Happy Holiday's

The holiday's for me have always been about the flavors and not so much about the retail madness. I can't remember what gifts I received when I was 8 years old but I do remember the taste and smell of my grandmothers Italian wedding cookies or my mothers decorated butter cookies. My brothers and I would disturb our younger sisters by dramatically biting the heads off the Santa cookies......I know that's twisted, but remember, there was no Internet, xbox 360, cell phones, texting or 400 channels on the TV....just cookies.

My kids have food memories too. One of them is rather recent, it's the Dutch egg bread that I wrote about last year, they asked me if I was going to bake some in the test kitchen this year and I realized they now had a permanent flavor memory that will last a lifetime. They won't remember 10 years from now what gifts they opened but I guarantee they'll remember the buttery bread filled with currants and golden raisins.

So, have a happy holiday season and I hope you will create some memorable flavors that will last you and your family a lifetime also.

The Dough

The Rise

The Bread

The Consumption

Global BBQ

Patrick McDonnell made a recent trip to the test kitchen. Patrick is a frequent writer for magazines such as Food Arts, a consultant, a photographer and most importantly, he's a chef.

Patrick & I started talking about regional America BBQ a couple of months ago. The discussion evolved into international BBQ and it's enormous impact on the food truck and street food scene. So Patrick and crew came in and did what we try to do a couple of times a year, he cooked and we sat back. It's always great to see someone else's perspective and it's always interesting to be on the tasting side of the process rather than the cooking side.

Here's a small sampling of what we tasted.

Catalan Shrimp Barbacoa
La Rambla Style Grilled Shrimp
Marinated and Grilled Shrimp with, Roasted Peppers and Catalan Sofrito Aioli Drizzle

Yucatan Lamb Pastore
Slow Braised Lamb Barbacoa Tacos
Marinated and Grilled Lamb Leg with Pico de, Fruta, Queso Blanco, on Corn and Flour Tacos with Sour Cream and Guacamole Aioli

Goan Chicken Barbacoa
Chicken Cafreal
Cafreal Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast with Grilled Naan Bread topped with Chopped Tomatoes, Onions, Coriander and Mint Paste with Mango

Korean Rib Eye Bulgogi
Korean Firecracker Beef Bulgogi with White Kim Chi Slaw
Marinated and Grilled Flank Steak, Peanut Lime Vinaigrette topped White Cabbage, Julienne over Mandarin Tacos

Peruvian Chicken Chifa
Peking Lacquered Chicken
Five Spice and Molasses Lacquered Chicken with Jicama and Cilantro on Chinese Pancakes with Ginger Aioli

Chimayo Lamb Chorizo
Lamb Chorizo Slider
Ground Grass Fed Lamb seasoned with Chimayo Chile, Garlic and Sage with Fried Tomatoes and Queso and on Toasted Bolitto


Sourdough - Day 1

We had a large amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano so we decided to incorporate about 5 lbs of rather large cubes into the 24 lb batch of dough. It took about 1-1/2 hours extra to get though the first proof. I suspect the salt content of the cheese had something to do with the slow down.

The unanswered questions - will the salt in the cheese slow the 2nd proofing down too much? Will the cheese draw moisture from the dough? What type of interior melting will occur with a cheese this dense?..... Well, I don't know, those very questions is what makes you try it. It is always better to try something new and risk failure than to keep doing the same thing just because you are comfortable with the predictable outcome.

Sourdough - Day 2

Any of our concerns about this experiment were dissolved about 10 minutes into the baking process. At this point you could tell the bread was producing a good initial jump in the oven.

Because of the high ration of cheese in the dough we let it sit out for 1 hour before putting in in the cooler last night, just to give it a chance to develop. This morning the dough was really firm when it came out of the cooler and needed 2 hours of floor time before it was baked.

As you can see the bread had great blistering and the cheese randomly ruptured through the bread wherever it was close to the crust.


Grilled Beef Tenderloin Filet
Horseradish mashed potatoes, parsnip chips, spiced red wine syrup

It's That Time Of Year

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Crispy pancetta and whole grain mustard

Justus Drugstore Restaurant

Berkshire Pork Tail Fritter
House cured bacon, romaine, wild arugula vinaigrette, smoked tomato/basil, citrus sorrel

Farmer’s Platter
Wild persimmon seed spiced rabbit terrine, house made sausage, house cured bacon, pickled and grilled vegetables, olives, gaufrette potato, bone marrow mousse, brioche toast points, mustard

Maytag Blue Cheese
Maple/Port vinaigrette, pear, blue cheese/black pepper ice-cream, arugula, Missouri black walnut tuile

Cherry Limeade Salad
Spinach, candied pecans, orange gelée, Shatto aged cheddar, white beets

Autumn Striper Bass
Pan seared bass filet, tomato onion chard/olive compote, mushroom, exotic spices, saffron rice, frisée

Berry Napoleon
Blackberries, raspberries, vanilla wafer, white chocolate crème, double lemon ice cream, blackberry coulis

Blueberry Crumble
Vanilla honey, cinamin blueberry Chantilly, basil ice cream, lemon confit

Chocolate Mint Decadence
Chocolate ganache, milk chocolate, champagne mousse, chocolate/rose hip ice cream, mint milk, malted Chantilly

Fudge Tarts

Chocolate cream cheese pastry dough ready to be pressed out in the tartlet molds.

Pans being filled with a chocolate fudge & macadamia nut filling....I know what you're thinking, "Where's the picture after they're baked?", I turned my back and they all got eaten, sorry.

Southern Fried Pie

Fried Apple Pie
Cinnamon ice cream, rum-raisin sauce

Alicante Spain

My friend and former co-worker, Chef Michael Pallante, lives in Alicante Spain. Michael is a currently writing a book. He sent me these photo's and information.

Roasted veggies...2 kinds of tomatoes, olives grown just outside, eggplant, bonito (tuna), onions, peppers, celery.

Escarole empanada, quail eggs on sun dried tomato

Paella with rabbit, peppers, garbanzos, garlic and lemon

On our way up the mountain, we came across a sign 'abejas attencion'...this means beware of the bees...here was their hives, you could hear them zooming all around. They take their honey seriously here, but I'm not sure the name of the flower they are using at this spot.

What The Doctor Ordered - Warm Cake

Warm Chocolate Cake
Hazelnut ice cream

Todd English’s Olive’s Restaurant

I found these pictures in some of my archives and felt compelled to post them before they went into digital oblivion. These were shot in Las Vegas.

Tuna Tartare
Cucumber julienne, ginger glazed rock shrimp

Flatbread with smoked mozzarella
Oven dried tomato spread and basil

Falling Cake (a.k.a. chocolate lava cake)

Saltwater Prawns

Tempura Saltwater Prawns
Kimchi, botan rice with candied ginger, sweet soy sriracha sauce.

Classic w/a Twist

Crème Brulee Trio
Orange, vanilla and Ghirardelli milk chocolate crème brulee’s. Served with shortbread and chocolate brownie cookies.


Strawberry Shortcake
Roasted strawberry ice cream, sweet drop biscuit, Grand Marnier marinated strawberries, whipped cream, mint syrup.

Alaskan Halibut

Olive Oil Poached Alaskan Halibut
Pappardelle pasta, fennel, arugula, sun dried tomatoes, Mediterranean olives, asparagus, basil pistou, white wine clam broth.

Smoked Trout

Fruitwood Smoked Trout
Pickled cucumbers & onions, watercress, dill crème, chives, caraway crackers.

Crispy Ribs - sticky good!

Crispy Pork Ribs - street food 101
Thai chile sauce, peanut-ginger slaw, sriracha sauce.

Match Made In Heaven

An interesting selection of ice creams paired with an equally impressive selection of brownie pops.

How can you pass up Chick-O-Stick ice cream or Pancake-Maple-Bacon ice cream? These are only a few of the sub-zero selections....

WAIT, you're not done yet!, you must have some brownie pops to eat with your frozen formulation. The flavors are abundant and still growing, like Whoppers Malted Milk Ball, Junior Mint, Mexican "Hot Chocolate" with Cayenne & Cracker Jacks, and Dulce De Leche with Sea Salt to name a few, we actually have nine different dark chocolate addictions on a stick.

Show a little self control when confronted with the task of building your own mix-n-match dessert selection. If you lack discipline this "Match Made In Heaven" will quickly turn into a sinful affair, and just for the record, I'm on the sinful side of the equation because I just had a 2x3 (2 ice creams and 3 brownie pops)

Summer Grilling

Grilled Strip Loin
Chickpea fries, watermelon and charred onion relish.

This Should Be Illegal

I'm speechless........because I'm eating a mouthful of crispy pork belly!! We have a couple of ideas we're working on that use pulled or shredded pork belly. When it's still good and warm you take two forks and pull it apart, the end result is a mixture of textures with crispy skin, meaty interior and of course the ever essential fat.

This is one of those things you just stand and stare at, no words are needed, it doesn't have to be said that the belly is good.

Patsy's NY Pizza

How could you possibly go to New York and not eat in a traditional neighborhood pizza joint? I made a trip Patsy's Pizza

In the early 1900's, working in the Salumeriaís of Little Italy, Patsyís Lancieri perfected the New York Style Pizzaî. In 1933, he opens the city's first Pizzeria Restaurant on 118th Street and First Avenue, establishing himself as New York's foremost pizza baker and inspiring scores of imitators.