cilantro cook until reduced by half then add Salt Pepper and a little bit (maybe a tsp.) of honey.

There you have a good hot glaze with some depth to it. This one is perfect for Chicken or Pork Tenderloin cook on the grill and brush sauce on for the last few minutes turning one more time to caramelize the glaze.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Here it is my first attempt shot into the Blog world I thought I would start with more of a personal exploration of food in this blog just to keep my writing skills fresh.

Yesterday we ran a Cinco de Mayo special where I work (in on site foodservice). I was really impressed with the way my staff put it together. It brought back memories of when I was the Chef at a small Mexican Restaurant.

I would start every day by putting a case of fresh tomatoes on the Salamander, while those were roasting I would set a couple of Poblano Chilies on the burner to roast and fry a few Jalapinos. Once the Tomatoes were roasted I would remove the stems from the Peppers. Then throw the Tomaotes (burnt parts and all) with the roasted Chilis into a food processer with some fresh Garlic and blend until smooth. We called it Rojo (I know really imaginative) this became my Mother Sauce for the kitchen. Every other sause came from this the hot sauce was this more Jalapinos and Taquila. The Fried Rice was this tossed into Rice that I was sauteing "Risoto" style.

I made a home version of this sauce for Enchiladas the other day. While I was cooking out I threw the ingredients on the grill to get going. That is below:

3 Tomatoes
2 Jalapinos
1/3 of a garlic Clove

Put the tomatoes over high heat and cook until they get the black spots on the outside the same with the Jalapino. I toasted the garlic in foil for about 1/2 an hour then put all ingredients in the blender.

After I finished blending it was a little thin for my taste so I put in in a pan on the grill for anothe 1/2 hour or so.

The next day I dipped Corn Tortillas in the sauce and wrapped them around chicken and Chuahua Cheese and baked the whole mess for about 45 minutes.