Central Florida Verde Laska

     You know I am astounded by how many amazing chef there are out there in the world. All of which are a Common Chef in one way or another. Like many of them I get inspired by what I see another person trying and experimenting with when it comes to cooking. Recently one of those observations led me to discover an out of this world dish call Laska. As many of you know from following my blog that I love to fuse different kind a cuisine from different parts of the world. Well there is no better example of this then a Laska. So this week I embarked on an experiment to create a truly one of a kind recipe that I call,

Central Florida Verde Laska

     Again I like to thank Wikipedia for the information that I found. According to their siteLaksa is a popular spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan culture, which is a merger of Chinese and Malay elements found in Malaysia and Singapore, and Indonesia.

The origin of the name “laksa” is unclear. One theory traces it back to Hindi/Persian lakhshah, referring to a type of vermicelli, which in turn may be derived from the Sanskrit lakshas (लकशस्) meaning “one hundred thousand” (lakh). It has also been suggested that “laksa” may derive from the Chinese word 辣沙 (Cantonese), meaning “spicy sand” due to the ground dried prawns which gives a sandy or gritty texture to the sauce. The last theory is that the name comes from the similar sounding word “dirty” in Hokkien due to its appearance.

     So before we get started I like to say that this is a very spice laden recipe and I actually a combination of two recipes. 1st I will make my own green curry paste from scratch to use in the Laska soup. Also there is a lot of shellfish in this dish so be prepared for a rather pungent outcome that may linger in the kitchen for a while.

So here is what you will need.

Ingredients:

 

  • Ø  1 stalk lemon-grass or 3 Tbsp. minced
  • Ø  1-3 green jalapeño
  • Ø  1 shallot,
  • Ø  4-5 cloves garlic
  • Ø  1 thumb-size piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • Ø  1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves & stems
  • Ø  1/2 cup basil/sweet basil
  • Ø  1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Ø  1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Ø  1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • Ø  3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • Ø  1/2 tsp. salt
  • Ø  2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • Ø  1 tsp. brown sugar
  • Ø  1 tsp. curry powder
  • Ø  1 can coconut milk
  • Ø  2 ½ cups chicken stock
  • Ø  10 button mushrooms
  • Ø  ½ lb. large raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • Ø  1 pack dried vermicelli rice noodles
  • Ø  1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Ø  1/4 cup canned coconut cream
  • Ø  1 sweet red pepper
  • Ø  1 cup bamboo shoot
  • Ø  1 pork chop or pork steak
  • Ø  2 tilapia filet’s
  • Ø  ½ lb. small scallops  

     As you can see this recipe has a lot of ingredients so first I recommend doing some prep-work to get all you meats and vegetables washed and cut down to size. As well remeasure all your spices to all you will have to do is add them when the time comes. Nothing is worse the trying to cut up something while you need to be stirring something else. It takes only a second for something to start to burn. So set yourself up for success and get all the little details sorted out and ready to go.

     Thaw out your meats is needed, and cut up your tilapia filet’s and pork steak in to cubes and strips. Once done set aside in the refrigerator. Next wash and cut up your peppers, scallions, mushrooms, and chop up your cilantro. Finally get all your spices measure out or at least set up nearby.

     Once things start going this recipe cooks up rather fast so I recommend getting your noodles cooked first. Rice noodles I find are a less forgiving if left into long and have a bad texture is overcooked. So boil up a pot of water and soak the noodles for about 10 minutes. No need to salt the water and the noodles will absorb the flavor of the soup. Keep an eye on them and test their firmness by pinching a noodle in your fingers (careful not to burn yourself). They should break apart when squeezed but not smooch between your digits. Once ready strain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

     For the next step we are going to make the green curry paste. This is going to be the base for the soup and will use the majority of our ingredients. Luckily we are just going to blend them together so it won’t be too hard. Make sure you have blender or a food processor. Combine your lemon grass, jalapeños, lime juice, shallot, ginger, cilantro, brown sugar, fish sauce, ground coriander, Salt, Black Pepper, sweet/regular basil, and ground cumin, and curry powder. Add a little Coconut milk or chicken stalk to help with the blending. Blend until smooth and taste to see if it is too salty for you. Now watch out, because this paste will be spicy as those jalapeños have jumped up the heat factor. Remember you can always add a little more lime juice or Brown sugar to bring down the saltiness. Also as always you can add more spices for flavor but you can’t take them out so take you time and maybe add a little at a time if you are not comfortable with these spices. Once it is to your liking put aside for later. 

     Our next step is to start cooking the meats and getting the pot ready for the Laska. Start by warming up about 3 Tablespoons of Peanut oil or Olive oil will work fine to. Along with the oil go on and add you chopped garlic cloves and raise the heat to Med-Hi. The garlic will let you know when the temperature is ready to move on. 

     Once the garlic starts to sizzle it’s time to add your ½ lb. of scallions and sauté for about 1 minute. Next we are going to add our freshly made green curry along with a pinch of Turmeric powder and stir. Let’s turn up the heat and cook for another minute until everything in the mixture is brought up in temperature. Next we to add our chicken stock, coconut milk, Salt, Fish sauce and bring to a boil. Make sure to continually stir the pan and once each reaches a boil only let it stay there for a moment. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the soup cook for about 5 minutes. Next add the mushrooms, sliced red bell pepper, shrimp, tilapia, and pork and return soup back up to a boil for another 5 minutes. Finally time to cut off the heat and let the soup cool and flavor settle. I did find that the flavors were a little more present the next day after the soup had a night to sit. 

     Once the soup has had time to cool add a small amount noodles to a bowl and spoon generous amount of laska and top with bamboo shoots and enjoy (make sure to get a good scoop of shrimp and pork and all the other goodies that we have in there).

     Before I go I like to remind you the reader that this recipe again is heavy with spices so as always make sure you taste as you go, and I you are not one for hot foods you can always add less chili’s then what I have here.

     Hope you like it and post me you comments if you try it.

     Thanks again and till next time, Feed you later.

 

Red Hook Spaghetti

Hello and thank you so much too all you loyal fans of the Common Chef that have stayed with us. It has been a while since I have put up a blog post so allow me a brief second to catch you up with what’s been going on. With all the success that The Common Chef has had in the past year it was decided that we needed to expand. As many of you may have noticed, our episodes have started to branch out and we wanted to continue with that momentum. That along my desire to go back to school lead me to relocate to Volusia county and Daytona Beach. It’s a great opportunity introduce The Common Chef to a brand new market as well as highlight another great side of Florida that we love so much.

 

So I have been busy relocating and getting comfortable with my new place. It took some time, and a few weeks of eating out and ham sandwiches but finally I got a chance to get back in to the kitchen and whip up something fantastic for you. I am actually returning to the Daytona area as I lived here many, many moons ago. I was once as I am again a student in college and while getting comfortable in my new place I stated to have fond memories of my earlier years here as well as those early experiments that I tried in my first kitchens.

Probably the easiest and the first meal that any young person learns to cook is Spaghetti. Along with that the one thing that most college kids actually ingest is beer. So I set out to reeducate myself with what types of beers where out there. I bought one six pack of Red Hook Beer. I lived in Brooklyn for a bit and was immediately drawn to the name.

While it was a good beer, it didn’t really hit a home run with me. So I had 5 beers left and nothing to do with them. Then it struck me, why not use the beer in a few recipes. Red Hook is an IPA and has a little bit higher alcohol continent then other beers. I have used beer in the past as a marinade and thought this would be a great idea, but what to marinade? I knew I was going to make spaghetti during the week and thought why does it have to be with meat balls?

After taking another cold one down it came to me. So here for your enjoyment is my Recipe for

Red Hook Spaghetti.

Your ingredients are simple. You’ll need.

  • 1 bottle of Red Hook IPA beer (or a beer you like)
  • 1 can of tomato paste  
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Spaghetti (I actually used linguine noodles)
  • 3 thin pork steaks 
  • ½ white onion
  • ½ yellow pepper
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Basil
  • Garlic                                                                        

               Step one is to cut up your 3 pork steaks in to small ½ inch strips. Once cut up place the pork into a container and pour the Red Hook beer over top. Make sure that all the pork is submerged and then cover and let soak for about an hour.

               While the pork is marinating cook up the noodles and set aside. I like to salt my water to give the noodles a little more flavor. Next start on the sauce by emptying the one can of tomato paste along with a drained can of diced tomatoes into a pot. I like to add a little olive oil to my sauce as I set the temp of the burner to medium. While the sauce is initially warming up I cut up my onion and pepper. I added them along with Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Basil, to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.

               Again remember that cooking is an interactive activity so make sure to interact with what you are cooking. Taste the sauce to make sure it is going in a direction that you like. After the hour has past take a look at your pork strips. The high alcohol content acts like a tenderizer and help start breaking down the proteins in the meat. Along with the carbonic acid in the beer the pork strips should have a slight color shift.

 

Pour off the beer but make sure to save about ¼ to ½ of what you used to add to the sauce. Pour your pork with reaming beer into the sauce and turn the temp up to high. The addition of the beer will thin out the thickness of the sauce and add a distinct and delicious flavor to your sauce.

Allow the sauce to reach a boil making sure to stir the consistently so the pork strips can have equal and ample time to cook all the way through. 5 minutes time should be enough to cook the pork all the way though. Once done take the sauce off of the heat and allow cooling for a bit. Spoon the sauce over some noodles and top with a little more yellow peppers and fresh graded Parmesan cheese.

 

I toasted up a few pieces garlic toast and enjoyed. I hope it will do the same for you.

 

Tell next time…feed you later!

 

Freaky French Green Bean Kick’n Casserole Great Galette!

French Green Bean Casserole Galette

Hello and nice to see you again! I have to apologize for the long delay in my blog postings. I recently started taking some new college classes and my time was very limited. But I am now back and I have come with a vengeance.

Even though I have not been posting does not mean that I have not been thinking. Also I have been inspired by my fellow Common Chefs with some absolutely amazing meals that I have had, prepared with them. Mr. PC especially has stepped up his game with a new found love for combining fresh fruits and berry’s in a variety of dishes that he has prepared as of late. I highly recommend checking out his blog to see what he has been up to.  

So during my down time I racked my brain with a clever idea of what would be my great creation. As many of my fans know I am a sucker for taking meals and rearranging their presentation and presenting them in a different way. I have so wanted to try and reverse apple pie alamode but I still have not perfected my plan yet with that.

While I was researching I came across a French style dessert pastry that coincidently is now gaining a lot of attention in other magazines. So don’t be surprised if you see a lot of these dishes popping up. I am speaking of a French Galette. This dessert may familiar to many of you but for me it was completely new and I love the look and it reminded me a lot of a pie recipe that I got from my mom.

A little history on the Galette, Once again I like to give credit to Wikipedia for the info provided.

Galette is a term used in the French cuisine to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes, similar in concept to a Chinese Bing. Galette, or more properly Breton Galette is also the name given in most French crêperies to savory buckwheat flour pancakes, while those made from wheat flour, much smaller in size and mostly served with a sweet filling, are branded crêpes. Galette is a type of thin large pancake mostly associated with the regions of Normandy and Brittany, where it replaced at times bread as basic food, but it is eaten countrywide.

It is frequently garnished with egg, meat, fish, and cheese, cut vegetables, apple slices, berries, or similar ingredients. One of the most popular varieties is a Galette covered with grated Emmental cheese, a slice of ham and an egg, cooked on the Galette. In France, this is known as a Galette complète (a complete Galette). A hot sausage wrapped in a Galette (called Galette saucisse, a tradition of Rennes, France) and eaten like a hot dog is becoming increasingly popular as well.

There is a children’s song about Galette:

J’aime la Galette, savez-vous comment ? Quand elle est bien faite, avec du beurre dedans.” (“I like Galette, do you know how? When it is made well, with butter inside.”)

Once I read about the awesome variety of this cute little pastry I wondered what I could partner it up with to make a one of a kind dish. With Memorial Day come and gone I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with family and friends and enjoy a truly authentic American life style type of holiday. When it comes to family gatherings and meals one dish over all others comes to mind. That is Green Bean Casserole. With most versions also using French cut green beans I thought what could be better.

So here is what you will need to make an amazing French Green Bean Casserole Galette.

Ingredients:  

  • ·        1 can of cream of mushroom soup (or split pea with ham)
  • ·        2 cups of fresh French Green beans (I do not recommend using frozen as they will be soggy)
  • ·        2  rolls your favorite biscuits
  • ·        ½ cup of milk
  • ·        1/3 cup chopped onions
  • ·        One small red sweet pepper
  • ·        A few slices of ham
  • ·        1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • ·        2 cups of French fried onions
  • ·        Salt, Pepper, other spices
  • ·        White wine vinegar

My first step was to open both rolls of biscuits and squish the together to make one big dough ball. I floured my table top and rolling pin and rolled out my dough ball trying to make a thin round circle about 13 inches across. I thought of it as the size of a small pizza.

  • You want the dough somewhat thin but not to the point where it tears or has holes. Once rolled out get your open cooking sheet ready and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Make sure to coat your baking sheet so that the Galette can come off easy when done.

Next I emptied my one can of soup in to a blender along with my milk, ham, cheese, salt, pepper, and a small handful of green beans. I puréed the mixture till smooth and even. I like to draw attention to the fact that I did not use the normal amount of milk that is normally used to make traditional Green Bean Casserole. I did this because I wanted the soup mixture to be very thick. Almost like a pie filling.

So once puréed I poured the mixture into a small sauce pan and reduced it even further for about 30 minutes on med to med high heat.  While doing this I chopped up my little bit of onions and red pepper. I melted a small amount of butter in a skillet and combined my pepper, onions and green beans along with a few spices with a dash of white wine vinegar.  Stir fry up the green beans just long enough to get the onions clear and peppers tender. This will add a nice layer of flavor in your casserole.

Make sure to keep an eye on your soup as it continues to reduce. Once the green beans are sautéed to perfection cut the heat and transfer the green beans to your flattened dough round.  Do not spread the green beans out; instead keep them more in a pile. Shake on a little bit of your French fried onions and then spoon your soup on top of the green beans. Do this slowly to make sure the soup seeps down between all the individual green beans.   Top again with more French fired onions and spices to taste.

Now hopefully you have a nice pile of green beans in the center of your rolled out dough, with enough dough left free to lift and cover the pile of green Beans. Take one corner and bring it across to the opposite corner. Do this all the way around being careful not to tear your dough. You should have a nice open center that will show off all the tasty inside.

I took a quick moment and mixed up an egg & milk wash and brushed the dough down giving it a nice glaze. Finally I added a final crumbling of French Fried Onions to the outside of the Galette. I put it into the oven and baked it for what I think was about 30 to 45 minutes. I checked on it every five minutes. The dough will turn a nice woody brown with ready. Feel free to continue to baste the dough with more egg wash to attain a shinier glaze.

Take the Galette out carefully as it is still filled with a now super-hot thick center that could leak out. Let cool for a few moments and cut it up like a pie.  Enjoy this for your next holiday dinner and I suggest playing with additional meat flavors. I love the idea of adding cubed ham chunks to the sautéing green beans.

Enjoy and I will feed you later!

Banana Chicken Coconut Shrimp Stir fry

Hello once again! I hope all of you have had a great couple of weeks. I have been busy as usual with the awesome up and coming episodes of The Common Chef. We have some great and spectacular things getting ready to happen in the future so please keep up with us each month with our new episodes and tell all your friends all over the country and world about our cool little show. Don’t just be satisfied with liking us on Facebook, become part of the show by entering our recipe contest and if you are picked you can become part of the show! Once again it’s all in the name The Common Chef, and it means the world to us to have our friends and community to become and involved with our show.  So please check out our recipes and make our show your show!

All right, so this week I had a tough conversation about where I get my recipes. Now it is always a goal of mine to come up with new and awesome recipes but as many of you know none of us on the show have any real culinary training. With that said, I do at many times draw upon many different recipes and other people’s prior experience and knowledge to help guide me in my decisions when it comes to creating a recipe. Also I do believe that there are only so many ways that a thing can be done, but I think long and hard to come up with something that has never been done before and I think that I have another winner this week.

I wanted to totally go off the script for this post and I spent a long time thinking about flavors and ingredients that I had at hand. When I took an inventory of my cabinets this week I found a few things that when you look at them you may be left scratching your head.

My wife has been singing the praise of Coconut oil, water and milk for a few months now and one of my favorite things to get when I go to a Chinese buffet is coconut shrimp. I had some shrimp and it was not a far stretch to think about adding some chicken. But then I had the thought of paring the creaminess of the coconut with a sweet tangy flavor of….a Banana! Scratching your head yet? Well just wait, because there is going to be a little spicy and other interesting things in here as well.

So here is what you will need:

  • ·        1 medium banana (yellow but not spotted)
  • ·        1 chicken breast (6 to 8 oz.)
  • ·        12 shrimp
  • ·        1 small can of tomato paste
  • ·        1 can of coconut milk
  • ·        1/3 of a red onion
  • ·        1 tablespoon of garlic freshly minced
  • ·        Mild Sweet chili sauce (Maggi Taste of Asia)
  • ·        2 tablespoons of convection sugar

 

First go and take the tails of the shrimp and cut the chicken in to cubes. Also mince up your garlic and chop up your onion. Start off by melting down some butter in your wok and sauté the garlic and onions. Watch your heat keep the ingredients moving. You want the onions to soften and start to clear but you don’t want the garlic or butter to start to smoke. An afterthought I had once I finished was that you could also use some Coconut oil as well at this point. 

Next add your chicken and stir until it is slightly browned. Add your shrimp next and a little seasoning if you like. I did not add and salt at all to this recipe as I really wanted to focus on the sweet side of the coconut and banana. Once the shrimp have had a chance to start to turn pink add a small can of tomato paste. Stir for about 2 minutes and add about ¼ can of Coconut milk to start off with. Remember to taste as you cook frequently to make sure the flavor is going in the direction that you want. Add more of either the tomato paste or coconut milk as you see fit.  Stir occasionally but let mixture simmer for another 5 or so minutes.

The liquid on the wok will reduce down some and you want to look for the signs of the sauce thickening. Don’t be afraid to spoon off some of the sauce if you added to much coconut milk. This is also important because you don’t want to run the risk of over cooking the shrimp or chicken. Shrimp take a very short time to cook so again you don’t want to keep the meats cooking for too long.  

Around the same time as I just started to cook the chicken and shrimp I also began soaking some soba noodles in some warm water. Different noodles have different preparation instructions so make sure you account for this in your cooking time.

Once the sauce has thickened up somewhat I added my last three ingredients. I added a generous amount of some mild sweet chili sauce. Again take some time to taste and a reminder that you can always add more but you can’t take it out once it’s added. So add your chili sauce to taste stir a few times and add the most interesting ingredient in my opinion 1 ripe Banana. I choose a banana that had not signs of green left but did not have any brown spotting. Spotting is a sign of ripening and a perfect banana is speckled with brown spots. The riper the banana the sweeter it will be. I think the next time I give this dish a shot I will try a riper banana and see what changes.  

I cut the Banana up in to pretty big slices as I was afraid that thinner ones would just disintegrate in the sauce. Stir them in gently as you don’t want to mash them up and allow too simmer for another 2 minutes. Finely I really wanted to nail the sweet flavor of this dish so I added 1 tablespoon of confectionary sugar. I kept an eye on the noodles and watch out for them so they don’t overcook as well. Top a small amount of the noodles with your mix and enjoy.  

I found that this dish had a great sweet and creamy flavor of coconut that blended well with the tomato paste. That surprised me. The heat from the chili sauce added a little heat that creep up very nicely. Banana added a unique tanginess that could have been better if I chose one that was riper. 

My mistake of the recipe was that I overcooked the noodles so I think that rice would be a substitution. All in all this came out great and I was surprised at how good the Banana mixed with the dish. I wonder why Bananas are not used more often in other dishes. I have heard of plantains being used all the time, so why aren’t banana used since they are so closely related? Well I am excited for the future as I want to keep tweaking with this recipe to see if I can improve it and fine tune it more.  

Enjoy and I will feed you later!

 

 

Baked Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

              Hello everyone and I hope you are all off to a great April. I have been busy as always down here in Ocala. Chris and I actually had this idea while working on our Aquaponics system over the past few weeks. We love to use peppers in all our dishes as you may have seen. A stuffed pepper is a meal that we all are familiar with and I am sure there are hundreds of different varieties and variations to this great recipe.

               Well Chris and I love the idea of how a good pepper can act like a cool bowl and infuse its light and sweet flavor into a stuffing. Also we at TCC love to come up with great combinations of things to give a recipe our own twist. This recipe is a great chance to experiment with different flavors and ingredients to make your stuffing.

                 I was so excited about this dish and shared my idea with my wife and as they say excitement can be infectious. She too was bitten by the pepper bug and added her own ideas to what would be a great meal. Before I get into my recipe I’d like to take a quick second and give you the readers a little info about the pepper and all the great things that it adds to our food.

                Here is a little info from good old Wikipedia. Bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or a pepper (in the UK) and capsicum (in Australia and New Zealand), is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum (chili pepper). Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange and green. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as “sweet peppers”. Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Pepper seeds were later carried to Spain in 1493 and from there spread to other European, African and Asian countries. Today, China is the world’s largest pepper producer, followed by Mexico. Compared to green peppers, red peppers have more vitamins and nutrients and contain the antioxidant lycopene. The level of carotene, like lycopene, is nine times higher in red peppers. Red peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers. Also, one large red bell pepper contains 209 mg of vitamin C, which is three times the 70 mg of an average orange.”

Now you have a little bit more info when it comes to this great and tasty vegetable. So for our recipe this week here is what you will need

Ingredients:

  • ·        1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef
  • ·        4 medium sized sweet peppers of various color
  • ·        1 can black beans
  • ·        1 ½ ears of yellow corn
  • ·        ½ red onion
  • ·        ½ white onion
  • ·        1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ·        1 teaspoon cumin
  • ·        Mrs. Dash: southwest chipotle seasoning to taste.
  • ·        ½ teaspoon Adobo seasoning
  • ·        1 can unsalted diced tomatoes
  • ·        ¼ cup of uncooked orzo pasta
  • ·        4 cloves of garlic
  • ·        3 cheese mix shredded.
  • ·        1 can tomato sauce.  

 First cut the tops off your bell peppers and wash out making sure that all the seeds are out. Also remember to keep the tops of the bell peppers. Bring some water to a boil and cook your Orzo about 5 minutes. Next cut up and sauté your vegetables in a wok with a little olive oil; cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions and peppers are translucent and tender. Next add your meat and stir till browned as well as your spices. Once the meats are browned take off of heat and add the tomatoes and orzo. This should cool down the stuffing somewhat.

Next fill the hollowed out bell peppers with the stuffing and top with some shredded cheese. Remember to reuse the caps of the bell peppers to help hold the stuffing in. Place the freshly stuffed peppers in a Pyrex baking pan and pour in 1 can tomato sauce to cover the bottom.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place your peppers in for 20 minutes.

Take out and place on a plate with a little tomato sauce and there you go.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Feed you next time!

Guinness Beoir cócaráil mairteoil shaillte

(Guinness Beer cooked Corned Beef)

Hey everybody! So I took a few weeks off from cooking but now I am back with a brand new recipe inspired by my favorite of all holidays St. Patrick’s Day.  To honor my rich Irish heritage I decided that I wanted to tie together all the food things that I love about being Irish. Also me and my wife have been craving Ruben sandwiches all this week and unfortunately had a terrible meal out at a restaurant. There’s nothing like a bad meal to get you inspired to do some good cooking yourself.

We were so distraught over the meal that it got me thinking about making the Rubén sandwich the focus of my blog this week, but with St. Patrick’s day on the horizon and Corned Beef and Cabbage being such a staple in Irish food culture I came up with the great idea of making my own cooked corned beef to use in my own homemade Rubén sandwich. At first I wanted to make my own sauerkraut but that would take a few weeks and I don’t have that Kind of time. It could however become a project for the future.

Another main ingredient that one must have while celebrating St. Patty’s day is beer, and when it comes to Irish beer there is only one name that comes to mind. That’s right; Guinness stout. I have seen and heard of cooks using beer in dishes before and I have always wanted to try it. This was my perfect opportunity.

The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. Just like the Irish this dish is easy going, not at all complicated but rich in flavor. It’s all in the name or the translation rather.  “Guinness Beoir cócaráil mairteoil shaillte” is just Gaelic for “Guinness Beer Cooked Corned Beef”; and that is exactly what we are going to do. We are going to cover our Corn beef Brisket with brown sugar and spices and then cook it in delicious dark Guinness stout beer. Throw in a few vegetables and Sláinte! There you have it.

Once the brisket is done I plan on slicing it down and using it along with some fine sauerkraut and Irish cheese to make an amazing Ruben sandwich.

So here is what you’ll need.

Ingredients:

  • Either a 2 or 4 lb. corned      beef brisket.
  • 1 or 2 Guinness beers (12 oz.)
  • 1 to 2 cups dark brown      sugar
  • 1 red pepper
  • ½ of a red Onion
  • 1 cup shredded potatoes

OK so this is so easy to make. First you need to preheat the oven to 350. Your next step is to rinse off your brisket and pat dry.  Put the brisket in a roasting pan or something of the like and cover both sides of the Brisket with a liberal coating of dark brown sugar.  I noticed that you want to look for the brown sugar to combine with the juice of the meat that are already exuding and it will create an almost syrup like consistency. Make sure you completely cover both sides with the brown sugar.

Now you may have gotten a spice packet with your brisket and you may have the idea of adding the spice packet to the brisket along with your sugar. This is something that I advise against especially if you are planning to add vegetables to the mix later. The spices will stick to the vegetables and the flavors do not mix well. You can easily add other spices that can complement the sweetness of the sugar.

Now depending on the size of your brisket you either want to add one bottle of Guinness for a 2 lb. piece of meat or two bottles for a 4 lb. piece. I had a small 2 lb. size so I only used 1 bottle and I drank the other.  The one mistake that I felt I made during this recipe was how I added the Guinness to the meat. Not thinking I rushed and poured the bottle directly over the top of the brisket, thus washing off much of the spice and brown sugar. What I should have done instead was to pour the beer around the meat and only add a little at a time giving the sugar time to melt and infuse with the beer and sit on top of the meat.

So please learn from my mistake and slowly pour your beer around your brisket and use a spoon to baste it. Put your top on your roasting pan and place in to the oven. Cook at 350 degrees for 2 hours.  I flipped the brisket over after 30 minutes allowing for both sides to get equal time in the beer. After the first hour had past; I took the brisket out to quickly basted the top of it. Also I cut up and added the red pepper, onion and potatoes to the juices. After the 2 hour mark I removed the brisket from the oven and spooned the juices over the top one final time also covering the brisket with the onions, peppers, and potatoes. Let them stay there for the time it took for the brisket to cool down a bit.

Once it had a chance to cool for a bit; I took the brisket out and did my best to shave it down as thin as possible. The vegetables soaked up the Guinness beautifully and the Brisket had a great sweet flavor.  This recipe has a lot of room to work with and I encourage you play with your beer and sugar mixture. Try it out and let me know how it comes out.

Feed you next time!

 

 

 

 

Cameron’s Thumbs up Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

I took a week off from blogging to recover from the busy week I had last week with filming our funny little video for our latest episode. Please check it out and enjoy. This week I had to throw something together for the toughest of all critics…my 8 year old son Cameron.

Dealing with children is probably one of the hardest obstacles that any chef can deal with.  Why is this? One word, pickiness! I have dealt with a lot of kids in my life and I still don’t know why some kids are willing to try anything and some cry at the mere sight of something new. With my limited knowledge of child food psychology, I think it has to do with an underdeveloped taste palate and negative reinforcement with new food tastes.

Like many of us, once I started dealing with my child I started to reflect on my own childhood and I remembered my own hesitance to new foods. I realized that it wasn’t till I got older that I found myself not only more willing to try new foods but able to appreciate the taste of more complicated recipes.  As a child I practically lived off of Ramon Noodles and Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches. Every Wednesday my mom made Taco salad and that was what was for dinner.  I tried it every time and no matter what it never tasted good. To this day I can’t stand the smell of Taco Salad and all because I keep trying to like something that I just didn’t.

I guess what I am getting at is when it comes to kids you have to give them a wide birth and not only allow them to try new things but to reject them as well. All we can hope for is to introduce them to something new to allow them to be able to appreciate it again in the future.  You can be sure the when you have a winner your kid will let you know. It is their honesty that is the best tool to making a great meal.

For my son Cameron, Chicken is his favorite thing to eat. Mostly chicken nuggets so it is a little tough to find ways to get him to eat vegetables and other things. Luckily for me chicken is a very versatile meat and it allows me to introduce him to many different flavors.

This week I tried a Garlic Chicken stir fry with Corn and Green Peas. I like to partner his chicken with other vegetables so that the chicken taste can somewhat be the dominate flavor in the dish and not scare him away too much from the veges.

This is what you will need.

Ingredients:

  • ·         1 tablespoon cornstarch (I used flour)
  • ·         1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or white wine
  • ·         2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • ·         2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • ·         1 teaspoon salt
  • ·         1 teaspoon sugar
  • ·         1 ½ to 2 pounds of boneless chicken breast
  • ·         4 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • ·         ½ cup of yellow corn
  • ·         ½ cup of green peas
  • ·         1 table spoon of some dark soy sauce marinade
  • ·         1 table spoon Ketchup
  • ·         1 table spoon sesame oil
  • ·         ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ·         2/3 cup chicken stock

First thing to do is to trim the fat off of the chicken and cut it up in to 1 ½ x ½ inch pieces. Here is a quick reminder that it is always easier to cut up frozen chicken. Next mix together in a small bowl the cornstarch (or flour), White wine, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly till you have a smooth, lump free sauce.

Mix the chicken in with your sauce and toss till evenly coated. Cover and let the chicken marinade for about 20 to 30 minutes.  While this was going on you can combine your corn and green peas in a small pot and heat up with water to take off the chill.

In another bowl mix together your dark soy sauce marinade, ketchup, sesame oil, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Mix this together till smooth and have ready on the side your chicken stock. I was actually out of chicken stock so when faced with this dilemma I simply used some base from a can of soup that I had handy.  I drained off the needed 2/3 cup and saved the rest for later.

Heat up in a wok or skillet over high heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add your minced garlic and swirl around till the garlic is lightly browned.  Add your chicken and quickly toss separating all the individual pieces, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add your soup stock mix together till the stock is heated all the way though. Once this is done add your drained corn and peas. Cook for another 2 minutes.

Next add the soy sauce mixture me made early and mix together. Once everything is coated thoroughly it’s time to eat.

It was a little touch and go there for a bit but overall it was a winner.  He said that he wasn’t’t a big fan of the corn and peas because they were sweet. He is more used to his corn and Peas being buttery with more salt. The chicken he said was very tasty and I got thumbs up. You can’t beat that.

So try this out and see how your kids will like it.

Feed you next time!

Keep It Simple Stupid Banana Sandwich or the K.I.S.S.B.S

     Not to much happened this week, so I was able to let my imagination run wild with ideas of what to cook for my blog. I was planning another elaborate reinvention of a common dish. After epically failing however, I had another eye opening moment. For the past few weeks I have been making some rather unique recipes that still may be for some a little tough to do. The whole idea of the show is to tackle situations and scenarios that all us face as Common Chefs. Sometimes I feel that we may stray away from our path during the show and sometimes while blogging.

      Last week I tackled the notion of what to do with soup that you don’t want to make into soup. A very common problem that we all face. So this week I want to address what to do when what you planned fails and you are to frustrated to start over. Many times we are all rushed, preoccupied, or just down right tired. I originally wanted to recreate spaghetti and meatballs in a stuffed ravioli, but I made it to complicated and had to many things going on at once. So it was no surprise that I created a orange goop, under cooked pasta, and bunch of crap.

     After using some colorful language and making a lot of noise I took a moment to calm down and reflect on my failure. Internationally know chef Dorie Greenspan puts it beautify. She sayA failed dish is a disappointment, definitely. But every time a recipe doesn’t come out quite the way we expected, it’s also an opportunity to learn something. We’ll think back and try to figure out what in the recipe or what we did made the dish turn out this way. Next time, we’ll have a better idea what to do.

     I am sure I will figure out this idea that I have somewhere down the line. But right now I can’t think of anything other then the fact that I am hungry. When you are hungry nothing makes sense. So it’s time to eat. When I am hungry and I need something in a pinch there is nothing faster and simpler then a good old fashioned sandwich.

      What other recipe is more common the that of a sandwich. So this week I am going to follow the best advice that I have ever heard when it comes to doing anything. Keep It Simple Stupid, and for me there is nothing more simple and delicious then a true Banana sandwich. Now many people are going to read this and say that I have more stupid in this recipe then simple. That is only because of the uniqueness of my sandwich.

      Many of you may be familiar with a banana sandwich, while others of you may only know the monstrosity that is the fried banana and peanut butter sandwich made famous by Elvis Presley. It’s a little know lie that Elvis was a communist, and he had a deep and far reaching plot to turn America away from the true southern style banana sandwich.

      All joking aside, I don’t know where the banana sandwich I like comes from. I tried looking up online and I found nothing. The peanut butter and banana sandwich is just the more familiar sandwich out there. Not knowing where this sandwich came from all I can do is think about my family linage and try to come up with my take on a history.

      From the few things that my mother told me about when she grew up I knew that egg sandwiches, and tomato sandwiches and all kinds of sandwiches had one ingredient in common. That ingredient was Mayonnaise. Very easily to make and cheap to own Mayonnaise is a staple in all southern cooking. So why would a banana sandwich be any different.

     The tangy sourness of good mayonnaise partnered with the sweet creaminess of a nice ripe banana. How could you go wrong wrong with that. The one thing that I would have like to have done is actually make my own mayonnaise for this recipe. Maybe next week. Again you may not be a fan of this while reading on screen, but I promise you if you give it an honest try you will like it. That is unless you don’t like Mayonnaise.

So here is what you need.

Ingredients:

2 slices of great bread (I don’t like my bread toasted but to each his own)

2 to 4 tablespoons of Mayonnaise (either Dukes deep south or maybe your own homemade)

1 ripe Banana

      Take what ever kind of bread you have chosen, toasted or not and slather two slices with a healthy coating of creamy mayonnaise. After that chose a nice and ripe banana. Once the banana has a nice coating of small brown speckles its at it’s most ripe. During the ripening process, bananas produce a plant hormone called ethylene, which indirectly affects the flavor. Among other things, ethylene stimulates the formation of amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar, influencing the taste of bananas. The greener, less ripe bananas contain higher levels of starch and, consequently, have a “starchier” taste. On the other hand, yellow bananas taste sweeter due to higher sugar concentrations. Furthermore, ethylene signals the production of pectinase, an enzyme which breaks down the pectin between the cells of the banana, causing the banana to soften as it ripens.

      Peel and d-string your banana and cut in to quarters. I like to lay the bananas to where they spoon each other. Add what ever other topping you like, some people like fluffernutter, others like nuttela, some like cinnamon or sugar. Finally top with your other slice of bread and cut how ever you like and enjoy.

     Now once again this may not be the banana sandwich that you are used to or maybe it is. However you like you bananas try something new and remember. Everything makes more sense on a full stomach.

Feed you later.

Asparagus and Squash Quiche that tried to be a Souffle.

Here we are again with the completion of one week behind us and a new week closely approaching on the horizon. I took a break this week from filming and had a great lazy weekend with my family as well as time to myself. I had time to think of what recipe I wanted to come up with this week and I wanted to continue with my theme from last week.

Sticking with my notion of using what we have at home. All Common Chef’s have at least a few of theses stashed way back in the back of there cupboards. I am talking about soup. Now I love soups and I have listed one great soup so far on my blog. But the question I had to ponder this week was “What do you do with the soup you don’t want to make into soup”?

I thought of this when I pulled a can of Cream of Asparagus Soup from my cabinet. God bless my wife as she tries to buy then things that she thinks I would like. Sometimes however she misses the mark. Don’t get me wrong I would probably love this soup but we eat a lot of asparagus during a week. So when confronted with this soup I wasn’t a huge fan. I started to think of what I could do with this can of soup that is a none traditional way of using canned soup.

First I thought of casseroles or other bakes over top of chicken or whatever. None of these were unique enough for me so I was stumped. Then I saw the three little yellow squashes that I still had from PC’s house. I remembered the delicious squash souffle that my mom makes and then it hit me. Why not try and make a souffle with this can of soup.

For those of you out there that are not sure of what a Souffle is (me being one of them) allow me to provide a little explanation. Since I am terribly lazy I found this from Wikipedia:

A soufflé is a lightly baked cake made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savory main dish or sweetened as a dessert.”

So its basically a egg cake with different flavors added to it. Not to hard but a lot of people shy away from this dish because they think it is to complicated. Must the be the French name. I must admit I was drawn to try this as it is once again a fancy sounding recipe. So I started with my research and this is what I came up with. Once again before I go any further I must state that I really did want this to be a true souffle but there were some factors in my attempt that changed the dish and ultimately what came out was more of a Quiche rather then a Souffle.

First when it comes to making a Souffle, one must have the proper cooking dishes in order to prepare it correctly. I did not however have any Souffle cup so instead I used a 6 ½ x 8 ½ Pyrex baking dish. The second factor was the actual canned soup I used rather then creating a true béchamel. Although in my research it does frequently state that a béchamel can be replaced with other sauces as long as they share the same consistency. The canned soup I used could have been a tad bit to thick.

Lastly when attempting this recipe I did use egg beaters rather then saving the actual egg whites. These egg beaters did not foam up as much as real egg whites tend to yield. So the souffle actually broke before it even started. Alas I will try again as this was my first attempt and I was surprised at the results I did get.

A souffle is not a hard dish to create it is just one that calls for the right equipment in order to pull it off. Conquer this minor hurdle and you can easily have a better result then I.

Here is what you will need.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Cream of Asparagus soup (low sodium if possible).

  • 1 small yellow squash

  • ¼ red onion if not less

  • 6 eggs (using both their yokes and whites separately)

  • ¼ stick of butter

  • pepper

  • red pepper flakes

  • ¼ cup shredded Cheddar/American cheese

  • 3 tablespoons skim milk

  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Start by liberally coating your 6.5 x 8.5 Pyrex dish with some of your butter. Next pour your grated Parmesan cheese in the dish and shake, making sure all sides are coated with cheese. Next preheat your oven to 375 degrees. It will be ready to go by the time you get everything all mixed together.

Go ahead and cut up your onion and squash. You are going to want to mince up both of these vegetables to help get a nice smooth sauce. Take another bit butter and melt it down in a small saute pan. Once heated add the onion and squash and cook until clear and soft. Set aside and pour your soup in to a bowl and let warm up to room temperature. Now the soup I used was really thick so I decided to warm it up in the saute pan very quickly. This made it a bit more malleable but I also added about 3 tablespoons of skim milk to thin it even further.

With the soup warmed slightly transfer to a large mixing bowl and add your shredded cheese along with your saute vegetables, black and red pepper flakes. The next step is to separate your 6 eggs. Take another empty bowl and crack your eggs pouring them through your fingers. I found this to be the easiest way to separate your yolks from the whites. Be sure to look over how to do this so that you won’t waste your eggs.

With each egg that you separate you will add the yellow yolks to the bowl and stir it into the mixture. Do this one at a time. After adding all the yolks mix your concoction thoroughly to make sure you have a nice smooth sauce. You may have noticed that I have not added any salt to this dish as I found out first hand. The soup already has a hearty dose of salt in it and I even recommend trying a low sodium soup as mine came out somewhat salty. You could also add a bit of sugar to your mixture believe it or not to counter act the saltiness.

Once this is done set the sauce aside and whisk your collected egg whites until they are nice and foamy. Now this step is the big trick of the dish. Take some time and look at some other information to get a clear idea of how the whites should look before going any further. I whisked my whites for quite some time and when I thought I was done I still had a ways to go. Stop when you reach the stage at which the egg whites stands up in well defined peaks. The peaks should be soft so that when you lift the whisk the peaks drop slightly. Dry egg whip will look as if the eggs are starting to break down again.

Now when you have gotten your egg whites whisked to perfection it’s time to add them to the sauce. Your going to want to add about ¼ of your whip to the souffle base and mix it in rather thoroughly. Not ruff mind you just complete. With the remaining whip you are going want to fold it in to the base rather then mix it in. This means taking your spatula from the bottom of the bowl and folding the sauce on top of itself. Be gentle but also be thorough. Finally pour your mixture into your Parmesan dusted Pyrex dish and place in your already preheated oven. You should bake the souffle for about 40 to 45 minutes.

Try cooking it in 10 minute periods while checking. If you have been lucky enough to have created a great egg whip then your souffle will be very delicate. I recommend watching it cook through the oven window if possible. After about 20 minutes I saw it start to rise. I kept it in for another 20 minutes and made sure to take it out before it had a chance to burn.

The thing is with souffles is that when they are done right they rise and fluff up nicely while baking. When you take them out of the oven however that beautiful puffy look will deflate and fall. Admire it while it lasts and take a picture but do not be disappointed when it happens as it is a sign that you did everything right. Now my dish did rise somewhat but ultimately didn’t really turn out to be a souffle but more of a quiche. Still delicious even if a bit salty. Topped with a little shredded cheese and enjoy! This was a first time for me as I hope it will be for some of you that read my blog. Remember to have fun with your food and never be afraid to try new things.

Feel free to comment on this recipe and correct me where I messed up. Thanks again for your support and Feed you next time.

Drunken Shrimp Umbrella Melody

Holy Mackerel! What a busy week. We just got Episode 8 up and running plus we warped up filming episode 9. Not to mention I think there was a football game on this weekend or something . HA! Well congratulations to the New York Giants and thanks to all our fans out there that have supported us for another great episode.

Now each episode Chris, PC, and I come up with some pretty extravagant menus. Along with that we sometimes try things that other Common Chefs out there just aren’t able to do. So during our filming this week I asked myself what does it really mean to be a Common Chef. All I had to do was to look in my own refrigerator at home to find the answer. Just like the majority of  Common Chefs out there I have a very narrow selection of ingredients that I can choose from when shopping. Also I can’t just run to the store and buy a huge ingredient list every time I want to cook a meal. So one of major factors that all common chef have to deal with is what to do with left overs.

During this weekends filming, we were hoping to have a bunch of people show up for our Superbowl party. We had a great turn out but unfortunately do to time constants and a few people not being able to make it, we had to cut back on our menu. This left us with a lot of extra ingredients and nothing to do with them. Not one to waste food I gathered up what I felt would be useful and headed home to rest up and cook the next day. What I had to work with once I got home were a lot of Portabella Mushrooms some red peppers, an onion, and a few carrots. I was thinking maybe another mushroom soup, but after some research I found that there are not that many things you can do with a Portabella Mushroom. I like the idea of using carrots for different things and I will be doing more with them in the future. Alas like all of us out there the time came to stop thinking about it and start cooking because I was HUNGRY.

So I decided on a Portabella Mushroom, mixed vegetable saute with cooked shrimp served in a light Vodka sauce.

Here are the ingredients I used for this weeks recipe

  • about 2 cups fresh Portabella Mushrooms
  • half a yellow onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 to 2 red peppers
  • ½ pound of shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary and garlic herbs
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • about 12 oz of vodka sauce
  • 1 cup penne pasta
  • some dice tomatoes

Start by washing off the vegetables. Especially the mushrooms as they tend to have a little more dirt on them. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop up the caps in to large chunks. Once that’s done set it aside and cut up your onion, carrot and red peppers. Since Carrots are somewhat hard or tough make sure to cut them down into thin strips so they will cook in the same time as the other vegetables.

Remember to put your onion in the freezer for a few minutes before cutting it up to avoid getting tears in your eyes. Finally remove all the seeds from the red peppers and cut into strips. Once all the vegetables are cut take your ½ pound of shrimp and place in a bowl of warm water to thaw them out. Heat a large saute pan under med high heat and melt down the 3 tablespoons of butter. Once that is done add the yellow onion and saute till somewhat soft.

Next add your carrot and let it cook in the butter and onion for about 5 minutes, again since they are tougher they need a little more time to soften up. Next add the red pepper and let saute for another 5 minutes. Check your shrimp and if they are close to being thawed you can add in your diced tomatoes and half of your chopped Portabella mushrooms.

Now all the vegetables have moisture trapped inside them and mushrooms as well have a tremendous amount of water in them. This liquid will escape and make a great tasting dark base that I decided to drain off real quick and save for later.

About this time boil some water and start preparing your penne noddles. Only let the noddles cook for about 4 minutes in the water. Test to see if they are a few minutes before being done and replace the water with the broth that you drained off from the vegetables earlier. This will give the noddles an added layer of flavor as they will absorb the sweetness of the onions and carrots along with the meatiness of the mushrooms.

While the noddles are finishing up add your shrimp and keep the saute moving. The shrimp should cook relatively quickly and once you see them start to turn you can add in the 12 oz of Vodka sauce. This particular sauce is very different then typical marinara sauce. It is creamy with strong flavor of cheese, and the infusion of vodka will have brought out some other flavors in the tomatoes. It is an acquired taste and for that reason I elected to not add in a whole bottle but rather add a little at a time till I got the taste that I liked. I suggest you do the same as everyone’s pallet is different.

Stir in the Vodka sauce a few times and add in your basil, rosemary, garlic, and the last bit of Portabella mushrooms that you have. The mushrooms cook down very quickly so that is why we wanted to add a little at the start and the rest at the end.

Check your noddles and once they are done separate and drain form your broth. Finally mix with your saute and there you go.

What I can say about this dish more then other in the past is it deals with what The Common Chef is all about to me. I really didn’t know where to go with this recipe so I just had to use what I had and let my instincts take over. It’s another example of how food and cooking can be therapeutic in a way. This meal allowed me to open up my senses and use them to guide myself through it. Taste,smell two very important tools that we have lost touch with in our modern society. So when you cook make sure you take time to taste your recipe and ingredients as your prepare. Smell the aromas as they mingle together in your pots and pans. If it doesn’t smell good chances are it will not taste good to you either.

Well I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe and remember that you can always improve on it and let me know by posting on my blog.

Feed you next time!