Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vanilla Souffle

I'm not much of a sweets kind of person.  My husband, on the hand, could eat a piece of cake for breakfast and wash it down with a bowl of ice cream every day if he could.

But when I do have dessert, I like it to be light and tasty.  That's where this vanilla souffle comes in.  It's delicate, but complex in flavor.  Simple, but a show stopper.  Obviously, I waited a little too long to take pictures because it started to deflate after a bit.  But it still tasted wonderful, and in the end, that's what really matters, right?  Right.


3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vanilla
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Grease the inside of 4 small ramekins with butter.

In a small saucepan, combine the flour, milk, and 1/3 cup sugar.  Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently to prevent lumps.  When the mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat and let cool.

Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time and continue until all yolks are incorporated.  Beat in the 2 tablespoons of butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form.

Fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture and then stir in vanilla.

Divide the mixture between the ramekins, filling them about 3/4 of the way full.

Place the ramekins carefully on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven.  Turn heat down to 375 F and bake for 25-30 minutes or until souffle has risen and is golden brown.

Carefully remove from the oven and dust with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.

Hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving week!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

It seems that Christmas gets thrown in our faces earlier and earlier every year.  I remember when I didn't see a single Christmas decoration or hear a note of a single Christmas song until the day after Thanksgiving.  This year, I pretty much woke up the day after Halloween to aisles flooded with Christmas candy and knick knacks - the alarm set to a horrible country radio station (sorry for all you country music fans) unforgivably playing Christmas tunes.  I mean, can't we give Thanksgiving a chance, first?

Well, I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

My husband loves the taste of peppermint-anything.  Throw chocolate in the mix and he's in heaven.  So since it's pretty close to the big guy's birthday, I decided to whip up a little dessert to put a smile on his cute face.


4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup Peppermint Schnapps
6 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate
1/4 cup coffee
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
4 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt

whipped cream for topping, optional

Combine the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium, stainless steel bowl.  Beat with a hand mixer until pale yellow and the mixture allows ribbons to form.

Beat in the Peppermint Schnapps until combined. 

Set up a double boiler on the stove, being careful not to let the bottom of the bowl touch any water (you only need about an inch of water in the pot).  Beat the mixture until it starts to thicken and slightly foams up.  The mixture should be warm to the touch.  Set mixture aside while you melt the chocolate.

In another medium, stainless steel bowl, combine the chocolate and coffee.  Set the bowl over the double boiler and stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter. 

Slowly pour the chocolate mixture in with the egg mixture and beat until all the chocolate is incorporated.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Whisk until stiff peaks form.

Fold the meringue in with the chocolate mixture until all is incorporated.  Divide the mixture into serving dishes and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

This is definitely a tasty treat.  The peppermint doesn't over power the chocolate at all, but instead, it accentuates it to create quite the delicious bite!

So if you're looking for something to serve at one of the many holiday dinner parties this year, look no further!  Enjoy the rest of the week, guys!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bourbon-Raspberry Sauce

There's one thing that every Kentuckian knows.  Whether they drink it.  Cook with it.  Collect it.  Kentucky knows Bourbon.  After all, it's our unique limestone shelves that filter our waters to produce the best bourbon in the country, if not the world.

My husband, is definitely a fan of the drinking aspect.  Me, on the other hand, I love to cook with it.  This raspberry sauce can be used savory or sweet.  In this instance, it turned a normal banana split sundae into a phenomenal one.


2 pints fresh raspberries
3-4 sprigs of thyme
zest from 2 lemons
juice from 2 lemons
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon

In a medium saucepan, combine the raspberries, thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, brown sugar, and sugar.  Cook the mixture until the raspberries start to soften and the liquid is reduced by half.

Add the bourbon and set aflame to burn off the alcohol and concentrate the flavor.  Continue to cook until mixture starts to become syrupy.

Add mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.  Strain mixture of seeds and thyme.  Let cool to room temperature before using.

I could just eat spoonfuls of this stuff by itself, it's so good! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Salmon Mousse

It's been quite a while since I last posted.  I thought working throughout the week during the day would give me more time, but apparently my time is still limited.  But I'm a lot happier when I can walk out of work and still have plenty of daylight to enjoy! 

Anyway, don't worry, I've still been plenty busy in the kitchen!  We had a little get together for a game night not too long ago and served this really delicious salmon mousse as a snack and it was gone before we knew it!


1 lb. salmon fillet, skin removed

1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups fish or seafood stock
1 cup water
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons Madeira
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper, to taste

crackers or crostinis, for serving
fresh dill, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter under medium high heat.  Add shallot, carrot, celery, and onion.  Cook until just translucent.

Add the fish stock, water, tomato, black peppercorns, and bay leaf. 

Bring pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Add salmon.  Poach until just starting to flake, about medium.

Remove the salmon from the liquid and let cool.

In a food processor or Vitamix, add salmon, madeira, nutmeg, and heavy whipping cream.  Blend until smooth or at desired texture for dip.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve with crackers or crostini and garnish with small bits of fresh dill.

This is definitely an easy winner in my book!  So simple and fast, you'll have a tasty dip in no time!  Definitely a good choice for those football watching parties, too!

Have a great rest of the week guys!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chicken Gyros w/ Pickled Beets

State Fair Season is right upon us.  In Kentucky, the State Fair starts today and goes until Aug. 25.  One of our favorite things to do at the fair is eat... obviously.  And one of our favorite booths to visit is definitely one that offers Greek gyros! 

Every now and then, we'll divulge at home with gyros of our own.  They're so easy, and versatile - not to mention completely delicious!

For these, I pickled some beets, made some orange-cucumber tzatziki, and loaded up on some grape tomatoes and lettuce.  Pair those accompaniments with some marinated chicken, and you've got a meal!


Chicken Marinade:

1 lb. chicken tenderloins
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
juice from 1 orange
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup olive oil

Pickled Beets:

2 small red beets, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
hard spices - for these, I used a combination of mustard seeds, crushed bay leaf, star anise, cloves, and juniper berries

Grape Tomatoes
Grilled Onions
Homemade Tzatziki
Any other toppings you want!

For the marinade: In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, orange juice, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, chili flakes, and olive oil.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add chicken to the bowl and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

For the beets: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, rice wine vinegar, and spices.  Bring mixture to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Let cool slightly. 

Place julienned beets in a medium bowl and strain pickling liquid over top.  Let pickle for a least 30 minutes.

Preheat a propane or charcoal grill to high heat. 

Remove chicken from marinade.  Spray grill with non-stick spray or wipe grates with oil.  Grill tenderloins until white throughout. 

Heat pitas on grill until marked. 

To assemble, place one or two pieces of chicken in the center of each pita.  Top with lettuce, grape tomatoes, onions, pickled beets, and tzatziki (I simple combined plain greek yogurt, orange juice, and finely diced cucumber).  And you've got yourself one heck of a gyro!

Have you ever made gyros at home?  How do you like yours?

Have a great weekend guys!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sauteed Chicken Breast w/ Roasted Beets, Celery Root, Apples, & Pears

I recently became the proud owner of a Vitamix blender.  Working in the restaurant industry, I've been exposed to these blending beauties for quite some time, but never splurged on one for our home.  That day finally came about a month or so ago.  And what a glorious day it was.

Andy seems to think it's main use is to make a variety of milkshakes.  I constantly find quarts of ice cream in the freezer labelled "milkshakes, please".  But for me, it means I can make silky smooth purees, vinaigrettes, and a plethora of other culinary delights. 

So for this dish, I paired the savory roasted items with a tart parsley-dijon vinaigrette and a smooth parsnip puree.  Andy cleared his plate in a matter of minutes and said that I could make this dish over and over again without any complaints from him.  Sounds like a winner in my book!


2 skin-on chicken breasts
salt and pepper
olive oil, for sauteeing

1 red beet, peeled and diced
1 celery root, peeled and diced
1 pear, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 large shallot, diced
olive oil, for tossing
salt and pepper, to taste

Parsnip Puree:

1 lb. parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Parsley-Dijon Vinaigrette:

1 cup fresh parsley
juice from 1 lemon
4 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 to 1 & 1/2 cups vegetable oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a medium bowl, toss the beets, celery root, pear, apple, and shallot with olive oil to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 20-25 minutes, turning vegetables and fruit halfway through.

For the parsnip puree, combine the parsnips, milk, heavy cream, and butter in a medium sauce pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the parsnips are fork-tender. 

Strain the liquid from the parsnips, but reserve it, don't throw it away.

Place the parsnips in a Vitamix (or you can use an immersion or regular blender, too) and blend on low speed, adding the reserved liquid until you get your desired texture.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the vinaigrette, place the parsley, lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and apple cider vinegar in Vitamix (or regular blender).  Turn on medium speed and slowly add the oil until completely emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat and add oil.  Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the pan, skin-side down.  Cook until skin is golden brown, then flip chicken over and cook until white throughout.

To plate, place a good amount of the roasted vegetables on the center of the plate.  On one side, spoon some of the vinaigrette.  On the other side, place a good dollop of the parsnip puree.  Place the seared chicken breast, skin-side up on top of the vegetables. 

And there ya have it!  One tasty chicken dish!

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week/weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mushrooms a la Grecque

Most people wouldn't think of cold mushrooms as something that would be appetizing.  I know that they kind of gave me a queezy feeling at first, but when done right, in a nice flavorful broth, they can be quite amazing.

Serve them by themselves, part of a vegetable platter, or even dare to heat them up and serve them with steak if you can't bare trying them cold.  Either way, they are tasty enough in whatever atmosphere you put them in.


1 lb. portobello mushrooms (or any mushrooms for that matter)


2-3 cups water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
mushroom stems, optional
fresh green herbs, for garnish

You're basically going to create a really flavorful mushroom broth and pretty much simmer the mushrooms in that broth.  It's totally full of tons of umami and the stock can be strained and used for the base of soups, sauces, or whatever else you want - don't let it go to waste!

In a large saucepan, combine the water, lemon juice, green onions, celery, fennel, thyme, peppercorns, coriander, tomatoes, and mushrooms stems.  Heat under medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Let simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Slice up your mushrooms to bite size pieces (I made 1/2 inch slices on the portobellos and then cut those in half vertically - depending on the mushrooms you use, you can choose to slice them or not... just use your best judgement)

Add the mushrooms to the broth and cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 10-15 minutes for the portobellos.  Again, depending on your type of mushroom you use, the cook time will vary.

Strain the broth and remove the mushrooms, reserving the liquid for future use.  I know picking them out is kind of a pain, but you could always put the solid ingredients in a cheesecloth to make it easier.

Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Serve the mushrooms on a platter, or as a side dish for your proteins of choice.  Garnish with fresh herbs.

And voila, a tasty mushroom and a flavorful broth all in one.  Didn't think you'd get a two for one today, did ya?! 

Have a great rest of the week guys!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Joojeh Chicken w/ Grilled Vegetables & Rice

Middle Eastern cuisine and I don't really have a great relationship.  Not because I don't like or prefer it, but I just never am exposed to enough of it.  Sure, I've been to a couple Persian places around town, but I mean, I live in Kentucky.  There's not a huge Persian presence, and the restaurants that do offer this type of food, in my opinion, don't do it very well.  (Or in any special way to make me want to come back again and again).

Anyway, I stumbled upon a basic recipe for Joojeh Chicken - which is usually served in kabab form, but decided to forgo the sticks with this one and just use the marinade. 

The marinade seems simple, just a few staple ingredients (except the saffron, but it's worth the expense) - but they meld together to produce a complex and delicious flavor!


2 large chicken breasts
Assorted Vegetables for grilling - we used tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions, and zucchini
Cooked rice


1/2 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
1 onion, small diced
small pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon red chili flakes

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, saffron, chili powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and chili flakes. 

Add chicken breasts and marinate for at least 3-4 hours.

Remove chicken from marinade and remove excess oil to prevent flare-ups.

Heat a grill to medium high heat.  Oil the grill grates or spray with pan-spray to prevent sticking and to get good marks.

Add chicken to grill and cook until white throughout.  You can also grill your desired vegetables at the same time.

Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes and slice.  Serve with grilled vegetables and rice.

Easy peasy, eh?! 

Well, I'm off to my volleyball tournament (last time playing with the team I've been playing with for the past 6 years!  Sad to say I'm leaving this team, but the new team I'll be playing on is just as fun!)  Wish us luck - trying for best of the worst (we're in the losers bracket, hehe!)  Have a great rest of the week, guys!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Roasted Chicken w/ Fettuccine

For those of you in the U.S., tomorrow is July 4th.  A day off from the monotonous work week and a day of remembering our Independence.  Cookouts will be in full force all over the country.  And of course, we cannot forget the fireworks! 

Andy and I don't really have concrete plans, we'll probably fly by the seat of our pants and do whatever comes our way.  Free concert and fireworks by the Waterfront?  Maybe.  Grill out at home?  Maybe.  Hang out with a bunch of friends?  Maybe.  Who knows... maybe none of those things will happen, but I'll be sure to give a report of what does the next time I post!

Roasted chicken is one of my guilty pleasures.  It takes at least an hour... more than that if you're willing to put your chicken through a brine - which is oh, so necessary, in my opinion.  The crisp, succulent skin, and the juicy meat is all it takes to put me in a blissful food mood. 

I had some heirloom tomatoes and mushrooms, so I just threw together a quick pasta to serve with the chicken.  It was quite tasty, and definitely hit the spot!


Chicken Brine:
I always use this trusty quick brine from Michael Ruhlman

1 whole chicken (about 3-4 lbs.)
salt and pepper, to taste
4 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2 oz. pieces


1/2 lb. fettuccine noodles
1 large heirloom tomato, cut into 8ths
1 cup mushrooms (I had creminis), sliced
1 small onion, julienned
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Madeira
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
butter, to finish
shredded parmesan, for garnish

If you don't want to brine your chicken, you can definitely skip that step, but I promise you it'll be so much more flavorful if you take the time to do it!

Preheat oven to 425 F.

After the chicken has been brined, pat it dry and carefully place butter underneath skin of chicken.  Season the skin with salt and pepper. 

Truss the chicken and place on a roasting rack, breast side up.  Place in oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until skin starts to become golden brown.  Turn oven temperature down to 375 F and carefully flip bird so that it is breast-side down.

Continue to cook until the chicken reaches 155-160 F.  Let rest for about 5-10 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 and juices run clear.

Prepare the fettuccine according to package directions.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil under medium high heat in a large saute pan.  Add the onion and mushrooms and cook until both start to soften.  Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook until fragrant.

Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until liquid is reduced by half.  Mount the sauce with a couple tablespoons of butter and season to taste. 

Toss the sauce in with the fettuccine and serve with roasted chicken.

Hope you guys have a great 4th of July!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Striped Bass w/ Cucumber-Jicama Slaw & Tomato-Peach Puree

Howdy guys! Happy Friday!

It's been a while, I know.  Life has been crazy!

My brother and sister-in-law are coming in to town from Florida tomorrow, so I've been busy preparing for their visit - and it'll be the first time I see their son, who's almost a year old!  So I'm pretty excited about meeting the little guy, too!

Anyway, I decided to make something quick (if you make the tomato-peach puree ahead of time, that is) and fresh for the hot weather we've been having.  This cucumber-jicama slaw can pretty much go on anything, but pairs perfectly with a light, moderately lean fish. 

Enjoy your weekend guys!


2 6 oz. Striped Bass Filets
flour, for dredging
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Cucumber-Jicama Slaw:

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
1 jicama, peeled and julienned
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and julienned
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon micro-basil, or basil chiffonade
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt, to taste

Tomato-Peach Puree:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, small dice
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ripe peaches, washed and cut into 8ths
1 tomato, cut into 8ths
juice and zest from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon gochujang (korean hot chili) paste
1 tablespoon paprika
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup sorghum 
salt and pepper, to taste

To make the puree, in a large saucepan, heat olive oil under medium high heat.  Saute the onion and garlic until the onion starts to soften and the garlic is fragrant. 

Add peaches, tomato, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, chili paste, paprika, chicken stock, ketchup, and sorghum.

Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Puree mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the slaw, in a small bowl, combine the sesame oil, sesame seeds, chives, basil, and vinegar.  Whisk until combined. 

Place the julienned cucumber, jicama, and apple in another bowl.  Pour dressing over top and coat well.  Season with salt, to taste.  Reserve in the fridge until ready to serve.

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat.  Season the fish filets with salt and pepper, on both sides and dredge in flour.  Dust off any excess flour and add to pan.  Cook until golden brown on both sides.

To plate, place and circle of puree onto the plate.  Place slaw on top of puree and top the slaw with fish.  Garnish with a little micro-basil.

Simple and tasty!  I love the cold slaw paired with the fish.  It's definitely a bright summery dish that you can enjoy out on the patio or the porch!  Have a great weekend guys!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Filet w/ Turnips & Braised Kale

How is everyone's week going so far?!  It's been pretty crazy around these parts.  I'm in the process of transitioning between jobs... AGAIN. 

Working at Milkwood has proved to be a great learning experience, but the downside is that I've put in VERY long hours, and little time with my husband.  There's a lunch position (hello Monday-Friday work week!) opening up at the restaurant I used to work at, Jack Fry's, and I've gladly accepted that job.  Which totally means I'll be on the same schedule as Andy and be able to have somewhat of a life again, and not sacrificing on the quality of food that I prepare. 

It's been a whirl-wind, but I think it's all for the best.  Andy and I will just have to learn how to hang out with eachother on a regular basis again.  I'm sure we won't have any trouble with that =)

On my day off this week, I ended up making this for dinner and it was so so good.  Definitely a step up from your normal "steak and potatoes" type of dinner.


2 6-8 oz. beef tenderloin filets
salt and pepper, to taste


1 large turnip, peeled and small dice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup veal or chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste


1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed (about 1/2 lb.)
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 cup bulgur wheat, cooked
salt and pepper, to taste

The kale will take the longest, so you'll want to start with that first. 

In a medium stockpot, add the brown sugar and regular sugar.  Cook under medium low to medium heat until the sugar turns to an amber caramel.  Carefully deglaze the caramel with the vinegar and chicken stock.  Add red pepper flakes and bring mixture to a boil.

Add the kale and carrots to the pot.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes, then add bulgur wheat and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the turnips, melt the butter in a medium saute pan under medium high heat.  Add turnips and cook until edges start to caramelize.  Add stock and cook until almost evaporated and turnips are tender.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the filet, season both sides with salt and pepper.  Cook to desired temp (we grilled these babies to a perfect medium rare) and in desired manner. 

To put together, place a decent amount of the kale mixture and turnips in the center of the plate.  Top with the filet, and dig on in!

Definitely something that comes together fairly quickly and looks like you ordered it in a restaurant!  Have a great weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Glazed Carrots

How was everyone's Memorial Day weekend?

We ended up having a pretty decent cookout - the forecast called for rain, but it stayed away and we enjoyed sunshine and great grilled food!  It was a nice way to kick off our grilling season.

I hardly ever put up any side dishes here on the blog so I thought I'd throw an easy one out there.  I know a lot of you may be growing carrots in your gardens this year, so this is a great side to use those babies up!


1 bunch of carrots, sliced on the bias (about 2 cups)
1 cup veal or chicken stock
1-2 tablespoons sugar or honey
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tablespoons chopped chives

In a medium saute pan, melt the butter under medium high heat.  Add the carrots, stock (I used veal because we were serving these carrots with some grilled steak), and sugar/honey. 

Cook under medium heat until the stock is reduced and syrupy, stirring occasionally.  You basically just want a "glaze" of stock to be left.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with chopped chives or other fresh herbs.

And voila, a side dish that takes longer to prep than cook! 

What's your favorite way to prepare carrots?
Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spinach Ravioli Stuffed w/ Crab & Ricotta

So I've been a little sparse in the posting lately.  Life has caught up with me and I just haven't had the time to sit down and blog. 

House hunting has become somewhat of a bust - between finding the right home and dealing with the bank... it just doesn't look like it'll be a possibility until the end of the year.  It bums out Andy more than it does me, but it's still a kick in the butt when we had our hopes so high up.

I hesitated to start the garden up this year because we thought we'd have bought a home by now, but it looks like I'll have time to plant one here after all.  I'm doing something different this year, too.  I'm trying the whole "urban gardening" method - growing everything in big planters on our back deck.  I've got one big pot for potatoes, and several medium-sized for bell peppers, tomatoes, and an array of herbs.  I'll keep you guys updated on how that all goes!

I had a bunch of spare time yesterday so I decided to take the time to roll out some fresh pasta.  Ravioli is one of the easiest things and the possibilities for stuffing are endless.  I had a ton left over and ended up freezing them - definitely will make for quick and easy meals later on!


Spinach Pasta Dough:

3 eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz. bread flour, plus more, if needed (you can use a combination or substitution of semolina, but I find it makes the dough harder to work with afterwards, and most people are more apt to have bread flour in their pantry than semolina)
4 oz. blanched spinach, pureed

Crab Filling:

4 oz. lump or claw crab meat
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
8 oz. ricotta
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan Cream Sauce:

5-6 sprigs thyme
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, olive oil, salt, and pureed spinach.  Add about a third of the flour and mix until combined.  Switch to the dough hook attachment and continue adding flour until the dough is dry and cannot absorb any more flour (you may need more than the recipe says - I did).

Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can make your filling.  In a food processor, combine the crab meat, parsley, ricotta, and egg.  Mix until combined and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Keep in the refrigerator until needed.

After the dough has rested, unwrap and cut into fourths.  Using one section at a time (make sure to cover the other sections so they don't dry out), roll out with a pasta machine or rolling pin (I keep it old school and do this).  You'll want the dough to be as thin as possible, but still pliable enough to work with.  Make sure to have some extra flour handy for dusting so the pasta doesn't stick to your machine or cutting board.

Using a round biscuit cutter (I used a 2" diameter round) or ravioli press, cut out an even amount of ravioli shapes. 

Pair up the rounds, one round will have filling (the bottom), one will be the topper.  Place about a tablespoon or so of filling on each bottom round (this will vary depending on the size of your ravioli) - you'll want a decent amount of space around the filling. 

Using a pastry brush, brush some warm water around the edges of the bottom round.  Place the top round on top of the filling, and sealing the edges.  Make sure to press around the filling so there are no air pockets.

Continue until all of the dough is used up.

Place ravioli on a baking sheet dusted with flour and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
You can also freeze the raviolis at this point for use later.

When you're ready to cook these guys, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the raviolis and cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the pasta is just cooked.  Fresh pasta most always takes less time to cook than dried.  Drain and add into the sauce, or reserve and pour sauce over top.

To make the sauce, just add the olive oil to a medium saute pan under medium high heat.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about a minute or so.  Add the cream to the pan and reduce until thickened.  Stir in the parmesan cheese until melted.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  You can add the raviolis to the sauce at this point or pour the sauce over top of the raviolis - whichever you prefer!

And voila - homemade pasta at it's finest.  Definitely easy and worth the little bit of extra effort!

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mussels w/ Spinach & White Wine Broth

Happy Derby weekend, folks!

Oh, don't live in Kentucky?  It doesn't matter!  If you're not all about the Derby this weekend, then you don't know what's up!  Tons of people from all over flock to Louisville, KY just for this weekend to celebrate horse racing, bourbon, and great eats! 

Being in the restaurant industry, this is probably the biggest week/weekend of the year for Louisville, KY.  I've already seen Top Chef stars like Stephanie Izard, Marcus Samuelson, and Michelle Bernstein dine at the restaurant.  Even the mayor of Los Angeles was in to eat last night!  However, I'm most excited to meet the editor in chief of Bon Appetit magazine, who is scheduled to dine this weekend! Lots of pressure, right?

Anyway, with little time to do much of anything this week, I had to make quick and fresh meals.  I was really in the mood for a big bowl of mussels - which always seems to fill me up, especially when served with a fresh, crusty baguette.  I always have the problem of buying a big bag of spinach and never finishing it in time, so I thought I'd wilt some spinach with the mussels, too.  So it definitely made for a filling and tasty meal.


2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and debearded
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, small diced
1 lb. spinach
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot under medium high heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is starting to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.

Add the chicken stock, white wine, and dijon to the pot.  Bring to a boil and add the mussels.  Cover and cook until the mussels open up, discarding any that don't open.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Ladle the mussels into a large bowl and serve with a nice French baguette.

This was a great meal to sit outside on the patio and enjoy.  Definitely a quick and easy meal for any day of the week!

Good luck to all the betting folks out there!  Be sure to watch the most exciting 2 minutes of sports this Saturday!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pork Burgers with Fried Brussels Sprouts

So, I graduated.  Officially graduated from culinary school.  I now have a degree in Culinary Arts.  Pretty freakin' awesome.

How did we celebrate?  Well, thanks to a fantastic gift card from my parents, we now are the proud owners of a meat grinder attachment to our KitchenAid (as well as a pretty awesome juicer - Andy's been on this homemade juice kick - and I gotta tell ya, I'm loving the fresh juice combos he's coming up with!).

So the first thing I did?  Went out and bought some pork sausage casings and ground up some sweet pork sausages.  Let me tell you - without an actual sausage stuffer attachment for our KitchenAid or an actual manual sausage stuffer - it's pretty time consuming to stuff some sausages.  I ended up MacGuyver-ing my way through with a pastry bag fitted with a large tip and ended up with decent results - although I'd much rather dish out the $12 for the sausage stuffer attachment for next time.

Anyway, as I got tired of manually stuffing sausages, I didn't end up going through all of the ground pork I had.  With the rest of it, I made these pretty sweet burgers.  So good.  And yeah, I definitely don't plan on buying ground meat ever again (well, let's keep it real, maybe once in a blue moon... or if Andy goes grocery shopping and ends up bringing it home).  But seriously, freshly ground meat is definitely more superior than the grocery stuff!


1 lb. ground pork (I had about a 70/30 ratio of meat to fat)
salt and pepper, to taste
Mayo, optional
pepperjack cheese, optional
fried egg, optional
burger buns, or sandwich bread in my case

Fried Brussels Sprouts:

1 lb. brussels sprouts, quartered and blanched
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
oil, for frying

You of course could season your ground meat with whatever you fancy, but I like to keep it simple with just a bit of salt and pepper.  I like dressing up a burger as a whole, rather than trying to really flavor the meat.  Because well... the meat speaks for itself.  Right?  Right.

Anyway, form the meat into thin 4 ounce patties.  Think Steak N' Shake burger style. 

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat and add a little bit of oil to coat the pan.  Place two patties in the pan and cook until starting to brown.  Flip over and place cheese (if using) on top of each patty.  Continue to cook until the patty is cooked through and the cheese is melted.  Place one patty on top of the other and transfer to a plate to rest.  At this point, you can assemble all of your burger toppings, and you can really be as creative as you want here.   But I had some extra brussels sprouts in the fridge and needed to use them up, so why not fry them, right?

Heat oil or deep fryer to 325 F.

Combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and oregano.  Mix well.  Dredge the brussels sprouts in the seasoned flour and dust off any excess.

Place in deep fryer and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-4 minutes.  Drain on paper towel-lined plate and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To assemble this awesome burger, toast some burger buns lightly (or use sandwich bread like I did - I had everything else on hand and I was too lazy to leave the house to get some burger buns).  Get a good smear of mayo on both pieces of bread.  Top the bottom bun with the two burger patties.  Then place a good amount of the fried brussels sprouts on top of the burger and top with a fried egg - good and yolky!  Then close is on up with the top of the bun.

And there you have a pretty darn good burger.  Different, but oh so delicious.

What's your favorite burger combo?!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Honey Glazed Pork Loin & Belly

It's hard to speak about the trivial things going on in my own life when such tragedies as today's events in Boston occur.  So instead of rambling about being tired, or being over-worked, or stressed... I'm just going to say I'm thankful.  We never know when our last day will come.  Nor do we know what tomorrow will bring.  So I'm thankful for my health, my sanity, my family.  And my prayers go out to all of the families affected by today's awful event.


Pork Belly:

1 lb. pork belly
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 cups chicken stock
1-2 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb. pork loin, cut into 1 & 1/2 inch thick medallions
salt and pepper, to taste

Honey Glaze:

1/2 cup water 
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup honey
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, paprika, onion powder, cayenne, and garlic powder. 

Score the pork belly and rub the spice mixture all over the pork belly, making sure to get in the creases of the scoring.  Tightly wrap pork belly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 275 F.

Unwrap pork belly and rinse off spice rub.  Pat pork belly dry. 

Heat a large oven-proof skillet under medium high heat and add olive oil.  Sear the pork belly, scored side first, until golden and caramelized.  Add enough chicken stock to the pan to come up halfway on the pork belly.  Transfer skillet to oven and cook until pork belly is nice and tender, about 4-6 hours.  Alternatively, you can do this step in a slow-cooker if you don't want to have your oven on for such a long period of time.

Combine the water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, and black peppercorns in a small saucepan.  Reduce mixture by half or until slightly thickened.  Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat.  Season the pork loin medallions with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add oil to the saute pan.

Add the pork loin to the pan and cook until caramelized.  Flip over and cook until at desired temperature.  About a minute or so before done, pour some of the glaze liquid into the hot pan and let the mixture thicken around the pork loin to coat it.

Brush some of the thickened glaze on the pork belly, as well.

We served this with some creamy grits and balsamic brussels sprouts.  Definitely a tasty meal.

I hope you all have a great rest of the week and remember not to take any day for granted!  Be safe!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Salmon w/ Lemon Parsley Green Beans & Spicy Ranch

Louisville, KY has been in the spotlight lately.  Especially after Monday night's win at the NCAA championship - which for a non-basketball watcher, was actually quite exciting.  I heard fireworks and people screaming for well into the night, long after the game actually ended.  And I didn't mind.  It was pretty cool to hear the city come alive and come together.

And here in about a month or so, tons of people from all over the country will flood into the city to witness the most exciting 2 minutes in sports - the Kentucky Derby.  It's always a time of drinking bourbon, eating food, spending money, and watching the races!  I'm definitely proud to call Louisville my home.

Another exciting thing, which may not be as exciting to those of you who are not from Louisville or Kentucky - but the chef that owns the restaurant that I currently work at, Edward Lee - is coming out with a cookbook.  And it looks awesome.  Smoke & Pickles will definitely be on my bookshelf come May 1st - and I hope it'll be on yours too!

Anyway, Andy loved this meal.  I don't know if he was starving by the time I made it, or if he really just overly enjoyed it, but he cleared his plate AND the rest of mine too.  Another winner in the books!


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

Green Beans:

1 lb. hericot verts (French green beans), blanched and shocked
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Spicy Ranch:

1 cup ranch dressing
1 tablespoon Gochujang paste (Korean chili paste)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sesame oil
water, as needed

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat.  Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and add garlic.  Saute until fragrant.  Toss in the hericot verts and coat in the butter.  Add the lemon juice and cook until reduced.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Toss the hericot verts with the parsley until combined. 

In a small bowl, combine the ranch, Gochujang, maple syrup, and sesame oil.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of warm water until you reach your desired consistency.

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. 

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, dusting off any excess.  Add the salmon to the saute pan and cook until browned.  Flip over and cook until desired temperature.  I like to cook my salmon to medium, with a little bit of pink still in the middle.

To plate, place a good amount of sauce on the center of the plate.  Place green beans on sauce and top with salmon fillets.  We had some onion rings in the freezer and decided to fry those up and serve them with this as an added crunch factor.  It was pretty darn delicious, if you ask me!

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fettuccine w/ Artichokes, Tomatoes, & Spinach

How is everyone's week going so far? 

I can't believe it's already Wednesday.  This week has just flown by, hasn't it?

The next 10 day forecast is in the 50+ range, so Spring is definitely making it's way to Kentucky.  I made Andy this pasta dish for lunch because it was easy, delicious, and made me think of Spring!

Sorry to be short and quick today, but this girl has got some major errands and Spring cleaning to do!


1 lb. fettuccine noodles
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add fettuccine and cook until al dente.  Drain and toss in olive oil to keep from sticking together.

In a large saute pan, melt butter under medium high heat.  Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add cherry tomatoes and artichokes and cook for another minute or two.  Deglaze pan with white wine and reduce until only 2-3 tablespoons remain. 

Add heavy cream and reduce until thickened. Add in parmesan cheese and spinach, stirring until spinach is wilted.  Add pasta and toss until coated with the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Serve in hot plates or bowls with garlic bread.  Dig on in!

Easy and so versatile!  Change out the vegetables based on what you have on hand, or keep it as is!  The possibilities are really endless!  Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

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!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Veal Scallopine w/ Curried Cauliflower & Mushroom Demi Glace

It's been a CRAZY week.

I left my internship at the Marriott hotel.  It just wasn't me.  Hotel food is just not me.

However, I spoke with my chef at the restaurant I work at and he is really good friends with Edward Lee (from Top Chef fame).  So he did an amazing job of setting me up a new internship at Lee's new place in Actor's Theatre, Milkwood.  I started this week and already love it.  Not only is it better hours than my normal job (I'm safely home by 10:30/11 as opposed to midnight or later!), but the food is impeccable! 

So I really haven't had much time at home this week, but was able to make this yesterday afternoon for my lunch and Andy's dinner later that night while I was away.  It came together quickly and was tasty, to boot!


4 thinly sliced veal cutlets
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 head of cauliflower, florets sliced thin
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan

Mushroom Demi:

1 oz. flour
1 oz. unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup mirepoix (small diced carrots, onion, celery)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups veal/beef stock, divided
6-8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Your sauce will take the longest time, so go ahead and start with that first.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter under medium heat.  Add the flour and slowly cook under moderate heat until you achieve a dark brown roux. You'll want to stir constantly so you don't scorch the flour. 

While you're waiting for your roux to darken, in a separate saute pan, heat olive oil under medium high heat.  Add mirepoix and cook until lightly caramelized.  Add tomato paste and cook for another minute or two to incorporate.  Set aside until roux is at desired dark brown color. 

Add mirepoix mixture to roux and stir to incorporate.  Temper in 2 cups of the stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20-25 minutes.  Strain of solids, then return to saucepan.

Add remaining 2 cups of stock and reduce mixture by half. 

In a small saute pan under medium high heat, saute the mushrooms in a little bit of butter or olive oil until caramelized.  Add mushrooms to the demi and simmer under low heat for a out 10-15 minutes.

For the cauliflower:  Combine the cauliflower, curry powder, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well.

Heat a medium saute pan under medium high heat and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add cauliflower and saute until caramelized around the edges.  Finish by tossing with fresh parsley and shredded Parmesan cheese.

For the veal, heat a large saute pan under high heat and add olive oil.  Scallopine slices are really thin so you want a really hot pan so you can get a good sear quickly and prevent any overcooking.

Season the veal slices with salt and pepper and add to hot pan.  Get a nice golden brown sear and flip over and cook just for about 30 seconds to 1 minute longer.  These guys will cook very quickly.  Remove from pan and let rest on a cutting board for about 2-3 minutes.

To plate, spread a nice amount of sauce in the center of the plate.  Place some cauliflower slices over the sauce and top with 2 slices of veal.  And bam, veal scallopine.

Hope you guys have a great week!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pork Chops w/ Kidney Bean Risotto & Pommes Frites

It was offal week at school.  People either hate it or love it.  I happen to be of the latter population.

There's hardly anything I won't eat.  I'm of the belief that you don't know you don't like something unless you give it a try.  More often than not, once I try something, I like it.

My offal assignment this week was kidneys.  My offal experiences have only really consisted of sweet breads (LOVE!) and livers.  Kidneys, not so much.  But like I said, I'm willing to give anything a try at least once.  They're not something I want to run out and buy boatloads of, but I'm glad I tried them.

So I thought I'd do a recipe with offal this week, but turns out I couldn't find any within short notice!  Most butcher shops around here didn't carry them just on a whim and the items needed to be special ordered.  So I thought I'd do something with a little more mass appeal and use kidney beans.  Totally not offal, but hey, it tasted pretty damn good.


2 bone-in pork chops
2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
2-3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup mirepoix (small diced shallots, carrots, and celery)
14 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

2 russet potatoes, finely julienned on a mandolin
peanut oil, for frying

Preheat oven to 425 F.

The risotto will take the longest, so it's best to start off with it.  I used to be under the impression that your stock had to be hot while doing it, but in learning how to make risotto at school and at the restaurant, we always use room temperature/cold stock.  It always turns out well, so why dirty another pot if you don't have to?

In a large high sided skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil under medium heat.  Stir in your rice and coat well with the oil.  You're just trying to coat the rice with the oil, not trying to toast it, so make sure you do this step quickly.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce until almost dry.  Add in enough chicken stock to just barely cover the rice and reduce your heat to a slow simmer.  You may need more stock than listed above (it just depends on your heat during the cooking process).  You'll want to stir the rice very frequently because it's the agitation of the starches in the rice that causes the risotto to become thick and creamy.  Don't add more liquid until the previous amount is almost gone.  You'll want to repeat the process until your rice is fully cooked and looks creamy. (The whole process should take about 30 minutes or so - patience is a virtue)

While you're waiting for your rice to cook, you can saute your vegetables.  Heat a medium saute pan under medium high heat and add your remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add your mirepoix, thyme, and garlic.  Saute until mirepoix starts to soften.  Stir in kidney beans and cook just until warmed.  Season mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

When your risotto is done, stir in your mirepoix and mix well.  Finish with cream cheese, parmesan, and butter until rich and creamy.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Keep warm until needed.

Season both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper.  Spread about 1 tablespoon of mustard on each pork chop.  Place breadcrumbs on flat surface and press both sides of pork chops into breading to coat.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet under medium high heat and add your olive oil.  Add pork chops and sear until golden brown.  Flip over and transfer pan to oven to continue cooking until medium or done to your likeness.  Let rest for about 3-5 minutes.

Heat a deep fryer or heavy pot with oil to about 325 F.  Blanch potatoes for about 1 minute in oil and remove.  Let drain for about another minute.  Drop back into the oil to cook until golden brown and crispy.  Drain on paper towel-lined plate and season with salt, to taste.

To put together dish, place a decent amount of risotto in the center of the plate.  Place pork chop over top and garnish with a good amount of pomme frites.  Easy enough, right?  Restaurant worthy in $30 or less!


Have a great week guys!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mushroom-Stuffed Beef Tenderloin w/ Fondant Potatoes

I started my internship this week and it's been a whirlwind.  I'm pretty much at my internship on all of the days I don't work - which means I pretty much won't have an actual day off for about 7 weeks.  Nuts, isn't it?!

Hopefully these 7 weeks will just fly on by.  I have the pleasure of being able to go to my internship on Friday mornings so that I can have at least one night home with Andy!  I made this last night and it was a definite hit!


1 lb. beef tenderloin, butterflied
2 oz. country ham, small diced
1/4 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 lb. mirepoix (small diced carrot and celery - we'll omit the onion since we're using the shallot)
1/4 lb. spinach
1/3 cup Madeira
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2-3 cups veal or beef stock
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 new potatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic, cracked
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a medium skillet, heat up a little of the olive oil under medium high heat.  Add country ham, mushrooms, shallot, and mirepoix.  Cook until slightly caramelized, about 3-4 minutes, then stir in spinach until wilted.  Let cool to room temperature.

Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper on both sides.  Spread the filling over top of the butterflied tenderloin and tightly roll up like a roulade.  Tie snuggly with butcher's twine to compact.

In a large, oven-proof skillet, heat up about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil under medium high heat.  Brown the tenderloin on all sides and transfer to oven to cook to desired temperature - about 20 minutes for a nice medium rare.

While the tenderloin is in the oven, you can prepare your potatoes.  Fondant potatoes are basically caramelized on one side then flipped over and braised in chicken stock and herbs.  Pretty tasty.

In a medium saute pan, add olive oil and heat under medium high heat.  Season potatoes with salt and pepper and place in pan, cut-side down.  Add thyme and garlic to oil to infuse with extra flavor.  Cook until browned, then flip over.  Pour out all of the excess olive oil and add chicken stock to come up about halfway on the potatoes.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and let simmer until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove tenderloin from oven and let rest for about 5-10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing. 

Add Madeira wine to stock in the pan and reduce to sauce consistency.  Strain if desired and mount with a little unsalted butter and season to taste. 

Serve tenderloin with potatoes and some of the pan sauce.

This was definitely a great meal and I couldn't be more glad to say TGIF yesterday!  Hope you all have a great weekend and I'll probably see you about this time next week!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Filet Mignon w/ Grits & Madeira Sauce

I used to have a hatred for grits.  But I think I just never had them prepared the right way.  The restaurant I work at is pretty famous for our Shrimp & Grits dish.  I happen to work the station that prepares this.  So I've gotten real familiar with how grits are supposed to be cooked in order to be amazing.  First rule?  Grits shouldn't be healthy.  You can argue this point up and down, but for properly cooked, creamy and delicious grits - you gotta take advantage of some fat.  The perfect ratio for grits, in my opinion, is 4:1.  4 cups milk: 1 cup grits: 1 cup heavy cream: 1 cup parmesan cheese plus 2 ounces of butter.  Throw 'em on low and slow, whisking frequently to avoid scorching, and you've got perfect grits every time.  Don't believe me?  Try 'em out that way and if you don't like them, come back here and yell at me all you want.  But I'll make a believer out of you, I promise!

Anyway, I love the sweetness that Madeira brings to a sauce so this is perfectly matched to a savory hunk of tenderloin. 

One other tip.  I've become more of a savvy shopper through the years and notice that you pay more for smaller portions.  Meaning, if you do the brunt work yourself, you pay less.  Same goes for steaks, especially filets.  You could just as easily buy a portion of a beef tenderloin and then cut it down when you get home (allowing you to determine the size of your steak - I hate going to the meat counter and seeing dinky little filet mignon steaks that would only fill up a 5 year old) for less money than buying preportioned filet mignons.  And it only take a fraction of a minute to do so, so why not?!

I'll be super duper busy starting next Monday - I got my internship assignment so I'll practically have no time to spare between school, work, and balancing an internship.  But it's all for the best, so stick with me!


1 lb. beef tenderloin, cut into filet mignon portions (I just cut the sucker right in half and did 8 oz. steaks for the both of us)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 cup veal stock
1/4 cup port wine
1/2 cup Madeira wine
salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup white stone-ground grits
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 oz. unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, and butter.  Bring to a simmer, careful not to boil, then whisk in grits.  Turn heat down to medium low and cook until the grits are smooth and creamy, whisking frequently to prevent clumping and scorching.  Ideally, this would cook low and slow for about 45 minutes to an hour.  The slower you cook them, the creamier they'll be.  When the grits are done, stir in the parmesan cheese and then season to taste.  Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a small saucepan, add the shallots, veal stock, and port wine.  Reduce by half.  Add in Madeira and reduce until at sauce consistency.  Season to taste.

Heat a large oven-proof saute pan under medium high heat.  Melt the butter.  Season filets with salt and pepper on both sides and then add to the hot skillet. Cook until you develop a nice golden brown sear.  Flip over and sear on the other side.  Transfer to oven and cook to desired temperature.  Remove from oven and let rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, place about 1/2 cup of grits on the center of each plate.  Place filet over top and serve with vegetable of your choice (we had some peas).  Top filet with a little bit of the Madeira sauce.

Can't beat a good looking steak like that, now can you?  Cheaper than a high end steakhouse, and sometimes tastes even better too!  Hope you guys have a great week!