Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Creme Brulee

With a show of hands, who out there loves dessert?  I thought so.  Almost all raised there hands.  I have a few favorites such as  Swedish Cream , that I will almost, every time, pick when given the options.  I don't really know what in particular makes me pick the ones I love, but I do love a creamy dessert. 

Good Brulee
Every week I get at lest one Email with kind comments, suggestions to try, some little historical background info, and people asking for particular recipes.  This past week I was asked for a "Creme Brulee" recipe.  You know at first I was going to just send this person a link form some website and call it good, but then I thought it through, and I would be cheating both them and myself.  Why, you ask, would I just send a link?  Well, let me share a few frustrations I have always had with this dessert.  The BLASTED crust!   Of all the components of this Glorious desert, that I do so love, the sugary Carmel crust always gets the best of me.  It sounds funny that, of the whole recipe, that would be the breaking point of my mental stability.  I can't explain if its getting the flame torch to close or if it's just bad timing, but for every five I get perfect, the 6th or 7th turns into a black inferno of molten sugar lava.  The other thing that seems to happen almost every time is when I pull the tray out of the oven that holds the water bath for the ramekins in, it splashes me either on the arms or my legs.  I don't even think that if you have the reflexes of Chuck Norris you can avoid the scalding burns from the water. 

Bad Brulee

In essence I don't make this recipe often for those various reasons.  I think you will enjoy the challenges this recipe poses.  It is a simple recipe, but the hazards don't make it worth it for me.  If I go out and someone else makes it, by gosh you can bet your sweet biscuits I'll be ordering it.

So, here is the recipe.  If you happen to be in the area and make this little Gem, and your looking for someone to taste test, give me a call.

Creme Brulee

1 extra-large egg
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined.

Scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly (to fast and you will curdle the eggs, this technique is called tempering) add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

THE CARMELING!!!!  *enter at own risk*  spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch BonJour Brushed Aluminum Chef's Torch with Fuel Gauge until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens. 

I wish you luck and once again, if all goes well with your caramelizing and you escape arm scalding, then on those merits along you should be given a million dollars and the key to the city.   Enjoy your rewards and cheers to you for taking on a technical recipe.



First time I heard this word spoken, I thought a dirty word was being disguised in Spanish.  Imagine my surprise when I learned what it was. Here is a little link to kinda give an overview for those who have heard it but are not quite sure what it is. " wikipedia " and for those of you who have eaten it, I'm positive you would eat it again.  I've seen this Gazpacho made in about 200 different ways.  Which attest to its diversity as something customizable to fit your pallet. 

I often, come across new and old recipes in my repertoire that have been forgotten over time or I tried once and thought it would be great to come back and make my own.  Gazpacho, is one of those that I had, liked, came back too, reinvented, customized and then, foolishly, forgot about.  In conversation with a good friend a few weeks ago, we were talking about all the exotic and different dishes we have tried in our lives and what we were surprised that we actually loved and wanted more of.  I was impressed with the detail she described about her encounter with Gazpacho and how it impacted her the very first time.  I asked myself, "why can't we not have those experiences more often?"   Is that considered a food epiphany?  I'm really not sure.  I do know however, that I cook with those moments in mind.  I feel that Gazpacho may be one of those unique dishes that can offer you that "moment".  I urge you to give it a try.

The following recipe is the "basic" version of Gazpacho.  Don't feel you need to follow it to the letter.  I will suggest you try it once to give yourself a taste reference.  I think with all basic recipes, they should be tried in there original form so you have a grasp of what the dish should taste like.  A reference point is important if you want to maintain a dishes character, all the while changing it to suite your desired tastes.

This looks lovely if you chop all the vegetables by hand. If that sounds like too much work, though, feel free to use a food processor.


21 oz. of tomato (finely diced if by hand)
3 cloves of garlic
3 Vidalia onions  (finely diced if by hand)
2 red peppers (finely diced if by hand)
2 green peppers (finely diced if by hand)
1 cucumber (finely diced if by hand)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro, chopped
7 tablespoons of oil
2 tablespoons of vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon of water
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Chop up the garlic cloves and then crush them with the side of a large knife. Mix all of ingredients together except for the salt, and pepper. If you are using a food processor, chop in short pulses. The gazpacho should have a chunky consistency. If the gazpacho is too thick, add some cold water.

Stir in the salt, and pepper until it is to your preferred taste.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with some cilantro leaves if you desire. This can be made up to 2 days in advance. Serves about 6

This is a great recipe to use up those extra tomatoes from your garden or farmer's market. It makes a cool, refreshing meal or appetizer on those hot "Fall" days. (thats a crack for the hot temps we have been getting here in my neck of the woods)


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Home Grown Garden Salsa

Zesty, fulfilling and addictive.  Are the three words I describe my garden salsa.  Forgive me if I brag, but I just adore my recipe. Why, you ask?   Well, let me explain.  For many years I never really cared for salsa for various reasons.  To chunky.  To Hot.  To Sweet.  To Oniony.  To bland.  The list goes on and on. So, I had an epiphany.  Make my own.  Go figure!  I started making my own eight years ago when we had an over abundance of Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers, Cilantro and Garlic from our Garden.  So instead of possibly violating local law by performing a drive-by Vegging of an unsuspecting friends house, I decided to put a few of my skills to work.  With a Basic salsa recipe in mind, I started out.  I new what I wanted and what I liked and finding that balance was a little difficult.  To much cilantro and you have a green cilantro salsa.  To much onion or even better, to "strong" of an onion and you have Onion Salsa.  So, finding the perfect balance at the beginning, was a bit of a task.  I kept in the back of my mind that this should be as simple as adjusting taste with salt.  To little it was bland.  To much, well, it would be ruined.  I think after the second year in my own test kitchen, I was able to find the balance and become satisfied with my salsa. 
The thing about salsa is personal taste.  Its one of those things that just depends on the person.  One person wants chunky and the other wants more garlic but less chunks.  I often wonder if a Custom Salsa Company might not be such a far fetched idea.  You want HOT HOT HOT!?!?  Boom!  Done!  You want massive garlic?  Done!  I haven't any idea if that kind of company exist.  But, when it comes to salsa, personal taste is the key.

My Children love the salsa which is a good thing.  They love to add it to there home made tacos.  If I put a bowl out with some fresh tortilla chips they load up.  Just tonight, I came home from work and opened a fresh Jar of the stuff and munched away.  I'm actually sitting here typing all the while, smacking my lips together because I want more.  I want to feed that little tang of the salsa flavor residue on my tongue that is making my mouth continue to water.  So with that I will get to the recipe so I can take a break and get myself a little more of the addictive salsa.

Home Grown Garden Fresh Salsa

5 lbs of Tomatoes
2 lbs of Onions
6 Anaheim Peppers (seeded)
6 Banana Peppers (seeded)
6 Green Bell Peppers (seeded)
4 Bulbs of Roasted Garlic Minced *If you don't want to roast your own just buy a large bottle of the Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic minced*
2 Bundles of Cilantro
1/2 Cup Fresh Lime Juice
1/4 Cup Ground Pepper
Sea Salt (add to desired taste)

The Process:
You will need  Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless  or something similar and a 5 Gal Bucket.

Simply wash and prep all veggies for your food processor.  You will want to make sure that Tomatoes, Onions, and peppers are cut into small enough pieces so the processor can puree them easily.

Process Tomatoes, Onions, and peppers to your desired consistency (chunky, fine, pureed) and pour them into your 5 gal bucket.
Add your Garlic and Lime Juice.

Chop Cilantro very fine and add to processor with 2 cups of salsa from the 5 Gal bucket (only processing  1 bundle at a time.)  Puree so that your Cilantro will start to turn your Salsa green.  pour into bucket.

Add Seasoning salt and Pepper. 

Stir the Salsa till blinded thoroughly. 

Taste then adjust with Sea salt

I recognize this is a pretty rough recipe.  But, as I stated, Salsa is all about personal taste.  I never expect people to follow recipes to the letter because as any other recipe, we make them our own with items we love.  I do feel however, that this is a great all around recipe that has a good flavor from fresh Garden produce.  So Grab a bag of chips or a few flour tortillas and enjoy the bounty of your hard summers work.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Reinvented Culinary Trends

Many home cooks watch Food Network and Cooking Channel to keep up on Culinary trends, and of course, watch there favorite shows.  I enjoy talking to other Cooks and Chefs around town about those programs and culinary trends.  Lately, mainly this past 2 years, I've seen food trucks make a comeback.  I say "comeback" because they have been around for a long time, I just think they are being reinvented to appeal to a more sophisticated working people who have specialized diets and don't want to compromise what they truly want to eat.  

Another trend is the "farm-to-table", market-fresh, organic, locavore, sustainable style of cooking.  As with the food truck, this is a reinvented trend.  I think you would be kidding yourself to think this is something new.  Chefs have always strive to get freshness to the plate.  Freshness will change your food from "OK" to "Greatness", if cooked correctly.  I feel this year, 2010, there was a significant increase of people growing there own gardens.  People want to save a little cash, but most importantly have freshness to the table. 

Lastly, Artisan Mixoligy has made the Foodie scene.  Making delightful tasting cocktails, as well as eye appealing presentation. And once again, this is a reinvented trend.  Its a fancy term for a bartender who specializes in cocktails.  As with Chefs, there are many types of Bartenders, this one just happens to appeal to the public craving for something different. I think this will fade away in about a year or so because Wine will never be replaced as the best pairing for foods.  Coffee being the second runner up as a timeless favorite.

All of these are interesting and exciting.  They offer the public a new/old experience on the tastebuds.  I have always tried to stay up to snuff with food trends, and sometimes I'm lucky to be ahead of the trend.  If you want to keep pleasing your audience you have to stay up with trends as well as be inventive and progressive.

Farm-to-Table:  Dried Tomato Pesto
*Most items straight from your Wyoming garden*


1 cup dried tomatoes (home-dried, not in oil)
Boiling water
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan or asiago cheese
2 T. pine nuts
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 to 3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Cover the dried tomatoes with boiling water and let sit 10 minutes or until soft. Drain.
Combine soaked, drained tomatoes and olive oil in a food processor fitted with a sharp metal blade. Pulse several times to chop tomatoes. Add Parmesan, pine nuts, basil, and garlic. Process until the mixture forms a paste. Taste puree and add salt and pepper if desired.

Food Truckfishlips sushi
Based out of  Torrance CA.  I have eaten there once by a chance crossing and it was great!  If your in and around that area in CA.  I recommend.

Artisan Mixoligy : Mojito Cocktail
*I picked this one because my wife favorite cocktail is the Mojito*

50ml. Havana club

6-7 quarters of lime
4-5 mint leaves
2 bar spoons brown sugar
Simple syrup to taste
Soda water to top up
Garnish with a mint spring
Muddle 8" Wood Bar Muddler the lime, mint and sugar in the bottom of a highball glassAnchor Hocking Heavy-Base 15-Ounce Iced-Tea Glasses, Set of 12, fill with plenty of crushed ice, and add the rum. Stir well and add dash or two of simple syrup, to taste. Top up with soda water. Garnish with a mint spring two straws and serve

So, with all these trends in mind, it never takes much to reinvent something old to be something new again.  Things as simple as Potatoes, Tomatoes, Apples and Pears, in the hands of someone with artistic flair and a taste for what makes things good can be the next reinvented culinary trend.  Be brave.  Be bold.  Create, innervate and most importantly, HAVE FUN!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Penne All'Arrabiata

Finding something to cook that will both, be liked by adult and child can be challenging.  I don't know many chefs who have children, but the ones I've read about have similar issues.   They dont want to always eat Mac n' Cheese and Hamburger helper.  They want, I WANT, something a bit sophisticated in flavor, but something the kids will enjoy.  I had luck with pasta dishes.  Kids love pasta in general.  You see pasta in some of there favorites and they never tend to scream bloody murder if you serve it and call it dinner. 

Since my children are just plain picky.  I blame my genes for that.  (I'm food picky mixed with OCD)  For three or so years my wife Amy and I thought our first born was going to be a vegetarian.  We just couldn't get the little bugger to eat anything meat.  Not that this is bad, but we wanted to at least have him eat a little with each meal.  One day in a pinch, for something to prepare for lunch, I grabbed some Ramen noodles from the pantry.  Quick, easy, and comforting for a cold snowy afternoon for both me and my hungry little boy.  I made them in there typical fashion and served them up.  HE LOVED THEM!!!!!  maybe its was the slurping the noodles or maybe it was just a fluke, but it was a key tell, that my child would love things Pasta.  Next step was Spaghetti with a red meat sauce.  (I used my Mothers old recipe that I have loved for many years)  He loved it too.  From those days on anything Pasta has been a hit at the table for both adult and squirrely children.  Almost every variation we have made they have eaten with smiles. 

With that, I set out to make something sophisticated and authentically Italian.  I referenced many times my favorite Italian cook book "Il Cucchiaio d'argento" AKA "The Silver Spoon" to come up with ideas and recipes.  The results have been good.  I think for every 10 Pasta dishes I have prepared there may have been 2 they didn't like.  In my opinion, that's  a huge success rate over Mac N Cheese or hamburger helper. 

I highly recommend getting this Cookbook as a essential part of your reference material for cooking.  It's served me well.

So, let me get to the following recipe.  The main reason I picked this one is because its complicated in flavor but easy to prepare and serve.  At a glace it looks like it may be Blah, but I assure you its far from Blah.

Penne All'Arrabiata

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small red chile pods, - or red pepper flakes
28 oz. can plum tomatoes
1 pound Penne Rigate pasta
2 oz. (3/4 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
pinch sugar
salt to taste

Step To Step
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat.
Add the onions, garlic, and chili peppers and cook until onions are transparent, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, smash tomatoes with a potato masher. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes over medium heat. (this is a typical way of making red sauce Italian style)

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in salted water, about 11 minutes. (I always salt my water when cooking Pasta, this adds flavor to the pasta, and also brings out the flavor of the Pasta so it wont be lost in the red sauce)

Stir half of the parmigiano cheese into the sauce. Season sauce with salt and sugar to taste
Drain the pasta well, mix thoroughly with the sauce, and sprinkle the remaining parmigiano cheese. 

Serve right away.

I'll leave you with this, as I said in my post Crispy Pizza and I'll restate it again, "more is not better" when your making good Italian food.  I have found most Italian recipes, that are truly great,  have very few ingredients.  So,  grab a good wine and some good bread and enjoy this wonderful pasta dish,  I know my children did, and I know you will too.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coconut Bake

Trinidad and Tobago Islands have, and always will have, a soft spot in my hart.  I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks there.  Mostly, on Trinidad on the Northern tip of the island in a little fishing village called Toco.  We became close friends with our hosts, Auntie Patsy and her Husband Rodolph.  I think of them often and miss them a great deal.  I learned a great deal in Auntie Patsy's kitchen, cooking with what you have at hand and around you.  Breadfruit, Coconut, Plantains, Christopher root, Mango's, Guava, and Black Tip Shark to name just a few items.  One of the Culture shock moments was when needing items for a meal.  You didn't just run down to the local grocery store, seeing how there were none.  You had to know your surroundings.  What plant was ripe with fruit or veggies.  What time the tide was in or out.  That was your Local market.  There was farmers and local fishermen that would drive there little trucks around the village and shout what there daily catch or harvest was.  If you had money you could buy there wears, but most people were quite poor and that was not always a luxury. 

I recall my very 1st morning at Auntie Patsy's home after 3 days of driving and air travel.  My wife Amy and I were famished for something substantial.  As we sat at the breakfast table we were served a fresh, straight from the oven, loaf of Bread, a bowl of a white spread that we thought at the time was a cream cheese spread, a fruit juice and a bowl of various fruits.  We launched into the bread first, which later we learned was called "coconut bake".  With slice of coconut bake in hand, we headed for the spread and loaded our bread slice with the white concoction.  With a huge bite and now a overstuffed mouth full of coconut bake with the white spread our taste buds took a screeching halt.  I turned and looked at my wife with a perplexed expression of "Why in the world am I tasting FISH?"  With great effort and a full glass of fruit juice at the beckoning, we both downed the mouthful of coconut bake with the Trinidadian traditional spread called "Fish Paste".  Once our mouth was clear, we downed our fruit juice to wash away the shock, only to be met with the taste of Wheat Grass which was the mistakenly thought to be fruit juice.  This is the point in our time in Trinidad that we begin to open our eyes to a wondrous world of new experences. Connecting to a people and culture through food.  And like so many other events in my life, it happen in the kitchen, were friendships have been forge for century's and will do so far into the future.  What a wonderful journey!
Once back in the states we began to missed the many creations of Auntie Patsy's kitchen.  So we tried to recreate "Coconut Bake" which was our favorite daily treat.  After many trials and errors we came close to the real deal.  Not the exact recreation though, since we have no fresh coconut trees near us at 5500 ft above seas level and being land locked.  So we run down to the local store and buy our coconut and check out all the while missing the fresh sea breeze and the wonderland of the trees and fields of wild growth that we experienced.  So, for those of you that love bread and also love coconut here is that wonderful creation.

Coconut Bake

5 cups Flour
1 tablespoon yeast

1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Shortening
1/4 to 1/2 *Fresh* grated Coconut   (the bagged stuff just won't produce the same texture or flavor)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cup water


Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.

Rub in the butter and shortening, then stir in sugar and grated coconut.

Add water, and mix into a firm dough.

Turn out onto floured board, knead lightly, shape into a ball and leave covered for 15-20 minutes.

Press into the center and using a rolling pin, roll into a circular shape about ¾” thick. Mark ‘wedges’ into dough with fork perforations
Heat oven to 350°.

Put onto a flat, greased baking sheet and bake till golden brown for about 20-30 minutes.

coconut bake with salt fish

Remove from oven.

Cut into wedges 2-3 inches wide.
Serve hot, attractively arranged on a flat dish.

Someday, I would like to go back to that little village and learn more about the life and culture.  But until then, I invite you to sit back, close your eyes, and imagine the smell of the sea and feel the trade winds blowing upon your face while biting into a warm slice of Coconut Bake.  Imagine the sounds of the Steal Drums floating up from the local gathering spot as you experience a little of the Trinidadian Life.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Buddhist Delight

I have to tell you that one of the the single most interesting things about growing up Lander, is the people.  The diversity of people.  I always seem to come across people who have such interesting lives and story's.  From a Lab Tech who was kicked out of the White House for smoking weed on the roof with Ronald Regan's son, to an actor who was well know back in the 80's for the film St. Elmo's Fire, to a Dr. who competed and won the Ironman Triathlon.  Most recently, a high school classmate has accomplished something most impressive.  He has published a Book .  I have recently discovered his accomplishment via my Facebook page.  So, in honor of his accomplishment I am posting a Buddhist Recipe.  I haven't any idea if this is a traditional, authentic, or even original recipe, but I know its tasty.

Just some quick background on this recipe.  When I was taking my apprenticeship back in California under Executive Chef Charles Sutton, a few of us students were playing around in the kitchen after hours.  We had a going bet that a vegetarian recipe wouldn't sell as well against the Carnivore style of the same recipe.  So, with money on the table and sleep never being a necessity at our age, we went to town creating.  The next day we sent the 2 soups to the test restaurant.  At the end of the day, the Vegetarian version won out, selling 3 bowls to 1 bowl of the Carnivore version. 

Buddhist Delight

1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper
1 to 2 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3 green onions cut 1" pieces
8 dried shiitake mushrooms soaked until soft, and thinly sliced
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 cup julienned bamboo shoots
1 cup sliced water chestnuts
1 15 oz can baby corn drained
1 pound snow peas
1 pound Napa cabbage cut 1" by 2" pieces
2 ounces dried bean thread noodles broken into 4" pieces,  and soaked in warm water
1 pound firm tofu cut 1" cubes
 rice of choice

In a Bowl mix Broth, Soy Sauce, Seasme Oil, Sugar, salt, and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat canola oil in wok Lodge Pro-Logic 14-Inch Cast-Iron Wok with Loop Handles or large deep skillet over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, green onions and mushrooms; stir-fry 1 minute. Add carrot, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, corn, peas and cabbage; cook about 2 minutes.

Add your bowl of liquids, cover and cook 5 minutes.

Drain noodles, and add to wok with tofu. Reduce heat to low and cook until most of sauce is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Serve as is or over Rice of your choice.

I hope you enjoy! 

And to Matt, I wish your Book the best of luck in its sales, and safe passage to you and your wife as you travel the world together and apart.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Chicken Saté over Basmati Rice

A good friend of mine asked me this past weekend about cooking "out of the box".  Making something that you just don't see on a regular bases but is appealing and looks Yummy to eat.  After thinking about it for a few moments, I realized that this is truly a challenging question.  Cooking "out of the box" can be interpreted in quite a few ways.  Make an Entree' that has exotic ingredients?  Make an Entree' that's from another country and isn't commonly seen in the states?  Make an Entree' that looks like a Salvador Dali creation?  So many directions, so little time.  I found this question quite appealing and most importantly, FUN and challenging.  Mainly because, an Apple can be common place to you and I and totally foreign to someone else.  You just never know what people have experienced in there lives and travels.

Wyoming can be a bit challenging to find those "out of the box" experiences.  I know allot of locals delight in new dishes from Asian Cuisine here in Lander.  I haven't had the pleasure of eating there as yet, but I know, and have cooked with the owner in years past, and he has never ran short of creative ideas and dishes.

Which brings me to the recipe of choice to meet this challenge posed by my good friend Marilyn.  I picked a dish I use to prepare over and over when I was a grill chef.  I have changed it quite a bit over they years to remove elements that were not to my liking and added things that I felt made the dish more Exotic, but yet not scary for the eater. 

Chicken Saté over Basmati Rice

12 (12-inch) Sugar Cane skewers
1 English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Thai green curry paste
1/4 cup well-stirred unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup well-stirred unsweetened coconut milk
4 medium (about 1 1/4 pounds) skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves , each cut diagonally into 6 strips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp packed dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno chile, seeds and membrane discarded, minced
2 cups Basmati Rice
4 cups water for Rice
Garnish Items:
Cilantro leaves (picked from stems for garnish)
sesame seeds (for garnish)

Prep: There is quite a bit of prepping to do.
Place skewers in water so they are totally covered; let soak at least 1 hour.   While skewers are soaking, in medium bowl, toss cucumber with salt; let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

In another medium bowl, stir curry paste and 1/4 cup coconut milk until combined. Add chicken and turn to coat. Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Preheat gas grill for grilling. Your goal is medium heat.

Prepare Peanut Sauce

In small bowl, with wire whisk, mix peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, ground red pepper, remaining 1/3 cup coconut milk, and 4 tablespoons hot water until blended and smooth.  You are shooting for a loose sauce, so you may need to adjust with a little more coconut milk.  I've made this hundreds of times and even though I've followed the measurements to the letter it always seem to need adjustments.
Drain cucumbers, discarding liquid in bowl. Pat cucumber dry with paper towels. Return cucumber to bowl; stir in vinegar, granulated sugar, shallots, and jalapeno; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thread 2 chicken strips on each skewer, accordion-style; discard marinade. Return to fridge until ready to grill

Prepping Basmati Rice:

First, wash the rice by putting it in a large bowl and filling it with cold water. Let the rice settle to the bottom and then pour off the water, which will be cloudy. Repeat until the water runs clear.

Next, soak the rice in the 4 cups of water. Allow the rice to soak for 1/2 hour and then drain, reserving the water for cooking.

Cooking Basmati Rice:

Place the reserved water into a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid, and bring to a boil. Add the soaked rice and stir carefully with a narrow stirring implement (so that the rice is not crushed) until the water comes to a second boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until most of the water is absorbed, about 10 to15 minutes. Cover the pan tightly and reduce heat to lowest possible level and let rice steam for 10 minutes.

Off to the Grill:

Preheat gas grill for grilling. Your goal is medium heat.

Place skewers on hot grill rack. Cover grill and cook 5 to 8 minutes or just until chicken loses its pink color throughout, turning skewers over once.

Assembling your Dish:

In a large bowl place your cooked Basmati rice in the bottom, leaving room for your veggies and your chicken.  Add your veggies on the top of your rice.  Place your skewers of chicken in bowl in a tee pee fashion. Next pour the peanut sauce very slowly over the skewers of chicken making sure to evenly coat both the chicken, veggies and rice.

Garnish 1st with your sesame seeds by sprinkling over the entire bowl and skewers, but not to heavily.  Next and finally, finish off with your Cilantro leaves by gently sprinkling the leave over the skewers so they fall like leaves.

I feel this dish meets the request for something "out of the box".  It has a strong Indonesian theme but yet has familiar but a little exotic items that wont scare people from wanting to have a taste.  I know this dish has been eaten by locals, mainly because I've made a version of this for them many times.  They have always enjoyed it and have returned to eat it time and time again.  Now my friends, you can make this at home yourself.  Change it to meet your yearnings and favorite tastes.  I know I did and I hope you do.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mudbug N Shrimp Boil

As a kid I loved to watch Justin Wilson cook Cajun style foods.  Unlike allot of people I never watched Julia Child until I was in my 20's.  I guess that may account for my philosophy in the kitchen, that one should have fun when cooking and when people are around to entertain with humor and funny stories.   In 1998 NOLS hired the restaurant that I worked at to cater a party with a Mardi Gras theme.  NOLS hired a fellow from Louisiana to come in and cook some of the old classics  and we assisted this fellow and learned much about the local fair of the Cajun people.  Etouffee, Gumbo,  King Cake, Deep fried Alligator, Stuffed Peppers, Dirty Rice, and Jambalaya and many many more.  This fellow wore regular chef attire but for shores he wore, and I will never forget, Yellow Boss Mens Rubber Leggin BootBOSS MEN'S RUBBER LEGGIN BOOT

The reason I bring this story and recipe to light from out of the blue is because a few weeks ago I opened an email asking "Do you have any recipes for Creole boiled shrimp/crawdad with red potatoes and corn cobs?"  So, I dug into my recipes and pulled out a bar napkin that I had wrote down the recipe idea on.  later years I tweaked and turned it into my own that I felt suited my tastes and desires but still didn't compromise the traditional dish.  So, I wouldn't say this is a traditional recipe, but its pretty darn close to the real deal minus the orange. Traditionally, from what I have read, the Seasoning Boil would be placed into a type of  Bouquet Garni and would consist of Mustard seed, Coriander seed, Whole Spice, Dill Seed, whole cloves, red chili peppers dried, and bay leaves. But for time and effort sakes, most restaurants use the store bought Crab Boil which is just as good.

Mudbug/Shrimp Boil

8 quarts water

1 dozen small red potatoes, scrubbed

2 large onions, unpeeled, cut in Quarters

2 Lemons, halved

2 Oranges, halved

1 Bag of Crab Boil

1 1/4 cups, plus 1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon cayenne

1 large head garlic, all cloves pealed (If I can, I buy them pre-pealed from store, but not always available)

1/2 pound andouille or kielbasa sausage

4 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut in half

5 pounds Crawfish

6 pounds Shrimp

you will need a Very large stock pot or one with a basket (I prefer the one with the basket)

Put the bag of Crab boil in the water then add potatoes, onions, lemons, orange, 1 1/4 cups of the salt, 1/4 cup of the cayenne, and the garlic in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, cover, and boil for 15 minutes.

Add the sausage, corn, crawfish, and shrimp. Using a long-handled spoon, stir around and press the contents of the pot down well into the water. Cover the pot and return to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon cayenne. Using the long-handled spoon, push down the contents in the pot. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain.

Divide the potatoes, onions, corn, and sausage into equal portions and serve with the seafood on large platters or trays.

*this will serve 4 to 6 people. If your like me, you ALWAYS want leftovers.*