Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving - The Day After

Class #56 came up with some great ideas for using all those Thanksgiving leftovers. Check them out in the Indianapolis Star.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Congratulations to Class #56!

Congratulations to Class #56 of the Second Helpings Culinary Job Training Program who graduated November 20, 2009.

Pictured above (Front row, left to right): Gina M. Powell, Angela L. Huggins-Gainer, Raymond O. Westmoreland Jr, Shawn N. Weaver; (Back row, left to right): Chef Carl Conway, David V. (Vinnie) Hyder, André K. Tompkins, and Tyrone L. Burris II.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Salad

By request, here's my recipe for sweet potato salad:

(Serves 12)

4 cups (hot) peeled, large diced and cooked sweet potatoes

2/3 cup red onion, small diced

½ cup celery, small diced

1 seedless cucumber (unpeeled), medium diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, medium diced

1 Yellow Bell Pepper, medium diced
¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped fine

½ cup toasted pecan halves, chopped

Kosher Salt, to taste

Fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste

For the Vinaigrette:

½ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon mild chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp Honey

1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper

Combine vinegar, chili powder, garlic, honey, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk ingredients until the salt is dissolved.

While still whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to form an emulsion.

Place hot potatoes, onion, and celery in a large mixing bowl and toss with half the dressing.

Cool, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to chill.

When ready to serve, add the cucumber, bell peppers, parsley, tarragon, and pecans and toss with the remaining dressing.

Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

In Afghanistan, This Is a Four Star Restaurant

Chowhall Chefs Include a Former Chef From Ritz Carlton


Clouds of brown dust assault the soldiers' faces as they wait in line, but it's no deterrent. In just a few minutes they'll feel as close to home as they can get from half a world away.

It's lunchtime on "Soul Food Thursday" at the Containerized Kitchen for Task Force Saber on Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan.

Unlike the oversized cafeteria-style dining facilities - better known as D-FACS in the military's world of acronyms  this small "CK" looks like a caboose abandoned by its train in the middle of the desert.

Inside, servers load paper plates full of fried chicken, catfish, mac and cheese, collard greens and Hop Bean John salad. The American southern-style menu was created with a focus on the familiar.

"It's such a moral boost having food that tastes like food from home here," said Capt. Alicia Stahlberg, 26, from Fairfax, Va.

With the main base located several miles down the dirt road, food - until recently  was often frustratingly far away. Meals were missed if a pilot's shift ended at an odd hour. Now, soldiers eat steps from their work on their nearby airfield.

In the military, life almost revolves around food. Chowhall is one of the few places where soldiers can decompress for a few moments each day. So if the meal is lousy, it ruins just about the only moment they can forget about work. Ask any soldier they'll tell you their favorite D-FAC or provide a list of favorite spots to eat on base.

In Kandahar, which has only one CK, it is getting a reputation.

"We face a lot of challenges," said Michael Mosley, 37, Senior Food Operations Sergeant. "We're dealing with the elements, sanitization, lots of dust and parasites and pests." But so far, they are succeeding. "We try to give them something to look forward to in the work week and getting them through these hard times," said Mosley.

For Travis Burton, one of the chefs, cooking for the Army is drastically different than his previous career at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, Fla. If it weren't for his student loan debts from culinary school, Burton says he would still be at the Ritz, where he had more creative freedom.

Food Can Make or Ruin the Day for a Soldier in Afghanistan

"We're limited to what you can do, to what you can acquire here. The food is pre-packaged, pre-cooked, pre-seasoned so you need to be careful what you do to it," Burton said. Too much seasoning with prepared foods can contradict and destroy the dishes.

Limitations aside, the chefs are still experimenting.

Sgt Earl Lendore, 26, cooks Caribbean-style dishes from his home in Grenada islands. For dinner, he is preparing curried chicken.

"A lot of people don't know a lot of Caribbean dishes. They'll look at it and think it's different. But then they'll eat it and love it!" he said.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tonic Ball and Gallery Approaches

Tonic Ball VIII will feature more than 30 of Central Indiana’s top rock, folk, jazz, funk, country, and pop artists celebrating the songs of Led Zeppelin at Radio Radio, 1119 E. Prospect St….and the songs of Bob Dylan right next door at the Fountain Square Theater—all beginning at 7p.m. on Friday, November 20th.

Last year, more than 1,000 people converged on Fountain Square to be part of the spectacle. This year, Tonic Ball and Tonic Gallery are going to be bigger and better than ever!

This year's artists:

Radio Radio (Led Zeppelin stage)
Bat Tattoo
The Misprintz
The Old Fair and Square Band
Ebenezer and the Hymnasters
The Last Domino
Frankie Camaro’s Atomic Bombay
Big Betty
Yoko Moment
We’re Not Squibnocket
Jennie DeVoe
The Cocaine Wolves
Vess Ruhtenberg
The Common
Healing Sixes
Bigger Than Elvis
Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand Lukes

Fountain Square Theater (Bob Dylan stage)
Cliff Snyder
Jeff Byrd and the Wingmen
Jon Strahl Band
CW and the Working Class Trio
The Odyssey Favor
Luke Austin Daugherty Jam Band
Joel Henderson
Susan and the Desperate Seekers
Jon Martin and…
Shelby Kelley
Brian Deer and the Achievers
Tad Armstrong
The Deadbeats
Everything Now!
Otis Gibbs
The Vulgar Boatmen (w/special guest Jake Smith from the Mysteries of Life)

Note: Fountain Square Theater is an all-ages venue. Under-age tickets may be purchased separately. Call or email Ben Shine at 317.632.2664 X. 29, or
Tonic Gallery
AV Framing and Gallery
Friday, November 20
5:00 -9:00
free, all-ages, non-smoking

The Tonic Gallery features works by more than 50 of the city’s most renowned visual artists—all for sale and available for as little as $100. Tonic Gallery at AV Framing Gallery, Fountain Square, 1139 Shelby St., 5-9pm on November 20.
One of the city's most popular music and art events, Tonic Ball and Gallery, is scheduled for Nov. 20 at the Fountain Square Theater and next door at Radio Radio, 1119 E. Prospect St.

Tickets may be purchased online at

Friday, November 13, 2009

E-mail of the Year

Courtesy of my little brother:

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

"Let me see if I've got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.

You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN'T PRAY?"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FDA Issues Updated Food Code

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has released an updated FDA Food Code that's used as a model for state, city, county and tribal inspections.

The 2009 Food Code, officials said, is used to regulate more than 1 million restaurants, retail food stores and vending and food service operations across the United States. They said the code provides the basis for most licensing, inspection and enforcement activities, as well as serving as a model for food statutes, regulations and ordinances.

Officials said the 2009 edition of the Food Code is the seventh full edition published by the FDA. The previous full edition was released in 2005 with a supplement published in 2007.

Among the updates, cut leafy greens are now included among the foods that require time and temperature control for safety. And requirements are added to improve food worker awareness of food allergen concerns in the food service and retail setting.

Serving hamburgers and other ground meats in an undercooked form upon a consumer's request is no longer an option for items offered on a children's menu, officials said. And a new definition and criteria are added for the non-continuous cooking of foods comprised of raw animal products.

Several requirements related to the effective cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and surfaces are enhanced or clarified.

More information is available here.

Sweet Potatoes: Good and Great for You

As some of you may know, sweet potatoes are one of my favorite ingredients. Here's some useful information, courtesy of the New Orleans Times Picayune:

By Judy Walker
November 06, 2009, 2:30PM

Thanksgiving turns the spotlight on sweet potatoes, but they're good for you all year long, according to a new press release from LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames.

The Louisiana yam is an exceptional type of sweet potato sweet and flavorful, with a soft, moist flesh, Reames says. "Not only are yams delicious, they are a perfect choice for the health-conscious. They add valuable nutrients and color to any meal and can be enjoyed all year.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service, sweet potatoes are often called a “nutritional powerhouse” because they are very high in beta-carotene. The deep orange color of the sweet potato indicates it is rich in carotene, which becomes vitamin A inside the body. Vitamin A is needed for normal growth, development, reproduction, a healthy immune system and vision. One medium-size baked sweet potato provides about twice the recommended daily amount of vitamin A.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B-6, potassium and vitamin C when they’re baked in the skin, Reames says. They are low in sodium, fat and saturated fat. One medium-size baked sweet potato has only 103 calories.

When buying yams, choose well-shaped, firm potatoes with smooth, bright, uniformly colored skins. Avoid those with skin penetrated by holes or cuts, which cause decay.

In case you purchase sweet potatoes at a farmers market, Reams warns that freshly dug potatoes are uncured. They are good boiled, mashed, candied, fried and in many cooked dishes, but uncured potatoes do not bake successfully. They must be cured several weeks before they are ready for baking, stored in a cool, dry place where the temperature is about 55 or 60 degrees. Do not store them in the refrigerator. Chilling the vegetable will give it a hard core and an undesirable taste when it’s cooked.

Ideally, fresh sweet potatoes should be cooked within a week or two of being purchased, but may be stored for up to one month.

“Well-matured, carefully handled and properly cured potatoes will keep for several months if the temperature and storage conditions are ideal,” Reames says. “This usually is not possible, however, and potatoes spoil easily. You might wish to cook and freeze them to maintain their high quality.”

Some useful tips on cooking sweet potatoes here.

Just Because...

Seeing the picture of this lovely lady makes me feel good

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chili on the Circle

Last Friday, Kroger and Second Helpings served served a chili lunch on the southwest side of Monument Circle. This wasn't just any chili. The recipe, Smoky Steak and Chorizo Chili, made by Indiana State Police Sgt. Cedric Merritt and Second Helpings graduate Keith Mays, won a competition among public safety officials and members of the media.

The winners were presented the Golden Ladle trophy for the first-ever event. Second place went to SGT Matt Mount of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Indianapolis Star Editor Dennis Ryerson won third place.

Pictured above are SGT Merritt, Chef Conway, and Keith Mays.

With the authors' permission, here's the winning recipe:

Smoky Steak and Chorizo Chili
(A Protect and Burn Creation)

4 lbs. sirloin, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 pkgs. - Chili seasoning
3 lbs. chorizo sausage
3 medium onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
8 -10 dried chipotles (processed into medium fine powder)
6 medium dried red peppers (processed into medium fine powder)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp dried cilantro
2 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
2 limes, juiced
2 Tbsp olive oil
6-8 dashes Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
2 – 29 oz cans dice tomatoes
2 – 29 oz cans tomato sauce
1 – 15 oz can black beans, drained
1 - 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
1 – 15 oz cans pinto beans, drained
1 – 20 oz can whole kernel corn, drained

In a large sauté, pan heat olive oil and then add steak and chili seasoning. Sauté meat until lightly browned. Add onions and bell peppers and sauté for another three minutes. Remove from heat and place meat in a stock pot, large Dutch oven, or slow cooker. Return the sauté pan to the heat and add the chorizo. Sauté for five minutes, or until lightly browned, and add to steak. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.