CHICKEN SAUSAGE STUFFED PEPPERS WITH MUSHROOM RAGU

Stuffed peppers are the quintessential firehouse meal.  It is essentially a one pan dish that is easy to assemble which means less dishes for the crew to clean.  It is also infinitely customizable and I could probably say I have never made them the same way twice but this recipe is definitely up there with my favorites.  I wanted to lighten it up a little so I decided on using chicken sausage and making a ragu with mushrooms.  The chicken sausage tricks us into thinking we are eating traditional pork sausage while keeping the calories and fat lower.  Typically pork sausage has 290-455 calories and 23-38 grams of fat per link, while chicken and turkey sausage have 140-160 calories and 7-10 grams of fat for the same amount.  The mushroom ragu provides the added factor of umami to the dish and also helps keep the calories low.  This ragu is also great over pasta, which is exactly what I did when I competed on Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games!

 This dish is proof that a firehouse classic can be turned into something healthy AND delicious!

CHICKEN SAUSAGE STUFFED PEPPERS WITH MUSHROOM RAGU

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Serves 3

STUFFED PEPPER INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Cooked Rice, White or Brown
  • 4 Bell Peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded, ribs removed
  • 1 lb. Chicken Sausage
  • 1 Yellow Onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Cubanelle Pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese

STUFFED PEPPER PROCEDURE:

  • Preheat oven to 400*
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add a little olive oil and the chicken sausage.  Brown and cook through. Remove and set aside.

  • Add the Cubanelle pepper and onions, saute until onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and stir to prevent burning. Remove and place in a bowl with the rice.

  • Chop the sausage into bite size pieces and add to the rice/pepper/onion bowl.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

  • Pour the mushroom ragu (recipe below) into a baking pan.  Place the halved peppers on top and stuff with the rice mixture.  Top each pepper with the breadcrumb mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

 

QUICK MUSHROOM RAGU INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz. Package of Mushrooms, chopped
  • 28 oz. Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tsp. Dry Basil
  • 1 Tsp. Chili Flakes

PROCEDURE:

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add enough olive oil to just cover bottom.  Add the chopped mushrooms and stir until all the water is out of them and they start to brown.  Lower the heat to low, add the chili flake, garlic and dried basil. When the garlic just starts to color, add the tomatoes.  Cook at a simmer while you assemble the peppers.
Posted on May 1, 2018 and filed under DINNER.

SWEET POTATO-TURKEY SHEPHERD'S PIE

THE IRISH HAVE BEEN IN THE FIRE SERVICE FOR A VERY LONG TIME, WITH DEEP ROOTED TRADITIONS THAT EVEN THE NON-IRISH PARTICIPATE IN, MYSELF INCLUDED.  THE PIPES AND DRUMS HAVE BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH CELEBRATORY OCCASIONS AND FUNERALS.  EVERY YEAR THOUSANDS OF FIREFIGHTERS TRAVEL ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO MARCH IN PARADES.  ACROSS FIREHOUSE TABLES ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY, THERE WILL BE CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE, SHEPHERD'S PIE AND PROBABLY A GOOD OL' FASHIONED FRY UP FOR BREAKFAST. 
ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IS TAKE TRADITIONAL DISHES AND PUT A HEALTHY SPIN ON IT....SO SWEET POTATO-TURKEY SHEPHERD'S PIE IT IS!!  SWAPPING IN SWEET POTATOES ADDS MORE FIBER, WHILE  USING TURKEY INSTEAD OF BEEF OR LAMB ADDS PROTEIN WITH LESS FAT.  GIVE IT A TRY!!

SWEET POTATO-TURKEY SHEPHERD'S PIE

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Ingredients:

1.5 Lb. Ground Turkey
6 Sweet Potatoes
½ Yellow Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, diced
4 Medium Carrots, peeled and diced
8 oz. Mushrooms, quartered
10 oz. Frozen Peas
10 oz. Frozen Corn
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary- leaves removed and finely chopped
14.5 Can of Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Paprika
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp. Flour
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 500*

In a large pot, place sweet potatoes with enough cold water to cover.  Salt the water like you would pasta water.  Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until soft, approximately 30 minutes.  Remove and set aside to cool.

While the potatoes are cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a couple glugs of olive oil.  When the oil is shimmering add the ground turkey, seasoning with a little salt and pepper.  When the turkey starts to brown, stir it until cooked through and set aside.  In the same pan add a little more olive oil and the onions and carrots.  When the onions are translucent add the mushrooms and saute until nicely browned and no moisture is left in the pan.  Add the garlic and rosemary, stirring often.  

Now add the turkey back to the pan with the peas and corn.  Sprinkle the flour in, stir and cook for a minute or so.  Add in the broth, bring to a boil and lower to a simmer for a few minutes until thickened.  Place mixture in an oven-proof baking dish or tray.

Now that the potatoes have cooled, peel the skin (you could chop the skin and add to turkey mixture for extra nutrients).  In a large bowl add the potato flesh, a drizzle of olive oil, pinch of salt and the spices.  Mash with a fork, taste and adjust seasoning.  Spread on top of the turkey mixture.  For a nicer presentation place the potato in a ziploc bag, cut one corner tip of the bag and squeeze the mixture on top of turkey like a pastry bag.

Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the top has browned.  You can also use the broiler if you have one.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Posted on March 16, 2018 and filed under DINNER.

LENTIL SOUP

I CAN HONESTLY SAY I DON'T REMEMBER WHEN I STARTED LIKING LENTILS.  THERE ISN'T ANY MOMENT IN TIME THAT I CAN RECALL SAYING "WOW, I REALLY LIKE THESE", BUT FOR SOME REASON LATELY I HAVE BEEN ALL ABOUT THESE LEGUMES.  A CLASSIC RUSTIC PREPARATION IS LENTIL SOUP, SO NATURALLY....HERE IS MY RECIPE FOR IT.

LENTIL SOUP

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INGREDIENTS:

1/2 Yellow Onion, diced

3 Medium Carrots, peeled and diced

1 Celery Rib, diced

1 Garlic Clove, diced

1 Tbs. Ground Coriander

1 Tbs. Ground Cumin

1 Tbs. Paprika

2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme, leaves picked

1 Bay Leaf

3 Cups of Dried Lentils

6 Cups of Chicken or Vegetable Broth

14.5 oz. Can of Diced Tomatoes

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Procedure:

In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add enough oil to just cover bottom of pan and add onion.  When onions start to turn translucent, add the carrots and celery.  When vegetables start to turn a light brown, add the garlic, thyme and spices.  Season with a pinch of salt and add the lentils, stirring for about a minute.  Add the tomatoes, broth, bay leaf and bring to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 35-45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Using a stick blender or conventional blender (careful doing this with hot liquid), blend about a quarter of the soup and return to the pot.  Stir, taste for seasoning and serve.

Optional: Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon

Posted on January 27, 2018 and filed under LUNCH.

MINESTRONE SOUP

WHEN THE COLD WEATHER COMES IN FULL FORCE, I CRAVE SOUP...ALOT.  BUT NOT SOME CAMPBELL'S CHICKEN NOODLE, I AM TALKING ABOUT HOMEMADE SOUP MADE WITH LOVE.  MAYBE IT'S MY GRANDMOTHER'S ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP WITH GRATED PARM THAT STARTED MY SOUP INFATUATION.  WHATEVER IT IS, A HOT BOWL ON A COLD DAY STILL WARMS MY HEART.  

MINESTRONE SOUP

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • 3 Carrots, peeled and rough chopped
  • 3 Celery Stalks, rough chopped
  • 3 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cubed
  • 5 Stalks Kale, leaves torn and stems chopped
  • Handful Fresh Green Beans, ends removed and cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 Zucchini, chopped
  • 1 Sprig of Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 T Tomato Paste
  • 28 oz. Can of Diced Tomatoes (No Salt Added if possible)
  • 48 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 19 oz. Can of Cannellini Beans
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Chili Flakes
  • Salt to taste

PROCEDURE:

Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat.  Add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pot.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions, bay leaf and rosemary.  Season with a pinch of salt and chili flake.  When the onions are translucent add the garlic, carrots, celery and kale.  Stirring often, cook until the vegetables are light golden brown.  Add the tomato paste and stir for about a minute.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Add the potatoes, half of the beans, zucchini and green beans.  Continue cooking until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.  

 

While the soup is cooking, take a ladle of soup broth and put in a blender with the remaining half of the beans.  Let cool for a couple minutes.  Carefully, blend the beans and add the bean puree to the soup.  

Taste and season before serving.  Garnish with celery leaves, parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

 

Posted on January 25, 2018 and filed under LUNCH.

TUSCAN WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

ONE OF THE REASONS I STARTED F&H CO. WAS TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT FIREFIGHTERS COOK MORE THAN JUST CHILI.  BUT SOMETIMES A BOWL OF THIS FIREHOUSE STAPLE IS JUST WHAT YOU NEED ON A CHILLY DAY.  AS WITH MOST TIMES I COOK, I LIKE TO EXPERIMENT WITH FLAVORS, TAKING INFLUENCE FROM MY TRAVELS.
THIS RECIPE IS INSPIRED BY MY FAVORITE REGION IN ITALY, TUSCANY.  I CAN STILL HEAR THE CHURCH BELLS RINGING AND SMELL THE WOOD BURNING STOVES AS WE WALKED THE COBBLESTONE STREETS ON MY HONEYMOON.  WHEN THERE IS A CHILL IN THE AIR AND I SMELL ROSEMARY AND GARLIC FRYING IN OLIVE OIL, IT TAKES ME BACK TO THAT WONDERFUL PLACE.  
AND SO HERE IS MY WAY OF PUTTING ALL THOSE TUSCAN FLAVORS INTO A FAMILIAR FIREHOUSE DISH!
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Tuscan White Chicken Chili

with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Fennel

Smoked Mozzarella

INGREDIENTS:

1 SMALL ONION, chopped

 The "Battuto", which is what turns into the "Soffritto" once it is cooked

The "Battuto", which is what turns into the "Soffritto" once it is cooked

2 GARLIC CLOVES, chopped

2 CUBANELLE a.k.a ITALIAN FRYING PEPPERS, seeded and chopped (sub green bell peppers)

1 CELERY STALK, chopped

1 SPRIG OF FRESH ROSEMARY, minced

2 FRESH SAGE LEAVES, minced

1 TBSP. CHILI FLAKES

2.5 # BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

4 THICK SLICES OF PANCETTA, chopped (sub bacon)

2 -19 oz. CANS OF CANNELLINI BEANS

16 oz. LOW SODIUM CHICKEN BROTH

2 tsp. FLOUR

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1 tsp. CUMIN

1 tsp. GARLIC POWDER

 Smoked Mozzarella but you can substitute shredded mozzarella.  Pro tip:  Put ball of Smoked Mozzarella in freezer until firm, it will be easier to slice!

Smoked Mozzarella but you can substitute shredded mozzarella.  Pro tip:  Put ball of Smoked Mozzarella in freezer until firm, it will be easier to slice!

SALT AND PEPPER, to taste

OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED GARNISHES:

BALSAMIC CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND FENNEL - Recipe Follows

SMOKED MOZZARELLA - cover chili with slices and broil until brown and bubbly

 

PROCEDURE:

In a large bowl, combine minced sage and rosemary with half of the chopped garlic, chili flakes, a pinch of salt, black pepper and a glug of olive oil.  Stir to combine and set aside.

Dice the chicken thighs and put into the bowl containing the rosemary-sage mixture.  Stir to combine and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed deep pot over medium heat, cook the pancetta until the fat has rendered.  Once the pancetta is cooked, add a glug of olive oil and the onion, remaining garlic, peppers and celery.  Add a pinch of salt, cumin and garlic powder and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions just start to color.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine.

Add the chicken to the pot and enough chicken broth to cover.  Add water if needed. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally. 

After about an hour, remove about a 1/2 cup of the broth to a blender or bowl if you have a stick-blender.  Add one can of the beans to the broth and blend well.  BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN BLENDING HOT LIQUIDS!  Add water if you need to.  Place the bean puree back into the pot and continue to cook for another hour or so at a gentle simmer.  Taste and check for seasoning and consistency.

Lay slices of Smoked Mozzarella on top and broil until brown and bubbly.  Garnish with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Fennel

 

Note* - This recipe can be adapted for slow-cooker.  Render the pancetta in a saute pan.  Add the garlic, onion, peppers and celery and saute until light brown.  Place this mixture along with the rest of the ingredients into slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

 

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BALSAMIC CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND FENNEL

INGREDIENTS:

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1 ONION, thin sliced

1 SMALL HEAD OF FENNEL, white part only, thin sliced, reserve the fronds

2 TBSP. BUTTER

1 tsp. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

2 TBSP. BALSAMIC VINEGAR

SALT, to taste

 

PROCEDURE:

In a large skillet, over low heat, add the butter and olive oil.  When the butter has melted, add the onion and fennel with a pinch of salt. 

Cook the onions and fennel, stirring often, for about 1 hour.  Add a few drops of water if the mixture looks a little dry.  When they start to color a nice golden brown, add the balsamic vinegar.  Stir and cook for a few minutes.  Taste and adjust for seasoning. 

 

 

 

 

Posted on December 17, 2017 and filed under LUNCH, DINNER.

ANOTHER FIREHOUSE COOKBOOK...BUT NOT JUST ANY

THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF BOOKS I READ...BOOKS ABOUT FOOD AND COOKBOOKS.  I ENJOY SITTING DOWN IN THE MORNING AND READING A FEW PAGES WHILE I DRINK MY COFFEE, OR ON THE TRAIN HEADING TO THE RESTAURANT, OR AT NIGHT RIGHT BEFORE BED, OR, WELL YOU GET THE IDEA.  THERE AREN'T MANY SECONDS OF THE DAY THAT MY MIND IS NOT THINKING ABOUT FOOD SO WHEN I COME ACROSS A GREAT COOKBOOK, I GET EXCITED AND INSPIRED.  AND THAT IS JUST WHAT "FIREHOUSE CHEF" DID FOR ME!  THE AUTHOR, PATRICK MATHIEU, IS A FIREFIGHTER FROM CANADA AND HAS BEEN GIVING F&H CO. SOME GREAT MEALS TO SHARE ON INSTAGRAM.  SO WHEN I GOT THE BOOK, IT WAS NO SURPRISE THE QUALITY AND CARE THAT WENT INTO PUBLISHING IT!
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YOU CAN TELL BY THE COVER THAT PHOTO QUALITY WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO PATRICK.  THE STYLE IS MUCH MORE CONTEMPORARY THAN ONE MIGHT EXPECT FROM A FIREHOUSE COOKBOOK.

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HERE IS A LITTLE TEASE OF WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT RIGHT OFF THE BAT, A SOLID SOUP RECIPE THAT IS PERFECT FOR THE FIREHOUSE OR HOME.  THE RECIPES RANGE FROM EASY TO ADVANCED AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN, NEEDLESS TO SAY THERE IS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!

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ANOTHER THING I LOVE ABOUT "FIREHOUSE CHEF" IS THAT IT HAS RECIPES THAT HELP YOU COOK "OUTSIDE THE BOX", LIKE THESE THAI DRUNKEN NOODLES FOR INSTANCE.  AND WHO DOESN'T LOVE A GOOD BOWL OF NOODLES?!?!?!?

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AND JUST IN CASE YOU FORGOT THAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY READING A FIREHOUSE COOKBOOK, PATRICK REMINDS YOU BY THROWING IN SOME OF OUR TOOLS OF THE TRADE, LIKE THE "JAWS OF LIFE" NEXT TO "EGGS IN HELL"!

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AND DON'T WORRY, THERE IS SOME OF THE CLASSICS AS WELL....LIKE THIS CAST IRON HANGAR STEAK WITH DIJON CREAM SAUCE!

IT IS ALWAYS GREAT TO SEE FIREFIGHTERS DOING THINGS THEY LOVE AND IN THIS CASE, IT IS CLEAR THAT PATRICK HAS A PASSION FOR BOTH FIREFIGHTING AND COOKING.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK FOR ANYONE, NOT JUST FIREFIGHTERS!
TO PURCHASE, CLICK HERE !
Posted on December 15, 2017 .

ESCAROLE, SAUSAGE AND BEANS SOUP

THE BASIL IS STARTING TO TURN YELLOW, TOMATOES ARE STARTING TO SHOW SIGNS OF ROT AND CILANTRO HAS ALL BUT GIVEN UP ON LIFE.  THE ABUNDANCE OF SUMMER PRODUCE IS STARTING TO FADE.  BUT NO NEED TO WORRY, THE FALL DISHES WE LOVE ARE STARTING TO SHOW THEIR DELICIOUS FACES.  
WHEN THE TEMPERATURES DROP, NOTHING IS BETTER THAN THE KITCHEN SMELLS OF A SLOW SIMMERING SOUP.  AND WHY NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PRODUCE AVAILABLE THIS TIME OF YEAR?!?!  THIS RECIPE FOR ESCAROLE AND BEANS SOUP NOT ONLY BRINGS ME BACK TO A DISH OF MY CHILDHOOD BUT IT ALSO USES FRESH SEASONAL INGREDIENTS.  ESCAROLE, A MEMBER OF THE CHICORY FAMILY, IS A SLIGHTLY BITTER GREEN THAT PAIRS WELL WITH THE SWEETNESS OF THE CARROTS AND ONIONS AND RICHNESS OF THE CANNELLINI BEANS. THIS DISH CAN PREPARED IN SO MANY WAYS SO USE YOUR IMAGINATION AND WHAT IS ON HAND.  THIS RECIPE CALLS FOR SAUSAGE BUT YOU CAN ALSO SUBSTITUTE HAM, PANCETTA OR NO MEAT AT ALL, TOTALLY UP TO YOU!  ANOTHER DELICIOUS OPTION IS TO ADD SOME FRESH CHOPPED TOMATOES, MIGHT AS WELL USE THE LAST OF YOUR HARVEST BEFORE THEY GO BAD!

ESCAROLE, SAUSAGE AND BEANS SOUP

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Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 Onion, peeled and chopped

1 Carrot, peeled and chopped

3 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin

½ Head of Escarole, thoroughly cleaned and rough chopped

1 lb. Hot or Sweet Italian Sausage, removed from the casings

2 - 15 oz. Cans of Cannellini Beans, drained

4 Cups of Chicken Stock (more may be needed)

Red Chili Flake

Parmesan Cheese

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt, to taste

PROCEDURE:

In a deep pot over medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and then the sausage.  Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage and brown.  Remove the sausage and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil if needed and add the onions and carrots.  When the onions are translucent, add the sliced garlic and a pinch of chili flakes.  When the garlic is just starting to brown, add ONE can of the beans and saute for a minute or so.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

Add the other can of cannellini beans to a medium saucepan with enough water to cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Add to a blender and puree the beans (be careful as hot liquid in a blender can be messy and dangerous!)  Add this puree to the soup pot along with the escarole and reserved sausage.  

Cook the soup for about 1 hour partially covered.  Taste for seasoning and serve with grated parmesan.

SOME OTHER OPTIONS YOU ADD TO THE SOUP THAT WOULD BE GREAT:

  • Put a parmesan rind into the soup while it cooks to add a rich, cheesy flavor to the stock
  • Garnish with chopped parsley
  • Substitute pork sausage with chicken or turkey sausage for a healthier option
  • A squeeze of lemon right before serving add a bright acidity to the soup
  • Substitute kale or swiss chard....or just add all of them!
Posted on October 10, 2017 and filed under DINNER.

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?! 

Eggbreadcups2.jpg

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.
Umamionions.jpg

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

Gumbo.jpg

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 .