Friday, March 29, 2013

Salmon w/ Mustard Parsley Sauce

It's really starting to feel like Spring around here.  The temps are starting to rise every day and sooner or later I'll be able to leave the house without a jacket - and that excites me so much!

Even more exciting news - one of the sous chefs at Milkwood is moving out of town, so his position will soon be open.  I was approached the other night to see if I was interested in it - so, soon enough - I'll be a sous chef!  Didn't think in a million years it would happen this fast, but hey - I'll take it!

I made something easy breezy for lunch the other day that was light and tasty.  And I even got to take the pictures outside - which is another sure sign that Spring is a-coming!  The only thing I wish I would have done differently was to not be lazy and chop up the parsley a little bit finer - so it's duly noted in the ingredients to do so!


2 6 oz. salmon fillets
flour, for dredging
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup white wine
juice from 1 lemon
1 & 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup
salt and pepper, to taste

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, optional

The sauce comes together in a matter of minutes and is versatile enough that you could put it on chicken, fish, meat, pork, etc.  So feel free to mix and match as you see fit!

In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil and butter under medium heat.  When the butter is melted, add the shallots and saute until fragrant.  Add wine and lemon juice and reduce mixture by half. 

Turn off the heat and stir in the dijon mustard, maple syrup, and parsley until combined.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat and add olive oil.

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, dusting off any excess.

Add the fillets to the pan and sear until golden brown.  Flip over to continue cooking to desired temperature - I love medium salmon.

I caramelized some brussels sprouts to pair along with the salmon and they were perfect.  Serve the salmon over your preferred veggie and top with the mustard sauce.


A meal that comes together in less than 20 minutes!  Can't beat that!

Hope you guys have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sweetbreads w/ Asparagus & Crab Salad

Apparently today is the first day of Spring.  One would never really know by looking at the temperature, though.  I mean, seriously - 38 degrees?!  Come on warm weather!

I had the day off on Monday and decided to take advantage of the sunshine (maybe a little too much since these photos are a little over-exposed - my laziness in editing and properly styling photos is a side effect of the cold weather) and made a unique salad to start my day. 

I could eat sweetbreads all day long.  They're seriously the most appealing of all the offal meat, in my opinion.  They're not sweet.  They're not bread.  But they're oh-so-delicious.  And for those of you that follow me on Instagram (@mtlabor) - you know that my new t-shirt exemplifies my love for sweetbreads =)


Sweetbread Poaching Liquid:

1 lb. veal sweetbreads
1 carrot, peeled and small diced
1/2 onion, small diced
2 celery ribs, small diced
5-6 parsley stems
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup white wine
1 cup veal/beef stock


1 lb. poached sweetbreads, peeled (great video on how this is done here)
1 cup seasoned flour, for dredging (you can adapt this however you like and it can even be as simple as salt and pepper - I add salt, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and chili powder for mine)
salt and pepper, to taste
Oil, for frying

Asparagus Dressing:

4-5 stalks of asparagus, peeled, blanched, and shocked
1 cup spinach, blanched and shocked
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup watercress, washed
1/4 cup lump crab meat
asparagus stalks, peeled, blanched, and shocked - then cut on a bias
juice from 1/2 lemon
aged swiss cheese, optional
salt and pepper

I know what you're thinking - this is a lot of fuss for a salad.  But if you've got the time, or the occasion, it's definitely well worth it!

In a medium saucepan, combine the carrot, onion, celery, parsley stems, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, white wine, and veal stock.  Bring to a slow simmer and add sweetbreads.  Poach for about 10 minutes, or until the sweetbreads start to firm up.  Remove the sweetbreads from the poaching liquid and transfer to an ice bath to cool down. 

Once cool, carefully remove the membranes from the sweetbreads - if you don't do this step, you'll end up with tough sweetbreads, and nobody likes that!

Heat a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed pot with oil to 325 F. 

Dredge the sweetbreads in the seasoned flour and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to dry and season with salt and pepper.

In a Vitamix or a blender, combine the asaparagus, spinach, olive oil, and vinegar.  Blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  You can choose to strain through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer if you'd like.

Toss the watercress in a little bit of lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Arrange on a plate in sort of a straight line.  Place sweetbreads on top, along with scattered pieces of lump crab, asparagus, and swiss cheese bits.  Drizzle some dressing around the plate and finish with freshly ground black pepper.

And voila - a fancy salad to impress any offal lover!

Have you guys had sweetbreads?  How do you like to cook them?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pork Roast w/ Braised Red Cabbage

I'm officially done with culinary school! 

I can't say how happy I am to be done.  It's a big relief and a bundle of emotions all in one.  I can focus on a career path and live life!  Not to mention, spend more time on this blog!

Anyway, I have a month before graduation, and I'll be taking full advantage of my newly appointed free time.  I've given my notice at Jack Fry's and will be taking on a full time position at my internship restaurant, Milkwood.  It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I feel that I need to experience new things, and I LOVE working at Milkwood - and I truly feel that I could advance faster there than I would at the other.  I gotta do what's best for me, right?  Right.

Yesterday was my last day of school and I celebrated by making this delicious dinner for Andy and I!  He was kind of hesitant about the cabbage, but I think with the added sweetness of the apples, he was on board after the first bite!  After all, he did clean his plate, so it can't be that bad!



4 slices of bacon, sliced into 1/4" pieces
1 carrot, julienned
1 onion, julienned
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 red cabbage, shredded
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and small diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups red wine
2 cups veal/beef stock

2-3 lb. pork roast, cut into portions (preferably something with a decent amount of fat, like pork shoulder)
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup marcona almonds, optional 
fresh thyme, optional

In a large dutch oven, render the bacon strips under medium heat. 

Add carrots, onions, and butter.  Saute until vegetables start to soften.

Stir in the cabbage and cook until starting to wilt, about 10 minutes or so.

Add in apples, garlic, bay leaf, cloves, nutmeg, red wine, and veal stock.  Season lightly with salt and pepper - as the braise cooks, the salt will intensify, so it's best to season lightly now, then correct later on when the braise is done.

Braise the cabbage under a simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. 

In a large saute pan, add olive oil and heat under medium high heat.  Season the pork portions with salt and pepper and sear on all sides.  Remove from pan and add to dutch oven with cabbage.  Top with thyme sprigs.  Make sure the meat is covered by at least 1/2 - 2/3 by the liquid - if not, add more wine or stock.

Continue to braise until pork is fork tender, about 3-4 hours.

Alternatively, you could transfer all of the ingredients to a crockpot and let simmer on low for the allotted amount of time to make it easier.  Either way, you'll end up with fork tender results.

When ready to serve, ladle about 1/2 cup of the braising liquid into a saucepan.  Reduce by half and then mount with the unsalted butter until thick and shiny. 

Place a mound of cabbage in the center of the plate and top with a portion of pork.  Top with the reduced sauce and garnish with marcona almonds and fresh thyme.

This was definitely a comfort meal.  With the last days of winter coming to a close, this was a great way to celebrate the coming of spring and the start of my new found freedom!  Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pork Tenderloin w/ Orange-White Wine Marinade

1 more week to go and I'll be a culinary school graduate! 

A lot of people ask me what I'll do next, and honestly, I look at them strangely.  I work in my field already.  I technically work at two prominent restaurants in town under two very amazing chefs.  I plan on continuing to at least work for one of them.  I originally thought we'd move out of town to somewhere warmer or whatnot, but it looks like we'll be staying put in Kentucky for a little while.

We've begun the process of searching for a house to buy and put it an application for pre-approval on a mortgage loan.  It's scary and stressful, but oh so exciting at the same time.  So here's to crossing our fingers that all goes our way!

This was a pretty easy dish that I basically made up to get rid of a bunch of stuff we had lying around.  Feel free to improvise based on what you have!


1 cup white wine
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves,crushed
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, combine the wine, vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, garlic, carrots, onions, peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs.  Mix well and reserve about 1/4 cup in a separate bowl.

Place tenderloin in a deep pan and pour marinade over top.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to one day.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Remove tenderloin from marinade and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof pan under medium high heat.  Add tenderloin and sear until golden brown on all sides.

Transfer pan to the oven and cook until medium, medium well - about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your tenderloin.

While the tenderloin is cooking, you can prepare your sauce.  In a small saucepan, add the reserved marinade  and chicken stock.  Reduce mixture until only 1/4 cup remains.  Mount sauce with the butter and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Let tenderloin rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.  Slice into 1/2-3/4 inch thick slices.  Place over top sauteed vegetables and top with sauce.


Easy peasy dinner ready in a flash!

See you guys next week!