Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Best Meal of My Life: Quince

*Click on picture to enlarge menu*

I stayed with my sister for a couple days in San Francisco and she made reservations for us at Quince in Pacific Heights. This restaurant is known as being Bay Area's finest behind Keller's French Laundry. Needless to say, I was very excited.

We got dressed up and started with drinks at a great bistro called Florio on Fillmore Street. My sister and her fiance went on their first date at Florio so it was a special night from the get-go. After a glass of wine, we headed to Quince and found a parking spot right in front. How exciting! Parking in San Francisco is a full contact sport...

From the second we stepped foot inside the restaurant to when we left, there was not one detail that was over looked. The service was a full blown experience. We decided to "go for it" and ordered the tasting menu and wine pairing. When I opened the menu it said "Welcome to San Francisco, Elizabeth". I am moving to San Francisco in September and my sister called the restaurant ahead of time to include that on the cover and it brought tears to my eyes. It was such a nice personal touch.

The only critique I had of this dinner was that there could have been a little more time between courses. It felt a bit rushed but other than that it was the best meal of my life. My sister and I agreed the the best course was the soup. You just didn't want it to end. In addition, we both don't like scallops and the scallops were delicious and I'd eat them a hundred times over. So i suggest that if you are in San Francisco and feel like splurging to make sure to go to Quince. Thanks to my sister for making it such a special night and I look forward to many more dinners together in the fall.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Me too!

i got a dutch oven too! we are two lucky ladies. i've made a braised pork roast and just bought TWELVE POUNDS of short ribs for our new year's dinner party. be still, my arteries.

my favorite food moment of the holidays? my friend amanda called me to tell me she got a kick ass new cast iron grill pan. naturally, i said "oh, yum! that's awesome.' and amanda said, "it's funny, you're the only person i told that to who had that reaction!" apparently, not everyone shares our love of cookware. :)

happy holidays!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Braised Short Ribs

Santa gave me a dutch oven for xmas so I was excited to start braising anything I could get my hands on right away. We decided to make short ribs. I've never met a man that didn't love short ribs. The best part is that they are so easy to make and always impress. We used duck broth from the smoked ducks we used in my mom's gumbo instead of chicken stock and a bottle of my stepdad's homegrown wine from his ranch. I love cooking at home...

Braised short ribs with red wine and pureed vegetables
Bon Appétit September 2006
Antonio Pisaniello

Servings: Makes 6 servings.

5 whole black peppercorns
1 small bay leaf ( I used 2 bay leaves)
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons (packed) fresh sage leaves
4 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, well trimmed
1/2 cup corn oil
4 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for potatoes
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle red wine from Campania (Aglianico or Taurasi)*
6 large white-skinned potatoes

*Syrah or Cabernet Franc can be substituted.

Grind first 5 ingredients in spice mill. Sprinkle beef with additional pepper and 3 1/2 teaspoons herb-salt mixture. Heat 1/2 cup corn oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Working in batches, add beef and brown well, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer beef to large bowl. Pour off oil from pot. Add 1 cup broth to drippings in pot and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour deglazed pan juices into small bowl.Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery; sauté until beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and sauté 2 minutes. Add deglazed pan juices and bring to simmer. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot. Add wine and remaining 3 cups broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Season with pepper. Cover and cook until beef is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.Using tongs, transfer beef to large bowl. Tilt pot and spoon off fat from surface of sauce. Working in batches, puree sauce with vegetables in blender until smooth; return to pot. Boil until reduced to 4 cups, about 15 minutes. Add beef and stir to heat through. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.Cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain. Place 1 potato on each plate; press to mash slightly. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Top with beef. Spoon sauce around beef and potatoes and serve.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mom's Smoked Duck Gumbo

My step brother is a major hunter. I mean major. He goes to Africa with bows and arrows. No joke. So when he dropped off a duck he shot and smoked my mom made a delicious gumbo with oysters. She didn't use a recipe, just made it as she went along, but she wrote down what she thought it would look like if she had...

Mom's Smoked Duck Gumbo
6 tablespoons of flour
9 tablespoons of butter
2 smoked wild duck, meat removed and diced
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 bay leaves
24 oysters with oyster liquor
1 teaspoon of fill powder
1 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1 3/4 quarts water
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
6 sprigs of chopped parsley

Melt butter and mix in flour to make a roux. Heat until roux is very, very dark brown. Add onions, green pepper and parsley to roux and stir until onions are translucent. Add the water, pouring in gradually while stirring. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 6 or 7 hours. Serve over white rice. Better served next day.

*We saved the duck carcasses and made smoked duck stock. We used the stock to make short ribs. Look for that recipe next!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Roman Dinner, Part 2

My sister gave me The Produce Bible for my birthday earlier this month and if you don't have this wonderful cookbook/ reference I suggest you go out and get it! We decided that there is nothing more Italian than gnocchi (even though it may not be Roman, not sure...) For those of you that have never made gnocchi (I'm not going to lie) it's kind of a pain in the you-know-what BUT it is worth it. Trust me!

The key is to follow directions very, very closely. Now, this is not my strength. I am not a good baker because I can never stay the course and measure things perfectly, follow directions, etc. It's just not my personality. I've never been one to follow the rules, let alone recipes, hence why there is little baking on this blog. Long story short, my sister is GREAT at it so we really made a good team and hit this one out of the park. One thing to note: if you try the pasta after you have cooked it plain it tastes very doughy. DON'T lose faith. We almost threw ours out and what a tragedy that would have been. With the cream sauce it will taste awesome. Italy's got nothin' on my me and my sister's gnocchi right now.

Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta and Sage
2 pounds floury potatoes
2 egg yolks, lightly beatened
2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp of butter
1/2 pancetta, cubed
8 small sage leaves, chopped
2/3 heavy cream
1/2 Parmesan
(We added shallots, more cream, asiago and more Parmesan because we love cheese, butter and cream...)

Prick the potatoes all over, than bake for an hour or until tender. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then peel and mash.
Mix in the egg yolks and cheese (we added Asiago) then gradually stir in flour. When mixture gets too firm, mix with hands. Once loose dough forms, work with hands. Once loose dough forms, transfer to a lightly floured surface (see pic) and kneed gently. Work in extra flour to give a soft dough that is damp to the tough but not sticky (this is key, we added about a cup extra for larger potatoes).

Divide the dough into 6 large potions. Knead dough adding as much flour as needed to rid stickiness. Roll out on floured surface to make a 3/4 rope of dough. Cut rope into 5/8 pieces and press your finger into it to form a conclave shape, then roll the outer surface over the tines of the fork to make deep ridges. Fold the outer lips in toward each other to make a hollow middle. Set aside and continue with remaining dough.
Bring a large pot to boil with salt. Boil gnocchi until they come to top, about 2 minutes. Transfer to baking dish.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and fry pancetta. Once browned and perfect, add cream and sage. Reduce for about 5 minutes. Pour on top of gnocchi. Top with bread crumbs and cheese. Bake for 10- 15 minutes or until browned. YUMMY!!!!


Roman Dinner, Part 1

Ahh, home again.

I'm back in Napa Valley for Christmas and it's the first year I can remember that it hasn't rained every day. Coming from Chicago where the current weather is about 17 degrees with 30 mph winds, I'm a pretty happy girl. I've been wearing tee shirts, playing tennis every day, catching up with friends and, the best part, cooking with my mom and sister.

So, to celebrate my recent travels to Rome, we decided to cook a traditional Roman feast for Christmas Eve... we started with an antipasto plate, prosciutto salad and fried artichokes (look for the fried artichoke recipe posted earlier this month.

Arugula, prosciutto, blood orange salad with pistachio nuts
I recreated this dish from Avec (see post from Avec last week) to kick us off and it got rave reviews.

For 4-5 people
12 thin, thin slices of prosciutto
1 lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bunches of arugula
Deshelled pistachio nuts
3 blood oranges
Salt and pepper

Take the prosciutto and layer them loosely on top of each other on the bottom of the plate. Rise the arugula and pat dry. In a cup, mix olive oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper. Toss arugula lightly in dressing and then place on top of prosciutto. Peel blood oranges and slice in half. Shave thin pieces and arrange on top of arugula. Garnish with pistachio nuts and serve.

The Shaw/ Beatty Family Antipasto Platter
We decided not to follow the traditional route for our antipasto platter for various reasons so this is what we came up with...

5 slices of 3 varieties of Italian salami (We bought ours at Guignis!!!)
3 wedges of cheeses (I had the cheese monger at our specialty grocery store pick these out, one was a specialty goat, specialty gouda and specialty brie)
1 baguette
4 roasted garlic cloves (We spread the roasted garic on our baguette like butter, yum!)
My mom's pear chutney (suckers, you can't get your hands on this but Stonewall's Apple Cranberry works just fine)

Arrange all separate components on plate and enjoy!!!

See part 2 for some delicious homemade gnocchi...

Merry Christmas!

Everyone have a safe and joyous Christmas with your friends and family.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bearnaise Sauce

The holidays are about tradition and there is no stronger way to celebrate tradition then with recipes. My mother was classically trained in Paris at the one-and-only Le Cordon Bleu which probably explains the bulk of my recipes and my obsession with everything egg, cheese and cream. Obsessions aside, the meal she makes every Christmas is my favorite and there is a good reason why...Bearnaise.

Every Christmas, my family is treated to peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin with bearnaise. Lucky, I know. She tapes the oven and puts a "DO NOT OPEN" sign on the door to ensure that each year it is cooked for perfection. And it's never overdone. Ever.

So, since it's the holidays and we have all taken a hiatus from any sort of diet, I suggest you try to serve your next piece of fine meat, fish or chicken with this delight. Go ahead, make Julia Child proud.

Bearnaise Sauce

1/4 cup vinegar, wine vinegar is best
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 shallots, minced
1 tb tarragon, fresh and minced
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup butter
2 tb parsley, fresh (or tarragon)
Salt and pepper

Step 1: Boil the vinegar, white wine, shallots and herbs, add salt and pepper, over moderate heat until there are 3 tablespoons of sauce remaining, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 2: Beat the egg yolks. Mix with wine and vinegar mixture, beat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes max. Do not let the sauce boil.

Step 3: Melt 1/2 cup of butter. Then add the melted butter to the mixture and beat. Add parsley or tarragon and beat while cooking over low heat for 5 minutes max in step 3.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Steak au Poivre

This is an Albert Stockli recipe from my former Harvard colleague, Beardsley Ruml. "The gravy is a flavorful surprise."

One inch thick sirloin or tenderloin steaks

Whole peppercorns, chopped
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
2/3 Cup Beef boullion cube dissolved in water
5 oz Brandy
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. With a large knife, chop the whole peppercorns into small chunks, 3 or 4 per corn. Spread the chopped peppercorns over both sides of the steaks and press them into the meat. The amount of pepper is variable but my habit is to use about 2 tablespoons for both sides (about 25 peppercorns).

2. Fry the steaks in a very hot pan in a little oil until they are cooked on the outside but still raw in the middle. Place them in a 350 degree oven while making the gravy and they will cook to medium rare.

3. Pour any remaining oil from the pan without losing any dislodged peppercorns. Add the butter and, when melted, the flour and cook the roux for at least a minute. Add the beef stock and brandy and cook for another minute, stirring to smoothen. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve over the hot steaks on hot plates.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007


After a little holiday shopping on Michigan Ave last night, my boyfriend and I decided to hop a cab to the West Loop to (finally) hit up Avec. This turned out to be a genius idea...

Avec opened in 2003 next door to Blackbird on the Randolph restaurant strip and has been busy ever since. They don't take reservations, serve a menu of small plates and seat strangers elbow-to-elbow on picnic table like furniture. They have an obscure wine list of over 120 wines; all of them very moderately priced and tasty. The music here rocks. If you like rock & roll and soul this is your kind of spot. This place is low key, no fuss with a splash of hipster. Anthony Bourdain, as well as many other highly acclaimed chefs, rave about Avec. We now know why.

Drew and I ordered a cheese plate and an order of prosciutto served with blood orange, pistachios and arugula. This was a wonderful way to stat the meal even though some may argue starting with the cheese plate is working backwards. Next, we ordered the chicken thigh with poached quince, apple and frisee with a mustard cream dressing. The chicken was cooked to perfection. The meat was tender and juicy and the skin was very crispy. We also ordered their signature plate; dates stuffed with chorizo wrapped in bacon. I ask you: how could you possible go wrong with that combination??? Needless to say, we inhaled that too.

There is no doubt that we will be returning to Avec and very soon at that. If you live in Chicago or are planning a visit, make sure to make a pit stop at this gem.


Monday, December 17, 2007

What's in Season- Winter

Winter is here and that means there's new in-season ingredients you should be taking advantage of. Check out Food Network's Website to see descriptions and recipes for each ingredient.

Ingredients include:
  • Chestnuts
  • Kale
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit
  • Leeks
  • Oranges and Tangerines
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips


Chicken and Dumplings

It's crappy out. Amanda and I wanted comfort food. Smitten Kitchen just featured this Chicken and Dumplings, so I searched out the recipe and it was perfect. Thick and stewy, with the most delicious dumplings, not crumbly or rock hard. I think I would have liked it with some carrots and celery, too.

Don't use low-fat or fat-free milk in this recipe. Start the dumpling dough only when you're ready to top the stew with the dumplings.

Chicken and Dumplings with Leeks and Tarragon
Cook’s Illustrated, February 2005

Serves 6 to 8
5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs ( i used bone-in breasts)
Table salt and ground black pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
2 medium leeks , white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion , minced
6 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen green peas
3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)

1. For the Stew: Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the browned skin. Pour off the chicken fat and reserve. Return the pot to medium-high heat and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the remaining chicken. Pour off and reserve any chicken fat.

2. Add the butter to the Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, milk, thyme, and bay leaves. Nestle the chicken, with any accumulated juices, into the pot. Cover and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour.

3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaves. Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the surface using a wide spoon. Shred the chicken, discarding the bones, then return it to the stew.

4. For the Dumplings: Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat in a microwave-safe bowl on high until just warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.

5. Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas and tarragon, and season with salt and pepper. Following the steps below, drop golf-ball-sized dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.

To make the dumplings: 1. Gather a golf-ball-sized portion of the dumpling batter onto a soup spoon, then push the dumpling onto the stew using a second spoon.2. Cover the stew with the dumplings, leaving about 1/4 inch between each.3. When fully cooked, the dumplings will have doubled in size.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cranberry Chutney

I made this recipe last night and served it with a side of butternut squash risotto. Using store bought chutney (I used Stonewall Kitchen's Apple Cranberry) made this dish very easy to execute. I added a little extra wine and cider and a 1/4 cup of dried cranberries for extra sauce. The leftovers make great sandwiches.

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cranberry Chutney
2 1- to 1 1/4-pound trimmed pork tenderloins
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup purchased apple chutney
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves plus sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse pork and pat dry. Place in shallow bowl. Mix cider, wine, chutney, garlic, and thyme leaves in small bowl. Pour mixture over pork; cover and marinate at room temperature 1 hour or chill up to 3 hours.Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade. Add pork to skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until light brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total.Pour reserved marinade over pork. Transfer skillet to oven; roast pork, basting occasionally, until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 145°F, about 20 minutes for medium (temperature will rise about 10 degrees). Transfer pork to cutting board. Tent with foil; let rest 5 minutes.Slice pork; transfer to platter. Pour pan sauce and juices over. Garnish pork with thyme sprigs.


A Taste of a Rainbow

This appeared in the New York Times about fifteen years ago, and I have had good luck with it. This dish is like a trip to the Rocky Mountains.

"In downtown Boise, Idaho, at the restaurant inside the 97-year-old rock fortress of the Idanha Hotel, the local trout are served simply grilled with a light sauce."

Lemon Butter Sauce:

Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons minced shallots
1 1/2 cups good-quality white wine like Riesling or chardonnay
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, sliced very thin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 clove garlic minced
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the shallots, wine and lemon juice. Set aside within reach of the stove.

2. In a medium saute pan over low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add flour, and stir vigorously with a whisk until well combined. Raise heat to medium-high, and continue to stir until flour is nut-brown but not burned, about 5 minutes. Add wine mixture, and whisk until smooth and thickened, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat, and gradually whisk in chilled sliced butter, stirring constantly to keep fat from separating. Add salt and pepper. Keep warm, but do not boil. Add garlic and parsley just before serving. Serve hot over grilled or broiled trout.

2 cups, 6 to 8 servings.

Apple Tarragon Sauce

Time: 15 minutes

1/4 cup apple cider or juice
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup clam juice
1 tablespoon minced shallots
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, sliced very thin
4 tablespoons julienned Granny Smith apple
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly

1. In a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the apple cider, wine, clam juice and shallots. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until reduced by two-thirds, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Whisk in chilled butter slices. Add apple and tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot over grilled or broiled trout.

Yield: 13/4 cups, 4 to 6 servings.

Grilled or Broiled Idaho Trout

Time: 10 minutes

1 fresh Idaho trout, boned and butterflied.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil spray.
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat grill or broiler until very hot. Brush both sides of trout with butter, or spray with oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Grill or broil fish with the flesh close to the source of heat until it is opaque, flaky and beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook. Top fish with sauce of choice, and serve immediately.

Yield: 1 serving.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mike's FAMOUS Holiday Eggnog


This is THE recipe to get your holiday party going. I've been begging my stepfather to send me the recipe and he did along with some history of how it came to be Mike's FAMOUS Eggnog...
P.S. There have been women over the age of 60 doing cartwheels in the Shaw/Beatty living room after a couple rounds of this...

Christmas Eggnog

I never cook anything. Most of my friends and family are wonderful cooks so I try to be what every chef needs--an enthusiastic eater and kitchen helper. One thing I do prepare each Holiday Season is the eggnog. I first made this eggnog when I was in college and worked occasionally as a bartender for private parties. When a call came in to the student employment office for a bartender to mix large batches of eggnog for a Christmas party in Woodside I was the only one who claimed to have eggnog experience. I had, of course, lied about my experience and had never drunk a cup of eggnog. This extreme confidence in the face of total ignorance got me the job.

The first research I did was to buy a carton of dairy eggnog, pour it into a cup, and add a good dose of whiskey. It was terrible. It ruined the whiskey. I then indulged in some real research in the card catalog of the main library. After noting the Dewey Decimal numbers for the cookbook section (641.5) I plunged into the stacks and fumbled through all the dusty books until I recognized one from my mother's kitchen--the Joy of Cooking. It had a drink recipe for "Eggnog in Quantity" and I was saved. I couldn't check the book out because I had some unpaid delinquent fines so I wrote it all down (I still have that piece of tablet paper).

Two days before the party I called my employer and with all the authority I could muster gave her a specific list of all the required ingredients, stated that there could be no exceptions, and said that I would need to be at work in her kitchen three hours before the party to prepare properly. The eggnog was so well received that I was given a big tip and hired to do it again the following year. I have been making it for friends and family ever since.

Merry Christmas,


Eggnog in Quantity

• Be sure to use good fresh eggs. The best eggs have a firm orange yolk and are from hens that have access to free range.
• Use heavy whipping cream. This is not a drink that is successful in a low fat version.
• Use good quality liquor. I use a combination of liquors to spread out the flavors. The saying that "nothing succeeds like excess" is especially true when it comes to adding booze to the eggnog. The Brits say that "Christmas brandy will make you randy", so add an extra splash.
• Use fresh nutmeg kernels and grate onto each serving as desired.

Beat separately until light in color
12 egg yolks
Beat in gradually
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
Add very slowly, beating constantly
2 c. dark rum, brandy, or bourbon
These liquors form the basis of the "nog", and you may choose one
variety or mix to taste.

Let mixture stand covered for 1 hour to dispel the "eggy" taste.

Add, beating constantly,
3 cups of liquor (I use a combination and include some Kahlua)
2 quarts whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla (or to taste)
Refrigerate covered for 3 hours.

Beat until stiff but not dry
12 egg whites

Fold egg whites lightly into the other ingredients. Serve sprinkled
with fresh nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Yield is about 1 gallon. I always make a double batch. With all that liquor it keeps very well refrigerated. The egg whites will separate after standing so fold them back in. A jar of this eggnog makes a great holiday present. Have a cup while opening your presents. You'll love them all!

This is a very rich, high-cholesterol, high-octane eggnog. Do not operate heavy equipment after drinking.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I can't bake, and I have no food processor, so I thought these were going to turn out terribly. Turns out, they were delicious!


Jacques Pépin, Food & Wine, June 2002
(thanks to artisanalcheeses dot com for the photo!)

1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese (Emmenthaler or Gruyère)
Coarse salt (fleur de sel or kosher salt) to sprinkle on top

Bring the milk, butter, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a saucepan.Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a ball. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1minute to dry the mixture a bit. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, let cool for 5 minutes, then process for about 5 seconds.

Add the eggs and paprika to the processor bowl, and process for 10 to 15 seconds, until well mixed. Transfer the choux paste to a mixing bowl, and let cool for 10 minutes. (Alternately, chop/mix the dough with a pastry cutter until it's smooth and your arms are about to fall off)

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese, then add the remainder and all the Swiss cheese to the choux paste. Stir just enough to incorporate. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a level tablespoon of the gougère dough, and push it off the spoon onto the cooking mat. Continue making individual gougères, spacing them about 2-inches apart on the sheet. Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt and a little of the reserved Parmesan cheese on each gougère. Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature with drinks.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Fried Artichokes

The is NO question what my favorite thing I ate in Rome was and my cousin and culinary partner in crime will also agree...these fried artichokes shown above. Now, I'm not kidding, these melted in your mouth and were seasoned so perfectly. The restaurant that served this delight just happened to be located right outside the Pantheon (which is Greek for "The temple of all Gods") on the lovely Piazza della Minerva. This classic Roman Dish (also called Rome's Jewish Fried Artichokes) dates back to Imperial times.

Now, I know that frying foods in your house can make it reek. We all know the smell permeates. That's why you should always have the fan, a couple windows and even a door (if possible) open to help with the smoke. Trust me, these are worth it. I already miss these and will dream of them. No kidding. They rocked.

Fried Artichokes (Carciofi Friiti)
To serve 6 you'll need:

6 artichokes (they should be firm and feel solid -- soft or light artichokes will probably have fuzzy hearts)
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
An egg, lightly beaten
Oil for frying
Sea Salt

Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water, drop the rind into the bowl, and add a pinch of salt and a little bit of flour (not enough to make a paste). Peel away the tough outer leaves of the artichokes, trim the tops perpendicular to the length of the artichokes, and cut the artichokes into eighths.

Soak them in the acidulated water for an hour. Then rinse them, pat them dry, flour them, dredge them in the egg, and fry them until crisp and golden in hot, but not really hot oil (you don't want the outside to burn before the inside is cooked).

Season with sea salt. Enjoy!


Back from Roma!!!

Hello Everyone! I am back from a fantastic culinary adventure in Rome, Itlay and i can't wait to share all the foodie tid bits and learnings I got from my trip. Today's my birthday so I thought I'd post a picture of this Gelati that was ssooo delicious. This combo was the house special and included caramel, vanilla and a very rich dark chocolate. And I certainly didn't forget to wash it down with some Prosecco.

Wikipedia describes Gelato as "Gelato, or the plural Gelati, is Italian ice cream made from milk and sugar, combined with other flavorings. The gelato ingredients (after an optional pasteurization) are frozen while stirring to break up ice crystals as they form. Like high-end ice cream, gelato generally has less than 35% air - resulting in a dense and extremely flavourful product."


Monday, December 3, 2007

Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce

My friend Carrie made these for us last night and they were amazing. Every bite was a burst of flavor and they're very easy to make. Delicious with a glass of red wine...

Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup minced white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup port wine
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 filet mignon steaks (1 1/2
inch thick)
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is tender. Stir in the beef broth, scraping any onion bits from the bottom of the pan, then stir in the port wine. Bring to a boil, and cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Set aside. This may also be made ahead of time, and reheated.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat oil in a cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet over high heat. Sear steaks quickly on both sides until brown, then place the whole pan into the oven.
Roast steaks in the oven for about 15 minutes for medium rare - with an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). You may adjust this time to allow the steaks to finish just below your desired degree of doneness if medium is not what you prefer. Remove from the oven, and place on a baking sheet. Stir together the panko crumbs and blue cheese. Top each steak with a layer of this mixture.
Preheat the oven's broiler. Place steaks under the preheated broiler until the cheese topping is browned and bubbly. 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with warm port wine sauce.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Note to Self

Finger not an onion. Avoid with large, very sharp knife.

Recipe of the Week: Deviled Eggs

It's holiday season and chances are you'll be hosting and attending a lot of holiday parties this month. A great starter and crowd pleaser is the classic deviled egg. To glam my deviled eggs up, I garnish them with a tiny dollop of creme fraiche and whitefish caviar (about $6 at the grocery store).

Deviled Eggs
6 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Special equipment: a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch star tip (optional)

Cover eggs with cold water by 1 1/2 inches in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, partially covered. Reduce heat to low and cook eggs, covered completely, 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 15 minutes. Transfer eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking and let stand 5 minutes.

Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and mash in a bowl with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, and cayenne and stir with fork until smooth, then season with salt and pepper. Fill pastry bag with yolk mixture and pipe into egg whites.

Rosemary-Pesto Rack of Lamb

This lamb is winner. I made this on Saturday night for the 6th time and it was a huge hit. Several of my friends asked for the recipe, so here it is! When buying lamb, I always go to Costco or Sam's Club. Their meat selection is top notch and you save $$$ on meats that can be really expensive at the regular grocey store. I double the pesto recipe and encrust the whole rack for more flavor and it always tastes great.

Rosemary-Pesto Rack of Lamb

1/2 cup (packed) parsley leaves and stems
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary plus rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1 1/2-pound rack of lamb


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 450°F. Place parsley, chopped rosemary, grated Parmesan cheese and garlic in processor. Process to coarse paste. With machine running, gradually add olive oil. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Place lamb on small rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread all pesto over rounded side of lamb. Roast 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and roast to desired doneness, about 15 minutes longer for medium-rare.

Cut lamb between bones into chops. Divide chops between 2 plates; garnish with rosemary sprigs.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Restaurants in Rome???

I'm off to Rome, Italy (Yippie!!!) for my birthday next week to hang with my awesome cousin who is doing a semester abroad. I've never been to Rome before and am looking for some restaurant recommendations... Can anyone make any suggestions that will help to make our trip foodtastic? Would love to hear from you.



Thanksgiving Pics

The Delicious Cheese Tray...

The Gorgeous Center Piece...

The bird!!!


Monday, November 26, 2007

And for the leftovers...

... and then i'll be done with the Thanksgiving posts -- and thinking about next weekend, when we'll be doing a psuedo-post-thanksgiving with my mom -- here was what turned out to be a great way to use up the 20 pound turkey. I mean, we were hungry but hell, that bird was half the size of my dog! I had to double this soup recipe to use it all up.
Served this during the Bears game (win! yay!) yesterday to a bunch of friends and there wasn't a bowl left uneaten.

Turkey Sage Chowder
(mine was actually turkey rosemary chowder, i guess... details....)

4 bacon slices (about 4 ounces), coarsely chopped
2 cups chopped onions
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups whole milk (okay, so i didn't have whole milk, so i used 1/3 cup cream and the rest water. it's probably not QUITE the same, but hey, it still tasted good. probably would have been creamier with the milk)
1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
2/3 cup condensed cream of potato soup (i used mushroom)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (i used rosemary, it's what i had left)
2 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey

Cook bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pan.

Increase heat to medium-high, add onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in potatoes, milk, broth, cream of potato soup, and 1 tablespoon sage. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Add turkey meat, bacon, and remaining 1 tablespoon sage. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.


Cheese Dreamz

*From my co-worker Melissa via email...

Cheese Dreamz
Basically, just halve English muffins, place them face up, and pile on top:

Cubed sharp cheddar
Diced tomatoes
A little onion
A little green pepper
4 strips of bacon, crumbled
A little mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Throw them in the broiler... 5 minutes or less I think, just watch them...

And voila...Deliciousness. Cheesy, Bacony, muffiny deliciousness.

Thanksgiving stuffing

I had mixed thoughts about this stuffing. The texture was fantastic, it was sorta mooshy on the inside and bready on the outside, fantastic. The mushrooms were, however, overwhelming, and I'm a mushroom lover. I think I'd use a lower mushroom to bread ratio, and perhaps a milder mushroom next time. That said, everyone ELSE looooooved it, so maybe it's just me and creminis. Oh, and i left out the hazelnuts, too, cause Jamie would have boycotted it otherwise. I'm sure they'd be a tasty addition.

hazelnut, sage, and mushroom stuffing

8 cups 1/2-inch cubes of firm white bread such as a Pullman loaf (1 pound)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped shallots (about 8 medium; 10 ounces)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery (from 3 ribs)
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped sage
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups hazelnuts (1/2 pound), toasted, any loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 cups turkey stock, heated to liquefy if gelled, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Generously butter baking dish. Arrange bread in 1 layer in 2 large shallow baking pans and toast, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden and dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. (Leave oven on.)
Meanwhile, cook shallots in 1 stick butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 6 minutes. Add mushrooms, celery, thyme, sage, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid given off by mushrooms has evaporated and mushrooms are browned, 20 to 30 minutes.
Add wine and deglaze skillet by boiling, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, until wine is reduced by about half, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bread in bowl. Add hazelnuts and parsley and toss.
Whisk together stock, eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then stir into bread mixture.
Transfer to baking dish and dot top of stuffing with remaining 1/2 stick butter. Bake, loosely covered with a buttered sheet of foil (buttered side down), in lower third of oven 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake until top is browned, about 15 minutes more.

Thanksgiving v 1.0

I managed to pull off my first Thanksgiving this year, with nary a disaster! The main course was a 20 lb. Pancetta Sage Turkey, Liz posted the recipe earlier. It was fantastic. The gravy it made, too, was unbelievable. I saved about 4 cups of the turkey drippings to make the gravy again. So good.

For potatoes, I did this gratin from Bon Appetit, of course, with some changes. I used a 9x11 pan, it was way too big. Use a smaller pan. I substituted baby portabellas for porcinis, as i was worried the porcinis would overpower the mascarpone, and i think it was a good call. Even Justin the mushroom hater ate it.

Potato gratin with porcini mushrooms and mascarpone cheese

Bon Appetit November 2007
Makes 8 to 10 servings


4 ounces dried porcini mushrooms*
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese**
1 cup whipping cream
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 5 large), peeled, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices

Place porcini and 1 cup boiling water in medium bowl. Place small bowl atop mushrooms to keep submerged. Let soak 20 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop mushrooms.

Melt butter with oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Whisk 1/4 cup Parmesan and next 4 ingredients in small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter wide shallow 2-quart baking dish. Arrange 1/4 of potato slices in bottom of dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Scatter 1/4 of mushrooms over. Repeat. Spread half of cheese mixture over, shaking dish to settle. Repeat with remaining potatoes and mushrooms in 2 layers each; spread remaining cheese mixture over. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over.

Place gratin dish on rimmed baking sheet. Bake gratin until top is brown and sauce is bubbling at edges, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let gratin rest 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

I ripped this recipe out of Food and Wine magazine a year ago knowing it would be a home run. It took me a long time to get to making it but it was worth the wait. I made this dish last night for a low key dinner with friends and it was a knock out. I added pine nuts on the top before serving which was a nice addition. Make sure to look in specialty food stores for the noodles.

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragù

Chef Way Andrew Carmellini serves fresh pappardelle with a ragù of house-ground lamb shoulder cooked in lamb stock. He finishes the dish with fresh ricotta and chopped mint.Easy Way Use store-bought pappardelle, ground lamb and chicken stock, then top the dish with fresh ricotta and mint.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3/4 pound pappardelle
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped mint

In a large cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Add the lamb, coriander, fennel, cumin, rosemary and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates, 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, along with the stock and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, 25 to 30 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, shaking well. Add the pasta to the sauce. Add the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and toss over low heat. Serve the pasta in bowls, topped with the ricotta and mint.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Brussels Sprouts with Radicchio and Pancetta

My aunt knocks it outta the park every Thanksgiving. This week, I'll share a lot of the recipes and pictures from our delicious holiday. One of the many fine dishes she served is this yummy side from Williams Sonoma.

Brussels Sprouts with Radicchio & Pancetta
At their peak of freshness in autumn, brussels sprouts are a traditional vegetable for the Thanksgiving feast. They were first introduced to American cooks by Thomas Jefferson, who is reputed to have grown them in his garden at Monticello. Our recipe balances the vegetable's natural sweetness with radicchio, a type of chicory that adds vibrant color and a hint of bitterness. We also add diced pancetta, which provides just the right amount of saltiness and savor.

1 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts
6 oz. pancetta, diced
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 head radicchio, about 8 oz., trimmed and cut
into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh marjoram
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cut or pull off any dry outer leaves from the brussels sprouts. Trim away any brown spots and slice off the dry stem end. Using a food processor fitted with the slicing blade, shred the brussels sprouts. Set aside.

On the stovetop, heat an oval copper roasting pan or large saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook the pancetta until crispy and golden brown, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a small bowl. Pour off the fat from the pan and discard, then wipe out the pan with paper towels.

Set the pan over medium heat and warm the olive oil. Add the brussels sprouts and stir to coat with the oil. Cook until the brussels sprouts begin to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir again, then add the radicchio, marjoram and salt and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the 1/4 cup broth. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and adding more broth as needed, until the brussels sprouts are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta and stir to incorporate. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Transfer the brussels sprouts to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Make-Ahead Tip: Trim and slice the brussels sprouts and radicchio and dice the pancetta up to 1 day in advance. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cornish Hens

Last winter, my boyfriend and I stared "Sunday Night Dinners" with our best friends. We go over to their house, drink wine, watch tivo and relax. Last weekend was our first dinner of the winter and we cooked Cornish Hens.

Now, this was Carrie's idea. I've never had a cornish hen before but she wanted to try something different so we tackled them head on. Cooking these turned out to be a blast. We had to "truss" the hen and we had no clue what that meant. So, we went online and watched a cooking "how to" video and quickly became pros. No butcher string? No problem. We searched the house for string and found a yo-yo. No recipe? Again, no problem. We made that up too...

Cornish Hens Shaw and Vazz Style

2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
3 Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bag of pearl onions, skin peeled
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
Fresh thyme sprig
Fresh rosemary sprig
4 Cornish hens (We did one per person but you could do 2 for 4 people)
1/2 stick of butter
Butcher string
A baster
For rub:
Onion Powder
Sea Salt
Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Boil a pot of water. Dump bag of pearl onions and cook for 3 minutes. Drain, flash in cold water and peel skins.

Get butcher string and truss hen. (For the how-to video, click here) Get large roasting pan. Rub hens with spice mix (above). You can buy rubs pre-made at stores and those work well, too. Place trussed hens in pan. Add carrots, onions, garlic, herbs and chicken stock.

Place in oven and cook for 1 hour. Baste hens with juices and brush with butter every ten minutes. Serve warm.


Cheese Platter

My older sister hosted a garden club meeting at her home last night and her friend brought a cheese tray that was "absolutely amazing!" If you're interested in stepping outside of the 'brie' box at your next get together, you may want to try some of these suggestions...

Finnochiona: A type of salami flavored with fennel,cracked pepper and curry
Sopressata: A dry-cured salami from Southern Italy, often flavored with chile pepper and garlic.
Speck: A juniper-scented Italian prosciutto cheese

Pierre Robert – cow, triple-crème
Abbaye de Belloc – sheep, semi-firm
Clochette – goat, semi-soft
Parmigiano Reggiano – cow, hard

Quince paste (membrillo) – quince fruit
Maracona almonds
Apricot Almond Preserves
Red Fig Perserves

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stanford Guacamole

This recipe has evolved from my Mountain View days, and as simple as it seems, has always received good reviews. I seem to remember using the New York Times Cookbook and Sunset magazine to get started. Diced tomatoes and finely chopped garlic have made appearances over the years, but the basic recipe below has been the old standby.

1 Avocado, large and ripe
1/4 cup Onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Lemon juice
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
10 Drops Frank's Red Hot Sauce or Louisiana Sauce (Not Tabasco)
Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt and Lawry's Seasoned Salt to taste.

1. Mash the avocado with a fork until almost smooth but a little "lumpy". Then mix in the other ingredients. Serve with corn chips.
I try to avoid making Guacamole that is too pepper hot or too garlicky. Instead, I like to offer salsa and peppers on the side to satisfy my guest's individual preferences.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots

Seeing that this is the week of Thanksgiving, I find it suiting to showcase mashed potatoes. I made short ribs over the weekend (will post the killer recipe for those later in the week) and served them with this recipe that I just made up from scratch. I am slightly obsessed with garlic and like to use it in mass quantities. This recipe is no exception.

P.S. For a great snack or starter, roast a head of garlic per person and serve it with an olive oil plate seasoned with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and a baguette. Yummm

Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots
For 4 people

20 cloves of garlic, peeled (Most stores carry tubs of peeled garlic. Saves you lots of time!)
6 Russet potatoes
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 a stick of butter
3/4 cup of 1/2 & 1/2
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Take garlic cloves and place on sheet of aluminum foil. Cover in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap foil into ball with twist the the on top so it looks like a bulb. Place in oven at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Bring pot of water to a boil. Peel potatoes and cut into large cubes. Boil potatoes until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and put potatoes back in pot. Add butter, 1/2 & 1/2 and parmesan. Use potato masher and mash up. Take roasted garlic out of oven and add to pot. Mix with masher. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with caramelized shallots.

For the Caramelized Shallots

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds fresh shallots, peeled
3 tablespoons sugar 3
tablespoons good red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof saute pan, add the shallots and sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well.

Place the saute pan in the oven and roast for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the shallots, until they are tender. Season to taste, and serve hot.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Last Supper

My friend sent me this book as a recommendation and I picked it up at Borders right away. I love foodie reads! This would make a nice holiday gift for a fellow foodie.

As described by, "The Last Supper is Chefs have been playing the “My Last Supper” game among themselves for decades, if not centuries, but it had always been kept within the profession until now. Melanie Dunea came up with the ingenious idea to ask fifty of the world’s famous chefs to let her in on this insider’s game and tell her what their final meals would be. My Last Supper showcases their fascinating answers alongside stunning Vanity Fair–style portraits. Their responses are surprising, refreshing, and as distinct from each other as the chefs themselves. The portraits—gorgeous, intimate, and playful—are informed by their answers and reveal the passions and personalities of the most respected names in the business. Lastly, one recipe from each landmark meal is included in the back of the book. With My Last Supper, Dunea found a way into the typically harried, hidden minds of the people who have turned preparing food into an art. Who wouldn’t want to know where Alain Ducasse would like his supper to be? And who would prepare Daniel Boulud’s final meal? What would Anthony Bourdain’s guest list look like? As the clock ticked, what album would Gordon Ramsay be listening to? And just what would Mario Batali eat for the last time?"


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Original Buffalo Chicken Wings

This is from my former Cambridge business associate and Harvard professor, Beardsley Ruml, IV.

"This is an item made famous by Calvin Trillin in a New Yorker article describing its history. It seems that some gentlemen stayed late at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo discussing a business deal and asked for something to eat. Given the few ingredients available in the kitchen at the time, this was the result. This recipe (provided directly by the inventor) subsequently appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

The quantity of wings per person is based on extensive research and takes into account the severe agony of running out of wings before appetites are sated."


5 1/2 Chicken wings per person, cut at the joints, wingtips discarded

Hot Sauce:

1 part Butter
2 parts Frank's Louisiana Red Hot Sauce (Durkee)
1 part White vinegar

Blue Cheese Dressing:

1 cup Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. Garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1 Tbsp. White vinegar
1/4 cup Blue cheese, crumbled
Salt, Pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper (optional)

Celery stalks, chilled


1. Heat the combined hot sauce ingredients in a saucepan.

2 Deep fry the wings until brown and crisp. Pour a little sauce over the wings as they are finished.

3. Serve the wings and sauce with crisp celery sticks and blue cheese dressing (combine all dressing ingredients). The dressing is actually intended for the celery but it is also good with the wings.

Chuck Note: I have had excellent results baking the wings instead of frying. In a 425 degree oven and on a greased cookie sheet, bake the wings for 20 minutes a side for a total of 40 minutes.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Such a light and tasty pasta dish

We got home last night at 9:30 after hitting the climbing wall at the gym for 2, 2 1/2 hours, and my arms were fried and I was exhausted. Oh, and STARVING. I'd clipped out this recipe from Food and Wine (ick, gail simmons, i am not endorsing you at all) a while ago and it occurred to me that I had all the ingredients in the fridge. It took about 15 minutes and was so light and uber delicious! (oh, i halved the ingredients, too.)

Farfalle with Yogurt and Zucchini

From Food and Wine a while ago, I did find it on their site, though.

One of the best (and simplest) pasta dishes from this year’s crop of cookbook authors comes from Johanne Killeen and George Germon, the chefs and owners of Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island, and the authors of On Top of Spaghetti. This recipe calls for quickly boiling shredded zucchini in the same pot as the pasta, then tossing everything together in a sauce made with yogurt instead of cream. Yogurt may seem strange in a pasta sauce, but the result is brilliant.

1 pound farfalle
4 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), coarsely shredded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the farfalle until al dente; about 1 minute before the farfalle is done, add the shredded zucchini to the pot. Drain the farfalle and zucchini, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt the butter. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Greek yogurt and the 1 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and season the yogurt sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Add the farfalle, zucchini and reserved pasta water to the saucepan and cook over low heat, tossing, until the sauce coats the pasta; transfer to warmed bowls and serve with the extra cheese


Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Zingerman's opened in Ann Arbor Michigan in 1982 and has grown into a national culinary institution. The Deli started with 2 employees serving traditional Jewish fare preparing their foods with the best ingredients available. Word spread and the rest is history. Now, they stock an exceptional array of farmhouse cheeses, estate-bottled olive oils, varietal vinegars, smoked fish, salami, coffee, tea and much, much more. Today, thousands of visitors go to Ann Arbor to have a bite and even more order food online. The owners have won James Beard awards (yes, James Beard awards) and, after countless offers and pleas, they refuse to expand. Zingerman's Mail Order sends extraordinary foods across the country and around the world. Ed Behr, writing in The International Wine Cellar, referred to the company as " . . . the most discriminating mail order selection of foods that I am aware of." If you haven't heard of Zingerman's, check them out online and try one (or all!) of their yummy products and see what everyone is talking about.

Turner's Clam Chowder

This recipe obtained from Turner's (A terrific original customer of the Shaw Winery) in the Boston Westin Hotel from 1987 is for their award winning Clam Chowder.


1st Place Winner "Best Clam Chowder in Boston", Chowderfest Competition, 1984, 1985 and 1986. Chowderfest Hall of Fame 1987. 1st Place Winner, "Best Clam Chowder in New England," Great Chowder Cook-Off, Newport, Rhode Island 1987.


10 Cherrystones
6 Quahogs
40 Oz. Clam Juice
1 Pint Heavy Cream
1 Cup Water
4 Oz. Clarified Butter
4 Oz. Flour
1 Medium Onion
1 Rib Celery
1 Large Potato (Blanched)
1/2 Tsp. White Pepper
1 Small Bay Leaf
1 Clove Minced Garlic
1/4 Tsp. Thyme


Wash clams thoroughly. Place quahogs in pot with 1/2 cup of water. Cover tightly and steam until clams open. Repeat this process with cherrystones. Remove clams from shell, chop coarsely, and reserve broth in a separate container.

In the same pot, add clarified butter and garlic. Saute 2-3 minutes. Add onions, celery and spices. Saute until onions are translucent. Add flour to make a roux, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes (don't brown). Slowly add clam juice (fresh and commercial), stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Simmer for 10 minutes (the soup will be very thick at this point so be careful it does not burn). Add potatoes and cook until tender. Add cream and clams and bring back to a boil. Season to taste.

Serves 10 People.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Lemon and Herb Tilapia

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you've probably noticed that there are never any fish recipes. Well, there's a reason for that; I hate fish. Sorry to all you fish lovers. So, it goes with out saying that not only is a fish recipe overdue but it should be the recipe of the week. A nice field green salad with a vinaigrette would make this a great light entree.

Lemon and Herb Tilapia
From Diana Rattray,Your Guide to Southern Food.

Tilapia fillets are baked with a topping mixture made with lemon, butter, parsley, chopped green onions, and seasonings.

1 small lemon
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions, with tops
4 tilapia fillets, about 6 ounces each, about 1 1/2 pounds total

Preheat oven to 400°. Zest lemon and squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice. In a small bowl, combine the peel and juice with the softened butter, parsley, salt, pepper, and green onions.
Butter a 12x8-inch baking dish.

Place fillets in baking dish, folding thinner ends under as necessary. Top fillets with the butter mixture. Bake fillets for 15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.Serves 4.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey

Gobble, gobble. It's about that time. You know what I'm talking about... Thanksgiving planning! So, here's a turkey recipe worth taking a look at.

Pancetta-sage turkey with pancetta-sage gravy
Bon Appétit November 2007
Bruce Aidells

Servings: Makes 10 to 12 servings

subscribe to Bon Appétit
IngredientsPancetta-Sage Butter:
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 14- to 16-pound turkey, rinsed, patted dry inside and out; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved for Shortcut Turkey Stock

8 fresh sage sprigs
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Shortcut Turkey Stock or water

1/2 cup diced thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon; about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups Shortcut Turkey Stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage PreparationFor pancetta-sage butter:
With machine running, drop garlic down feed tube of processor and chop. Add pancetta. Pulse to chop finely. Add all remaining ingredients. Pulse blending to coarse paste. Transfer to small bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

For turkey:
Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 325°F. Sprinkle main turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Spread with 2 tablespoons pancetta-sage butter. Starting at neck end, slide hand between skin and meat of breast, thighs, and upper drumsticks to loosen skin. Spread remaining butter over thighs, drumsticks, and breast meat under skin. Fill main cavity with herb sprigs. Tie legs loosely to hold shape. Tuck wing tips under.

Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Rub turkey all over with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups stock into pan.

Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 3 hours. Tilt turkey so juices run into pan. Transfer turkey to platter. Tent with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes (temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Reserve pan.

For gravy:
Scrape juices and browned bits from roasting pan into large glass measuring cup. Spoon off fat. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Heat 2 tablespoons reserved fat in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté until beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Add shallots; sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour; whisk until golden, about 4 minutes. Whisk in 3 cups stock, wine, and degreased pan juices. Bring to boil, whisking. Cook to desired consistency, about 5 minutes. Whisk in rosemary and sage; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Breaking Down a Chicken

Missy, here is a video from YouTube showing you how to break down a chicken.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stonewall Kitchen

I am addicted to Stonewall Kitchen products. I give them as gifts, buy them for my own kitchen and store some in my fridge at work to snack on. Stonewall makes jams, sauces, marinades, dressings and much much more. Just trust me and check them out!

My mother makes the best pear chutney on the planet but I usually only score one or two jars a year. They go fast so I use Stonewall's Apple Cranberry Chutney for back up. Fall is all about chutney so I recently bought two jars to hold me over the next month. It's great with baked brie, pork or just on a plain cracker as a snack.


Sausage Soup

Or, What's Left in my Refrigerator.

So, the picture above is from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, last night I made a version of a soup she had posted a while back. Of course, I had about none of the ingredients I was supposed to, so I improvised, but this is a tasty and delicious fall belly-warmer, and I have to say, incredibly easy. Mine didn't really look anything like that photo. :)

Sausage Soup

*1 package Mild Italian Sausage I found in the freezer.

After trying various forms of mangling this sausage, I'd go one of two routes. A. Uncase raw sausage, slice into cubes, brown in the bottom of your soup pot or B. Cook cased sausage in the skillet or bottom of your soup pot and slice into rounds. I chose to sort of half cook the sausage, then mush them into non-slices, then try to brown. Bad choice.

*Several peeled, cubed red potatoes.
I meant to use 7 medium ones, but dropped one in the garbage can while peeling, so used 6 instead. It was just fine.

*Three small yellow onions, chopped
There were, I kid you not, only seven onions left at the store. Apparently, Lakeview is having a big onion rush. There were a few red ones, but I didn't think those were the right flavor for soup.

*Couple of cloves of garlic, chopped.

*6 cups chicken broth

Or, you know, 4 cups broth and 2 cups water. I'm not kidding about the 'whats left in my fridge.'

*1 bag baby spinach

After browning the cased or uncased sausage, transfer sausage pieces to a paper towel to drain. Add a bit of olive oil and saute onions and garlic till soft and translucent. Add broth, potatoes, and some salt and pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to strong simmer, simmer until potatoes are soft. At this point I smashed some of the potatoes up so it was a little stew-ier, I suppose you don't have to. Add sausage back in. Simmer a minute or two. Add spinach, simmer till wilted. That's it!


Monday, November 5, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie

My brother has asked me to help him cook Thanksgiving dinner this year. I am obviously very, very excited about this. So, I spent my weekend looking for recipes and I came across this one for pecan pie but with a little twist. Enjoy.

Gourmet November 2007
Here we've taken pecan pie above and beyond its usual corn-syrupy incarnation. A layer of bittersweet chocolate adds richness to the dessert while simultaneously balancing its sweetness. And an abundance of pecans makes for a supremely satisfying filling.
Makes 8 servings
Ruth Cousineau

1 (3 1/2- to 4-ounces) fine-quality 60%- to 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate bar, finely chopped
2 cups pecan halves (7 ounces), toasted and cooled
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
Pastry dough

Accompaniment: lightly sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over barely simmering water, stirring. Remove from heat. Roll out dough into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively.Spread chocolate in bottom of pie shell with back of spoon and let it set, then cover with pecans. Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl, then whisk in corn syrup and pour over pecans.Bake pie until filling is puffed and crust is golden, 50 to 60 minutes. (If pie is browning too fast after 30 minutes, loosely cover with foil.) Cool pie on a rack to warm or room temperature. Serve with whipped cream.Cooks' note: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled, uncovered, until cool, then covered. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 10 minutes.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Breaking down a chicken

Does anyone have a really good method for breaking down a chicken? I always seem to massacre mine.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Making Pie Crust from Scratch

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Fall is here. So, that means it's pie time! Here is an instructional video showing you step by step how to make a homemade crust.


Playing Favorites- The Next Iron Chef

We all know that I am a dork and watch about every food show there is (with the exception of the real cheesy ones that target housewives with young kids and make meals in 20 minutes using crappy ingredients). My new obsession every Sunday night is the Next Iron Chef. Eight chefs compete each week for the chance to take Morimoto's place as he is stepping down (one of the original Iron Chefs from the Japanese show). I am rooting for John Besh (above) BIG TIME. So, my boyfriend just forwarded me this article and now I'm really in love. Just read this article below and you'll start rooting for him, too.

October 31, 2007, New York Times
From Disaster, a Chef Forges an Empire
New Orleans

BEFORE Katrina, John Besh was simply a good chef with a fancy restaurant that had a habit of making top 10 lists around the country.

After Katrina, he became known as the ex-Marine who rode into the flooded city with a gun, a boat and a bag of beans and fed New Orleans until it could feed itself.

His post-Katrina narrative has turned him into a spokesman for his city’s culinary recovery. He is the anti-Emeril, a polite, bona fide hometown boy who is less bam! and more bayou. That he looks good on television hasn’t hurt. On “The Next Iron Chef” last Sunday night, Mr. Besh beat another chef on his quest to join the Food Network’s all-star cooking team.

But behind that telegenic Southern humility and unquestioned generosity lies a man who approached life after Katrina with a kind of military focus that has made him one of only a few chefs in New Orleans who are much better off than before the storm.

Just before Katrina, Mr. Besh had bought out his investor in Restaurant August, his downtown flagship. When the storm shut the city down, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to cover the rent and payments on his business loans.

Through a series of aggressive moves in the months after the storm, Mr. Besh expanded his empire. The number of restaurants in his group doubled to four, including the new Lüke, a downtown brasserie with a private line of beer, and La Provence, a rustic French restaurant and mini-farm north of New Orleans that he bought earlier this year after the death of its owner, Chris Kerageorgiou, Mr. Besh’s mentor and partner in a pig-raising venture.

He is now responsible for 310 paychecks, up from 167 before the storm.

In hindsight, it turns out that the smartest move Mr. Besh made was quickly arranging a series of lucrative emergency catering contracts, feeding thousands of law enforcement, government and oil rig workers. The contracts, some of which lasted for a year and a half, made him enough money to bankroll the expansion of his businesses.

The bottom line also got a boost from Harrah’s, which owns the casino where Mr. Besh has been running a steakhouse since 2003. The company paid him as a consultant until the restaurant could open again.

“We just did what we thought was right at the time,” he said.
As he and his partner, Octavio Mantilla, began to rebuild, Simone Rathlé, a longtime friend in the public relations business Mr. Besh hired when he opened August six years ago, went to work.

“He was like numb and just freaked out,” she said. “He owned this restaurant and owed a lot of money. He was doing things for survival. He needed to pay his bills and I needed to promote him to get people to go to his restaurant to help him to pay his bills.”

She flew him to fund-raisers and put him in front of any journalist she could think of. Soon Mr. Besh was leaning into the role as spokesman for New Orleans like a politician with a cause. Even today, whether he’s cooking at a charity event, shooting a holiday magazine spread or appearing on television, he stays on message.

“I’ll tell ya’ll, it’s been trying,” he said as he braised short ribs on the “Today” show set earlier this month. “There are so many beautiful things happening in the city, but at the same time there’s a ways for us to go.”

Commitments have been piling up. He’s writing a book and designing a line of flavored butters for Whole Foods, with a local dairy. On Nov. 22 he will star with Wynton Marsalis in an episode of “Iconoclasts,” the Sundance Channel series that makes unlikely celebrity matchups.
Meanwhile, Food Network fans are cheering him on in the “Next Iron Chef” competition. The finale is Nov. 11, and the smart money is on Mr. Besh to make it at least that far.

Spend some time with Mr. Besh, and it becomes clear that he knows how to work his assets, which include an addictive laugh, deep blue eyes and hair that always looks a few days away from really needing a cut.

He is a practiced bad boy. His idea of a joke is to send his Israeli-born chef at the Besh Steakhouse at Harrah’s on a nine-hour drive with a car full of Berkshire pork to a Tennessee smokehouse for what Mr. Besh calls “ham camp.”

With a tendency toward dispensing compliments that rival Eddie Haskell’s, Mr. Besh walks through the world with the playfulness of the class clown and the confidence of the star quarterback.

“He just shines,” said Bruce Seidel, the executive producer who cast Mr. Besh both for an “Iron Chef” andouille challenge against Mario Batali (Mr. Besh won) and for “The Next Iron Chef” series.

Even though New York producers are taken with the Louisiana bayou-boy persona and his humble message of hope, it can wear thin. On a recent episode of “The Next Iron Chef,” the host, Alton Brown, issued a warning: “The judges feel the Southern gosh-darn cook thing is growing a little old.”

In New Orleans, it is a rare person who criticizes Mr. Besh’s newfound stardom. Chefs and food writers in a town thick with both might grumble about service lapses at August or the naked capitalism of the $1,200 California wine and $58 New York strip at Besh Steakhouse, but his success is generally regarded as a good thing.

“When he rises, he raises it for all of us,” said Leah Chase, the 84-year-old Creole chef of Dooky Chase’s. “I like people who know what they have to do and just do it.” (But the TV appearances don’t impress her. “I’ve got to call John and say I think he’s above that Iron Chef,” she said.)
In Slidell, the little town north of here where Mr. Besh, 39, was raised and still lives, his culinary degree, European training and a cell phone full of high-powered numbers aren’t all that important.

“He thinks he’s from Paris, France,” a relative likes to joke. “But he’s just from Slidell, Louisiana.”

During a recent family breakfast at his Pottery Barn-perfect five-bedroom house on a bayou in a new subdivision, Mr. Besh discussed his strategy for avoiding the problems that come when chefs stretch themselves too thin.

“Unlike a lot of chefs, I don’t try to pretend I’m in every one of my kitchens every day,” he said. Although he likes to cook at August at least five days a week, the partners and chefs at his three other places get room to run things as they see fit.

That kind of structure lets him leave town a lot, grabbing every opportunity that comes his way. He likes it, sure, but he also feels that he has to do what he can while he has the chance.
“This is my home and my life,” he said, dishing out pork grillades and stone ground grits to his four boys, the oldest of whom is 11 and the youngest 3. “But when I think about the sacrifices all the people who work with me have made and my children and all the help the city still needs, I think who am I to turn down the chance to be on this new Iron Chef show and everything else that has come my way?”

Mr. Besh and his wife, Jenifer, grew up together, but didn’t fall in love until Mr. Besh, his studies at the Culinary Institute of America cut short by a tour leading an infantry squad during the Persian Gulf war, came back home to Louisiana ready to settle down. They’ve been married 16 years, and their lives are a tangle of kids, relatives and friends they’ve both known since Catholic school.

Mrs. Besh is a lawyer who has stopped practicing except to occasionally look over her husband’s contracts. Ask her how she feels about her husband’s new fame and she’ll raise an eyebrow and say, with the slightest hint of sarcasm, “I am the happiest girl in Slidell.”

If the storm sharpened Mr. Besh’s naturally competitive drive, it softened his cooking in many ways. Before the storm, locals sometimes criticized him for being too far out on the cutting edge, which is an easy place to be in a town where people still get a little itchy if there’s no trout amandine on the menu.

“When he went through his foam phase it was a little nauseating,” said Poppy Tooker, a local cooking teacher. “It was like crawfish jelly with spit on top.”

Although he still plays on the edge, foaming this or that or using methyl cellulose to create fried oyster stew that comes to the table as a liquid encased in a perfect cube of crust, most dishes are more direct. The August menus, still sophisticated, are built from even more Louisiana ingredients than before. He uses his own eggs and Berkshire pork and is trying to figure out how to raise a mix of Brahma and Charolais cattle, which he hopes will mirror the flavor of the beef he tasted in the Loire Valley.

“I’m cooking with a lot more soul now,” he said. “I want my food to have meaning.”
From his first days in a kitchen, misfortune has shaped Mr. Besh as a cook. He took to the stove at 9 after his father, who was out for a bike ride, was hit by a drunk driver and became paralyzed. Mr. Besh pitched in by cooking breakfast. Then, encouraged by his dad, he moved on to the game and fish he and his family pulled out of the Louisiana woods and bayous.

When Mr. Besh wanted to get as far away from Louisiana as possible, he signed up for the military. But the reality of war in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait sent him back home, ready to get serious about his cooking career. Then came Hurricane Katrina.

And life’s hard turns keep coming. Almost a year ago, Kathleen, one of his four older sisters, died of cancer at 46. One of her last wishes was a white Christmas, so Mr. Besh rented a snow machine and covered his yard in frozen Louisiana water.

And after surviving all of it, he says that there is only one thing left that scares him.
“I’ve only got this one shot,” he said. “I don’t want to mess it up.”