Sunday, December 8, 2013

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Can’t believe it’s been over a week since the big day.  I’m referring of course to Black Friday. 

There I was, five deep in the hoard shaking off the remnants of tryptophan with the help of a six pack of Red bull and two double espresso shots. Suddenly the horn sounded and the doors flew open and I was soon at the bottom of a pile of humanity. Thanks to an overturned electric shopping go cart next to my head, I managed a little air space so I could continue to breathe.

Suddenly, two pairs of very large hands grabbed my J Crew Cashmere sweater and lifted me to what appeared to be my second chance of scoring sweet deals on Xbox1, Go Pro Camera, and Zombie Nerf Blaster.  Unbeknownst to me, I was not going shopping but rather heading to the men’s room for a little inverted dunking session. Luckily, the restrooms had just been cleaned.

“Two part Chicken Pot Pie blog?  Rolls? French Toast?” the voice yelled as his fat mitts lifted and lowered me by my ankles.

“It’s the Holiday Season, my way of giving back, you know, spreading good cheer…” I gurgled. 

“Shaddup!!! Boss says blog about the Space, or you’ll be the first chef to drown in a toilet.”

“Certainly I wouldn’t be the first, we’re hardly a stable lot.”

“Shaddup!  Blog about the Space, or else.”


By the time I dried off all the good deals were gone. Some Black Friday for me.

I suppose the beginning of the holiday season means we say goodbye to fall. With that I’ll share with you a dinner we did a month ago featuring the best of the season.

We started with some passed hors d'oeuvres, here is seviche with red radish habenero ice

 Little spoons of Foie Gras and Asian Pear

Smoked Salmon Martinis 

 Now to dinner.  We began with a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.  We pour the soup table side, which allows us to build an appetizer to be delivered to the customer. Here we have roasted delicata squash, filled with tuna sashimi, and surrounded by confetti squash and pumpkin seed dust.

Next we massaged some Red Kale with Lemon and Squash Oil, and topped with our own shaved ham

then add some fresh blackeyed peas, and a sunny side up quail egg

For the next course we caramelized some butternut squash cut into tagliatelle 

And top with sliced Opah ( Moonfish )

For the next course, we used Sherwood Farms Strip Steak, with a Baked Purple Potato, Squash Puree

Finally, for dessert we did pumpkin creme brulee

with Squash Seed Panna Cota, and Blood Orange Baklava

Not bad huh?  

Enjoy your holidays!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

French Toast

My partner, Vincent and I, have this little cooking code "cooking with the seasons".  No, I'm not talking about just picked tomatoes from the vine, or crisp Kale snipped from  a cool autumn morning.

We're talking about whatever the hell is left in the fridge and if you are like me this Thanksgiving there are plenty of odds and ends.  So before I shove a kid back on a plane or in a dorm room, I'll be "cooking with the seasons".

First, I still have a mess of these lying around

Recognize those guys?  Its my rolls from the previous blog.   Lop off the top and bottoms like so

Then cut in half

Now, let's make some batter.

Two eggs
1 cup of half and half ( or heavy cream, almond mile, soy milk ) whatever!
1 T yogurt
1 T powdered sugar
 juice from 1 clementine ( truly cooking with the season )

I know you have those laying around.  Mix the batter

I think you can handle it from here.  I use a mix of oil and butter.

Give them a flip

and arrange on a plate with some fruit, a little maple syrup, some powdered sugar


Friday, November 22, 2013


The leaves are all down, as are the temperatures. My pumpkins haven’t been chucked to the road, so all is well here at the homestead as I await the arrival of my kids for Thanksgiving.

Which means it’s time to lose the tights. Those which I wear frequently wear around the house during the colder months.  I won’t go into why it’s just what I do.  A little Nike second skin never hurt anyone. Being an empty nester, I need not worry about my kids abusing me like I’m some creepy old dude sporting my ultra fit and making Frittatas.

Who needs that?

All this talk of tights has me thinking about Thanksgiving, as they (those kids) will be descending on our home meaning I need to wear pants, play football and make some rolls.

And you thought I was giving you a Turkey recipe?  Dream on.  I've cooked that noise every which way to Friday and still don’t have a preference so you are on your own. But you, the reader of this dysfunctional blog, are hereby put on notice that YOU have NO excuse for not making fresh rolls for your gathering next week, and I am here (happily clad in second skin ( and pants)) to give you the easiest recipe to do so.

It’s called the no need to knead rolls, and they are delicious. Pay attention.

Do this Wednesday:

In a Pyrex

3T yeast
1 cup tepid water ( not hot now, it will kill the yeast)

Warm in a sauce pan the milk and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves and let it all cool

3 cups milk
½ cup sugar

Then in a bowl combine:

4 eggs
2 T Salt
1 pound of butter melted and cooled slightly

Add the yeast milk sugar mix, then add

12 cups of flour and mix thoroughly 

Just mix to combine.  No need to knead (love that)

Place this in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. Now go have a stiff eggnog.
Thursday, take the dough from the fridge and place it on a floured board.  
I like to let the dough warm a little here.  So drape a cover over it and go do something for 30 minutes.  Once the dough has warmed a little,  shape however you want, clover leaf, flat fold over, or just to keep this process simple, roll it and cut it like biscuits like these

Let them rise for about 30-40 minutes, then paint them with melted butter
Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and hide them from your family, because they are addicting. This recipe makes over 30 rolls, depending on the size of your cutter.  If you have left overs, freeze them for another time. 
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

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Typically, when I do these "advertisements", they focus of food pics of a private dinner at the Space, preceded by a comedic ( I try) alter ego of myself working for the proverbial man. It's fun.

It's hard to be funny this week.   Nationally, we lost Charlie Trotter, one of the greatest chefs ever. Locally, the loss of Gabe Silverman, a developer who was a vital link in the revitalization of  the Charlottesville food scene, and lastly Jonathon Matthews, a food rep who at least for me, was the only person who could provide me a nice loin of Tuna in the early 90's.   We'll miss them, and our thoughts go out to their families.  

As with life, we press on.  We do what we do, and we try to do it well.  Here are some pics of our latest tasting dinner.  I like to think that all three of the fore mentioned men, had a little something to do with it. 


We begin with a platter of Vincent's house smoked salmon "martini", with vodka cream, green olive cracker.  The little rounds are tuna tartare, wasabi mayo, sesame cracker, cilantro.  Finally, Shiso leave filled with lime chicken salad.

First course is a lobster thai basil rice paper roll, shittake, more lobster, squash seed dust, finished
table side with a lobster consomme (love to have a pic of that pour, but, hey, I'm in the kitchen).

Shaved yellow beets formed into a "ravioli" filled with Caramount goat's cheese, sitting on top of local watercress, endive, asian pears, more beets, pomegranate

Yes, a couple weeks ago I still found some cherry tomatoes and lima beans at the farmer's market.
I painted a plate with them and some parsley oil and smoked tomato oil

Added some gorgeous eggplant ragout ( with more smoked tomato ) hidden under a perfectly seared rockfish (thanks Virginia Burton, my sous ( Vincent was in Paris, damn him) ) and we have a pretty plate.

For the main, some grass feed beef loin, done wellington style in filo with a kale pesto, yellow cauliflower puree, and grilled local Maitake mushroom.   This was old school tasty!

Finally, with my partner across the pond, I thought of this for a fall dessert.  Shaved butternut squash which I poached in sugar syrup, then laid across puff pastry for a "Butternut Squash Pizza"

Top with white chocolate sorbet, some chiffonade of mint, and I think some folks were happy.

Eat well folks

Celebrate life

Have a dinner party

And if you want help, try me, send me an email, I might surprise you.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

With all this fame comes commitment.  Talk shows, speaking engagements, cooking demos, frog gigging contest judging, it gets exhausting.   Not to mention the travel.  With so much on my hands right now, I leave booking arrangements to my agent, with the instructions to book only the best.

So as I stared at my boarding pass (which airline I am not at liberty to say.  Just think Arizona, New Mexico, Indian Casinos and Saguaro Cactus ) I notice a large C next to the number 188.  I figured C stood for Courtesy and the number some sort of hierarchy  for me, the celebrity chef.  I imagined my over sized seat, heaps of leg room and my large flute filled with bubbly by a sultry stewardess with a short skirt and tall updo. 

Needless to say I was surprised as I walked down the jet bridge, peered over my shoulder to see.... nothing.  I was the last passenger to board this full flight on (John McCain, Los Lobos, Coyotes, and Breaking Bad)  airline when it donned on me.  I was going to get the worst seat on the plane. 

I went to call my agent when this grumpy, old stewardess of (Wiley Coyote, Navajo, Grand Canyon, Horny Toads) airline snatched my turquoise IPhone 5S, shut it down, then demanded I sit immediately. See if you catch me flying (Pueblo, Diamond Backs, UFO sightings) airlines again.  As I arrived to aisle 6 I saw my seat, or I should say, half of my seat as the other two quarters were covered by ass.  Two different ones belonging to two very large people.

Forget about the arm rest's.  I suppose they were there, but I sure as hell didn't see them. I did learn how to read a third of a book with my forearms pressed together. 

They were a couple. I knew this because she randomly back handed him ( her elbow mere centimeters from my nose) to get his attention ( I am not making this up).  

I bet they’d love my chicken pot pie. 

You will, too.  It's a long process, but there is no dinner more satisfying.  Poll my kids ( and I have enough to form a poll or two), and they would agree.  Plus, once you put the pie in the oven, clean up, set the table, the kitchen becomes eerily calm, full of anticipation. 

Picking up from the last blog, we have our dough.  Throw a whole chicken, some carrots, two onions cut in half, couple tablespoons of garlic, celery, black peppercorns, fresh thyme and a tablespoon of salt all covered with water.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. 

Check the inside thigh of the chicken.  If it wiggles loosely and you see no pink juices, the bird is cooked.  

Chop some potatoes and add to the pot. 

  Cook another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are done.  Now ( for god's sake don't throw out the broth here), drain the broth and set aside the chicken and vegetables.  Let this cool some.

In the meantime, brown some mushrooms in olive oil, then set aside.

 Now for the roux.  I make mine from olive oil ( it's a cholesterol thing).  Heat 3/4 olive oil and about 2 cups flour together.

 No need to cook the roux very long, just get it to a smooth state.  Slowly add the broth until you get a gravy consistency.  

 Add mushrooms, inner parts of the onion, carrots,celery pieces, frozen peas and of course, the chicken pieces 

Season with salt and pepper, and oh yeah, this guy.

White truffle oil

Stay with me!  Almost home.  Grab your dough and roll to larger than the dish you are using. 

Lay this in your baking dish.  (Hint, use glass baking dish for crusty bottom)

Add the filling.  Roll a second circle like before. This time fold in half

Then place on top of pie

Unfold and crimp the ends together

Make a couple of slits in the top and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 375