Thursday, March 31, 2011

farm to table...... ink?

I am, like many in the industry am heavily into tattoos.  In fact I am fairly, heavily tattooed.  There's something about the adrenaline rush.  It's a good hurt.  My tats represent me and are all extremely meaningful to me.  So obviously some have to do with food.

Above is one of many farm paintings by artist Walt Curlee.  Yes, this painting is being adapted to fit my entire right arm.  In fact, the outline is done and today I just got the first shading and color.  The sky to be exact.  It looks awesome.  Those guys at Addictions know there shit!

No, I did not grow up on a farm, but the term farm to table is near and dear to me.  To be able to cook with the freshest, best variety of product while enabling a sustainable, local friendly environment, amazing!  Sure it makes you look good, bonus!  But what it really does is make me feel good.  It moves me to be able to talk to the person, a friendly face, that just brought me a pig from their farm.  Which I know was humanely and respectfully treated.  Thats the kind of world(business) I want to be a part of.

So I pay homage with this tat for something that makes me feel good.  And to me something that gives me that power is rare and deserves all the respect and love and appreciation that I can give back.  And it looks pretty badass too.

FYI it should be fully complete by the end of the year, and I should definitely have a working camera by then.  In case all the many followers are dying to get a look.

blais on!

Top chef all-stars aired last night, and my pick(most peoples pick) won it all, Richard Blais.  Not to bring down Mike Isabella whatsoever.  He is a great chef as well.  I am definitely stealing that pepperoni sauce idea.  I do believe though Richie deserved it more.  He has displayed his amazing techniques and mind blowing ideas for two whole seasons now and finally pulled off what I feel he earned in his original season.
I must say, I wish Richie would have stayed with his original dessert idea, the Captain Crunch ice cream.  It would have been tastier and simpler than his foie disaster.  The original idea reminded me of a dessert me and one of my bro's came up with.  Captain Crunch panna cotta with a Crunch Berry compote and Count Chocula anglaise with Frankenberry marshmallow shavings.  I love desserts with cereal!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

look at all that meat.... ain't she the bitter end!

No no, I'm sorry to deceive you.  I'm not talking about fat chicks (sorry to all the fat chicks out there who might be offended, I have no problems with you in fact I've had me a few in my day).  Anyways, I would be referring to the "nasty bits" as that tool Tony Bourdain would call them (alright he's not really a tool I'm just being crazy and jealous, of course I would sell out too lol).  Man, I get off track real easily.  Once again the "nasty bits" mainly referring to beef in this instance.  Not that I don't love pig's head or trotters, organs etc(what do you think is in most pork sausage).  What is my favorite parts of the cow?  How about you?  Honestly I don't care about yours hehe.
 short ribs

Ok you got me, hardly a nasty cut, but it wasn't always so freaking popular.  They weren't throw aways or anything but they once were referred to as peasant cuts.  These in particular short ribs are of the wagyu nature.  Marbled with oh so delicious fat that melts on your butcher's block before you can even finish trimming them.  I braised some up today (no I know thats not the only way to cook these spendy guys up but its my favorite).  I like to sear them in some sesame oil.  It gives them another layer of flavor adding a toasty aroma.  And thats what cooking is all about in my eyes.  Layers of flavor! After they're all seared off I saute my mirepoix in the fat and juices.  I like to add some leeks, shallots, and mushrooms (the cheap ones) to the mix as well.  Layer the flavor baby.  I then toss in some tomato paste, deglaze with some red wine, and top off with stock.  Toss in a bouquet garni and throw it in the oven for a few hours.  It's really hard to be depressed when these babies come out of the oven.


Yep, I lied.  Oxtail is my favorite piece of the cow.  No bull lol!  Sorry my jokes stink.  I braise this cut as well.  The ending result is the beefiest flavor I've ever tasted.  When I get them they are normally whole, but you would be wise to have them precut.  I don't sear them the same way though.  I like to toss them right on the grill and get that nice charred smoky flavor.  Otherwise I treat them about the same as old chuck.  When they come out of the oven and they have cooled I pull them out of the liquid.  I pick the meat and throw the bones back in the liquid and reduce to half.  I strain and then add the meat with some fresh mirepoix finely diced, and reduce 'til the liquid it almost gone.  Delicious with a many variety of options.  Oxtail marmalade is a favorite.  When your mixture cools it will gelatinize, and to be honest I eat it cold too.
beef tongue

No joke the best pot roast you'll ever eat.  Personally I like to make cold cuts out of them as well.  A little extra work though.  A lot of soaking time in ice water and some scrubbing of the thistles.  Probably a brining stage and then a braise.  After the braise you carefully peel the things like a banana.  Oooo and finally inside you have your delicious meat.  I am currently contemplating the task of cow tongue pastrami.


So technically it's not meat, but thats ok it's one of the most magical pieces on our mooing friends.  Although I have become aware of a few different types of tripe, honeycomb is the only one of which I have ever worked with.  Tripe is actually the stuff that the lines the stomach.  Gross right?  Wrong!  It can be a slight rubbery, but thats why you boil it for so long.  After boiling it for many hours with various ingredients (I tried alot of different things such as beer, buttermilk, etc. etc.) I've tossed it in some soup, menudo.  No not the Puerto Rican boy band (they are so great though lol).  I usually use some pork hocks and other various parts in this traditional Mexican stew.  Sometimes after boiling I brine the tripe and then batter and fry it.  Tripe fritters, good in sandwiches, pastas, or even on there own as a calamari look-a-like.  It's also known for it's hangover curing abilities.

There's many more untraditional parts I love. Which are actually more traditional than not.  We used to be more of a nose to tail culture.  I am ecstatic though to see a revival of these traditions in my generation.  It makes me feel like I'm doing right by my grandmother, God rest her soul.

Don't get me wrong though I love a good steak whether it's a tenderloin or a hangar, a ribeye or a skirt.  Especially topped with some bone marrow.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

gettin' drunk so i'll make it short and bitter and sweet and delicious and.....

At times it is not only food that aids in the healing of a broken soul.  Actually quite often after hours (sometimes during hours) alcohol lends a hand.  To be more specific, beer lends it's frothy hand.  To be even more specific Widmer Brothers Beer lends it's delicately and amazingly delicious, frothy, and of course  alcoholic fist.  Oowah muy freiakeen gowad!  These guys make some of my favorite beer.  Much props to my and hopefully yours soon, favorite brewing company!  Man, I love beer.
 These are the two Widmer's selections that aided me in this afternoon's pleasant moments of self- therapeutic imbibing.  Drifter, oh so delicious with accents of grapefruits, combing with the bitter hops in such an original way.  It's blows other pale ales out of the water.  Yes I am aware I sound like a putts, but leave me alone. It's the little things in life that keep me going.  Easily my most favorite beer in the world.
Next up, the legend, the beer, the Widmer Brother's Deadlift!  The hops in this beer will blow your ass right off your stool.  Finally, a beer so tough that can rock your taste buds, but without the heaviness of others to end your night early.  Did I mention it's 8.6 percent alcohol by volume?  It's like drinking to beers for the price of one.  Sorry Two-Hearted you're amazing but you can't compete!

Seriously though I started something I must go finish.  Which is drink 'til I can't feel feelings anymore.  By the way it's ok to get cheap after a few.  After all Drifter might be my favorite, but PBR is my savior.

Monday, March 28, 2011

sad dirty duck

"Live it up!" they say.  "Life is too short!"  Well I'd say sometimes life feels too entirely long.  It's funny how one day can grab you by the heart and squeeze and pulverize 'til you can't breath (not the funny thing quite yet).  Time some how slows down.  Everything seems dull and uninteresting.  The person you were supposed to spend your life with decides their going to do it with someone else instead.  Life just seems like an endless pot of shit stew.  All full and steamy just for me.  How could this be happening to me?  How could I be so forgotten in the eyes of whomever is in charge of this messy place?  And then after hours of trying to sleep and finally succeeding (if you can call it that), a funny thing happens.........

I wake up!  Another day has come and work will not wait for me or my heart to pick itself up.  The real funny thing, and by funny I mean:  peculiar, remarkable etc....  I start my daily routine:  brush teeth, take care of the dogs, drive to work, and begin my Monday new menu prep;   And I start to feel good!  Not like happy everythings going to be ok good, but GOOD!  The food is healing me.  Thats one of many reasons I love cooking and food.  It can, at times, transport me to a whole new place where I can just concentrate on my own self expression as it applies to food of course.  And to be more particular out of the many things I have served up today for this instance I would say.............

the duck muffaletta.

Yes it's just a sandwich, and no, I do not work at a sandwich shop.  But there wouldn't be anything wrong with that if I did.  Anyways,  most likely you know what a muffaletta sandwich is.  This is just a twist on something of course has been done many times before (are you getting the theme here).  It's not just the sandwich itself, but the process of getting to the final finished product.  Thats the healing.  And it started days ago.  I take the legs, thighs, and don't forget the duck necks i have left after saving the breasts for another use and put them on a dry salt and sugar brine (you're thinking cure but trust me not exactly the same thing) for a few hours up to a whole day.  I then rinse and place submerged in previously rendered duck fat (kitchen gold).  Toss it in the oven slow and low for up to 3-4 hours.  I then let it rest over night in the fat to cool down.  Duck confit is favorite of course.  This gets stacked on house made siciliano bread with mangelitsa capicola.  Who doesn't love pig?  And personally I find nothing wrong with buying in pre made products if they are of the highest quality.  Which mangelitsa pigs are (google them if you don't know what I'm talking about).  I then take giardeniera, which is a standard, pickled hot vegetable mix I made the week prior (it takes a good week to make proper g-niera),  and tempura it and toss on the confit.  I then drizzle it with a duck fat aioli made using some of the excess rendered fat. Top it with mozzarella and give the top bun a good smoosh.  Thats healing, thats comfort.  That is my freedom. Sure the headcheese I made last week and am trying to serve this week equally makes me feel good.   I thought I'd just choose one thing and go with it for the sake of the explanation.  Seriously though you want to have a good time get yourself a pig's head and make yourself some headcheese.  Thats just good old delicious fun.  Don't believe me, ask your grandmother!

Sorry no pics my camera is busted.  Working on that for future posts that no one will probably read anyways.  "Yoor jast sooow negateevvvva!  Stoppit alredeee!"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

what kind of bees make milk?...... boo-bees!

A true blue American entrepreneur.  Bob's Burgers is a freakishly original, amazingly disturbing, diabolically hilarious show about a man, his deranged family, and his burger shop.  If you haven't seen it seriously check it out.  When I need a laugh (and most of the time I really do) Bob and his burgers are there  to bring me tears of laughter.  I am borderline obsessed! And I can't stop talking like his New Jersey accented wife Linda.  Ooohh moy gowad, alraheet alredee!

my first time

Who remembers their first time?  Who can actually pin point the moments in your lives that sent you in motion bringing you to this moment right now?  Why did I choose this profession?  I'm not much of a writer and as a cook I'm all the way here at the bottom.  You see though, I love it.  Nothing else can take my mind and set it so free with thee endless possibilities and combinations that make up what we call gastronomy.  FOOD!  Now I'm not a chef, but someday I will be.  Right now I'm just a sad guy with a rough, troubled career path I've chosen for myself and fallen so much in love with.  I can't wait to learn more everyday.  Sure, like the great (lol) Feran Adria once said,  everything's been done, so it's up to us to do it in a way that hasn't been seen.  Yea everything has been done, but I haven't done it all.  Not by a long shot.  It's up to me to do it my way with integrity, inquisitiveness, creativity, unbiased etc. etc..

I've fallen down many times in this life, and I will fall down again and again.  It's this right now; it's food that is helping me get up.  I don't know what it is I am supposed to be achieving with this, but I do know it's one hundred percent selfish.  This is for me.  I don't know and I don't care if anyone will ever read this. I'm broken.  I am sad.  And I am dirty.