Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Eat Hoppin' John for Good Luck in 2011!

Want to start out your new year on a lucky note, then you need to eat some delicious Hoppin’ John!

What the heck are Hoppin' John you ask? It is a traditional rice and beans dish from the southern United States.  Eating Hoppin' John on New Years day is a said to bring luck and prosperity for the entire year! The tradition actually goes back to the middle ages where people in France and Spain would eat beans on New Years Day for good luck. Enough of the history lesson though, enjoy this recipe!

What you need:    
2½ cups black-eyed peas
4 tablespoons butter (peanut oil works but butter is definitely better!)
2 ham hocks (Don’t know what ham hocks are? No problem look here!)

2 onions, diced
8 cups water
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon garlic
2 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste

This first part is really important, soak the peas overnight in enough water to have them half covered, then in the morning drain em’, rinse em’, and start part 2!

Brown the ham hocks over medium heat in the butter or oil in a large stock pot. Don’t be lazy, make sure to brown those hocks on both sides! Then add the onions and sauté until tender.  In my calculations and past experiences this will take around 5 to 8 minutes.

Throw in the remaining ingredients(soaked black-eyed peas, water, crushed red pepper, garlic, 2 bay leaves, and black pepper). Now rev up that heat to bring it all to a boil, then bring it back down to a cool simmer and let it cook for sometime around 60 to 90 minutes or until your peas are tender. Toss in some final salt and pepper to taste, then serve over buttered white rice.

This should feed around 6 to 8 hungry mouths. Let me know what you think!

Cheers! Chef Mike

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spread the Love: Food Blogs You MUST Check Out 2!

In this week's version of Spread the Love I found 3 awesome websites that I just couldn't resist giving a shout out to, for really just being awesome and having a little bit of Christmas in them! (If you can't tell Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year!)

The Cupcake Blog
- I really don't need to say much about this one, if you love cupcakes, if you love cake, actually if you just love delicious sugary treats this is the place you need to check out! Tons of great designs and inspiration for you to make magic yourself! this picture should give you a taste of what your in for:
        (It would almost be hard to eat such a cute puppy or kitty in a santa hat)

 The Enchanted Cook - Peppermint Chocolate Ganache Mini Cupcakes and Chocolate Truffles with red, green, and white sprinkles add up to one amazing week of posts from the Enchanted Cook.  Love both, awesome pictures, great food choices, nice step by step guide for baking them yourself, and a touch of holiday spirit in each! Definitely worth your 15 minutes or more. If you don't believe me check this out:

The Dish Crawl - A fun concept for connecting people through food.  I love food, I love connecting with people so this is another easy win for a shout out. A cool way to set up a food adventure and try out new dishes give this a shout, maybe for a holiday date night! (if you live in one of the areas they provide service: Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, or Los Angeles)

 Look for fun Christmas Cookie Recipes coming from yours truly tomorrow! Cheers! Chef Mike

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Cookies 101 (An Awesome Infographic!)

Now if this doesn't bring out a little Christmas spirit in anyone I don't know what will! The entire image was a too monsterously awesome to fit on my humble little blog but give it a click to read the whole thing.  Really interesting to see the history of Christmas Cookies.  This has me pretty excited and I am going to be posting some great Christmas Cookie recipes the rest of the week and I hope you guys share some with me as well! 

If you want to put this on your website or blog the place I got it from ( told me to drop the code below the graphic on my web page. (I know nothing about this code stuff but posting this was really easy!)

Anyway, here is to Christmas being less then 2 weeks away and its time to enjoy the season, Happy Holidays! Chef Mike

 The Code:
 <a href=""><img src="" width="800" height="2000" /></a>

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spread the Love: Food Blogs You MUST Check Out!

“Each day I try to enjoy something from each of the four food groups: the bonbon group, the salty-snack group, the caffeine group, and the "whatever-the-thing-in-the-tinfoil-in-the-back-of-the-fridge-is" group!”

If this is your mentality on what you’ve been eating recently here are a few blogs you MUST check out for your taste-buds sake!  Trust me on this one:

Once Upon a Small Boston Kitchen: I love starting these shout outs to people who are doing more with less, describing her kitchen a s a “small alcove of space” in her apartment, she constantly is working with awesome recipes and takes great pictures to team up with them.  It’s holiday cookie season so please try her Snickerdoodle Brownies!

Beantown Baker:  What’s there not to love about this blog? It is so visually appealing you will feel like you are capable of eating the food right out of the screen! One of my favorite features about this blog is that you can see what she posted 1 or 2 years ago on this day from the current post. (it’s how I found these scrumptious mint brownies!)

Baking and Boys: The works of a mother are so commonly forgotten that giving Katrina a shout out here sounded like a great idea when it came up in my mind!  She has some fun with cooking, adding nice touches or remixes to recipes. Her blog has a nice family element to it that gives a real homely down to earth feel. Try her soft Nutella peanut butter cookies, they will be worth your time I promise!

Hope everyone is preparing for a nice weekend, and don’t worry your taste buds can thank me later for this one!

Cheers! Chef Mike

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Food Extravaganza!! (Fun Food Pictures)

Just wanted to share a couple of pictures from the past weekend's event.  Let me know if you are interested in the recipes for any of these!

Can you really be crabby.....

.... When crab legs are on the menu?

No need to think the sky is falling.....

... When the grilled chicken looks this good!

Do things get more Prime Time....

... Then these cuts of prime rib?

And finally should you fear the march of a moose....

... When the desserts are all so lined up?

Thanks for checking out this post I had a lot of fun with it! Again if your looking for recipes or have questions on these dishes let me know!
Cheers! Chef Mike

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Kale with Golden Raisins Salad Recipe

Craving some winter kale but don’t know how to get it into your diet? Don’t worry what you need is right below in 4 easy steps

Winter Kale with Golden Raisins
What you need to make it happen:
1 bunch of Dinosaur Kale (washed, de-stemmed, and coarsely chopped)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
4 garlic cloves (sliced)
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of golden raisins
2 tablespoons of seasoned organic rice vinegar (I personally recommend this brand) 
¼ cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dry thyme
(bonus sea salt and pepper to taste)

Partner in Crime (serve with) :
Rice or quinoa

How to make it happen:
Step 1: In a medium sauce pan, sauté the finely chopped onions and 4 sliced garlic cloves in olive oil on low to medium heat.  Season with thyme, salt and pepper to taste and let ingredients cook until they are pillow soft (On Chef Mike’s clock that’s about 3 minutes!).

Step 2: Add the 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, ¼ cup of chicken broth, and ½ cup of golden raisins to the mix, throw on the top and let the ingredients simmer for 1 minute. 

Step 3: Remove the top and add your star ingredient Dinosaur Kale to the top of the mixture, replace the top and cook at medium heat until the Kale is wilted and bright green. 

Step 4: Toss ingredients in the pan and serve with rice or quinoa.

Serves 2-4 people, if you have any questions please ask away!

cheers! Chef Mike

Monday, December 6, 2010

How Should Salad Be Served?!? (A Great Salad Debate!)

This weekend at work a couple of chef friends and I were having a fun little chat about the best way to serve salads: tossed, semi-tossed, or un-tossed. This little discussion has turned into quite the argument in our kitchen (I never knew people were so opinionated about salad!), so we are looking for some outside our kitchen input from you! Let's go to the evidence and break down the arguments for and against each of these styles!

Figure 1: The Classically Tossed Salad:

The nice green leaves flutter with color and are nicely complimented with tomatoes and peppers, along with the chefs choice on the amount of dressing added (unless otherwise specified by the patron). No effort needed here just grab your fork and chomp away!

The naysayers of the traditional salad are saying that the plating is not as "glamorous" as the un-tossed salad and a chef can add too much dressing/oil/vinegar/etc making the salad soggy, plus the mix of lettuce to other vegetables could be less then ideal for the patron. 

Figure 2: The Semi-Tossed Salad:

Now your taking a look at the semi-tossed salad with a mix of chicken, mango, cucumber and almonds where the patron has the opportunity to add dressing and lettuce as they see fit.  This obviously gives the user an opportunity to put their own twist on a dish! The plating style  is visually preferred by some with its nice balance of color and ingredients. 

Those who are against this method say "if you toss half the salad why not just go for the whole thing and give it a "fresher" feel."  Other comments being thrown around focus on the lettuce, asking the question, "who really wants to peel a head of lettuce while they are eating, is that not an activity for the preparation?"

Finally we have Figure 3: The Un-Tossed Salad:

What you see is what you get here, steak on top, tomatoes on the side, lettuce and carrots below, a split egg on either side, with a touch of onions near the back.  The ultimate salad for the picky eater, have what you want, add what you want, mix, match and enjoy! To make plating a visually appealing here a chef must take time to properly organize the ingredients.

Those who are not fans of the un-tossed salad serving method have been saying: "why not just go to the grocery store, its essentially the same thing" and "there is no real culinary skill involved in putting this together, the quality of the salad is determined by the users ambition not the chef's."

So internet foodies, what's your vote! Let us know what you prefer because in the end the consumer(eater) is always right!

Happy Monday, Chef Mike 
(Recipes for 2 of the above to come later this week!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shout Outs for Good Eating

"A friend got some vinegar in his ear, now he suffers from pickled hearing."

In the spirit of this semi off beat food joke I wanted to give a shout out to a couple of food blogs that I have enjoyed reading this week, for one reason or another! If you have the time (and really even if you don't) give these a few minutes of your time:

Polish Classic Cooking - The title may not be the most intriguing, but what isn't touching about a husband and wife cooking team that has been making delicious food together for over 40 years! Really inspiring to all the aspiring chefs out there to keep at it. Try making their Hunter's Stew, hearty food for a rainy day.

Kitchen Hideaway - We all want to have beautiful extravagant kitchens with the latest and greatest appliances at our disposal, so when I find someone cooking great dishes in a place that is less than ideal my respect for them grows Usain Bolt fast. She gets the job done in a kitchen that is 15 square feet! 15 SQUARE FEET! I tip my hat to you mam! Check out her healthy approach to Burgers and Fries.  

The Pink Fork - With its hip name and scheme this blog is not always about food, but that doesn't keep all the posts from being entertaining.  The food quality is top notch too, trust me I used the Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates (they are a true mouthful both saying the name and eating them!) as a special appetizer this week and they were such a hit I am bringing them back next week.  Check them out!

That's all for today, I hope everyone is in good holiday spirits!