Archive for August, 2015
August 27, 2015
My friend Laurie Garrett was the inspiration for this incredibly delicious corn casserole. Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I added sautéed onions which set it off perfectly.
This casserole is the absolutely perfect side dish for so many entrees. It goes swell (that’s a 50’s word), with pan seared red snapper. Tremendous with any kind of pork, beef or chicken, and of course, is a must on the Sunday dinner table as a side dish that will be a hit with everyone present.
Often times, I will make it in a 9”x13” rectangle pan, and once baked and cooled will cut out round or square medallions with a biscuit cutter making a super presentation…transporting a regular side dish to an elegant one for any fancy occasion.
I’ve offered various variations below. Whichever way you decide make this wonderful dish – it will be a recipe you will keep in your culinary repertoire for years to come.
- 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
- 1 medium onion
- ½ stick melted butter
- 1 can whole kernel corn
- 1 can creamed corn
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in butter until the onions are translucent. Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
Pour into buttered 9’ x 13” casserole dish and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until light golden brown. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
While my preferred way to serve corn casserole is the simple method above – I have tried literally dozens of variations. You can add sautéed spinach or cooked collard greens (about a cup per recipe), tomatoes and fresh basil, or even substitute a can of drained black eyed peas for the whole corn kernels.
A couple of additions that are always tasty are:
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
And / Or
- 3 chopped jalapeno peppers including seeds
August 26, 2015
Fred’s was recommended to me by Chris Sullivan – who I am working with developing a new and exciting menu for Carmel Kitchen to debut this October.
Our executive chef Barry Engh, and longtime friend and former Bailey’s sever Jennifer Pio and I did a tasting at Fred’s here recently and were very pleased with what we sampled. Since Jen lives in Manhattan, she got the benefit of taking all the leftover home. And believe-you-me…we ate.
We ordered so much the chef came out of the kitchen to see what 3-top was ordering so much food. Know to, that they thought we were food critics…and we let them think that for we knew that the food and service would be spectacular…and it was. We in the restaurant biz are very attuned to food critics ya-know.
We ordered their famous Mark’s Madison Avenue Salad with 17 different ingredients, artisan pizzas, lobster bouillabaisse, ribeye Tagliata Alls Fiorentina, pork Bolognese, chicken livers with shallots and port wine, roasted beets and fried goat cheese medallions, crab cakes, grilled baby octopus, charbroiled lamb chops, and we just had them throw in some meatballs just for good measure.
I am not kidding, we ordered all that, and every one of their four desserts. Of course, we only took a bite or two of everything – then wrapped it all up for Jen to take home. She had a dinner party the next night.
FRED’S at Barney’s In New York
660 Madison Avenue
New York City, New York 10065
August 20, 2015
AND THE WINNER IS…GENO’S or PAT’S
Geno’s or Pat’s? “Wit” provolone or Cheese Whiz? “Wit” onions and mushrooms or “wit-out?” Those are the only answers you must answer as you belly up to the window to order your favorite Philly Cheesesteak at either Pat’s or Geno’s at adjacent corners of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in south Philly. While in Philadelphia last month on our way to set up Bailey’s Brunch at Carmel in Warrington and Allentown, our executive chef, Barry Engh and I decided to taste both steaks at both locations…to see our ultimate winner – click here.
Yes, Philadelphia is known worldwide as the Mecca of cheesesteaks. Well, Bailey’s decided to take up this audacious challenge and figure once-and-for-all which cheesesteaks were the BEST between these two national favorites. Which of these ranks supreme!!!
Brother’s Pat and Henry Olivieri are credited with creating the Philly cheesesteak since they were first opened in 1930 well before Geno’s began its operation in 1966.
Barry and I ordered 2 steaks at each place – one with provolone, and one with cheese whiz. Know too that it is against the rules to say “with” – in Philly, it is “WIT.” Yes, it was four sandwiches a piece, but this was research; and Bailey’s patrons were waiting on our every word.
After careful consideration and more than a few burps…it was unanimous…we both voted GENO – WIT WHIZ was the best in show. Of course, there were people right next to us doing the same thing – who voted PAT’s with provolone. So I guess you will have to figure this one out for yourself.
1219 South 9ths Street
1237 East Passyunk Avenue
August 20, 2015
After years of searching for the perfect chocolate cream pie – I created my own version. It starts with an incredible crust made from America’s favorite cream filled cookie. The chocolate filling is rich and delectable…topped with homemade whipped cream – well, it will make a train take a dirt road just to get to a slice.
I don’t know why we don’t see chocolate cream pie on many menus for it is so delicious. My friend Roger Perry (owner of Datz) and I have a running fight – he likes his topped with meringue, and I like mine piled high with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.
You will find this pie so simple to make and is the perfect end to any meal. Or slice-by-slice in front of your favorite show.
- 16 Oreo cookies
- 2 tablespoons salted butter (melted)
CHOCOLATE FILLING INGREDIENTS
- 2 ½ cups half-and-half
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 tablespoons salted butter (cold cut into 6 pieces)
- 6 extra-large egg yolks (room temperature)
- 6 semi-sweet chocolate (chips can be used)
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream, chilled
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Whip chilled cream with sugar and vanilla until thickened – refrigerate
STEP ONE CRUST
- Put 16 whole Oreo cookies into a food processor and “pulse” about 15 times until completely blended. Put in bowl and add melted butter.
- Mold into 8” pie pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking baking spray. When molding it is best to use something flat much like the bottom of the measuring cup. While you are forming the bottom, press the top edges firmly with your thumbs to make a firm side top crust.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool completely before filling.
STEP TWO FILLING
- In a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, salt, ¼ sugar to a simmer and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
- Whisk ¼ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cornstarch until well combined. Briskly whisk 6 egg yolks in a separate bowl for approximately 30 seconds and mix with cornstarch sugar mixture until completely combined…this will take approximately 1 minute. It should be a bit glossy.
- Whisk ½ cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks and whisk to temper the yolks. Add remaining cream mixture until completely combined.
- Return to simmer, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and it is thickened and glossy – approximately 15 to 30 seconds.
- Off heat, whisk in cold butter until each tablespoon is well blended – add chocolates and whisk until melted – scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula – stir in vanilla. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into the cooled pie shell. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate until very cold – at least 5 hours or even overnight.
- Top with very cold whipped cream and shaved chocolate or dusted cocoa.
DECORATING THE TOP OF PIE
1 large bar Hersey’s – chill for 30 minutes, then, shaved with a potato peeler
Lightly dust Hersey’s Cocoa through a strainer or sifter over whipped cream
A FUN ALTERNATIVE TO PIE
Fill wide mouth mason jars Oreo cookie crumbs (no need to add butter to the crumbs or bake), top with chocolate pudding, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and chill until ice cold.
August 13, 2015
If you enjoy authentic Italian cuisine, you will truly enjoy this gem of a restaurant I just found, even though it has been open a year. Yes, it is 30 minutes from south Tampa, but well worth the jaunt. You can easily tell that owner Massimo Sabett loves food. His brick oven pizzas, homemade pastas, seafood, pork, duck, beef and veal dishes are exceptional. And you will not leave hungry for the portions are ample. Don’t forget to order a slice of lemoncello cake for dessert.
6062 Van Dyke Road
Lutz, Florida 33558
August 13, 2015
The first time I ever had Picadillo was at the tender age of 7 (how sad I remember that) – when I was invited for dinner by my Most Holy Name (Ybor City) classmate Michael Torta – I was hooked after the very first bite.
Michael’s mom was as round as I was tall, with a big smile and a bright red apron. She let us watch her every step – and even let me peel the ripe black plantains she fried to accompany our picadillo. When I saw her put the green olives and raisins in the pot, well, I wanted to bolt – but I stayed, much to my ultimate delight. It was a memorable meal.
Over the years, I have honed the recipe to one people seem to enjoy very much. I wanted the meat to have maximum flavor so I let it soak in the Sherry for a couple of hours prior to cooking – then start layering the wonderful flavors as they cook in the pot.
AUTHENTIC SPANISH PICADILLO
- 2 pounds ground beef (80% – 20%)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup dry Sherry
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion – coarsely chopped
- 1 large green pepper – coarsely chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 1/3 cup capers (drained)
- 1/3 cup green olives with pimentos – sliced in rings
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 small can tomato paste
- ½ cup raisins
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ cup Dry Sherry (in addition to the Sherry above)
Mix ground beef with salt, red pepper flakes, and dry Sherry. Cover and let stand in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Heat the olive oil in large skillet. Add onion, green pepper and sauté until soft. Add the garlic, capers, olives, and beef mixture, stirring until the meat is completely cooked. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the ½ cup of Sherry). Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Skim off excess fat, and add ½ cup dry Sherry. Serve with white rice (sprinkle with parsley), fried plantains, mixed field green salad, Sangria, or and ice cold beer. Then go to Eddie V’s and order their Bananas Foster Cake and Ice Cream at the bar.
This same mixture can be used to make delightful empanadas – or even open faced empanada tarts…perfect as an app for any cocktail party.
Purchase round empanada shells in the frozen section at the grocery. Fill, fold over, and crimp them with a fork. Fry in 350 degree oil until golden brown. They can even be baked (on a parchment lined cookie sheet) in a 375 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes.
You can also line mini muffin tins with the dough, fill and bake to make an open faced empanada – bake as above until golden brown and top with a slice of green olive.
August 06, 2015
Just about everyone I know loves crème brulee. It is the perfect dessert after any meal. Combined with our fresh strawberry pear soup it’s even more delicious.
I remember opening week at Bailey’s next to Old Hyde Park Village – Crème Brulee was one of the 3 desserts we were offering along with devil foods chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, and homemade apple pie with our homemade Madagascar vanilla ice cream.
While I knew how to cook, I literally had no idea how much to prep for guests. When we started, we were only opened 3 nights a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. I knew that we were going to be busy from the feedback we’d been getting from friends.
My thought was that people loved crème brulee – so I’d make a lot…not taking into account that we were serving two other desserts and everyone doesn’t order dessert. Oh how green I was. I decided to make 200 of these luscious creamy delights. Well, we sold about 75 over the three nights.
Actually, as I soon learned, those sales were really good. But we still had to figure out what to do with the remaining 125 ice cold crème brulee’s. We ended walking around to the various shops at Old Hyde Park Village giving them away – yes, all 125. People loved them. It turned out to be the best marketing tool ever. From then on, patrons flocked to us every night we were open.
CRÈME BRULEE INGREDIENTS
- 8 extra large egg yolks
- 1 vanilla bean pod – scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 quart heavy cream
Put the heavy cream in a medium size heavy bottom saucepan and place over medium low heat. Cut open and scrap 1 vanilla bean pod, and place the beans and the pod in the saucepan with the cream. Stir well. Let steep for about 30 minutes on medium low heat.
Separate yolks from the eggs and place in a medium size mixing bowl. Whisk in sugar until well blended. Add ½ cup of the heated cream mixture to temper the eggs so they will not cook. Add the remaining cream mixture, and stir until well combined. Strain the egg cream mixture into a different bowl.
Ladle the egg cream mixture into ramekins ¼” to the top. Place ramekins in a roasting pan – cover ramekins half way up with hot water. Place in a pre-heated 325 oven and bake until set but still a bit trembling in the center – approximately 40 to 45 minutes.
Let cool, then place in fridge until ice cold.
STEP FOUR – BRULEEING THE TOP – Serving
Liberally sprinkle sugar on the top of the chilled cream until well covered. Note: You can use white sugar, brown sugar, Turbinado sugar – it is your preference. I use just plain white sugar. For extra flavor however, I will let my used vanilla beans sit in granulated sugar for days – making a super vanilla sugar.
Torch the top with a small hand-held torch…sold at Williams Sonoma, and specialty stores like Michaels, and the Rolling Pin. Do not use a large propane torch – they are too powerful and tend to melt the creamy center. Let sit for about 3 minutes until the sugar hardens.
Top with fresh berries. I like serving mine with a strawberry pear soup (recipe below). It’s a bit unusual,but decadently delicious.
STRAWBERRY PEAR SOUP
- 2 cups fresh strawberries (hulled)
- 1 whole pear (peeled and cored)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ounce Grand Mariner
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until pureed. I like this texture of the puree, but if you want a finer smoother consistency, strain. Serve chilled in a 2 ounce jigger which is perfect for dipping each spoonful of the crème brulee