Sunday, January 31, 2010

Naan Bread

I first had Naan while living in London at a wonderful little Indian restaurant that happened to be across the street from my flat. I find that it has many wonderful applications other than served with Curries. It is great for Fish Tacos, and Blackened Chicken Sandwiches.Indian Naan

Naan Bread
1lb white flour
1oz dried yeast
1 tsp nigella seed (also known in Indian stores as charnushka or kanolfi seed)
6 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp ghee or melted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup warm water
oil or ghee to coat

1. Dissolve sugar in warm water.
2. Add yeast. Yeast should froth, if it doesn't, start over with fresh yeast.
3. In a separate bowl, sift salt with flour and add nigella seeds.
4. Make a well in the centre and add yoghurt, ghee and yeast mixture.
5. Knead well until it forms a dough. Shape into a ball. If dough is sticky, add more flour until elastic.
6. Coat a separate bowl with oil or ghee and roll dough into it until fully coated.
7. Shake off excess oil and cover with damp tea-towel or cloth.
8. After 2 or 3 hours, dough should have doubled in size. Unless that is you happen to have a proof setting on your oven.
9. Knead the dough and divide into around 6 equal portions. Flatten and mould into typical 'pear' shape naan.
10. Preheat oven to 450F/230C and bake for 10 mins. Brush with ghee or butter and serve.

Naan is traditionally baked in a stone oven where it is slapped onto the sides to cook. Obviously, traditional kitchens don't have these, so don’t be afraid to crank up your oven to 400° Degrees , and use your pizza stone.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Delta Dog Fritters ( Gulf Shrimp Hushpuppies)

Delta Dog Fritters ( Gulf Shrimp Hushpuppies)Hushpuppies
It was several years ago while reading a Civil War Era cookbook that I had the pleasure of being introduced to the term " Delta Dog”. My love for history, and old recipes had me packing the bags and heading to Savannah, Georgia to find more about this wonderful, yet sadly forgotten piece of “Southern” cookery. Like many of the classics, this recipe is a descendent of the most dreadful part of America history the practice of Slavery.
Slaves working the plantations of the South would often find themselves left with meager scraps to provide sustenance for their families. While the traditional recipe is prepared using salt pork and cooked over open fire in the cast iron skillet much as you would cook a modern day pancake, I made a few adaptations to bring the recipe to its current presentation. This is what I believe is truly the grandfather of the famous hushpuppy, and deserved resurrection. With my discovery in hand, I returned to my kitchen in Atlanta to throw together a batch. I will forever remember the look on the breakfast crews face when they arrive to work at 5AM only to have the #2 standing there with a couple hundred of these things fried up and ready for breakfast. Upon arrival of the Executive Chef, and my good friend Chad I knew I found a winner. I spent about a week passing them out to the Bar, concierge lounge, employee cafeteria, and any vendor that walked through the door! I paired them up as a “ Garnish” for the wings, and soon had a following with the business travelers that stayed at the Marriott Alpharetta Hotel. This was a small part of our success as a culinary team, but my favorite part of being a Chef! Be true to your ingredients, your crew, and most importantly don’t be afraid to chase down something that sounds interesting!

Delta Dog Fritters-Scaled from the original batch recipe

4 each egg yolk, beat until light
1 Cup Whole milk
2/3 pound all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 pound cornmeal
1/16 cup double-acting baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon old bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 cup parsley, chopped, folded in
1/8 cup onion, minced, folded in
1/2 cup Chopped Sweet Corn
1/4 pound Maple Pepper Bacon, chopped, folded in
1/2 cup Cooked shrimp, chopped, folded in
6 each egg whites, stiffly beaten, folded in

Combine flour, corn meal, salt, and seasonings in small mixer bowl (use paddle attachment) Mix together. Make well in center, add milk, egg yolks, mix for 1 minute. Fold in all remaining ingredients. Mix 1 minute, and allow to rest for 15 minutes before frying at 350 degrees for approximately. 4 minutes

Alligator with Sauce Piquante

In my mind the Acadian people of the Bayou have fusion cuisine down to a science. I say that because I find the blend of flavors and ingredients deserve respect that shouldn’t be altered. The French-Acadians were banished by the British from Nova Scotia where they settled in the Bayous along the Gulf of Mexico. When these nomadic spirits joined forces with the Spanish, Italian, and African decedents already living in this area they invented what is today recognized as Cajun Cuisine. They found Seasonings being used by the Native American Tribes of the Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians never before seen by Europeans so what could possibly be more “ Fusion” than that….I could go on forever about this type of cooking as one of my greatest influences in cooking, and lifestyle was watching Justin Wilson on TV as a child! Yeah for those that don’t know that was when you had to walk over to the TV to change Channels!
So today the calling went out for Alligator recipes, and this is one of my favorites…I prepare this dish most often for a crowd that has never had Alligator, and more often than not someone will squirm around in the chair making comments that include” People actually eat those things”…..Well yes they do, and they are quite tasty! If you run into this crowd I recommend that you make a batch of Grits, and spread it out in a shallow baking dish to cool in the fridge. When cooled you can then turn them out on a cutting board, and take a 2 Inch round cookie cutter to make little disks that can be grilled, or pan seared as a base for small Appetizer portions that are topped with Medallions of Gator and a little sauce.

2 Pounds Alligator meat -cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 Cup Oil
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/2 Cup Onions, Chopped
1/2 Cup Green Bell Peppers, Chopped
1/2 Cup Celery, Chopped
1/2 Cup Parsley, Chopped
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
16 Fluid Ounces Tomato Sauce
8 Fluid Ounces Tomato Juice
1 Pound Fresh Crab Meat
1/4 Teaspoon Creole Seasoning
1 Bay Leaf
1 Pinch Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper To taste

Louisiana Hot Sauce To Taste--- A Couple Good Shakes makes this wonderful!

1. Heat oil, and Brown alligator Meat, Remove from oil, and reserve
2. Add Flour to make a roux
Add Onion, Celery, Green Peppers and Parsley, cook until wilted
3. Add Tomato Sauce, and Juice, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes
4. Add Alligator and remaining Ingredients and continue to simmer about 30 minutes until sauce thickens, stir often to prevent sticking

Serve over steamed White Rice, or Grit Cakes

Friday, January 29, 2010

What to eat Superbowl Sunday….

We are just days away from gathering with friends to watch Superbowl XLIV, and I thought it would be a great time to write about the foods that we’ll be eating that day. The usual suspects of Nachos, Chicken Wings, Pizza, Hot Dogs, and Burgers will be served across America, but what will they be eating in Indianapolis and New Orleans? Muffuletta Sandwich on FoodistaMuffuletta Sandwich
I’ve had great times in both cities, and I need to tell you they couldn’t be further apart in culture, or traditions. Both have wonderful food that makes me want to scream put down the pizza and get your hands on some of this! Your loss if you decide against it, but I’ll be in it elbows deep come Superbowl Sunday. Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich layered with pickle chips, and chopped onion in one hand, and a Muffuletta the size of a dinner plate dripping olive relish wherever I step in the other. Indiana brought us such American treasures as Pork & Beans, Wonder Bread, and who doesn’t know Orville Redenbacher’s contribution to our culture? Breaded Pork Tenderloin on FoodistaBreaded Pork TenderloinWhen you see the players drinking that Gatorade you can thank the people in Indianapolis for spreading that across America too! Those Colt’s fans are going to show up hungry and with that bring loads of Chicken wings, Chili, and Potato Salad. Now the Saint’s fans will throw in some Louisiana favorites like Jambalaya, Red Beans & Rice, Po Boy’s and Gumbo followed by the sweets from both teams….. king cakes, pralines, fudge brownies and sugar cream pie…….Call in the Paramedics, cause this boy is out for the count and will be in dire need of salvation from the food coma! A very special greeting to my friends at Nick’s, and Central Grocery….You’ll be with me in spirit! Thanks for the Snacks!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Disturbing Reality of Dairy Land...Got Ethics?

This video is not good viewing for anyone who loves Animals. Do not play with Children around!! I love Animals, and would love to take these people to task! I wish things like this didn’t happen in this world, and yet they do. Do you know how many tax dollars subsidize this activity every single day! How’s $95 Billion in farm subsidies in the past 5 years sound! I would assume that many missed this report last night, but it’s important that we all do what we can to support those who conduct themselves responsibly, and with ethics. Just how many of you had a dairy product today?Disturbing Reality of Dairy Land

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings

I came across this way to make Chicken Wings while working out what to have for lunch with the crew one day. I think my love of tropical flavors pairs nicely with my desire to feed, and one day the two merged over some raw wings, and a grill! History was made that day because this has now become one of the staple snacks consumed whenever we get together with friends. I tend to blend my own Jerk Seasoning when at home, but this is the way they get made when on the road!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
2 1/2 Pounds Fresh Chicken Wings
½ Cup Yellow Onion, Rough Chopped
¼ Cup Celery, Rough Chopped
¼ Cup Carrot, Rough Chop
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Jerk Seasoning
1 Each Cinnamon Stick
2 Quarts Water
The Sauce:
2 Cups Hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s Red Hot Brand, but it’s up to you)
¾ Cup Light Brown Sugar
½ Teaspoon Jerk Seasoning

Place the Wings, Onion, Celery, Carrot, Garlic, Cinnamon Stick, and 1 Tablespoon of Jerk Seasoning in a large stock pot. Fill with water making sure that the wings are covered. Place Stock pot on stove over medium heat, and bring the wings to a simmer. Stir frequently so that your wings cook evenly. Skim any impurities from the surface of the water, and continue cooking until your wings are tender, and fully cooked. Remove from heat, strain, and reserve Chicken only as now the Mirepoix (Onion, Celery, and Carrots) can be discarded.
Fire Up the grill* and allow to heat to normal grilling temperature.
Start on the Sauce by adding Hot Sauce, Brown Sugar, and remaining jerk seasoning to a medium sauce pan. Place on stove over medium heat, and cook until volume is reduced by ½. Stir occasionally to prevent the sugar from burning to the bottom of your pan.
Place your wings in a large mixing bowl, and pour ½ cup of Wing Sauce over the wings. Toss to coat evenly, and mark your wings on the grill. Continue to turn wings every couple of minutes to prevent the wings from burning. Your wings will get a little bit of char on them, but in small amounts this just adds to the beauty. When wings are grilled and looking as though they have good markings remove from the grill, and return to the mixing bowl. Pour remaining sauce over wings and toss once more. Reserve the wings in sauce until ready for service. I like to Garnish my wings with a little Charred Mango Salsa, and Chopped Herbs….
***Charcoal works best for grilling your wings.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sausage Jambalaya

The beauty of Cajun Cuisine is I doubt it was ever intended to be consumed alone. I know it is this quality that endears it to my heart above all others. I have spent many nights standing around a sack of oysters jumping on a piece of corrugated roofing tin as the flames below pop their shells, and big pots of boiled crawfish, and jambalaya await those who dare to go soft shelling come low tide. Cajun Cuisine is where the land meets the sea, and truly is the best of both worlds. Some say the holy trinity in Cajun cuisine is onions, celery, and bell peppers…..while I tend to side with the Sausage Jambalaya, Boiled Mudbugs, and Beer Crowd. It’s up to you as to the side you’ll take but since you can’t have one without the other you may as well have a cold beer.
Sausage Jambalaya
Sausage Jambalaya

3 Cups Long Grain Rice
2 Pounds Andouille, or Smoked Sausage, Cubed
1 Cup Tomato Sauce
3 Cups Yellow Onion, Diced
2 Cups Bell Pepper, Diced
½ Cup Celery, Diced
1 Teaspoon Garlic, Minced
¼ Cup Parsley, Chopped
¼ Cup Louisiana Hot Sauce
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
½ Teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
1 Each Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Cups White wine, If you wont drink it PLEASE DON’T COOK WITH IT!!!!!
Water As Needed
Sauté onions, celery and bell peppers in olive oil until translucent. Add Garlic, parsley, tomato sauce, and white wine. Add rice, sausage and enough water to make sure all the ingredients are covered by approximately 1” of fluid. Add remaining ingredients, and stir well.
Cook over medium heat until most of the liquid is absorbed. Cover, reduce heat to simmer for about 40 minutes. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID to peek until it’s done.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lavender Apple Chutney

LavenderLike most chefs I have ingredients that I love to use more than others in my cooking. Chili Peppers, Fruits, and Edible Flowers are components I use in many of my favorite dishes. It was rather early in my career that I became fascinated in the use of flowers in cooking.I had little exposure to that type of cooking as a child but fell in love with their use quickly. I was lucky enough to be working in California when the use of edible flowers into our cuisine resurged. Here is a wonderful recipe that goes nicely on Pork, or Chicken.

Lavender Apple Chutney

2 Cups Apple Cider
1 ½ Cups Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Each Cinnamon Stick
1 Each Star Anise
½ Cup Red Onion, Diced
1 Each Jalapeno Pepper, Seeded and Minced
2 Cups Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Seeded, and Diced
½ Cup Lavender Flowers, Chopped
½ Cup Red Bell Pepper, Diced
¼ Cup Sun Dried Blueberries
¼ Cup Golden Raisins
½ Teaspoon Lemon Juice
Salt& Pepper To Taste

Heat Olive Oil in Non- Aluminum sauce Pan. Add Cinnamon Stick, and Star Anise. Sauté until Cinnamon stick begins to uncurl, then add diced Red Onion. Add Brown Sugar, Jalapeno, Cider Vinegar, and Apple Juice to pan. Reduce until Syrup starts to form. Add all remaining ingredients, and reduce heat to a low simmer. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Caribbean Style Coconut Cake

If you’ve spent some time with us in south Florida, I have no doubt asked you to try the Coconut Cake while catching up over rum drinks……Here's how to make it.
Caribbean Coconut Cake on FoodistaCaribbean Coconut Cake
The Sponge:
3 Cups Cake flour, Sifted
3 Teaspoons Baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Unsalted butter, Softened
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
4 Each Large eggs, Room temperature
1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract
1 Cup Whole milk
1 Batch Coconut frosting, See recipe below
1. Butter, and Flour 3 each nine inch cake pans

2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating until creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Add to flour mixture alternating with the milk in four or five additions. Make sure to begin and end with a flour addition making sure you fold ingredients gently.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Stagger the pans on one or two oven racks set in the center of the oven making sure that no pan is directly over another and that the pans do not touch each other or the oven walls.
4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a pick inserted in the center comes out moist but with no batter clinging. Cool in the pans 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely.
5. Prepare coconut frosting recipe.
6. Frost and stack the layers, pressing in as much coconut as will cling easily before stacking. Frost the top and sides and press remaining coconut on the top and around the cake.
7. Let the cake stand two to three hours before slicing.

Coconut Frosting:
2 Each Fresh coconuts, Roasted, scrape meat, and shred
1 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Distilled white vinegar
2 Cups Granulated sugar
4 Each Egg whites, Room temperature
20 Each Marshmallows, Regular size (large)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon Coconut Flavored Rum
1. Cut marshmallows with a pair of scissors, and reserve making sure to keep them moist.

2. Combine the water and distilled vinegar in a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, stir in the sugar until dissolved, cover, and boil for two minutes to melt the crystals on the side of the pan; uncover and boil without stirring over moderate heat until the syrup creates a 4 inch thread when poured from a spoon (238 degrees on a candy thermometer).

3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff don't let dry. Pour the hot syrup in a thin stream over the egg whites, beating constantly. Add the marshmallows, a few pieces at a time, while beating in the syrup, until all are used

4. Add vanilla extract and continue to beat until cool and thick enough to spread. Reserve for service

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shrimp & Crab Etouffee

Etouffee on FoodistaEtouffee
This is one of those recipes I received years ago from my Mother. The actual recipe was written by a friend of hers named Mrs. Luciella Gautreaux who shared a family recipe for the church cookbook. This is common practice in Bayou La Batre, Alabama where family, and friends are everything. While most people have never even heard the name of this little town on the Alabama Gulf Coast, it has impacted us all. The Movie Forest Gump was filmed in this town, and before that the Battle of Mobile Bay forever changed American History with the phrase ’”Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” being issued by Admiral David Glasgow Farragut just a couple miles off it’s coast.
In the summer of 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Bayou La Batre, Alabama hard. I was in the Florida Keys working as the Executive Chef at Hawk’s Cay Resort when that storm entered my life. Newly married and without a care in the world we forged ahead without knowing a couple days later my Grandfather would be lost to the storm. Like so many other things from that town I don’t know if the recipe survived beyond the tattered copy in my hands. I was last there in 2009, and I regret to say it doesn’t seem like much more than just enough to get by survived Katrina so I thought for memories sake I would share the beauty Mrs. Gautreaux introduced to me in 1987 as Shrimp and Crab Etouffee.
Shrimp Etouffee on FoodistaShrimp Etouffee
4 Cups Onion, Chopped
¼ Pound Oleo
1 Pound Shrimp
½ Pound Crab Meat
½ Cup Celery
½ Cup Chopped Green Onion
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
½ Cup Water
½ Cup Chopped Parsley
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Saute Onions in Oleo until brown; add Shrimp and cook until done. Add Crabmeat, Celery, Green Onions, Cornstarch; Mix well. Season to Taste. Cook 10 Minutes More. Garnish with Parsley. Serve over Rice. Makes 6 Servings.
Mrs. Luciella Gautreaux, Bayou La Batre, Alabama

Scotch Bonnet Barbecue Sauce

Warning: Scotch Bonnets may look cute, but they pack some punch… if you placed a lit piece of Charcoal in your mouth!Do not rub your eyes when you handle these things. When eating these peppers if the taste is too much use Yogurt, or Sour Cream to cool your mouth down! Rumor has it beer helps, but that’s rubbish…Alcoholic Beverages just make it hotter!!!Scotch Bonnet Chillies

1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Cider vinegar
1/2 Cup Malted vinegar
3 Tablespoons Light corn syrup
6 Ounces Tomato paste
1 1/2 Teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 Cup Dark brown sugar, Firmly packed
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Onion, Minced
4 Each Scotch bonnet peppers, Seeded, minced
1 Each Bay leaf, Crushed
1 Teaspoon turmeric
1/2 Teaspoon Black pepper, Freshly ground
1 Teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a stainless steel or enamelware saucepan.

2. Cook over medium heat, stir for 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar and blend the flavors. Do not cook longer, or the zest of the peppers lost.

3.Don’t go crazy with the sauce until you’ve tasted a little from a spoon....No reason to ruin a perfectly good meal!

Seafood Gumbo

With the Messina family being a part of New Orleans history since the French flew their flag above the city I have a special place in my heart for it's cuisine. Family, Food, Wine, and Music being so important to the culture makes it the perfect food for any gathering!

Seafood Gumbo
3/4 Cup Bacon drippings
3/4 Cup All-purpose flour
1 Each Yellow onion, Diced
3/4 Each Green bell pepper, Diced
1 Pound Okra, Cut 1" thick
2 Ribs Celery, Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Parsley, Chopped
6 Each Bay leaves
1/2 Teaspoon Dried thyme
1/2 Teaspoon Dried oregano
1 Teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Teaspoon Black pepper, Freshly ground
1 Teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 dash Tabasco sauce, As desired
2 Quarts Shrimp broth
1 Pound Crabmeat, Picked and cleaned claw meat
3 Cups Cooked white rice
15 Fluid Ounces Tomato sauce
4 Pounds Shrimp, Peeled and deveined
File to season after removed from heat.

1.Heat the drippings in a large stockpot and gradually stir in all-purpose flour. Cook over medium to high heat, continuing to stir constantly until the mixture is the dark nut brown. This can take up to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat for a few seconds if it darkens too quickly, and reduce the heat slightly. If the flour burns and black specs appear, discard and begin the Roux again. Stir in the onions, green pepper, okra, celery, garlic, and parsley, and cook until the onions, pepper, and celery are tender, and the okra stops "roping". Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper,and hot pepper sauce, if using, and mix well.

2.Slowly pour in the warm broth and tomato sauce. Partially cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes. And the shrimp,crabmeat, and simmer five minutes more until the shrimp turn pink. Thicken as necessary with file.

3.Adjust the seasoning with additional salt, cayenne, and file. To serve, remove the bay leaves, and ladle the gumbo into deep plates or bowls over a mound of rice.

What’s with all the Knives?

As a species we’ve come a long way from the days of cutting our food with rocks, and yet not everyone has followed us down the path of enlightenment when it comes to cutlery. Across the globe you will find kitchens stocked with these essential tools in various conditions that range from quality just a step about your old lawnmower blade,to those that resemble a precision crafted surgical instrument. You get what you pay for when it come to your knives and you’ll save time, money, and heartache if you just spend the cash on a good set.
I have a wonderful set of Wusthof knives at home that I love, but my toolbox for work is a mixed collection of Victorinox, Wusthof, Global, and a couple Black Diamond Paring knives. My collection goes from cheap to expensive based upon style, and to be honest what was overlooked through the years of people helping themselves to my stuff! I tend to be very protective of my knives after years of working with the Culinary worlds version of Robinhood.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Red Chili Sweet & Sour Sauce

If you’re into the concept of Sweet & Sour but looking to branch out from that bright red version delivered by that local Chinese Restaurant try this one out. This is a great grilling sauce for Shrimp and Chicken once everyone warms up and locates their grill again!!! Sweet Sour Chilli Chicken on FoodistaSweet Sour Chilli Chicken

Red Chili Sweet & Sour

3/4 quart pineapple juice
1/4 quart sherry
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/16 cup sesame oil
1/8 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 pound pineapple, chopped
3/4 each jalapeno, sliced
1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1/16 cup pickled ginger
2 each red chilies, dried, stems removed_ New Mexico's work best
1/2 fluid ounce cornstarch slurry, to thicken

1. Place all ingredients into a large pot, and simmer until vegetables, and fruit become tender

2. Slurry to thicken, and puree with stick mixer

3. If you do not have a stick mixer you can allow to cool, and blend in a counter top blender. Do not perform this task if it is still hot, as severe burning will result!!!

While conducting my first ever Culinary demonstration at Miromar Lakes (located in Estero, Florida FYI) the subject of Wines came up. I did mention a couple of great places to pick up the wine, but thought I would post a great site that allows a perspective from someone that just enjoys drinking the stuff. Funny how that works out isn’t it….Well here goes check out the site, and feel free to let me know what you think….