2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 630 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Achiote chicken

This is a new recipe I have for my new menu at work. It combines a lot of flavors and the end result is simply spectacular. The Achiote paste should be available at your local grocery store , hopefully . There are no substitutions available to my knowledge, and if you don’t have Achiote paste find it since you will not be disappointed .As a matter of fact you will probably start finding more uses for it and it will be a staple I your kitchen much like it is in central and South America .
Basically it is a paste made from anatto seeds and spices . Anatto seeds are used a lot as a food color and depending on where you live ,it has a different name , still once used properly it is just simply divine and the aromas the paste releases are not easily forgotten …
Here is my recipe:
1 whole chicken
3 oz Achiote paste
1/2 cup orange juice
1 onion, puréed
3 fresh garlic cloves puréed
Salt and pepper
Start by pouring orange juice in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling add Achiote paste and turn down the heat and simmer until Achiote is dissolved add onion and garlic purée and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside and let cool. Make sure it has the consistency of quicksand.
Truss the whole chicken and rub the Achiote Orange onion paste and massage it in.
Roast the chicken in 350 degree oven about 24-35 minutes until done.
I serve it with roasted potato and seasonal vegetables , don’t really need anything else….

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Band of brothers..

Chefs are a band of brothers on many levels.
We are in the same trade for the same reason. The love of food!

a bad joke I heard which is sort kind of true is
Q” how many chefs to unscrew a light bulb?
A:”six.One to unscrew the light bulb and five to tell him how they did it at their other job!.”
That is so lame but at the same time so true. Get a group of Chefs around a table and you will hear stories about what ,how, when ,who ,where, why and so on. They will think the stories they tell are immensely funny and hilarious ,so do I , because we understand each other and that’s what creates a bond faster than in any other trade I know of.

We all go thru the same coming of age going up in the ranks and growing as a chef. We all had the hardest meanest, baddest, chef ever to walk this earth ..of course. So did I ,not only once but several times ….of course…
We care for one another in a way that it very hard to find in any other profession , that is partly because we see each other more sometimes than we do our spouses and family..chefs become your family, and as with any family there are fights but in this kind of family the language will put a pirate to shame and he would leave quiet.
Chefs will do anything to help each other out even if it is for the competition, we all know the pain of not having everything or needing something special or just needing to talk about food for an idea. We are their to help each other all the time.
Friendly competition at its best!
The camaraderie that exists among chefs are one of the most enduring and loving in a carefree way.
To be a part of al that is truly an amazing experience that has to be felt in order to fully understand.

The one thing that is always around is the ego, usually the ones who are a little bit insecure or new to the business will always try and show in what ever way they can that in fact they are the best. Seasoned chefs will see that and play along for a while and then let them know that NO they are not the best at what they do… Their ego is writing checks their culinary skills cant cash in. That person is quickly relegated to the bottom of the totem pole. However still part of the brotherhood of chefs.

Chefs thrive under pressure and the pressure is brought on to being the best in the brotherhood at cooking the best out of all…

Pumpkin and gourd season

Lord help me.
We will now be inundated with all things pumpkin and gourds.
Problem is very few people know why we actually have them as celebratory decorative up edible table decorations.
I can’t say that I am thrilled to have the festive celebrations of gourds and pumpkins!
Gonna be a long season!

The chef coat

When I put on my chef coat in the morning I do so with immense pride and satisfaction. Why?
Because it looks good? Yes that is true but that’s not the reason.
The chef coat means something, it stands for something.
It means I have a trade , a craft , a skill in an art form. A trade a lot of people look up to and admire , I most certainly do.

The top chefs in the world are some of the most gifted people you will ever meet. As a matter of fact any executive chef have skills that are envied by many , wanted by many and has taken years to achieve .

Not just anyone can be a true executive chef a lot of people claim the title but does not live up to it , they just have a name on a coat and some fancy colors and have seen a lot of cooking shows.

When the chef coat comes on the person in it changes, he is now not one of many but rather one who is admired and respected , he has worked the long hard hours and learned the skills needed to get to wear the coat with pride!.

I don’t expect respect because of my coat , I earn respect by working at my craft in my chef coat , yes it has my name on it and yes it is made of Egyptian cotton ( it is really comfortable by the way) while wearing it I am somebody completely different then when I am not , I am someone who is respected for my skills and someone who has to make the decisions needed ,someone who becomes a confidant ,a leader ,a mentor ,a helper , a fixer of a lot of things, a mender , a doctor , a psychologist and so on.

It pains me when I see some of our newer cooks treat their cooks coats as if it is a cleaning apparel for hands , knives ,or as a towel to wipe whatever is in front of them ” gotta show I work hard!” No it only shows they are working dirty and no I do not want you to cook my food looking like that, covered from head to toe in s$&t.

I wish for all new culinarians to learn to respect the cooks coat they wear from the get go. After all they have spent a lot of time , effort and money to wear it. It is not a fashionable apparel at all it is a Chef coat!!

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The ceviche

Freshly caught and special delivery to me from my fish monger down in Houston (thanks Billy) ..allow me to present to you one of my absolute favorite fishes of all time..the hog snapper!!To make ceviche the main ingredient needs to be the freshest fish possible..no fresh no good..generally a good rule of thumb.

Start by filleting the fish ,cut from the back and “over” the back bone. First one side …….then the other…
Now skin the filets by getting a firm grip on the tail and cut down to the skin ,have the blade of the knife horizontal with the skin and wiggle the skin against the blade of the knife.

Next cut the skinless filets in strips as seen in the picture …then across into dices…put the fish in a cold metal bowl….

Next you will need three lemons and one lime a zester and a fine mesh chinoise roll the two lemons on the table in the palm of your hand a few times back and forth then cut in half and squeeze the lemons and lime juice in to the chinoise.

Next you will need to zest the last lemon over the diced fish and then cut in half and squeeze the juice as done with the other lemons…. Now the foundation of any cuisine ….salt and pepper…needless to say fresh cracked black pepper is better than anything you buy at the store already ground….

Place the bowl in your fridge for about 40 -45 minutes ..not more than that or it will “over cook”…Now for the garnishes for this ceviche I use julienne carrot, julienne chayote,fine diced red onion, julienne cucumber and avocado for garnish…I use a mandolin for julienne the vegetable..end result is so good and exact and saves a lot of time …just watch your finger tips…I really like to use different vessels for serving my ceviche to give it a more authentic look and feel to it…so a table of four can order it and receive the same amount of ceviche in four different vessels..the coolness factor is sky high…me thinks!

Next assembly of the dish…start with cucumber then chayote then onion and then fish and repeat..slice avocado really thin and place on top with some cilantro as garnish and serve it as is ……..or with some chips and salsa …Simplicity and freshness archived with a few top notch ingredients and using them to highlight the beautiful elegant sweetness of the snapper …

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Farm to table…

We are a farm to table restaurant ,we grow our own tomato and lots of fresh basil.So this year we have so much fresh herbs and the love between basil and tomato is timeless and needs no introduction…Add mozzarella to the mix and you know it is summer…When we have a lot of vegetables , what better way to save the summer than to pickle.

Pickling of cucumbers is a must…these are simple salt brine cucumber with dill…dill just brings summer out so much more in food,garnish with fresh basil,simple and easy on the eye.
We also pickle cauliflower ,okra and asparagus and show them all off at once.We have so much basil that this summer will last for a long time…we made basil oil.Our farm to table setting and decor..all is edible ,does not get more farm to table than that!

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