ROPA VIEJA

ROPA VIEJA IS ONE OF CUBA'S NATIONAL DISHES AND ALSO ONE OF THE FIRST MEALS I EVER MADE AT THE FIREHOUSE.  WHEN I STARTED COOKING THIS EARLY IN MY CAREER I WOULD USE JARRED SOFRITO WHICH IS THE BASE OF THE DISH CONSISTING OF ONIONS, GARLIC, PEPPERS AND TOMATOES.  BUT NOTHING BEATS MAKING IT FROM SCRATCH AS IT ALLOWS ALL THE FLAVORS TO DEVELOP ON THEIR OWN.  AND IN CASE YOU ARE WONDERING WHAT ROPA VIEJA MEANS, IT TRANSLATES TO "OLD CLOTHES" BECAUSE AS THE BEEF SHREDS IT RESEMBLES TORN OLD CLOTHES.  BUT DON'T LET THE NAME FOOL YOU....IT'S DELICIOUS!
THIS DISH IS PERFECT FOR THE FIREHOUSE AS IT CAN SIT ON THE STOVE OR IN THE SLOW-COOKER WITHOUT FEAR OF IT OVER COOKING IF THE BELL HITS!

ROPA VIEJA

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Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 - 2 LB. FLANK STEAK

1 YELLOW ONION, sliced

2 BELL PEPPERS, seeded / sliced

1 CUBANELLE PEPPER, seeded / sliced

1 JALAPENO, seeded / sliced

2 GARLIC CLOVES, thin sliced

3 SMALL CARROTS, peeled / diced (optional)

28oz. CAN OF DICED TOMATO

1 CUP BEEF BROTH

1 TBS. DRIED OREGANO

1 Tsp. CUMIN

2 LIMES

HANDFUL OF FRESH CILANTRO, rough chopped

OLIVE OIL

KOSHER SALT, to taste

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PROCEDURE:

In a large Dutch oven or deep saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Pat the steak dry and season liberally with salt.  Place the steak in the pan, searing both sides until nicely browned.  Remove and set aside.  

Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and a small pinch of salt.  Cook the onions until soft and just starting to brown.  Add the peppers, garlic, cumin and oregano, cooking until the garlic just starts to turn pale brown.  Add the diced tomatoes with the juice, stir and cook until most of the juice has reduced.  Add the beef stock, bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, slice the flank steak across the grain into 1 1/2" slices and place into the simmering pan.  Cover and cook for about 1.5 hours.  When the steak is fork tender, remove and set aside.  Add the carrots (if using) to the pan and reduce the sauce uncovered until it is thickened, approximately 15 minutes.  While the sauce is reducing, shred the steak and add back to the pan.  

When the sauce is the right consistency, squeeze in the limes and add the chopped cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with rice and beans.

*NOTE: Traditionally this dish is usually made with green olives and sometimes capers.  Feel free to add these as well.  

 

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Posted on September 20, 2017 and filed under DINNER.

"ELOTE" STUFFED TURKEY BURGERS

"ELOTE" IS A POPULAR MEXICAN STREET FOOD THAT HAS MADE IT'S WAY TO MENUS ALL OVER THE U.S.  WHY? BECAUSE IT'S SIMPLE AND SUPER DELICIOUS!  SWEET IN-SEASON CORN, GRILLED AND THEN COVERED WITH MAYO, LIME, CHILE AND COTIJA CHEESE.  DROOLING YET!?!
ONE DAY I TOOK THIS CONCEPT AND TURNED IT INTO A SALAD BY JUST CUTTING THE GRILLED CORN OFF THE COBB AND DRESSING IT WITH ALL THE INGREDIENTS MENTIONED ABOVE.  NEEDLESS TO SAY THE GUYS AT THE FIREHOUSE LOVED IT.  SO I DECIDED TO TAKE THIS A STEP FURTHER AND STUFF IT INTO A TURKEY BURGER BECAUSE WHY THE HELL NOT?!  

"ELOTE" STUFFED TURKEY BURGERS

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Serves 3

 

INGREDIENTS:

1.25 # GROUND TURKEY

3 EARS OF CORN

2 JALAPENOS, Seeded and Chopped

ZEST AND JUICE OF 1 LIME

1/2 tsp. GROUND CUMIN

1 Tbsp. CHILE POWDER

1/2 CUP OF MAYO

1/2 CUP OF GRATED COTIJA CHEESE (SUB PARMESAN IF YOU CAN'T GET COTIJA)

SMALL BUNCH OF FRESH CILANTRO, chopped

KOSHER SALT TO TASTE

1/4 # PEPPER JACK CHEESE

 

PROCEDURE:

Preheat grill at medium heat

Grill corn until charred, cut off the cob and reserve in a bowl.  Scrape the cob with the back of a knife into the bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients except the cheese.  Stir to combine.  Tear two slices of cheese into the bowl and stir.

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Divide the ground turkey into six equal portions.  Form patties about 1/2" thick. On three of the patties spoon the "Elote" filling, reserving about a 1/4 of the "Elote".  Take the three remaining patties and place on top of the others, sealing the edges well and forming into a burger shape.  Season both sides liberally with kosher salt. 

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Oil or spray the grill with non-stick spray.  Place the burgers on the grill and grill for 4-5 minutes on one side, flip and top with reserved Elote.  Top with remaining Pepper Jack, close grill and cook for another 4-5 minutes.  Garnish with more mayo and hot sauce!

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Posted on August 24, 2017 and filed under LUNCH.

GRILLED CHICKEN PARM ALLA VODKA

WHEN I FOUND OUT I WASN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE IT TO THE IGNITE.INSPIRE EVENT AT THE WORLD POLICE AND FIRE GAMES, PUT ON BY CHIEF MILLER AND RED FROM RED'S PANTRY TO BENEFIT 555 FITNESS' L.A.CITY FIRE FITNESS GRANT, I WAS  BUMMED TO SAY THE LEAST.  BUT I KNEW I WANTED TO PARTICIPATE IN SOME CAPACITY, AND BEING THAT TITO'S VODKA WAS ONE OF THE BIG SPONSORS, I SAID WHY NOT USE THEIR PRODUCT IN SOME WAY....AND THEN IT HIT ME!  VODKA SAUCE!  BUT RATHER THAN MAKE SOME SAUCE AND THROW IT ON PASTA, I WANTED TO SWITCH IT UP A LITTLE.  SO I DECIDED TO TAKE A CLASSIC FIREHOUSE MEAL LIKE CHICKEN PARM AND MAKE IT A TOUCH HEALTHIER AND A LOT MORE DELICIOUS!
SO I WHIPPED UP A BATCH OF THIS VODKA SAUCE TO GET RAFFLED OFF AT THE EVENT, ALONG WITH A RECIPE CARD AND SOME F&H CO. SWAG!  STAY SAFE, EAT WELL!

GRILLED CHICKEN PARM ALLA VODKA

INGREDIENTS:
1 Large Shallot, thin sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, thin sliced
Pinch of Chili Flakes
1/3 cup of Tito's Vodka
1 - 28 oz. Can of San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed by hand
1/2 cup of Heavy Cream
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup of Fresh Basil, torn
Salt, to taste

PROCEDURE:
In a large saute pan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to cover bottom.  Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and saute until translucent.  Add the garlic and chili flake, stirring often, until garlic is light golden brown. 

Add the vodka and cook until almost completely evaporated.

Add the crushed tomatoes, stir often and cook until reduced by about half.  Add the heavy cream, stir and cook just until incorporated.  Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasoning.  Add torn basil.

Spoon over grilled chicken, top with sliced fresh mozzarella.  Broil until cheese is melted.  Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

Posted on August 15, 2017 .

PEACH-GRILLED CORN SALAD

IT'S THE MIDDLE OF JULY AND WE ARE SMACK DAB IN PEACH AND CORN SEASON.  THERE IS NO BETTER TIME FOR PRODUCE AND ANY CHANCE I GET I TRY TO USE SEASONAL INGREDIENTS AT THE FIREHOUSE.  FOR "TACO TUESDAY" I DECIDED TO MAKE A SALSA USING FRESH LOCAL PEACHES AND CORN, WITH SOME PICKLED ONIONS AND FRESH JALAPENOS TO BALANCE IT OUT WITH ACIDITY AND HEAT.  THIS SALSA WOULD BE GREAT OVER FISH, GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN, FLANK STEAK....PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING THAT NEEDS A FRESH KICK IN THE ASS!

PEACH-GRILLED CORN SALSA

Makes about 2 cups

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 RIPE PEACHES, pitted and chopped
  • 1 SMALL RED ONION, pickled (see recipe below)
  • 1/2-1 JALAPENO, seeded and diced (adjust to liking)
  • 3 EARS OF CORN, grill and cut off kernels 
  • 2 LIMES, zest and juice
  • 1/2 BUNCH OF CILANTRO, rough chopped
  • 1 TBS. EVOO
  • SALT, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, taste and adjust seasoning

Pickled Red Onions

  • ½ Cup of Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Salt
  • 1 Cup of Water
  • 1 Red Onion, sliced thin

Dissolve sugar and salt in water and vinegar.  Place onions in a jar or bowl, cover with pickling liquid and place in fridge until cool.

 

 

Posted on July 18, 2017 and filed under DINNER, LUNCH, SIDE.

TACO TIME!

WHEN DAVE FROM THE BATTALION TV ASKED IF I WAS INTERESTED IN GETTING TOGETHER AT FDIC WITH MY BUDDIES CHIEF MILLER AND PIP FROM 555 FITNESS TO FILM AT A FIRE DEPARTMENT, I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT.  AND THEN "FIRE. FITNESS. FOOD" WAS BORN....
THE OBJECTIVE WAS SIMPLE.  GO TO A LOCAL DEPARTMENT IN INDY AND SHOW THEM THE IMPORTANCE OF FUNCTIONAL FITNESS AND HEALTHY EATING IN THE FIRE SERVICE....ALL WHILE HAVING A GREAT TIME!
I DECIDED ON HEALTHY TACOS USING INGREDIENTS THEY MAY NOT NORMALLY USE IN THE KITCHEN.  TACOS ARE A GREAT WAY TO INTRODUCE HEALTHY INGREDIENTS BECAUSE IT IS A RELATABLE DISH IN THE FIREHOUSE AND ALLOWS YOU THE ABILITY TO TAILOR IT INDIVIDUAL TASTES.  CHECK OUT THE RECIPES I MADE AT DECATUR TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT BELOW!
TOP: Shrimp and Chorizo BOTTOM: Chicken with Grilled Pineapple 

TOP: Shrimp and Chorizo BOTTOM: Chicken with Grilled Pineapple 

Shrimp Chorizo Tacos with Cotija Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Lb. Chorizo, casing removed
  • ½ Onion, diced
  • 2 Garlic, cloves
  • ½ Cup Mint, chopped
  • 4 Limes, cut 2 into wedges for garnish
  • 10 oz. Package of Cotija Cheese
  • 1 Jalapeno, sliced
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro, chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Package of corn tortillas, lightly grilled or warmed in oven, covered until ready to serve.

Procedure:

In a deep dish or bowl, combine shrimp with zest and juice from 2 limes, chopped mint, a pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil.  Set aside in refrigerator while preparing the rest of the dish.

In a large saute pan, add a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chorizo, brown and cook through while breaking up the meat.  When chorizo is cooked through, add the garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent.  Add the shrimp to the pan, stir and cook until pink.  Remove from heat.  Serve with tortillas, cilantro, jalapeno and cotija cheese.

 

Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb. Chicken Breast
  • 1 Tsp. Cumin
  • 1 Tsp. Chile Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Paprika
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 Pineapple, trimmed and cut into slices
  • 2 Tbs. Chile Powder
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro, chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pickled Red Onions, recipe follows
  • 10 oz. Package of Cotija Cheese
  • Package of Corn Tortillas, grilled or warmed through in the oven, covered until ready to serve.

Procedure:

In a large bowl, combine all the spices and oil.  Stir to combine and add the chicken.  Marinate 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, light a grill to medium heat.  Coat the pineapple lightly in oil, salt and chile powder.  Grill pineapple, turning frequently until caramelized.  While the pineapple is cooking, grill the jalapenos until charred.  Remove the jalapeno, seed and chop.  Remove the pineapple and chop.  In a bowl combine, the pineapple, jalapeno, juice and zest of limes, ½ of the cilantro.  Season with salt to taste.

Grill the chicken until cooked through, remove and chop.

Assemble tacos with the chicken, pineapple salsa, pickled red onion, cilantro and Cotija cheese

Pickled Red Onions

  • ½ Cup of Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Salt
  • 1 Cup of Water
  • 1 Red Onion, sliced thin

Combine all ingredients except the onion in a saucepan.  Over low heat, stir just to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Pour over onions in a jar or glass bowl.  Refrigerate until cool.  These can be kept in fridge up to 2 weeks.

Posted on July 10, 2017 and filed under LUNCH, DINNER.

Breakfast Stuffed Bread Cups

THIS FIREHOUSE FRIENDLY RECIPE COMES FROM TJ AND JEFF OF NORTH PLAINSFIELD FD IN NEW JERSEY, WHICH WAS THE WINNING DISH IN THE RECENT FORK AND HOSE CO. / THE FARMER'S HEN FIRE DEPARTMENT EGG COOK-OFF!  THIS DISH IS GREAT BECAUSE NOT ONLY IS IT UNIQUE, IT TASTES GREAT TOO!  FEEL FREE TO SUBSTITUTE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE, MAYBE BREAKFAST SAUSAGE INSTEAD OF BACON....OR HOW ABOUT BOTH!  THE BREAD THEY USED WAS SEMOLINA BUT YOU COULD EASILY USE ANY OTHER TYPE OF BREAD.  MAKE IT A LITTLE HEALTHIER IF YOU WANT TOO.  HOW ABOUT AN ALL VEGGIE VERSION?! 

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BREAKFAST STUFFED BREAD CUPS

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS:

1 Loaf of Semolina Bread 

1 Dz. Eggs, whisked

2 Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped

1 Onion, peeled and chopped

12 oz. Package of Bacon, chopped

16 oz. Shredded Cheese (any cheese will work great)

Salt/Pepper to taste

PROCEDURE:

Preheat oven to 350*

Cut bread into 2" slices.  Scoop/cut out middle of bread.  Place slices on a large baking sheet (greased or spray with nonstick).

Cook chopped bacon in a skillet.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate, reserving bacon fat in skillet.

Over medium heat add the onions and peppers to the bacon fat.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Remove from heat.  Reserving a little of the mixture to garnish.

In a large bowl. combine the whisked eggs and half of the cheese.  Stir to combine and then fill the slices of bread with the egg/cheese mix.  Some egg will leak out of the bottom, don't worry it will be fine.  Sprinkle the cooked bacon in to the eggs, followed by the pepper/onion mixture.

Place the baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack.  Cook until eggs are set, about 15-20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and place back in oven or under broiler to melt cheese.  Garnish with reserved pepper/onions.

Posted on June 18, 2017 and filed under BACON, BREAKFAST.

GRILLED SWEET POTATO FRIES

1st Responder News is a nationwide source for all things fire and EMS, with both print and digital formats.  When they asked if I would be interested in contributing monthly with recipes and stories from the firehouse kitchen, I knew it would be a great opportunity.  Now I get to share more firehouse friendly dishes as well as tips I have learned since graduating culinary school and working in a professional kitchen!  
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June's column was a little intro with my "firehouse famous" Grilled Sweet Potato Fries.  Check it out here!  And in case you want to make these addicting fries I have the recipe below which was featured in Men's Health!..

GRILLED SWEET POTATO FRIES

Photo Credit: Guy Gourmet/Men's Health Mag

Photo Credit: Guy Gourmet/Men's Health Mag

INGREDIENTS:

4 small sweet potatoes (or 2 large ones), cut into ½” wedges
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp cilantro

PROCEDURE:

1. Pre-heat your grill to medium heat. In a large bowl, toss the potato wedge with the olive oil, chile powder, and salt.


2. Grill the potato wedges over direct heat until crispy on the outside and tender enough that a fork slides easily into the center, 6 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer the fries back to the large bowl, drizzle with the syrup, and toss to coat. Top with cilantro and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Posted on June 17, 2017 and filed under SIDE.

UMAMI ONIONS

 

UMAMI.... WHAT IS IT YOU ASK?  WELL, LET'S START BY SAYING IF YOU ENJOY DELICIOUS FOOD THEN YOU ENJOY "UMAMI".  THIS WORD IS POPPING UP MORE AND MORE IN CULINARY CONVERSATION AND FOR GOOD REASON.  "UMAMI", JAPANESE FOR SAVORINESS, IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE FIFTH BASIC TASTE RIGHT ALONGSIDE SWEET, SOUR, SALTY AND BITTER.  A JAPANESE SCIENTIST DISCOVERED THAT IT WAS MOLECULAR COMPOUNDS FOUND IN GLUTAMIC ACID WERE THE CAUSE OF THIS DELICIOUSNESS.  THESE FLAVORS ARE FOUND IN MANY ROASTED, FERMENTED AND COOKED FOODS SUCH AS ROASTED TOMATOES, ANCHOVIES, MUSHROOMS, SOY SAUCE, SEARED BEEF AND EVEN SEAWEED.....YUP SEAWEED.  AFTER ALL, IT WAS A BOWL OF DASHI, A JAPANESE BROTH FLAVORED WITH SEAWEED, THAT THE SCIENTIST WAS EATING WHEN HE MADE THE DISCOVERY.  
OK, NOW ON TO THE ONIONS!  I MADE THESE ONIONS TO GO WITH MY "FRENCH ONION SOUP" BURGERS WHICH ARE A HUUUUUGEE HIT AT THE FIREHOUSE.  I WANTED TO RECREATE THOSE FAMILIAR DEEP FLAVORS FOUND IN A BOWL OF SOUP, WITHOUT ACTUALLY HAVING TO MAKE A BOWL OF SOUP.  AND WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING WAS SOMEWHAT BY ACCIDENT.  ALL THE INGREDIENTS I WAS USING WERE PACKED WITH UMAMI THUS MAKING THESE ONIONS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD.  THESE THINGS ARE GREAT ON A BURGER BUT WOULD BE JUST AS GOOD ON A NICELY SEARED STEAK, MAYBE OVER SOME PORK CHOPS.  HELL, EVEN SOME ROASTED BROCCOLI OR CAULIFLOWER WOULD PAIR WELL WITH THEM.  
NOW AS FAR AS A RECIPE GOES, WELL I HONESTLY DON'T HAVE ONE.  THIS DISH REALLY REQUIRES YOUR JUDGEMENT SO TASTE TASTE TASTE!  USE THIS AS A GUIDELINE AND SOON ENOUGH YOU WILL HAVE SOME ADDICTING ONIONS THAT EVERYONE WILL LOVE.  ALSO KEEP IN MIND THAT ONIONS COOK DOWN ALOT SO MAKE MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED.
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UMAMI ONIONS

INGREDIENTS:

SWEET YELLOW ONIONS, sliced thin

FISH SAUCE (Not required but definitely makes a difference, use sparingly as this is potent stuff)

SOY SAUCE

WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE

WHOLE-GRAIN MUSTARD (Sub Dijon or Spicy Brown)

BEEF STOCK (Low Sodium)

BALSAMIC VINEGAR

OLIVE OIL

 

PROCEDURE:

  • Heat just enough olive oil to cover bottom of saute pan over low heat.
  • Add the sliced onions to the pan, cook until just translucent, stirring frequently.
  • Add a dash of the fish sauce, soy sauce and Worcestershire.
  • Add a small spoonful of mustard.
  • Add enough beef stock to just cover the onions, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  • When all the liquid has almost reduced fully, add more beef stock to just cover and reduce again till almost dry.
  • Add a dash of balsamic vinegar to taste.  You want just a little acidity, it shouldn't taste like salad dressing.
  • These ingredients are fairly salty so you will notice I did not add salt at any point.  If after cooking the onions need salt, add a dash of soy to reinforce the Umami.

*Note:

Feel free to adjust according to your tastes or the dish you will be using this with.  Some fresh thyme is really nice or a little honey to add some sweetness.  Just have fun!

Posted on May 11, 2017 and filed under SIDE.

GUMBO

ONE GREAT THING ABOUT RUNNING F&H CO. IS HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF REGIONAL DISHES I GET TO SEE EVERY DAY, TOO BAD I CAN'T TASTE ALL OF THEM!  THIS GUMBO RECIPE COMES FROM FIREFIGHTER MARK OF THE SHREVEPORT FD IN LOUISIANA SO YOU KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE GOOD!  FOLLOW HIS INSTAGRAM PAGE @REMARKABLE_FOOD FOR SOME DELICIOUS FOOD INSPIRATION!

GUMBO

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INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 ONION, chopped
1 CUP CELERY, chopped
1 CUP BELL PEPPER, chopped
1 LB. SMOKED SAUSAGE, sliced
1 LB. COOKED CHICKEN, shredded
3 BAY LEAVES
1/2 CUP GREEN ONION, chopped
PARSLEY, chopped
3 BAY LEAVES
CHICKEN STOCK
CREOLE SEASONING
1 TBS. GUMBO FILE (a natural thickener made from dried ground Sassafras leaves)
1 CUP FLOUR
1 CUP VEGETABLE OIL

PROCEDURE:

  • Combine oil and flour in a large cast iron pan or pot over low-medium heat to make a roux, stirring frequently so as not to burn it.  Cook the roux until it is a deep brown color,  this is very important to creating the rich flavor and color of the dish. 
  • Add the onion, celery and bell pepper to the roux until the onion is translucent.  
  • Add the sausage, chicken and bay leaves, cook 5 minutes.
  • Add enough chicken stock to cover and seasoning, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 2 hours.
  • Serve and garnish with green onion and parsley.
  • *Suggested to serve over rice
Posted on December 22, 2016 and filed under LUNCH, DINNER.

CHICKEN - QUINOA BAKE WITH ROASTED GARLIC GRAVY

THIS DISH IS GOING TO BE A FIREHOUSE FAVORITE.....BELIEVE ME.  NOT ONLY IS IT DELICIOUS, IT IS ALSO PACKED WITH PROTEIN AND FIBER SO THE CREW IS DEFINITELY GOING TO BE SATISFIED!
I RECENTLY MADE A VERSION OF THIS ON ANOTHER EPISODE OF FIREHOUSE KITCHEN TV SHOW, BUT THIS TIME AROUND I OMITTED THE BACON, TWEAKED THE CHICKEN AND ADDED A LITTLE GRAVY.  SO LET'S JUST SAY IT IS A LITTLE MORE REFINED BUT BY ALL MEANS....DO ADD THE BACON!

CHICKEN - QUINOA BAKE WITH ROASTED GARLIC GRAVY

INGREDIENTS:
2 BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS (SUB CHICKEN THIGHS FOR MORE FLAVOR)
2 CARROTS, peeled and rough chopped
1 ONION, peeled and rough chopped
1 SMALL PACKAGE MUSHROOMS, rough chopped
1 HEAD OF GARLIC
1 BUNCH BROCCOLI RABE
1/2 C HOT CHERRY PEPPERS (SUB SWEET IF NEEDED), chopped
10 oz. QUINOA
2 - 32. oz LOW SODIUM CHICKEN STOCK
2 BALLS OF FRESH MOZZARELLA
FRESH BASIL
OLIVE OIL
SALT
1 TBS. FLOUR
1 TBS. BUTTER

PROCEDURE:

- PREHEAT OVEN TO 350*

- CUT JUST THE TOP OFF THE HEAD OF GARLIC, PLACE ON TINFOIL AND DRIZZLE WITH A LITTLE OLIVE OIL.  MAKE A POUCH WITH THE FOIL AND BAKE IN THE OVEN FOR 45-60 MIN.  REMOVE AND SET ASIDE.

- WHILE GARLIC IS ROASTING,  PUT CHICKEN STOCK IN A SMALL POT, BRING TO A BOIL AND ADD THE CHICKEN.  BRING THE STOCK UP TILL BARELY SIMMERING.  POACH UNTIL INTERNAL TEMP ON CHICKEN IS 160*, ABOUT 10-15 MIN.   REMOVE, SET ASIDE AND LET COOL.  RESERVE THE STOCK.

- WHILE THE CHICKEN IS POACHING, SAUTE THE ONION AND CARROTS WITH OLIVE AND SALT IN A LARGE CAST IRON OR OVEN-SAFE PAN.  WHEN THE ONION IS TRANSLUCENT, ADD THE MUSHROOMS AND SAUTE OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT.  WHEN ALL THE MOISTURE HAS EVAPORATED, TASTE AND SEASON THE MIXTURE AS NEEDED.  REMOVE FROM THE HEAT AND SET ASIDE.

- WHILE THE ONIONS/CARROTS ARE WORKING, BRING WATER TO BOIL IN A LARGE POT AND ADD THE BROCCOLI RABE.  COOK FOR 3-5 MINUTES UNTIL JUST TENDER, REMOVE AND PLACE IN AN ICE BATH.  WHEN COOL, PUT IN A TOWEL AND SQUEEZE OUT ALL THE WATER.  THIS WILL HELP REMOVE SOME BITTERNESS.  CHOP THE BROCCOLI RABE AND ADD TO THE ONION AND CARROTS.

- ADD THE AMOUNT OF STOCK NEEDED FOR THE QUINOA TO A LARGE SAUCE PAN AND COOK THE QUINOA ACCORDING TO THE PACKAGE.  ONCE COOKED, ADD IT TO THE ONION/CARROT/BROCCOLI RABE MIXTURE ALONG WITH THE CHOPPED CHERRY PEPPERS.

- WHEN THE CHICKEN IS COOL, SHRED IT AND ADD TO THE VEGETABLE - QUINOA MIXTURE.  TOP THE MIXTURE WITH SLICED FRESH MOZZARELLA (PLACING MOZZARELLA IN FREEZER FOR A LITTLE WILL MAKE SLICING EASIER).  PLACE THE WHOLE PAN IN THE OVEN AND BAKE UNTIL CHEESE IS MELTED AND BROWNED.  YOU CAN ALSO USE THE BROILER TO BROWN THE CHEESE.

- WHILE THE DISH IS BAKING, IN A SMALL PAN MAKE A ROUX BY MELTING 1 TBS. BUTTER AND ADDING 1 TBS. FLOUR. STIR FOR A FEW SECONDS TO COOK, BE CAREFUL  NOT TO BURN.  ADD ABOUT 1 CUP OF RESERVED CHICKEN STOCK, STIR AND BRING TO A BOIL.  LOWER TO SIMMER.  SQUEEZE OUT COOLED ROASTED GARLIC AND USING FLAT PART OF YOUR KNIFE MAKE A PASTE.  ADD THE ROASTED GARLIC PASTE TO THE GRAVY AND TURN 

- OFF HEAT WHEN THE DESIRED CONSISTENCY.

- REMOVE THE QUINOA BAKE FROM THE OVEN AND LET COOL FOR A FEW MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.  GARNISH WITH SOME FRESH BASIL AND ROASTED GARLIC GRAVY.

Posted on December 17, 2016 and filed under LUNCH, DINNER.

THE FALL IS HERE SO BRING ON THE SOUP, STEWS AND......HALLOWEEN!

IT'S A TOSS-UP FOR ME BUT I MIGHT HAVE TO PUT FALL AS MY FAVORITE SEASON OVER SUMMER AS FAR AS COOKING GOES, NOT TO MENTION HALLOWEEN HAPPENS TO BE MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY!  WE GO ALL OUT AT THE FUSCO HOUSE, COMPLETE WITH OUR ANNUAL HALLOWEEN PARTY AND A FULL WALK-THROUGH HAUNTED HOUSE FOR HALLOWEEN NIGHT...BUT BACK TO THE FOOD....
THE FALL ALWAYS MEANS COMFORT FOOD, WHETHER IT IS A BIG POT OF SIMMERING STEW OR THE INFAMOUS BOWLS OF FIREHOUSE CHILI.  BUT LET'S NOT FORGET ABOUT A NICE HOT BOWL OF SOUP TO LADLE UP TO.  AND THIS SPICY PEANUT-SWEET POTATO SOUP FROM COURTENAY K. OF THE THORNHILL VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT. IS THE PERFECT REMEDY FOR THESE CHILLY FALL NIGHTS!

SPICY PEANUT-SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH SMOKED TURKEY SAUSAGE

INGREDIENTS:
1 ACORN SQUASH, stem removed, chopped in to large pieces
5-6 SWEET POTATOES, peeled, chopped in to large pieces
2 BELL PEPPERS, stemmed and seeded
1 ONION, peeled
2 GARLIC CLOVES, peeled
16 oz. CHICKEN STOCK
2 CUPS OF WATER
OPTIONAL SPICES: IMPROVISE AND TASTE AS YOU GO
 - FRESH GINGER PUREE (2 TSP.)
 -PEPPER
 -SRIRACHA
 -SMOKED SEA SALT
 -ANCHO, CHIPOTLE POWDERS
 -CUMIN
 -CORIANDER
 -CINNAMON
 -NUTMEG
LARGE CAN DICED TOMATOES
1/3 CUP PEANUT BUTTER
PINT OF CHOPPED PINEAPPLE
BUNCH OF CILANTRO
JUICE OF 1 LIME
SMOKED TURKEY SAUSAGE (OPTIONAL)
 

PROCEDURE:
Preheat oven to 350* F

On a large sheet pan toss the squash, sweet potato, pepper, onion and garlic with a little olive oil.  Roast until the squash and sweet potato are tender.  Remove and add to large pot with chicken stock and water.

Add the spices and bring to a low boil over medium heat.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the peanut butter, stir until combined.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth (you can use a blender but be careful with hot liquid, let it cool down a little before pureeing).

Garnish the soup with pineapple, cilantro, lime juice, hot sauce and cooked turkey sausage.
 

If you have a recipe you would like featured, we would love to share it!  Send it to forkandhoseco@gmail.com

Posted on October 11, 2016 .

555 EATS - HANGAR STEAK WITH SHALLOT PAN-SAUCE

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT #555EATS IS, PLAIN AND SIMPLY PUT.....IT IS A JOINT EFFORT BETWEEN F&H CO. AND 555 FITNESS TO PROMOTE HEALTHIER EATING IN THE FIREHOUSE.  IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE FOCUS NOT JUST ON THE FITNESS SIDE OF THE EQUATION BUT THE NUTRITIONAL SIDE AS WELL.  BUT WE DON'T WANT TO BORE YOU WITH CALORIE NUMBERS OR CARB STATS.....#555EATS IS ALL ABOUT SHARING RECIPES FEATURING WHOLE FOODS WITH LESS PROCESSED CRAP!
OH, AND ABOUT THAT EQUATION THING I MENTIONED EARLIER....HAVE YOU SEEN THE FORK AND HOSE CO./555 FITNESS COLLABORATION T-SHIRT CALLED, YOU GUESSED IT, "THE EQUATION"?  IF YOU EAT WELL AND TRAIN HARD, YOU WILL SURVIVE.  CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS TODAY! ALL THE PROCEEDS GO TO THE 555 FITNESS MISSION!

HANGAR STEAK WITH SHALLOT PAN-SAUCE

This recipe is based off of one from Bon Appetit, where I frequently look for recipe inspirations.  You can definitely substitute skirt steak or even flank steak here.  Hangar was cheaper than those two so that's what I went with, we all know the importance of keeping firehouse meals as cheap as possible.  The ingredients in this recipe cover all the important bases

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2-3 LBS. HANGAR STEAKS
CANOLA OIL (lf using olive oil, just be careful of the lower smoking point of Olive oil)
2 GARLIC CLOVES, whole with skin on
4 SPRIGS FRESH THYME
2 SHALLOTS, finely diced
2 TSP. MUSTARD SEEDS, Any color (Substitute with 1 Tsp. Whole Grain Mustard)
3/4 CUP CHICKEN BROTH (Or white wine if you have it available)
ZEST AND JUICE OF 1/2 LEMON
2 TBS. UNSALTED BUTTER
SALT/PEPPER TO TASTE


PROCEDURE:
Season steaks generously with salt.

Get a large saute/cast iron pan screaming hot.  Right before adding steaks to the pan, drizzle in just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the steaks and half of the thyme and both garlic cloves.  Cook the steaks over high heat for about 8 minutes total for medium rare, flip them halfway through.  You want a nice golden brown crust so don't move them around too much.

Remove the steaks and place on a wire rack to rest for at least 10 minutes.  

While the steaks rest, pour off most of the oil from the pan.  Add the shallots and mustard seeds, saute over medium heat for a couple minutes.  Add the chicken broth, lemon zest/juice, and thyme leaves, scraping any brown bits off the bottom.  Reduce this mixture by about half, about 5 minutes.  

Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and swirl the pan.  It is important to do this off heat because if the sauce gets too hot it will break, which means the butter will not emulsify with the sauce and it will become very "greasy".  Taste and adjust your seasonings.
 

By reducing the pan-sauce, we are fortifying it with flavor and "thickening" it at the same time without the need for flour.  The touch of butter at the end adds body to the sauce and gives it that shiny look great sauces are known for. 
If you have a healthy firehouse recipe you would like featured, email us at forkandhoseco@gmail.com.  Stay safe, eat well!
Posted on August 29, 2016 and filed under DINNER.

GUY'S GROCERY GAMES.....WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S FLAVOR

LEVITY ENTERTAINMENT GROUP/FOOD NETWORK/FIREFIGHTERS/GUY'S GROCERY GAMES, THAT WAS THE SUBJECT LINE OF THE EMAIL I RECEIVED IN EARLY OCTOBER OF 2015.  AN EMAIL WHICH I WAS EXCITED TO OPEN BUT AT THE SAME TIME HESITANT ABOUT.  IT MUST BE SOME SPAM THAT MADE IT THROUGH THE FILTERS I THOUGHT.  BUT WHEN MY WIFE JESSICA SAID IT SOUNDED LEGIT AND THAT I SHOULD FOLLOW THROUGH WITH IT, I TOOK HER ADVICE BECAUSE SHE IS USUALLY RIGHT. SHHHHHH...DON'T TELL HER I SAID THAT.


THE PROCESS

THE JOURNEY BEGINS WITH COUNTLESS APPLICATIONS, PHOTO SUBMISSIONS (THANKFULLY I SAVE MOST OF MY FIREHOUSE MEAL PICTURES, PROBABLY TOO MANY!), INTERVIEWS, SKYPE INTERVIEWS AND VIDEO SUBMISSIONS.  AND WHILE IT WAS A LONG PROCESS IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT IN THE END.

THEN CAME THE CALL....

THE GENTLEMAN EXPLAINED HE WANTED TO DISCUSS TRAVEL ITINERARY, TO WHICH I REPLIED "FOR WHAT?".  HE SAID FOR THE FILMING OF GUY'S GROCERY GAMES WHICH FILMS OUT IN CALIFORNIA AND PROCEEDED TO TELL ME "YOU ARE ONE OF FOUR FIREFIGHTERS CHOSEN".  "WWWWHHHHHAAATTTTT?!?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?" WAS MY REPLY IN UTTER DISBELIEF.  I MEAN I WAS EXTREMELY CONFIDENT I WOULD BE GREAT FOR THE SHOW BUT I KNEW HOW MANY OTHER GREAT FIREHOUSE CHEFS WERE OUT THERE, MANY OF WHOM GIVE ME INSPIRATION FOR MY BLOG.  NOW IT GOT REAL....


CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'

THE TIME HAD COME.  I BOARDED THE PLANE IN NEW YORK, NERVOUS AND EXCITED FOR WHAT LIED AHEAD.  I KNEW IT WOULD BE A SHORT TRIP BUT WANTED TO SOAK UP EVERY MINUTE OF IT.  I HAD BEEN TO CALIFORNIA ONCE BEFORE, BUT NOT TO COMPETE ON NATIONAL T.V. FOR A FOOD NETWORK SHOW...

 

 

I WAS PICKED UP AT THE SAN FRANCISCO AIRPORT BY SOMEONE WHO WORKS FOR THE PRODUCTION COMPANY.  WE PICKED UP FELLOW COMPETITOR JAMIE FROM CORONA FD IN CALIFORNIA AND WE WERE ON OUR WAY.  OH, DID I MENTION THIS IS WHEN JAMIE PROCEEDED TO TELL US HIS WIFE MIGHT GO IN TO LABOR ANY MINUTE! HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!


MEETING THE COMPETITION

MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE OF THE BROTHER/SISTERHOOD THING, OR MAYBE IT WAS BECAUSE EVERYONE WAS SO NICE, BUT WHEN I MET THE OTHER COMPETITORS IN THE HOTEL LOBBY WE HIT IT OFF RIGHT AWAY.  NOT ONLY ARE WE ALL FIREFIGHTERS BUT WE ALL HAVE A HUGE PASSION FOR COOKING, I MEAN THAT'S WHY WE WERE HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!  DANAE (PASADENA FD) AND JAMIE (CORONA FD) ARE BOTH FROM CALIFORNIA, ANTHONY IS WITH MIAMI-DADE FD IN FLORIDA AND I AM WITH HARRISON FD IN NEW YORK,  JUST THINK ABOUT HOW FAR ALL OF THESE PLACES ARE FROM EACH OTHER.  YET WE SIT HERE TOGETHER AS IF WE HAD MET YEARS AGO.

BUT NOW IT'S TIME TO GET READY FOR THE BIG DAY! BUT FIRST MY COMPLIMENTARY HOTEL COOKIE AND IN N' OUT BURGER!  BECAUSE HOW CAN YOU REFUSE?!


THE SHOOT

I DIDN'T SLEEP.....AT ALL.  HOW COULD YOU?  I WAS HOURS AWAY FROM COMPETING FOR A CHANCE TO WIN UP TO $20K, RAISE MONEY FOR MY CHARITY 555 FITNESS, COOK IN FRONT OF A CRAZY AMOUNT OF CAMERAS,CELEBRITY CHEFS/JUDGES AND TO TOP IT OFF....AGAINST MY BROTHERS AND SISTER IN THE FIRE SERVICE!  OH AND I AM SURE THE LATE NIGHT 555 FITNESS INSPIRED WORKOUT DIDN'T HELP QUELL THE NERVES....

I WAKE UP AND OPEN MY SUITCASE TO FIND THIS IN IT....A GOOD LUCK CHARM FROM MY WIFE.  IT SAYS "PMA", WHICH STANDS FOR "POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE", A MANTRA WE LOVE TO SAY WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH.  I EVEN HAVE IT TATTOOED ON MY LEG.  I WOULD NOT BE WHERE I AM AS A PERSON, PROFESSIONALLY, AS A FOOD BLOGGER.....I WOULDN'T BE ANYTHING WITHOUT MY WIFE JESSICA.

OUR CALL TIME WAS EARLY, LIKE REAL EARLY.  AND WE ALL KNEW WE HAD A LONG DAY AHEAD OF US, BUT THE ANTICIPATION TO START COOKING WAS EVIDENT AMONGST US ALL.  I CAN'T GO IN TO ANY DETAILS REGARDING THE FILMING, CHALLENGES AND DETAILS BUT I WILL DO MY BEST TO GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT I WAS FEELING......

I WALK OUT OF THE TRAILER TO FIND GUY FIERI'S JEEP PARKED OUTSIDE.  HOW DO I KNOW IT'S HIS YOU ASK, JUST LOOK AT THE DAMN THING!! IF THAT DOESN'T SCREAM GUY I DON'T WHAT WOULD!  

WE END UP MEETING GUY BEFORE THE SHOOT BEGINS.  I HAD MET GUY BEFORE AT A BOOK SIGNING A FEW YEARS AGO AND KNEW HE WAS A COOL DUDE BECAUSE HE EVEN SIGNED A T-SHIRT I DESIGNED THAT NOW HANGS IN THE FIREHOUSE!  BUT THIS TIME AROUND WE WERE ABLE TO REALLY TALK TO HIM BEFORE THE SHOOT WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN.  HE TALKED ABOUT HOW MUCH RESPECT HE HAD FOR FIREFIGHTERS WHICH WAS AMAZING TO HEAR.  AND HE ALSO CALMED OUR NERVES.....A LOT!  HE SAID TO JUST HAVE FUN AND THAT JUST MAKING IT THIS FAR WAS AN ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND HE WAS RIGHT.  I AM EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE AND WANTED TO WIN BUT AT THAT MOMENT I SAID TO MYSELF, WHATEVER HAPPENS I AM STILL PROUD TO HAVE BEEN CHOSEN FOR THE SHOW AND REPRESENT MY FAMILY, FRIENDS, THE FIRE SERVICE AND ALL MY F&H CO. SUPPORTERS!


AND THEN WE START COOKING!  TO SAY WE WERE ALL HAVING A GOOD TIME WOULD PROBABLY BE AN EXTREME UNDERSTATEMENT.  THEIR WAS TYPICAL FIREHOUSE BANTER GOING ON, THE GRILLS WERE RIPPING HOT, POTS AND PLANS WERE FLYING AROUND, SOMEONE GOT CUT, BUT THROUGH IT ALL WE KEPT OUR COMPOSURE.  AND I CAN TRULY SAY THIS IS BECAUSE WE ARE FIREFIGHTERS.  WE ARE USED TO WORKING UNDER PRESSURE, IN LESS THAN IDEAL CONDITIONS, WHILE HAVING TO PERFORM A TASK THAT REQUIRES PRECISION.   AND THIS IS WHY FIREFIGHTERS MAKE THE BEST COOKS!!!

IN THE END, I HAD WON.  BUT REALLY WE ALL WON,  WE GOT TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT FIREFIGHTERS CAN BE GREAT COOKS AND WE ALL RAISED AWARENESS FOR THE GREAT CHARITIES WE WERE COMPETING FOR.  NOT EVEN GUY'S "STUPID LITTLE CARTS" COULD STOP US!!

SO AS YOU ALL KNOW BY NOW,  I WON $20K AFTER RIPPING THROUGH THAT STORE LIKE A FOURTH ALARM FIRE!  ALL THOSE 555 FITNESS WORKOUTS PAID OFF!  AND NOW MOM GETS HER DISHWASHER!!  AND I HAVE A COOL LITTLE SOUVENIR TO TAKE HOME, MY SHOPPING SPREE LIST SIGNED BUY GUY!

AND TO BE ABLE TO SPONSOR A 555 FITNESS STRENGTH IS OUR FOUNDATION GRANT IS BEYOND WORDS.  I AM SIMPLY PAYING IT FORWARD,  THEIR EFFORTS IN REDUCING LODD'S AMONG FIREFIGHTERS IS UNPRECEDENTED AND TO BE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE A LITTLE TO THAT IS AN HONOR.  

 

HAVING PIP FROM 555 FITNESS AT THE VIEWING PARTY TO ACCEPT THE CHECK MADE IT THAT MUCH BETTER!


AND THE WINNER OF GUY'S GROCERY GAMES SALUTE TO FIREFIGHTERS IS.....CHEF A.J.

COULD YOU TELL MY DAD WAS EXCITED?! 

I HAD THE VIEWING PARTY AT MY FIREHOUSE SURROUNDED BY FAMILY, FRIENDS AND FELLOW FIREFIGHTERS, ALL PEOPLE I LOVE AND TO HAVE THEM THERE TO WATCH ME COMPETE WAS SOMEWHAT SURREAL.  I OWE SO MUCH TO THEM AS THEY SUPPORT ME IN EVERYTHING I DO AND I WOULDN'T BE THE MAN I AM TODAY WITHOUT THEM.  THE BROTHERS ALSO GOT ME THIS AMAZING CAKE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE END I AM TRULY GRATEFUL FOR THE EXPERIENCE, THE PEOPLE I MET AND THE CHANCE TO RAISE MONEY FOR A GREAT CHARITY AND BUY MOM A DISHWASHER....

I ALSO TEAMED UP WITH 555 FITNESS IN A COLLABORATION T-SHIRT CALLED "THE EQUATION".  ALL THE PROCEEDS OF THE SHIRT GO TOWARDS THEIR STRENGTH IS OUR FOUNDATION GRANT.  "THE EQUATION" IS BEST SUMMED UP BY THEM.....

"This equation is simple enough, you eat well, you train hard, you survive. So many companies have shirts with the "thin red line" on them, but are do nothing to prevent it. That's where Fork and Hose Co and 555 Fitness come in. Our brands are all about lowering that number. So here is the question, are you going to be a part of the SOLUTION or the Problem????" - 555 FITNESS

CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS!

THANK YOU AGAIN TO EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTS FORK AND HOSE CO., WITHOUT YOU GUYS WE WOULDN'T EXIST.  SO KEEP THE MEALS AND HEALTHY RECIPES COMING!  
STAY SAFE, EAT WELL,

BONUS:

HERE IS THE VIEWING PARTY MENU INSPIRED BY THE SHOW!

A.J.
Posted on August 16, 2016 .

555 EATS - TZATZIKI SAUCE

WE LOVE SHARING HEALTHY RECIPES WITH OUR FRIENDS AT 555 FITNESS!  THEIR MISSION OF REDUCING LODD'S THROUGH FITNESS GOES HAND IN HAND WITH OUR GOAL OF HEALTHIER EATING IN THE FIREHOUSE.  TOGETHER WE HOPE TO MAKE A CHANGE, ONE REP AND ONE BITE AT A TIME! 

WE LOVE SHARING HEALTHY RECIPES WITH OUR FRIENDS AT 555 FITNESS!  THEIR MISSION OF REDUCING LODD'S THROUGH FITNESS GOES HAND IN HAND WITH OUR GOAL OF HEALTHIER EATING IN THE FIREHOUSE.  TOGETHER WE HOPE TO MAKE A CHANGE, ONE REP AND ONE BITE AT A TIME! 

BESIDES THE LOCAL DINER, GREEK FOOD IS NOT FOUND IN MANY PLACES NEAR OUR FIREHOUSE.  SO WHEN TRYING TO DECIDE ON SOMETHING NEW AND HEALTHY TO MAKE FOR LUNCH, I THOUGHT WHY N0T GYROS!!  BUT ONE CATCH, THE TZATZIKI HAD TO BE HOMEMADE.....

TZATZIKI SAUCE

YIELDS APPROX. 2 1/4 CUPS

INGREDIENTS:
1 - 17 OZ. FULL FAT GREEK YOGURT
1/2 ENGLISH CUCUMBER, Peeled
1 LEMON
1 SHALLOT, Peeled
SMALL BUNCH FRESH MINT, Finely Chopped
SMALL BUNCH FRESH DILL, Finely Chopped
SALT
PEPPER
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

PROCEDURE:
Grate the cucumber on a box grater using the large holes.  Put the shredded cucumber and a pinch of salt in a colander, let sit for 10 minutes.  Drain, place in a paper towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Grate the shallot with the small holes on the box grater, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, shallot, cucumber, herbs, a couple glugs of olive oil.  Zest the lemon into the bowl and the juice of the lemon.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with paprika.
 

IMG_0241.JPG
Posted on August 8, 2016 .

I DID IT MY WAY.....

OUR LEVEL 2 CHEF INSTRUCTOR JOSE HAS DEFINITELY BEEN AN INSPIRATION IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE.  HIS STYLE OF TEACHING IS CONSTANTLY CHALLENGING US TO LEARN MORE, AND NOT JUST IN CULINARY TECHNIQUE.  HE PUSHES US TO UNDERSTAND WHERE CERTAIN DISHES COME FROM, WHY THEY HAVE EVOLVED AND MOST POIGNANTLY WHERE WE DERIVE OUR OWN INSPIRATION FROM IN THE KITCHEN.  FOR OUR LAST RECIPE ASSIGNMENT, WE HAD TO COOK CHICKEN "OUR WAY".  BUT CHEF JOSE DEVIATED FROM THE SYLLABUS AND INSTEAD OF GIVING US A LIST OF INGREDIENTS TO USE IN OUR OWN WAY, WE WERE ASKED TO COOK A CHICKEN DISH THAT EVOKED PERSONAL MEMORIES.  THIS CLASS WOULD ULTIMATELY TEST OUR SKILLS IN THE KITCHEN, BUT ALSO ALLOW US TO SHINE....

CHICKEN FUSCIOLA

CHICKEN/SAUTEED PEPPERS AND ONIONS/HOT ITALIAN SAUSAGE/TOMATO SAUCE FORTIFIED WITH CHICKEN BONES, WHITE WINE, STOCK AND A SOFFRITTO OF CARROT AND RED ONION/BASIL OIL

YOU WON'T FIND CHICKEN FUSCIOLA ON ANY MENU IN ANY ITALIAN RESTAURANT ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.  YOU MAY FIND SOMETHING SIMILAR BUT DEFINITELY NOT WITH THAT NAME, AS IT IS A COMBINATION OF BOTH OF MY GRANDMOTHER'S LAST NAMES, FUSCO AND MASCIOLA.  I WANTED TO USE INFLUENCES FROM BOTH OF THEM, SO I COMBINED INGREDIENTS TO MAKE ONE COHESIVE MEAL DISH.

IT WAS TRULY A CULINARY WORLD TOUR AT CLASS ON CHICKEN "YOUR WAY" NIGHT.  WHILE I DON'T REMEMBER ALL THE NAMES OF THE DISHES, I CAN TELL YOU WHERE ALL THE DISHES COME FROM OR ARE INSPIRED BY....

AMERICA/ITALY/INDIA/PHILLIPINES/CHINA/SPAIN/KOREA/LEBANON/IRELAND/CHILE

EVERYONE DID AN OUTSTANDING JOB, MAYBE IT WAS BECAUSE WERE ALL COOKING FROM THE HEART AND NOT A TEXTBOOK.

PASTA PASTA PASTA!!!!!!!!!  PASTA DAY WAS DEFINITELY ONE CLASS I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO.  IT IS SOMETHING THAT I CAN HONESTLY SAY I COULD NEVER GIVE UP.  SUNDAYS ARE MY DAY FOR INDULGING IN THIS SIMPLE SATISFYING FOOD, A DAY I LOOK FORWARD TO ALL WEEK.  BUT DON'T THINK BECAUSE IT IS A "SIMPLE" FOOD THAT IT IS EASY TO MAKE, BECAUSE IT IS FAR FROM IT.  WHILE THE INGREDIENTS ARE MINIMAL, IT IS THEIR QUALITY AND YOUR TECHNIQUE THAT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

GNOCCHI IS AN ITALIAN DUMPLING MADE MOST COMMONLY FROM POTATOES, ALTHOUGH SOME MAY FIND RICOTTA DUMPLINGS AS WELL.  THE KEY TO A GOOD POTATO GNOCCHI IS USING STARCHY POTATOES SUCH AS THE IDAHO VARIETY, AND NOT OVERWORKING THE DOUGH WHICH WOULD FORM TOO MUCH GLUTEN.

GNOCCHI WITH BROWN BUTTER, TOASTED HAZELNUT AND SAGE

GNOCCHI WITH BROWN BUTTER, TOASTED HAZELNUT AND SAGE

CHEF JOSE IS A MASTER IN MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY.  SO WHEN HE WAS TEACHING A FOOD TECHNOLOGY NEXT DOOR, HE SENT THESE OVER FOR US TO TRY.

"OLIVE" SPHERES WITH LEMON ZEST....BASICALLY PURE OLIVE "JUICE" ENCAPSULATED IN A THIN MEMBRANE SO THAT WHEN YOU BIT INTO IT, AN EXPLOSION OF BRINY GREEN OLIVE COATED YOUR MOUTH. INCREDIBLE!

STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK'S RECAP.....LEVEL 3 HERE WE COME!

Posted on July 24, 2016 .

CULINARY SCHOOL RECAP OVERLOAD!

WELL IT HAS BEEN A MINUTE SINCE WE HAVE HAD A CULINARY SCHOOL RECAP, AND TO SAY WE HAVE BEEN BUSY IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!  LEVEL 2 IS COMING TO A CLOSE AND I FEEL AS IF IT HAS GONE BY QUICKER THAN LEVEL 1 BY A LONG SHOT. SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADIEU.....

PASTRY ANYONE?

I HAD MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THE LOOMING PASTRY CLASSES.  I MEAN, I DON'T LIKE TO MEASURE.....EVER.  AND WHILE WE MAY HAVE FOLLOWED RECIPES IN OUR SAVORY DISHES, A GRAM LESS OF PAPRIKA WOULDN'T RESULT IN THE FINAL DISH BEING PUT INTO THE SCRAP BIN.  NOW PASTRY ON THE OTHER HAND IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT ANIMAL.  A MISCALCULATION HERE AND THERE COULD CERTAINLY RESULT IN DISASTER....AND IT DID TO A CERTAIN DEGREE.  SOUFFLES WHICH FAILED TO RISE OR OVERWORKED DOUGHS WERE ALL COMMONPLACE, BUT AS A GROUP WE MANAGED TO PERSEVERE AND GET THE JOB DONE, EVEN IF IT MEANT STARTING OVER.

PROFITEROLES A.K.A THE CREAM PUFF
CREAM PUFFS ARE MADE USING PATE A CHOUX, A DOUGH POPULAR BECAUSE OF IT'S VERSATILITY.  IT CAN BE DEEP-FRIED, POACHED IN WATER OR BAKED.  IT IS ALSO THE ONLY PASTRY DOUGH WHICH IS COOKED TWICE.  IT IS ALSO USED TO MAKE THE POPULAR DESSERT, ECLAIRS.

CREAM PUFFS ARE MADE USING PATE A CHOUX, A DOUGH POPULAR BECAUSE OF IT'S VERSATILITY.  IT CAN BE DEEP-FRIED, POACHED IN WATER OR BAKED.  IT IS ALSO THE ONLY PASTRY DOUGH WHICH IS COOKED TWICE.  IT IS ALSO USED TO MAKE THE POPULAR DESSERT, ECLAIRS.

SOUFFLE AU FROMAGE "CHEESE SOUFFLE"
LIGHT, AIRY, CHEESY....WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED IN LIFE?  WE USED GRUYERE BECAUSE GRUYERE....THATS WHY.

LIGHT, AIRY, CHEESY....WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED IN LIFE?  WE USED GRUYERE BECAUSE GRUYERE....THATS WHY.

TARTE AUX POMMES "APPLE TART"
THERE ARE THREE BASIC FRENCH TART DOUGHS. PATE BRISEE OR "BROKEN DOUGH" IS USED IN SAVORY TARTS SUCH AS QUICHES AS THERE IS LITTLE TO NO SUGAR. PATE SUCREE OR "SUGARED DOUGH", WHICH IS USED EXCLUSIVELY FOR SWEET TARTS.  AND FINALLY THERE IS PATE SABLEE OR "SANDY DOUGH", WHICH IS JUST LIKE PATE SUCREE BUT WITH A HIGHER SUGAR PROPORTION.  IT IS FREQUENTLY REFERRED TO AS SHORTBREAD DOUGH.  FOR THIS APPLE TART AND THE PEAR ALMOND TART WE USED PATE SUCREE.

THERE ARE THREE BASIC FRENCH TART DOUGHS. PATE BRISEE OR "BROKEN DOUGH" IS USED IN SAVORY TARTS SUCH AS QUICHES AS THERE IS LITTLE TO NO SUGAR. PATE SUCREE OR "SUGARED DOUGH", WHICH IS USED EXCLUSIVELY FOR SWEET TARTS.  AND FINALLY THERE IS PATE SABLEE OR "SANDY DOUGH", WHICH IS JUST LIKE PATE SUCREE BUT WITH A HIGHER SUGAR PROPORTION.  IT IS FREQUENTLY REFERRED TO AS SHORTBREAD DOUGH.  FOR THIS APPLE TART AND THE PEAR ALMOND TART WE USED PATE SUCREE.

TARTE AUX POIRES A LA FRANGIPANE "PEAR TART WITH ALMOND CREAM"
QUICHE LORRAINE - QUICHE FILLED WITH BACON AND GRUYERE
WE USED THE SAVORY TART DOUGH, PATE BRISEE, FOR THIS QUICHE.  SURPRISINGLY THERE WAS ONLY ONE WHOLE EGG AND ONE WHOLE YOLK USED IN THE ENTIRE RECIPE.  THE FILLING WAS MADE UP MOSTLY OF MILK AND HEAVY CREAM, WHICH LED TO A VERY LIGHT AND CREAMY FILLING.  DELICIOUS!

WE USED THE SAVORY TART DOUGH, PATE BRISEE, FOR THIS QUICHE.  SURPRISINGLY THERE WAS ONLY ONE WHOLE EGG AND ONE WHOLE YOLK USED IN THE ENTIRE RECIPE.  THE FILLING WAS MADE UP MOSTLY OF MILK AND HEAVY CREAM, WHICH LED TO A VERY LIGHT AND CREAMY FILLING.  DELICIOUS!

GENOISE (WHOLE EGG FOAM CAKE) WITH CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
THE CAKE WAS OK.  MY FIRST GO ROUND WITH THE GENOISE BATTER WAS A FLOP.  I OVER-BEAT IT WHICH LED TO IT BEING EXTREMELY DENSE.  THE SECOND ATTEMPT WAS MUCH BETTER BUT EVEN STILL NOT A+ MATERIAL.  WE SOAKED THE LAYERS WITH A SIMPLE SYRUP TO PROVIDE SWEETNESS AND MOISTURE, WHICH HELPED COUNTERACT IT'S DENSENESS.  THE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING CAME OUT AS PLANNED, HOWEVER, IT IS VERY RICH.  NOT MY CUP OF TEA...

THE CAKE WAS OK.  MY FIRST GO ROUND WITH THE GENOISE BATTER WAS A FLOP.  I OVER-BEAT IT WHICH LED TO IT BEING EXTREMELY DENSE.  THE SECOND ATTEMPT WAS MUCH BETTER BUT EVEN STILL NOT A+ MATERIAL.  WE SOAKED THE LAYERS WITH A SIMPLE SYRUP TO PROVIDE SWEETNESS AND MOISTURE, WHICH HELPED COUNTERACT IT'S DENSENESS.  THE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING CAME OUT AS PLANNED, HOWEVER, IT IS VERY RICH.  NOT MY CUP OF TEA...

BISCUITS A LA CUILLERE A.K.A LADYFINGERS
THESE LADYFINGERS CAME OUT GREAT.  WE COMBINED ALL OF THEM FROM THE WHOLE CLASS TO MAKE TIRAMISU.  BUT GET THIS, THE TIRAMISU WENT MISSING!  WE LOOKED FOR IT THE NEXT CLASS BECAUSE IT TASTES BETTER AS IT SITS, BUT SOMEONE HAD STICKY FINGERS!

THESE LADYFINGERS CAME OUT GREAT.  WE COMBINED ALL OF THEM FROM THE WHOLE CLASS TO MAKE TIRAMISU.  BUT GET THIS, THE TIRAMISU WENT MISSING!  WE LOOKED FOR IT THE NEXT CLASS BECAUSE IT TASTES BETTER AS IT SITS, BUT SOMEONE HAD STICKY FINGERS!

CREPES SUZETTE
THIS CLASSIC FRENCH DESSERT WAS SWEET, AND THAT'S PUTTING IT LIGHTLY.  WHEN THIS RECIPE WAS FIRST OFFERED ON FRENCH MENUS, IT WAS A REAL TREAT AS MOST PEOPLE DID NOT EAT SWEETS AT THE TIME.  THE SWEET ORANGE SAUCE COMBINED WITH THE JULIENNED ORANGE ZEST SOAKED IN GRENADINE RESULTED IN A CITRUSY SWEET DISH.

THIS CLASSIC FRENCH DESSERT WAS SWEET, AND THAT'S PUTTING IT LIGHTLY.  WHEN THIS RECIPE WAS FIRST OFFERED ON FRENCH MENUS, IT WAS A REAL TREAT AS MOST PEOPLE DID NOT EAT SWEETS AT THE TIME.  THE SWEET ORANGE SAUCE COMBINED WITH THE JULIENNED ORANGE ZEST SOAKED IN GRENADINE RESULTED IN A CITRUSY SWEET DISH.

CREPES AU JAMBON ET CHAMPIGNONS - "HAM AND MUSHROOM-FILLED CREPES"
THESE WERE INCREDIBLE!  THE CREPE BATTER USED BUCKWHEAT WHICH ADDED GREAT DEPTH OF FLAVOR.  AND YOU CAN'T GO WRONG WITH MUSHROOMS AND GRUYERE!

THESE WERE INCREDIBLE!  THE CREPE BATTER USED BUCKWHEAT WHICH ADDED GREAT DEPTH OF FLAVOR.  AND YOU CAN'T GO WRONG WITH MUSHROOMS AND GRUYERE!

AND THAT CONCLUDES OUR PASTRY PROGRAM IN LEVEL 2.  I DID NOT INCLUDE ALL THE RECIPES AND DISHES WE MADE BECAUSE WE EITHER ATE THEM TO QUICK, THEY DID NOT COME OUT AS PLANNED OR I SIMPLY FORGOT TO TAKE PICTURES.  IN THE END IT WAS NOT AS BAD AS I WAS EXPECTING, BUT I AM DEFINITELY HAPPY TO BE BACK TO COOKING WITHOUT EGGS, BUTTER AND FLOUR!

AND NOW FOR THE "NUTRITION" LESSONS...AND BY THIS I MEAN WE BRIEFLY SPOKE ABOUT HOW TO INCORPORATE NUTRITIOUS FOOD INTO A MENU AND THAT'S ABOUT IT.  I WAS SLIGHTLY DISAPPOINTED AT HOW QUICKLY WE WENT OVER THE TOPIC OF NUTRITION BUT WE STILL MADE SOME INCREDIBLE FOOD!

GIGANTE BEANS WITH CHORIZO, CLAMS, STRIPED BASS AND SALSA VERDE

DEFINITELY ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITE DISHES WE HAVE MADE TO DATE!  SO MUCH GOODNESS ON ONE PLATE.  THE SALTY BRININESS OF THE CLAMS, THE SPICY CHORIZO AND CLEAN FLAVOR OF THE STRIPED BASS WAS PERFECT TOGETHER.  AND THE BEANS!  THEY WERE THE PERFECT TEXTURE TO BRING EVERYTHING TOGETHER!  THE SALSA VERDE ADDED A TOUCH OF "BRIGHTNESS" TO EVERYTHING....A PERFECT SUMMER DISH!

DEFINITELY ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITE DISHES WE HAVE MADE TO DATE!  SO MUCH GOODNESS ON ONE PLATE.  THE SALTY BRININESS OF THE CLAMS, THE SPICY CHORIZO AND CLEAN FLAVOR OF THE STRIPED BASS WAS PERFECT TOGETHER.  AND THE BEANS!  THEY WERE THE PERFECT TEXTURE TO BRING EVERYTHING TOGETHER!  THE SALSA VERDE ADDED A TOUCH OF "BRIGHTNESS" TO EVERYTHING....A PERFECT SUMMER DISH!

FAROTTO WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH, ROASTED CREMINI MUSHROOMS, SAGE AND PARMESAN

FARRO IS A DELICIOUS WHOLE GRAIN WHICH IS NOT USED ENOUGH!  THIS DISH IS DEFINITELY BETTER SUITED FOR COLDER WEATHER BUT IT WAS STILL DELICIOUS!

FARRO IS A DELICIOUS WHOLE GRAIN WHICH IS NOT USED ENOUGH!  THIS DISH IS DEFINITELY BETTER SUITED FOR COLDER WEATHER BUT IT WAS STILL DELICIOUS!

LAVASH

LAVASH IS A THIN, UNLEAVENED BREAD OFTEN COOKED IN A TANDOR OVEN.  IT IS SAID TO HAVE ORIGINATED IN ARMENIA BUT IT IS POPULAR ALL OVER THE MIDDLE EAST.

LAVASH IS A THIN, UNLEAVENED BREAD OFTEN COOKED IN A TANDOR OVEN.  IT IS SAID TO HAVE ORIGINATED IN ARMENIA BUT IT IS POPULAR ALL OVER THE MIDDLE EAST.

FALAFEL, ROAST CHICKEN, TZATZIKI, TAHINI SAUCE ON LAVASH BREAD
WE MADE OUR OWN FALAFEL AND TZATZIKI SAUCE SO NATURALLY THIS HAPPENED FOR FAMILY MEAL!  

WE MADE OUR OWN FALAFEL AND TZATZIKI SAUCE SO NATURALLY THIS HAPPENED FOR FAMILY MEAL!  

ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH TOMATO-CAPER SAUCE
I LOVE SPAGHETTI SQUASH!!  WHEN I AM IN THE MOOD FOR PASTA BUT DO NOT WANT THE CARBS, I TURN TO THIS DELICIOUS GOURD!  THE ADDITION OF CAPERS TO THIS DISH ADDED THE PERFECT AMOUNT OF SALTY BRINY DELICIOUSNESS!

I LOVE SPAGHETTI SQUASH!!  WHEN I AM IN THE MOOD FOR PASTA BUT DO NOT WANT THE CARBS, I TURN TO THIS DELICIOUS GOURD!  THE ADDITION OF CAPERS TO THIS DISH ADDED THE PERFECT AMOUNT OF SALTY BRINY DELICIOUSNESS!

GRILLED SHRIMP AND CALAMARI OVER A WARM BEAN SALAD

THIS DISH WAS PART OF OUR SEASONAL AND SUSTAINABLE COOKING LESSON.  IT IS VERY MEDITERRANEAN AND RIGHT UP MY ALLEY!  I LOVE THESE FLAVORS DURING THE WARMER MONTHS, THE DISH WAS PACKED WITH FLAVOR YET STILL LIGHT AND FRESH.

THIS DISH WAS PART OF OUR SEASONAL AND SUSTAINABLE COOKING LESSON.  IT IS VERY MEDITERRANEAN AND RIGHT UP MY ALLEY!  I LOVE THESE FLAVORS DURING THE WARMER MONTHS, THE DISH WAS PACKED WITH FLAVOR YET STILL LIGHT AND FRESH.

SEARED TUNA OVER COUS COUS WITH VEGETABLE GAZPACHO

I LOVE TUNA.  I LOVE GAZPACHO.  I LOVED THIS DISH.  GAZPACHO IS A TRADITIONAL SPANISH DISH MADE OFTEN WITH TOMATOES AND ONION, PUREED INTO A SOUP-LIKE CONSISTENCY.  IT IS SERVED CHILLED AND DEFINITELY REFRESHING.  OUR CHEF HAD US MAKE IT MORE TRADITIONALLY USING BREAD AS WELL, WHICH LENT A DELICIOUS FLAVOR AND CONSISTENCY.

I LOVE TUNA.  I LOVE GAZPACHO.  I LOVED THIS DISH.  GAZPACHO IS A TRADITIONAL SPANISH DISH MADE OFTEN WITH TOMATOES AND ONION, PUREED INTO A SOUP-LIKE CONSISTENCY.  IT IS SERVED CHILLED AND DEFINITELY REFRESHING.  OUR CHEF HAD US MAKE IT MORE TRADITIONALLY USING BREAD AS WELL, WHICH LENT A DELICIOUS FLAVOR AND CONSISTENCY.

FRESH MOZZ! A.K.A FRESH MOZZARELLA
DEFINITELY NOT THE BEST MOZZARELLA I HAVE EVER HAD BUT I AM STILL PROUD OF IT!

DEFINITELY NOT THE BEST MOZZARELLA I HAVE EVER HAD BUT I AM STILL PROUD OF IT!

MUSHROOM RISOTTO

RISOTTO IS SOMETHING THAT I LOVE YET NEVER TRIED TO MAKE.  MAYBE BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN INTIMIDATED BY IT'S REPUTATION AS BEING "DIFFICULT" TO MAKE.  I MADE MINE TO THE CONSISTENCY ITALIANS CALL ALL'ONDA, WHICH TRANSLATES TO "WITH WAVES".  IT IS CREAMIER THAN THE AMERICAN STYLE, WHICH IS USUALLY "MOUNDED" ON THE PLATE.

RISOTTO IS SOMETHING THAT I LOVE YET NEVER TRIED TO MAKE.  MAYBE BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN INTIMIDATED BY IT'S REPUTATION AS BEING "DIFFICULT" TO MAKE.  I MADE MINE TO THE CONSISTENCY ITALIANS CALL ALL'ONDA, WHICH TRANSLATES TO "WITH WAVES".  IT IS CREAMIER THAN THE AMERICAN STYLE, WHICH IS USUALLY "MOUNDED" ON THE PLATE.

CHEESE TASTING
WE STARTED THE TASTING WITH COW, GOAT AND SHEEPS MILK TO SEE THE SLIGHT DIFFERENCES IN FLAVOR EACH PRODUCE IN CHEESE.  SOME CHEESES WERE ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS AND SOME WERE NOT MY THING.  DON'T GET ME WRONG, I LOVE CHEESE....JUST NOT ALL OF THEM.

WE STARTED THE TASTING WITH COW, GOAT AND SHEEPS MILK TO SEE THE SLIGHT DIFFERENCES IN FLAVOR EACH PRODUCE IN CHEESE.  SOME CHEESES WERE ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS AND SOME WERE NOT MY THING.  DON'T GET ME WRONG, I LOVE CHEESE....JUST NOT ALL OF THEM.

HALF-HOG BUTCHERY DEMO

I VOLUNTEERED TO HELP ICC CHEF JEFF BUTLER IN HIS HALF-HOG BUTCHERY DEMO.  IT WAS A TON OF FUN TO WATCH SOMEONE WITH HIS SKILLS GO TO WORK BREAKING THE PIG DOWN INTO ALL THE VARIOUS CUTS WE SEE IN THE MARKET.

I VOLUNTEERED TO HELP ICC CHEF JEFF BUTLER IN HIS HALF-HOG BUTCHERY DEMO.  IT WAS A TON OF FUN TO WATCH SOMEONE WITH HIS SKILLS GO TO WORK BREAKING THE PIG DOWN INTO ALL THE VARIOUS CUTS WE SEE IN THE MARKET.

FRESH MOZZARELLA, BURRATA, PEACH SALAD WITH MINT, BASIL AND PINE NUTS

THIS SALAD WAS NOT MADE IN CLASS BUT I USED MY OWN FRESH MOZZARELLA AND OUR CHEF'S BURRATA TO MAKE THIS REFRESHING SALAD FOR A FRIEND'S BBQ!

THIS SALAD WAS NOT MADE IN CLASS BUT I USED MY OWN FRESH MOZZARELLA AND OUR CHEF'S BURRATA TO MAKE THIS REFRESHING SALAD FOR A FRIEND'S BBQ!

WELL, LEVEL 2 IS ALMOST OVER BUT LET'S NOT JUMP THE GUN....NEXT WEEK IS PASTA!!!!!!!
Posted on July 17, 2016 .

THROWBACK THURSDAY WITH 555 FITNESS

SO IF YOU HAVE NOT HEARD BY NOW......ON AUGUST 14TH, 2016 I WILL BE COMPETING ON FOOD NETWORK'S GUY'S GROCERY GAMES!!!! WHEN FOOD NETWORK APPROACHED ME ABOUT WHAT CHARITY I WOULD BE COMPETING FOR IT WAS NOT EVEN A QUESTION.....555 FITNESS!  IF YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THEM, THEY ARE A FIREFIGHTER RUN CHARITY WHOSE MISSION IS TO REDUCE FIREFIGHTER LODD'S (LINE OF DUTY DEATHS) DUE TO CARDIAC RELATED INCIDENTS.  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THEIR MISSION AND HOW THEY ARE CHANGING LIVES EVERYDAY!

BACK IN FEBRUARY OF 2015, THE 555 FITNESS CREW AND MYSELF WERE ON A COUPLE EPISODES OF THE FIREHOUSE KITCHEN TV SHOW PROMOTING HEALTHY EATING AND FITNESS IN THE FIREHOUSE. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE EPISODES OR GO TO OUR MEDIA PAGE....

HERE IS THE CHICKEN CACCIATORE RECIPE PIP AND I MADE!

MYSELF, RAY AND PIP SITTING ON THE BACK-STEP ENJOYING OUR CHICKEN CACCIATORE!

MYSELF, RAY AND PIP SITTING ON THE BACK-STEP ENJOYING OUR CHICKEN CACCIATORE!


Serves: 3-4
INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs SKINLESS-BONELESS CHICKEN THIGHS(or mix of chicken parts)
2 CHICKEN SAUSAGE LINKS (remove casing)
2 GARLIC CLOVES, peeled
1 ONION,peeled and sliced
3 BELL PEPPERS, seeded and sliced
1 PACKAGE OF SLICED MUSHROOMS
1 CAN OF GREEN OLIVES, sliced
8 oz. TOMATO PASTE
32 oz. TOMATO SAUCE
RED PEPPER FLAKES
FRESH ROSEMARY
OLIVE OIL
SALT AND PEPPER, to taste

PROCEDURE:

  • Season chicken parts with salt, pepper and any herbs such as thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano
  • Heat a skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat, when hot drizzle in some olive oil
  • Add sausage, breaking up as it cooks. Remove, set aside 
  • Add the chicken and brown in batches as to not overcrowd the pan. When all the chicken is browned, set aside.
  • Lower heat to medium-low and add onions, garlic and a pinch of pepper flake.  When onions to starts to brown add the bell peppers, whole sprig of rosemary and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste, stir frequently to prevent past from burning
  • Add the tomato sauce, mushrooms and olives
  • Bring to a simmer and return chicken and sausage to pot.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, uncover and cook for another 15-20 minutes
  • Serve
     
Posted on July 14, 2016 and filed under DINNER.

THROWDOWN THURSDAY - JAKE'S SPECIAL

TIME TO THROW DOWN A HEALTHY RECIPE WITH OUR FRIENDS AT THE FIREFIGHTER THROWDOWN !  THIS RECIPE COMES FROM THE FIREMAN CHEF OUT OF SACRAMENTO.  IT IS A GREAT WAY TO START THE DAY BECAUSE IT IS PACKED WITH PROTEIN, FIBER AND HEALTHY CARBS!  THE ORIGINAL RECIPE IS CALLED "JOE'S SPECIAL" BUT BEING HE PUT A FIREHOUSE TWIST ON IT, HE CHANGED THE NAME BECAUSE "JAKE" IS AN OLD TERM FOR FIREMAN.
Eggsweetpotato.jpg

4 Servings
FOR THE POTATOES:
2-3 YAMS, Diced
OLIVE OIL
SALT
SMOKED PAPRIKA
 
- Pre-heat oven to 350*.  Sprinkle the potatoes with the oil, salt and smoked paprika.  Roast until done
 

FOR THE GROUND BEEF:
1 YELLOW ONION, Diced
3 CLOVES OF GARLIC, Diced
SALT
1 LB. GRASS-FED GROUND BEEF
1 BAG OF SPINACH, Washed

- Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt
- When soft, add the ground beef and another pinch of salt.  Cook the beef until no longer pink.  Add the spinach a handful at a time until all is wilted.  Set aside

FOR THE EGGS:
Cook as desired.  Runny is recommended
 

TO SERVE:
- Divide the potatoes amongst 4 plates, top with beef mixture and then the eggs.


 

Posted on June 23, 2016 and filed under BREAKFAST.

I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!

THE SUMMER WEATHER STARTED TO SHOW IT'S TRUE COLORS THIS WEEK HERE IN NEW YORK , JUST IN TIME FOR OUR LESSON IN ICE CREAM AND SORBETS!  MAYBE IT IS A COINCIDENCE, OR MAYBE NOT, BUT EITHER WAY I AM NOT COMPLAINING.  WE ALSO STARTED OUR PASTRY WORK WITH PASTRY CREMES, BAVARIAN CREAMS, PASTRY DOUGHS AND CREME ANGLAISE (THE BASE FOR FRENCH STYLE ICE CREAM).

I WISH I COULD TAKE CREDIT FOR THIS BUT I CAN'T, THIS BEAUTIFUL DISH IS ALL CHEF JOSE.  USING ONE OF THE STUDENT MADE BAVARIAN CREMES, HE WHIPPED THIS UP IN ABOUT 2 MINUTES....

BAVARIAN CREME, FRESH RASPBERRIES, RASPBERRY PUREE, WHIPPED CREAM HEARTS

ICE CREAM DAY WAS CERTAINLY ONE WE WERE ALL LOOKING FORWARD TO, I MEAN WHO WOULDN'T BE EXCITED TO MAKE A VANILLA ICE CREAM AND GRAPEFRUIT SORBET.  BUT CHEF JOSE, BEING THE INNOVATIVE CHEF THAT HE IS, DECIDED TO STRAY FROM THE CURRICULUM MUCH TO OUR SURPRISE AND EXCITEMENT.  WHEN WE WALKED INTO THE CLASSROOM, A.K.A. KITCHEN, THERE WAS A LIST OF ICE CREAMS AND SORBETS ON THE BOARD AND EVENTUALLY IT WAS UP TO US TO DECIDE WHICH FLAVORS WE WANTED TO CREATE.

CHEF JOSE WATCHING OVER ME CLOSELY WHILE I WAIT FOR OUR ICE CREAM TO BE READY

CHEF JOSE WATCHING OVER ME CLOSELY WHILE I WAIT FOR OUR ICE CREAM TO BE READY

MY PARTNER THERESA AND I DECIDED ON THE RASPBERRY ICE CREAM WITH PORT SWIRLS AND GREEN TEA SORBET.  BUT WE ASKED CHEF IF WE COULD GET CREATIVE WITH THE SORBET BY ADDING PEAR PUREE, AND HE SAID GO FOR IT!  WE THOUGHT THE SLIGHT SWEETNESS WOULD HELP BALANCE OUT THE BITTERNESS OF THE GREEN TEA, AND IT WORKED!

THERESA, A.K.A "CHEF T" , GETTING READY FOR THE GREEN TEA-PEAR SORBET

THERESA, A.K.A "CHEF T" , GETTING READY FOR THE GREEN TEA-PEAR SORBET

THE WHOLE CLASS DID A GREAT JOB WITH THEIR ICE CREAMS AND SORBETS.  CHEF JOSE DEFINITELY GAVE US SOME GREAT FLAVOR COMBINATIONS TO WORK WITH.  SOME STANDOUTS INCLUDE: GRAPEFRUIT-CAMPARI SORBET, PINEAPPLE-GINGER SORBET, "CINNABON" ICE CREAM WITH CINNAMON, MAPLE SYRUP AND RAISINS AND PISTACHIO-ORANGE.  NEEDLESS TO SAY, AT THE END OF CLASS WE WERE PRETTY FULL AND SATISFIED!

BONUS RECIPE: VANILLA ICE CREAM
INGREDIENTS:
1 KG (35 oz.) MILK
1 KG (35 oz.) HEAVY CREAM
400 G (2 Cups) SUGAR1 VANILLA BEAN
20 EGG YOLKS
PINCH OF SALT
PROCEDURE:
- BRING MILK AND CREAM WITH 1/2 OF THE SUGAR TO A SIMMER WITH THE VANILLA BEAN;  REMOVE THE POT FROM THE HEAT AND COVER;  LEAVE THE MIXTURE TO INFUSE FOR 20 MINUTES
- MEANWHILE, SEPARATE THE EGG YOLKS FROM THE WHITES; COMBINE THE YOLKS WITH THE REMAINING SUGAR IN A BOWL; WHISK UNTIL THE MIXTURE IS A PALE YELLOW (THIS TECHNIQUE IS REFFERED TO AS "BLANCHIR" IN FRENCH)
- TEMPER THE EGG MIXTURE BY POURING A LITTLE BIT OF THE HOT MILK MIX IN AND WHISKING; CONTINUE ADDING THE MILK LITTLE BY LITTLE UNTIL IT IS ALL ADDED
- RETURN THE WHOLE MIXTURE TO THE POT AND PLACE ON THE STOVE OVER LOW HEAT; COOK VERY CAREFULLY, STIRRING WITH A WOOD SPOON CONSTANTLY;  THIS IS THE HARDEST PART, MAKING SURE THE MIXTURE DOES NOT SCRAMBLE;  WHEN THE MIXTURE IS SLIGHTLY THICKENED, KNOWN AS "NAPPANT" (IT COATS THE BACK OF A SPOON), REMOVE THE MIX TO A BOWL PLACED OVER ANOTHER BOWL FILLED WITH ICE AND STIR TO COOL;  WHEN MIX IS COOL PROCESS IN AN ICE CREAM MACHINE
 
HANDS DOWN SOME OF THE MOST FUN WE HAVE HAD IN CLASS.  IT IS GREAT HAVING A CHEF INSTRUCTOR WHO LET'S US EXERCISE OUR CREATIVITY.  STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK'S RECAP....MORE PASTRY!!!
Posted on June 19, 2016 .

COMPOST COOKIES, EGGS, BISON TARTARE AND STUFFED CHICKEN....JUST ANOTHER WEEK IN CULINARY SCHOOL!

SO AS YOU READ THE TITLE OF THIS BLOG POST, YOU CAN'T HELP BUT WONDER WHAT THE HELL WENT ON AT SCHOOL THIS WEEK.  AM I RIGHT?  WELL, LET'S JUST CALL IT A SMORGASBORG OF CULINARY DELIGHTS.

TO START, WE MADE PAUPIETTE DE VOLAILLE, OR SIMPLY PUT CHICKEN THIGHS STUFFED WITH SAUSAGE AND WRAPPED IN CAUL FAT.  CAUL FAT, IN CASE YOU ARE WONDERING IS THE THIN MEMBRANE THAT SURROUNDS THE STOMACH ORGANS OF ANIMALS SUCH AS SHEEP, COW, AND PIGS.  IT HAS LITTLE POCKETS OF FAT AND IT IS COMMONLY USED TO WRAP FOOD TO KEEP IT MOIST WHILE COOKING.  WHILE IT MAY SEEM OFF-PUTTING TO THINK ABOUT, IT IS ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS AND EFFECTIVE AS A WAY TO KEEP FOOD FROM DRYING OUT.  AFTER WE ROASTED OFF THE CHICKEN, YOU HONESTLY COULD NOT TELL IT HAD EVER BEEN WRAPPED IN THE CAUL FAT.  IT RENDERED OUT WHILE COOKING AND MADE THE CHICKEN ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.

PAIRED WITH STUFFED MUSHROOM, ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO

PAIRED WITH STUFFED MUSHROOM, ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO

ONCE AGAIN I TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE MANY OPPORTUNITY THE INTERNATIONAL CULINARY CENTER OFFERS AND ATTENDED A CHEF DEMO WITH CHEF IGNACIO MATTOS OF ESTELA IN MANHATTAN.  CHEF MATTOS LEARNED UNDER SOUTH AMERICAN GRILL MASTER FRANCIS MALLMAN AND ALICE WATERS OF THE LEGENDARY CHEZ PANISSE.  CHEF NOT ONLY SHOWED US HOW HE MAKES HIS POPULAR BISON TARTARE, BUT TAUGHT US TO BE MINDFUL OF EVERY STEP IN THE COOKING PROCESS.  TAKE THE TIME TO SEE WHAT WORKS AND WHEN, SUCH AS WHEN TO SEASON WITH DIFFERENT SPICES, ETC.

INSTEAD OF CAPERS, HE USES PICKLED ELDERBERRIES AND FRIED SUNCHOKE CHIPS TO ADD CRUNCH.

INSTEAD OF CAPERS, HE USES PICKLED ELDERBERRIES AND FRIED SUNCHOKE CHIPS TO ADD CRUNCH.

OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS, OUR CLASS HAS DEFINITELY GROWN CLOSER TOGETHER.  WE TRY AND HIT UP THE LOCAL WATERING HOLE AFTER A THURSDAY CLASS EITHER AFTER A TEST NIGHT OR AT LEAST EVERY OTHER WEEK.  IT HELPS US UNWIND FROM THE RIGORS OF CLASS AND GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER A LITTLE MORE.  AND LAST WEEK WE WERE DISCUSSING CHEF CHRISTINA TOSI OF THE MILK BAR AND NOW MASTER CHEF JUDGE.  HER BAKERY MAKES THESE COOKIES WHICH SHOULD CARRY A WARNING REGARDING THEIR UTTER DELICIOUSNESS.  WELL LOW AND BEHOLD, SAM (STUDENT IN OUR CLASS) BRINGS EVERYONE A COOKIE THE NEXT CLASS!  WE ALL SHARED THE COMPOST AND CORN COOKIES AFTER OUR EXAM, WHICH PROVIDED A MUCH NEEDED BOOST TO GET THROUGH THE REST OF CLASS.

AND THEN CAME ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITE INGREDIENTS EVER.....EGGS!!!!!  EXTREMELY POPULAR IN FRENCH COOKING, WE LEARNED MANY DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES INCLUDING THE SIMPLE YET DIFFICULT FRENCH "ROLLED" OMELETTE WHICH REQUIRES NO COLOR AT ALL.  NOT AN EASY TASK!  AND WHILE WE MADE SEVERAL KINDS OF DISHES, WE ATE THEM SO QUICK I ONLY HAD TIME TO TAKE A PICTURE OF THE "CEUFS FARCIS CHIMAY" OR STUFFED EGGS, CHIMAY STYLE.  BASICALLY A FANCY DEVILED EGGS STUFFED WITH A MUSHROOMS, EGG YOLK FILLING, THEN TOPPED WITH A MORNAY SAUCE (BECHAMEL BASED), MORE GRUYERE AND BAKED IN THE OVEN.  DECADENT TO SAY THE LEAST!!!

STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEKS RECAP.....WORD ON THE STREET IS THERE WILL BE ICE CREAM.....
Posted on June 12, 2016 .