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 .

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 .

SCHOOL HAS BEEN OFFAL....LIKE A LAMB TONGUE AND SWEETBREAD KIND OF OFFAL

WE HAVE GOT A LOT TO COVER FROM THE PAST COUPLE WEEKS....LEVEL 2 HAS BEGUN AND IT IS DEFINITELY HEATING UP IN THE KITCHEN.

TO START, MY CHEF INSTRUCTOR IS NOW CHEF JOSE MENENDEZ.  HE HAS WORKED AT EL BULLI, WHEN IT WAS OPENED THE BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD, AND WORKED ALONGSIDE WITH CHEF JOSE ANDRES.  NEEDLESS TO SAY, HE HAS EXPERIENCE IN THE KITCHEN.  AND NOT JUST THAT, CHEF JOSE IS A CULINARY ENCYCLOPEDIA AND HE IS PASSING ON THIS KNOWLEDGE TO US WHILE ENCOURAGING US TO LEARN ON OUR OWN.

AND NOW FOR THE FOOD!  THESE TWO DISHES REQUIRED US TO BOIL/SIMMER THE MEAT.  SOMETHING I NEVER DO AT HOME OR WORK....AND IM GLAD I DON'T.  THE ONLY REASON WE DID IT IN SCHOOL IS BECAUSE THE RECIPES NEED A "COLORLESS" MEAT TO GO WITH THE WHITE "COLORLESS" SAUCE AND BROTH.  A SIMMERED BEEF SHORT RIB DISH WITH SAUCE RAIFORT WAS WHAT I WOULD CALL DECENT.  THE SAUCE IS HORSERADISH BASED WHICH WENT WELL WITH THE BEEF BUT IT JUST WASN'T MY CUP OF TEA I GUESS.

THE VEAL BLANQUETTE DISH LACKED COLOR....AND EVEN A LITTLE FLAVOR.  IT ALSO DIDN'T HELP THAT MY PARTNER AND I SIMMERED THE VEAL TOO QUICKLY AND IT DIDN'T HAVE A CHANCE TO BECOME AS TENDER AS IT SHOULD BE. 

THE NEXT TWO DISHES WERE MORE MY SPEED.  THE LAMB SHANK WAS VERY FAMILIAR, AS IT REMINDED ME OF AN ITALIAN DISH CALLED OSSO BUCO.  THE USE OF RED AND WHITE WINE ADDED DEPTH OF FLAVOR, WITH THE COUS COUS SOAKING UP ALL THE DELICIOUSNESS.

THE NEXT DISH NEARLY HOPPED OFF THE PLATE!  ALRIGHT THAT WAS A CORNY JOKE, I WILL ADMIT.  BUT IT WAS DELICIOUS!  I HAVE HAD RABBIT ONCE BEFORE BUT DID NOT REMEMBER HOW GOOD IT WAS.  THIS RABBIT RAGOUT IS SIMILAR TO A CHICKEN CACCIATORE WITH IT'S INGREDIENTS AND RUSTIC QUALITIES.  BUT CHEF JOSE LET US GO A LITTLE CRAZY AND PLATE IT NON-TRADITIONALLY WHICH IS AWESOME!

THIS IS OUR CHEF'S PLATE.....CLEARLY HE HAS DONE THIS BEFORE.

AND CHEF JOSE DID HIS OWN RABBIT DISH CALLED SALMOREJO, WHICH WAS ADDICTING!  IT WAS GARLICKY, SALTY AND A LITTLE SOUR FROM THE VINEGAR.

ON TO THE OFFAL!!  FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE TERM, IT USED TO REFER TO ORGAN MEATS.  AND WHILE IT MAY SEEM A BIT WIERD I WAS ACTUALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO LEARNING ABOUT THIS STUFF.  I HAVE HAD SOME OFFAL, LIKE BEEF HEART, TRIPE (LINING OF ONE OF THE STOMACHS IN A COW), AND MY NEMESIS LIVER.

BUT THIS DISH SURPRISED THE HELL OUT OF ME....SWEETBREADS.  THESE ARE EITHER THE THYMUS OR PANCREAS GLAND OF VEAL, LAMB AND PORK.  CRISPY AND PAN-FRIED WITH A BROWN BUTTER CAPER SAUCE, THESE REMINDED ME OF A VERY TENDER VEAL CUTLET.  

WHENEVER I SEE LENGUA TACOS ON A MENU I ORDER THEM.  THESE TONGUE TACOS OFTEN FREAK PEOPLE OUT, BUT TONGUE IS DELICIOUS IF PREPARED PROPERLY.  IN CLASS WE MADE A LAMB TONGUE DISH WITH A WARM POTATO SALAD AND VINAIGRETTE.  THE TENDER LAMB TONGUE WAS THE PERFECT COMPLIMENT TO THE SHARP MUSTARDY VINAIGRETTE AND SALTY POTATOES.

IMG_9443.JPG

AND FINALLY WE HAVE STELLA ENJOYING  SOME LEG OF VEAL, COMPLIMENTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CULINARY CENTER!

STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT RECAP!!!  I CAN TELL YOU THIS.....THERE WILL BE EGGS!!!
Posted on June 7, 2016 .

MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB AND A LEVEL 1 EXAM...

WELL, THE FIRST OF FOUR LEVELS ARE OVER!  BUT FIRST WE HAVE LAMB, WHICH IS A NICE WAY OF SAYING A SHEEP THAT IS 1 YEAR OLD OR LESS.  AND YOU MAY START SEEING MUTTON A LITTLE MORE ON MENUS AS IT IS GAINING POPULARITY.  BUT GUESS WHAT, THAT IS SHEEP TOO.  IT IS JUST A NICER WAY OF SAYING A SHEEP THAT IS OLDER THAN 1 YEAR, THUS HAVING A LITTLE STRONGER FLAVOR AND TOUGHER MUSCLES, BUT STILL DELICIOUS NONE THE LESS.

GRILLED CUMIN-PAPRIKA LAMB CHOPS WITH AN OLIVE-ROASTED GARLIC COMPOUND BUTTER OVER RATATOUILLE.  THE PASTE MADE SIMPLE FROM PARIKA, CUMIN AND OLIVE OIL WAS THE PERFECT COMPLIMENT TO THE SLIGHTLY GAMEY LAMB.  GRILLED OVER HIGH HEAT FOR COLOR AND FINISHED IN THE OVEN TO MEDIUM-RARE, IT IS A DISH THAT MANAGES TO BE A LITTLE LUXURIOUS BUT RUSTIC AT THE SAME TIME.

AND FINALLY THE END OF LEVEL 1....A LEVEL I COULD SAY IS VERY RELATABLE TO THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF THE FIRE ACADEMY.  IT IS BUILDING THE FOUNDATION ON WHICH EVERYTHING ELSE WILL REST UPON, ALL WHILE TRYING TO BREAK YOU DOWN.  AND WHILE NOT AS INTENSE, IT DEFINITELY HAS IT'S MENTAL CHALLENGES.  DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE HERE?  IS THIS WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE?  DO YOU WANT TO KEEP GOING? YES, YES AND YES!

THE LEVEL 1 "FINAL" CONSISTED OF A PRACTICAL PORTION WHICH INVOLVED TIMED TASKS, MOSTLY CONSISTING OF KNIFE SKILLS WITH A SMALL PORTION OF COOKING.  IT WAS MUCH MORE INTENSE THAN I EXPECTED IT TO BE.  THE KITCHEN HAD AN EERIE SILENCE TO IT,  THERE WAS NO BANTER OR THE CLANGING OF POTS THAT WE WERE SO USED TO.  JUST SIMPLY "YES CHEF" WHENEVER WE WERE REMINDED OF THE TIME REMAINING.

THE SECOND PORTION WAS A SHORT, BUT COMPREHENSIVE WRITTEN EXAM.  QUESTIONS INVOLVING MOST ASPECTS OF WHAT WE COVERED OVER THE PAST TWO MONTHS, BUT WITH MORE IN DEPTH ANSWERS REQUIRED.

IN THE END, THE WHOLE CLASS PASSED AND I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER ABOUT THAT.  WE HAVE HEARD THAT TO HAVE AN ENTIRE CLASS INTACT AT THE END OF LEVEL 1 IS NOT VERY COMMON, ESPECIALLY WITH OUR SIZE CLASS.  AND I AM PROUD TO SAY MY FINAL CUMULATIVE SCORE FOR LEVEL IS A 96!!!!  AND GUESS WHAT, I DON'T PLAN ON SLOWING DOWN!!

LEVEL 2 HERE WE COME!!!!  ANYONE NOTICE THE PASTRY ON THE COVER?  DOES THIS MEAN I REALLY NEED TO MEASURE NOW?!?!?!
Posted on May 22, 2016 .

BEEF...IT'S WHATS FOR DINNER! OH YEAH, AND PORK TOO!

READY TO RECAP ANOTHER WEEK DOWN AT THE INTERNATIONAL CULINARY CENTER?  BECAUSE WE SURE ARE!  IT WAS EXTRA HOT IN CLASS THIS WEEK, GRILLS WERE ON FULL BLAST, PANS WERE SEARING OFF PORK, SAUCES WERE BEING MADE....SOME OF THE MOST FUN WE HAVE HAD THIS LEVEL FOR SURE!

STEAK AND FRITES!!!! THE CLASSIC COMBO THAT WE AMPED UP A LITTLE WITH A COMPOUND BUTTER AND GARLIC-HERB FRIES.  WE HAD THE GRILL RIPPING HOT WHEN WE MADE THIS DELICIOUS STEAK TO GET A NICE "QUADRILLAGE", THE CRISS-CROSS GRILL MARKS.  BUT WE FINISHED IT IN THE OVEN TO AVOID BURNING THE OUTSIDE BEFORE THE INTERIOR COOKS.  

THE COMPOUND BUTTER MAY SOUND AND LOOK DIFFICULT BUT IT IS A SIMPLE WAY TO ADD A NICE TOUCH TO THE DISH.  YOU CAN USE PRACTICALLY ANYTHING TO MAKE THIS, USE YOUR IMAGINATION.  MAYBE SOME DILL AND LEMON ZEST TO PUT ON TOP OF A PIECE OF SALMON? OR HOW ABOUT A BASIL, CHOPPED PINE NUT, PARMESAN BUTTER TO PUT ON TOP OF SOME STEAMED VEGGIES?

 HERE IS THE RECIPE FOR THIS VERSION CALLED BEURRE D'ECHALOTE (SHALLOT BUTTER):

INGREDIENTS:
3 TBSP. BUTTER, room temperature
1 TSP. SHALLOT, finely diced
1 TSP. GARLIC CLOVE, finely diced
1 TSP. LEMON JUICE
SMALL HANDFUL OF PARSLEY, finely diced
SALT/PEPPER, to taste

PROCEDURE:
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients except for salt and pepper.  Taste and season as needed.  
On a small piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, place combined butter in the center and roll into a log shape.  Place in the freezer to firm up, it can also be stored here for future use.
 

FILET MIGNON....OH HOW I HATE YOU. OR DO I?  I AM GUILTY OF COMING TO THE QUICK CONCLUSION THAT I DO NOT LIKE THIS SUPER LEAN, YET TENDER CUT OF BEEF.  BUT I WAS WRONG, BECAUSE WITH A DELICIOUS BORDELAISE SAUCE IT WAS AMAZING!  AND THAT IS NOT A SCALLOP ON TOP, THAT IS WHAT I LIKE TO CALL A "BEEF SCALLOP" A.K.A QUICK POACHED SLICE OF BONE MARROW.  IT MAY SOUND WEIRD BUT BONE MARROW IS DELICIOUS, AND IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE POPULAR.  WHEN ROASTED IT TURNS INTO BEEF "BUTTER", ON A PIECE OF TOAST IT IS SUBLIME.

BEING SUCH A RICH DISH, THE WATERCRESS HELPS REFRESH THE PALATE 

BEING SUCH A RICH DISH, THE WATERCRESS HELPS REFRESH THE PALATE 

PORK, THE OTHER WHITE MEAT...HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU HEARD THAT?  FUNNY THING IS, ACCORDING TO THE USDA, ALL LIVESTOCK IS CONSIDERED "RED MEAT".  PORK HAS LESS MYOGLOBIN, WHICH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CARRYING OXYGEN TO BLOOD CELLS AND CONTRIBUTES TO THE COLOR OF MEAT, THEREFOR MAKING IT MUCH PALER THAN SAY BEEF.

THIS FRENCH DISH IS DEFINITELY ASIAN INFLUENCED...GINGER MARINATED PORK FILLET WITH SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE.  WE USED NUOC NAM (FISH SAUCE MADE WITH FERMENTED FISH) IN THE MARINADE, WHICH MAY SOUND ODD BEING THAT IT IS PORK BUT IT WORKS.  WHEN USING FISH SAUCE IT IS IMPORTANT TO PRACTICE RESTRAINT BECAUSE A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY.  THERE IS NO FISHY TASTE IN THE DISH IF USED CORRECTLY, JUST A HINT OF GOOD "FUNK".  THROW SOME SPICY JALAPENO, FRESH GINGER AND GARLIC AND YOU'VE GOT A TASY MARINADE!

THE SAUCE USED A GASTRIQUE TO ADD THE SWEET AND SOUR COMPONENT.  WHAT IS A GASTRIQUE YOU ASK?  SIMPLY, IN THIS RECIPE, A MIXTURE OF EQUAL PARTS HONEY AND CIDER VINEGAR.  WHILE CLASSIC GASTRIQUES INVOLVE CARAMELIZING SUGAR FIRST AND THEN DEGLAZING WITH VINEGAR, WITH THIS ONE WE SIMPLY ADDED THE HONEY AND VINEGAR TO THE PAN TOGETHER AND BROUGHT IT TO A SIMMER.  THEN REDUCE IT TO A NICE SYRUPY CONSISTENCY, BEING CAREFUL NOT TO BURN IT.  BOOM!!! YOU'VE GOT YOURSELF A GASTRIQUE!

GARNISHED WITH CANDIED JULIENNE OF GINGER AND LIME FOR A HINT OF SWEETNESS AND ACIDITY

GARNISHED WITH CANDIED JULIENNE OF GINGER AND LIME FOR A HINT OF SWEETNESS AND ACIDITY

ONE THING IS FOR CERTAIN....MY RULE OF NO BREAD DURING THE WEEK HAS GONE OUT THE WINDOW!  IT IS NOT UNCOMMON FOR SAY A LOAF OF HOMEMADE FOCACCIA TO SHOW UP IN THE CLASSROOM, AND YOUR NOT GOING TO NOT EAT IT!!

IMG_9180.JPG

AND JUST LIKE IN A RESTAURANT, WE HAVE FAMILY MEAL.  WHEN ALL THE COOKS WOULD GET TOGETHER BEFORE SERVICE TO EAT, WE DO THE SAME EXCEPT OURS INCLUDES CHEF INSTRUCTORS, STUDENTS, MAINTENANCE STAFF AND ANYONE ELSE IN THE BUILDING.  THE MEAL IS COOKED BY LEVEL 3 STUDENTS, AND THIS WEEK DID NOT DISAPPOINT! 

FRIED CHICKEN WITH A SPICY MAPLE SAUCE, SLAW, MAC N' CHEESE, HOMEMADE GOCHUJANG PORK SAUSAGE WITH CORIANDER AIOLI, A CUP OF SHAVED FOIE GRAS, SUNFLOWER, GRANNY SMITH APPLE AND FENNEL VINEGAR, HOMEMADE VENISON JERKY AND TO ROUND IT ALL OUT.....A BROWNIE BREAD PUDDING!!!!!

LAST WEEK YOU MAY REMEMBER THE HOMEMADE CHILEAN COOKIES ALFAJORES THAT A FELLOW STUDENT BROUGHT IN FOR US.  WELL THIS WEEK ANOTHER STUDENT, UPON MY REQUEST, BROUGHT IN SOME HOMEMADE KIMCHI FOR ME!!!  THANKS JUNG!

STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEKS' RECAP....WE HAVE OUR LEVEL 1 FINAL EXAM AND PRACTICAL!!! FINGERS CROSSED!!!
Posted on May 15, 2016 .

MEAT!!!!!! AND CHILEAN COOKIES!!!!!!

FINALLY STARTING TO COOK MEAT AT CULINARY SCHOOL!  DON'T GET ME WRONG, THERE IS NOTHING BAD ABOUT LEARNING TO COOK VEGETABLES AND FISH.  BUT I JUST COULDN'T WAIT TO GET INTO COOKING SOME OF MY FAVORITE PROTEINS.  WE STARTED THIS WEEK OFF WITH CHICKEN COOKED TWO WAYS.  

THE INTERNATIONAL CULINARY CENTER ORIGINALLY STARTED OFF AS THE FRENCH CULINARY INSTITUTE, BUT A FEW YEARS BACK THEY DECIDED TO CHANGE THE NAME BECAUSE OF THE OTHER INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS THEY OFFER.  ALOT OF WHAT WE DO IN MY PROGRAM HOWEVER, PROFESSIONAL CULINARY ARTS, IS BASED OFF OF CLASSIC FRENCH CUISINE.  BUT THE TWO CHICKEN DISHES WE COOKED THIS WEEK WERE SO FAMILIAR TO ME. AND THIS IS BECAUSE THEY WERE SO SIMILAR TO ITALIAN FLAVORS WHICH I AM USED TO.  AND THEY WERE DELICIOUS!  

FIRST UP WAS "POULET POCHE DANS UN COURT BOUILLON MEDITERRANEEN" OR CHICKEN POACHED IN MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE BROTH.

THIS DISH HAD CAPERS, GARLIC, OLIVES, BELL PEPPER, CAPER BERRIES AND TOMATOES....ALL CLASSIC ITALIAN FLAVORS.

THIS DISH HAD CAPERS, GARLIC, OLIVES, BELL PEPPER, CAPER BERRIES AND TOMATOES....ALL CLASSIC ITALIAN FLAVORS.

CHICKEN CACCIATORE, ONE OF MY FAVORITE DISHES TO MAKE AND NO WE DID NOT MAKE THIS AT SCHOOL.  BUT WE MADE "POULET SAUTE CHASSEUR" OR SAUTEED CHICKEN HUNTER-STYLE, WHICH IS BASICALLY THE FRENCH VERSION OF ONE OF MY FAVORITE DISHES.  THIS VERSION IS DEFINITELY A LITTLE DIFFERENT BUT THEY SHARE THE SAME FUNDAMENTALITY OF USING INGREDIENTS THAT WERE AVAILABLE.  THE HUNTERS WOULD RETURN WITH THE DAYS HUNT AND IT WOULD BE COOKED WITH WHATEVER VEGETABLES MAY HAVE BEEN GROWING AT THE TIME.  

WHAT MADE THIS OUTSTANDING WAS THE ENRICHED STOCK, WHICH IS BASICALLY A STOCK THAT IS FORTIFIED WITH EVEN MORE FLAVOR FROM AROMATIC VEGETABLES AND SEARED BONES.  THIS IS A GREAT TECHNIQUE FOR REINFORCING FLAVOR OF STORE BOUGHT STOCKS.  

WHAT MADE THIS OUTSTANDING WAS THE ENRICHED STOCK, WHICH IS BASICALLY A STOCK THAT IS FORTIFIED WITH EVEN MORE FLAVOR FROM AROMATIC VEGETABLES AND SEARED BONES.  THIS IS A GREAT TECHNIQUE FOR REINFORCING FLAVOR OF STORE BOUGHT STOCKS.  

GAME BIRDS ARE SOMETHING I DEFINITELY DON'T EAT OFTEN.  NOT BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE THEM, BUT JUST BECAUSE THEY AREN'T IN MY "ROTATION" SO TO SPEAK.  SO WHEN THE DAY CAME FOR GAME BIRDS IN SCHOOL, NEEDLESS TO SAY I WAS PRETTY STOKED.  FIRST UP.....DUCK!

READY FOR THIS NAME? "SUPREME DE CANETON SAUTE ET CUISSE BRAISEE A L'ORANGE" OR BRAISED DUCK AND ORANGE SAUCE.  A CLASSIC COMBO OF FLAVORS, THE ACIDIC, SLIGHTLY SWEET ORANGE CUTTING THROUGH THE RICH DUCK.  WE USED PEKIN DUCKS, WHICH ARE THE MOST COMMON DUCK USED TODAY.

WE ALSO MADE QUAIL, WHICH UNTIL THAT DAY I HAD NEVER HAD BEFORE.  THESE BIRDS WERE SMALL BUT ONCE WE STUFFED THEM WITH SAUSAGE AND RICE THE MADE FOR A NICE MEAL.  UNFORTUNATELY WE ATE THEM SO FAST I FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE!

ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT THIS SCHOOL IS HOW SO MANY WALKS OF LIFE COME TOGETHER WITH ONE COMMON PASSION....FOOD.  AND JUST IN MY CLASS ALONE WE HAVE A HUGE MIX OF ETHNICITIES AND CULTURES.  SARA, FROM CHILE, BROUGHT IN THESE AMAZING CHILEAN "COOKIES" CALLED ALFAJORES. AND GUESS WHAT....SHE WAS NICE ENOUGH TO GIVE ME THE RECIPE!

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough
- 150 g Cornstarch
- 200 g Flour
- 200 g Butter (room temp)
- 100 g Confectioner sugar
- 1 1⁄2 Teaspoon baking powder - 2 Yolks

- 1⁄2 cup Confectioner Sugar (for garnish)

Manjar
- Condensed Milk

PROCEDURE

Manjar (prepare ahead)
1. Boil condensed milk for 2 hours in a regular pot or 1 hour in a pressure cooker. 2. Let it cool completely before use.

Dough
1. In a bowl mix all the ingredients until achieve consistent color and completely mixed.
2. Over a counter top, pour a little flour (to avoid the dough to stick) and roll to 0.5 cm. Cut in the desire size (ideally no more than 3 cm diametre, if they are too big, will easily break)
3. Place the circles in an oven pan and let chill in the fridge 20 min (aprox) before cooking.
4. Preheat the oven 180oC
5. Put the sheet pan in the oven and bake until achieve a light brown color (about 25 min) remove from the oven and let it cold before remove from the tray.
6. Once cold, fill with manjar, cover and pour confectional sugar on top.

TIPS

- Dough can be baked 4 days ahead (max) and stored in an hermetic container, room temp.
- They can be filled one day ahead although recommended do it the same day.
- Yield about 30 Alfajores 

Posted on May 8, 2016 .

555 EATS - GARLIC AND CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN

 555 FITNESS IS OUR FRIEND....A GOOD FRIEND IN FACT.  SO GOOD THAT WE LOVE SHARING HEALTHY RECIPES WITH THEM. THESE RECIPES WILL FUEL YOU THROUGH ONE OF THEIR FREE FUNCTIONAL FITNESS WORKOUTS THEY PROVIDE DAILY!  AND NOT ONLY DO THEY PROVIDE WORKOUTS, THEY GIVE FITNESS EQUIPMENT GRANTS TO FIREHOUSES THAT NEED IT, SO MAKE SURE YOU CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

 555 FITNESS IS OUR FRIEND....A GOOD FRIEND IN FACT.  SO GOOD THAT WE LOVE SHARING HEALTHY RECIPES WITH THEM. THESE RECIPES WILL FUEL YOU THROUGH ONE OF THEIR FREE FUNCTIONAL FITNESS WORKOUTS THEY PROVIDE DAILY!  AND NOT ONLY DO THEY PROVIDE WORKOUTS, THEY GIVE FITNESS EQUIPMENT GRANTS TO FIREHOUSES THAT NEED IT, SO MAKE SURE YOU CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

WE AT F&H CO. LOVE THE IDEA OF STUFFING INGREDIENTS INTO ANOTHER.  ITS A CONVENIENT WAY TO GET MORE VEGETABLES INTO THE MEAL WITHOUT TAKING UP TOO MUCH SPACE ON THE PLATE,  ITS ALSO AN EXCUSE TO USE CHEESE WHICH WE LOOOOOOVE!  THIS RECIPE FOR GARLIC AND CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN COMES FROM ROB MEYER OF THE MONROE TWP. FD IN NEW JERSEY.  ROB ALSO HAS A LEATHERSHOP FOR ALL THINGS LEATHER AND FIREFIGHTER RELATED, YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT AT WWW.ETSY.COM/SHOP/RIDGEWAYLEATHERWORKS !

GARLIC AND CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN

Garliccheesechicken.jpg


Ingredients:
3-4 LBS. BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST (the thicker, larger breasts work well for this)
4-6 TBSP OLIVE OIL
3-4 CLOVES OF GARLIC, minced
BAG/BUNDLE OF FRESH SPINACH, washed/dried (more if you are serving 4+)
1/2 LB SMOKED GOUDA, shredded(or other cheese of choice)
SALT/PEPPER
ADOBO SEASONING
Tooth picks
SERVING SUGGESTION:
SIDE OF RICE (We used Long Grain Wild Rice)
SIDE OF VEGETABLE (We used Sugar Snap Peas)

OPTIONAL:Get the rice going first as per instructions. It should take 25 mins for non instant rice to cook. 


-Preheat oven to 350*
-In a separate pan, sautee garlic in a tbsp of olive oil. Add spinach on low and sautee spinach until soft. (Dont be fooled by fresh spinach. The quantity will halve as it cooks down. We used 1 bag of spinach and found ourselves a little short for 4 firefighters (portions are slightly larger)

-Filet chicken breasts in half and pound them flat

-Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper and Adobo on both sides. 

-Take both the shredded (or cubed) cheese and sauteed spinach and place on top of the chicken breast. (Leave about an inch on either side of stuffed ingredients to prevent it from spilling out the end)

-Roll the stuffed chicken breast lengthwise and secure with toothpicks. I usually use about 3-4, but every now and then a monster breast requires 5. (Please remind your men/women about the approximate number of toothpicks in the chicken so they may cut it and search accordingly. 

-Add some more olive oil to pan and place chicken breasts in pan. Rotate for about 5 mins to brown the outside. 

-In a pyrex dish, place rice on the bottom, and then the chicken on top. Insert into a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 30-35 mins. 

OPTIONAL: Cook vegetables within the last 10 minutes.

-In the last 5-10 minutes, add additional cheese on the top of the chicken breast to melt. If you are using smoked gouda, make sure it is shredded. As its melt characteristics are a little less desirable. Most other cheeses will melt fine as shredded or cubed, but the gouda will give you both a distinct smell in the kitchen, and taste on the plate. 
 

 
Posted on May 2, 2016 and filed under DINNER.

MOVE OVER GORTON...THERE IS A NEW FISH TO FRY

THAT BRIGHT YELLOW BOX WITH THE SALTY FISHERMAN GORTON, I GREW UP ON THAT STUFF.  IT WAS GOOD, DAMN GOOD.  IF I KNEW WHAT WAS IN IT BACK THEN, I PROBABLY STILL WOULD HAVE ATE IT.  AFTER ALL, IT WAS MERELY A FRIED VEHICLE FOR A MOUND OF TARTAR SAUCE.  BUT I DIGRESS....

This week picked up where we left off last week, fish.  Last week's first fish lesson was on round fish, which consists of trout, bass, snapper, tuna...basically anything that has a roundish body and eyes on the sides of it's head.  This week we started with flatfish, who's bodies are flat and their eyes are on top of their head.  They actually start off life as a "round" fish and as they mature slowly "lean over" and their eyes actually move to the top of the head.  Weird, but delicious.  Sole, flounder, and halibut all fit under this category.

So with that being said, let's fry some flounder!  This dish is basically the French version of fish sticks but with a fancy name "Goujonettes De Limande Aux Deux Sauces", which translates to Bread Crumb-Coated Flounder with Two Sauces.  

It was served in a waffle potato basket over Sauce aux Poivrons Rouges (red bell pepper) and Sauce Remoulade and fried parsley.

It was served in a waffle potato basket over Sauce aux Poivrons Rouges (red bell pepper) and Sauce Remoulade and fried parsley.

This next dish was incredible!  So much so that I think it may end up on this years Christmas Eve menu. "Filet De Limande Bonne Femme", or Braised Flounder with White Wine, Shallots and Cream is a rich dish with tons of flavor.

The dish is placed under the salamander to brown the sauce just enough to add more layers of flavor.

The dish is placed under the salamander to brown the sauce just enough to add more layers of flavor.

Shellfish day, a.k.a. the best day to date at school.  I mean who wouldn't get excited about mussels, scallops, clams, oysters and LOBSTER!!!!! In class we learn beyond what the textbooks say.  A lot of it comes from our Chef Instructors, like the difference between sea urchin and uni.  Uni is just sea urchin that has been brined to firm it up, and it is delicious!  Even if it is the reproductive organ.  Need to get the meat out of a lobster claw and you forgot your cracker at home.....a few gentle hits with the back of a knife and voila, sweet lobster not mangled.

Lobster in Sauce Americaine, a crustacean sauce made with lobster shells, tomato, brandy and tarragon......and BUTTER!

Lobster in Sauce Americaine, a crustacean sauce made with lobster shells, tomato, brandy and tarragon......and BUTTER!

These mussels were missing one thing....an cold beer!  Because mussels and beer were made for each other. Seriously though, these mussels were so easy and the juice was quickly mopped up with fresh baked baguette from our baking department.  Every day, the bread made in the baking classes gets put on a shelf and it is free to anyone who wants it.  I am talking fresh baguettes, multigrain, sourdough, crusty pane di casa......it is dangerous to say the least.

MOULES A LA MARINERE ( STEAMED MUSSELS WITH WHITE WINE, SHALLOTS AND PARSLEY)

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS:
1 LB OF MUSSELS
SMALL BUNCH OF FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
3 TBS. BUTTER, small dice
1 SMALL SHALLOT, small dice
1/2 C OF WHITE WINE
2 BAY LEAVES
FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER
 

PROCEDURE:
For Mise en Place:
Scrub the mussels and soak them in heavily salted cold water, discarding any that don't close when tapped.  Drain and rinse them
Stem the parsley, chop the stems and leaves and reserve them separately
 

For Service and Per Order:
In a large wide saute pan, add the mussels, shallots, parsley stems, a few pieces of butter, bay leaf, wine and a few turns of the pepper mill.
Cover and bring to a boil, shaking the pan regularly.  As the mussels begin to open, remove them to a metal bowl.  Remove the beard if there is any.

When all the mussels are open, decant (carefully pour leaving any sediment behind) the remaining broth through a strainer into a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and reduce slightly.  Remove from the heat, add the remaining butter and stir until all the butter is incorporated.  

Place the mussels in a large warm bowl, pour over the sauce.  Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.


One thing I love about school is the location.  It is in SoHo (South of Houston St.) and is blocks away from Little Italy and Chinatown.  It still has some old world charm with some cobblestone streets and small cafes, including a few alumni restaurants close by.  And now, there is a high end kitchen shop opening up down the street with paper over the windows, and there are holes in it just big enough to get a peek at the beautiful equipment inside like the setup below.  One can dream right?

Espresso and a banana quinoa muffin from a local cafe.  One of my go-to meals right before class.

Espresso and a banana quinoa muffin from a local cafe.  One of my go-to meals right before class.

Love these buildings, and the street is cobblestone to boot.  Like stepping back in time.

Love these buildings, and the street is cobblestone to boot.  Like stepping back in time.

DRRROOOOOOLLLLLLIIIIIIIIINNNNGGGGG.......

DRRROOOOOOLLLLLLIIIIIIIIINNNNGGGGG.......

WELL THATS ALL FOLKS! NEXT WEEK IS POULTRY, CAN'T WAIT TO START COOKING MORE PROTEIN!  
Posted on May 1, 2016 .

THROWDOWN THURSDAY - BROCCOLI TOTS

THE 2016 FIREFIGHTER THROWDOWN AT FDIC WAS A HUGE SUCCESS!  AND WHILE F&H CO. WAS NOT ABLE TO MAKE IT DOWN TO THE ATL, WE KNOW EVERYONE HAD A GOOD TIME COMPETING AND PROMOTING A HEALTHIER FIRE SERVICE.  SO TO PREPARE FOR THE NEXT ONE, LET'S KEEP ON ROLLING WITH SOME HEALTHY EATS.....

THIS RECIPE FOR BROCCOLI TOTS COMES FROM BRYAN HERMANN OF THE JERSEY CITY F.D. IN NEW JERSEY.  THEY ARE A GREAT FOR A SIDE OR SNACK, AND WILL DEFINITELY IMPRESS THE CREW!

BROCCOLI TOTS

INGREDIENTS:
4 CUPS UNCOOKED OR FROZEN BROCCOLI FLORETS
1 GARLIC CLOVE, diced
1 SMALL ONION, diced
1 SMALL SHALLOT, diced
SMALL BUNCH OF FRESH CILANTRO, diced
2 LARGE EGGS OR 3 SMALL, beaten
1/2 CUP BREAD CRUMBS
1/4 CUP SHREDDED CHEDDAR
2 TSP. SRIRACHA


PROCEDURE:
Preheat oven to 400*

Place a large pot of water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes, remove and drain.  When cool, dice and set aside.

 In a large bowl combine the cilantro, onion, shallot and broccoli.  Add the eggs, breadcrumbs, Sriracha and cheddar cheese. Mix until combined.

Scoop out spoonful size of the mixture and form into small balls or tator tot shape.  Place on a lightly oiled sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Serve as a side or snack!



 

Posted on April 28, 2016 and filed under SIDE, LUNCH, DINNER.