I was on eightWest recently demonstrating some fantastic salads for the summer. The whole idea is fresh filling salads that will have you craving more. Below is the fabulous recipe for you to enjoy year around. Enjoy!
Avocado and Chick Pea Salad Yield: 4 servings
1-2 Avocados, sliced
3 radishes, sliced thin
½ cup snap peas, sliced thin
½ cup drained and rinsed garbonzo (chick peas) beans
1-2 cups watercress
¼ cup toasted almonds
2 tangerines or oranges (large, or use 4 clementines)
Zests of 1 tangerine or orange
1 ½ TB honey
1 ½ TB chopped shallots
1 TB white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 TB olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions: In a small sauce pan, heat juice of two tangerines (or oranges) with honey and reduce to 1/3 cup. Stir often so honey does not caramelize. It will be syrup like in the end. Set aside to cool. In a food processor, puree jalapeno, place in a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth. Place ½ tsp of salt and let sit so it drains into a bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes. Finish by squeezing liquid out of jalapeno puree into a small bowl. Set aside. In a second pan, heat 2 qts of water to a boil. Place snap peas into water, cook for 15 seconds, drain and cool with cold tap water. Set aside. In a food processor, add reduced juice, shallot, jalapeno juice (use a tsp at a time, taste, add more if you need more heat), white wine vinegar, small pinch of salt and pepper, Dijon mustard and olive oil. Puree.
Plating: Slice avocados, place in a bowl, drizzle ½ TB of vinaigrette and toss avocado. Arrange avocados on 4 separate plates, add snap peas, garbonzo beans and watercress atop the avocado. Drizzle dressing over all 4 plates, top with almonds and radishes. Serve.
The acronym KISS is a basic principle in the business world. Keep It Simple Stupid. That phrase helps when approaching almost any project to not over think the situation. The principle works amazingly in the kitchen. There are times that only a few ingredients will make something incredible. That principle goes with my Fried Potatoes. All that is needed are 2 lbs of potatoes diced, 3 TB of unsalted butter, 1 tsp chopped sage, salt and pepper to taste. That's it. For the cooking, heat the pan slightly above medium. Let the butter melt. When the butter begins to foam, add potatoes. Let potatoes brown, stirring occasionally. When fully cooked, add sage, salt and pepper. Serve warm. Enjoy!
I am always excited for this time of year when the smells, color and variety from my local farms are on full display. To say they share a rainbow of colors doesn't do it justice. So many varieties, so many flavors. As a chef, it is truly magical. As a chef, I am dismayed at how many restaurants do NOT get fresh tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers to serve their guests. But I digress.
My latest finds from my one stop farm pick up, West Michigan Farmlink, I came home with the best corn from Heidi's Farm Stand and some incredible corn meal from Shady Side Farms. There is something magical about corn being ground at a windmill. Just sayin'. I knew I was going to make some cheese grits with some fresh corn in it. I could taste it before even making it. Love those moments.
One issue that plagues grits from having that WOW factor revolves around fat. It needs butter. Not just on top after you put it on your plate. It needs good butter at the end of cooking mixed thoroughly into it. With one of the wonderful contacts I have made in my life, I was able to get some Creekside Creamery Burger Butters. Rich with flavor and a higher fat content. The perfect combination for incredible Grits. I can say it is worth the time to order.....I for one was blown away. The final product was SOOOO good, my Son asked for the leftovers as a snack. That was my drop the mic moment. Have a great August!
Velvety Grits Recipe:
2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken stock (substitute corn or vegetable stock
1 cup Corn Meal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked pepper
Fresh corn from 2 ears of corn
2 TB chopped chives
2oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 TB Horseradish Blue Butter (or plain butter)
Directions: Bring milk, salt, pepper and stock to a light boil, add corn meal and whisk it so it mixes into the liquid. Reduce heat to a smidgen below medium. Stir every 2 minutes to prevent clumping and sticking to bottom of pan. Depending on corn meal grain size, this will take 15 minutes to 25 minutes to cook. If it gets too thick, add more stock and milk. Taste to ensure it does not crunch. Add cheese, corn, and chives, mix until incorporated. Remove from heat, add butter. stir it in, serve.
"What time is it? Summer Time!" The mantra flies through my house until September. Once Memorial Day hits, I smell the grills in my neighborhood on a nightly basis. We all enjoy partaking in a wonderful day of picnicking throughout the summer. I know many people love to get out Grandma's classic Potato Salad recipe (I'm not taking about the local grocery store deli potato salad that you doctor up with mustard. Oh no.). Recently, my trusty grill went kaput. It died. It LITERALLY fell apart. This happened just at the beginning of grilling season. To say I was dismayed would be sugar coating the situation. I use that grill; wait, USED that grill at least 3 times a week! What was I going to do? Well, being a Prime Member (That's all I'm saying, I'm not shamelessly plugging that retail giant), I didn't wait long before I was ready to fire up a new shiny grill and break it in!
How often have you charcoal grill or fire up the propane and your burger gets dry and/or experiences shrinkage? (know it didn't just get out of the pool.) Then you got to your favorite restaurant and you get the juiciest, best tasting burger every time. What gives? Well, there are a few things at play that cause your burger to fall flat each time you grill.
1. Fat content of the burger it self.
Getting the 90% fat free has its health advantages, with it, it takes away your flavor and moisture.
2. Time of cooking.
If you cook your burger like you cook your bacon, it will dry out. Medium in the center is plenty. Of course, eating under cooked meats may lead to a food borne illness. I always roll the dice on that one.
3. The grill grates.
Those wonderful grates on your grill are also the main culprit in drying out your beloved burger. No matter how high your grill temp is to sear the meat, the juices will still fall. Great burgers in restaurants are generally cooked on a flat top. A large cook top where the meat cooks in its own juices. It just keeps basting your burger to perfection.
I know what some of you are thinking: "But I love my grilled burgers!" Do no worry. A simple trick will do all the work. BUTTER! You might scratch your head on that one a bit, but think about it. Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon, Beurre Noisette (brown butter sauce), and true Hollandaise to name a few. The added fat adds flavor and provides a better mouth feel.
Now, for the good stuff. I was given an opportunity to try this new butter from Creekside Creamery called Burger Butters. Do not let the name fool you....these butters would work on so much more than just a burger. (I'll get to that later....like another blog post going over all the ways one flavored butter can be used.) The butters come in two flavors, Horseradish Blue Cheese and Bacon Pepper Jack. Can you guess which one I tried? Yes....I tried the Bacon Pepper Jack. And?????? It was INCREDIBLE! A wonderful creamy and a bit of a spicy kick to elevate my burgers. One bite and I was Hooked! The flavor is extremely balanced. Good bacon notes with the perfect amount of heat.
I hope you check these butters out, but not before I give you my recipe.
1LB Grass fed Ground Beef
1 LB Local Ground Pork
4 Buns: Pretzel, Ciabatta BUT NO WHITE BUNS. Treat yourself to some flavor.
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp onion powder
4-6 Dollops of Bacon Pepper Jack Butter
Mix Thoroughly and form into 4 eight oz patties or 8 four oz patties. Only Flip once for grilling, about 8 minutes for the first side if using 8oz patties. Flip, cook for 2 minutes. Place 1 butter dollop per burger, cook for 4 minutes. Remove and serve. I recommend grilling the burger buns. Thaw 2 dollops and spread liberally on each bun. Grill on high heat. Top burgers with your favorite toppings.
Yes....I did mean to misspell monumental. That is because a few years ago, both spellings would reflect on my colossal failure in the kitchen. I am not a mixoligist and what happened a few years ago, definitely reflected that.
It was a rainy day. We went to my wife's hometown to watch the Kentucky Derby. We were not there long when we decided Mint Juleps were in order. We quickly googled a recipe and I set off for the small village grocery store. I had a feeling that fresh mint would not be there but hoped that I could find some dried mint. I'm a chef, I can make this happen. But...NOOOOOO. Dried Mint would not be found. No problem, I got this. I saw some peppermint extract.
Once back to my Sister In-Law's house, I got to work on my simple syrup. I added some peppermint extract, let it cool, then began mixing the cocktails. Everyone gathered around, glasses in hand, a toast, a sip, a face that cannot be properly explained. Oh......it was bad. SO Bad! I used way Too much peppermint extract. It was like drinking liquid toothpaste. I think our teeth suddenly started to glisten a vibrant white color.
Alas, I failed. It is a day that ALWAYS comes up each year. It's a good laugh. It's a good lesson. If we don't fail from time to time, how else will we strive to become better.
BThe explosive bounty of summer is now over. The unbelievable array of food at the farm market is an after thought. This means we are only left with 6 months of boiled vegetables or the food we pickled in August. Nothing fresh with it's own beauty of flavor. Winter is like a death for our taste buds and we lament on how much we miss our local farm market food. Wait....this cannot be! Right?
The answer to that rhetorical question is a resounding NO! How we plan our meals and use what the fall harvest gives us can open new doors that are far from boring. Local farms Crisp Country Acres and Heidi's Farm Stand are two testaments to what is possible with locally grown food this time of year. Fresh beets, butternut squash, blue gold potatoes and much much more help in creating dishes that are both stunning in appearance but also astounding in flavor. Don't let this time of year pull you into a cooking malaise. Take the time to explore the taste of fall. It will amaze you. If you need a recipe to jump start your cooking...I have supplied one for your enjoyment.
Roasted Fall Vegetables with Chicken
6 Chicken legs
3 medium carrots sliced an 1/8 of inch thick
1/2 onion diced
3/4 cup large diced blue gold potatoes (yukon gold are fine)
3/4 cup large diced butternut squash
1 cup cauliflower florets
2 Tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped sage
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup chicken stock
1 TB Roasted Garlic and Herb Butter by Epicurean Butter
1 TB olive oil
Directions: In a casserole dish, place all vegetables. Toss in Olive oil, rosemary, sage, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper and roast for 20 minutes, uncovered, at 400 degrees.
Remove and stir vegetables. Place Chicken on top of vegetables, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir vegetables and add chicken stock. Roast for 30 minutes. When vegetables are tender, remove from oven. Remove chicken and set aside. Stir in Roasted Garlic and Herb Butter. Serve immediately.
Food, Family, Friends. This is where it all begins and ends in my kitchen.