Category Archives: random

Welcome!  Below are a few photos of some new small plate ideas I’ve been working on including: chili crusted tuna tataki, bobwhite quail w blue corn arepas, vanilla spiked foie w barrel aged burbon and 24 hr sous-vide short rib w syrah redux. Ultimately, the goal here will be to post easy recipes of dishes like these along with plating notes, a step by step photographic guide and wine pairing suggestions. I would love to hear any requests for specific dishes from our readers and of course, #wine pairing suggestions are always welcome. Hope you enjoy!

foie gras, lady apple, tahitian vanilla, barrel aged bourbon maple syrup

foie gras, lady apple, tahitian vanilla, barrel aged bourbon maple syrup

Tuna Tataki, Fennel Slaw, Florida Navel, Chili Syrup

Tuna Tataki, Fennel Slaw, Florida Navel, Chili Syrup

Bobwhite Florida Quail, Blue Corn Cakes, Roast Plum, Guajillo Plum Sauce

Bobwhite Florida Quail, Blue Corn Cakes, Roast Plum, Guajillo Plum Sauce

Bobwhite Florida Quail, Blue Corn Cakes, Roast Plum, Guajillo Plum Sauce

Bobwhite Florida Quail, Blue Corn Cakes, Roast Plum, Guajillo Plum Sauce

Salted Caramel-Pretzel Brownie, vanilla bean gelato, chocolate dipped "cocoa puffs"

Salted Caramel-Pretzel Brownie, vanilla bean gelato, chocolate dipped “cocoa puffs”

Fresh Pasta with Vegetables and a Deliciously Wicked Martini

We LOVE this summery Fresh #Pasta with Vegetables, and a Deliciously Wicked #Martini doesn’t hurt either! http://justin-thyme.com/

basil & salt magazine

We have enjoyed a very warm, relatively rain free summer this year in the Pacific Northwest and while I am sorry to see the days becoming shorter, I am eagerly anticipating fall.

This season we are working with fresh fruits and vegetables more than we have any other year in the past.  Living in the Orting Valley has been a wonderful experience, and I have enjoyed the local farms and their seasonal harvests.

Spring Vegetable Ragout with Fresh PastaSpring Vegetable Ragout with Fresh Pastaby Fine Cooking.  A delightfully fresh addition to any weeknight meal, that takes just a few minutes of prep time from start to table. The shopping list may take some to gather, however you will have a fantastic time walking the market in search of the freshest ingredients.  Shopping list;  Pasta sheets, garlic, mixed spring veggies~your choice, shelled peas or fava beans, pea shoots or watercress sprigs ( delicious )…

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jun-aug13 292wmCrispy seared sea bass, Spanish saffron basmati rice, organic spring peas, locally produced chorizo, chardonnay butter, organic parsnip & carrot chips

While a pinot gris or chardonnay seem like a natural pairing choice, this wonderful end of summer seafood dish would actually pair perfectly with a wide array of interesting wines. The combination of rich, lightly acidic chardonnay butter and aromatic saffron basmati offer a powerful counterpoint when paired with a California Pinot noir. Alternatively, the richness and fat content of the sea bass seem to pair very well with a luscious syrah and even stood up nicely to an Argentine malbec. Unusual yet delicious! What would you pair with this dish to go with some of the other components like salty-savory chorizo, spiced parsnip-carrot chips or the sea bass itself?

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Recipe: Mardi Gras King Cake

King Cakes are a vital part of history of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition. The King Cake is baked with a small plastic baby hidden inside, the person who gets the slice with baby in it has to host the next party. Make sure to buy a new small plastic baby so you can get the full effect from this cake! Sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries.
Note: Be sure to tell everyone to inspect their piece of cake before they begin eating it. To be extra careful, use a plastic toy baby that is too large to swallow, or hide an orange wedge or 3-4 pecan halves inside the cake (avoid items that may hurt someone’s teeth) and then simply place the honorable toy baby outside on the top of the cake for all to see and adore!

Mardi gras king cake

Ingredients

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup melted butter
FROSTING:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon to 2 water
MISC:
2 smalls plastic dolls (from party supply store)
green sugar
yellow sugar>
purple sugar

Preparation

1. Scald the milk, then remove from heat and stir in the butter. cool the mixture until it reaches room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, approximately 10 minutes.
3. When the yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Beat the flour in, adding 1 cup at a time.
4. Once the dough has formed, put it on a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth and elastic, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Lightly oil a large bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and turn it to coat the dough with oil. Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, approximately 2 hours. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it in half.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 cookie sheets, or line them with parchment paper.
7. Make the filling: combine brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour the 1/2 cup of melted butter over the mixture and mix until crumbly.
8. Roll out the dough halves into large rectangles (approximately 10 x 6 inches). Sprinkle the filling over the dough and roll the dough up like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form two oval shaped rings. Put each dough ring on a prepared cookie sheet. Use scissors to make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes.
9. Bake the rings in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove cakes from oven and press a plastic baby doll into the bottom of each cake.
10. Mix the confectioners sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and frost the cakes while warm. Decorate with green, yellow, and purple colored sugars.
ENJOY!

Personal Chef Media – Personal Chefs in the News

Written By:
Scott Joseph
Sentinel Restaurant Critic
Orlando Sentinel

Too busy for the kitchen? Special diet? A pro can slice and dice for you — at home.

Tampa personal chef

Tampa personal chef in the kitchen

The busier we become, the more we look to others to help us simplify our lives. Services that might seem a luxury become easier to justify as a necessity.

We’ll hire a lawn service, maybe have someone come in to clean the house regularly, and even drop the laundry off with the dry cleaning.

Now there’s a growing sector of service professionals available to help out with one of your most important daily duties: dinnertime. They’re called personal chefs, and they come into your home and cook your meals.

Oh, right, you’re thinking, I can have the chef bunk with the chauffeur in the rooms over the carriage house. But a personal chef is different from a private chef, and the cost is a lot less than you might imagine. And for some people it’s a service that not only is cost-effective but also a provision that is even more essential than having someone mow the grass.

Eric Kunichika, a Longwood physician, and his wife, Deanne, a dentist, have used Justin of Justin Thyme for about 21/2 years. Kunichika admits that for two doctors the cost isn’t a factor, but he says he has referred friends who are laborers to Justin Thyme.

“It isn’t cost prohibitive,” he says. “The cost to go out to eat is fairly substantial, and I have wines at home I can open that are more economical.”

The client pays for all the food and seasonings the chef purchases, and any items unused are left in the refrigerator. The cost of hiring a personal chef varies from one chef to another and depends on the situation — for instance whether it involves cooking for a special occasion or with special ingredients. Dale Pyle, a part-time personal chef, says $15 to $20 per entrée per person is typical.

And as Pyle says, “If you add up all the times you go out to eat, order in or stop at the drive-through, and the food you buy and throw out” because you never got around to cooking it and it spoiled, the cost is comparable to an average restaurant meal.

“You can get the same meal at your house and eat it in front of the TV in your underwear.”

A measure of independence

A personal chef differs from a private chef in that the latter is someone who is employed by one client and cooks exclusively for that individual or family. A private chef might very well live at the client’s home, though it’s doubtful one would agree to share accommodations with the chauffeur.

A personal chef works for several clients and is an independent contractor who owns his or her own business.

Justin-Thyme and Pyle are among the 10,000 personal chefs estimated to be working in the United States, according to the American Personal Chef Association.

Justin-Thyme has worked as a private chef and also did time working the lines in the kitchens of well-known restaurants in South Florida. But he likes the independence — and the more reasonable hours — of working as a personal chef. When he was working in a restaurant, he says, he never had weekends or holidays off. Now he works only weekdays, 9 to 5, and finally has time to spend with his fiancée. He’s happy he made this career move.

“Quality of life factors into it,” he says.

More chefs are coming to that realization, according to Candy Wallace, executive director of the San Diego-based American Personal Chef Association. She says that when she started her organization 10 years ago, she knew of about 30 personal chefs. Those numbers are blooming. Her Web site, she says, gets about 1 million hits every month.

Of course, some of those hits are from potential clients looking for someone to do the cooking. According to Wallace, consumers will hire a chef for a number of reasons. Foremost is the convenience factor, the dual-income working couple who don’t have time to prepare good food after a day of work.

Some people hire personal chefs for medical reasons. If a physician recommends a special diet, a personal chef can assure that regimen is followed. And seniors will contract the services of a personal chef to maintain their independence instead of moving to a care facility.

Pyle, whose company is called At Your Service, says he often gets calls from out-of-town adult children to hire him to cook a week of meals for elderly parents. Pyle’s last job in a professional kitchen was in a retirement village in Lake County, so a lot of his clients choose him because he knows about proper nutrition and the special needs of the elderly.

Have knives, will travel

That was the case with Lake Mary residents Ed and Phyllis Lower, who found Pyle after doing an Internet search for personal chefs. They wanted someone who could cook meals that fit into Ed Lower’s diet for diabetes. After interviewing three chefs, they decided to hire Pyle.

The chef goes to the Lower house with everything he needs, including pots and pans. He has a large Rubbermaid bin, a smaller plastic container, his knife roll and a cooler with meat and fish on ice. Pyle even brings his own cutting boards, including a separate one for the meats.

It would be convenient for the chefs to do some of the prep work at home, slicing and dicing the vegetables for the dishes. But the licensing restrictions don’t allow that unless the chef’s home kitchen is approved for professional cooking. It’s an odd technicality because the clients’ kitchens aren’t licensed for professional food production either.

Pyle, who also teaches at the Orlando Culinary Academy, says he isn’t looking to build a huge client base. He says his average client will have him cook 20 meals at a time, two portions of 10 entrees plus side dishes, to be refrigerated or frozen for reheating at a later date.

Except for the occasions when they’re hired to cook for a dinner party, all the personal chefs fix multiple meals that are fully or partially prepared for the client to finish later.

And here’s the drill

Each meal begins with the chef doing the shopping. Before heading to a client’s home, justin-thyme makes trips to Publix and Whole Foods, where he purchases fresh fish, poultry and produce. Just before he goes inside he changes from his “civvies” into a crisp white professional chef’s tunic, even though he says it isn’t unusual for him to go to a job, spend his 21/2 to three hours cooking and cleaning up after without ever seeing the client.

A personal chef will usually schedule an interview with a new client to assess likes and dislikes. There’s no sense in hiring your own chef if he or she makes food you don’t like. The Lowers keep a file in a bright yellow folder labeled “Chef Dale” with notes on past meals. A note next to the stuffed pork loin notes it was good, but next to the chicken cacciatore they’ve written “bad.” Pyle says it doesn’t hurt his feelings to receive the negative feedback; he’d rather be cooking the things clients like.

The Lowers have Pyle come in to cook several times a year to prepare multiple meals that he freezes. They say they eat out at restaurants often, but when they stay home, they heat up one of Pyle’s frozen dishes, following the typewritten directions he leaves behind.

Phyllis Lower says she used to cook a lot, but now that it’s just the two of them, it doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

“I like to cook,” she says, “but some of the meals that took a long time to prep . . . why bother?”

And, she says, there’s one other big advantage to hiring a personal chef: “He cleans up so well.”

Scott Joseph can be reached at sjoseph@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5514.

Copyright © 2004, Orlando Sentinel

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1916&dat=20040602&id=mw0hAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3nQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4675,185634

Recipe: Gulf Shrimp Ceviche

As a young man growing up in Key West Florida, I was exposed to a variety of fantastically flavorful ethnic dishes from an early age. Dishes that I would, over the years, constantly try to recreate or infuse into new ideas. South Florida in general is home to a diverse multi-cultural landscape of people, rich in tradition and passionate about the foods of their homeland. The bounty of both fresh produce and super fresh seafood readily available in Florida at any given time gives chefs the opportunity to come up with almost limitless inspiration and flavor combinations. Bahamian Conch Ceviche, Cuban Ropa Vieja, Puerto Rican plantain mofongo, Hatian Oxtail stew, these are all dishes that take me back to my childhood. One preparation always stood out for me, especially because I tend to go for fresh and spicy, flavor packed foods with a simplistic approach…seafood in particular, it was Ceviche. Fish, Shrimp, Conch, whatever…I LOVED ceviche.

Long before I ever dreamed that I would end up being a chef, I had the good fortune to eat many, many times at a little place called Louie’s Backyard in Old Town Key West. You see, my mother was a huge foodie and luckily for me, introduced me to all kinds of strange and exotic foods from an early age. The owners of Louie’s had recently brought in a young chef named Norman Van Aken, who would soon blaze a trail for what would one day become known as “New World Cuisine”, he was and still is the father of it…a new world Escoffier of sorts…Norman is obviously a culinary genius, few would argue that.

I used to love the irreverent cooking style and seemingly bizarre, yet playful flavors Norman created and there was definitely a buzz going around about his cooking from very early on. After finishing culinary school, I sought Norman out at his restaurant in Coral Gables and hung around until I was able to work my way into the kitchen, it was a brief time that would change my perception of what food could really be and how far an idea could be taken. Hopefully Norman knows what an incredible impact he has made on so many young chefs, including me…I doubt I could ever really fully thank him in a way that sounds as good as it does in my mind but, thank you Norman.

Now,  looking back on a successful career as a professional chef for the last 15 years, I have begun to seek out the flavors that remind me of my childhood. Afterall, isn’t that one of the great things about food? The fact that one bite can transport you back to a certain time and place…remind you of good times or bad, connect you with a family memory or simply remind you of sunday dinners at grandma’s house. Food connects us with our roots in a way that few other things in life can and I think that any great cook, at any given time, draws inspiration from or strives to re-create dishes that remind them of something dear to them.

My take on a wonderful recipe by Chef Rick Bayless– Chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, creator of  Frontera Gourmet foods, cookbook author and host of “Mexico One Plate at a Time“. This recipe is from his cook book “Mexico One Plate at a Time.” A must-try!

  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1 generous pound unpeeled, smallish shrimp
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1-2 Tbs vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce
  • About 2 Tbs olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
  • 1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jicama (or  ½ cup of each)
  • 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • Salt
  • Several lime slices for garnish
  • Tostadas or tortilla chips for serving

Directions

  1. To cook the shrimp, bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 Tbs of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein shrimp. Toss the shrimp with remaining ½ cup lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jicama and avocado. Taste and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.
  3. Serving: spoon ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas or tortilla chips.

ENJOY!

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

Vistit our website at: www.justin-thyme.com
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Things you should probably never, ever eat vol. 1

Natto

I recently came across a container of fermented soybeans in the supermarket. I don’t mean an old container of soybeans some stock-boy forgot to toss. These are fermented-on-purpose soybeans from Japan. That’s what Natto is.

natto

natto

I remembered hearing about this stuff on Iron Chef one time when it was the secret ingredient. The judges in the show were commenting on what a great job the chefs had done to “suppress the smell” of the natto. Now, I’m no Iron Chef, but I’ve got a clever way to suppress the smell… Don’t put it in your food. I might not win “Battle Natto”, but I promise you my dinner won’t smell like 26 year old sun baked french cheese either.

I found it slightly unsettling that the sealed styrofoam container had creepy little air-holes in it. As if what was inside needed to breathe. I dared to lift the lid, which made me regret that I needed to breathe. The natto was coated in some kind of sick slime and had the complex yet playful aroma of a dumpster in July.

Actually, the little pile inside looked kinda like baked beans. It also smelled kinda like baked beans…if they were baked in the blistering heat of a dog turd on a hot summer day.

This particular batch was made by a company in Japan called Shirakiku. I haven’t been able to determine if Shirakiku is a food manufacturer, or just a store that sells gag gifts and practical jokes. It might be both.

Not unlike most of the cast of any version of desperate housewives, these harmless soybeans had undergone some kind of hideous transformation which were now a freakish version of their former selves. (Which, coincidentally, should also be kept far away from your childrens’ eyes.)

The most disturbing aspect of this stuff is it seems to get “activated” when you stir it. What I mean by this is, (and I may actually weep, but…) the slimy coating on the beans develops into stringy, stretchy, marshmallow-like strands that will forever haunt my dreams.

Basically, if you move it back and forth enough, you’re left with a gross, sticky mess.  And now that I think about it,  it looks like the pranksters back at Shirakiku did something really gross into my beans. You guuuys!

activating the natto

I force-fed myself a big ol’ spoonful, and found it to be slightly rancid and extremely bitter. Unfortunately, swallowing didn’t help dissipate the flavor because the strings of bean schmootz melted, coating my mouth and lips with a glistening sheen of extreme sadness.

The entire experience is difficult to describe, but if you can remember back to the very first time you made out with a hobo’s ass, it’s probably a lot like that.

What I find most hilarious is that there is an expiration date on the package. What could they possibly expect to happen to the product on this date THAT HAS NOT ALREADY OCCURRED?!!!

Also, nestled in this mound of compost was a li’l packet of mustard. In its place, I would strongly suggest a hand written apology.

I do have one last theory about the date on the package. It may be an expiration date, but not for the beans. If you finish the container, that’s the day you die.