Saturday, December 29, 2007
One of the best things about working for a college is that over the Christmas break, I can sleep late, watch Futurama reruns, and drink coffee from a Boba Fett Mug.
MC Chris - Fett's Vett
Supernova - Chewbacca
John Williams - Imperial March
Friday, December 28, 2007
Yeah, it's been 20-sumpin' days and no word from me on life in general. So, allow me to catch you up:
First of all, being employed drained what was left of my working-renegade soul.
But there was this:
Which lead to this:
So to summarize: Catering. Food. Christmas. Engaged.
I am excited at the prospect of being married, it's just hard for me to muster any energy at this point. The Thanksgiving-Catering-Christmas Spending-Smokey & The Bandit Style Traveling-Gauntlet has taken it's toll. I am, however, looking forward to a nice New Years Eve at home. Wine, a nice meal, and a fire in the fire-place.
Thanks to all for the congrats and hospitality over the past week. I like you all very much.
Dean Martin - Baby it's cold outside
John Williams - Carol of the Bells
Winton Marsallis - Linus & Lucy
Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra - It's a Marshmallow World (Live)
Annie Lennox & Al Green - Put a little love in your heart
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Yesterday was the first official snow fall of the 2007 Fall\Winter season.
I have now come to grips with the fact that I DO actually like the winter weather. That's saying a lot seeing as I LOVE San Diego and Las Vegas. But being a chef, or a cook, or whatever the hell it is that is fashionable to call us now-a-days, has made it's impression on my soul. I've come to love the winter months and all the cooking possibilities that come with them. Just like Darth Vader, It's too late for me...
The thing about Spring/Summer vs Fall/Winter is that, naturally, cooking habits change. The Summer is for grilling and spicy Southern dishes and drinking Tequila in the stifling heat. But the Winter... The Winter is a perfect excuse to cook heavy stews and soups, get a fire roaring in the fireplace, listen to some Leonard Cohen and drink Scotch Whiskey in the frigid cold.
Yesterday was that day... Sort of.
I came home to a catastrophic computer failure of unknown origins. (mup.sys?!? WTF!!!) Thankfully Kerrie and I have a pretty good backup plan so it was basically just a routine re-install of the OS and hardware and all was well. It would have been better if I could have had that evening in front of the fireplace drinking Scotch but duty called...
Nonetheless, Kerrie and I still had to eat. And dinner was exactly how I had imagined it would be: Jack Daniels Chicken Soup with Grilled Cheese
1 lb. Boneless Chicken Thighs, cut into bite size portions
Olive Oil, 1-3 Tabelspoons
1 Medium Onion, chopped
2 Ribs Celery, diced
20 Baby Carrots, sliced in half and chopped
6 Cups Water
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Fresh Chopped Parsley
Heat olive oil in a stock pot.
When hot, add the Onion, Celery, and Baby Carrots. Cook until soft and starting to brown. (You want to brown them, NOT burn them...)
Deglaze pot with Jack Daniels and allow to come to a boil and reduce by 3/4. (How much you add is up to you, but make sure you reduce it down. I did about 1 Cup and a little extra for good measure.)
When Whiskey has reduced, add the water and bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken and keep at a simmer for about 1 hour.
Finish with Salt and Pepper and top with fresh chopped Parsley.
- Everybody Knows
- I'm your man
- Waiting for the Miracle
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Ah, the aftermath of Thanksgiving.
That one time of year when it's all about the food. And not just any food, mind you... Turkey: That once-a-year staple of just about any every household across the U.S.
I personally love the Thanksgiving meal. Various meats and my brother and I laughing at various family members after taking innocent comments completely out of context. My mom goes all-out with a full spread every year, and every year we (like just about everyone else) spend days trying to work through all the leftovers.
Thanksgiving, however, is the point-of-no-return. It's the start of the Catering-Shopping-Holiday Gauntlet for me. Everything gets nice and crazy, I get tired and grumpy, and come January 2'nd I try, desperately, to not talk to anyone.
Oh yeah, I'm a sweetheart.
Nonetheless, it IS all about the food for me and here is a simple representation of it all.
At this point I'm glad to be home and getting a little rest before heading back to work. All in all, it's a good run to make, but I thank God that it only happenes once a year.
Best Quote for the Whole Week:
"If it weren't for us, the Indians wouldn't have all of those Casinos..."
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Let me start off by saying: I don't give a shit...
Personally, I think all the wacko-PETA nuts can go hump a sharp stick. That being said, Kerrie and I enjoyed a lovely Veal Scallopini the other night.
Veal isn't something I generally eat a lot of because YES, it IS cruel, but mainly because veal ain't cheap.
Last week though, it was cheap. Cheaper than Duck anyways... My original plan was to make Tea Smoked Duck Breasts, but at $8.49 a pound - my preferred grocer can go hump a sharp stick too. I just happened to see the veal cutlets as we passed by the meat counter and before I knew it, we were eatin' veal.
Clarified Butter, or Olive Oil
4 Veal Cutlets
2 T Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, diced
8 .oz Fresh Mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Dry Sherry
2 t All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Beef Broth
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 T Heavy Whipping Cream
Heat butter in a pan, then add veal. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Remove meat and reserve.
Add olive oil to pan and add onions. Saute until soft and add mushrooms. Cook until lightly browned.
Add Sherry and bring to a boil. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add beef broth, and continue to stir. Add veal to pan and cover. Simmer for 8 minutes or until Veal is tender.
Remove Veal from pan and reserve. Add whipping cream to sauce and stir until heated thoroughly and slightly thick.
Server over Veal and accompaniments. Yummy.
In conclusion, I AM an omnivore. I will continue to eat meat so long as it continues to taste so damned good. Same goes for all sorts of veggies and fruits. That's just the way it is folks...
Hey, here's a good idea: Why don't these whiny special-interest douchbags try banning something that actually sucks... Like cabbage! THAT is a cause I could actually get behind.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Recently, I decided to make a brownie dessert. While not exactly the most groundbreaking dessert ever made, it certainly qualifies as one of the most enticing. I very rarely find someone who DOESN'T like brownies, so something along these lines never disappoints...
Mocha Brownie Tower with Kahlua Vanilla Mousse & homemade Strawberry Ice Cream
Even though today is my day off, I've been called two times by my boss, and once by the executive chef. Plus, I'm getting ready to head over to a Sara Lee Demo Show Thingy. (Real technical thar Jay...) So yeah, no rest for the wicked...
American Bang - Move to the Music
Charlatans - How High?
KLF - 3AM Eternal
Manic Street Preachers - Loves Sweet Exile
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
I love Onion Soup. It's one of the easiest, most satisfying soups you can make. It is, in my honest opinion, the quintessential definition of "comfort food".
There is something seductive, almost slutty, about the aroma of different types of onions slowly cooking down in olive oil and clarified butter. There is something so wrong, but so right, about eating that much cheese on top of that much bread on top of that much beef stock on top of -you guessed it- that massive pile of onions.
Too many people, unfortunately, equate Onion Soup with Salt. I love salt, in fact - I eat lots of food with it! For something like this though, you really want that onion flavor to jump out, kick you in the nuts and yell: "SURPRISE!"
So, here it is... My take on Five Onion Soup.
3 small onions, cut in half then quartered
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 really big Leek, sliced into rounds - green ends discarded
2 Shallots, sliced thin
5 cloves Garlic, smashed
1 heaping Tablespoon Clarified Butter (Optional)
2 T Flour
1 Cup Whiskey (Jack Daniels, man...)
1 Qt Beef Stock (4 Cups)
2 Cups Water
1 t Pepper
1 T Herbs du Provence
1 Baguette, toasted and cut into large cubes
Start by heating the olive oil in a large stockpot. When hot, add the clarified butter and once melted add all of the onions and sweat briefly.
Add the Flour and stir to evenly coat the onions. Continue to saute the onions until they are nicely browned (NOT BURNT!) and cooked down.
Deglaze the pot with the Whiskey, scraping up the Fond which has no doubt accumulated on the bottom. Cook until the whiskey is nearly gone and soaked into the onions.
Add the beef stock, the water, pepper and Herbs du Provence. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 45 Minutes - skimming all the scum that comes to the top. (If you have too much of a boil going, the scummy foam will churn back into the soup.)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Pour the soup into an oven proof crock large enough to hold all of the liquid. Place all of the bread evenly across the soup so no liquid is exposed. Sprinkle the cheese all over until the bread is completely covered. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned.
Kerrie and I had this with some nice Red Table Wine and decent amount of time to waste. Lazy nights are always the best for something like this. Plenty of time to relax and pretend that I'm uninterested, unemployed and be completely happy with it.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Now that the temperatures are falling bit by bit, week after week, my tastes in cooking are shifting more from grilled items and Mexican inspired dishes to Stir Fry's, Soups, and braised dishes.
Just last week I made an amazing Tortilla soup, and before that an equally amazing Sausage and White Bean Minestrone - Thus kicking off my "one new soup per week" thing. On Friday though, I decided to do my first Asian inspired meal for the Fall season.
Seared Tenderloin w/ Red Miso Demi Glace, Fried Lotus Root, Coconut rice with julienned Red Pepper & Snow Peas
Personally, I would love to live somewhere warm - Like San Diego. On the other hand I would love to live somewhere cold - Like Mackinac Island. All in all, one of the great things about living in SW Ohio is that I've got the perfect seasonal changes here and access to all the exotic and flavorful items I've never seen anywhere else. So yeah, I'm actually getting psyched for the impending chilly weather. (Of course, ask me how I feel after that first morning where I have to be to work by 6:30am and it's fuck-cold outside...)
PS - Edwards, good luck to you and Tracey out in SD. Hope you guys are alright.
PSS - What was it Lewis Black said about living in California?
PSSS - Here's a little Halloween humor for ya'll:
Thursday, October 18, 2007
According to the late John Gotti, everybody needs to score once in a while...
Such was my luck this past weekend with my Dessert Margarita.
Now, I know that the name of this dessert must sound a tad cliche, but I assure you - this thing was phenomenal. The main idea was to make a dessert to go with a fajita dinner, and to incorporate different flavors and textures.
Enter the Dessert Margarita: a luscious combination of three separate dessert items infused into one little glass. I started with a Tequila Lime Gelee, then added homemade Strawberry ice cream, and topped it with a light vanilla Mousse and a light sprinkle of smoked salt.
The beauty was in the three distinct textures: Firm and Smooth, Creamy and hard, light and airy, and a crunch to end it all. The three flavors, predictably, did not stray away from sweet. I know there is a current trend in desserts to work with quirky and weird flavors, but I wanted to create an experience that people could actually appreciate as something they understand - and crave over and over again.
All in all, this was a win for me. Not at all pretentious, utterly decadent and perfectly pleasing.
"La Di Dadi! Free John Gotti!"
- Fun Lovin' Criminals
Sunday, October 14, 2007
It's been a little while since I've posted, but things have been a bit hectic. (If I had a nickel for every time I've wrote that, I'd have a shitload of nickels!)
Nonetheless, this time of year always gets crazy. It starts with our anniversary, followed by Kerrie's birthday. (Oct 16'th!) We then jump into the Holiday/Catering gauntlet which just about rips out my very soul and dances on it with Castanets.
A few things seem certain at this point, the changing season being one of them. I do like the fall\winter transition as it gives me a chance to do some great cold-weather cooking. My new goal, although not extremely ambitious, is to make one ass-kickingly-amazing soup per week.
This week, even though the temperatures are still in the 70's, I'm planning on making Minestrone. Gathering the ingredients today (Italian sausage, kale, fresh parsley) was a wonderful experience. Although our weekly grocery run was not that different from any other week in the past, there was a heightened sense of awareness when it came to what I was specifically looking for. The parsley smelled slightly sweet and full of the life, while the Kale was crisp and vibrant. The sausage was extremely enticing also, speckled with bits of herbs and Romano cheese.
My interest in soup goes back almost 13 years when during my first semester in College a professor told my Prep001 class that soup is the cheapest thing you can make. Even then I was thinking: I call bullshit on that!
Making soup requires very little, it's true. Making good soup? Eh, not so much. Just today, Kerrie and I were watching The Food Network and saw three guys making Cioppino - or as I like to call it: Fuck Expensive.
Not to be deterred, though, my Fall/Winter goal is to make good soups without paying Filet-prices. I'm SO on it...
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Just last week I was speaking with Kerrie about how I was amazed that she Beat the Spread on this one, but that I'm happier than I could have imagined knowing she did.
So last night, 3'rd year running, we went to the Grand Finale for dinner. The Grand Finale is very possibly one of the best finds in all of Cincinnasty. Technically it's in the city of Glendale, along with the ever-and-ever-cool Friendly Stop.
As always, I got the Steak with Cognac & Peppercorn Sauce. Not many places offer the au poiver option for steaks, so this place is already ahead in my book. Kerrie ordered the equally amazing Filet Mignon Brochette.
We ended the meal with a cappuccino and the Cheesecake, Cheesecake, Cheesecake dessert plate. This thing came with three MASSIVE slices of the Grand Finale's specialty cheesecakes and a pile of fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Our waitress asked, with a little hesitation, if we wanted a second fork and plate when we ordered C3. I cannot figure out why because the thing was mammoth and WAY more than one person could ever hope to devour.
All in all, with another year under our belts, things are really nice. The food is still good and the love is still there. Suck it nay-sayers!
Rare Earth - Celebrate
Faith No More - A Small Victory
Soul Asylum - Can't Even Tell
Jay Z - 99 Problems
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Alright, it's hard for me -right now- to be objective and reasonable about a topic that was tossed into my lap earlier this week...
On Wednesday, we received a letter from our apartment complex. This letter was a basic form letter and was given to every resident in the entire complex. This letter, reveling in all of it's nanny-state/fascist bullshit greatness, stated that we immediately have to get rid of our grill.
Thats right, we are no longer allowed to have a grill within ten feet of our apartment.
I'm super-f'ing pissed.
But, like all things nanny, it's a small change. That's what makes it all the more irritating. Sure, it's JUST the grill today. What's next?
So to show my defiance of such a BS rule, I did some amazing grillin' last night.
Grilled Bar-B-Q Beef
1 Flat Iron Steak (1lb per two people)
Bar-B-Q sauce (Your choice)
3 T Packed Brown Sugar
2 t Ground Cumin
2 t Chili Powder (Not Pure)
1 1/2 t Salt
1 t Black Pepper
1 t Ground Mustard
Combine all dry ingredients together, and rub generously all over Flat Iron.
Allow steak to marinate at room temp for about 1 Hour.
Grill on low heat for 10 minutes per side. When you flip the steak the first time, brush the grilled side with BBQ sauce. When the second side is done, flip and brush with BBQ sauce and cook for about 1 minute.
Allow meat to rest for 5 minutes, slice thin.
I served my Grilled Bar-B-Q Beef with some fresh baked Cheddar Biscuits, and while I pounded out the last of my Cutty, Kerrie had a few Negro Modelo's. To finish it all off, I made a classic Corner Grill Apple Crumb Pie.
It was a very satisfying meal, to say the least. Sometimes the best food I prepare come out of a complete disregard for rules, regulations, of the feelings of the PC thugs. Contempt for authority, what a beautiful thing...
Dr. John - Right Place, Wrong Time
Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around
David Bowie - Rebel, Rebel
New Order - Regret
Ozzy, DMX, ODB & The Crystal Method - Nowhere to Run
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I had no idea that North East Ohio was a major wine producing region. Okay maybe not "major" in the Californian sense, but at a glance I counted over forty winery's in the extreme North Eastern corner of Ohio alone.
To elaborate, Kerrie and I spent some time with her Mom and Dad recently and while we were visiting, we stopped at a few different winery's. Most notably was Ferrante's Winery & Ristorante, and the South River Winery which was actually an old chapel that had been converted into a winery.
First off, I should admit that I did NOT realize Ohio had so many vineyards and winery's. When I heard we were going to Ferrante's, I just figured it was a winery all by itself - end of story. I quickly began to notice signs everywhere for different winery's and many plots of land dedicated to being nothing BUT vineyards. (Sweet! No fucking Corn!)
We were dismayed to hear that the tours had stopped for the season at Ferrante's, but we simply traveled from spot to spot taking in the sights and even trying a few wines along the way.
At the South River Winery, we tried both a Riesling and an Ice Wine. The Ice Wine, I thought, was far too sweet but the Riesling was amazing. Slightly sweet and perfectly cool, I'm kicking myself for not snagging a bottle before we left.
For dinner, we returned to Ferrante's. It's a basic Italian restaurant, but one thats a reliable Italian restaurant. Classic Italian dished, prepared properly without fuss or pretension. I had the House Red and Kerrie had the Rossato. Both went well with our meals, but I found that I liked hers much more than mine. Hers was served at a slightly lower temperature and had a very pleasant sweetness to it.
When all was said and done, I was very taken by what I had learned of that day. I would say discovered, but lets face it - I was lead by hand to the wine. And thankfully so! I had never dreamed there was so much wine being produced up North, but I'm glad to have found out because I don't get over to Sonoma all that often and Bordeaux doesn't look too likely either.
Ohio Wine Association
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Of all the things I thought might happen Monday, being attacked by a Bat while walking through the halls at work was not one of them.
And by "bat" I do mean a flying rabid rat.
I had just gotten done taking a break between getting orders for next week sorted out and a fisting of a catering that had come up on short-notice, and as I was walking back to the main kitchen the bat just flew at me and hit me in the chest. At this point I'd like to tell you I was all man, taking care of the problem without flinching –and I can proudly say I didn't shriek or yelp- but it was probably more like Norm MacDonald getting hit with that pen on SNL. A flailing of the arms and a loud "what the fuck!?!" was about all I could muster. Ah, manly.
Our exec came out with a broom and in true-form smacked it around very comically until it was dead. So yeah, that was my Monday.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
A few days back I was reading through the past postings at Is my blog burning? and saw an event listed at YumSugar that peaked my interest. The idea is simple, send them a picture of you with your favorite cookbook. In this particular case I'm going to submit a picture from not so long ago, one I jokingly refer to as "Moses and the Tablets"...
You have to give them "one short sentence" as to why you have chosen whatever cookbook you're holding. For me? I dunno. I'm holding the Professional Chef and Baking & Pastry, both text produced and used religiously by the CIA. (No, the other CIA, Not those shady spy pricks...)
For me, these are classics. They got me through a lot of "what-if" scenarios -including that meal at St. Marks- and always serve as a basis for all the crazy shit I feel compelled to do. Buhleedat.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I have a pretty decent routine going. Up at 6:00am, to bed by 10:00pm, repeat. Things have leveled out quite a lot since I met Kerrie, and even more since I started working for the U.
But there was a time, not so long ago, when the midnight-run was pretty standard. Be it Waffle House, The Corner Grill, or the occasional Big Boy visit, it was common to be out at all hours of the night looking for food to eat. There were quite a few nights where Edwards and I would hit the Waffle House or where Jeb and I would go to Big Boy and just burn the hours away talking about meaningless, but utterly deep, bullshit.
I bring all of this up, because tonight I had a flashback. Nothing too intense or dramatic, but a "feeling" for the past. You see, today Kerrie and I had Chipotle for lunch. I had four tacos and she had a good sized salad. Needless to say, we weren't entirely hungry for a huge meal for dinner. In fact, we weren't really hungry at all. So the evening slipped away and suddenly we were both a tiny bit peckish. In an attempt to make a simple, quick, and light meal, I pulled out some leftover beef tenderloin in Demi Glaze and sliced it thin, then paired it with some french bread and clarified butter. I had an old mix CD on and this feeling caught me. The Late Night Food Run feeling. Something special from that past that I don't do anymore -not that you could drag my ass out of bed at 1:00am anyways- that is still as vibrant now as it was then.
Radiohead & The Posies - Blowout
Massive Attack - Protection
Lyle Lovitt & His Large Band - Nobody Knows Me
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tonight was the first night in almost two weeks that I've had a chance to actually work in the kitchen. Between work, the computer, and life in general, things have been too hectic for me to really commit to my bit.
Even tonight, I had to fight the urge to just say "fuck it" and go out to eat. I am glad, however, that I fought that urge and stayed in to make Gnocchi.
I've had the desire to make Gnocchi for a while now, and this past weekend it dawned on me that THIS was my week. This past weekend, incidentally, I worked a catering down in Kentucky for a Catholic church festival with my dopey-ass former co-worker E. While there, I happened to see a calender on the wall as saw that THIS week was The Feast of the Assumption. For those of you from Lakota, the FofA is a big deal in Little Italy in Cleveland. Streets are blocked off, there are vendors everywhere serving pasta and canolis, and they parade a statue of the Virgin Mary down the street.
I have had the pleasure of being there twice during the Feast, and I must say it IS impressive. The whole event is overwhelming, and the food is to die for. This year, however... Not so much, as I'm tethered to work.
So I decided that tonight was my night to make Gnocchi.
2 Lb. Potatoes
8 Cloves Garlic
1 Cup Flour, Plus 1 Cup for adding in
1 T Salt
Start by peeling the potatoes and quartering them.
Next, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add potatoes and garlic.
Boil for about 7-9 minutes, or just until soft.
Drain potatoes and garlic, and mash well.
Gather potato/garlic mix into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Make a well in the middle of the potato/garlic mix and add egg and salt.
Add 1 cup flour, gradually, and work with hands until fully incorporated.
Add extra flour as needed to make a nice, slightly firm and smooth dumpling dough.
Cut Dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a long cord.
Cut the cord at 1 inch intervals.
Roll each individual dumpling on a Gnocchi Ridger or lightly press a fork onto the dough to make ridges.
Drop Gnocchi into a pot of lightly salted, barely simmering water and cook until the Gnocchi begin to float.
Jimmy Eat World - Sweetness
Pinewood Derby - Legacy
Rolling Stones - Street Fightin' Man
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts - Bad Reputation
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I have this weird tradition... Actually, my brother and I have a weird tradition. It started about 8 years back, during the Christmas-Shopping-Gauntlet, where after hours of getting fisted by every retailer in existence we just stopped at the first restaurant we saw.
(ahem) Red Lobster.
Okay, not exactly the business you were expecting me to reveal but there you have it. Red Lobster... And the tradition became, for whatever reason, that every year after fighting hoards of soon-to-be-ex-boyfriends and junkie-single-mothers, we just went to Red Lobster.
It was and is an odd once-a-year ordeal where I feel I must seek out and -=gasp=- enjoy an afternoon of Scampi, cheddar biscuits, and lots of whiskey.
And so, with the passage of time, I became accustomed to a certain order I would make every year: Cutty on the rocks with a slice of lime, Caesar Salad, Cheddar Biscuits, Aztec Chicken and Broiled Scampi with French Fries and Mixed Vegetables. This has never changed, and as John Cusack once said: "...Eventually, you get to... like it."
So recently, I felt like having that meal. Don't ask why, the urge just hits me sometimes. And being that I like my kitchen and the things I can do with it, I made my own faux-red-lobster dinner.
Personally, I like my meal much better. I can drink a lot of Cutty and not worry about driving anywhere or punching a waitress. Plus, the cheddar biscuits are bigger and more plentiful. All in all, maybe I need a new tradition. And that new tradition should be me, at home, making this meal and then unwinding in front of the fireplace when it's all over...
"Don't you judge me Earl!"
- From My Name Is Earl