Chicken Tinga Tostada with Avocado, Radish, & Lime

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

IMG_4087I am here to state my case for tostada’s. For those of of you that are unfamiliar   Wikipedia states

Tostada is a Spanish word meaning “toasted”. In Mexico and other parts of Latin America, it is the name of various local dishes which are toasted or use a toasted ingredient as the main base of their preparation. Even though the tortilla is generally fried, the meaning sticks with it.

It is basically a flat crispy taco. How can you go wrong with that? In my opinion you get more for your money, you can pile a tostada high and never worry about it ripping through the tortilla or what some call the “squeeze” when you take a bite of the taco and the fillings push through the other side and falls on the ground. Anything you put on a taco, you can arguably put on a tostada.

IMG_4065

 

Chicken Tinga is a dish original to Peubla, Mexico and is a perfect topping for tostadas. I piled my tostada this week with tinga, avocado, lettuce, radish, cheese, and lime juice. Have fun with it, try a veggie version with the black bean recipe or top it with the shrimp pico de gallo. Its perfect for a casual meal with friends… and don’t forget the tequila!

IMG_4077

Chicken Tinga

yields 3 cups or enough for 8 tostadas

6 chicken thighs
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½  teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 medium sized tomatoes
¼ of a white onion
3 garlic cloves
1 individual canned chipotle pepper, I like Embasa brand
1 dried avocado leaf, these can be found at most Mexican grocery stores
1 dried bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
1 cup chicken stock

Begin by seasoning the chicken thighs with the salt, cumin, and black pepper. Set aside. Char the tomatoes and onion over a direct flame until the skin has become charred and burnt in some places and soft in the middle. Peel the skin off of the onion and place in a blender with the tomatoes. Lightly char the garlic and remove the skin, place in the blender along with the chipotle pepper. Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chipotle until smooth. You should have around 2 ½ cups of puree.

Place a medium sized pot over medium heat and add in 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is hot add in the chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook until the skin is crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate. Pour the tomato puree into the pot and fry in the oil. Be careful some the puree might splash up when it’s added to the hot oil. Cook this mixture while stirring frequently until it has darkened in color and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Add in the avocado leaf, bay leaf, and Mexican oregano, and chicken stock. Bring mixture to a simmer and add in the chicken thighs. Cover pot with a lid, adjust the heat to low, and simmer the chicken until it is very tender, about 35 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Allow the tinga sauce to continue to simmer on low while you prepare the chicken. Remove the skin from the chicken and finely chop it, place back in the pot. Pull the meat off the chicken and shred with your fingers or a fork; place the meat back in the pot. Cook the tinga for another 10 minutes on low heat, remove the avocado and bay leaves and its ready to serve. This can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Chicken Tinga Tostadas

8 corn tortillas
3 cups canola oil
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups finely grated Mexican cheese
2 sliced avocados
4 thinly sliced radish
½ cup sour cream

In a medium saucepot heat the oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. When oil is ready add in 1 tortilla, using a large round spoon or ladle hold the tortilla under the oil to fry until it becomes golden brown and crispy, about 1 ½ minutes. Carefully remove the tortilla and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all tortillas are fried.

To assemble, place about ½ cup of the chicken tinga on a tostada shell, add as much lettuce, cheese, avocado, radish, and sour cream as you care to have. Serve with tequilla and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky Fingers

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

IMG_4050

Its been a weekend of BBQ indulgence. As some of you many know I am engaged to a southern man and he just happens to come from a BBQ family. This past weekend we were in Washington, Georgia to celebrate his families 91st consecutive family reunion, one that is celebrated by cooking pork long and slow over hot coals on a humid August day. You get in line and you get pulled pork, slaw, stew, white bread, and sweet tea. “Seasoning” or bbq sauce is in a squeeze bottle on the table and dessert is in its own special room with the finest caramel cake, ambrosia, and banana pudding you will ever see. To say the least, I do not do much talking. I eat. I eat very well. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a few pictures from the weekend.

I did not know much about BBQ before moving to the South but I am happy to say I  have been a willing and eager student. This week’s recipe is  baby back ribs with a chipotle honey sauce. Its designed for the home cook, as any pit master would scoff at oven braising,  but it combines a little indoor cooking with a little outdoor cooking making for the right amount of  smoke, flavor, and bbq to help budding pit masters find their way.

IMG_4062

Barbecued Ribs with Honey-Chipotle

2 racks of pork baby back ribs
1 cup chicken stock
BBQ Spice Rub
Honey- Chipotle BBQ Sauce
About 2 cups of soaked hickory wood chips

BBQ Spice Rub

Yields 5 tablespoons or enough for 2 racks of ribs

2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside. Will keep for up to a month.

Honey-Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Yields about 1.5 cups

¼ medium white onion, diced
1 medium garlic clove, diced
1 tablespoon bacon fat or olive oil
1 chipotle pepper, plus about 1 teaspoon worth of the adobo sauce from the can (I recommend Embasa brand)
¾ cup ketchup
¼ cup worcestershire sauce
¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of salt

In a small saucepot, heat the bacon fat or olive oil over low heat. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Place mixture into a blender and add remaining ingredients, puree until smooth. Pour mixture back into the saucepot and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste the barbecue sauce and adjust with more honey (for sweetness) or chipotle (for heat) to your preference.

To Prepare the Ribs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Season both of the racks of ribs with all of the BBQ rub. If you have time, season the night before to allow the spices and salt to penetrate into the meat, if not season them at least 1 hour before cooking. Place ribs into a pan that allows them to lie flat next to one another and that is at least 2 inches deep. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and pour into the pan with the ribs. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven, discard the foil and let cool at room temperature. When cool enough to handle remove ribs from pan and brush with the Honey-Chipotle BBQ sauce using as little or as much as you would like. I recommend about ½ cup of sauce per rack.

Prepare a charcoal grill. Burn the charcoal down until it begins to turn white, about 30 minutes or so. Scatter the soaked wood chips over the coals, and place the ribs on the grill grates. Close all grill vents to trap as much of the smoke as possible. Cook the ribs for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the ribs from the grill as to not let them fall apart. Serve and enjoy.

Here are a few pictures from this weekends BBQ!

IMG_3944

IMG_3928

IMG_3973

 

Ratatouille for Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner!

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

IMG_3875

My inspiration for this recipe comes from two distinct places.

1. Bread. I love bread. I love good bread. I do not have a large family and when dealing with really good bread from a good bakery you have a small window of time in which to eat the bread. 2 days, maybe 3 and its time to make croutons. I wanted to make recipe that makes meal out of beautiful bread.

2. RATATOUILLE! Clearly the title of this post gives away my second reason. The first time I met Ratatouille, I was introduced by Chef Eric Leroy. Eric was the Chef and Owner of Toutatis in Oakland California. It was my very first restaurant job. A true gem. Eric was from Toulouse France and cooked Brittany style galettes (savory crepes made from buckwheat flour) and sweet crepes. I was the second person in a two man kitchen. Eric cooked family recipes, one of which was ratatouille. The galette was called La Baline. It had melted gruyere cheese and a sunny up egg, the crispy buckwheat flower galette was folded into a triangle, brushed with butter and toped with ratatouille. Ratatouille to the likes I have never seen done better. It was more of a stew, not badly chopped up sad looking vegetables (look up ratatouille images on google to see what I mean). I do my best to recreate what I saw so many years ago, but all I have is my memories to work from. I owe so much of what I know about cooking to Eric.

This dish is worthy of being served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The ratatouille takes a little time, but its well worth the effort. Its perfectly in season in the South right now.

Ratatouille

Yields 4 cups

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 small bell peppers* (around 1 cup) deseeded finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, small diced
1 zucchini (around 1 ½ cups), small diced
2 cups fresh tomatoes, small diced
1 ½ cups tomato juice
½ teaspoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

In a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium- low heat. Add in onion and sweat down for two minutes. Add in bell peppers. Saute for 4-5 minutes until fully sweated down, being careful not to brown. Add in garlic and sauté 1 more minute. Remove onion mix from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Place the pan over medium heat and add 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in eggplant. Make sure the pan is large enough for the eggplant to be a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in zucchini and sauté 5 minutes. Add in tomatoes. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add in tomato juice, paprika, salt, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.Can be cooled and said for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner Ratatouille For One

1 thick slice of bread
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
1 basil leaf torn
Ratatouille, as much or as little as you like

In a pan heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add slice of bread. Heat until golden brown, flip and repeat. Set aside on a plate. Heat cast iron pan or non stick pan over medium low heat with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Add egg and cook to sunny up, around 4 minuets.

To plate spoon warmed ratatouille over bread. Top with sunny up egg and torn basil. Finish with a little drizzle of olive oil.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

My Favorite Tomato Salad

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

IMG_3596

There is something about this salad. Every summer, this pops up on my menus. Little details about it might change, but I can not get enough of this salad once summertime roles around. It’s life did not start in a restaurant. This is one of those gems that was first made at home about 3 years ago. There is hardly any cooking needed… with the exception of the okra. The okra is sliced paper thin on a mandoline and then quickly fried. No slime remains, just perfectly crisp okra which works great with tomatoes. This is a technique worth learning.

Tomato & Okra Salad

Yields 4 Servings

10 oz fresh summer tomatoes*
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon of benne seed or sesame seed, toasted
crispy okra
1/4 cup of yogurt dressing
arugula or watercress to garnish
sea salt to finish

For the Yogurt Dressing
Yields 2 cups
1# whole milk plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika

In a bowl add yogurt, salt, coriander, cumin, and paprika. Whisk together. Can be saved for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

For the Crispy Okra
Yields 4 portions
15 medium sized okra
1 qt neutral frying oil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt

In a small to medium sized pot heat the oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim the top pieces off of the okra. Carefully slice the okra long ways on a mandoline, one piece at a time, as thin as you can while keeping the pieces intact. It’s easiest if you hold the okra in place with just your index and middle finger and push the okra with the thicker cut end leading. It’s also a good idea to only slice about ¾ of the okra before moving to the next piece; this should keep your fingers a little safer. When all okra is sliced and oil is ready, carefully drop half of the okra into the oil and stir with a wire mesh strainer to prevent the okra from sticking to one another. The okra is done when the bubbles have subsided and the white part of the okra has turned golden brown, about 3 minutes. Scoop the okra out of the oil and allow it to drain for a few seconds, and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat process with remaining okra. Season the okra with a pinch of salt. The okra will stay crispy for 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

To Assemble to Salad:
Spoon the yogurt dressing along the bottom of the plate. Arrange sliced tomatoes over the yogurt dressing. Season the tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the tomatoes. Layer a few leaves of arugula or watercress. Put a nice big pile of crispy okra over the top and finish with benne seed. Serve immediately.

*Any size works, big heirlooms sliced, sun golds cut in half. Just look for the best quality tomato in the peak of their season.

The Primal Ingredient- Grilling

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

IMG_3562

“Ideally you grill steak over a wood fire that has burned down to glowing red hot coals, the smoke perfuming the meat. Sizzling beef fat dripping on wood coals is a primal ingredient that has stayed with humans since we first discovered grilling.” Ben

Line cooks like to talk. It is easy to understand why. For a large part of the day you stand in a kitchen and prep food. Conversation can run the gamut from absurd to philosophical. Sometimes, the same questions will show up in different restaurants. One of my favorite questions is “If you could have any piece of equipment for the kitchen what would you want?” My answer is always the same, a wood grill. There is nothing, nothing that can compare to the flavor that wood and charcoal add to a dish. It is a game changer. I often dream of selling everything and running away to Patagonia to join Francis Mallmann’s pack of culinary gypsies, learning to cook the techniques of “seven fires”. Considering this fact, unsurprisingly, I love chimichurri. Chimichurri is a sauce said to have originated in Argentina and has an acidic punch that cuts through the fat of a good steak. It is arguably a perfect summer sauce to use because it requires no cooking.

Alas, I do not yet have a wood grill in my professional kitchen, but I have one parked outside the kitchen door, close enough that I use it on a regular basis. This recipe is easy and satisfying. If you want to cook it indoors on a cast iron, go for it. But there is something about getting outside and simply cooking over an open fire that reveals what good food is all about.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri

Yields 2 Servings

For the Seasoning Blend
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin

For the Chimichurri
Yields 1½ cups
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cloves garlic
1 shallot
1 poblano pepper or 1 small red bell pepper*, seeds removed, finely diced
¼ cup cilantro, minced
¼ cup parsley, minced
2 tablespoons oregano, minced
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Wood Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
12 oz skirt steak
seasoning blend
olive oil
coarse sea salt

For the Seasoning Blend:
Mix all of the ingredients together. Seat aside. Yields enough for one 12 oz skirt steak.

For the Chimichurri:
The trick to making a good chimichurri is to take your time with your knife work and use a nice olive oil. In a bowl mix red wine vinegar and salt. Finely mince the garlic and shallot. Add the minced garlic, shallot, and finely diced pepper to the vinegar mix. Use poblano pepper for a little more heat, sub out red bell if you want the chimichurri to be mild. Add in cilantro, parsley, oregano, and olive oil. Mix together and set aside. Best used the day you make it, but will hold in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For the Grilled Steak:
Prepare your grill to an even high heat, this will give the steak a nice crust while keeping all the juice and moisture trapped inside. If you are using a gas grill, you know what to do. If you are using charcoal or wood and need help, see below. While the grill is heating up rub the steak with about a tablespoon of olive oil and season both sides with the entire amount of seasoning blend. Set aside for 10 minuets, giving time for the salt and spices to absorb into the meat.

When the grill is ready, lightly oil the grates with olive oil. Place steak on grill and allow both sides to get a good sear, about 2 minutes per side.

Skirt steak cooks quickly because of how thin it is. Each piece of steak will be different so there is no set cooking time, you will have to rely on your culinary intuition. Skirt steak is best when served med-rare to medium, but if you prefer it well done go for it, this is your steak after all.

When you remove your steak let it rest for 5 minutes. Your steak will only take a few minutes to grill and you will have all of these beautiful coals still hot so I recommend grilling some vegetables to go with it.

To finish, slice steak against the grain. Top with 2 tablespoons of chimichurri and a pinch of coarse sea salt. Have a little extra chimichurri on the side as needed. Enjoy!

*If using charcoal, I recommend using a chimney starter filled with natural lump hardwood charcoal. Crumble up some newspaper in the bottom and light on fire. It will probably take about 15 minutes until the charcoal is fully burning, at this point dump contents into grill and allow the grill grates to heat over the coals before grilling. If you are using a wood grill, you probably already know how to build a fire, if not email me and I will walk you through it. Just make sure if you are using charcoal or wood that the fire is cooked down to coals, this will give a more even heat and will give off a more clean and pure tasting flavor.

 

 

 

Ben’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

IMG_3508

 

I am from California and Ben is from Georgia. I move fast, he moves slow. I am big picture, he is precision and detail. We come from two different worlds. This is the true story of how buttermilk biscuits brought us together.

In the early days of my career, I was a day prep cook at a restaurant in Athens, Georgia. Ben was a Pastry Chef there. It was a relatively small kitchen so there would be a few days early in the week when it was just the two of us, working and talking. We talked a lot. We developed a strong friendship. Every Sunday brunch, Ben was responsible for making buttermilk biscuits. When he had the dough laid out on the prep table, I would walk by and punch it. Once, just once. It was my contribution to the finest biscuits served in Athens. It became a ritual for us. After the biscuits were baked, Ben would offer me one. Warm, fresh from the oven biscuits with butter are out of this world. Soon, Ben started making my biscuits more elaborate. One week it would have melted pimento cheese. The next week, maybe country ham and a fried egg. He would wrap them in foil and pass them across the line to me before service began. I loved those biscuits. I used to tell him that if he made biscuits for me everyday, I might have to marry him.

IMG_3524Well, I don’t eat biscuits every day but we are engaged to be married. I don’t make biscuits. I can’t. I won’t. You see, the only biscuits I want to eat are the ones that Ben makes for me. So if you see them on our menu, you can bet that I punched the dough, but that they are made with love by Ben.

This is his recipe. The recipe is simple, but its all about technique.

Ben’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Yields- about 24

8 cups flour plus an additional 1 cup
4 tablespoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of kosher salt
1 pound unsalted butter plus an additional 3 tablespoons
3 ½ cups whole buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Using a box grater, grate 1 pound of butter into a dish or bowl. You want your butter to be very cold so place into the freezer while you gather the rest of the ingredients. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together 8 cups of flour and the baking powder. Add in salt and mix together. When butter is very cold and hard, about 10 minutes in the freezer, add it all at once to the flour. Using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of small pebbles. Add in buttermilk and use your hands to gently bring the dough together. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured table or countertop and lightly dust with about half of the reserved 1 cup of flour. Knead dough just till it comes together, careful not to overwork it as this will make for tough biscuits. Lightly dust a rolling pin with some of the reserved flour and begin rolling out the dough until it is uniformly 1 inch thick. Next you will fold the dough to create air pockets, this will give the biscuits beautiful flaky layers. Fold the dough in half top to bottom, lightly roll out dough and fold in half again, this time from side to side. Roll the dough out to a uniformly 1 inch thickness.

Use a 3 inch biscuit cutter to stamp out the biscuits. Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. With the remaining dough scraps, form back into a ball and roll out to 1 inch thickness. Stamp out more biscuits. Any remaning dough scraps can be discarded, by now too much gluten has developed. Melt the reserved 3 tablespoons of butter and brush the tops of the biscuits. This will help give them a lovely golden brown color. Bake biscuits for 15-17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

*You can also freeze the unbaked biscuits for another time. Place on a tray and freeze until solid, then package in Ziploc bags. You don’t need to thaw before cooking, simply place frozen biscuits on a tray and bake. They may take a little longer to bake, around 20 minutes.

 

Rooster’s Beak

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

IMG_3487

 

Ok, take a moment. Look at the picture. Think about it. No, I have not gone all Andrew Zimmern on you and started eating rooster beak. Welcome to my favorite summer condiment, Pico de Gallo. Pico de Gallo literally translates from Spanish to English as Rooster’s Beak. There is no clear reason I can find. Some say that it used to be eaten with your hands, and given that the vegetables are diced up fairly small, it would take several attempts to grab enough similar to the pecking action of a rooster’s beak. I can’t imagine this would be an easy way to eat pico. But one fact is known about this stuff, there is no better time of the year to whip up a batch then right now. Its so easy. It takes 10 minuets to make.

The recipe I have laid out below was inspired by a dish I had in Oaxaca City at one of my all time favorite restaurants, Zanduga. Here they cook food inspired by the Isthmus region of Oaxaca. At Zanduga they serve a pico de gallo with tiny little river shrimp mixed in and serve it along side a traditional clay oven baked masa called totopo. So simple and so good.

Fry up some tortilla chips and eat as a snack or pile on top of a tostada with a little lettuce and hot sauce and you have a meal.

Shrimp Pico de Gallo

Yields 4 cups

8 oz headed, peeled, deveined shrimp
1 lb. 8 oz best quality summer tomatoes, small dice
3 small jalapeño, deseeded and small dice
1/2 small white onion, small dice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
2 teaspoons salt

For the shrimp, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add shrimp. Poach for 1-2 minuets. Strain from boiling water and shock in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Once cooled, remove from ice bath. Cut the shrimp in 1/4 in think slices. Set aside.

For the pico de gallo, in a bowl add diced tomatoes, jalapeño, white onion, lime juice, and salt. Mix together. Add in diced shrimp and cilantro. Cover and set aside. Allow flavors to marry for at least 15 minuets. Serve.

 

Millions of Peaches… Peaches for Me…

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

IMG_3431

Its peach season in the south. For a short period of time we Georgia folk get to revel in our iconic image as the The Peach State (although, truth be told we should probably be the blueberry state…). Now, finding a good peach is hard work. These days if you walk into a grocery store you are more likely to find tart, shriveled, sad little jet lagged fruits that taste fairly bland. Unless you are lucky enough to live down the street from a peach orchard I high recommend perusing one of two options.

The Peach Truck: I heard a rumor from some Nashville folk that Georgia peaches (the real, true, juicy, sweet peaches we like to keep to ourselves) were being sold and consumed by the ton in Tennessee! Amazing and true The Peach Truck was born out of love story of a Georgia boy sharing sweet Georgia peaches with his wife from the North. The Peach Truck will be traveling through several states this summer sharing the joy of a summer peach, check and see if they are visiting your town or order online.

Pearson Peaches: Go straight to the source. I come from the Atlanta school of Chefs which, among other things, taught me the importance of Pearson Peaches. This is a fifth generation family farm located in Fort Valley Georgia. They grow peaches that taste like summer. Tell Jennifer that Whitney from Greyfield Inn sent you!

Summer Peach Crostata

Yields 2- 8 inch tarts

For the dough
3 1/3 cups AP Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of cold butter
2 eggs
4 tbsp sugar

For the filling
2 pounds of peaches
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
2.5 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cold butter

For the dough:
In a bowl mix AP flour and salt. Cut cold butter in cubes and add in flour. Using your hands, incorporate the cold butter into the flour until the flour begins to take on a sand like consistency. Add in sugar. Set aside. Separate your eggs, yolks in one bowl and whites in another. Reserve white for later. Mix egg yolks with 4 tablespoons of water. Add in the flour mix. Work the dough into a smooth ball. Be careful not to overwork your dough, this will make it tough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 15 to 20 minuets to rest.

For the filling:
Peel and deseed the peaches. Cut into slices. In a bowl mix peaches, lemon juice, cinnamon, cornstarch, and sugar.

To make the Crostata:
On a floured surface roll out dough. It tends to stick so use lots of flour. Roll it to about 1/8 inch thick or about 12 inches around. Pile peach filling into the center of the dough leaving a 3 inch border. Brush the border with the egg whites. Gently fold the edge of the dough over the fruit. Dot the fruit with the butter. Brush the outside of the tart with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minuets or until the crust is golden brown and cooked through. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Serve for dessert or, as I prefer,  for breakfast with a cup of earl grey.

 

 

Florida’s Little Black Dress

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

IMG_3373

Smoked fish dip is the little black dress of dinner parties in South Florida…” -Wendy Donahue, The Chicago Tribune

To be honest, it took me time to understand and appreciate Smoked “Fish” Dip. When I came across them, early in my career, I wrote them off as dated and cliche. In my defense, the few I had been exposed to were not great, big chunks of red onion, bland, just plain boring. My moment of clarity came from experiencing the dish done well in the hands of a talented Chef. Vinny Dotolo is a famed California Chef, by way of Florida. He is a partner in Animal, Son of a Gun, and Trois Mec. One night in Oxford Mississippi, as so many magical food stories begin thanks to the SFA, I ate smoked gulf mullet dip with hushpuppies. The stars and the heavens aligned! Delicious…Amazing!

This experience, combined with my ever growing love of the mystical and  sometimes southern state known as Florida has led me to create my own version. Feel free to try this recipe with various types of smoked fish. Watch your seasoning, various types of smoked fish will have equally varied salt content. Note that the recipe below does not call for salt because the fish I use is very well seasoned. Whip up this recipe the next time you find yourself invited to a Floridian house party

Smoked Trout Dip

Yeilds 4 Servings

6 oz smoked trout
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced scallion
½ tsp minced dill
½ tsp lemon zest
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp sour cream
½ tsp lemon juice

Heat olive oil in small sauté pan over med-low heat. Add in shallot and garlic. Sweat down for 2- 3 minuets being careful not to brown. Set aside. In a mixing bowl add your trout, gently breaking it apart with your hands. Add in scallion, dill, lemon zest, mayonnaise, sour cream, and lemon juice. Add in your shallot and garlic. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat for 20-30 seconds on low until fully incorporated. Alternatively, vigorously mix with a spoon for same results. Enjoy with crackers, toasted bread, or hushpuppies… and a cold beer.

 

 

Pancakes… For The One You Love

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

IMG_3305

Waking up too early
Maybe we can sleep in
Make you banana pancakes
Pretend like it’s the weekend now
– Jack Johnson

The Origin Story: In 2010 I moved to Cumberland Island… the first time. It was here that I took my first Executive Chef job and I loved it. Living on a semi-tropical island, having a national seashore a 5 minute bike ride from my front door, amazing sunsets, tropical breezes. You get the picture. When you live in this type of environment you also begin to fully embrace a certain type of life style. Suddenly Jimmy Buffet songs make sense, you begin to consider buying a Panama hat, socks are no longer needed. I say all this so that you can understand  and appreciate that, yes, this recipe was in fact inspired by the Jack Johnson song “Banana Pancakes”. I am sorry if this is cheesy, but its true. Ben worked up this recipe years ago as a treat for me and an ode to this song. This recipe has stayed with us and was a favorite item on the brunch menu at Cinco y Diez. Most recently we started adding cornmeal to the recipe. If you are a Cinco fan and want to have them the original way, just sub out the cornmeal and replace with AP flour. We like to serve ours with butter, maple syrup, and whipped clabber cream.

Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes

Yields – 10, four-inch pancakes
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 cup cornmeal
1 egg
4 tbsp butter melted (half a stick of butter)
1 very ripe banana
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk

Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add salt, cornmeal, and sugar to the flour mixture. Stir to combine.Set aside. Melt the butter over low heat in a small sauce pan. Place the banana, vanilla extract, buttermilk, and egg into a blender and puree. While blender is on, pour in melted butter to incorporate with the buttermilk. Pour wet ingredients into the flour/cornmeal mixture all at once. Using a rubber spatula gently fold the ingredients together. The mixture will have small to medium lumps in it. Do not over mix, it will make your pancakes tough.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium low heat. When pan is hot, add 1 tbsp of butter to the pan. Using a scoop or a ladle, drop 4 oz of the batter into the pan. When the tops of the pancakes have small bubbles and the edges begin to slightly brown, flip them over (about 2 minutes). Cook 1 minute, making sure the pancake is cooked through. Place pancakes on a plate and cover with a towel. Repeat process until the batter is finished. Serve, in bed… on a tray… to the one you love.