Monday, April 27, 2009

Duplicating A Memory

Onlinepastrychef @ Pastry Methods and Techniques post on Sunday Suppers- Finishing Pasta Sauce mentions something funny; she explains about making pasta and sauce- 'Template, Not Culinary Law'. The man I married asked me to put the pasta sauce only on top of the pasta just before serving from the very beginning. His mother made it this way, but my mom made it Onlinepastrychef's way. Sure I could have just continued to do it my way. The way I adore it, because tomatoes rock my world (I like a little pasta with my sauce). In our house pasta is made to order. Penne pasta and sauce combined is what you will see on OLPC's post...

In Dallas, when hubby and I first met, and became friends first; I began to invite him to dining events held around the area. One particular restaurant my friends and I would eat quite regularly was Basha. A Mediterranean place down off lower Greenville Avenue. I was excited to see the owner participating in a food and wine tasting we were attending. I tried this dish with grilled eggplant wrapped around an artichoke heart, and covered with a rich tomato sauce; it was served over a bed of pasta. Probably one of my first vegetarian dishes I could not live with out. Though they did not call it a 'Rollatini'; it was just listed under their vegetarian menu offerings, and I decided to give it a whirl (around the fork that is).

Mother-in-laws tongue pasta is what hubby chose to go along with the eggplant. I was counting on the care I took in getting the water to a full boil in my tall pot; then letting each piece slowly give way to the hot water and hopefully keeping it's shape. After about ten minutes (or so) the pasta was al dente and ready to plate up.

Straight from their label~ This truly special Italian pasta is hand made using all natural coloring. It is made by the Marella family as it has hundreds of years. The Marella family operates one of the finest pasta factories in the world located in Puglia, one of the most important regions in Italy for pasta production and consumption. Marella colors are all natural, and take the green from spinach, the black from squid ink and red from hot peppers. The result is a pasta with a fantastic rainbow array of colors. This is a complicated process that is not simple to perform, and still have the pasta hold its shape and color structure while cooking.

MISE: Grill some 1/4 inch thick eggplant with just an EVO baste; stack them in a pan covered with plastic wrap, so that they soften up a bit more and are rollable. Grill some EVO rubbed red onions and set aside. Cut some artichokes (in water, or fresh if possible) in half, set aside. Pick out your favorite cheese (I wished I had some goat cheese for this) and place in a bowl; approximately three tablespoons of cheese for each rollatini. Roll them up, and I found toothpicks were not necessary to hold them together. Bake in a 400 degree oven for fifteen minutes, and then serve over pasta. Sprinkle with pine nuts, parmesan cheese, or parsley.

My version is just from my Basha memories...good food, wine, and times!

I am so excited you might hear me scream! If things work out, my hubby's good friend/best man is getting married in June, and we will travel to India. In their culture are many sub-cultures, so the bride's family believes one must marry soon after an engagement. He has just ask her a few weeks ago. This means a great deal to us to be a part of his life, and I adore his fiance. I send many blessings and heart felt joy, to his family, her family, and to the both of them; to whom we love dearly.

Question from a kid: Do you cut or twirl you pasta?

Monday Mouthful- Mini Flammkuchen

Mindy @ Mindy's Mouthful and I decided to do a little ping pong recipe challenge. She picks German dishes, and I pick French dishes. Some we have made, but most we have not. You are welcome to join in. Email her, or me your dish link, and the two of us will post them along with ours. You are also welcome to mention us if you like.

Last week we did 'Rustic French Meatloaf', and this week we are doing 'Tarte flambée' (French), or as she called it 'Flammkuchen' (German). Mindy does live on the border of Germany and France, and that must be exciting for her. I might have to go visit and try the real thing!

When you hop on over to Wikipedia you will see that the photo for Flammkuchen/Tarte flambée is pizza, a white one at that! Speaking of which Reeni @ Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice does not realize it, but she too made a version of this I saw on Sunday, Tomato, Onion, White Pizza, and like they say if we could lick the screen to enjoy it as much as looking; then we would have it made!

Legend says that the creators of this dish were those Alsatian farmers who used to bake bread once a week. A tarte flambée would be used to test the heat of their wood fired ovens. At the peak of its temperature, the oven would also have the ideal conditions in which to bake a tarte flambée. The embers would be pushed aside to make room for the tarte in the middle of the oven, and the intense heat would be able to bake it in 1 or 2 minutes. The crust that forms the border of the tarte flambée would be nearly burned by the flames.The name itself comes from this method of baking, the English translation of the original Alsatian name meaning "baked in the flames".

'I admit the beer worked better with the flammkuchen at meal time than in the crust, but it tasted great'!

The key ingredients to making this dish are only four ingredients- one is making the crust; which I made a gluten-free version like I have before, but this time used a splash of Bavarian beer to the dough ; Crème fraîche, onion, and bacon (oh how I love this ingredient). Hubby gave me a look when he saw how bare his mini's were, so I steamed some asparagus and added tips for the flat ones, and the other pieces stuffed inside the flammkuchen calzone/pockets.

I made my own Crème fraîche this round. This is very easy to make, and will keep well in the refrigerator. However make it the night before as I have done in the past, so it can sit out; otherwise if it is not at least 70 degrees in your kitchen the bacteria will not cooperate for you.

Crème fraîche can be made at home by adding a small amount of cultured buttermilk (2 tablespoons) or sour cream to normal heavy cream (1 pint), and allowing it to stand for several hours until the bacterial cultures act on the cream. Mindy is right this dough is not as easy. Mine still puffed up a bit more than it should have. Also, my pizza stone finely bit the dust recently. Happens when you drop it when cleaning the oven.

Can I say totally spudalicious? Our first entry this week is- Aoife (aka The Daily Spud) submitted a might tasty looking The (Almost) Über Tuber version of this dish. I love the name, and called first dibs on the leftovers!

Then you have to go and check out Mindy's tasty Flammkuchen. I think hers came out perfectly! I love thin crust pizza, so I know I might be eating this as often as I could if I took a trip to her area...

That pizza stone would have made it look and cook crispier like hers!

Next Monday's Mouthful is 'Champignons de Paris'- Champignons- refers to dishes made with mushrooms or served with a mushroom sauce, and is French for mushroom. Unfortunately Wikipedia does not recognize the actual dish; only gives you the definition of mushrooms. I felt this would leave it wide open for a variety of dishes for us to make... I have chosen to make a savory version I call 'Crepe Suzette Champignon'...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kitchen Confidential- Your Way/ My Way

We all know and see through blogs that every cook, chef, kitchen or what ever out there has there own way of making food they might have grown up with, or tried. For example, the mofongo I make is what hubby and I had in a road side stand on our travels to PR. As I watched the woman making it, I thought that looks easy. When I tasted it I knew I had to recreate it in my own kitchen. Over the years I shared my love for this dish with a few people who are Puerto Rican; William for example who is from NYC, begins to tell me his mothers version of it. So I take note, and try them all. Who cares if it is not what a person might remember, has had at a restaurant, or make themselves. Recipes have changed over centuries, as they are passed down, made in different situations; it is just how it rolls when it comes to recipes and techniques. Most other recipes for mofongo are great, I just still stick to the version I saw on my trip to Puerto Rico. I fell in love with the mortar and pestle the woman was using, and bought one to bring home, and use it for many things.

Over the years through training, and when you teach; it is important to first explain that everyone (especially chefs) has their own way of doing things. You have to be prepared to except the fact that there is not one way of doing a task, and will be instructed differently. Buffalodick has coined a great way of thinking in that regard...'Rectums & Opinions, We All Got One', and I do respect that. My philosophy is like that of my father, why say anything if you cannot say something nice- or do not say anything at all. Be respectful in how you express instruction or advice in any position; being respectful of others is important for all of us, and can help make the learning process less stressful. You might find yourself out of a job one day.

I showed the students Buff's t-shirts he donated for a cook-off, and I could tell it was going to be a battle to the death when we get to that class. One of the teachers blushed as he held it up!

Class this week was fun as always, and I have already had that 'Every chef/cook has their own way of doing things' talk in our first class (most culinary class books say this in the first introduction of the book). We talked about how it does not matter how you do the job, as long as the job gets done; along with a good attitude. This class we begin with a review, and then they got a look at their starter cookbooks. (Stacked on the corner of the desk are some of the books that have been donated for their new library) You could tell they were ready to open them up and get started, but I had a speaker waiting in the wings. Career Day.

Pat Tanner is a food writer I admire, and lives in my area. She wrote about my work a few years ago. We also are 'Slow Food' activists. Bragging- Pat wrote that I was a 'Powerhouse', and she enjoyed my wine and food pairing event. Waiting for a review can be nerve racking, but she was and is a sweetie! Pat began talking to the class about how her career developed over the years. She went to school to be a teacher, worked as a caterer, hosted a food radio show, puts together the Zagat reviews for South Jersey, and writes for the local papers and Princeton Living Magazine. She told the class that a few times she actually told the person on the phone offering her a job "I am not really qualified to do that", but they wanted her to give it a try. Pat Tanner is now a restaurant critic.

Pat shared with the class about how she has to go into new restaurants like the one I wrote about, Elements, and everyone knows her from the radio show. So going into a familiar setting and trying to be anonymous can be difficult. We laugh, because she is telling us how she had to wear a long wig, and a totally different way of dress to disguise herself for this particular review. Everyone that worked there knew who she was in real life. She offers to send me a photo, and I cannot wait. Pat was an Newark inner city kid herself, and shares her experiences. She is a great help in showing the students that they their are many opportunities and roads leading to a job where someone pays you to go out to eat, and you get to write about the experience. That right there blew them away!

The first photo I took her facing away from the camera, but she said that it was okay, since she was not officially on duty!

Request to post-

Sure, it's OK to publish the photo you took on Thursday.

- Pat

She also sent me the photo and it was hysterical how she disguised herself, but she has asked me not to publish the photo...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Surf & Turf

I am ready for a mini holiday, but since our household has been busy, we cannot go anywhere until June. We both have been wanting to go to the Bahamas, but things have not worked out. I decided to bring a little sand and sun imagination to the table, and on the plate.

There are a few blogs who have confessed to having posts ready through the next year...and people ask me how I do it all... This has been in my files, and with no extra time, more photo lessons and classes running through June; I decided it was time to share. We also went out Saturday with friends for a birthday celebration, so I have not done a whole lot of cooking this week...

Hawaiian Pupu-Style Ribs-

2-3 lb of thick short ribs)
4 cloves garlic
1 large piece of ginger root, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup catchup (I used tomato paste)
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup oyster sauce
Jar of Sweet Chili sauce

Take the ribs and place in a large pot. Combine ribs, garlic, ginger, and salt. Add water and bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until ribs are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. This will break down the fat and make them tender. Drain. Combine remaining ingredients and marinate ribs in sauce overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat a wok or deep pan, and add 1/2 cup oil. Saving marinade, you will take and push meat down to bottom of bone, and as tightly as you can get it. (you can use chef string to tie them if necessary). Take a sharp boning knife, or paring knife and 'french' the top ends of the bone (away from you, or anyone else near you) like a rack of lamb. Drop them in the hot oil and fry for about four minutes, or until the outside is crispy.

Cook marinade on a medium heat until thickens, and then dredge ribs in sauce and serve, or open a jar of sweet chili sauce. You can make this with any BBQ marinade and it would be a good in door grill sensation.

'I wish I thought about using my wooden bowls more often...'

Hawaiian Poke History: Poke (pronounced POH-kay) is served in most Hawaiian homes and restaurants as a side dish, and no gathering in Hawaii would be complete without a few bowls of poke. In Hawaiian, poke means "cut piece" or "small piece." Poke is bite-size pieces of raw fish doused in seasonings. Poke is actually the Hawaiian version of the elegant Japanese sashimi (a combining of the Hawaiian and Japanese taste for raw fish). The fish for poke is sometimes even lightly seared or fried.

I seasoned my cubes of Tuna with EVO and soy sauce, and then left overnight to marinate. The next day on a medium high in a skillet I seared them lightly. Hubby likes his rare...

Mofongo (Mashed Plantains- Puerto Rico)

3 Plantains
3 Cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon Olive oil

Years ago hubby and I took a trip to Puerto Rico; there I learned a simple recipe called Monfongo.

Let the plantains ripen and turn black; then take and cut into small pieces. In mortar add plantains, garlic, and oil. Mash them until they resemble smashed potatoes. Some recipes call for frying the plantain pieces first, and I will try that next time. There is a little cheese love in there too...

'Picked this up on the Island...'

With some really nice weather this would be good on a patio with tiki lamps, Don Ho on the CD, a nice bottle of chilled Riesling Spätlese, and love the one your with...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Garden Party & Photography Lessons

If you follow my blog, and remember that I posted an Invitation about this event; then you will remember I stated I was getting photography lessons from someone who attends my Cultural Art Expression- Open Mic I host each week. Owen Shapiro plays the saxophone, but kindly said we would trade 'food' opportunities for my lessons, but he will own the rights to any photos taken in his presence.

Here are the photos of food styling plates, guests, table, and other random stuff as Owen instructed me. I still have a lot to learn!

Owen let me have a smaller DSLR Canon to roam around and take random shots of guests and the buffet table...

I would have been happy with a plate full of this salad, and the toasted pumpkin seeds if you asked me!

While we sat and enjoyed our meal, the Princeton String Quartet played beautifully for our enjoyment!

~~~~~~~~~~~ The Menu ~~~~~~~~~~~

Spiced Chilled Carrot Soup with Yogurt and Ginger- I added a flower petal..

Frisee and Bibb lettuce; Radishes; Spring Onions, and toasted pumpkin seeds...

Fresh Pea Hummus Crostini with Pea Tendril Garnish...Psst I added another petal...

Grilled Asparagus with Kosher salt, extra virgin olive oil, and edible flowers!

Grilled Kennett Square Portobello mushrooms; Sautéed dandelion greens with cannellini beans and garlic; Served with grilled flat breads, and a side of asparagus...

The table was set up with brewed green iced tea in carafes; fresh mint waiting in glasses of ice...

Blueberry honey with sprig of mint dessert was originally on the invitation, but many events have to make last minute changes due to availability of ingredients or budget changes. This was a caramel bread pudding, and hubby said it was quite good (I am not a fan).

Everyone is enjoy the beautiful day. My friend Sue is front/left, as I sat in the seat just before her and hubby at my side...

Honestly, I think I feel more comfortable behind the stove like the chef here...

...but I did enjoy watching, and capturing his passion as we talked...he was nice enough to re stir for a better photo...

Thank You to all of the volunteers of The Princeton Garden Project for letting us invade their garden and make them pose!

You ( Chef E ) are permitted to use the "web sized" photos for all promotional uses, such as web sites and blogs about the princeton garden project; if you have any other desired uses feel free to send me a note...


Irwin "owen"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Smoke Your Tea! & Vintage Honey/Jelly Recipe Results

I think you know I do not mean roll it, and light up! If you read my 'Rustic French Meatloaf' entry in this week's Monday Mouthful Roundup you would have see this recipe below. I have wanted to smoke tomatoes for years, and just never made it a priority; until I received some tea samples from Karen @ Steep It Loose. I used her Limon Chai packet to see if I could add some flavor to my vintage jelly recipe.

Yes, it gave the jelly a wonderful citrus and smoke flavor, but my first attempt at capturing it was lacking... I am looking forward to using this with several dishes I am making this coming weekend- like Scallops... The onion slices are going on meatloaf sandwiches, and into a wrap as well...

Also, you all know Greg @ Sippity Sup, because I talk about him all the time right? Well he has this 'Tomatomania' post each Monday, and I entered this into the contest...

My grandmother grew beef steak tomatoes all along her acre fenced in yard when I was a young girl, and I looked forward to eating all things tomato when arriving each summer. My family still considers me a 'tomato maniac'! One of the things that probably lead me into the cooking field was her Tomato Honey jars she would pull out of the cabinet and hand me to take home; of course after I ate two or three tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and pepper she would let me pick about three seconds after that...

Original Recipe- Vintage Tomato Honey

Puree about six or seven vine ripe tomatoes in small food processor, and then strain overnight into a bowl.

Measure the strained juice – it should be about one cup – and pour into a saucepan; then add a little salt, 1 cup sugar and a few dashes of Tabasco; boil all together half an hour on medium fire until it becomes a thick jelly; then put it into glasses, and lay double tissue paper over the tops, or beeswax to seal out any air.

Now the difference between my grandmothers recipe and what I did-

I used an old canning pot/soup pot. Line the bottom of pot and ramekins (I had a hard time removing the burnt candied tea later) with foil. Mix equal portions loose tea to raw sugar, and sprinkle it around the foil. Taking any steam insert from another pot; place a piece of foil inside, and place it on ramekins. With it lifted up you will get even distribution of the smoke all around the vegetables.

Any smoker will do, I also have cast iron smoker, but had read about a few other cooks using tall pots like this, and wanted to try it.

Vintage Smoked Tomato & Onion Honey

I smoke the onions and tomatoes in a ORGANIC MATE LIMON CHAI tea and sugar mixture, equal portions that I sprinkle on the bottom of pan (in between ramekins); begin a medium low heat, and when you begin to smell the tea mixture place steam pan to rest on ramekins; add double lids and clothe to cover tightly for at least a half hour. You should be able to see smoke slowly rising from pot edges. Karen @ Steep It Loose had contacted me about trying some of her teas, and I have been wanting to try smoking with tea, and what a great way to add flavor to fish, poultry, and tomatoes!

Once they are cool place them into the food processor and pureed them along with a few of the onion slices, and following the rest of my grandmothers recipe for the honey. With one more exception- I used to 'Natural Brew' coffee filters that do not contain bleach placed inside a large strainer, and it worked beautifully. The liquid results really does look like honey, taste and smells smokin!

I have a question, and could not find a real answer out there, but does adding sugar to the tea act as a buffer? I bet Buffalodick would know this answer...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rustic Mini French Pate Loaves & Vintage Smoked Honey

You have until midnight tonight to send me the post for this weeks 'Monday's Mouthful' feast...Rustic French Meatloaf that was posted last week, and includes a recipe for the authentic version. I am like many people out there that did not have good experiences with 'meatloaf' per se, but I was willing to give it a try. I have chosen not to serve it with the traditional mustard side, but make a vintage tomato jelly my grandmother made when I was a girl.

Rustic Mini French Pate Loaf

1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a rustic loaf)
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound duck liver- Foie gras (thanks to a chef friend)
3/4 pound ground veal
1/4 cup chopped prunes
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 package low sodium bacon; 4 slices per small loaf

1 package Braunschweiger- I topped off the mini loaves with Braunschweiger, a Bavarian Pate popular her in New Jersey and is made from pork liver. This is my German influence. New Brunswick is the English translation, and also a town just about half an hour north of my home here in Jersey!

Preheat oven to 475°F with rack in middle.

Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl.

Cook onion, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in oil in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly.

Purée goose liver in a blender, then transfer to a large bowl. Add veal, prunes, thyme, eggs, bread-crumb mixture, onion mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and gently mix with your hands until just combined.

Form into rectangular shares and set aside. Take a round mixture of the Braunschweiger and press pistachios into liver; top off rectangles, and then wrap up in bacon slices.

Bake in 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until bacon is crisp. Remove from drippings and set aside to drain.

Hubby was out, so I got away with the bacon smell in the condo, as he hates bacon, but in the name of 'French Cooking' he will eat this creation. I do agree with what Mindy said about this dish being the most expensive meatloaf I have ever heard of!

Since I decided to do a New Jersey (New Brunswick) twist on the mini loaves I asked a few people who grew up here what kind of sauce they would eat with this. They all said a brown mushroom gravy over my tomato idea, so I did both. Taking the drippings from the loaf pan and sauteed mushrooms- adding a dash of red wine.

'If you look closely at my vintage style photo I tried to create you will see the plate, onion, and dots of foam almost seem to be a part of the pattern'

My grandmother grew beef steak tomatoes all along her acre fenced in yard when I was a young girl, and I looked forward to eating all things tomato when I would arrive each summer, and still consider myself a 'tomato maniac'!

Original Recipe- Vintage Tomato Honey

Puree about six or seven vine ripe tomatoes in small food processor, and then strain overnight into a bowl.

Measure the strained juice – it should be about one cup – and pour into a saucepan; then add a little salt, 1 cup sugar and a few dashes of Tabasco; boil all together half an hour on medium fire until it becomes a thick jelly; then put it into glasses, and lay double tissue paper over the tops, or beeswax to seal out any air.

Now the difference between my grandmothers recipe and what I did is this-

Vintage Smoked Tomato & Onion Honey

I smoke the onions and tomatoes in a ORGANIC MATE LIMON CHAI tea and sugar mixture, equal portions that I sprinkle on the bottom of pan (in between ramekins); begin a medium low heat, and when you begin to smell the tea mixture place steam pan to rest on ramekins; add double lids and clothe to cover tightly for at least a half hour. You should be able to see smoke slowly rising from pot edges. Karen @ Steep It Loose had contacted me about trying some of her teas, and I have been wanting to try smoking with tea, and what a great way to add flavor to fish, poultry, and tomatoes!

Once they were cool I placed them into the food processor and pureed them, and following the rest of my grandmothers recipe for the honey.

For one of my final presentations I did not strain a small portion of the mixture. You can make a foam by placing it back into the small food processor and whipped it up into a frenzy. Spooning a few drops around one of the smoked onions that served as the throne for my mini loaf! There will be a Vintage Honey/Jelly post next showing you how it congealed over night...

Mindy @ Mindy's Mouthful has already posted her lovely dish titled 'Rustic Alsatian', so go over and check it out- along with next Monday's Mouthful Round Up!

Greg @ Sippity Sup has posted his Terrine de Campagne with pink peppercorns

You still have a chance to post your entry...Check back for more entries, as they will be added as I receive your emails...

Monday's Mouthful...

You have until midnight tonight to send me the post for this weeks 'Monday's Mouthful' feast...Rustic French Meatloaf that was posted last week, and includes a recipe.

Mine will be up later tonight as I have had a million things to do the past three days, and little time to finish my own project and photos...

Mindy @ Mindy's Mouthful has already posted her lovely dish titled 'Rustic Alsatian', so go over and check it out!

Once I get all the post in today I will add the links and photos...please email me your information...Thanks!

Mindy has chosen her German dish for the next Monday-

Flammekueche or Tarte Flambée (French)

from Petit Recueil de la Gastronomie Alsacienne: 75 Recettes Simples by Marguerite Doerflinger

1 recipe Flammekueche dough (See below)

2 large onions, diced

1 2/3 cups crème fraîche (if you can’t find this in the grocery store, you can make your own or use good quality heavy cream)

At least 3 slices thick-cut bacon

1 Tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil

Salt, pepper, nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 450F/230C/Th. 8. Roll out the dough until it is very thin in a rectangular shape and place it on a pizza stone or cookie sheet sprinkled with a little flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking. Season the cream with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Cover the dough with the onions, bacon, and cream. Drizzle the mixture with the oil. When the oven is completely hot, place the flammekueche in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the crust is very crispy and lightly browned.

Flammekueche Dough

2 cups flour

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup warm water

Mix all of the ingredients together until it creates a dough. Add more water if needed. That’s it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Moroccan BBQ Short Ribs & A Whole Lot More

Another craving I have had lately is mashed potatoes. So instead of just eating a big plate of them, I decided to make a few other things to compliment them.

Moroccan and BBQ is something I decided would mingle well along with some smoked onion mustard I made. After reading Sippity Sups mustard posts this past week, I thought I would give it a shot. I have made a Chinese Cinnamon BBQ sauce before, and decided on a similar idea with an added twist of mustard with oven baked short ribs. Roasting potatoes, along with a few other vegetables makes for a good potato salad smash and side!

Moroccan BBQ Short Rib Marinade/Sauce-

I smoked the onions the night before the night before...alright'y, did that make sense? Blend equal parts onion/mustard in a small food processor and set aside (thick consistency).

Assemble a mixing cup of-

2 tablespoons garam masala powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ginger
1/4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup of red wine (the rest you drink, as I would)

Marinade the ribs in this solution for up to two hours in refrigerator, or overnight.

Place 6-8 large/fat short ribs in baking dish and spread mustard over the meat portion. Reduce the marinade by 1/3 and pour onto bottom of baking dish gently not to disturb mustard. Bake 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours on bottom rack. Do not over cook. You want meat to remain in tact for slicing.

Roasted Potatoes, Celery Root, and Onions-

In a baking pan place small whole red bliss potatoes, onions, and quartered celery root; drizzle with olive oil, garlic, paprika, salt/pepper to taste; place on the top rack uncovered for about 45 minutes; until fork tender. Once the vegetables are cool seal them in a container, and place in fridge over night. You will use them for mash potato recipe below.

The next day when meat is still chilled, remove solidified fat from ribs and sauce. Holding the muscle area where the bone was removed begin slicing meat and getting as close as you can to the tough part. Remove the remaining edible pieces of meat, and returned it to a pan. Heat sauce and bits on a slow simmer; cook down the sauce by half, and lay whole slices on top to cook for at least 15 minutes covered allowing to steam a bit more.

Roasted Celery Root Mash Potatoes- Smash half of the potatoes; place the other half and ingredients in food processor. Blend together with 1/2 cup hot cream, 1/4 hot vegetable broth (use sparingly), 1 garlic clove, salt/pepper to taste, and 3 tablespoons butter; blend until desired consistency. Mix smash and puree together and stir till well blended.

Moroccan Smoked Onion Mustard-

I have given this recipe out to only one other person, but if anyone wants it just email me!

Sustainability In The Community

'Isle Garden Project in Trenton, New Jersey'

, in a broad sense is the ability to maintain a certain process or state...

I have been heading in a sustainable lifestyle direction for many years. In my early twenties, having my first child diagnosed with birth defects that blatantly became 'terminal', or a 'chronic illness' in many medical arenas; I will never look at life the same way again. Having to face the fact that we had no choice but to live and breath in the healthiest way has helped shape me into a more health conscious chef; although I am not claiming to be perfect in any way. I just feel that other children like her and their families deserve to have a better chance at a good and healthier life, and by sharing I somehow hope to help.

In the past four years I have met or become friends with similar experiences. For instance, Maman and Gourmand AKA Mistress of Cakes is also raising her step-son who is just a year younger than my own daughter, and suffers from the very same illness, Pulmonary Artresia! My experience in dealing with the difficulties hopefully have lent support to them and others...

Also, growing up in a large family and being poor was the beginning of my journey to sustainability. If you get it; you begin to learn that every aspect of daily life has to be planned- from lifestyle choices, grocery shopping, meal preparation, recycling, safety and sanitation practices, and eventually even home schooling my children to keep my daughter well. I did find that gardening incorporated science and health education into their studies. Sure I had a full load with tedious monthly doctor appointments, school work, running my own businesses, so that I could be flexible. The joy of watching my children plant seeds, recycle papers and plastics, helping neighbors, and wanting to cook fresh and healthy meals with me in the kitchen using our edible flowers and vegetables that made it all worth the energy I had to put forth.

INVITATION: Enjoy a spring afternoon in the garden with Bent Spoon ice cream and a lecture by Meredith Taylor, Senior Project Commissioner, Isles Community Garden and Nutrition Division. Ms. Taylor will speak about community and school gardens.

'Sage grown in the Princeton Garden Project helped make this ice cream we all shared'!

Much of the garden goods go to the campus 'Dinner Halls' to feed the students...

Location: Forbes Garden Project, 79 Alexander St.
Date/Time: 04/15/09 at 4:30 pm - 04/15/09 at 6:00 pm
Sponsor: The Garden Project

*Due to rain, this lecture has been moved to the pink house next to Forbes.

'Princeton students Eva, Colleen, and Sierra help run and maintain the Princeton Garden Project, and threw great questions at Meredith about how they could partner in the future...'

I attended Wednesdays event with Sue Albert, a fellow Open Mic participant/musician and fellow blog- She and I are partnering on a project she had already begun- a butterfly garden for inner city dwellers of Trenton, NJ. She in return is helping me with starting a sustainable garden for my culinary class at Isle Youth Build Institute of Trenton, NJ.

This gathering is part of the "Ethics, Politics, and the American Food System" lecture series that was hosted by The Garden Project of Princeton University, Eva Marie Walsh, and presented by Meredith Taylor, Senior Project Commissioner of the Isles Community Garden and Commission. In helping with awareness and ideas for their sustainability projects this was organized to help educate local college students. Meredith talked about how in her job with Isles she is the Senior Project Manager for the Environment & Community Heath division. The Isles Organization was founded in 1981 in New Jersey is a nationally recognized community development and environmental nonprofit organization in Trenton, New Jersey. Isles- Fostering Self-Reliance...

Meredith told the students how she helps a school locate spots on their property; developing, building, and maintaining sustainable gardens for teaching purposes. She also teaches cooking classes that provides family members with nutrition, simplistic cooking instruction, as well as how to shop for the ingredients in a budget conscious minded way. Isles provide the tools, education and skills that enable families to help themselves and improve their neighborhoods, over the long-term.

Meredith and I took a few minutes discussing how I could possibly benefit her program through my own education and experience. The conversation opened up so many possibilities for us. I can give back even more to community, as others helped me through my childhood and parenting difficulties. I know many of you are looking forward to starting your gardens soon, but if you live near a community garden...please take a few hours out of your schedule to volunteer. You too can make a sustainable difference!

Sites I found Useful for gardening/cooking from the garden, and other cool sustainable gardening reads:

As you are reading this I am already on my way to help set-up, and get so lessons in food photography and more! Here is what everyone will be enjoying...

Hello Garden Diners!

Everyone at the Princeton Garden is excited to welcome you tomorrow, Sunday, April 19th! Chef Alex from Forbes will be serving up a tasty local meal while the Princeton String Quartet plays live! During dessert our Garden Manager will be giving you all some information on garden activities and answer any questions you may have. We are hoping that this is the start of a garden tradition!


Dinner will be served promptly at 5pm. Plan to get to the garden early to meet new friends and enjoy the live music which starts at 4:45pm. Dinner will be leisurely and you can enjoy a brief overview of the garden by our current Garden Manager over dessert!

The Menu:

Spiced Chilled Carrot Soup with Yogurt and Ginger

Frisee and Bibb lettuce with Radishes and Spring Onions

Fresh Pea Hummus Crostini with Pea Tendril Garnish

Grilled Asparagus with Kosher salt and extra virgin olive oil

Grilled Kennett Square Portobello mushrooms

Sautéed dandelion greens with cannellini beans and garlic

Served with grilled flat breads

Brewed green iced tea with fresh mint

Blueberry honey with sprig of mint

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Monday & Friday Activities

'Photograph by
Romulo Yanes
, as seen on Gourmet and'

1) Mindy @ Mindy's Mouthful noticed I posted Monday Mouthful, and asked me if I minded using that. Of course I did not even realize I was using her catch phrase, so after talking we decided to open it up to other blogs through June 1st with a German-French theme.

We will list each weeks theme at the end of our 'Monday Mouthful' post. This coming Monday Mouthful post theme is 'Rustic French Meatloaf' (a recipe to follow is listed here). You may make it in any shape or form; such as a semi-homemade technique, traditional, or get as fancy as you wish along with a link to this post. You may resubmit a past post if you have one. Part of the fun will also be adding a French or German experience, along with a word from the language to get us a little more familiar with the culture. Email Chef E, moi @ with your information once you have posted, so that we can all link together on Monday.

Mindy and I will be alternating French and German recipes each week to advance our lack of cooking it in our homes. She lives on the border of France and Germany, and is moving back to the states in June, and admitted a failure to produce some of their delectable foods. I myself admit I use many of the techniques in the professional world; then only until recently have desired to revisit them at home. We both agreed our husbands would love it!

2) Any of you out there feel like you want to use that camera that is laying around... come join me at Friday Shoot Out, there are quite a few blogs you all know that are doing this with me, so if you interested go over to my other blog and see what I shot; it is a Jersey food related post, so I cheat and get two in one day!

These are not contest! Anyone who is interested does not have to participate each week, but let us know here if you want to be on 'the list', lol, sounds like an elitist-list...just a fun way to link up with each other and discover new fun food!

Oh and do not forget to pencil in your Food Art entries for Alchemist Chef, her deadline is June 1st, and I already have mine planned into a birthday surprise!

Butter Poached Lobster- Thai Mac & Cheese

'Lobster is like an angel without its wings, so I helped it out a bit...'

Blogs out there have been driving me nuts with your tasty sounding and good looking bowls of Mac & Cheese. Here I am at the mercy of some pretty horrible gluten-free pasta, and no time to make my own. As it dangles in my mind over the course of a week I suddenly become distracted with a few contest winnings in the mail...

The NFL Football Cookbook I got from Elain @ Kitchen Rap Elaine Giammetta and Lou Luzzo are co-founders of Gourmet Girl Magazine is full of 'Serious Fun Food', as I will borrow from my friend Greg @ Sippity Sup!!! When she told me I won an NFL cookbook I thought "Oh no, I am so not a sports fan"; only for my son and those friends whose team is winning! This book was written and sold for charity, and I am all about that...

Grazing through all the photos, history and recipes... I found Lobster Brie Mac & Cheese on page 156. The light bulb goes off! "Make my own version of this using quinoa". With my usual twist of course- Thai seasonings I have on hand, Havarti cheese that is mild and would meld into the warm quinoa, as well as some crispy prosciutto and red onion bits.

A most recent episode of 'Chopped' a contestant made a 'Butter Poached Lobster'. Once in Florida (yeah an Irish story coming) a friend and I went diving down behind her brothers house off a causeway, and pulled up fresh lobsters. Five of them! Then we set brick traps for future endeavors. I tried my hand at making bisque from the carcass and butter poaching the rest of the meat. The meal was a hit, and if you never have tried butter poaching; then go for it. Dropping those babies in boiling water is not the only way to go. Just chop off the tail and head, and get ready for the recipe...

Butter Poached Lobster over Thai Quinoa Mac & Cheese


Prepare two pieces of thick(er) cut Prosciutto San Danielle (my fav) in a sheet pan for the toaster oven or preheated oven- 350 degrees to crisp, but still just a small amount of softness; you cannot buy just two pieces, so eat the other half pound on a nice sandwich the next day.

4 Lobster tails, small or large, your choice; using scissors cut along the middle underside stopping just short of the tail. Using mallet gently hit the top side to loosen up the tail (shell) for removing the meat. Gently pull out the meat, and keeping it whole. I recommend buy a few more than needed, due to damaging a few trying to pull it out in one whole pieces. Taking a sharp knife and holding your hands firmly on top fillet the bottom from the tops, as you will chop up the bottoms for adding to the quinoa (cooked) just before serving.

Make a fish stock using the lobster tail shells (or a whole carcass); after removing meat saute shells in 1-2 tablespoons of oil, and adding 5 cups of water and reduce by half, adding another 1/2 cup water for recipe. Discard shells. Leave lobster meat out on plate so that it will come to room temperature for poaching.

Prepare 1 1/2 cups quinoa in 3 cups stock- do not over cook as per instructions or it will be mushy

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar


2 tablespoons EVO
2 tablespoons cilantro
2 tablespoons lemongrass
1/2 tablespoon chili past
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
salt/pepper to taste

Havarti- prepare six to eight 2 x 2 squares for presentation, and grate a 2/3 cups for adding to quinoa.

Red Onions- 1/4 to 1/2 small chop

Mixing seasonings, onions, cheese, rice wine vinegar in a bowl; gently toss in with quinoa, and set aside.

Butter poached lobster-

1 tbsp water
1/2 to 1/3 lb unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

In a saucepan, heat water until boiling and whisk in one or two chunks of butter to form an emulsion (called Beurre Monté). Reduce heat to low and continue to whisk in butter, one chunk at a time, until the Beurre Monté is about 1-inch high.

Use an instant-read thermometer to maintain the temperature of the Beurre Monté between 160F and 190F during cooking.

Add lobster pieces to Beurre Monté (in several batches if necessary), and cook for 5 or 6 minutes. If lobster pieces are not fully covered, use a spoon to gently turn over after 3 minutes.

Remove and place on plate near stove to keep warm until plating.

Garnish- top quinoa with cheese, lobster tails, and crumbled prosciutto

GOURMET GIRL: Elaine Giammetta and Lou Luzzo are co-founders of Gourmet Girl In March of 2008 they launched their monthly 'online lifestyle e-zine,' chronicling their ongoing culinary journey to learn, experience and share with their readers, all that is "Good Food, Good Wine & Good Living." The magazine offers celebrity and celebrity chef interviews, national and international restaurant profiles, recipes, cooking tips, wine, cheese & travel information.

Partners in life as well, they bring you their unique personal approach to the gourmet world. Along with a staff of four contributing chefs, all experts in their own fields (Executive Chef, Executive Pastry Chef, Master Chocolatier and a Fitness & Health Chef), they bring fresh, new and exciting culinary content to each month's issue.

Not to mention they hold contest over there often, so you should click on over there and check them out as often as you can!

'I gave hubby the camera and told him to go try his hand at taking a few photos to see just how challenging it can be. He did not do so bad, but he forgot the garnish in one shot, and too much on the next, but he can learn along with me!'