Sunday, January 3, 2010

Food Memory

Every member of the food industry has one memory of taste that is ingrained in their soul. For some it is their first summer vacation away from home. For some its pizza on their birthday or the first time they tried a raw succulent oyster. As for my self I recall a thanksgiving from my childhood when food became more than something our mothers made us eat to provide nutrients to the body. For the first time I saw that food can be an event a time where the whole family can gather around the table raising their glasses at one another and passing around the most beautiful pies and home made cookies.

For me this particular thanksgiving started the same as most of my childhood with me sitting under the table flipping through a toys r us catalog. For many years I was the only child in the family this had become something I did alone as I hadn't had any cousins or siblings that could converse with.

I was a boy that spent his time in the woods. I had a few friends that like me enjoyed riding bikes off of dirt ramps and playing man hunt. Talking freely about what ever that was on our minds was common place and when we were in the woods our language could be so fowl George Carlin would just shake his head. There in the woods I needn't worry of being heard be adults swearing and getting the reaction of the father from A CHRISTMAS STORY.

Anyway back to thanksgiving the food was the focus beyond contemplation as for as soon as is was laid out on the dinning room table everyone had turned their attention from whatever it was they were doing be it a football game a slightly cranky baby or a conversation it seemed that had waited weeks to actually happen. All eyes were on the dinner table. So for the first time I saw how important that table was I couldn't even count how many feet I could see from sitting underneath the table.

My Uncle Mark was a fairly large man who loved food and lusted for eating. He was a kind, jolly man with the heart of a young teenager. I recall my father commenting on how amazing it was the amount of food he could consume. I remember longing of the approval from someone other than the boys in the woods I decided in less than an instant I was going to eat. Really eat, not just enough so Mom will let me have some dessert. Not only was I going to eat I was going to out eat my Uncle Mark.

The food was fantastic my Mother and all of my aunts had put in so much effort to make the meal a glorious success. However not one dish was able to top the turkey. For over 3 hours my uncle Glenn had been roasting the large bird on his black webber grill. Heavily seasoned with salt and black pepper the crispy skin made my mouth salivate more than eating a pussy ever did. The fat from the dark meat absorbed all of the smokey flavor that was trapped in from the black webber lid. Between the texture and flavor eating that turkey leg became my food crown. It was so delectable I finished it in what seemed only to be moments. Shortly after I continued to eat eventually going through seven plates.

After I was satisfied my father came over and let me know that he had taken notice and said. "Wow. I hope you saved some room for dessert." I hadn't saved any room for dessert and I didn't care after that dinner sweets just didn't matter as much as they have before. I had developed a palate for salty, crispy, smokey, spicy and savory all with my first bite of that turkey. Although at age 10 I grabbed a piece of apple pie and ate half of it anyway.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Recipies Comming soon

mushroom risotto with sweet summer sausage garnished with sweet pepper coulis and chive

Cavatelli with duck ragut garnished with lemon and thyme

Grilled Lamb Tbones with roasted red potato and chorizo garnished with garlic aioli and olive tapinade

Large Ravioli special- creamed spinach and riccota ravioli with garlic cream sauce garnished with riccota solata and basil

Carmini mushroom ravioli with tomato fennel sauce garnished with olive tapinade and micro basil

Pork tenderloin shnitzel with apple fennel slaw garnished with lemon caper sauce

petite fillet over celery root puree garnished with wild mushroom gravy

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy Ending

So I know I dedicated this blog to food and stories that are about food. However it is new years day and today I want to talk about having a fresh start. I had this girlfriend that I held on to long after the relationship was over. Today for the first time in months I had a conversation with this girl. There were many things left unsaid along with many different feeling and emotions along with a couple new ones. There were so many things that I wanted to know. Does she miss me? Does she still have feelings for me? Does she wish things went differently? All these things that I didn't ask. However I did manage to ask one very important question... Are you happy? She is. But what if she wasn't? What if she was miserable? What if she was crying the the whole time? Would I step up to try and be the knight in shining Armor. Would I feel guilty if I decided not to be that great white knight?

So I asked myself If I'm happy, I'm not however I am content with the progress that I have made in my life. I don't need to go into all of the details of that however I know that I'm going somewhere and that is a feeling i didn't have while her and I were together. My career is going better because now I have all of my time to focus on it. I get up and I plan out what I'm going to do in the kitchen. Then I do some reading to get some fresh ideas and perspective on food and proper technique. I also read just to get a seance of the kind of Chef I want to become. Currently I'm reading Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. A story that like mine doesn't exactly have a happy ending.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A couple days ago in my attempt to get back some of the soul I have lost form corporate cooking. I invited some friends over. A small random group of cooks and food enthusiast and one picky eater for some Latin dished made from scratch. The menu consisted of Empanadas, Braised Chicken Quesadillas, Guacamole Chips and Salsa. Fairly simple food yet made nothing but simple ingredients and some love I found in my almost bare cabinet that resembles a heart.

The empanada dough consisted of a dear old friend called 321. 3 pints flour 2 pints shortening 1 pint water and 2 tbsp salt. For those who do not cook often this is the recipe for pie dough. Mix by hand and you will end up with soft flaky dough every time. As for the filling I started by mincing 4 onions 2 carrots and 6 cloves of garlic and saute until aromatic and soft then added 4 diced roma tomatoes and this is the soffrito. Then I added 3 lb. of ground beef to the soffrito and cooked it until gust barley done and then added about 2 tbsp of tomato puree and a med sized can of corn kernels. Seasoned with adobo, kosher salt and cumin to taste.

For the braised chicken I sweated 2 onions and 4 cloves of garlic in a pot then added the rest of my can of tomato puree-about 3 cups and a bottle of corona I picked up for my little dinner party and just added a chickens worth of dark meat and let it simmer until the meat was falling off the bone. I grated some sharp cheddar and I had every thing I needed for some beautiful quesadillas. Oh I guess I did buy some already made tortillas. I don't think I have ever seen anyone make their own. Ever.

Guacamole is very easy. Take some ripe avocado. Dice it into a bowl squeeze some lime juice and then beat in some cumin, salt and pepper.

Salsa on the other hand takes a little bit more time. Dice some ripe roma tomato into a bowl then chop a bunch of cilantro and some garlic cloves and toss in the bowl with just enough salt to draw some liquid out of the tomato.

Since I have had my little dinner party I do feel better about how I'm making a living here in Seattle. I work in the environment I do to make money so that one day when the stars do aline correctly in the universe I will be able to cook what I want to, in my own restaurant for guests that love and appreciated what I do.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What's A Chef to do???

For so many people throughout the years cooking has been a great escape, an escape from life, responsibility and board um. Food has touched the lives of so many this is a fact. From the hungry immigrants that migrated over the Atlantic to Ellis Island to the children sitting at the adults table on thanksgiving. Food has been a magnet for bringing people together from the first greek senators to the pilgrims and native americans to the celebrated chefs eating after hours with Daniel Boulud.

Everyday I cook. I feed hundreds of people a day and thousand every year. However I am no longer satisfied. I believe this is true because I have lost a certain connection with the guest. I believe that when there is a connection with the person receiving a meal and the chef creating it for them there is something very special happening to the food. It is being checked once again for freshness, it is being carefully cut into perfect bite size pieces seasoned just right and cooked with extra love ( love usually means butter).

So what is a chef to do???