"The Author-Preneur with Something To Say That You'll Love To Read."

Some Tomato Sauce

The kids are having some friends over - which amounts to a handful of teen-guys or young men.  That is the human anthropological sense of the guests.  But, in scope of their gustatory capability it is the equivalent of a plague of locust.  Fly through and consume.  They are liable to come and go without notice and you are left looking for that one thing you had left in the fridge for just that one moment when you could eat it; and, it would be deeply meaningful and comforting at once.  But then, you realize it was ravished as simple spoils of a teen invasion.

Today I have a good head start on the gang coming over so I am sauteing some peppers, onions, and garlic in olive oil.  Adding in some pre-cooked sausage and bacon.  And, when this is all done and simmering, cutting up some plum tomatoes and throwing them in to simmer for 45 minutes.

When I get to the end I am putting in some baby spinach leave - about 40 - 50 and letting them weep themselves into the sauce.  After they have settled into the sauce, I cut of the heat, dump in 25 fresh picked basil leaves and 1/2 cup of olive oil.

If you use really good extra virgin olive oil, always add it at the end - after the heat is cut and the food is settling into infusing itself into everything contained in the pan.  This aging and cooling of food is where tons of flavors are unleashed.  Too many folks serve foods TOO HOT and the flavors have really been killed or lost to the heat.

I wanna recommend friend Chef Jacob Burton's podcast of the FIVE MOTHER SAUCES.  It is the backdrop of so much in the culinary arts.  His new site Stella Culinary School is AWESOME and the FIVE MOTHER SAUCES starts with session 9.  Check'em out.


Gyros on the Grill

The lore of GYROs (really pronounced Yeeeearros; like year and ros) runs deep and wide.  I have a couple of ways I like to prepare them.

Today I am cutting a boneless leg of lamb into steak size slices and grilling them on the outside grill with "COWBOY Hardwood Charcoal" which does a great job of smoking the meat if you close the lid and only half vent the vent.

Once it has some charred sections and is dripping smokey colored juices, I take it inside, dice it and throw it back on the grill in a caste-iron pan to finish it off.  Just leave the lid open.

While that is going on I get busy on the Tzatziki.  I grate 1 large cucumber, add 2 tbs of minced garlic, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 cup of yogurt (Stonyfield Farms is the best), 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and dillweed and oregano to taste.  Mix it in a bowl and let it sit.  I add ribbons of fresh basil leaves sliced when it is in season.

Next the pitas.  This is an art.  Get whole wheat pitas.  Fill a caste-iron pan with 1/8 inch olive oil and heat on medium heat.  Once hot, drop a pita in the pan.  Spin it gently with your fingers 360 degrees.  Count 30 seconds and flip it.  Wait until it heats up enough to fill with air.  Once it fills with air, remove it and place it on a papertowel and pat off the excess oil.

When assembling them, I lay out foil sheets on the counter, build each Gyros with lettuce, Tzatziki, tomato slices, lamb and sometimes add a bit of feta.  Tonight I am not adding the feta.  I roll them in foil and let them steep for 15 minutes before we eat.

Of course, I am full from having dipped too much lamb in the Tzatziki sauce while prepping.

Somewhere Between Lamb Jambalaya and Lamb Etouffee

I had a set of lamb ribs that I was dreaming about for a couple of days.  This morning, when I climbed out of bed to build a fire, I stumbled on the idea that would become my meal for this afternoon.

Lamb ribs are really fatty so I knew I needed a patient and steady process of cooking and then cooking again, and then building the final meal.  First I cut the ribs in half and cooked them in a large cast iron skillet in the oven at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  I used the fat dripping to start up my fire again and then put the ribs on the stove in a pot of water.  Simmering on low for an hour, I checked to make sure the oven cook off had removed the fat, and it had.

I took the ribs out and put them on a plate to cool.  Into the stock went a fine pesto of garlic, olive oil, pepper, and fresh basil.  Then I added some sliced peppers and onions.  A bit of salt to taste and then a bag of dried lentils - the large green ones.  If it had been a little further away from Orthodox Lent I would have added more vegetables...carrots and some turnips.  But, since the whole of Orthodox Lent is a cavalcade of veggies without dairy, oil, or wine, I thought I would enjoy the meat and oil with little other interruptions.

Once the meat was cooled I peeled it off the ribs, and diced it into fine cubes.  It went back into the stock and simmered for 30 minutes.  The lentils being nice and tender, I served it up in a bowl without the broth.  This was a great use of a cheaper piece of meat by taking out all of the things that make it cheap.  In this case it was the fat and bones.  The broth is there for later, or for Eli in his Iam's bowl of chunks for dinner.

Of course, it was sumptuous and earthy.  A great autumnal or wintry medley.

A fine set of knives you will not want to be without

Dear Chefs, Cooks, and Kitchen Managers,

I am writing to share a set of knives with you that I own and am really pleased with.  I think we all get how critical our knives are - I don't know about you, but I don't share my knives easily.  I am possessive of them to say the least.

In all my years of managing and cooking in professional kitchens, I learned that our knives are the greatest portion of our mis en place.  We know how much time is wasted when we do not have the best knives in close proximity to us when we need them.  The right things, in the right place, in the right order - mis en place.

I highly recommend Bailey Cox, the Cutco rep, and the products he sells.  Bailey knows what he is doing, can educate you on some key features of the product and kitchen ergonomics, and can answer any question you may have.  

The knives are the best I have ever used - from the wonderful fit in the hand to the consistent sharpness of the blade - and that is a bold statement for me a long time Henckels groupie!  Bailey called me, walked me through a handful of the products and let me ask as many questions as I had.  Then he let me make up my own mind - no pressure.

Give Bailey a call and let him walk you through the products he offers.  You will not regret it.  Whether you are using these at home or in your professional kitchen, you will not be disappointed.  You will be glad you used CUTCO.  Bailey gets paid just to show you the knives, so help out an aspiring salesman.