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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”

Recipe: Wild Mushroom Bisque

A spectacular winter dish, this simple wild mushroom bisque is rich yet elegant.

Slow roasting intensifies the flavor of mushrooms, giving this soup a rich, earthy flavor. Madeira is a sweet wine made in Portugal. Sherry makes an excellent substitute.

Wild Mushroom Bisque

wild mushroom bisque. sourdough croutons, applewood smoked bacon

Ingredients:  (serves 6-8)

  • 1 pound fresh portabellos- stemmed, dark gills removed, caps cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms stemmed, caps cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces
  • 6 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Madeira or Sherry wine
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole organic milk
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup organic whipping cream
  • 1/4 sourdough croutons, crushed
  • garnish option: chopped cooked bacon

To prepare:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the mushrooms between prepared baking sheets. Drizzle the mushrooms with the olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the mushrooms are tender and still moist, about 15 minutes longer. Cool slightly. Reserve any liquid from the roasted mushrooms

2. In a food processor or blender, combine half of the mushrooms with 2 cups of the broth and process until smooth.

3. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the sherry wine and simmer until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

4. Add the remaining 3 1/4 cups of broth, organic milk, and fresh thyme. Stir in the remaining cooked mushroom pieces and the mushroom purée. Simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and ladle into serving bowls or demi-tasse coffee cups. Top with a little dollop of the whipped cream, sourdough croutons and some porcini powder (or any dried mushroom ground in a spice mill or coffee grinder) and the bacon.

Additional Notes:
• Almost all mushroom varieties are very absorbent and will soak up any moisture that’s available. Moisture causes mushrooms to decay rapidly, so the single most important aspect when cleaning them is not to soak them in water.

• Before you clean mushrooms, trim off the ends of the stems and any clumps of dirt that may be clinging. A soft-bristled brush or damp cloth can usually clean most of the dirt off of mushrooms. If the mushrooms are a little damp, use a clean cloth to dry them.

• Don’t discard the stems of fresh mushrooms like shiitake and Portobello. Use them to flavor stocks, soups, and stews. Wrap them in a square of cheesecloth and add them to a simmering liquid. The stems will release their flavor in about 20 to 30 minutes, then discard the cheesecloth bundle.

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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

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: Mango Salsa

The mango is a very common tropical fruit usually found in Southern Asia, especially in Eastern India, Philippines, China, Burma, Andaman Islands and Central America. It is cultivated and grown vastly in many tropical regions and widely distributed in the world.

Mango is one of the most extensively used fruit for food, juices, flavor and coloring making it as the most functional fruit. The ripe fruit is variable in size and color, and may be yellow, orange, red or green when ripe, depending on the cultivar. When it is ripe refreshingly sweet taste that varies from every variety. Its flesh has its fibrous and some are soft and pulpy texture.

One of my favorite uses for mango is fresh salsa. It makes a great accompaniment to all sorts of grilled fish and chicken recipes.

Ripe Mango

cubed Mango for salsa

Ingredients for Mango Salsa:
  • 2 peeled, pitted and diced small
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 Tbsp medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 /2 small european cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbsp chopeed scallion
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted mustard seed
  • Salt and Pepper
Directions:
  1. Chop mango, red pepper, cucumber, scallion and red onion and combine in a bowl.
  2. Mix lime juice, olive oil, sugar mustard seeds & salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisk together.
  3. Mix into salsa.
  4. Add chopped cilantro and stir until combined.
  5. Enjoy with fresh tortilla chips, on grilled fish or chicken or as an accompaniment to a fresh green salad

mango salsa

History of Mango:

Native to southern Asia, especially eastern India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands, the mango has been cultivated, praised and even revered in its homeland since Ancient times. Buddhist monks are believed to have taken the mango on voyages to Malaya and eastern Asia in the 4th and 5th Centuries B.C.

The Persians are said to have carried it to East Africa about the 10th Century A.D. It was commonly grown in the East Indies before the earliest visits of the Portuguese who apparently introduced it to West Africa early in the 16th Century and also into Brazil. After becoming established in Brazil, the mango was carried to the West Indies, being first planted in Barbados about 1742 and later in the Dominican Republic. It reached Jamaica about 1782 and, early in the 19th Century, reached Mexico from the Philippines and the West Indies.

Ripe Mango on the vine

Source: Julia F. Morton’s “Fruits of Warm Climates”: Mango

Note: There are a few vari­eties of mango that are com­monly found in Amer­i­can gro­ceries stores. The most com­mon are the Haden, Tommy Atkins, and  Kent vari­eties, all of which have yel­low or green skins with a red­dish blush to them. If you do find an Ataulfo or Cham­pagne mango, it will have a smaller, kidney-like shape, yel­low skin, and small pit, so use 5 or 6 for this recipe. To choose a ripe but firm (com­mon) mango make sure it has a red­dish blush and firm skin. The mango should give slightly when squeezed and be fra­grant. If you acci­den­tally peel a mango that is too green, no wor­ries, cut it into small slices, sea­son with lime juice and sprin­kle with salt. You’ve just made man­goviche! Deli­cious!

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I used to write here, didn’t I?

Time to get back to that. So many superb meals have passed through my kitchen in the last few years…most have been left unblogged, undocumented & forgotten. For some of them that may be for the best, but a lot of these meals should have been shared. So here we are again.

Where to begin? I guess with the now. Honestly, too much has occurred both personally and professionally over the past few years for me to try to recap it all here and now. Some good, some bad, some great, some sad…so I’ll just pick up with the glorious present.

I’m working on getting past my obsession with overly complicated meals, trying to do things a little more simply. Not that I’m abandoning the ridiculous feasts, I’m just realizing that I can cook a whole lot more really great stuff if I just simplify some of it. In preparation for the super bowl on Sunday, I made a batch of chili on Saturday without spending 3 days preparing for it. I stuck to the true spirit of the dish this time.

A good friend of mine, who had the misfortune of leaving his freezer door ajar overnight, bestowed upon me a large chuck roast on Friday. I thought to myself, “questionable chunk of meat? Hmmm…chili!!”

I trimmed it up, got rid of the more questionable parts, and cut it into bite-size chunks. After browning those in a pan with some oil and salt, working in batches and transferring the browned ones to a pot, I sautéed a medium-sized diced red onion in the leftover “meaty-ness”… dumped that in the pot, deglazed the whole thing with a bottle of decent craft beer, then added a can of tomatillos (run through the blender first), a few cans of crushed tomato and some Mexican spice rub that had been given to me by a friends parents down the street. Salt, pepper, chipotle ketchup, smoked paprika, coriander, masa harina and toasted cumin went in, then I let it simmer for a little while.

After some time, it became apparent that the chili needed more veggies in it, so I started digging in the fridge. I found a little container of salsa that someone had brought the night before, along with half a can of chipotle en adobo, so in it went along with some fresh yellow corn. It was still lacking though. Around the same time, I received a fortuitous phone call from someone on their way over to the house, and I asked them to pick me up another jar of salsa, some kidney beans and a six-pack of some decent beer (to drink of course).

**Side note**

OK, I know how a lot of people feel about beans when it comes to chili…some love it, some hate it. Honestly, I could care less. I make chili with them, without them, whatever…it just depends on my mood and the ingredients on hand.

**End of side note**

Once my buddy arrived, I threw in the beans and salsa and let it simmer a little longer. We made some jalapeño/cheddar cornbread muffins and grated up some sharp cheddar cheese, and I was pleasantly surprised! Not quite the same flavor impact of most of the chilli I’ve made, but the ratio of effort : flavor was remarkable. I think that there may be something to the “lazy chili”. . .but I do advise using caution when selecting the meat itself. That can still make or break any pot of chili, no matter how lazy you feel.

Well…it feels good to get the old ball rolling again. I’ll try to keep you all posted more this time around…really. Stop looking at me like that.

be sure to stop by the website: www.justin-thyme.com

and like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/justinthymechefs

chili

lazy chili

Tampa Personal Chef Services

Full Service Dinner Parties

personal chef tampa

Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service Provides Elegant Full-Service Dinner Parties to the to the Tampa Bay Area!

Do you love fine food and wine but dread a long night out at a fine dining restaurant? In today’s dining scene, people are taking advantage of another option! If you were to compare a personal chef service to restaurant, you could think of it this way: For a restaurant, you must drive to get there, possibly wait for a table, take a chance that your server is having a good day, and if you have allergies or special requests you don’t always have the guarantee that they will be honored, since most entrees are “assembly line” ready in the kitchen.

After eating your meal you must pay for it, tip the server, and get back in your vehicle to drive home. If you have a Personal Chef Service, you can eat a wonderful entrée that has been prepared specifically for you palate and requirements, and eat it in the comfort of your own home.

How it works:
Chef Justin will help create a delicious gourmet menu suited to your particular tastes for any special dining event in your home. He consults with you about what kind of party you’d like to give, how many guests you plan to invite and any other special detail to make your party perfect. He will then design your special custom menu of four or five courses suited to your particular tastes as well as help you pair up the best wines with the cuisine. We are also happy to make changes to the menu to accommodate a guest’s special requests or restrictions. Once menus are finalized, we print up custom copies detailing your event for your guest

Chef Justin will take care of all the shopping, arrange for any rentals needed, schedule his highly professional and personable wait staff as requested and arrive a few hours before the first guest to set up the kitchen and start cooking.

He brings his own utensils and all the cooking equipment and begins the set-up for the night’s festivities. The wait staff will arrive at least an hour before your dinner, finish any last-minute arrangements and then cheerfully greet and serve your guests.

You’ll enjoy a fantastic meal and our high-end four-star service, and then, while you’re savoring dessert, we’ll scrub your kitchen spotless as you bask in your guests’ praise at what a clever host you are for bringing in a private chef to create such a delicious and memorable experience!

view our sample dinner menu!

personal chef tampa

Service includes:
An intimate, 3-5 course seated dinner party in the comfort of your home. Custom menus, menu shopping, table service, seated amusé, intermezzo (if 5 or more courses), kitchen clean up and a delicate washing of your servingware.

If you any have questions about our Tampa cooking classes or would like to book a dinner party or purchase a customized gift certificate, please contact us today at: Justin-Thyme.com

Additional Personal Chef Services Available to the Tampa area:
Personal Grocery Shopper
While we are out shopping for your menu or picking up supplies for your cooking class, we can pick up some of the extra household items you may need for an additional charge. (pet food, cleaning/laundry supplies, etc.)

Hors d’oeuvres Soiree-
A cocktail party for 20 guests with a variety (8-10) of seasonal hot and cold hors d’oeuvres.
$325 + Groceries: Prepared, packaged & left for you to serve your guests in your home
$975 + Groceries: Prepared & served with wait staff during a 2-hour cocktail party in your home

Holiday Prep
If the hassle of preparing for the holidays is wearing you down, let Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service come and prepare all your culinary delights for you. Then all you have to do is heat and eat!

Date Nights
One of the key elements to keeping a relationship interesting and exciting is the unexpected! Incorporating a “Date Night” with unique and special activities does wonders! Call us today for more details!

‘Secret’ Chef Service
If you want your friends to think you’ve been cooking over a hot stove all day in preparation for your party, let Justin-Thyme Personal Chefs take care of all the details! We will prepare your menu from soup to nuts then sneak out the back door prior to your guests’ arrival so you can take all the credit. No one will be the wiser! We also provide you with all of the recipes of the day to share with your guests!

In-Home Dinner Parties/ Corporate Luncheons
Want to create a memorable event that your guests will be talking about for a long time to come? Whether it’s a holiday party, family BBQ, a sit-down multi course meal or a corporate event, Justin-Thyme Personal Chef Service can accommodate your needs, providing that WOW factor you seek.
See our sample dinner menu!

Interactive Dinner Parties
Love to host parties but dread the thought of shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning? How about having an interactive dinner party where Chef Justin provides a hands-on cooking demonstration with you and your guests. Chef Justin will help you plan a dinner menu and will bring all the ingredients to your home for the party. Once the cooking is done, you enjoy your meal with your guests while we clean up the mess in the kitchen!

Kids/Teen Cooking Classes
Kids/Teens are taught healthy/delicious cooking techniques, sustainable cooking/shopping and basic knife skills with every class! Cooking classes can consist of learning how to make healthy after school snacks to an entire dinner! ‘Kids in the kitchen’ is a 2 hour cooking class for ages 5-12. ‘Teens in the Kitchen’ is a 3 hour cooking class for ages 13 and up, call for details!

Personal Chef Tampa Justin-Thyme

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