Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The best scrambled eggs you will ever eat

Scrambled eggs are a dish that brings me back to Saturday mornings, summertime, in my childhood. It was a tradition, my dad would wake up early and make us kids a big ol' plate of cheesy eggs with a side of bacon and buttered Italian bread toast. Some of the best memories that I have of my father were these mornings. The most common mistake that people make while preparing scrambled eggs is throwing them into a hot pan and the other main mistake is that they actually scramble the eggs before adding them to the pan. I am going to explain how to make the most creamy; and most importantly, not overcooked scrambled eggs you have ever eaten. 

1. Grab four large eggs from your refrigerator, 1 1/2 Tbs. butter, and 2 Tbs. heavy whipping cream. 
2. In a small saucepan add the eggs, butter, and cream. Set the heat to medium-low. 
3. STIR! Keep stirring until the eggs start to thicken and you start to notice some small chunks forming in the pan. 
4. Once this happens, remove from the heat and add 1 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. of black pepper as well as 1 1/2 Tbs. of goat cheese. Return to heat and continue stirring until the eggs are almost cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. Finely chop 2 tsp. of chives and sprinkle over the scrambled eggs.
6. ENJOY! 

This recipe goes well with anything you decide to serve it with. It pairs nicely with some smoked salmon and homemade toast. Try adding cheddar cheese and bacon to the mixture. You could even add Chorizo, queso fresco, and wrap it up in a tortilla with fried potatoes or Spanish rice and serve it with some hot sauce and have a delicious breakfast burrito on your hands! Enjoy guys and thanks for reading!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dinner from June 17th, 2013

I just wanted to check in and post some pictures of the dinner I prepared for my mom and myself tonight. I'm apologize for not posting as much lately, I have been very busy at work. As the weather gets nicer, the restaurant gets busier. Everything has been going extremely well with my new job and I love it. For dinner, I prepared my recipe for grilled Ribeyes with cumin home fries and an avocado & lime vinaigrette. Hope you like the picture.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Traditional mayonnaise recipe and more

Mayonnaise is an extremely versatile condiment and one that I love to use. Whether smearing it on your favorite sandwich or blending it with curry, garlic, and cilantro to create a delicious dipping sauce for french fries, the possibilities are literally endless. 

1. In a bowl combine 5 egg yolks, 1 Tbs. cold water, 1/4 c. Dijon Mustard, and the juice of 1 lemon. Blend them together using a whisk.
2. Using 1 qt. of canola oil, begin by simultaneously drizzling in the oil while vigorously whisking the egg yolk mixture at the same time. Once it starts to come together (emulsifies), you can add the oil a little faster. Once the mixture has thickened, refrigerate for at least one hour. Either enjoy as is or try one of the following suggestions: 
-Blend up a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and mix with your mayo and some sour cream and lemon juice to taste. Amazing as a sauce for fish tacos.
-Mix your mayo with homemade pesto. Great for a sandwich using Italian sliced meats like capicola and mortadella.
-Take 12 cloves of roasted garlic and blend with mayonnaise. Excellent on burgers.
-Blend your mayo with curry powder, fresh garlic, and cilantro leaves. Great for dipping with french fries or over a plate of white wine and garlic steamed mussels.
-Take frozen cranberries and cook them with a small amount of water and orange zest, take this mixture and blend it with mayo once cooled and use on turkey sandwiches for a little thanksgiving flavor anytime of the year.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Good Garden Cafe

After hearing so many good things about the Good Garden Cafe, formerly Secret Garden Cafe, in Kenosha WI for some time now, I finally made it over there to check it out. For all the high praise it received, my expectations may have been a bit far fetched. I was expecting something amazing and the staff at Secret Garden, while they didn't deliver an amazing experience, it definitely was a good one overall. The service was adequate and I loved the decor of the place. Artwork on the walls, just a very cozy little cafe. The chairs you sit in are ultra-comfortable as well, which scored them some extra points with me.
     I ordered a half sandwich and half soup meal. I chose their tuna salad on whole grain bread and the creamy asparagus for my soup choice. The tuna salad sandwich was to be honest, average at best. It was dry and lacked any significant flavor. Not bad, but not anything out of the ordinary. The bread, however, did make up for the shortcomings of the tuna salad. It was full of great whole grain flavor, had nice texture and mouth-feel, and I'm sure was very healthy (always a plus but not a necessity for me). Moving on to the soup portion of my meal; I would rate the soup a 7 out of 10 overall with 5 being "average". The appearance of the soup left something to be desired but it packed in fresh asparagus flavor, which is one of my favorite things in the whole world. The flavor of asparagus was really intense and not messed with. I could taste the supporting ingredients like carrot and onion and a little bit of salt and pepper, but the asparagus was definitely the star. The only complaint I have about the soup is that it needed to be blended more and when the asparagus was prepped, they didn't remove enough of the woody end of the asparagus which left me picking fibrous pieces from my teeth. Definitely not appetizing but not horrific enough to ruin the dish. 
     All in all, I would rate my experience at Secret Garden a 6.75 out of 10. Again with 5 being "average", they definitely scored a solid number in my opinion. If the tuna salad would have been any better at all they would have rated much higher.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grilled Shrimp with Beurre Blanc (White wine-Butter Sauce) and Red Pepper Cous Cous.

I have been on a grilling kick lately, mostly inspired by some of the gorgeous weather we have been having. This recipe is mostly to show you how to prepare a traditional white wine-butter sauce. Feel free to switch out the protein and starch portions of the meal for whatever you prefer. This sauce works well with any flaky fish, shellfish, or even chicken.
 Even though this a "butter" sauce, it is incredibly light tasting and delicate, but is the star of the dish. It works beautifully with grilled meats and when I am creating a dish to go around it; I try and let the sauce shine, which is why I chose to make a simple starch component like Israeli couscous with red peppers. 

Grilled Shrimp with Beurre Blanc and Red Pepper Couscous
(Serves four)
1. Begin by peeling and deveining your shrimp (20 or roughly 1 lb.). For this dish, I recommend using the largest shrimp you can find. Toss the shrimp with extra virgin-olive oil, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
2. Dice one red bell pepper, discarding the seeds, ribs, and stems. Finely mince eight medium sized shallots as well and separate them into two piles. One being for the sauce (4 of the shallots) and the other for the couscous. Also chop six leaves of fresh basil into thin ribbons (chiffonade) and set aside. Take 1 lb. of unsalted butter and dice into 1 inch cubes, be sure to do this far enough in advance so that the butter has a chance to reach room temperature and soften.
3. Saute the diced red peppers in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. In a saute pan heat two Tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat and toast your couscous. Once the couscous starts to become aromatic (2 or 3 minutes) add your chicken stock and shallots. Bring the stock to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the couscous for about 10 minutes until the couscous is tender and set aside, covered. I prefer Israeli to Moroccan because of the larger size and better texture but if you prefer it the other way, by all means go for it.
5. On a preheated, (preferably) charcoal grill, grill off your shrimp and keep warm.
6. In a sauce pan combine the rest of the minced shallots, 1/2 c. white wine, and 1/2 c. white wine vinegar. Be sure to use white wine vinegar and not distilled white vinegar or the sauce will be ruined quite frankly. Gently simmer the liquid until it is practically all evaporated and add 4 Tbs. heavy cream. 
7. Over medium heat, start by adding the cubed butter a few chunks at a time. Once the first few additions have incorporated, you can add the butter in just a few more additions. Whisk all the butter in and taste the sauce to check for seasoning. If the sauce tastes flat, add a few drops of white wine vinegar. If the sauce is to acidic or tangy, and a few drops of heavy cream or a chunk or two of butter. This sauce can break or separate if you add the butter too fast at the beginning or if you cook it over too high of a flame so be careful and watch.
8. Once the sauce has come together, immediately remove it from the heat. Season your couscous with salt, pepper, 1 Tbs. olive oil, and the ribbons of fresh basil.
9. Mound up some of the couscous in the center of the plate, arrange your grilled shrimp (5) however you think it will look nice, and drizzle the plate with your Beurre Blanc sauce. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Avocado/Lime Vinaigrette and Cumin Home-Fries

I am hosting a dinner party at my house on Saturday June 29th and I am trying to decide what to make. I will be doing three courses plus a friend is making a dessert. I want to try and source as many ingredients as I can from local farmers' markets and want as many organic products possible. This dish is what I am planning on serving for the entree portion of the meal. 

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Avocado/Lime Vinaigrette and Cumin Home-Fries
Note: The way that I cook, I don't use measurements, I just go by look and feel and most notably: taste. I have approximated the measurements and they should be very close but I encourage you to taste as you cook and add things to your liking.

1. Begin by seasoning both sides of your steaks (4) with salt and pepper; let them sit out and come to room temperature. Cold meat does not cook evenly. 
2. Next, dice whatever kind of potato (5) you like and par-boil them. Basically cooking them about three-quarters of the way through. Set aside.
3. For the vinaigrette: begin by removing the pits from the avocado (1), mince shallots (1 Tbs.) and garlic (1 Tbs.), chop cilantro (1/3 c.), and juice your lemons (1/4 c.) and limes (1/4 c.). Be sure to drizzle the avocado with a little lime juice to prevent oxidation.
4. In a food processor or blender, place the avocado, shallots, garlic, and cilantro inside and add lemon and lime juice. Pulse until they begin to become smooth and then switch to a higher speed. Season with salt and pepper. Once the mixture is smooth I like to add some sour cream (1/3 c.) and a little white wine vinegar (3 Tbs.). Once incorporated, drizzle in your olive oil (about 2 1/2 c.) until the vinaigrette comes together. Set aside.
5. For the home fries, preheat a cast iron skillet. Add butter (3 Tbs.) to the pan. Once pan is hot, add your potatoes. Season with cumin (1 Tbs.), cayenne pepper (1 tsp.), salt, black pepper, chili powder (1/2 tsp.), and curry powder (1/2 tsp.). Press the potatoes down onto the skillet to ensure crispness. Cook until the potatoes are nicely browned and crispy. Finish them with some chopped cilantro.
6. Over charcoal, grill your steaks until they are done as you see fit. I prefer mine medium-rare, but everyone has their preference on temperature.
7. Let the steaks rest five minutes and slice them against the grain of the meat. 
8. Place the home-fries slightly off-center of your plate, top them with the sliced Ribeye, and drizzle some of the Avocado/Lime vinaigrette over the dish. A garnish of chopped cilantro would work well with this dish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A little cookout for myself and friends...

In the spirit of summertime and fun, a couple of close friends and I got together for dinner and drinks. They were in charge of bringing the ingredients and helping me get dinner ready. There is nothing that I love more than cooking for and entertaining others. We prepared pork tenderloin with a Hoisin and orange juice glaze, shrimp skewers with zucchini, tomotoes, and peppers marinated in orange juice, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, and basil; grilled asparagus and portobellas, and I made quinoa for the first time. I decided to treat the quinoa kind of like a risotto. I toasted the quinoa in butter with shallots and garlic, cooked it in chicken stock with fresh thyme, and finished it with a little butter and parmesan cheese. All in all, the meal was a great success. I plan on organizing and throwing as many dinner parties as I can over this summer.