Classic Cooking Academy

I’m three weeks deep into a 24 week cooking program at the Classic Cooking Academy. The instructor, chef, and owner Pascal Dionot is brilliant. He is European trained and comes from the generation that worked in a brigade-style kitchen. He has worked with some of the best in the business. His experience makes him intense to watch, thorough with his instruction, and entertaining to listen to.

In just three weeks he has taught me the importance of making stocks and demi-glace. I’ve also learned how to make a number of brown sauces that incorporates an intensely meaty flavored demi-glace; bordelaise, chasseur, blue cheese, and a Robert sauce. His demonstrations involve thorough explanations and flawless techniques.

He showed us how to perfectly execute each sauce and had us taste them during and after each cooking stage. Not only did I learn how to make a variety of full flavored brown sauces I learned how to pair the sauces with different animals (star of the dish) so that the sauce compliments the dish rather than takes away from it.

After his demonstration he had us make one of the brown sauces he demonstrated. I chose a bordelaise that he said looked and tasted good but needed more body (more demi-glace). Having a chance to taste his and another student’s bordelaise I couldn’t have agreed more.

After the last class I came home and made a blue cheese sauce that paired perfectly with beef tenderloin. In a few days I will download the pictures and write about it. It was one of the best things that I’ve ever made.

Enjoy the holiday and the great food with your family and friends. Happy Holiday.

What's up, Doc?

I’m not sure who or what I should blame for my association of carrots and Bugs Bunny but it never fails that when I see a carrot I want to say “What’s up, Doc?” My Pavlovian response to carrots goes as far back as I can remember. It may have started with me annoying my older brother for watching Looney Tunes every chance he could get.

This Looney Tunes influenced lunch of cranberry glazed carrots, chickpea puree, and cinnamon crusted pork chops is pretty easy to make and shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes from start to finish. The finished meal should yield enough for two people. The fastest way to get started is to take a handful of washed baby carrots and put them in a small-medium sauce pan over high heat. Barely cover the carrots with some kind of juice-cranberry, orange, apple- and add a pinch of cumin and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover.

While your carrots are simmering drain a can of chickpeas, heat the liquid and reserve, and put them into a processor or a blender. Add a clove of garlic, a couple of pinches of salt and pour the reserved heated liquid and puree. Add a little bit of the liquid a little at a time until you reach the consistency you like. Season to taste and refrigerate.

On medium-high heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan for a few minutes. Massage two chops (I had about 3/4" boneless) with oil and season liberally with salt, pepper, cumin, and cinnamon. Sauté the chops on the first side for about 5 minutes. It should be nicely browned before you flip it over and sauté it for another 3-5minutes. Deglaze the pan with some juice or broth and reduce down to about 4 tablespoons. Remove from heat, and loosely cover with aluminum foil.

By now your carrots should be fork tender and ready to be plated. Remove the carrots and reduce the liquid until it is thick and glossy. Put the carrots back into the pan and coat. Plate with puree first, then spoon a couple of tablespoons full of the sauce and top with one chop, finally top with the carrots. Super simple and it shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes to make. Happy Holiday.

“Porky’s Hare Hunt”

Bread Pudding and Salted Caramel Sauce

A few days ago I was looking in the cupboards when I came across a loaf of a fruit filled panettone bread. Looking at the expiration date it looks like it was a gift from last years Christmas. Making bread pudding is as straightforward as it gets. The base of bread pudding can consists of year old panettone bread or other bread of choice, your favorite flavor combos, and custard. From start to finish it takes about an hour to make.

Preheat oven to 375°. Take a medium sauce pan and put about a tablespoon of water in the bottom of the pan. This prevents the cream and milk from scorching. Add to the saucepan 1 ½ cups of milk (whole or 2%), ½ cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 vanilla bean split, scraped, and bring to a boil.

While keeping an eye on your sauce pan cube about 16 oz of bread, place in a 9x13 baking dish, and set aside. By now your liquid should be up to a boil. Take off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. During the cooling time take a mixing bowl and mix 4 whole eggs with ⅜ cups of sugar until it’s completely incorporated.

Pour infused milk into the egg mixture and mix thoroughly. When both mixtures are fully incorporated pour ½ of the mixture over the bread and let stand for about 10 minutes. After the bread has had a chance to soak up some of the custard pour the rest of the custard over it and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.

A bread pudding isn’t complete without a sauce. I came across a French recipe for a salted caramel sauce in one of the Gourmet magazines a few months back and I can’t get enough of it. The salt adds intensity to anything sweet and a depth of flavor that is hard to describe.

To make enough sauce for your bread pudding take a small sauce pan and add ½ tablespoon of light corn syrup, ½ cup of sugar, and dissolve over medium to high heat. Occasionally swirl the pan until the sugar reaches a deep golden color. Once the sauce has reached the desired color stir in ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream and ¼ - ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and cook on low-medium heat. Stir the sauce until the salt is completely dissolved. After the salt has dissolved stir in 1-2 tablespoons of cold butter and serve.

The richness of the bread pudding along with the sweet, salty and complex flavors of the caramel sauce works really well together. If you don’t get a chance to make the bread pudding you have to at least make the caramel sauce. Use it for ice cream, waffles, or whatever you want because it is delicious.

Going back...

It’s official~ Starting November 15th I am going back to culinary arts school. A couple of years after high school I attended the The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. What I can remember during my short lived stay is that the school was ranked as one of the best in teaching classical French cooking technique. Looking back on why I didn't finish I realized that I was there for the wrong reasons.

My mom lost a battle to cancer during my high school years. She stipulated in the will that I had to graduate with a post secondary degree. Like I mentioned in my first blog entry, You have to start somewhere, I grew up in a single parent home helping my mom in the kitchen. I thought that CHIC would keep me connected with my childhood memories. Oh I was wrong.

I enjoy being in a kitchen so I've decided that it’s time for me to take my passion to another level and go back to school. Classic Cooking Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona offers a 24 week part-time program that starts this Saturday.

I’m not sure what to fully expect or exactly what the credentials will do for my personal and professional goals. Either way I'm confident that this time I'm going for the right reasons and I'm eager to get started.

It's the Great Pumpkin

Wait wait wait! I’ve lived in the desert for almost three years and my body still craves fall weather. I can’t fight it. My internal clock knows that it’s time for the leaves to change colors and fall from the trees, for rainy and cloudy nights, colder weather and sweaters, to watch Charlie Brown’s It’s the Great Pumpkin and scary movie marathons, and earthy and robust flavors of seasonal produce.

October produce: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, parsnips, apples, and cranberries are in their peak. I’ve prepared other squash but only pumpkin a few times. I forgot how much work it is to clean a pumpkin of its stringy fibers and slimy seeds. It took me about thirty – forty minutes to get to the almost sweet and earthy flavor flesh that would eventually be roasted, pureed, and mixed into a cheesecake batter.

A small 2 lb. pumpkin yielded about 50 seeds and more puree than I knew what to do with. It really wasn’t worth the effort. Growing up I remember my mom using Libby’s pure pumpkin because it has just as good of flavor as a freshly roasted pumpkin flesh and it’s a lot easier to work with.

My pumpkin cheesecake recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. On Food and Cooking by Harold Mcgee, Mcgee considers cheesecake to be a custard and that it should be mixed slowly, baked gently, and transitioned from hot, warm,and cool slowly.

To make a pumpkin cheesecake first preheat oven to 325°F. Take two individual pie tins, or 1 springform pan, and press down the crust. Crust is made by grinding 15 graham crackers, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, a handful of pecans, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. When the dry ingredients are ground up pour enough melted butter to make a paste. Mold the pans with the paste like mixture and bake for 5 minutes.

In the meantime make your batter by lightly mixing 2 oz of mascarpone, 6 oz of pumpkin puree (Libby's Pure Pumpkin NOT the pie filling) and 4 tablespoons of sugar until its smooth. Whisk 1 large whole egg, 1 large yolk, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, and a splash of cream together - for creamier and tender effects add extra yolks. Fold the whisked eggs into the smooth mixture and lightly mix a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon juice until the batter is completely smooth.

Fill the pie tins with the batter and bake in a water bath at 325°F for about 30- 35 minutes. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and keep the cheesecake in there for another 10-15 minutes or until the center is slightly firm. Chill before serving. Top with whipped cream before serving. Delicious!

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Chapters 1 -3

Whip it, whip it good.

I’m not a fan of Rachael Ray, her laugh and her constant bubbly personality, really gets on my nerves. Looking past her wild hyena sounding laugh and her teletubbies personality I can see something meaningful.

More and more people are working longer hours, wanting to spend more time with family, or spend more time doing something else besides vacuum sealing bags of fresh salmon in the kitchen for an hour, and that's why Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals is a great idea for a lot of people.

People have asked me if I know of any good recipes that are quick, fresh, and flavorful. Not wanting to reference Rachael Ray I thought that I would do something similar to her 30 minute meals.

The first dish of my series that I’m going to call Devo, I’m open to other names so if you have any suggestions let me know, will be based on one of my childhood food memories.

It’s a dish that consists of egg noodles, cottage cheese (other fresh and hard cheeses will work but I like cottage because of the low fat, low carbs and high protein content,) pulled chicken, a lot of seasoning, and fresh herbs.

The first thing you want to do is get your pasta water up to a simmer; see my tip on water time in my Christmas in July entry. On a medium high heat take about a tablespoon or so of oil in a sauté pan and heat it until the oil shimmers. Add your well seasoned (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic,) chicken breast, presentation side down, to the pan.

Do not overcrowd the pan, 2-3 breasts at a time, and cook 6-8 minutes and flip it for another 6-8 minutes. In the last couple of minutes that the chicken is cooking bring the simmering water to a boil.

Pull the chicken out of the pan and put it on a cutting board, loosely cover with a lid, and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Boil the pasta according to the directions. Shred the chicken and chop up a handful or so of parsley. Use herbs that pair well with the cheese, protein, and spices that you are using. Drain the pasta and prepare to plate.

For one serving take a bowl and add about two handfuls of pasta, ¼ c of cheese, 4-6 oz of protein, and sprinkle with herbs. This is a quick and versatile dish, that is flavorful and texturally satisfying, that can be prepared in about 30 minutes or less. It’s a perfect start to my Devo series and a perfect way for you not to spend too much time in the kitchen.


“Now whip it
Into shape
Shape it up
Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead…
It’s not too late
To whip it
Well, whip it good….”

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

Most of you know that the quote “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” comes from the movie, The Godfather. Click the link. I'm sure if I we lived in a world run by the Corleone family Fat Clemenza would off me in a second if he knew that I made cannoli filling out of soft and bland tofu instead of sweetened ricotta cheese. He might take it easy on me though since I paired the cannoli with a double strength coffee con panna, made from an aluminum Moka pot, topped with chocolate shavings.

Never in a million years did I think that someone was going to ask to see a dish made with tofu. Tofu is challenging but not too bad. It’s neutral in flavor and can be used to replace any dish that calls for ricotta: ravioli, calzones, crepes, and cannoli. Full of ideas and anxious to get started a visit to a local Italian bakery inspired me to leave the gun and take the cannoli, or at least the shells.

The bakery, which is owned by (I found out later), the president of SimplyBread, Harold S. Back. He didn’t have any fresh bread to sell me. He said that they just bought the bakery the day before and was remodeling the kitchen. He insisted that I take cookies for the inconvenience.

He had one of the warmest smiles that I ever witnessed and wouldn’t take no for an answer. “No need to twist my arm,” I said. His smile got bigger and he started filling a bright orange cake box full of thumbprint cookies with a semi-sweet jelly, amaretti, and Italian tri color cookies.

Simultaneously he handed me cookies to eat while I waited for him to fill the box to the top with a variety of Italian treats. I enjoyed watching him shift from side to side quickly and gracefully behind the display case as much as I did the mouth full of cookies. Off to the side in another case I noticed six golden brown and perfectly shaped cannoli shells.

It hit me right smack in the face. Loving cannoli and the thought of not having to make the shells I couldn't help but blurt out, “would it be ok if I take those cannoli shells off your hand?” Without hesitating he closed the sliding door to the case he was pulling cookies from, tossed the cookie box to his other hand, made a quick shuffle with his feet, opened the other case door and added the shells on top of the couple of dozen cookies that were already perfectly placed.

Cannoli shells and cookies in hand I didn’t care that he didn't have what I originally wanted. To give you an idea how kind he was, when I thanked him for his generosity he thanked me for coming in to his new bakery.

Not having to make the shells was a life saver because making the filling took much longer than I anticipated. It took me several hours of straining, creaming, adding thickeners, and more straining, before I got the right consistency. Learning from a lot of trial and error I refined the recipe and tried it again and had much better success the second time. Total time for the filling should be about 30 minutes.

To make about 10-12 medium cannoli (for the shells see recipes or visit your local bakery), bring 1/2 C of Whole Milk, 1/4 C of sugar, just under 1 T of cornstarch, 1/2 vanilla bean, 2 T of orange juice, and a pinch of salt, to a boil. Whisk consistently and reduce heat until thickened. Set the mixture aside for about 20-25 minutes to infuse the vanilla bean.

Strain the liquid into a bowl and remove the bean. In the meantime take 12 oz of silky tofu, 3 T of honey, ½ t of vanilla extract, and 1 t of cinnamon and puree it in a food processor. Chill it until the warm mixture is completely infused. Combine both mixtures into the food processor and puree it until it’s thick and creamy.

Refrigerate the filling until your ready to pipe it into the cannoli shells. Once the shells are filled dip the edges in chopped toasted pistachios, dust with powder sugar, and inhale only after you take your first bite.

Thanks MD for putting me to the test. I hope you enjoyed the cannoli as much as I enjoyed working on them.

Keep them coming!

I am having a lot of fun reading your replies to the email I sent out last week that asked for your support. Right now I should be pureeing tofu for one of you but as the days go on I’m getting more and more feedback, requests, and questions that are keeping me in a place that I’m the happiest; the kitchen.

Before I reply to your emails I want to take my thinking cap and apron off and say thank you. I can’t say it enough how much I appreciate all of your support. You have my word that I will reply to your emails and comments with educated answers and ideas as fast as I can. Thank you again and keep the emails coming.

Stay tuned for how I tweak one of my favorite desserts using, hopefully will not be a disappointment to you MD, a silky tofu as the base instead of ricotta.

Here’s a hint on what I'm making. The hint is a quote from, what is said by many, the best gangster movie ever made. "Leave the gun. Take the _____." Any guesses?

A summer's Christmas and tomato sauce

Growing up in the Midwest my family would anxiously await the warm weather to prep the aisles and aisles of seeds and old wooden stakes. It took several weeks of nurturing the young plants; making sure their supports were sturdy enough to hold the coming of the tall thick vines of a favorite summer produce.

Before we knew it the rows of rugged stakes had vines that wrapped around and grew upwards in a way that seemed to never end. A glance at the mature plants looked like Christmas trees full of a variety of colored ornaments. It was truly a Christmas in July that would last until early October.

One of the things that I like about cooking with seasonal produce is that you don’t have to do much to it to enjoy its natural flavors. With about a month left in the season I’m going to take advantage of cooking with the natural tartness, sweetness, and earthiness of those vibrant red vine grown tomatoes.

Taking advantage of the last bit of the peak season, I picked up a couple of softball size tomatoes to make about a cup and a half of a simple sweet, tart, and deep-flavored chunky tomato sauce that would accompany a bed of penne, mushrooms, fresh basil, and shrimp.

The first step in getting your meez together is to boil water for your pasta; I used about two handfuls of penne which will make enough for three or four. Here’s a tip that you can use to save time and for perfect timing for plating. Bring the water to boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Because the water is simmering just under the boiling point it will take just a few seconds to bring the water back to boil once you’re ready to add pasta .

While you are waiting for the water to boil take a cored tomato and score the opposite side of it. Place the tomato into boiling water and remove after about 20 seconds, then place immediately into an ice water bath. You should then be able to remove the skin and seeds easily (concasse tomatoes), and chop them into chunks.

In a sauce pan, on medium heat, sweat (about a tablespoon or two of) diced shallots and garlic in olive oil. Once you get a whiff of the wonderful aromas continue to sweat them for about a minute longer. From this point add a couple of tablespoons of white wine, the concasse tomatoes, pinch of salt, and a dash of red pepper flake.

*Turn up the heat to bring your simmering water to boil and cook and drain your pasta.

Simmer your tomato sauce for about 10 minutes before adding about a 1/8 cup of mushrooms, your preference. Simmer the sauce and mushrooms for another 3 minutes and then add a couple of basil leafs and simmer for another 2 minutes.

The pasta should be drained, dry, and plated. Top the pasta with the tomato and mushroom sauce, remove cooked basil. Add mozzarella, fresh basil, and ready to eat shrimp. Shrimp is optional. I had shrimp that needed to be used so I added those at the last second. But it’s not necessary. It did however add a nice contrast of temperature and texture to my sauce.

After a couple of bites into the fresh vine grown tomato sauce I closed my eyes and all I could see is the Christmas in July that I grew up enjoying in the Midwest.

Ricotta and Spinach Crêpes

JTK’s Crêperie Now open for lunch! Only serving myself, friends and Erin.

Serving savory and sweet crêpes using local produce and the freshest ingredients. Guaranteed to satisfy every palate! Sounds good-local produce and fresh ingredients. What's the hold up?

How good does a savory crêpe filled with a mixture of locally grown spinach and ricotta cheese topped with a pleasantly salty duxelle sound? I have to admit, it tasted better than it sounds and it only took a couple of minutes to prepare. This is one lunch item that I will make again.

Traditionally crêpes, a very thin pancake, are made with one of two kinds of flour; wheat flour for sweet and buckwheat for savory. Since I didn't have either on hand I used regular unbleached flour and it turned out just fine.

To make 6 or so crêpes, whisk together ½ c of flour, about 3/8 c of milk, 1 egg, a pinch of salt, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Whisk into the mixture about 1-2 T of browned butter. The consistency should be similar to heavy cream so give or take from the dry and wet ingredients until it is such. The batter should be prepared and refrigerated several hours early and brought to room temperature prior to cooking.

During the cooling period wash, sauté in olive oil and garlic, a couple of handfuls of chopped spinach until soft. After the spinach is sautéed mix in enough ricotta to your liken and sit aside.

To cook the crêpes take a warm pan and melt some butter on medium heat. Take just enough batter so that it thinly covers the bottom of the heated pan and cook it until the edges curl up. When you get the curl flip them and cook the other side.

After you are done cooking the crêpes fill them with the ricotta and spinach mixture and roll them up. Put the filled crêpes in a warm oven and make the duxelle. The duxelle is a mixture of minced mushrooms, shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt that is sautéed in butter then finally reduced in white wine until thick.

That may seem like a lot steps but if you get your meez together first you will fly right through this and have one of the most palate pleasing lunches.

You can't go wrong

It seemed like everywhere I looked I saw a picture or heard someone referencing the classic French salad, Frisée Aux Lardons. Since there’s nothing more pleasing to my palate than eggs and bacon I figured I would recreate a version of the classic salad.

It was getting close to lunch time so I packed my bag and headed home anticipating the sweet smoky aroma of a thick strip of bacon frying in a hot pan. I couldn’t wait to get in my kitchen so that I could get to work on my salad.

When I get to the kitchen I put a pot of water on for the egg and heat up a separate pan for the bacon. My pots and pans are on and it’s time for me to get into the fridge. I open the door and notice there is an open bottle of white wine from the night before. What would you do? Would you pour yourself a glass or save it for later? Well, I couldn’t resist. I poured myself a glass and it was just as light, crisp, and, as enjoyable as the night before.

A couple of sips of wine and I’m ready to create my version of Frisée Aux Lardons

All Recipes-
Yield 1-2

1 T white vinegar
1 thick-cut strip of bacon, cut into cubes
1 small tomato, sliced
¼ bag of mixed greens
2 T red wine vinegar
1 large grade AA
¼ cup of grated parmesan

Add the white vinegar to a pot of simmering water and continue simmering. Place the cubes of bacon into a medium heated pan and fry until the cubes have formed a crispy border. On low broil put the tomato slices on a baking sheet, use a silicon mat, and broil until it’s time to plate. In the meantime wash and dry the mixed greens, plate and set aside. Drain the bacon and add the red wine vinegar to the same pan on low. This will be used as the dressing for the greens.

From a ramekin, slide the egg into the simmering water for about 3 minutes. While the egg is poaching take a ¼ cup of parmesan and add it to the pan with the tomato slices on high for 1-2 minute; until the parmesan forms a crispy disc. With a slotted spoon take out and pat dry the egg. Give the bacon and vinegar pan a couple of swirls and lightly coat the greens and plate the other ingredients on top in whatever order you prefer. You can’t go wrong.

Comfort Foods

I couldn't have picked a better night to put my oven to use. I had fresh tomatoes, it was Friday, and I had a long week at work. Sounds like a good time to turn on my oven, even though it was over 100° outside, and indulge in comfort food.

Comfort foods for me are packed with proteins and carbs. It should be hearty with complexed aromas, and, balanced with contrasting flavors and textures. My pan roasted chicken, risotto with peas and lemon zest, roasted garlic and tomatoes, and a skillet chocolate chip cookie with vanilla bean ice cream is just that. Comfortly Delicious!

All Recipes-
Yield 2-3

Roasted Tomatoes 2-3 hours roasting time.
2 heirloom tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 T kosher salt
A couple of turns on the pepper mill
Drizzle of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the top of the tomatoes off and slice them in half. Put them in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and toss gently. Place the ingredients on a pan that’s lined with parchment paper. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Turn down the oven to 250° and flip the tomatoes, drain the juices (or transfer to a fresh sheet of parchment) and continue to cook for an hour. Repeat one more time and cook until they are fully caramelized, another 30 minutes to an hour.

Risotto with Peas and Lemon Zest
2 C of Chicken Broth
1 T Butter
½ Shallot Minced
2 T White Wine
¼ C Arborio Rice
Handful of Peas
Heavy Pinch of Parmesan

Bring the broth to a simmer. Heat another pan on medium heat and melt the butter. Once the butter has melted sweat the shallots and add the wine. As soon as you smell the wine add the rice. Let the rice absorb the liquid before you add the first ladle of simmering broth. In steps, add a ladle of liquid only after the rice as absorbed the previous addition. It takes patience but a good creamy and firm risotto is worth it. With one or two ladles of liquid left add the blanched peas and lemon zest. After the last bit of liquid is absorbed add the parmesan. Season to taste.

Pan Roasted Chicken
2 T Butter
Salt and Pepper
Sprinkle of Cayenne

Oven 375°

Tightly wrap each seasoned chicken breast with saran wrap and put it in a simmering pot of water for 15-20 minutes (Sous Vide). This keeps the chicken moist and crispy. Heat an oven proof pan on medium heat and melt 1 T of butter. Place the chicken breast in the hot pan and brown the presentation side of the breast for three minutes without disturbing it. The breast is ready when it slides easily in the pan. Flip the breast and brown for another 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, flip the breast, add 1 T of butter and put in the oven for another 6-8 minutes. Remember that the chicken will cook another 5-10 degrees when you take it out of the oven.

Skillet Cookie
1/2 C butter flavor shortening (1 stick)
3/8 C granulated sugar
3/8 C brown sugar
½ tsp Vanilla
1 Large Egg
1 1/8 C Unbleached All Purpose Flour
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Baking Soda
6-8 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

2-Scoops of Vanilla Bean Ice cream

Oven at 375°

In a small bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda together. In a larger mixing bowl (or stand mixer), cream the shortening and the sugars on medium speed for at least three minutes. Add the vanilla then the egg, mix until fully incorporated. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and continue to mix until incorporated. Add the other thirds, one at a time. Once the wet and dry ingredients are fully incorporated stir in the chocolate chips. This amount will fill two 6inch cast iron skillets with some dough extra to enjoy while they bake or about a dozen 2 oz cookies using a # 20 disher. Bake the skillets at 16-18 minutes or 10-12 minutes for the 2 oz cookies.

HK’s Finale

Is it just me or did HK’s season finale turn out as bad as eating an over cooked egg. I’ve watched HK for a long time now, not my favorite but it's somewhat worthy to watch, and have never been so disappointed by the outcome. I secretly enjoy the way Ramsay verbally abuses-it’s a treat when he breaks things-those so called chefs. Here’s the link to see the WRATH OF RAMSAY.

I’m not a movie producer or a screen writer, I would be lucky if I could entertain a group of 1st graders, I am, however, becoming an expert on eggs. To maximize flavors and aromas and to have a deeper understanding of what the essence of ingredients are I reference: CIA’s-The Professional Chef, Escoffier-Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery, and, my most recent and one of my favorites, McGee-On Food and Cooking.

I’ve studied eggs for a while now. They are one of the most common and basic ingredients I cook with but at the same time one of the most impressive and dynamic. If prepared correctly the fragile little gems can be transformed into an airy and sweet meringue or a dense savory custard. Eggs are amazing!

I can’t change the outcome of HK but I can help you make an egg that is better than the show's finale.

Egg more praiseworthy than HK's outcome
1 Large Grade AA
1 T Butter
2 T Clarified butter

To make a really good egg takes time and patience. The first thing you want to do is heat your pan on low-medium heat for at least five minutes. Then take a tablespoon of clarified butter and heat that up in the pan for another couple of minutes. While that’s heating up put your large Grade AA egg in a small ramekin-this allows you to slide the egg in the hot pan without disturbing the yolk. The egg should be left alone while the whites firm up. *If the whites start to sizzle remove the pan from the heat. You do not want the whites to have any craters, browning, or to be crispy. After the whites have time to set, about a minute or so, take a tablespoon of clarified butter and gently spoon over the top of the egg and baste the top with the clarified butter until it looks like this…...

You have to start somewhere

Whether you believe the chicken came before the egg or vice versa it is a fact that one or other had to start somehow and somewhere. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to give this blog thing a try.

I’m not sure if there’s a format that I have to follow so until someone asks me, what the hell I’m doing or writing, I’m just going to write. If you're interested in my blog then you should probably know a little bit about me and what my blog will be about.

I’ve been in the kitchen since I could remember. I was raised by my mom, who was one of five sisters, that had southern values. She believed that if you didn’t help make the meal then you clean up after. The thought of cleaning up after my big brother, who was four years older, was bad enough that I didn’t care what I had to do to help so that I didn’t have to clean up after him.

I didn’t care if my brother was teasing me for, what he thought was crying, when I sliced onions or having nightmares for at least a year of being attacked by a flock of ducks. Still to this day I think I would have nightmares if I were to pluck feathers from a dead duck. The teasing and the nightmares were worth it because it was my brother who had to clean up after me and not vice versa. So, Big Brother, HA!

Being in the kitchen is where I belong, it’s where I’m the happiest, it’s where I can do things my way, it’s a place to be creative, a place to experiment, a place for memories, and a place to bring others together. I hope that you will use my blog as a reference for classic recipes, techniques, and, creative dishes. Most importantly I hope my blog will bring as much joy into your life as is in mine. The kitchen, my home, my sanctuary….