Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Blues

It's Monday and I think I need a little good in my life for a while.
I have had a lot of bad luck and I am sick of it. What can I do to change it? I try to think positive and always going forward. I have tried talking to "god" and listening with my heart.
Steven and I get close to making it, close to being able to get married (how we would love love love to be together), close to being contributing members of society, and shit happens. I am sick of it. It depresses me because I have a lot to offer and no ones buying it. How do I make people want what I have? How can I become a commodity? How can I market myself in such a way, people cannot say no?
So, for a Monday, depressed and dark...chocolate. Isn't that always what makes women feel better? Even if just for a moment?
Something French. Smooth, decadent...with a little orange zest or toasted coconut, a little pot of chocolate will help the blues go away...

Pots au Chocolat

Eq needs:
double boiler or a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water
6-4oz ramekins


2 cups milk or cream
8 oz milk or dark chocolate (by weight not volume), chopped
1 TB (fat) vanilla extract
1 zest of one orange
2 TB sugar
6 egg yolks

Place milk, chocolate, vanilla and orange zest in top of double boiler, cook and stir these until chocolate melted and milk scalded. In a separate bowl, whip the eggs with the sugar until eggs are lighter yellow and can hold a steady ribbon when the spoon is extended from the mixture (au ruban). Before adding the egg mix to the hot chocolate mix, it is best to temper the eggs by stirring in 1/4 cup of the chocolate into the eggs. You must constantly stir the eggs while adding this or you may end up with egg chunks in it. Pour eggs into chocolate stir until it begins to thicken, strain, and put into ramekins. Allow to cool at room temp before covering and refridgerating.

You can always substitute 1/2 the milk for coconut milk and add in chopped almonds and toasted coconut for an Almond Joy... or seasonal fruit: bananas, strawberries, raspberries...dried fruit works too!
So, I'll try to get out of these Monday something chocolatey and try to live for now.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sometimes I just prattle on....

I had an anxiety attack last night while standing in front of the cookbooks at Barnes and Noble, and I came to realize just how many recipes there are for the same stuff. Also, how much I really don't know. There are so many techniques that I want to use and learn, and equipment that I want to buy. When I was at Concetta in Modesto, CA. Paul allowed me to do whatever I wanted, just keep the costs down and the customers far it has been the best cooking job I have had. I made up my own stuff for a year, rotating the menu weekly and putting stuff on that people really liked and would come in for. Things people wouldn't eat regularly. I don't know how many times I have heard "I hate Brussels sprouts!!" Then after the Concetta special Sauteed Brussels Sprouts (with cranberries, bacon, manchego cheese) that would be their only way to enjoy them. Of course EVERYTHING is better with a little bacon!
Being a chef is a lot different that people think. It is way different that what I imagined ever, too! I am sure there are a lot of us who just long for the days of crazy Friday nights when the tags are hanging, the printer screaming along with the expiditer about "where the hell is the t-bone that goes with the duck breast"...I know I do. The organized chaos of the kitchen. After working in boutique and large hotels, fine dining and steakhouses, I like the "quiet" of being a consultant. Assisting people who have never done something this risky, to take the risk. To give them tools to make their place successful. Then again, what if they don't listen? I have had them a lot too.
So, what am I to do now? Carve my own niche out utilizing the ideas of others? The answer is yes...everyone else has. One of TV's biggest chefs, Emeril LaGasse, said everything has been done, it's just how YOU do it that makes it yours. With that said, I am going to include my Verry Berry Bread Budding with Blueberry Rum Sauce. I made this the other night utilizing a bunch of leftover hotdog and burger buns..."cross utilization". Blueberries are cheap(ish) right now so they have been in everything: on pork chops, in hamburgers with chipotle..etc. I also had a bag of frozen mixed berries...I am trying to clean out the freezer. Anyhow, here's the recipe:

Verry Berry Bread Pudding

Preheat oven to 350F
1 1/2 loaves day old bread, cut into 1/2inch cubes, set aside
4 cups milk
2 cups sugar (or 1 1/2 c. sugar sub)
5 eggs
8 oz frozen berries (1/2 bag)
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup mixed dried fruit (I use cherries, apples, golden raisins)
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp pumpkin or apple pie spice
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 TB vanilla
1 TB lemon zest (optional)
1 TB butter, melted
1 13x 9 inch baking pan

Cut the bread and place in large bowl. Mix the all the other ingredients. Pour over bread and allow to soak up mixture, squish mixture through your fingers to mix throughly and to break up any larger bread chunks. Place butter in baking pan and make sure the butter coats the inside of pan evenly. Pour bread pudding into pan, pressing evenly into the corners. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Place in center of oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until edges begin to brown and start to pull away from sides. Remove and rest before cutting.

Blueberry Rum Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dark rum (I recommend Myers or Capt Morgan's Spiced)
1/2 water
1/4 cup fresh blueberries

Place all ingredients into saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce by 1/4 or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Taste for alcohol, keep stirring and reducing if if still too "rummy" (technical term).

To serve:
Warm hunk of bread pudding and just a tablesppon of sauce...good with whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream too! (or store bought!)

Monday, July 20, 2009

My first cooking experience

Scrambled Eggs.
That is the first thing I learned how to cook. I was eight and I can remember standing in the kitchen at the old O'Keeffe and Merritt stove my mom had (still has). Cracking the eggs into a bowl, fishing out the shells, the sizzle of butter in the pan and the sound of the eggs as they spread across the pan bottom and bubble because I had the heat too high. I like my eggs a little over cooked, the bottom browned a little and dry. Cooking eggs is a test of skill in the kitchen. Most think that if you allow a chef to make eggs, over medium (the hardest to achieve), an omelet or the perfect hard boiled egg, you get a sense of their talent in the kitchen. Omelets are hard, especially on a flat top. I can do it in a saute pan, no problem. Hell, I can fry eggs and get them over and easy with a flick of my wrist....but I am NOT a short order cook. Short order guys are talented. But they end up stuck in it because they do it over and over becoming second nature to them. I have seen guys try to step up to working a saute station and they lose it.

The next thing I learned...My Aunt Marcy is credited to this, because she taught my mom.
We slightly fry the corn tortillas and put them into the enchilada sauce, remove, fill and roll. It is a process and my mom was happy when I was tall enough to help. We would make 2 13x9 pans, which became 1 and now she rarely makes them. If I go home I should make some for my Dad, he loves green sauce...And my enchiladas ROCK! It's all in the sauce making. However, we never did that. A big can of La Victoria was what we used. I make red or green sauce today. My green sauce is probably the easiest.

Connie's Salsa Verde

10 lbs tomatillos, peeled and cleaned and cut 1/2
5 whole jalapenos (will provide good amount of heat, reduce if sensitive)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Toss tomatillos and jalapenos in olive oil and lay cut side down on baking sheet,
sprinkle with salt and pepper, roast in hot (400) oven for 15 minutes, until skin begins to split and brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2 bunches cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup FRESH lime juice
salt to taste (do not add until processing is done)
crushed red pepper, to taste (add last for another layer of heat if you choose)

Once everything is cool to touch, place tomatillos, jalapenos and above ingredients into a blender.
Do it in stages if you must, trying not to make a mess. Once you get it all processed, refrigerate and that's it!!
You can add sour cream to it for a dip, braise a pork butt in to to make Chili Verde...whatever. It will last a long time in the freezer.

So, now I have posted my first recipe...if you use it, let me know how it works out for ya.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


HI!! okay, so this is the first sentence of what I hope will be a good, entertaining and funny story.
I am a chef.. I am unemployed, I live with my in-laws and I have a lot of cookbooks. I also have a lot of music. SO, that said, I am going to spend the rest of the summer cooking, writing and talking about music and food. I am also going to tell you about my life. While it isn't particularly any more interesting than anyone else's story, it was fun. It has also been sad and disheartening. But, we are not going to talk about that...we are going to talk about my favorite dishes, why and what music goes with them or inspires me or whatever I feel like at that moment. I may talk about the sad stuff. But my goal here is to talk about me. And my friends and family and to tell stories...and probably be told "that's not what happened" and to cook what I feel and listen to what makes me feel like a human being and to share all that stuff with everyone. As we all know now, the world is very small, all bound up like a rubber band ball, and sometimes the band get too tight, and too worn and maybe they will **SNAP**