Friday, October 26, 2012

A Great Recipe

1. Take a 10 to 30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to God about what is going on in your life. Buy a lock if you have to.
3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today. I am thankful for______________'
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
 6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
9. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
11. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
12. You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
17. Forgive everyone for everything.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. GOD heals everything - but you have to ask Him.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will stay in touch.
22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You'll be smiling before you know it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mexican Lasagna

(Yield: 8 Servings)

 16 corn tortillas
1 cup Marinara sauce
2 cups whole kernel corn
2 cups black beans, cooked
2 cups pinto beans, cooked
1 cup Garbanzo beans, cooked
3 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Kosher Salt
Southwestern Seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper
Sour cream (optional)
Scallions, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the tortillas by soaking them in hot water until they are slightly soft.
Coat the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch pan with about ¼ of the Marinara sauce.
Spread four tortillas down on top of the sauce in the pan.
Top the tortillas with about ¼ of the corn, beans and cheese.
Season to taste with salt, southwest seasoning, and pepper.
Place four more tortillas on top and repeat with the toppings.
After you have four layers spread the remaining Marinara sauce on top.
Finish by topping with more cheese.
Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes.
Serve topped with sour cream and chopped scallions

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chefs and the Charcuterie Gap

By Cathy Barrow, Published: May 8 “Move with purpose, not to impress,” the chef begins his tutorial.   “A smooth arc, slicing in a clean motion. Move the knife away from yourself, to the right of your hip.” Exposing the pig’s shoulder, teasing a flexible blade against the bone, Jason Story sets his feet just so. To his left stands a tentative, wide-eyed, would-be apprentice.

It’s after-hours on a weeknight in early April at Three Little Pigs Charcuterie & Salumi, the new charcuterie in Petworth. Yet its spotless, cool workroom below hums with activity. The 27-year-old chef, who opened the small shop in March with his fiancee, chef Carolina Gomez, is midway through breaking down a 200-pound Old Spot from Evensong Farm in Sharpsburg, Md.

After the evening’s work, Story will spend days and weeks smoking, salting and curing pork and making sausage, as many of the world’s cultures have done for centuries. Although Story graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and has worked in more than a dozen restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, learning how to butcher a whole animal and how to transform its parts into these traditional foods was not part of his training. Those are skills he has learned on his own.

 “Nobody, not once, showed me how to do this,” he says, wiping the blade of his knife with a clean towel.

 While restaurant chefs enhance their menus with house-made, artisanal meats, culinary schools are just beginning to respond with the broader kind of training required. Most of the schools in the States educate students on the cuts of meat, portioning and buying, as well as garde manger, literally “keep to eat,” which includes pâtés and fresh sausages. But one chef said that a chicken was the only animal he learned to break down at culinary school; another said about 31 / 2 hours were devoted to learning those familiar charts of meat cuts.

Neither charcuterie nor whole-animal butchery garner much, if any, class time. At the CIA, certain instructors are known to add to the prescribed curriculum here and there. Should a group of students wish to study charcuterie, for example, they are likely to learn through experimentation as part of an unofficial “club,” with a faculty adviser looking on. When there is no such club, student chefs are left to create their own opportunities. And those, due to economics and demand, are few and far between.

There is an almost palpable need for comprehensive butchery education in this country. Smaller culinary schools, such as the Seattle Culinary Academy, are infinitely more nimble in responding to this, but budgetary restrictions limit their ability. Larger schools remain unable to significantly alter their long-established culinary curriculum without committee meetings and oversight. Chefs interviewed for this story who employ whole-animal butchery in their restaurants receive constant requests from new graduates and line chefs to assist, to work, to watch the butchery in action.

Read the complete story here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

From "Baby Gangster" to Aclaimed Pastry Chef

Edward Martinez gently places a chocolate orb in the center of a white bowl. To the touch, this confection is hard and impeccably smooth, like a small eight ball.

 His right hand, emblazoned with a skull tattoo, holds a small ladle of warmed chocolate-infused milk. He drizzles the liquid over the orb, accompanied by chocolate streusel and toasted hazelnuts. It soon breaks open, revealing a sumptuous filling of hazelnut and milk chocolate pudding, mixed with more crispy bits of chocolate and hazelnut.  "I like making pretty food," Martinez said. "The first thing you do is eat with your eyes. You want it to be beautiful. If the flavors work, it brings that whole dish together."

Martinez serves as executive pastry chef of Hawks in Granite Bay, which specializes in seasonal ingredients and is among the region's finest restaurants. Even in a chocolate-stained apron, Martinez doesn't look like a guy you'd want to mess with. He stands over 6 feet tall with a shaved head and a black widow spider on the back of his neck. His body is an evolving canvas of tattoos, some of which hark back to a past that he's since left behind: membership in one of California's most notorious street gangs.

Learning to make pastries may have saved Martinez's life, or at least spared him a stretch in the state penitentiary. In 2005, facing three felony charges, Martinez promised to enroll in a pastry-making program, leading to a reduced sentence – and perhaps a last chance at an honest life.

Martinez's Facebook photos show a collage of the sweet and a bitter taste of his past. There's a shot of his moelloux of white chocolate, compressed mandarins, pistachio macaron and mandarin sorbet; an "I heart foie gras" T-shirt sported by his baby son; and the casket of one of Martinez's homeboys from his Fresno gang days being lowered into the earth.

"I never expected to get this far," said Martinez, who recently turned 27. "I expected … (to be) in jail, or dead."

Now, Martinez surrounds himself with sugars, ripe seasonal fruits and delicate desserts. He's devouring "Modernist Cuisine," the six-volume book of cutting-edge cooking techniques. His repertoire at Hawks includes nitrogen-frozen chocolate mousse with gianduja crémeux and hazelnut pudding.

"He's the best working pastry chef I've seen," said Pajo Bruich, midtown's Lounge ON20 executive chef, known for his complex cooking techniques. "Hands down, nobody in the Sacramento market is doing the creative elements he's doing."

The rise of Baby Gangster

Baby Gangster was always ready to fight.

That's what the Bulldogs gang members called Martinez, after he was "jumped into" the gang at age 13.
"I was at the homeboy's house, in the backyard," Martinez recalled, between sips of coffee at a midtown Sacramento cafe. "I'm telling them, 'I want to be in. This is what I want. I want to be a Bulldog.' And they said, 'OK, let's do it.' They beat me up for about 30 seconds. It's weird. You're beating up your friend so they can hang out with you. I got "FRESNO" tattooed across my chest about six months after that."

The Bulldogs have few friends, except for those also inked with the dog paws and "BD" tattoos. Bulldogs are recognized as a violent California gang, based primarily in Fresno. Law enforcement estimates the gang has more than 6,000 members. The Bulldogs, who take the name and logo from the mascot at California State University, Fresno, have no allies and no leadership structure. Crips, Bloods, Norteño and Sureño gangs are all sworn Bulldogs enemies.

Both of Martinez's older brothers were Bulldogs; so were other close family members. One cousin was nicknamed "Big Gangster," while an older brother was "Lil Gangster." Baby Gangster Martinez was "Baby G" for short – and had it tattooed into his left forearm.

He said his turf was on the east side of Fresno, where he claimed "Mariposa Street Gangsters" – or, "MSG" for short. He'd moved there from San Jose at the age of 9, about two years after his mother, Theodora, died in a car accident. He said he still thinks of her baking in the kitchen, surrounded by the smells of sugar and frosting.

His father, Joe Martinez, said his son didn't cope well after her death. The elder Martinez, who earned an economics degree from Stanford University, had hoped his four children would get educations, but his wife's death fractured the family spirit.

"With Edward, he kept a lot inside and started getting into trouble at school," said Joe Martinez. "Prior to that, he was doing excellent in school."

Baby Gangster developed a taste for stealing. He was charged and later convicted in 2004 with grand theft for stealing $2,000 worth of DVD players and other merchandise from a Blockbuster Video.

In April 2005, while at a Fresno fast food restaurant, Baby Gangster thought someone looked at his girlfriend the wrong way. He attacked, punched the victim and fled. According to documents in Fresno Superior Court, the victim identified his attacker as a gang member because of his tattoos.

The victim and two witnesses picked Edward Martinez out of a photo lineup. Martinez was already on parole for the second-degree burglary at Blockbuster. Baby Gangster went on the run for more than three weeks.

He knew he couldn't hide forever.

"I finally got tired of running and went to my dad's house," said Martinez. "I knew they were going to get me there. When they came to the door, there were cops everywhere. I was going to jail."

Read the rest of the story here.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Must-Have Gadgets for the Kitchen? Think Again

by William Grimes

EVERY kitchen has one. The ingenious asparagus peeler. The automatic paper-towel dispenser. The whiz-bang electric pepper grinder. 

These are the tools that Gail Simmons, a judge on the Bravo series “Top Chef” and the author of “Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater,” calls “the skeletons in the kitchen closet.” Unlike the preposterous gadgets that turn up uninvited beneath the Christmas tree, they were purchased with enthusiasm and high culinary expectations. Now they languish in the drawer or take up space on the counter, where they eventually die of neglect. 

Sometimes the fault lies with the equipment, which is too often overengineered, overdesigned or overspecific. Does anyone really need a kitchen torch with a fuel gauge or a miniature circular saw for cutting pizza? 

Just as often, the buyer is to blame, a victim of unrealistic expectations. The kitchen can be a realm of fantasy, after all, and even seasoned professionals can be seduced by a sexy piece of equipment, especially if it has an exotic accent. 

“When you travel you get caught up in the moment, and taken with the idea that in this particular place a certain tool is really important,” said Christopher Koetke, the vice president of the school of culinary arts at Kendall College in Chicago. 

Fifteen years ago, on a trip to Italy, he bought an automatic polenta maker. Italians use them all the time, but Mr. Koetke has not gotten around to plugging his in. His trips to Japan have yielded nearly a dozen handmade knives, purchased at great expense in tiny shops. Most are in mint condition. “The truth is, only if you’re slicing fish for sushi and sashimi eight hours a day is the investment worth it,” he said. 

Jack Bishop, the editorial director of America’s Test Kitchen, the parent company of Cook’s Illustrated, still regards the French escargot tongs in his kitchen in Sag Harbor, N.Y., with puzzlement. Likewise his authentic Mexican molcajetes.  “I suppose they serve the purpose of reminding me of that wonderful time I spent in Oaxaca,” he said. 

There’s something about a kitchen tool suited to a single task that casts an irresistible spell for many cooks. The Williams-Sonoma catalog, to cite a highly visible example, is a Venusberg of culinary charms, but temptation lurks everywhere.

Dennis Nyback, a film archivist in Portland, Ore., bought a commercial butter slicer at a thrift store. At the time, it seemed like a brilliant acquisition. “It was green enameled metal with stainless blades and had a sort of mass guillotine action,” he said. “A solid one-pound block of butter could be made into a few dozen pats with one fell swoop. I didn’t expect it to change my life, but I did expect that if I ever encountered a one-pound block of butter I would be prepared. That day never came.”

It never does. Meredith Smith, an editor of the food blog Serious Eats, once invested in a pasta-drying rack but has managed to avoid setting it up in her kitchen in Somerville, Mass. “I just don’t make fresh pasta enough to merit a drying rack,” she said. “I’d rather use the back of a chair.”

Julia Collin Davison, of Natick, Mass., the executive food editor of the book department of America’s Test Kitchen, had high hopes for her salmon poacher. They were dashed. “They’re troublesome to work with,” she said. “It’s an odd-shaped piece of equipment that straddles two burners. I’m married to a fishmonger, so I have access to the best, and still I don’t use it.” 

Sara Moulton, a cookbook writer and the host of the PBS series “Sara’s Weeknight Meals,” bought a pressure cooker 15 years ago and soon became disenchanted. High-heat, high-intensity cooking robbed food of nutrients, a knowledgeable colleague advised. Not good. Then fear crept in as she considered the explosive potential of the device in her Manhattan kitchen. “I always told my viewers, ‘This is not your grandmother’s pressure cooker,’ but it still made me nervous. I kept worrying that starch might build up in the vent hole and clog it.” It went into early retirement. “I hold on to it just in case,” she said. “But I really don’t think I’m going to use it again.” 

Ms. Simmons of “Top Chef” acquired the skeletons in her kitchen closet by badly miscalculating the realities of her daily schedule. In pursuing the perfect cup of coffee — just one cup each morning — she acquired a professional-grade espresso maker and a stove-top drip coffee maker for Vietnamese coffee. 

Unfortunately, she forgot to consider the end user. “It’s sad, but the truth is, I almost never make coffee at home,” she said. The dazzling coffee makers are now culinary sculptures in her Manhattan kitchen. 

That quest for the transcendent cup led Sarah McColl, the food editor of the Shine blog on Yahoo, to buy several generations of milk frothers, including a hand-pump model and at least two electrics, before facing facts.

Read the complete article here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recipe: Loaded Potato Soup

by request, here's the recipe for my version of Loaded Potato Soup:

(Yield: 8 servings)

¼ cup Vegetable oil

2 cups small diced yellow onions

8 cloves garlic, minced

4 Tablespoons All purpose flour

2 quarts vegetable stock or water

2 cups dry white wine

1½ Tablespoons dried thyme

3 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 bay leaves

2 cups heavy whipping cream (may substitute half and half or milk to reduce fat content)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For Garnish:

Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Sour cream

Bacon, cooked and chopped

Scallions, sliced

In a heavy stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat

Add the onions and sauté until soft, around five minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté one minute
Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.

Control heat so that the flour does not brown.

Add the stock and wine, whisking to make sure lumps do not form.

Add potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Lower heat and simmer slowly for two hours.

Remove from the heat, remove bay leaves, and stir in whipping cream.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To serve, ladle hot soup into a serving bowls.

Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, bacon, and scallions.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vegan Chef Wows with Meatless Meals

By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) - For chef Chloe Coscarelli preparing vegan meals is more about being creative and adding variety with new ingredients and flavors than simply not using animal products in her recipes.

Coscarelli, who stopped eating meat while still a child, is a classically trained chef who shot to fame after winning the U.S. cooking TV competition "Cupcake Wars" in 2010, after impressing the judges with a variety of vegan cupcakes.

In her first cookbook "Chloe's Kitchen" the 24-year-old California-based chef dishes up 125 recipes and proves that vegan food can be exciting, delicious and creative, as well as healthy.

Q: What made you decide to become a vegan chef?
A: "My love for animals inspired me to choose a vegan way of eating and cooking. But once I went to college I just decided I wanted to intern in a restaurant and learn more creative ways to prepare vegan food because a lot of the old-fashioned notions are that it is dry or bland or boring. It was my mission to break those stereotypes and find delicious creative ways of eating vegan."

Q: How do you dispel the belief that a vegan diet is bland?
A: "For me as a chef, flavor is the most important thing. It is not so much about taking away ingredients and making this a restrictive diet, but instead opening it up to more creative possibilities and adding more flavors and relying on a more varied array of produce and vegetables and spices and herbs. And it is really making sure that no flavor is sacrificed when you are taking out the animal fat."

Q: How difficult is it to cook without butter and milk and cheese?
A: "It is much easier that you think. With just a couple of tricks you can veganize almost any traditional recipe. For example, when I make my cupcakes I rely on a very simple technique, and that is using just a couple teaspoons of vinegar in the batter. I know that sounds disgusting and I promise you won't taste the vinegar actually in the cupcake. It is just a chemical trick. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda and it binds the cupcake and makes it rise, so it replaces the egg. That is an extremely reliable technique."

Q: What are the main sources of protein in a vegan diet?
A: "It has been proven that vegetarians and vegans actually consume more proteins than people who follow a traditional diet because if you are following a healthful vegan diet you are eating vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, all these different sources that you may have never consumed before and they are packed with proteins."

Q: How do you develop most of your recipes?
A: "I have been cooking for a while. My mom is the one who taught me how to cook before my whole family was vegetarian, and we took a lot of old family recipes and actually veganized them. We used some simple techniques that I developed to make them vegan. I like to get a lot of my inspiration from things that are not vegan and turn them vegan."

Q: What would you advise to someone who is thinking about switching to a vegan diet?

Read the chef's answer and the rest of the interview here

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chile Pepper Institute Studies What's Hot

By Monika Joshi, USA TODAY

John Hard, owner of CaJohn Fiery Foods, was not expecting to strike any deals when he visited New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute six years ago.

But what started as a kind gesture — creating a hot sauce and donating some proceeds to the institute — turned into a collaboration that is a key ingredient in his company's success. Located in Las Cruces, the Chile Pepper Institute is a non-profit, science-based organization dedicated to everything chile pepper. It conducts research on disease resistance, higher yield and better flavor of the crop. It also fields hundreds of questions a week from growers, producers, researchers and home gardeners.

 "We get a huge range of questions, from fertilizer for a specific variety to culinary questions about what type of chile pepper is used in what dish," says Danise Coon, senior research specialist.

In 2007, the institute declared the Bhut Jolokia the world's hottest pepper, and Guinness World Records certified it. Upon hearing the news, a few others claimed there was an even hotter chile, prompting many in the spice industry to ask the institute to settle the dispute. "I received at least 500 e-mails about this alone," says institute director Paul Bosland, a renowned pepper expert and professor at New Mexico State.


In February, the institute proclaimed the Moruga Scorpion the hottest chile pepper in the world, and already, the title has proven a draw for chile enthusiasts and the spice industry. Hard has created a salsa and hot sauce using the pepper, and the institute has sold out of seeds.

For the study, Bosland and his team planted several super-hot varieties of chile peppers, including the Moruga Scorpion and Scorpion, native to Trinidad; the 7 Pot and the Chocolate 7 Pot, hailing from Tobago; and the Bhut Jolokia, found in Assam, India. Ground-up samples of each variety were run through a high-performance liquid chromatography machine that counted capsaicinoids, the heat-causing chemical compound unique to chile peppers. A mathematical formula was then used to generate a number in Scoville heat units (SHU), which translates to heat intensity.

The Moruga Scorpion rated up to 2 million SHU, unseating Bhut Jolokia, which can be as hot as 1.58 million SHU. During handling, researchers wore gas masks, goggles, full-body Tyvek suits and two layers of latex gloves. Still, the Moruga Scorpion's heat seeped through to their hands, says graduate student Gregory Reeves, who was a part of the study.

For most chile lovers, including Bosland, a small sampling of the Moruga Scorpion was all they needed.

Read the complete story here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Army Wife, Dietitian Urges Healthy Food for Kids

- Associated Press

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Kim Milano is the wife of the general who runs the Army's largest training post, but she's also known on Fort Jackson as the woman who teaches second-graders how to cook "roasted monster brains."

"The kids just loved it," Milano said with a laugh, describing her cooking demonstration for roasting cauliflower.
The 53-year-old pediatric dietitian has spent two years at this military installation in South Carolina helping military families learn to cook and eat healthy food.

"I tell people that if they eat better, they will feel better, and they will be able to handle stress better," she said.
Milano has taken her passion around the globe while raising two boys and managing 17 moves during her husband's 33-year military career. Repeat moves, last-minute, no-notice deployments and life on military bases often far from large cities means many military spouses find it difficult to maintain any kind of full- or part-time job, let alone a career.

Milano said she has been able to work or volunteer at various military schools and local hospitals during their many moves, so she has kept abreast of research and trends in her field and maintained her accreditation.

"Parents are much more willing to change for their children than for themselves, so I've focused on kids as much as I could," she said.

Her message of proper nutrition and eating is timely, given the military's health issues and budget concerns.
The Department of Defense reports that nearly a quarter of entry-level candidates for military service are too overweight to serve or make it through their first enlistment. And medical care related to excess weight and obesity is costing the Defense Department $1.1 billion a year.

Earlier this month, first lady Michelle Obama joined Pentagon officials at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas to introduce a program to serve more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dishes in military dining halls. It is the military's first major attempt in 20 years to help its men and women, their families and retirees make better nutrition choices, said Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

Fort Jackson, located outside Columbia in central South Carolina, is the largest of the Army's basic training bases, with more than 60,000 soldiers annually attending its schools and courses. More than half the Army's female soldiers are trained there.

On the post, Milano holds cooking classes for spouses and helped develop the school course that introduces new fruits or vegetables to students over several months.

The children took a survey to find out which foods they didn't like or knew little about, so unfamiliar foods like cauliflower, beets, spinach, apricots and blueberries were chosen.

Milano said she talks about how each food is grown, why it has the name it does, and shows them how to cook or prepare various dishes. Recipes including the ingredient go home to parents, the commissary puts the ingredient on sale when it's being studied and it's served in the school cafeteria.

Read the complete story here.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wounded Vets Regain Bit of Camaraderie in Kitchen

HYDE PARK, N.Y.—Julio Gerena is in a wheelchair, his long career in the U.S. Navy and Army forever behind him. But the 52-year-old recaptured some of the old military camaraderie while peeling potatoes and chopping cilantro in a crowded kitchen.
Gerena was among the first 16 wounded veterans who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to take part in a healthy cooking "boot camp" sponsored by the advocacy group Wounded Warrior Project. Former service members once consumed with patrols and sentry posts learned how to poach and saute at the Culinary Institute of America, the renowned cooking school on the Hudson River.
The veterans learned some kitchen tips, but seemed to enjoy even more the chance to spend four intense days with people who have faced similar hurdles.
"There are some things you can't really get into words, but the Wounded Warrior program is to me what being in uniform was before: the camaraderie, the trust," Gerena said after a long morning in the kitchen. "I met some of these people just a few days ago, but I share what they went through."
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based organization runs a range of programs for wounded veterans at locations ranging from college campuses to ski slopes. The group brought its first batch of veterans into the kitchen last week in partnership with the culinary institute. Most of the students served in the Army, but the Navy and the Marines were also represented. Their service-related wounds ranged from spinal cord injuries to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Over four days, they were lectured on the finer points of knife work or braising before heading to a classroom kitchen to turn the lesson into something edible for lunch or dinner.

On a recent morning, the veterans scrambled to pan-sear salmon and saute chicken breasts under the guidance of Chef John DeShetler. As they clattered pans and joked about a return to kitchen patrol duty, DeShetler shouted out tips on carrot dicing and meat slicing.

"Now this is a flank steak! There's only two per animal, that's why they're so damn expensive...! They used to give this away!" DeShetler bellowed.

As DeShetler walked the kitchen, 24-year-old Steve Bohn carefully sauteed mushrooms for a ragout in a pan.

The Peabody, Mass., resident had cooked for a Whole Foods Market before the death of close friend in Iraq inspired him to join the Army in 2007. Bohn was severely injured the next year in Afghanistan when a dump truck packed with explosives collapsed the building he was in. He suffered severe spinal injuries and required reconstructive bladder surgery.

Bohn no longer needs a leg brace but he still had a hitch to his step as he moved through the kitchen. He knows that he cannot resume his old kitchen career because he can't stand for long or lift heavy boxes. But he liked the feeling of pushing his limits and being behind a burner again.

Read the complete story here

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Culinary Journey Propelled By Presidents' Tastebuds

Presidents. Have you ever wondered about the tastebuds of these powerful gentlemen who ran our country?  You might be surprised.  In honor of Presidents’ Day TravelsinTaste created a virtual culinary roadmap throughout Las Vegas, a city where people and presidents alike can find a modern adaptation of their favorite bites.

Our Founding Father George Washington may not have actually cut down a cherry tree, but his tie to cherries has lasted for centuries. For these reasons, he’d most likely enjoy libations such as the non-alcoholic house-made cherry yuzu soda at Jean Georges Steakhouse or the Cherry Limeade at Fleur by Hubert Keller.

 Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy were both major fans of fine French cuisine, who isn’t?, and often had it served in the White House. President Kennedy even hired renowned French Chef Rene Verdon to run the White House Kitchen. If they visited Vegas, we think they’d be delighted by Le Cirque at Bellagio’s new Executive Chef Gregory Pugin, formerly of Veritas in New York City, a protégé of Gault Millau’s Chef of the Century Joël Robuchon. They might even try the classic Terrine de Foie Gras Poire Belle Hélène which is lillet marinated foie gras terrine with poire williams gelee, almond and orange blossom bavaroise, and a chocolate nougatine, Better yet try the Chef of the Century’s signature  La Langoustine, a truffle langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage, at Joel Robuchon Restaurant.

 Theodore Roosevelt was a traditionalist who preferred simplicity in hearty helpings and might have truly enjoyed a meal at NOBHILL TAVERN by Michael Mina at MGM Grand. Perhaps trying either the Shelton Farms Chicken Breast with cauliflower puree, roasted cauliflower, golden raisins and chicken jus or a 12 ounce wood-fired ribeye. Two of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite foods were cheese and fish, so perfect restaurants for him would be Onda Ristorante & Lounge at The Mirage for its extensive cheese menu and signature seafood dishes or Julian Serrano at ARIA Resort & Casino where Chef Serrano lovingly prepares ceviches and a Spanish cheese platter celebrating his homeland.

 Lyndon B. Johnson was a big steak eater, so he’d love Jean Georges Steakhouse at ARIA, especially with its special February Beef Tasting Menu. Executive Chef Robert Moore has created an exquisite five-course tasting menu highlighting beef from Rangers Valley in Brisbane, Australia. The region’s cooler climate provides a stress-free life for the cattle under the watchful eye of certified Japanese Kobe ranchers, allowing for the production of extraordinary cuts of beef. Chef Moore’s menu features Rangers Valley Angus 300 beef prepared in four cooking styles: Hand-Cut Wagyu Steak Tartare, Charred Chili-Rubbed Angus 300 Rib Eye Skewers, Angus 300 Braised Short Rib and a 21 Day Dry Aged Grilled Angus 300 NY Strip.  The divine JG Candy Bar adds a sweet, finishing touch for dessert.

Read about other presidential culinary traditions here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Food Trucks Spread 'New' Cuisine, Shake up Restaurant Model

Movement Is Helping to Expand America's Palate While Offering a Lesson in Social-Media Marketing

By: Maureen Morrison

Ethnic food -- from Korean to Thai to El Salvadoran -- has become more familiar to the average U.S. consumer, and increasingly people are finding out about these cuisines not from mom-and-pop restaurants or specialty stores, but via food trucks. The movement is helping pave the way for the increasing popularity in ethnic street cuisine "because of how food trucks work.

They've allowed those flavors to more easily surface and spread through cities and allow more people to try them," said Kazia Jankowski, associate culinary director at Sterling Rice Group, an agency that tracks restaurant and culinary trends. "They've allowed for those flavors to enter the mainstream via a different way and we're seeing those kinds of flavors make their way into more brick-and-mortar establishments."

Ms. Jankowski pointed to Chipotle's test concept, Shop House, and Spanish chain 100 Montaditos, which now has a small U.S. presence (with hopes of opening another 4,000 American units in the next five years), as larger players that are leading the way for this new style of "global street food."

"Food trucks have changed the conversation about the way international casual food has been able to become part of our regular dining experience," she said. Phil Lempert, a food-industry expert who runs Supermarket Guru, said that part of the appeal of food trucks for consumers is that often the operators are cooking their own culture's food, thereby making the fare more authentic. And food trucks and their cuisine are important to millennials, a demographic that likes to experiment with new tastes.

In the Technomic 2011 Food Trucks Innovation report, 42% of consumers surveyed ages 18 to 30 said they visit food trucks at least once a week; 38% of consumers ages 31 to 40 answered the same way. Of course, food trucks are not solely responsible for the interest in ethnic street-food, but they've helped create the supply to satisfy the demand that the popularity of food and travel programs has helped generate, said Kevin Higar, director-research and consulting at Technomic.

For now, so-called international food is largely untapped by most fast-food chains (Jack in the Box is one exception), but there are two areas of potential growth for food-truck operators looking to expand their own franchises: brick-and-mortar establishments and a move into supermarkets.

After leaving the fast-casual chain he founded, Spicy Pickle, Kevin Morrison in May 2010 started a food truck in Denver called Pinche Tacos. The truck sold what he called "Mexican street food," and was a precursor to the permanent Pinche Tacos that opened five months later. "It was a very inexpensive way of getting into the business to kind of test out the market to see what kind of feedback I got before I went brick-and-mortar."

Read the complete story here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chefs Looking to Start Small Carve Out Temporary Quarters in Established Kitchens

by Naomi Martin

Facing high risk, stiff competition and the need for expensive startup capital, entrepreneurs opening new restaurants in New Orleans have never had it easy. But now, with the recession causing banks to tighten lending, financing a new restaurant can be harder than ever.

 Enter the "pop-up restaurant."

A chef "pops up" a temporary restaurant -- usually just one night a week -- inside the shell of another restaurant during its off-hours. Using the host restaurant's silverware, linens and cooking equipment, the pop-up's staff serves customers a limited menu of usually five options. Having swept through New York and Los Angeles, the phenomenon is now emerging in New Orleans.

For some chefs, pop-ups are a way to test-drive the local market and gauge demand before investing in a full-scale restaurant. For others, it's a way to try out life as a chef, while still maintaining a day job.

"Eleven years ago I opened up Dante's, and that was a hell of a challenge," said Eman Loubier, owner of Dante's Kitchen in Uptown New Orleans. "But the timing then was better than it is now. Banks were a little easier with loaning. It was a little easier to get financing."

Loubier recently opened a pop-up restaurant called Noodles and Pie, serving items like braised duck noodle soup and honey-pine nut pie with lavender whipped cream. Noodles and Pie opens Monday nights inside Coulis, a breakfast restaurant Uptown that typically closes at 2 p.m.

"It was really just a matter of necessity, not us wanting to do something trendy or cool," said Mike Friedman, who runs Pizza Delicious every Sunday and Thursday night out of a shared Bywater kitchen.

So far, there are about a dozen pop-ups on any given week in the city. Many are so popular that they routinely sell out of food within hours, a lofty goal that many traditional restaurants can only dream of.
That popularity owes much to the rise of social media. Each pop-up has hundreds of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, making it easy to update a mass audience on the upcoming week's location, hours of operation and menu. Even just a few years ago, it would have been nearly impossible for an unofficial restaurant to attract enough customers to stay viable, said chef Peter Vazquez, who runs a pop-up out of Stein's Deli on Magazine Street every Sunday night.

Read the complete story here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Farewell to Argentina's Famed Beef?

by Nancy Shute

When I think of Argentina, I think of beef from cows that graze on the endless pampas, tended by watchful gauchos. That grass-fed beef has been the centerpiece of Argentina's most famous dish, a slow-cooked asado on the parilla.

But while in Buenos Aires last week, I discovered that the pampas-raised beef of my reveries is practically a thing of the past. Today, most cattle in Argentina are raised in feedlots, just like in the U.S. That transition has been driven by soaring prices in the global grain markets over the past decade, making it far more profitable to raise soybeans, wheat and corn than herd cattle.

That may be good news for grain farmers, but it's not a welcome change for the chefs of Buenos Aires. "It's politics, not gastronomy," says Javier Urondo, chef and owner of Urondo Bar and Restaurant in the Parque Chacubuco neighborhood.

Urondo would much rather buy grass-fed beef, but says it's impossible because the industry doesn't identify meat by production method. "There's no way of knowing," the affable 54-year-old told me over a late lunch at Bar Seis in the Palermo Soho neighborhood. "Even my butcher doesn't know."

And because the change has been gradual, Urondo says, most customers don't notice the difference. (That thought was seconded in a September report on Argentina's beef production by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service.)
  Dan Perlman, an American chef and writer living in Buenos Aires who runs his own "secret" restaurant, Casa SaltShaker, has also noticed the difference. "When I first came to Argentina, I said, 'This is what beef is supposed to taste like!' Now, it's just steak," Perlman says.

 How exactly does grass-fed beef taste difference from grain-fed beef? As NPR's Allison Aubrey has reported, the meat from cows that dine on grass may be chewier and less fatty. She also cites a recent analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists that found that grass-fed steak has about twice as many omega-3s as a typical grain-fed steak.

The flavor used to be a selling point for Argentina, which has a long, proud history as the world's great exporter of beef, starting way back in the 1800s. But in recent years Argentina has ceded that crown to Brazil.

Government policies are also helping shrink the country's beef exports. For years, the price of beef was kept artificially low to encourage domestic consumption.

But that didn't suit the cattlemen too well. "The producers have responded by saying, 'we're going to switch to producing grains'," says Michael Boland, director of the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota. He's been following the transformation of Argentine beef closely, both as a researcher and as someone who loves to eat. "The Malbec and the beef," he recalls wistfully. "That, to me, is Argentina."

Read the rest of the story here.