Malloreddus

 
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Every year I try to do something new to better myself. Last year I took a long road trip and staged with a chef that I admired. This year I’ve already visited nine new countries and made my fifth visit to Nepal, a country near and dear to my heart. I arrived home last week, and am still dreaming about all of the delectable things I ate, the indescribable pieces of fine art and architecture I admired, the familiar feelings of kindness and impatient sarcasm that are reminiscent of home — even in an unfamiliar place.

For Valentine’s Day, while on our trip, my wife and I decided to do a one-on-one pasta class with two seasoned chefs who currently work in an artisanal pasta shop in Rome, Italy. Pastamaking had also been on my list for the New Year; it was a skill I was hoping to hone, and what better place to learn more about it than Italy?

Our pasta pros, Lele and Natalie, met us at the stairs of an old church outside the city center, and we immediately hit it off. First we stopped at the local farmers market and picked up some fresh produce. Next we stopped at a little cheese shop to purchase some fresh buffalo mozzarella, as well as some hay-smoked mozzarella to fill ravioli. From there we visited a natural spring owned by the Vatican to bottle water, then we headed to Lele’s home to get to work.

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My wife had never made pasta before — I have spoiled her into almost never having to cook. I had previously made pasta, but learned a great deal about technique from these two kind, pasta-loving souls. In preparing my dough I have always tried to incorporate the full quantity of all of the ingredients, and knead the dough rather forcefully until it became smooth. I learned that both of these things are incorrect.

When folding the dough and kneading, the goal is to create tiny air bubbles throughout the dough. It is important to become more and more gentle as the dough becomes smooth. Natalie used only his thumbs, folding the dough in half toward himself, then rolling it gently away from himself with just his thumbs. “It is important to keep the crease in the same place, and work around it as you knead,” he said. This knowledge was invaluable.

It is always interesting to find the misconceptions we have as Americans eating food we consider to be from a specific ethnic tradition. When I traveled to China several years ago, I encountered many amazing cuisines, none of which were anything like what you find at a “Chinese” restaurant in the States. Lele told us about a private dinner he was hired to cook in Los Angeles. He told us that when the guest asked him to cook “garlic bread” and pasta with “marinara,” he genuinely didn’t know what the man was talking about. “In Italy, we don’t eat garlic like that; we may put it in the oil, but we never eat it. And marinara only exists with pizza.” To Lele, things like carbonara are “sacred,” and he was kind enough to share the traditional method with us. Simply guinchale (Italian cured meat from pork cheeks), young pecorino, eggs, and a generous portion of fresh cracked black pepper. When put together properly, these ingredients come together to make the perfect sauce, no cream needed.

Of course the basic ingredients of your pasta are critical too. When you make pasta, use all-purpose or “00” flour, semolina, and roughly 50 percent of the volume of flour in water, eggs, or really any liquid (other than oils).

There are two basic doughs, a water-based and an egg-based dough. From there the sky’s the limit. But mastering these basic doughs takes more than a weekend class. Natalie spent over a year studying the art before becoming a teacher himself. “It depends on so many things, humidity, temperature, if the windows are open … 1 percent plus 1 percent plus 1 percent … equals 10 percent,” he said. “It is very simple, but it is easy to mess it up by overworking the dough, or letting it dry out by adding too much flour.”

To get you started making authentic pasta dough, I’d like to share this simple recipe for Malloreddus, or “gnocchetti sardi,” that Lele and Natalie shared with us:

Water-based pasta: Makes 1 generous portion of malloreddus

Ingredients:

70g all-purpose or “00” flour
40g semolina
50g water (a little less than ¼ cup)

Method:

Measure out all-purpose flour and semolina in a flat-bottomed bowl. Make a “volcano” by mounding the flour in the center of the bowl and pushing down with your knuckle in the center and turning your fist. Use the depression in the center to fill with the water.

Begin mixing by hand. As the dough begins to form, it will start to leave small clumps of dough behind, and there will be excess flour at the bottom of the bowl. At that point, grab all of the formed dough, leaving the flour at the bottom of the bowl behind, and transfer it to a lightly floured surface (the water will only take the flour it wants to absorb, do not force it to take extra).

Knead the dough by folding it in half toward you, placing it on the surface and gently rolling it away from you. Turn clockwise and repeat folding and kneading away from you.

As the dough begins to smooth out and gluten forms, it will have more resistance. It is important to be more and more gentle as the dough becomes smooth, because you are trying to incorporate small air bubbles into the dough as you fold.

Once the dough becomes smooth and it has some light spring to it when you press your finger to it, it is ready to rest. (Some recipes say “knead for 10 minutes” because of factors like humidity and air temperature — it may take four minutes, it may take 10, just know you are done when the dough is nice and smooth, and there is a light spring to it.) Cover dough with plastic (preferably something reusable). Let rest for about 20 to 30 minutes, until gluten structure relaxes a bit.

Cut the dough ball into four equal pieces (if you’ve kneaded correctly, there should be tiny air bubbles throughout the dough). Roll each dough ball section into a log, and roll it from the center out until it is a uniform thickness of about ⅜ inch. Work the dough gently, as you don’t want to rip it.

Cut these into roughly square shapes by cutting each “rope” in half, over and over, until they are roughly square.

Use the back of a fork to press the back of your thumb into the dough and roll it off the fork without rolling your thumb, but rather pushing it straight across. “This pasta was designed to flick off the fork.”

Coat the pasta with a dusting of semolina as you finish shaping it, so they don’t stick together.  

Let dry for several minutes, then cook to desired doneness (one to three minutes, depending on thickness).

This text also appeared at mvtimes.com

Chipotle Sweet Potato Gratin

 
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Chefs have a long tradition of “staging” (pronounced more like stodging), in which you go and work in a kitchen with chefs you would like to work with, or learn more from. It is almost always unpaid, and requires all of the demand of being an employee of that restaurant. Last winter I reached out to Zach Meloy at Better Half restaurant in Atlanta. I had admired his whimsical food for years on Instagram, and hoped that he might have room for me to spend some time in the kitchen with him and his team. My wife and I were preparing to spend a month in Atlanta, and she encouraged me to reach out to him to see if I could stage alongside him and his staff.

I sent him an email, and was thrilled to receive a reply almost immediately. He told me I was welcome to come in and we’d “see how it goes.” I was there for no more than five minutes when he asked me to make chili from scratch for the staff pre-shift meal. I only had half an hour, so I concocted the best version I could in the allotted time, then jumped in to lend a hand prepping for dinner service. Zach approached me shortly after, and told me that I was welcome to cook with them as long as I wanted. It was a great feeling to be welcomed into their kitchen, alongside talented chefs I had admired and respected for so long.

Every chef has a different vision, a different approach, or a different touch, and I think it’s important to see what others are doing and share ideas. I learned a number of things during my time at Better Half, and I had a blast working with one of the tightest teams I have seen in a kitchen in years. As a private chef, I am often cooking alone, so I especially value the opportunities to be around, and be inspired by, other chefs.

One of the foods that really stuck with me from my experience at Better Half was a chipotle potato gratin with Cotija cheese. Late last season, after preparing potatoes as many ways as I could think of, I decided to recreate the dish with a few twists. Using Mermaid Farms’ Feta Style cheese (which is absolutely delicious), and some local sweet potatoes, I put my own spin on this amazing side dish. It’s the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night, and the flavor combination is unlike most things you’ve tried before.

 

Ingredients:

4 to 6 sweet potatoes
1 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 cloves garlic, grated
1 can chipotle in adobo (use adobo only, reserve peppers for other use)
1 cup feta (Mermaid Farms, when you can get it!)
Fresh lime zest (optional)


Method:

Using a mandolin, thinly slice the potatoes (be careful). In a medium-size casserole, make a uniform layer of potato slices shingled together. Cream together cream, garlic, and adobo. Spoon a thin layer of the cream mixture evenly over the potatoes, then sprinkle on some feta. Repeat layers in alternating directions until all of the ingredients are used.

Bake at 375° for 45 minutes to an hour, until a knife slides into the center easily (use knife to check doneness). Let cool before cutting to preserve the layers.

Serve with fresh lime zest.

This text also appeared at mvtimes.com

Rye Shortbread

 
 
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Every year around the holidays my father would dig through the cupboards for his hefty ceramic shortbread molds. He carefully made dozens of shortbreads and portioned them into decorative tins for friends and family. Even after he moved down to Georgia, people would anxiously wait for the package of shortbread to arrive. When it was shipped or moved around from house to house, the crumbles would fall to the bottom; I always loved scraping the little bits of buttery shortbread out of the bottom of every tin.

As a chef I am always looking for ways to grow, and am in constant pursuit of innovative techniques and interesting new flavors. But sometimes it is the simplest of pleasures that bring the most joy. A smell or flavor can spark a memory so intense that it brings you back to another time and place. My dad’s shortbread is never too far from my mind, and has inspired me to create a version of my own.

Over the years I have made it my mission to use local products as much as possible, not because it is trendy to “eat local,” but because this Island is brimming with seriously amazing food. I am a private chef who serves different clients almost every day. That means different menus every day, so I began making regular visits to Island farms and the Farmers Market when I started my business. One afternoon, I was at Mermaid Farm’s booth at the West Tisbury Farmers Market when I realized there was Lost and Found wheat and rye flour from the Island sitting right in front of me. After discovering that grains are milled on the Island, my first step was to bake breads with it, but I wanted to do more. When I attended one of John Thurgood’s M.V. Wine Fest dinners several years ago, he incorporated a rye flour “cracker” that immediately brought me back to my own childhood.

I am a big fan of custard-like desserts, but feel they often need a bit of texture for balance. As I searched for the perfect bite to accompany a panna cotta, it suddenly dawned on me that I could put the rye flour cracker and the shortbread of my childhood together for a new, yet nostalgic crunch. I put together a simple rye flour shortbread, and crumbled it into little bits to sprinkle over the panna cotta. The same crumbly bits that I coveted as a child were now part of a refined dish.

I have since taken the basic shortbread and started incorporating cardamom brown butter, local honey, and other interesting flavors. This simple recipe is very easy to put together, and leaves a lot of room for creativity. I often bake these shortbreads as a large sheet cookie and break it apart, but it can be cut into shapes with a cookie cutter before baking if you prefer a more finished look. Top them with frosting, infuse the butter with herbs, or sprinkle in some maple sugar to make it your own. Crumble it on yogurt, serve with coffee, or add it to a beet salad for a little sweetness. I made some at a friend’s house recently, and it was eaten so fast it never made it onto a plate.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

2 Tbsp. local honey

½ cup cane sugar

¾ tsp. salt (Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt)

1¾ cup rye flour (Lost and Found Rye Sifted)

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ tsp. baking powder

 

Method:

Cream butter, honey, sugar, and salt. Sift flours and baking powder over the creamed butter and mix until consistent dough forms. If the mixture is too soft to roll, wrap it tightly and put it in the refrigerator until it is workable.

Roll the dough out onto a parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake at 375° until edges brown (check after 10-12 minutes).

This text also appeared at mvtimes.com


Bluefish

 
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Fishing for bluefish is a blast. Bluefish fight vigorously when you hook them up and they are an abundant and often underused resource here on Martha’s Vineyard. For many years bluefish where considered by most to be practically inedible. My father in law, a life long fisherman from the cape, spent most of his life catching bluefish for lobster bait. Though they make excellent bait, I love to eat bluefish. As a chef I am often asked what to do with a fresh catch, so I would like to share with you a simple recipe to make your catch into a crowd pleasing dish that is truly delicious.

First things first, when you catch a bluefish make sure to bleed it immediately. When fish fight, or are put under stress, there is a buildup of lactic acid in the flesh which can “cook” or “burn” the flesh if it is not metabolized. With big game fish like tuna some fishermen will let the fish rest on the side of the boat before it is killed to allow the acid to be metabolized. The second reason to bleed and ice your fish as soon as possible is discoloration of the meat, and of course the fishy taste that is often associated with bluefish. Bacteria is harbored in the gills and guts of any fish, so it is important to gut and rinse the fish before you filet it. With bluefish I like to bleed, gut, rinse and ice them before I get home. Bluefish fillets should not be red if they are handled correctly.

Smoking is a great way to introduce people to bluefish. There are many smoking methods for fish, but I would like to share with you one of the simplest methods to get you started. Begin with a 50/50 salt and brown sugar cure for 5-6 hours. Simple pack the fish in the cure and leave it covered in the refrigerator. If you have one you can place a rack under the fish so the liquid drains away from the filets. This will draw a considerable amount of water out of the filets. Rinse the fish with cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel. Lightly salt the filet and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour or two until a nice pellicle has formed (a thin film that allows the smoke to adhere to the fish). Drizzle a little maple syrup and your favorite spices on top of the filet and smoke them on low heat (150-200 degrees F) until the fish is dark and firm. The fish will be cooked in about an hour, but for the purposes of smoked bluefish we want to take that a little further and allow the fish to really soak up that smokey flavor.

Smoked bluefish can be eaten on its own, but the prefered method these days seems to be bluefish pate. While dining in new york, I had a smoked trout pate that used cottage cheese as its main ingredient and was blown away by how well it stood up to the flavor of the smoked fish. Here is a fun and easy recipe to make smoked bluefish pate at home!

 
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Ingredients:

1 cup smoked bluefish (shredded)

¼ cup cottage cheese

2 Tbsp Sour Cream

2 Tbsp capers

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp horseradish

Lots of chopped chives, or garlic chives (1 whole bunch will not be too much)


Method:

Simply mix all of the ingredients together, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with crackers or freshly sliced cucumber. Feel free to experiment with proportions and add ingredients like mustard seed or soy sauce to make it your own!



Butternut Squash Soup

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On Martha's Vineyard we often only get to showcase our spring and summer vegetables. Fall harvest brings its own flavors, and is one of my favorites. As the temperature cools down the aroma of roasting vegetables and hot soups fill my kitchen.  Butternut squash is versatile, inexpensive and packed with flavor. These squash also last for months if they are left whole.  This simple soup is a staple in my kitchen. 

Ingredients:

    -3-4 medium sized butternut sqaush

    -2 large white onions (diced small)

    -3 tbs fresh ginger (minced)

    -2 tbs curry spice

    -2 cans unsweetened coconut milk 

    -salt & pepper to taste

 
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-Cut the squash in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds and pulp

-Place the squash cut side up in a deep roasting pan with about 3/4 inch of water

-salt and pepper lightly

-Cover with aluminum foil, and roast in oven at 400 degrees until very tender (approx. 45mins to an hour)

-In a large stock pot soften the onions  in olive oil over medium heat

-Once onions are translucent add ginger and continue to cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds)

-Mix in curry spice until onions and ginger are coated evenly

-Stir in coconut milk then remove from heat

-Scoop the squash away from the skin and add directly to stock pot (try to avoid the skin and veins)

-Return the mixture to the heat and stir until you have a hot consistent mixture

-Add salt and pepper to taste

-Blend the soup mixture using an emersion blender (or regular blender if you do not have one)

 
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-This soup can be enjoyed with any number of toppings; bacon, croutons, fresh herbs, shrimp,  

  seeds, nuts, or on its own.

ENJOY!

 

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Pop Up at the Beach Plum

Though I spend the majority of my time cooking in home kitchens, I love the hustle of a restaurant kitchen. On August 9th chef John Thurgood and I collaborated to make a beautiful five course tasting menu at the Beach Plum Inn and Restaurant.  Though we sat down to build the menu nearly a month before the event, we left room to use the freshest ingredients. On Martha's Vineyard we are lucky to have over forty working farms, and available produce sometimes changes daily.  Using the islands bounty and our imaginations we put together a five course tasting. August brings some of the hottest temperatures we see on Martha's Vineyard so we did not want to offer an overly heavy menu. 

First up was a watermelon cucumber gazpacho with black bass ceviche, lemon basil, and grapefruit oil. 

Next was a coddled egg with lightly dressed purslane, pickled komatsuna, and cured shaved egg yolk. 

Then we served a seafood stew, with both smoked and steamed mussels, clams, squid tentacles, tomato, spring onion, and green coriander seeds in a lobster, and shellfish broth. 

Next up was braised lamb, over a succotash of fave beans, green beans, turnips, black eyed peas and MVM shiitake mushrooms. topped with pea tendrils and lemon zest. 

Last but certainly not least I made mini panna cotta over a strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry compote with crumbled mermaid farm barley cookie. 

After careful planning and a quick team meeting service started strong at 6:00. We where two chairs short of selling out. With a strong team an evening like this goes very smoothly, and after spending years as a restaurant general manager I can tell you this small team was strong! 

Stay tuned, as I plan to do more pop ups in the future!

 
 

watermelon cucumber gazpacho, black bass device, lemon basil, grapefruit oil

 
 

coddled egg, purslane salad, pickled komatsuna, cured egg yolk

 

Watermelon Jalapeno Mignonette

Here on Martha's Vineyard we have access to some of the best oysters on the planet. Katama Bay is home to salty, sweet oysters that are equally amazing raw as they are cooked. While we have access to oysters year round, summer is ubiquitous with raw oysters. Classic mignonette can be found at every oyster bar, and is traditionally made with chopped shallots, vinegar and cracked pepper. The salty brine of the oyster is an amazing platform for acid, spice and sweetness. I have experimented with different mignonettes over the years and I find this one perfect for a summer evening. 


oysters

Oysters can be an intimidating thing to work with at home if you have never opened them before. No need to worry, they are easy to open with a little practice, and can be a fun way to share time in the kitchen with your friends and family.

Oysters have two sides, the rounded belly side, and the flatter top. To properly open an oyster you will need an oyster knife and a towel. Some people also use a mesh glove on their non-dominant hand.  

Place the oyster flat side up on a cutting board. Place the towel over it, leaving the end exposed. 

Insert your oyster knife into the hinge, and push firmly holding the oyster still with your other hand. Wiggle your knife gently as you apply pressure into the oyster. Once you have a little purchase you can twist the knife breaking the hinge. Draw your knife along the inside of the oyster on top to release the mussel.

 Once your oyster is open you can draw your knife along the bottom of the oyster to release the meat completely for easy eating. Try your best not to spill all the oyster liquor inside. 


Watermelon Jalapeno Mignonette

Yields quantity for 6-8 oysters.

Ingredients:

     -4 tbsp fresh pressed watermelon juice

     -2 tsp minced shallot

     -1/2 tsp minced jalapeno

     -2 tsp red wine vinegar 

     - cracked pepper 

Simply mix together your ingredients, and you are ready to top your oysters! You can always double or triple the recipe if you are working with a large quantity of oysters. 

I topped these with some pickled jalapeño and thinly sliced watermelon for presentation and extra flavor. Enjoy!

Asparagus Miso Soup

Spring is in the air, the bulbs are blooming and the spring vegetables are right around the corner. Asparagus is one of my favorite things to eat in season. When you pick fresh asparagus it is sweet and fragrant, the stalks are not woody, and the flavor is indicative of spring. On Martha's Vineyard we are fortunate to have several sources for fresh asparagus. When asparagus is in season you must get to local farms early as this delectable treat sells out in a matter of hours. Any ingredient can become tired if you eat it the same way over and over again. I have tried to think a little outside the box to create a different expression of one of my favorite vegetables. Miso soup is traditionally made with Dashi a soup stock made with seaweed and dried Bonito. This version of Miso soup is purely vegetarian. 

Here is my version of a miso soup with an asparagus broth, shaved asparagus and shiitake mushrooms.


asparagus

 -2 bunches fresh asparagus

-Cut about two inches from the bottom of each stalk of asparagus, set aside.

-Lay asparagus stalks flat on the cutting board. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the asparagus lengthwise from the bottom to the tip. Try not to apply too much pressure, the goal is to create thin long ribbons. 

-Set aside your ribbons for later


Shiitake

     -1/4lb shiitake mushrooms

     -2 tbsp butter

     -salt&pepper

 
 

-Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and keep for stock. Hold them in your non dominant hand and gently draw a knife against the base of the stem. If you have not done this you will be surprised how little pressure it takes. (watch your thumbs)

-Place mushroom caps gill side up in a large lightly oiled skillet. sauté for 1 minute add salt and pepper then flip

-Cook for 1 more minute then add butter

-Place place pan into a 350 degree oven as the butter melts

-Cook for 5-10 minutes then set aside 


Broth

 

     -Asparagus stems and scraps 

     -2-3 small onions, skin on (quartered)

     -4 carrots (roughly chopped)

     -8 stalks of celery (roughly chopped)

     -4 inch piece of ginger (roughly chopped)

     -1 whole clove of garlic (halved in the middle)

     -2 Clementine oranges (quartered skin on)

     -3 tbsp salt 

 

-Combine all ingredients into a large stock pot 

-Fill the stock pot with water and bring to a boil

-Reduce heat to a simmer for one hour

-Strain the broth into a separate container


the magic

 
 

     -Miso 1 tbsp per cup of broth

- Place a hearty handful of your asparagus ribbons in the bottom of a serving bowl(s)

-Pour 1 cup per serving of your stock into a large saucepan 

-Bring to a boil 

-Place miso into a fine strainer 

-Submerge the strainer into the liquid and push it with a spoon into your soup

-At this point it is ready to be served, you don't want the miso to sit on the stove

-Pour your miso broth over the asparagus ribbons and top with your shiitake mushrooms

 

This is an absolutely delicious way to eat asparagus, albeit time consuming. I assure you it's worth the wait. hope everyone enjoys!

 

 

 

 

Braised Lamb Shank

Its cold again on Martha's Vineyard... in April... But spring is in the air, and I had a hankering for braised lamb. I decided to ditch the wine, the flour, all the things that can make a braised piece of meat heavy. Lamb shank is inexpensive, and absolutely delectable if prepared properly. Here is a take on braised lamb shank that came out exceptionally well. 

Ingredients

    1 Lamb shank

    1 Onion (chopped large)

    3-4 Carrots (sliced)

    4-5 Cloves of garlic peeled (whole)

    1/2 Can whole peeled tomatoes

    1.5 cups Beef broth

    2 tbsp Herbs de Provence

    1 tsp Smoked Paprika

    1 tsp Ground mustard seed

    .5 tsp Cumin

 

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 250 degrees

-Cover lamb shank in salt, paprika, and mustard seed

-Coat a dutch oven (or a heavy pot with a lid) with olive oil

-Brown the lamb shank on all sides (don't turn the heat up too high or the oil will burn)

-Set the lamb aside, and introduce the onions and carrots into the dutch oven with some salt and pepper

-Once the onions and carrots soften add in the whole peeled garlic and stir for 1 minute

-Add tomatoes (with juice), beef broth, and herbs

- Add the lamb shank, bring to a simmer, cover, then place covered pot into the oven for 2 and 1/2 hours

-Resist the urge to check on it, it is harder for some than others, but trust me. In 2 and 1/2 hours all of your patience will pay off and your worries will subside.

- If you have followed these simple instructions, you are probably in awe of the way the meat falls off the bone at this point. 

I chose to serve this with rice, and asparagus. The rice helps soak up all the beautiful braising liquid, and the asparagus adds a welcome crunch. 

 

 

Chili

It's cold here on Martha's Vineyard. The snow has been falling and the boats have been cancelled. This is the kind of day when there is no substitute for a good bowl of chili. I believe there is a better way than buying the bag of chili mix off the shelf.


Spices

    -1 tbsp salt                                      

    -1 tsp oregano                                

    -1 tsp cumin                                    

    -1 tsp smoked paprika                    

    -1 tbsp ancho chili powder

    -1 tbsp black peppercorns (whole)

    -1.5 tbsp whole coriander (whole)

    -1 tbsp fennel (whole)

 

  -In small pan toast fennel and coriander seeds together until the aroma fills your kitchen   (don't burn).

  -Use a spice grinder to grind your peppercorns, fennel, and coriander.

  If you only have access to ground coriander, fennel, and black pepper it will still be delicious.

  -Combine all of your spices in a large bowl, and set them aside.

Ingredients

    -2 large sweet or white onions (large dice)      

    -2 red bell peppers (large dice)                        

    -2 green bell peppers (large dice)                   

    -1-2 jalapeno peppers (small dice)                    

    -1/4 cup olive oil                                                

    -3 cloves garlic (minced)                                  

    -2 tbsp peanut butter

    -1 (15oz) can kidney beans

    -1 (15oz) can black beans

    -1 (28oz) can whole peeled tomato

    -1 (28oz) can crushed tomato

    -2 lbs ground beef

    -salt & pepper

 

  -Season beef with salt and pepper, and brown in dutch oven or stock pot, then set aside.

  -Leave all the juices in your pot, and add 1/4 cup olive oil on medium low heat.

  -Add in all of your spices and stir until mixture is uniform.

  -Bring up the heat to medium high and add in your fresh vegetables (leave garlic aside).

  -Mix your veggies until they thoroughly coated.

  -Cook your veggies until the onions are soft and translucent (stir regularly).

  -Drain and rinse black, and kidney beans.

 -Once your veggies are soft add garlic and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is mixed in, and the garlic begins to cook. 

  -Add in tomatoes and beans. Add water to the crushed tomato can to get the remaining tomatoes, and pour the water into the pot, and stir.

 -Mix in your beef, and bring to a slow boil. This is the point things tend to stick to the pan so keep stirring. 

  -Once your chili has come to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid, and stir every now and then for 45-60 minutes. (If you have all day you can leave it on the lowest heat and slowly cook it all afternoon).

When your peeled tomatoes start to fall apart its time to eat. 


 

Baked Eggs

Breakfast arguably the most important meal of the day. This is a quick easy way to serve several people an elegant breakfast or brunch and not make too many dishes!

Yield = 6-8 portions

Ingredients:

   - 2 sweet Potatoes grated

   - 6-8 eggs

   - Handful of cherry tomatoes

   - 1/2 medium yellow onion diced medium

   - 1/2 red bell pepper diced medium

   - 3-4 Chicken sausages

   - 1 bunch, or bag of fresh spinach

   - 1/2 tsp cumin

  - 1 tsp fresh oregano

   - Olive oil, salt, pepper, pinch of smoked paprika (optional)

You will need a deep skillet, or large pan that is oven safe, I used a 12 inch enamel coated cast iron pan (if you don't have a big enough skillet, you can prepare your potato mixture in a skillet, and bake in a casserole)

Directions:

   - Preheat oven to 350 degrees

   - In your pan brown your sausage an all four sides

   - While you are cooking your sausage you can prepare your other ingredients

   - When your sausage is fully cooked set them aside but leave any juice left in the pan

   - Coat your pan with olive oil, then add in your onion, red pepper and sweet potato on

     medium heat. Stir regularly

   - When onions begin to soften stir in your tomatoes 

   - Slice your sausage into small 1/4 inch pieces and stir into your pan

   - Stir in cumin, oregano (salt and pepper to taste)

   - Once the potatoes and onions are cooked remove from heat and stir in all of the spinach. It

      may completely fill your pan at first, but it will shrink significantly.

   - Crack your eggs directly over the mixture with enough space that they aren't touching

      (if you are careful not to break the yolks it looks nicer when you are done, but don't worry

       if your yolks break)

   - Sprinkle salt pepper, and smoked paprika over your eggs, and place in heated oven

   - Bake until the eggs have reached desired doneness. (I like my yolks runny, it usually takes

      about 8 minutes for whites to fully cook)

Use a large spoon to scoop out a portion of your veggies and sausage with an egg, plate and serve!

 

  

Arugula Pizza

I previously posted a recipe for pizza dough... here is a simple favorite... Fresh and delicious!

Yield= equivalent of one 12inch round pizza (no, my pizza is not "round"... its "rustic")

Ingredients:

      - Pizza Dough

     -  Extra Virgin Olive Oil

     - Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Basil

     - Fresh Tomatoes (wedged)

     - Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (sliced thin)

     - Shaved Parmesan Cheese

     - Red Onion (thinly sliced)

     -Fresh Arugula

Directions:

     Stretch your dough...

        -At room temperature make sure your dough is in a ball (a little larger than fist size)

        -Lightly coat your hands and pizza pale (or cutting board) with flour

        -Place the dough in the center of the pale, then gently push your fists into it

        -Stretch out lightly with your knuckles and fingers (be careful not to punch holes in the dough) the dough is your friend! The gluten in the dough will allow it to stretch naturally with a little love.  Don't resort to the rolling pin. Get acquainted with your dough and I promise you the end result will be worth all the work!

        -Once the dough begins to form a flat circle, lightly pick up the dough with your fingertips and continue stretching the rim of the dough. 

     - Make sure your pale is well floured and continue compressing and stretching the dough with your fingertips.

     - Once your dough has reached a thickness of 1/4 inch or less let the dough rest and prepare your ingredients.

  Preparing your pizza

   -Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, with a pizza stone, or upside down sheet pan in it

   -Place your toppings on the pizza tomatoes first (for a pizza without tomato sauce I like to      

      drizzle some olive oil on the dough before the toppings)

-Sprinkle some corn starch on your preheated cooking surface then transfer your pizza from the

  pale to the heated surface, and bake until cheese is melted and the crust is at desired crispiness.

-I usually cook between 5-10 minutes depending on the oven. 

-Remove from the oven when ready, and brush a light coat of olive oil on the exposed crust 

-Add a nice heap of arugula on top of the pizza, drizzle olive oil salt and pepper on top, cut and

 serve!

With any luck you should have something that looks like this

FullSizeRender_1.jpg


Pizza Dough

photo 2.JPG

Great dough is the essential building block for one of my personal favorites... Pizza.  After spending years living, and working in restaurants in New York City I can tell you that not all pizza is created equal. In New York the opportunities to try a new pie, or slice where seemingly endless. We all have our favorites, but I personally like a thin crust with simple fresh flavor.  This is the kind of dough that when treated right is the perfect vessel for fresh ingredients.  I have put everything on pizza from fresh tomatoes and mozzarella to Jambalaya. Start here and build yourself a platform that will truly impress your guests.

Ingredients:

Yield = 3-4 small thin crust pizzas

     -3 1/2 Cups flour (you can use all purpose, I prefer bread flour)

     -1 package of dry active yeast

     -1 teaspoon of sugar

     -2 teaspoons salt

     -2 tablespoons olive oil

     -1 1/2 cup warm water (not hot! you can kill your yeast)

Directions:

     -In a small mixing bowl combine warm water, yeast and sugar

     -Let rest for about five minutes to let the yeast activate

     -Once the yeast water and flour are a consistent color and the grains of yeast have dissolved, combine all of your ingredients in a large mixing bowl

     -Use your hands to start combining the ingredients (its going to get sticky, but you will survive)

                -Keep some extra flour on hand to prevent your hands from getting too sticky

     - Once the mixture starts to come together as a ball, coat a large hard surface like your counter or tabletop.

     - Knead the dough for about ten minutes

                  -Kneading the dough creates the gluten in your dough, hand kneading is not only therapeutic, it is good exercise and you will have a real feel for the consistency of your product

                  -Again keep plenty of extra flour around, or your dough will stick to everything

     -Once your dough is consistent, stretchy, and one homogeneous ball, put some olive oil in a clean mixing bowl, and roll your ball of dough so all sides are covered. (if you don't cover your dough in olive oil the dough will form a hard crust)

     -Cover your mixing bowl with a towel, or plastic wrap and let rest until the size of the ball is doubled (about 1 hour and 1/2)

Tips:

      -I like to portion my dough into four smaller balls and let them sit over night...

       -You can keep your extra dough in the fridge for a few days and make more pizzas. I personally don't freeze it, but it will hold in the freezer.

       - If you are storing your dough in the fridge make sure that the outside is lightly coated in olive oil, and it is sealed properly. Without those precautions you will get a hard crust that is difficult to work with.

 

     -Once you have your handmade dough.... MAKE PIZZA!


Beginning of the End

Here it is... the Beginning of the end for my old, and admittedly outdated Blog....


This blog will be your exclusive look into my kitchen.  Practical knowledge, recipes, food handling, preparation, and experiments hopefully gone right.  My passion for cooking has driven me to constantly peruse the best methods, flavors, textures and practical skills in the kitchen.  Stay tuned, and join me on my culinary adventures!  


Feel free to contact me foodmindedfellow@gmail.com with any questions, or the recipe for the thing I made that one time that you can't stop thinking about.