Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beer Dinner Recap

The beer dinner last Sunday went off without a hitch.  The beers were outstanding and the company wasn't bad either.  Here are a few pics from the night. These are just a few pics, acknowledgments and thank you's. 

Thanks to Ben Flanner,  the dinner was to benefit him and he brought us some great stuff to use for the dinner.

Roasted Squash Panzanella
Greenport Harbor Brewing Co.‘s brew, Hopnami IPA.  Very tasty stuff.
Lamb Tagine with root vegetables and preserved lemon.
Thanks again to the Mast Brothers for their Chocolate donation.
Many thanks to TJ, Stacey, and Advil.  Without whom this meal would not have happened.

Samuel Merrit, the night's unofficial MC and beer expert and myself.
Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding, simple but yummy. And the topic of next month's newsletter, so sign up.

Many thanks to Jimmy Carbone for putting this event together, hosting it and inviting me to cook. It was a gas.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


It's set.
I'm going to be teaching classes over at Astor Center. Here are the class descriptions.

Know Your Knife- B.Y.O.K
Sat. Nov. 23rd (Get Tickets Here)
Are you having trouble at the cutting board? This is the class for you. Stepping up your knife know-how can really speed things up in the kitchen. This hands-on class is designed to simplify all of the slicing and dicing that might otherwise scare you away from a recipe. Plan to bring your own knife and anything you use to maintain it. Expect to learn everything you ever wanted to know about knives but were afraid to ask. We’ll cover proper knife care including; maintenance, honing, and how to actually sharpen your own blade.
Once your knife is sharp, you’ll practice all of the classic cuts and some not-so-classic cuts. All of your efforts will yield some tasty dishes too. Learn how to make a bright five-onion pho with ginger beef tartare, followed by a potato “risotto” with duck hash. We will also be making a winter vegetable caponata with grilled fish and a gooey chocolate bread pudding to top it all off.

Everything Tastes Like Chicken
Sat. Dec 18th (get tickets here)
In this class we’ll cover everything chicken! We’ll talk about how our winged friends are raised, what sets one breed apart from another, and show you how to read and fully understand a poultry label (a surprisingly tricky endeavor). We’ll cover how to take a bird apart piece by piece and then go over how to properly cook each and every morsel.
We’ll make a perfectly a poached breast in apple cider to accompany southern fried leg quarters. We’ll make a silky liver pate and learn the ins and outs to making a truly great stock. The stock will go into an Eastern European chicken soup with herb speatzle and we’ll finish it all off with a Moroccan chicken tagine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My husband loves chili pepper, but I just can't take the heat. Any ideas for some middle ground?

It’s chili season, the long awaited pepper pods are like confetti on on the farm stand. But with this decoration comes a niche market of sadomasochistic consumers who will tolerate any amount of pain to experience the pleasure of the right pepper. The chocolate habanero . . . the golden ghost, the pequin, the siam hot and the scarlet lantern. Just a few of the the tools of torture used behind cosed doors as a delicious delivery device.

Fortunately for the general public, there are some lesser known and less painful chilies out there. Usually refered to as seasoning peppers, they’re just as delicious, but without the agony. They can be hard to come by, but if you pay attention and do a little asking around, chances are you could get your hand on some. They’ll be hiding out next to piles of their excruciating cousins. One of these peppers will change how you think about chilis.

It’s like an olfactory illusion, you bite into one of these chilies and all of that incredible perfume and flavor explode into your senses, and your brain tells your body to brace itself for the searing pain that usually comes along with such amazing zing, but . . . . nothing. Just great taste. It’s like lightning without thunder.
For anyone out there who loves flavor but can’t stand the heat you should go out of your way to scout out some of these special varieties of not-so-hot chili peppers.
Think of them as gateway pepper, designed by mother nature to let the people who completely avoid spice to know what all of the hubbub is about. They’ll open your mind to the flavor profile

If you’re in or around New York City you can try to hit up Eckerton Hill Farm’s stand on Wednesdays and Saturdays for these tasty treats. They’ll flip-flop your world.

The Grenada Seasoning Pepper

Trinidad Seasoning Pepper

Aji Dulce

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beer Dinner to Benefit a New York Rooftop Farmer

If you live here long enough, it's easy to walk down almost any New York City street and forget that there are no trees in sight. In the real world, it's all a dandelion sprout can do to survive foot traffic and constipated canines. So, when word spreads about a rooftop oasis of green, we can only stare at brick and mortar and wonder if they're really up there.Well they are. And oasis? Well, there’s not a better word.

It's a little surreal. Standing in the manicured entrance to an office building next to a couple of dudes covered in dirt. Your mind runs wild with scenarios of who they are and why they're there. What's really happening out in Long Island City up towards the sky? Ben Flanner is running a full-on farm from the roof top of a commercial structure. It's called: “Brooklyn Grange.” Along with some great conventional items, there are more unique items dangling from plants: little purple tomatillos, and fresh “green” coriander seeds. Ben cranks out some pretty great stuff up there, and it's harvest time.

On Sunday, September 26th there's going to be a harvest dinner hosted at Jimmy's no. 43, and please excuse the shameless self-promotion, but I'm gonna cook the thing. With the help of Samuel Merrit, we'll be pairing beers from nano and nomad breweries with local tasty bites like smoked trout, apple and dandelion salad and lamb shank tagine, utilizing produce from Brooklyn Grange Farm. Here's the Menu along with the beers and brewers:

Circulated (w/ Old Walt Smoked Wit Beer)

Smoked Trout, Dandelion*, and Apple on a Fingerling

Turkish Lamb Tar Tare with Labne and Citrus

Heirloom Radishes with Anchovy Butter and Sage

Park it (w/ Bulkhead Red)

Panzanella with Shaved Squash, Dandelion*, Sorrel*, and

Cato Corner Farm’s Drunk Monk Cheese

Family Style (w/ Hopnami IPA)

Lamb Shank Tagine with Root Vegetables, Dried Fruit and Almonds

Middle eastern Comndiments on the Table:

Muhammaja*, Purslane Tatziki, Green Tomato Harissa*

Something Sweet (w/ Baby Tree)

Sticky Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spiced Gelato and Old Walt “Head”

Dark Chocolate w/ Nibs on the Table

Fresh Coriander Seed is an openly aromatic spice. Almost like a cross between
regular coriander seed and green peppercorn. There's nothing like it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bulgar Wheat - Do it right this time!

Bulgar wheat is allegedly the first known use of wheat in history. The production process is still pretty much the same. The grain is soaked or boiled, dried, and then "polished" a little: meaning they remove a little bit of the bran. Yes, it removes some of the nutrition, but historically that would have been done to make it last longer, as it is the bran that goes rancid.
Bulgar wheat is still a very nutritious option when it comes to whole grains, but it seems to be a highly misunderstood ingredient . . . I think mainly because the different packaging in which it comes sends cooks in different directions. The only thing most companies agree on is that the ratio is 1 part grain to two parts liquid, and that's where I disagree, because it gives you an overcooked pile of mush. I find it works much better with 1 part grain to 1-1.5 parts liquid; resulting in a fluffier grain with complexity of texture and flavor. It's easy and fast.

Bulgar Wheat

1 medium shallot, chopped finely (or 2 tbsps of onion)
1 cup of bulgar
1 1/2 cup of liquid (water or stock with maybe a little wine)

1. Over medium heat, sweat the shallots in a little oil or butter until translucent. about 4 min. (sweat means they shouldn't take on any color)
2. Add the bulgar wheat and toast it in the pan. Stirring every minute or so for about 5-8 minutes until. It should look like this, note some darker brown specks, that's what you're going for.
3. Pour in the liquid, and bring it to a boil. Simmer for two minutes, then kill the heat and cover it. Wait ten minutes and it's ready to go.

For more salady applications spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool.

Here's the finished product-

I just folded in some sauteed veggies, very good stuff.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


There's a really interesting piece in the Times about military M.R.E's (Meals Ready to Eat) from around the world.
You can click on the pics to see the different contents. This is so fascinating to me because it provides a lot of insight into the value of food and the amount of it required to maintain troop morale. Compare the Canadian MRE contents to the Italian one.

It's Official

Grill-a-Chef is going to be participating in "Pig Island" on October 2nd.

Governer's Island will be transformed into a pork-lover's paradise.
Welcome to Pig Island, a culinary festival featuring local food, NY State wines, Six Point Craft Ales, and live music -- it is guaranteed to be an amazing day out.

A dozen chefs from some of New York City’s finest venues along with an impressive cast of food experts and personalities are expected to dazzle the crowd with their “whole hog know-how”. All participants will work with locally sourced ingredients, including whole pigs purchased directly from farms, such as Violet Hill Farm and The Piggery.

It will be a featured event of both


It should be a gas, here's a taste of what I'll be slinging:

Root Beer Glazed Pig with Crushed Kabocha & Homemade Sage Cracklin's
(root beer brand tbd: anybody know a good one from around the nyc area?)

Stay tuned for the recipe and more info on the event.
It'll a great time of year to be out and about in NYC, drinking beer and consuming copious amounts of meat.
Go here for tickets.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Farmers at Play

I wrote a whole entry about tomatoes from the market without ever touching on the whole reason I set out to write it.
Maybe because it is something that trickles into almost every western cuisine- one of my most asked questions is something along the lines of "how do I make a great tomato sauce?"
And the answer is simple "With great tomatoes."

Since most tomato sauces are composed mostly of . . . tomatoes the recipe is almost irrelevant as long as it's not a terrible one and the cook doesn't destroy it completely. The final product is going to depend on the primary ingredients.

What has me thinking about all of this is a another cool job I was involved in via Red Table Catering. We went to a farm up near Saratoga, NY to cook for a wedding. All of the primary ingredients we used came from that farm or farms in the immediate area. All the ingredients were outstanding. In this scenario the cook's job ceases to be "make a great preparation" and becomes: "just don't screw things up."

The farm where we were working raised mainly meat; chickens and sheep. The chickens we cooked on Saturday we're running around gossiping as late as Thursday morning.

Sheep with their guardian "bear" the dog.

Impending Doom

The menu was pretty simple, to read it is not super exciting, but to eat this stuff was a dream. We made merguez, (a spiced Moroccan sausage) from scratch, there was also leg of lamb and an array of chops and steaks.

We made grilled chicken and Brooke's famous fried chicken, which is soaked in buttermilk and honey and then smoked before another dip in in buttermilk, a dusting with seasoned flour and then it's fried. Overkill? Definitely, but what a way to go.

All accompanied by salt boiled potatoes, corn on the cob and a grilled vegetable pave. Everything was prepared over the course of three days in an outside kitchen. The view was amazing, the breeze was fresh and the food was delicious.

In the end, everything turned out well. The meal was an outstanding one, but it seemed like we didn't have much to do with that. We just cooked the stuff, all of the ingredients were amazing to begin with. So we owe it to the ingredients to do that.
This job was a great experience. It was great insight into the community of farming and good exposure to the source of the food we eat and love. Something I'll never forget.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Creative Commons License
Grill-a-Chef by Joshua Stokes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.