Friday, April 22, 2011

Some sexy fried chicken!

So its Easter weekend and I started to think of different family gatherings and what might be served at family picnics, bbq's, etc. I figured why not start off the easter weekend with some southern style fried chicken and add some love at the end. Pictured here was last nights family meal: Sourthern Fried Chicken, with black truffle honey, finished with thyme leaves and maldon salt. In the deep south, its very typical to eat fried chicken with honey, I figured why not add some lovin and add some black truffles to the me this does not suck! I want to add some floral tones to the chicken to enhance the chicken so I figured why not finish it with some fresh thyme leaves (yes I did pick the leaves with tweezers, but hey...that's how I roll!). Why Maldon salt you ask? Well Maldon salt is basically sea salt flakes (from the coast of Essex, Engalnd).It's not a powdery pouring salt that contains chemicals to stop it getting damp and make it pour freely, but an absolutely pure salt that tastes of the sea. If you do a side-by-side tasting you'll find it is less sharp but somehow saltier (so you need to use less).Maldon salt consists of very pretty, small white crystalline flakes that crush very easily between your fingers for cooking with. For the table, use it either in a good-quality salt mill or a small salt cellar. Crushed sea salt gives jacket potatoes ( baked potatoes) a really crispy crust, and it's wonderful coarsely crushed over chips (or anything fried).  Maldon salt can be found in any specialty food store.  For the Fried Chicken and marinated in buttermilk (and other seasoning shown below) to help breakdown the natural fibers of the meat (a tenderizer if you will..)

Fried Chicken (chicken)

1 ea while chicken; cut into 8 pieces (ask your butcher for 8 piece cut chicken, he will know what u mean.)
2 cups of buttermilk
4 tsp of kosher salt
4 tsp of black pepper
4 tsp of paprika
2 tsp of ground thyme
4 tsp of onion powder
4 tsp of garlic powder
4 ea eggs
3 cups of all purpose flour
1 oz thyme leaves (you can use fresh chopped tyme or rosemary)
1 tbsp maldon salt
1 gallon of fryer oil

1. In a bowl mix the chicken, buttermilk, and 2 tsp of the following: salt, pepper, paprika, ground thyme, onion powder and garlic powder. Let the chicken marinate over night or atleast 12 hours.
2. Heat fryer or a pot of oil to 340*F. (I recommend using a lower of temperture, to recieve optimal color and better internal cooking results, in cooking there is nothing wrong with: "low and slow".
3. Once the chicken is marinated add the eggs and mix well.
4. Season the flour with the remaining spices and dry herbs, except the fresh thyme and maldon salt.
5. Piece by piece, dredge the chicken in to the flour, making sure there is an even coating of flour through out the chicken.
6. Drop the chicken in to the fryer and cook for about  15-17 minutes.
7. Once the chicken is cooked, finish seasoning it with the fresh herbs and maldon salt.

* plain honey can be used to substitute the truffle honey.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another way to served potatoes.....not mashed or baked!

Today I asked my young jedi "cooks", to give me list of at least 15 ways to prepare a potato. I figured why not show them how to make them the Swedish classic rosti potatoes. It's so easy and convienient it it takes is a little time a patience.Basically, these are potatoes that are shredded and pressed into a flattened pancake shape while browning in the oven.

This can be served for any meal period for the day and it goes great with eggs, beef, lamb, pork and chicken. In this recipe I will use shredded hash browns, since many fire house and private homes do not have a grater and its one less setp to worry about.

Rosti Potatoes

1 1/4 lb. potatoes, peeled and shredded or use shredded uncooked hash browns
1/4 c. chopped onion
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. rosemary
3/4 c. shredded Swiss cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350*F
1. Saute onions in buttered skillet.
2. Add potatoes, mixing with onions and press to form a "cake." Season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook until crisp, about 8 minutes per side.
4. Add Swiss cheese and rosemary, place in oven for 4 minues or until the cheese turns into golden brown.
5. Serve warm.

Have some fun with your feta....cheese!

For those of who love cheese, I found that feta cheese is like a sponge.  Not only is it a sponge bit its also considered to be a pickled cheese since it is stored in a brine solution. I decided to go back in time to write this years easter menu, I found an old marinted feta cheese recipe. The reason why I consider feta cheese a sponge is not it looks like one, but because it was designed to be that way for preservation over 1000 years ago. Here I took the cheese out of the brine and aired dried it for two days, then I marintated in fines herbs (parsley, chervil, tarragon and chives), chopped garlic, pepper flakes, shallots, olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper for two more days. The flavor is absolutley amazing and will add depth and brightness to a cheese that all ready has a zing to it.

Marinated feta cheese

1 pound of block feta cheese, semi-hard, diced medium

4 ounces chopped fines herbs
3 ounces chopped garlic
3 ounces chopped shallots
1 tbsp red chili flakes
4 lemons, juiced, no seeds
24 ounces olive oil
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper

1. Combine the herbs, garlic, shallots, chili flakes, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper.
2. Fold in the diced cheese carefully, try avoiding breaking the cheese.
3. Serve with your favorite salad or eat as a snack.

This cheese will hold for at least 1 week in the marinade.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad for lunch....WHY NOT?!

Several weeks ago I popped in the fire house kitchen and I asked the "shift Chef": "What are you cooking up there boss?" his reply: "Buffalo Chicken Salad". For about five seconds or so all the different ways you can incorporate buffalo chicken in a salad came to racing through my mind. I asked myself  "Why not a cobb salad, there's bleu cheese (check), bacon (check), scallions (check), tomatoes (check), cucumbers and eggs (why not?...) avocado (check), ranch dressing (double check!!). Granted its not the way the "shift chef" made it, but here's a spin on it. Now notice I fried pieces of chicken breast ( I figured why not.....just go all the way, right?), but for you health nuts out there, you can go ahead and grill of some chicken breast and toss it in this after it is cooked:

Buffalo Chicken Sauce

1/3 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/3 cup butter/butter

1. Heat sauce over medium heat.
2. Add butter slowly until it thickens.
3. Toss the sauce with chicken.

In case you are not sure of what a cobb salad is:

The Cobb salad is a main-dish garden salad made from chopped salad greens (iceberg lettuce, watercress, endives, and Romaine lettuce), tomato, crisp bacon, boiled or roasted chicken breast, hard-boiled egg, avocado, chives, red-wine vinaigrette and Roquefort cheese.

The salad was invented in the 1930s at the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant, where it became a signature dish. It is named for the restaurant's owner, Robert Howard Cobb. Stories vary as to whether the salad was invented by Cobb or by his chef, Chuck Wilson.

So simple, yet sooo tasty!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Something simple after a long day of work.......

Lets face it, after a long days work either on in the kitchen line, a fire ground (training or non-training), construction or any hard manual labor, you want to eat something simple, quick and most importantly tasty. As we did training at a local fire academy last week one of the boys busted out good ol, hamburger....the way mom would make it (all the sliced bread vanished so I got the hamburger bun) so I figure why not break out a  hamburger seasoning recipe that would be so good, it would be "smack yo mama good!". Notice that the burger is not accompanied with fries.......great proper fries take time....I recommend some of your favorite potato chips. The chips being eaten here are Herr's Ripple Chips with Texas Pete's Hot Sauce (these do not suck!) Don't forget the beer....outside of work of course!

Hamburger Seasoning (rub)

2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons black pepper -- freshly cracked
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
4 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons onion powder
2 Tablespoons garlic powder

  1. Mix together and had 1 ounce of seasoning for every 2 pounds of ground meat.
This seasoning could also be applied to brisket, chicken, ribs for bar-b-queing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Start your weekend healthy with this!

Lets all face it, we like to, actually I think we all love to grill! Typically alot of people try  not to eat red meat during lent and tend to go towards seafood. Well, why fry fish or steam fish when you can grill and why not add a little flare to it? What the hell, lets start the weekend healthy because we all know that healthy really does not exist during weekend. What's cooking, you might ask: Grilled Fish tacos washed down with a quenching cantelope agua fresca (spanish for fresh water) infused with fresh mint. This is a great dish for anytime of the year especially during the spring and summer time. Its easy, quick and affordable, yeah that's right its affordable (granted it depends on what fish u use)! Its great for chefs (cost control) and great for the fire crew (chow kitty $$$; which I'll explain later) hell its great for everyone! I recommend using tilapia for something like this, its light, firm, neutral flavored and affordable...last I saw it was around $4/pound...not bad!

Fish Taco (makes two tacos)

1 tiliapia filet (5-7 ounce)
2 ounces of oil
1/4 tsp of kosher salt
1/4 tsp of white pepper (it is best to use white pepper on fish, since fish is a delicate protein and white
                                      is milder

2 corn tortillas

2 ounces of red and green shredded cabbage (baged cole slaw mix work fine as well)
1/2 ounce of shredded carrot (should be in the bagged cole slaw mix)
4 sprigs of cilantro
1 ounce of mayonnaise
1 ounce of chipotle sauce (u can find it in a can in the mexican food aisle at your local grocery store)

1. Preheat your grill for about 15 minutes on medium to high heat.
2. In a bowl toss the tilapia, oil, salt and pepper.
3. Grill the fish on each side for about 5-7 minutes.
4. In a seperate bowl mix the cabbage, carrots, mayonnaise and chipolte sauce.
5. Once the tilapia is done, place the tortillas on the grill for about 45 seconds to an minute and heat on
    each side.
6. Place a table spoon of the cabbage mix on the tortillas, add the fish, then top it off with another table
    spoon of the cabbage mix and finally garnish with the cilantro.
7. Enjoy!

Cantelope Agua Fresca (makes 1- 12 ounce glass)

6 ounce of cantelope
4 ounces of water
2 ounces of ice
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
1 sprig of fresh mint

1. In a blender add all the ingredients and liquify.
2. Pour into a glass and garnish with mint

Light, fresh and healthy....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A simple breakfast.....a positive fire

Let's be honest chefs, how many of yall can say that you eat breakfast in the morning (a piece of bacon and coffee doesn't count, ok!)? Not many of us do, infact alot of chefs eat on the go (scarfing what ever you can find in 5 seconds) or we eat standing up (sitting deflates the momentum, especially of you cook in a rocking kitchen). On the other hand the second thing the firefighter crew does after checking all of their equipment in the engines and the ambulances is to have breakfast....a family style breakfast, in fact a classic american breakfast. Last saturday morning I was at the station and enjoyed a good ol southern style breakfast with the crew; what was served: Scrambled eggs, pepper-crusted bacon, buttermilk biscuits, gravy and cheese grits. Its been a while since I've eaten like this, but it was amazing I gotta say.  So this morning (3 hours after I arrived), I realized that not only was I busy getting ready for lunch (along with everyone else), but that I needed some fuel....we all needed some fuel. Prior to that a collegue of mine were talking about mangos and the different variations of mangos there are. The second he left the kitchen I grabbed the mangos from the fridge, peeled them, threw them in a blender with bananas, strawberries, a little orange juice and some ice. We were all able to take around 5 minutes together and huddle up to discuss the game plan and enjoy what was a refreshing and enjoyable smoothie. The smoothie is probably the most simple, affordable, quickest and enjoyable beverage than can easily be turned in to a meal. Most firefighters drink smoothies either after or at least an hour before a workout (by adding protein supplements and so on), but surely after breakast. Quickly I remembered how important it is to not to forget a simple breakfast, but definatley never to forget to share the most important meal of the day with your team (and/or your significant other) could easliy start a positive fire.

Mango, Starwberry,Banana smoothie

1 mango (peeled and trimmed)
3 strawberries (cleaned)
1 banana
4 ounces orange juice
1 ounce agave syrup
1 cup of ice

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender on medium to hight speed and liquify.
2. Drink chilled

Serves 1

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Maltese Kitchen: Fish and Chips "the salad"

The Maltese Kitchen: Fish and Chips "the salad": "Since the weather is starting to warm up, I figured why not do a composed using a concept that everyone recognizes. I came up with this sal..."

Fish and Chips "the salad"

Since the weather is starting to warm up, I figured why not do a composed using a concept that everyone recognizes. I came up with this salad about 5 years ago, its my version of a "fish and chips" salad. Basically its grilled salmon (with nothing but olive oil, salt and pepper, then grilled on both sides over meduim high heat for about 10 minutes) cherry tomatoes (cut into four), thinly sliced red onion, mixed greens, french fries (the fun part!!) finished off with a honey mustard vinaigrette.  Its a great light dish that can be eaten either for lunch, dinner or even after a workout (the fries won't kill you.)

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt or taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.
  2. While continuing to whisk mixture, slowly pour in vegetable oil in a small stream, whisking constantly until fully incorporated and slightly thickened. (Place the bowl on a damp tea towel to prevent it from slipping.)
  3. Store any unused portion in the refrigerator.
Makes about 1 cup.