This year I was lucky enough to cook a private dinner for an amazing group of people from the local Relay for Life. It had been years since I had done an event like this, but I knew no matter what I would make sure they had a dinner to remember. This is the first of four posts and the start of a delicious and fun evening. I am a huge fan of cheese with fruit as an appetizer and it has been a long time since I have found anyone that doesn’t love cheese. This recipe combines the creaminess of brie, texture of a crispy fresh baguette, sweetness of honey glazed pear and the spice from the walnuts. My guests called it a flavor explosion and you are sure to enjoy it too.
Many of my favorite recipes were either accidents, twists on something I read, or things taught to me I just couldn't help but stop and write it down. This is my Leather Bound Book.
A couple of weeks ago I went on vacation to my favorite beach in the world. Normally my vacations consist of eating out for 2 meals a day, only going to locally owned places of course. When I dine out, I want it to be an event. I want to meet the Chef or the owner and I want to know the history of the place and their experiences. I started off saying “normally”, because this year we tried doing something different. Lucky me, I cooked lunch and dinner often. One of the nights I decided to do something I have never done at home: Make meatballs. I remember making meatballs with my Mema Ellie when I was a child, but not at home since I became a Chef. Since I was making it for my girlfriend, I did it a little different than Mema Ellie’s or I that do at my restaurant.
This past May I have officially been doing this for a decade. To me this exciting because when I would correct my superiors naively, they would always be able to say, “I’ve been doing this over a decade” or some vulgar version of that. Now I can officially say that to my employees. Ten years is nothing compared to the Chefs with thirty plus years, but it still feels good. With only ten years, I still have much to learn, and every once in a while I come up with something I have never done before. It is normally a hit or miss if I like it, this time was definitely a hit. I paired these fritters with an easy Jalapeño Mustard Dip which is so simple to make.
I like to remind my girlfriend how lucky she is to have a Chef cooking gourmet food for her once a week. I also ask her to name one friend of hers that gets to have steak all the time. So, in turn she reminded me ever so nicely that it had been ages since I made steak at home. So I decided to surprise her with my new favorite cut: Skirt Steak. Skirt steak has a gorgeous marbling throughout which makes it scream with flavor. I mixed up a quick, but tasty, paprika butter to spread across the top and a side of southern corn salsa which really accentuated the smoky flavor of the paprika butter.
Like I have said in previous posts, I like to challenge myself daily. Previously I had never had a chicken burger I liked. I am a red meat kind of guy through and through. To me my burger should still have a nice blood red color before I eat it, so of course chicken was always out of the question. A few months ago I had a chicken burger at a popular Pittsburgh restaurant and I knew I would be able to make a better version of it without asking the Chef for his recipe. After a few weeks of deliberate thought, I decided exactly how. Every chicken burger I had in the past was just plain chicken meat, sometimes it had chopped vegetables in it, but other than that it was always very plain. I decided to mix it with fresh bread, some sautéed vegetables and a little extra spice. The relish I made with fresh mangos and bell peppers made this burger really pop.