In my first week of culinary school, I realized that the goal of my Chef Instructors was not to help the students to memorize recipes and teach us to execute them perfectly. Their goal was teach us methods of cooking.
This concept was strange to us at first. You don’t just follow the recipe and it will work out perfectly? Almost daily, there was a conversation in the kitchen that went something like this...
Student: “Chef, how long do I cook this for?”
Chef Instructor: “Until it’s done.”
Student: “But Chef, how long it that?”
Chef Instructor: “Follow the method and you’ll know when it’s done.”
Student: “Yes Chef...hmmmmm.”
We were all playing the part of Daniel in the 80’s Karate Kid movies and our Chefs were Mr. Miyagi. So we painted the fence, waxed the car, washed the windows and learned all the parts that made up the methods.
By the end of each class rotation, like Daniel, we put it all together and were amazed at our own abilities. We were using our new found knife skills to make beautiful garnishes. We expanded our palates with flavors from all over the world. We began to master the five Mother Sauces in French cooking. We were doing it!
It began to make sense. If you know the method of braising or roasting or sauteing, you can apply the principles of braising or roasting or sauteing to anything you want to make.
Now when someone asks me for a recipe, I always teach them the method involved. Then next time they can have the confidence in the method of the recipe and experiment with new ingredients.
One popular question that comes up this time of year, when I'm talking with people about delicious fall recipes, is how to roast vegetables. I love roasting veggies. It brings out the natural sweetness, gives the veggies a crispy caramelized texture and concentrates the flavors and nutrients. Everyone can remember from their childhood, a boiled pile of mushy something green on their plate. Yuck! Try roasting and your kids will love the bright colors, crunchy texture and sweet flavor of their vegetables.
Here’s the method.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut up any vegetables into medium to large chunks and place in a single layer on a sheet pan. Consider if you are doing root veggies with tender ingredients like zucchini, cut the harder ingredients a little smaller and the more tender ingredients a little bigger and the cooking time should then work for both. Drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Roast for 20 minutes approximately or until tender to your liking.
Change it up by adding cumin, cayenne, Herbs de Provence or fresh chili peppers. Add a salt component at the end, like chunks of feta cheese or kalamata olives. Finish with the bright flavor of fresh orange zest.
Enjoy adding some variety to your side dishes this week and let me know how you do!
Everyone has their sign for the “official start of Fall”. Maybe it’s a pumpkin spiced latte or the beautiful red leaves on the Japanese maple in the yard or football season. For me, it’s the chanterelle mushroom making it’s annual appearance in my kitchen.
One of my friends who loves to forage for chanterelles and tromp around the woods for any reason really, gave me an abundance of his harvest over the weekend. I was thinking, first of all, AMAZING! Second, what am I going to do with all this loot? Well, there is risotto with chanterelles or sautéed with butter and garlic over a grilled ribeye or combined with eggplant, zucchini and shallots. The list goes on and on. Insert movie reference here...shrimp gumbo, shrimp kebabs...you get the idea. The wheels were immediately turning. Then I thought...
What is my favorite? Chanterelle Mushroom and Roasted Pheasant Crostini. This dish brings me back to my childhood on my grandparents' farm. I always loved our after school visits to the farm in the fall, the garden had plump orange pumpkins almost ready to carve, the last of the summer’s sunflowers, the crisp smell of the air and that familiar mouth watering aroma of something baking in the kitchen. There was always some form of roasted game meat around too - elk, duck, pheasant and the like. I came up with recipe a few years ago and it really is one of those seasonal and nostalgic dishes for me. You can use roasted chicken or duck, if pheasant isn’t available.
Chanterelle Mushroom and Roasted Pheasant Crostini
1 pound chanterelle mushrooms, clean* and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup roasted pheasant, shredded
crostini - baguette slices, toasted in the oven
white truffle oil, optional
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add shallots, and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Raise heat to medium high, add mushrooms and thyme sprigs, and cook until mushrooms begin to brown on the edges, about 4 minutes. Remove thyme. Add flour, stir and let cook for 30 seconds. Add chicken stock and cream and stir until velvety. Lower heat and add salt and pepper to taste, cooking until cream thickens slightly. Add pheasant and let flavors marry on low for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve immediately on a crostini for an appetizer or toss with pappardelle or gnocchi and finish with fresh thyme for a main dish. For a final indulgence of fall flavor, drizzle any of these dishes with truffle oil.
Serves 6 to 8.
*Clean mushrooms by using a soft brush to remove the forest from them or a dry cloth. Never run under water! Mushrooms are a sponge and will become a soggy, tasteless ingredient.
Practically every day I am making a grocery list for clients.
A few years ago I picked up a book called “Milk Eggs Vodka” by Bill Keaggy. It's a hilarious coffee table book of grocery lists that author had found in shopping carts, on supermarket floors and around parking lots. You'd be amazed by the lists - a crazy combination of randomness, each painting a picture of the shopper.
Today, I thought I’d share 30 of the "usual suspects" on my shopping list along with a few bonus items. And maybe you'll learn just a little more about me!
Now that you've "bagged" the must-haves, it's time for the splurges. Any cook worth her salt will grabs these too!
Have fun grocery shopping...it’s one of life’s necessities. So why not enjoy it?
Get to know the butcher, the sommelier, the cheese monger and the checkers. My experience is that they love to get to know their customers and are happy to tell you about upcoming specials. Besides, they are always offering samples of their goods!
And be sure to check out Top 10 All-Time Favorite Fall Ingredients next week. It’s the perfect list for those who want to “cozy up” in a fully stocked fall kitchen.
Of course, if you’d like some help with the shopping and meal prep, I’m your chef. Let my passion for Pacific Northwest ingredients bring you and your loved ones back to the table. Contact me today for a free consultation.
As the last few weeks of summer wind down, everyone is trying to squeeze in a few more festive backyard BBQ’s and summer pool parties before Labor Day. August in Oregon is such treat! Gorgeous weather, scrumptious seasonal produce everywhere and the aroma of grilled meat in the neighborhood, no matter what day of the week.
One of the staples of our summer, is always having fruit cut up and ready-to-eat in the fridge all summer and we are always coming up with new things to do with it. From cobblers and jams to smoothies and cocktails, there are so many delicious ways to enjoy all the fresh summer gems.
This week, I had some leftover citrus and berries from some summer salsas I was experimenting with, so I decided to make sangria for something fun and different. Sangria is traditionally made with red wine and brandy and is served in Spain and Portugal during the summer months. I love that it pairs so beautifully with our summer cuisine of the Northwest too. The great thing about sangria is that you can make it with any kind of fruit and red or white wine...whatever you like! I like to make it with peach schnapps instead of brandy to lighten it up. It’s all about the method, just mix and match the ingredients and this recipe will get you started.
Enjoy this week’s recipe with some Spanish Tapas, Cajun Spiced Shrimp or Grilled Peaches! Cheers!
1 orange, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 lime, thinly sliced crosswise
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup berries or other fruit of your choice
1/4 cup peach schnapps
1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine, such as Rioja or Cabernet Sauvignon
4 cups (32 ounces) chilled lemon-lime soda
In a pitcher, combine orange, lime, apple, berries, peach schnapps and red wine. Stir to combine and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to overnight). To serve, add soda and ice.
When I was in culinary school, I discovered as I was doing an essay regarding the contents of my fridge, that I have an addiction to mustard. There were over twenty varieties of mustard in the fridge that day. Some on the top shelf, some in the door and few tucked on the bottom shelf in the back behind the leftovers, not to mention the unopened ones in the pantry. Crazy! After further investigation, I found that this is a genetic problem that my mother has and that her father had before her. Even one of my brothers has a serious ketchup issue.
What can you do to change your genetics? Nothing. I say embrace it! I now have a whole shelf in the door of my fridge dedicated to the mustard. Today's count is 17, including some Wasabi Horseradish Mustard, Cranberry Mustard and Sweet Hot, of course.
Mustard is the forgotten condiment. There are so many ways to use mustard besides a burger. I use it practically every day...as an emulsion for homemade vinaigrette, as an easy addition brushed on grilled chicken, or added to a white wine sauce for pork chops.
With Oktoberfest and football season upon us, mustard is the shining star that adds variety to grilled brats and sausages and pair nicely with fresh pressed apple cider or a good German beer.
Wow your friends with your handcrafted mustard at this weekends game. You can substitute apple cider, water or white wine for the beer to change it up. You
may need to adjust the sugar to your
liking after its curing period or
add some horseradish for some heat.
Spicy Beer Mustard
1/2 cup black mustard seeds
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups malt vinegar
2 cups dark beer, I prefer something German
5 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup dry ground mustard
In a medium bowl, combine the black and yellow mustard seeds with the vinegar and 1 1/2 cups of beer. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of the beer with the honey, brown sugar, salt, allspice and turmeric and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, transfer to a blender and let cool. Add the ground mustard and the mustard seeds with their soaking liquid to the blender and puree to the consistency that you like. Store the mustard to a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate overnight before serving to cure the mustard.
Enjoy this mustard for up to 3 months in a glass container in your fridge or divide and give away as gifts.
Makes approximately 4 cups.
Growing up in an Irish family, I can honestly say I was never a fan of the boiled corned beef, cabbage and potato dinner. Too much of the same texture...soft, soft and soft. Nothing against my family heritage, of course! That recipe had it’s place in food history.
So early this morning, when I began getting calls about how to make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, I thought now would be a good time to share my modern take on the classic dish.
Baked Corned Beef with Sweet Mustard Crust
3 lb corned beef
1/4 cup honey mustard
1/4 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar, light or dark
Preheat oven to 350°F. Drain the corned beef package. Lay corned beef, fat side up, on a large piece of heavy duty, wide, aluminum foil. Evenly sprinkle peppercorns from package over corned beef. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and spread half of the mixture over the top of the corned beef. Reserve the remaining half.
Wrap the corned beef with foil so that space is left on top between the corned beef and the foil to make a tented foil packet for the corned beef. Place foil-wrapped corned beef in a shallow roasting pan and bake for 2 hours. Open the foil wrapping and broil for 2-3 minutes, until the top is bubbly and lightly browned. Let corned beef rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then place on cutting board and cut at a diagonal, across the grain of the meat, into 1/2-inch thick slices. Serve with reserved mustard on the side.
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 min
Instead of boiled potatoes and cabbage, roast some sliced fennel and cubed red potatoes, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper for 20 minutes in a 400°F oven and mash with 2 tbsp butter and some heavy cream for a rustic side dish.
So enjoy your green beer and minty cocktails or simply to cure what ails you, a shot of Irish whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine should do the trick!
Cheers to the Irish (and everyone who pretends to be today)!
Getting ready for the Big Game this weekend? This twist on a classic American dip is often under appreciated and considered “old school” but with some updated ingredients it will round out your game time spread and have the crowds cheering!
You’ll see how easy this recipe is to make with ingredients you probably already have on hand and once you taste it you’ll toss out those dry dehydrated packets on mystery ingredients.
French Onion Bacon Dip
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 thick-cut slices pepper bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tsp worcestershire sauce, to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
ground black pepper
In a saute pan over medium high heat cook bacon until fat is rendered. Removed bacon and drain on paper towels. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and on medium heat add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions and bacon. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes and stir again before serving. Adjust seasoning as needed. Make up to 1 day ahead.
Serve with pita chips, classic crinkle cut chips or pretzels.
Enjoy your party and may the best team win!
Here's a quick and easy, last minute holiday dessert! Happy Holidays!
3 1/2 cups half-and-half
juice of one orange
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 loaf (12 oz) French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup dried cranberries
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat half-and-half, sugar, melted butter, eggs, orange juice and zest, and the vanilla with whisk. Stir in bread cubes and cranberries. Let stand 10 minutes. Pour bread mixture into a 9x 13 buttered baking dish. Place pan in a larger pan, add hot water to the larger pan to make a water bath for the bread pudding. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Garnish with fresh whipped cream, caramel, or ice cream.
During the holiday season, my inbox is inundated with one question...what is a festive and delicious appetizer, using simple ingredients, that I can make for a party?
My quick go-to appetizer is Sweet Pea Pesto Crostini with Grape Tomatoes. I always have a bag of peas in the freezer and this recipe comes together in just minutes.
Sweet Pea Pesto with Grape Tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, rinsed to defrost
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a drizzle for the baguette
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
Serves 8 to 10.
For the crostini, simply slice a baguette and place slices on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and pop it into a preheated 400 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes to toast.
While that is baking, pulse the peas, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor. Then with the food processor running, stream in the olive oil until the mixture resembles traditional pesto. You may use a little more or a little less oil depending on your preference. Add the Parmesan and pulse a couple of times to blend. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Spread the cooled crostini with the pesto and top with slices of grape tomatoes or serve it in a bowl topped with the tomatoes and the crostini in a basket along side. The sweetness of the peas, saltiness of the Parmesan and tang of the tomatoes is a perfect combination. This is a great year round appetizer; bright and refreshing.
Another fun tip...use different colors of tomatoes. I use black and red heirloom tomatoes in the fall for a spooky look. I change it up and use yellow cherry tomatoes when we are having people over to watch the Oregon Ducks play college football. And of course, red tomatoes are perfect for the holiday season.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and the local markets are filling up with all the traditional ingredients of the holiday. It’s time to start planning for that amazing meal for your family and friends. I love to pick an ingredient to showcase with a new recipe each year. This year’s pick is one of my favorites of the bounty of the season...cranberries!
Fresh cranberries are a sweet, tart and diverse ingredient that add a special burst of flavor to any recipe. Today, I want to share with you a couple of recipes using cranberries for your Thanksgiving celebration that are a twist on some classics.
The first recipe is a Cranberry Orange Cosmo, a fun and refreshing cocktail you can use throughout the holiday season for parties and drop-in guests. The addition of the orange liqueur to the cranberry juice makes it feel like the holidays. I love to freeze cranberries to float in the martini glass as a garnish.
The second recipe is a Cranberry Sauce with Figs that also has an earthy addition of Oregon Pinot Noir. The alcohol from the wine cooks off and leaves you with a rich sauce ready to pair with turkey or roasted pork loin.
Enjoy your menu planning!
Cranberry Orange Cosmo
1 1/2 ounces Cranberry Orange Vodka
1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau
Orange peel, for garnish
Frozen Cranberries, for garnish
Combine the first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake until well mixed. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist of an orange peel and frozen cranberries.
Makes one cocktail.
Cranberry Sauce with Figs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 large shallot, finely diced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/4 cup pinot noir
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
12 figs, quartered
1 pound fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
Heat the canola oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ginger and shallots and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, honey, orange juice, pinot noir, granulated sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves and mixture is nice and bubbly.
Add the figs and half of the cranberries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining cranberries and cook another 5 minutes or so. Add the balsamic vinegar to finish. Let cool and taste to adjust seasoning as needed.
From my table to yours...