It’s all about the content and lately, I feel, mine has been sorely lacking. My original idea was to do a post a week. I had my weekend to shop and prepare something that we could eat as a family, at least that’s what I thought. The problem is, when I reformatted my site and began down this new road, I was a bachelor; kinda…the wife and daughter were in Germany for what ended up being about 3 months. I had all kinds of time to cook, shoot, eat, write and bring it to you in this lovely little package that is my website. Then they came home. The wife re-introduced the dreaded ‘honey-do’ list, the daughter wanted to build legos, go to the park, go to the zoo and so on and so forth. At this same time, we were opening a 535 room hotel, needless to say, I was lucky to get one post a month.
Sometimes the hardest things to see are those things that are right in front of you. I’m sure that is an official quote somewhere by someone a lot smarter than me who was a little quicker than I am to point out the obvious. All my efforts to carve out an hour or two on weekends have been a struggle. So there I sat last week, having just finished a post about dry roasting mussels as opposed to boiling/steaming/ruining them, wondering how am I ever going to find the time to be in my kitchen with a wife, a 4 year old and a newborn moments away? Why couldn’t I be left alone just for a bit like I am in my kitchen at work, and that’s when it hit me.
I work in a multi-million dollar kitchen, it may not be the type of food I want to be doing at the moment, but I at least have the refuge of my own daily specials. I do 3-4 new specials a week, it is my own little corner of a behemoth corporate kitchen, and it’s all mine.
I think one of the main reasons that all this went overlooked for so long was because I always felt pressure to provide sweets and desserts as opposed to the savory foods that have made my career. I’m not a pastry chef, I don’t really even eat dessert…ever, but by God I needed to have an ice cream machine to help provide content for my site. But it dawned on me that the World Wide Web and everyone on it didn’t need my 2 cents when it came to mint chocolate chip ice cream, no matter how bloody good it was (it actually is really good!). Go ahead, Google it, 662,000 results, not the way to set myself apart. Not to mention the gazillion food blogs dedicated to macarons, cookies, cupcakes and other nefariously sugary concoctions.
So what types of recipes/items will I be seeing from now on, you may ask? Perhaps I should first give you a little insight into my style of cooking. I’m old school, mostly, except for the fact that I use butter sparsely and cream even less so. My plates are simple, 3-4 components, designed to complement and contrast each other. They are generally tied together by a single ingredient or theme, that way you have an idea of what I was thinking when I paired this with that. I don’t cook for color, of course it is a bonus cooking during certain times of the year when there is more product available, but I will never, ever need something green because there is something red on the plate. I am passionate about what I cook, I must have the best ingredients I can get my hands on, simply because I handle them so lightly that I need them to be able to stand on their own. Lastly, I cook with soul, that is not to say that I don’t find the molecular side of life intriguing, but it’s not for me, I prefer a pinch of this and a dash of that, coaxing out the final product, not measuring it out.
It is for all these reasons that the style I use and the type of food I cook can easily be replicated in the average home kitchen. My food has been referred to as eclectic comfort food, which I take to mean that I take things that we are familiar with and turn them on their ear a bit, not so much to scare you off, but just enough to be more than interesting. I think the mussels from last week are a good example of what I am trying to explain, very simple, extremely tasty and just a bit different from the norm.
These recipes will mostly be composed plates featuring 3-4 recipes per dish. Feel free to pick and choose recipes as you see fit. Perhaps you’re just looking for a good collard greens recipe, there you go.
First up, we have this lovely Steelhead trout with warm smoked bacon-fingerling potato salad, collard greens and grain mustard aioli. Steelhead is generally marketed as salmon because of the color of the flesh looks just like salmon although genetically it is an anadromous trout, meaning that it returns from the sea to fresh waters where they were born in order to breed. As a special this week I ran this dish with a grain mustard veal demi-glace, very difficult to reproduce at home, but I find the same richness and texture with this mustard aioli. Also, don’t feel like you can’t substitute that which you prefer, perhaps you have a different piece of fish at home and are locked into that, this should still work as long as you know how to prepare your particular fish. Also, if you don’t want to have to deal with making your own aioli, you can always use mayonnaise.
- 2 six oz. pieces Steelhead Trout
- 1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place a pan on a medium high heat and add the olive oil.
- Season the fish liberally with salt.
- When you begin to see the first wisps of smoke, carefully place the fish skin side up in the oil; take care not to splash the oil.
- Once the fish is in the pan, leave it alone, do not shake the pan or move the fish otherwise your fish will stick to the surface if you are not using a non stick pan.
- When you begin to see the fish turning brown where the flesh meats the pan, turn the fish over with a spatula and place the pan in the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked to your liking.
- When finished, remove from the fish from the pan and rest on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Fingerling Potato Salad
- ½# fingerling potatoes
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 2 oz. smoked bacon, diced
- 1 oz. red wine vinegar
- 1 oz. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tspn. Dijon mustard
- 1 tspn. Fresh thyme, chopped
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Slice the fingerling potatoes into ¼ inch discs and place in a pot, cover with cold water.
- Bring the potatoes to a boil then reduce to a simmer to keep them from breaking up.
- When the potatoes are tender, remove from water and cool.
- In a cold, medium sized skillet (10 inch) add 1 oz. of oil and the bacon.
- Place over medium high heat and cook until the bacon begins to brown.
- Add the onions and cook until they become translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Add cooked potatoes and cook for one minute, until the pan has regained its heat.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the mustard and red wine vinegar.
- Stir until the pan stops sizzling
- Finish with a little kosher salt and ground black pepper.
- 1 bunch collard greens (about 12 oz)
- ½ gallon water
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 oz. smoked bacon, julienned
- 2 oz. Franks hot sauce or substitute your favorite
- 1 Tbs. butter
- Wash and de-stem the collard greens by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand.
- Place the leaves on top of each other and roll, slice the leaves into 1 inch thick strips.
- In a medium sized pot, bring the water and salt to a boil.
- Add the bacon and hot sauce to the boiling water and reduce to a simmer.
- Add the sliced collard greens and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When finished, pour the liquid off into a colander and cool.
- Prior to serving, reheat the collard greens in a sauté pan on medium heat with the butter.
Grain Mustard Aioli
- 3 egg yolks
- ¼ cup minced garlic
- 2 ½ cups canola oil
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
- 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 Tbs. Grain Mustard
- 3-4 Tbs. water
- Combine egg yolks, garlic and the juice of half a lemon in mixer.
- Whisk on high speed for 2 minutes.
- Slowly add the canola oil in a slow stream.
- Once you get about half the canola oil incorporated, your mixture is starting to become thick. You’ll want to add about 2 Tbs. of water in to loosen up the mixture.
- Continue adding the remaining canola oil.
- Add the olive oil, again in a slow stream.
- Once the oil is all in, add the Tabasco, Worcestershire, mustard, salt and the juice from the remaining half lemon.
- If you feel the aioli is too thick, you may want to add another Tbs. or more of water; your aioli should be the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Remove from mixer and store immediately in cold storage.
- Place the warm fingerling potato salad in the center of your plate.
- Top the fingerling salad with the collard greens.
- Place your fish, skin side down on top of the collard greens.
- Finish with the aioli either on top of the fish or on the plate, as you prefer.