Wednesday, November 23, 2011

turkey day tips from chef Anthony Bourdain

it may not look as pretty but you dont have to dry out that breast and catch salmonella......

the minstrels culinary endeavors: Preview "turkey day tips from chef Anthony Bourdain"

the minstrels culinary endeavors: Preview "turkey day tips from chef Anthony Bourdain"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 silly fiddlehead!!!

FIDDLEHEADS......almost sounds like a sexual innuendo..
and taste...the taste suits the name.
the beautiful offspring of the fern babies....
a taste like asparagus and spinach making sweet love
and only available in the early spring.
one month or two depending where you live.
Freezzz them if you know how to pick them,
they can last you till autumn if you take care of these
lovely greens...

easy like sunday mornings......
sweat your fresh garlic in butter/extra virgin olive oil
and toss the fiddleheads with loving care...add a large pinch of salt and pepper and stir stir stir for 3-4 minutes and then cover to steam for another 5 minutes covered to finish steaming.....
enjoy w orgasmic nature as it takes YOU for a ride...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


native american smoked salmon

I was sitting in my easy chair, listening to my Bob Dylan and trying to think of easy appetizers and how my ex Jamie (who is Jewish) forced/made me eat some of her LOX and bagels w cream cheese and red onion when i was around 20 years old. I would wake up hazy, looking for some water or milk and i get bagel,smoked salmon, raw red onion and this FREAKED me out. It appeared to be a standard breakfast on at least the weekends at her house. I have tried it several times since I was 18, The  most memorable variation i had were in different forms like SUSHI! aka THE JAPANESE BAGEL as she called it one day to me, HER being from the Baltimore and Frederick Maryland and D.C. region of eastern U.S. I believe its more called the Philadelphia Roll(recipe)where I'm from and in NYC. In any of the cases its only reference to the worlds best bagels (arguably i know) which are made in the above mentioned cities and surrounding areas. I found i like this MUCH better probably because its more mild and is 'traditionally' made w NOVA SCOTIA LOX which is different and more mild than other smoked salmon due to the fact that it is cold smoked and in a light BRINE (salt is what makes it a brine) and not smoked like the Native Americans did and still do in northern California...whole fish are speared and put around a fire. Also the sushi rolls have cucumber and sometimes avocado which helps mellow out the fishiness that i never cared for.
I was racking my brain for a faster and different way to produce something similar but without having to cook the sushi rice and roll it which start to finish take more than a half hour and i thought about using the

LAVASH BREAD a Middle Eastern flat bread that i love and thought of 2 ways to make some quick variations of these see Lavash bread in circular form and in these rectangular forms which is ideal for these two ideas...a roll up wheels and a pizza!!

The first, a roll up could be called the 'middle eastern jewish bagel' and involves (this is my take and recipe) spreading creme fraich (like a sour cream),red onions and chives,  and your favorite, cold smoke and brined (and peppered if ya can find it!) salmon and some capers and  rolling it up like a small thin roll, then you would use toothpicks to pin them down this way in one inch pieces and cut them so look like what is to the right (though this is not the pix...i didnt have the ingredients....and thats it!!!! i could produce 10 rolls (eight pieces per roll) in 10 minutes!

         The second is a pizza. for this you could do this on a grill or in an oven that you are now going to preheat to 450. Instead of using cream cheese i will use my favorite goat cheese, CHEVRE and i smash it all over the lavash bread and sprinkle with minced red onions and capers (optional, but essential for me!!)  and put it either on a greased cookie can fit 2 or maybe 3 pieces of bread on it...and put it in the oven for 5 minutes, take it out and get it off the cookie sheet fast so it doesnt turn into crackers! and top with your favorite brined cold smoked salmon (you can find it in most organic shops like Whole Foods) and cut into 2 halves and enjoy!!!! This goes to Jamie and her daughter Cassidy who love this .Cass would put smoked eel on hers too!!.her son Dakota never liked weird stuff like this and probably still doesn't huh girl?
There you have it, 2 really quick appetizers for all you's (for Fran!) Jewish Lox and Bagel lovers!!

A variation for me? i would top the pizza with some really nice basil ribbons and Prosciutto.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The 101 (aromatics) and a little medicine...feed your head..

Aromatics - these are the 'bread and butter' that flavors all the dishes...NO NOT REALLY BREAD OR BUTTER.....
heres an analogy.... Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley   these guys are the main star/attraction
but does anybody know their musicians/band members? as usual the things that make them so good are the musicians or aka.... the aromatics....get it? now here are some of the most important aromatics that make the culinary world go round..
2 parts Onions 1 part Carrots or Parsnip and 1 part Celery.....these 3 combined ..they are are whats called in French as Mirepoix....though im from eastern U.S......but in
Europe and sometimes on the west coast they use parsnips instead of carrots. This is because parsnips have been/are more plentiful there for centuries.
(and west  I highly suggest you try them if you like carrots..they are quite good!

HERE ARE SOME MEDICINAL VALUE OF ONIONS.  besides having antibacterial, anti-fungal and even helping control blood pressure, they also are known to be anti inflammatory, which is a good thing for people w bronchitis

AN INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT, yet little known fact about carrots......
beta carotene and other nutrients, in carrots (and i assume parsnips cause of family roots, get it!!;-) are not absorbed/used in our body unless cooked or juiced. more information on that HERE

AND DID YOU KNOW THAT CELERY  CONTAINS NEGATIVE CALORIES!!!(raw i think) AND yes..i know most readers dont care about or want to actually think about this stuff..or it make no let me try and make it easy for ya to understand...BASICALLY it takes our body more calories to digest celery than the celery actually contains.
Calories are units of energy. Lets say calories are like firewood. We all need them to keep warm. so if a food has 10 pieces of wood and you only need 5 to keep warm, then you have 5 extra pieces. After a while if you keep collecting extra wood you will need someplace to store them like a shed. (or your stomach,ass or thighs!!) Now lets say you live in a hot area and really dont need/want all that extra wood and someone trades you one nice piece of wood art for 10 pieces of your wood. This is a good thing for both of you right??! The more wood you dont need you should trade for fine art..hence losing what in reality is the fat that you were storing. Get it? sorry, thats the best i could think of for the time being. ANYWAY eating raw celery is a great thing if you are trying to lose weight.

  In Louisiana, especially New Orleans they use a similar combo but sweet bell peppers instead of carrots/parsnips....actually its a big part of Nawlins' cooking..dirty rice, GUMBO, rice n beans, Jambalaya etc.. this is known as THE HOLY TRINITY
irony being ironic this has no reference THE TRINITY which means different things in a few religions.

Last but by NO MEANS least is Garlic.  speaking of religion this is like the miracle drug/aromatic/bulb/of tthe world. If there is a better/more diverse w the healing powers of garlic...I havent heard of it! I use to think that you should put it on EVERYTHING but have grown up and understand that sometimes simplicity is better. Every once in a while i get servers that tell me the customer is alergic to garlic..but almost always its a couple on a first date who think that the hopeful lover would never have sex with them if they kissed them with garlic on their breath!!! I dont think i ever dated a woman who didnt like to kiss me cause of garlic breath.
I also used to think there was no such thing as too much garlic till i had an Ethiopian appatizer of torn Crepe(thin pancake...i dont know the name in Ethiopia) raw garlic, vinegar and a little salt...AND IVE EATEN A WHOLE, RAW CLOVE OF its wonderful antiseptic powers
ive noticed it keeps off Ticks and other insects..and from the link above
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diaphoretic(increases sweating), diuretic, expectorant, stimulant. Many marvellous effects and healing powers have been ascribed to Garlic.
As an antiseptic, its use has long been recognized. In the late war it was widely employed in the control of suppuration in wounds. The raw juice is expressed, diluted with water, and put on swabs of sterilized Sphagnum moss, which are applied to the wound. Where this treatment has been given, it has been proved that there have been no septic results, and the lives of thousands of men have been saved by its use.

 now how to cook this is never a matter of preference when cooking these aromatics to make sauces,stews,broths or soups. It is here i need to differentiate two terms because MANY people i have talked to confuse the meanings or actually dont know what the difference is.
#1. to SWEAT these vegetables means you put oil and the vegetables in a cold pan and cook them on low until the onions become translucent. You should also add a nice pinch of salt now to help draw out the moisture. It doesn't matter whether it is done in a pot or a saute pan.
#2. to SAUTE' literally means 'to jump' and is done by heating a pan nice and hot and adding oil till it starts to ripple and/or wisps of smoke appear. This is not recommended when cooking these as you are likely to burn the onions well before the carrots are done.  GOT IT? To reitterate....just because you cook it in a saute pan does not mean you are sauteing it. just like cooking it in a pot mean that you are 'potting' your food ;-)
WHEN ITS DONE add your water.. i use equal parts water to vegetables. I.E. if you used 2 cups of onions,1 cup of carrots, 1 cup of celery (= 4 cups) then i would add 4 cups of water. After an hour almost if not all of the flavor is extracted in the water and you can strain it if you want a clear broth or puree is with a mixer to give it a nice body and mouth feel..which i like in the winter months.... if you pureed it then you have now what is called a bisque.
now you have the base to make anything from chicken stock, lobster bisque, Pho'(a beef vietnamese soup),roast beef and much MUCH more..
If you are roasting a whole chicken, i like to cut out the back bone so it spreads out and cooks more evenly and season it and place it on a bed of mirepoix, cover it w aluminum foil until almost done then take off the foil and crank the oven to 450 deg. for the last 10 min. to crisp up the skin and let rest, meanwhile add the water to the roasting pan and simmer it for an hour on the stovetop or in the oven (simmer = around 200 deg.)
or i just buy a rotisserie chicken for 6 bucks already cooked, strip it and throw the carcass w the veggies and add just enough water to cover.
For seasoning i add about 5 bay leaves and a large pinch of peppercorns and salt for each carcass...makes about a quart of stock. 
What is the difference between stock and broth you may ask? Stock is made from bones and contains gelatin and collagen which are both good for your joints and bones and BROTH is made from the meat of the animal or fish/shell fish.
.'can ya dig it? I KNEW THAT YOU COULD!! said James Brown'///

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mediterranean buffet...Bitar's on 10th and Federal in S. Philly

AHHHHHH the Med Spread i call it...i dont normally do reviews of restaurants, but every time i go to Philadelphia on the south side of Washington ave (actually the address is the corner of 10th and Federal)
I go to the small eatery/deli  BITAR'S for my middle eastern fix. Im usually feeling lazy from travelling the 9 hours of bus rides it takes for me traveling between Portland Me, Boston Mass and Philadelphia so i pick up a few things at the deli and take them around the corner at my friend, The Force's house.

Once home i simply turn the oven to 350 heat up the pre-made fallafel balls and some of my favorite bread known as  Manakish, a pita bread baked w olive oil and a spice mix called zaatar. (in this case its sumac, tyme and sesame seeds) Pictured above is the usual that i get at the deli. From top left to right is Hummus, Dolmas (grape leaves stuffed w rice, minced onions and mint leaves w olive oil and lemon juice. Growing up in S. Jersey there were many diners run by Greeks, w salad bars that often included dolmas, kalamata olives and feta cheese. Falafel balls (made from ground chick peas) and Tabbouleh (diced tomato, parsley, mint, onions spiced w a little allspice and bulgar wheat) ((a course ground wheat)) rounds out the richness w some zing from the lemon juice.
  Not shown in the picture is the tahini dressing (sesame paste) and tatziki sauce (recipe) (cucumber yogurt sauce) and feta cheese and roasted red peppers. They, of course, have babaghanoush (like hummus but made w eggplant instead of chic peas (aka garbanzo beans) as well.
  If im eating there then i always get the Gyro's with lamb/beef combonation w Tatziki sauce, or some times i get the platters with chicken kababs w all the fixens, including wonderful pickled turnips and olives from the Mediterranean region.                                                     For dessert there is always the crowd pleasin walnut Baklava.

I suggest for any newbies to Mediterranean food order a sample platter and mix and match the endless combination's using the pita or Manakish for a utensil. If you are lucky enough to find it,buy extra manakish and freeze it since i rarely see this gem of a bread. (just make sure you heat it up in the oven after you defrost it!


Friday, November 12, 2010

shrooms of life, fungus among us....

mushrooms....fungus...oh yea baby.....either loved or hated by people depending how well you can cook them..The basic principals of sauteing the fungus that is full of niacin and a chemical called 'glutamic acid' that combined with the salt enhances your salvitory glands and delivers such a beautiful punch of flavor straight to your 'hopefully' educated palate. Mushrooms i find are like a nice aged cheese (especially blue cheese!)
as both deliver a delicious 'earthy' flavor solo in and around and with ANY protein.

For this i used some GHEE (clarified butter), but sometimes i use a 'half and half' blend of butter and olive oil....brought till the oil just begins to let out wisps of smoke then i saute' on high, salting and fresh grinds of black pepper......after a minute or 2 I then toss or stir.(not too much though you want them to brown nicely) After about 5 minutes the shrooms give out much of their liquid and if you see brown bits (aka 'fond' or foundation)
sticking to the bottom of yer heavy bottom pan then hit it with brandy, veg or chicken broth for maximum flavor and turn off the heat once most or all of the liquid evaporates. then i marinade/hold them in olive oil and add a little olive brine left over from the olive bar olives i always have in the fridge...i marinade them w olives, feta cheese and roasted red peppers and pickled pepperincinis and minced garlic....keeps good in the fridge for  at least 2 weeks because of the salt and oil from the marinade..... this i put in any dish...especially cheap cuts of chicken thighs and pork loin scraps and stirred into my brown basmatti rice!!

from the website
Mushrooms are good sources of three essential B-vitamins: riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. Mushrooms are a particularly rich source of riboflavin: one portabella mushroom takes care of nearly one-third our RDA; a serving of white or crimini mushrooms supplies one-quarter of what we need daily."

if you remember not liking mushrooms, you must try them again, cooked differently to fully understand the type and most food tastes differently as your taste buds change and grow as we grow. Let there be fungus among us.
AN IMPORTANT TIP..ONLY BUY FROM REPUTABLE DEALERS, WASH WILD MUSHROOMS BUT IF YOU SEE NO SIGNS OF DIRT ON COMMERCIAL SHROOMS..(such as white button and crimini's) THEY MOST LIKELY have been cleaned keep them dry.. If you have dirty shrooms, then wash them gently and dry them with towels before the big SAUTE' dont want to saute wet fungus (water and hot oil get along so nice!).not as good trust me. once you discover the difference between real sauteed shrooms and the canned mushrooms they put on many pizzas, you will never go back to canned stuff i can promise you!!!


one of my favorite way to eat these brined mushrooms is to use some fresh lunchmeat like salami, roast beef or turkey to pick up and consume your edible fungus.   ;-)