Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Our group of 10 friends is descending on a beachside condo in Melbourne for a culinary throwdown.
The menu isn't finalized yet, but we're getting close.
In support of the festivities, we just made a run to Gary's Seafood in Orlando. They're a wholesaler of seafood and other gourmet items. They sell strictly to restuarants, unless you know someone...we know someone.
So what did we get?
Berkshire Heritage pork tenderloins. I'm thinking of making this into a Porc Mignon with garlic confit pan sauce and parsnip puree.
We also bought quail and buffalo short ribs. Not exactly how these will end up yet, but probably will pan roast the quail and braise the short ribs.
Oh. Did I mention the cheese and charcuterie? Shropshire Blue, Humboldt Fog aged goat, Seal Bay triple cream cheese, artisanal duck prosciutto and salami.
This post is making me hungry.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Most blogs that earned my subscription did so because they they resonate with me. The message and content speaks to me.
Those that don't, usually get deleted. No sense cluttering up the reader with noise from tribes in which I don't belong.
So who spoke to me in 2008? I won't name them all, but I present the stars here.
BTW, if you have any suggestions for me, please share.
Seth's Blog - Seriously, I really dig what this guy has to say and am in awe with the manner in which he goes about it. Can Seth Godin be any better of a story teller? This blog speaks to me. It is one of the most pragmatic philosophies of marketing that I've read.
Chris Brogan - This guy gets it and is not afraid to share it. And from what I can tell, he's a real class act. How do I know? About a month ago, I was at a Tweet-up in Orlando, which I specifically attended because I knew some heavy hitters would also be there. Chris actually walked by me, but I didn't introduce myself, because I didn't want to be a nuisance. Then, I see this post on his blog the very next day. Like I said, class act (and possibly clairvoyant).
Michael Ruhlman - Great blog. It's subject is culinary, but it isn't recipe or technique focused per se. Instead, it's part informational, parts tips, but mostly the enertaining musings of this culinary hero. One of my favorite culinary blogs.
Foodie at fifteen - He's actually sixteen now, but props to Nick for this very honest and passionate blog. It's a fun read and he knows his stuff. He's also caught the attention of more than a few brilliant culinary minds. This kid is going far.
Bob Del Grosso - His blog is called A Hunger Artist. Who can't love a food blog named after a Kafka story about a guy who starves himself? Bob, who is or was an instructor at CIA, lives on a farm, butchers his own meat and makes his own salumi. Could life get any better than that?
Monday, December 22, 2008
However, you can't just build a community and set it on auto-pilot. Communities need nurturing.
If you plan on building your own community, here are the nurturing roles that you should be planning for.
Technical - Online communities are comprised of people, however, they are powered by software. You need someone who has the know-how to build and maintain your community infrastructure.
Moderation - Someone needs to have a watchful eye on your community. It is inevitable that either a spammer or nuisance user will join your community. These folks will muddy the relevance of your content and help to drive your legitimate users away. Moderation is key to minimizing this. Additionally, a good moderator can provide a holding hand to your users.
Discussion - Communities, at their core, are about discussions. As a community creator, it is important that you monitor and facilitate relevant discussions. The more people are talking, the more your community grows.
Strategic - Communities evolve. In some instances, your community members are the drivers of that evolution. However, you must be prepared to take that role. Introducing new features are one form of community evolution. More importantly though, is recognizing problems in a community, and course correcting by revising your strategy.
Your community won't be perfect from day one. But if you talk to your members and listen to their valuable feedback, over time, it just might be.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
While rummaging through the freezer yesterday, I spotted some turkey necks and backs that I had intended to use for Thanksgiving, but never did.
These things are perfect for stock. So before heading over to Sara and Eric's for illegal cassoulet (http://twitpic.com/utmc), I started on making homemade stock.
I first browned the 2 inch pieces of necks and backs in canola oil in the stock pot over medium high heat. During the browning process, I used a trick that renders an unbelievably deep flavor.
Here it is.
While browning, your turkey will begin to form what is termed as "fond". Fond is basically that caramelized layer of stuff that sticks to the bottom of the browning pan. It is pure flavor-packed goodness. The fond is your friend. After a while, you'll get a really good layer of fond. Add a few tablespoons of water to the turkey and scrape the fond from the pan. Continue to cook. The water will eventually evaporate and a new layer of fond will form. Then again, after a good layer of fond forms, add more water. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times, making sure you're carefully monitoring your heat. DO NOT burn the fond.
Once your turkey is browned, add enough water to cover, and slowly bring to a simmer. You do not want the stock to bubble. Place the stock pot into a 180 degree oven ( a trick I learned from Michael Ruhlman ) for no less than 3 hours. I left mine in for 9. It's up to you. An hour before your stock is done, throw some aromatics in your pot. I added chopped carrots, a chopped onion, 10 peppercorns, a bay leaf and a spring of sage.
When your stock is done, strain through a colander, then through a cheesecloth. Cool, then refrigerate.
You now have a tasty turkey stock.
What soup will the stock end up making?
A chicken and spaetzle with leeks and roasted garlic soup..I'll post the recipe later.
Friday, December 19, 2008
The post covered how one tweet by David Alston (Radian6) highlighting bad service from UHaul exploded into a movement.
This post really resonated with me as I recently had a similar experience with My Land Rover Battle. Although my experience and David's had similarities, there were also some distinct differences.
David's review of UHaul had alot of legs and spread throughout the twittersphere fairly quickly. It spread much further than mine. Why? Well, bluntly put, David Alston has more influence than me. He's extremely well known in the social media community. I am not. He has far more Twitter followers and subsequently more reach than I do. His one tweet rallied a movement and most likely cost UHaul future business. That is the power of influence.
My campaign had a favorable outcome for me. David's tweet didn't really make a difference to him personally. Why? For one, David posted one tweet and left it at that. My Land Rover Battle was a campaign which, included a call to action for people to phone Land Rover on my behalf. I estimate that about 10-15 calls were made. This, in my opinion, is was what made the difference. That is the power of persistence.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Case in point, Twitter. A well-known free service, which offers a support queue. A queue in which I've had two tickets for some time now. The first is dated 11/14/08. The second (which really is the same issue, just resubmitted) is dated 12/04/08. Neither ticket has been responded to by their support department. This lack of response is extremely irritating.
To me, the act of offering support to your customers, even if you are a free service, obligates you to providing a reasonable level of support. If you aren't able to do this, either staff up in that department or explicitly state that you do not offer support. Ostensibly offering it serves nothing but to make your users angry and generate negative online buzz.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
But when I do blog, I do it on my shiny Macbook Pro with a 2.33 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo processor inside!
How many of the A-listers blog in such style? Do me a favor, show Ted your Intel!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
If you want a thick soup...make it thick. You want it spicy...make it spicy.
To finish off my thanksgiving turkey, I decided to make a creamy turkey soup. How does one make a soup creamy you ask?
So here is the basic run down of how I made my soup. The measurements are not exact, but it is a great model for how to make a creamy anything soup.
First, I sauteed a cup of diced carrots, a cup of diced onion, and a cup of chopped leeks until soft. This was done in a copious amount of butter (1 stick) and a little bacon fat (YUM) over medium heat.
Next, add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of flour. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. Undercooking a roux will leave a floury taste to your soup.
Now, add your stock. Oh did I mention you need to make a stock? Here is a link to help you out with that - Turkey Stock.
Turn up the heat, start adding your stock and stir. Your soup will begin to thicken. Add enough stock to get the consistency that works for you.
Add chopped turkey. I like my soup meaty so I add ALOT. You should add as much as you want. Again, there are no rules when making soup!
Now add about 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped thyme or any other spice/herb that will make your soup delicious.
Salt and pepper to taste.
I also add about a 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream to really cream it up. You can do the same...maybe a bit of sour cream for some tang? Psst, there are no rules.
Have you made a soup before? Tell me all about it!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
What am I making for Thanksgiving?
A roasted Turkey (with gravy from the drippings)
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Sausage and leek stuffing
Ginger glazed carrots and parsnips
Cranberry sauce (not the canned crap)
Braised red cabbage and apples
Sauteed green beans with a brown butter sauce
As far as dessert, I am not making it. My mom has graciously agreed to handle them this year.
So I've told you what I'm making. Now it's your turn. What are you making for Thanksgiving this year?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Try it out at your next dinner party.
8 oz log of chevre cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh italian parsley (Not that wretched curly parsley. Flat leaf only!)
1/8 cup chopped fresh thyme
Fresh cracked pepper (Seriously, right out of the pepper mill. Nothing else will do.)
Clear a flat work space for assembly. Basically you're going to be rolling the chevre log in the other ingredients, so you'll need enough room.
Take your parsley and thyme and mix together. Spread the herb mixture out on your work area. The "herb carpet" should be as wide as your chevre log and long enough that when you roll the log 360 degrees, it will become completely covered in herbs.
Now that your "herb carpet" is laid, it's time to crack some pepper! Pepper to taste, don't go too crazy, but don't skimp either. About a tablespoon will do. Make sure you evenly distribute pepper across the "herb carpet".
Once done, take your log, place at the top of your "herb carpet". Roll towards you. The log won't pick everything up, but a few passes will get most.
Plate and serve with quality crackers or warmed bread.
Note: Roasted garlic makes an unbelievably tasty companion to your roll.
And please, let me know how it turns out by leaving a comment.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
BTW, you could substitute butternut squash for this recipe (YUM)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)
3 (15 oz) cans 100 percent pumpkin or 6 cups of chopped roasted pumpkin*
5 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook,
stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more.
2 Add pumpkin and 5 cups of chicken broth; blend well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer
for 10 to 15 minutes.
3 Transfer soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth.
Return soup to saucepan.
4 With the soup on low heat, add brown sugar and mix. Slowly add milk while stirring to
incorporate. Add cream. Adjust seasonings to taste. If a little too spicy, add more cream to cool it
down. You might want to add a teaspoon of salt.
Serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle the top of each with toasted pumpkin seeds.
*To make pumpkin purée, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie
face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Put some heavy whipping cream into a stand mixer and mix on med-high speed.
At some point, you'll end up with whipped cream. If you have some ice cream on hand, you can stop here ;) Keep mixing if you want to end up with butter.
Your whipped cream will get thicker and thicker until in an instant it separates leaving you with butter and buttermilk.
Using your hand remove the butter from the buttermilk, and begin to squeeze out the excess liquid. You can them knead the butter to get the rest out. Buttermilk will contribute to your butter turning rancid quickly.
Once done kneading, I'd suggest mixing in some sea salt, maybe some fresh cracked pepper. If you want to get really fancy, try mixing in some finely chopped fresh parsley and/or thyme.
Monday, October 20, 2008
If you aren't familiar with my plight, please refer back to My Land Rover Battle
So a few days ago, my wife received a call from Mr Fields directly. She explained the situation, noting the poor customer service we suffered through. From what she tells me, Mr Fields was not too happy with his staff. In fact, he couldn't believe some of the things that we were told.
Thankfully his disgust translated into action. He told us to bring our car back and that his staff would diagnose the problem at no charge. We did just that this morning.
Good news, the issue apparently was very minor and Land Rover fixed on the spot at no charge.
The problem was fixed by simply resetting something, which I'm sure amounted to about 30 minutes of work. If only his staff hadn't have been so short-sighted and just taken 30 minutes out of their day.
30 minutes that would have made us happy.
30 minutes that would have prevented my social media campaign.
30 minutes to prevent a decent amount of negative chatter about his brand.
30 minutes to have possibly made a sale.
That's right. Made a sale.
You see, my wife and I went out and purchased a new SUV that week and Land Rover would have been an option. I liked our car and had been eyeing the LR2 for some time. But no, two knuckleheads at Fields killed any brand loyalty because they just didn't care enough to spend 30 minutes on us.
Thank you to everyone who twittered, blogged and called on my behalf. Without you, I don't think this would have been a success.
BTW - Tina wouldn't even talk to us.
4 6 oz salmon fillets, skin removed. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Saute salmon fillets in grapeseed oil over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed non-stick pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes on one side. 2 minutes on the next. Well cooked salmon with still be a little pink inside.
- 4 tbsp finely sliced ginger
- 1 tbsp thinly sliced garlic
- 3 tbsp thinly sliced spring onions, white part only
- 250ml Sake
- 600 ml Chicken Stock, reduced to 300ml
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp spring onions, green part only, cut on an extreme bias
Add Sake and reduce its volume over heat by two-thirds. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and whisk in the oyster and soy sauces. Add fennel to the sauce and serve immediately, pouring over the salmon. Garnish with the bias cut spring onions.
Friday, October 17, 2008
An organization that for years has been known for promoting culinary excellence in Orlando has done the unthinkable - placed a ban on foie gras in all Disney dining establishments.
Read more about this on Scott Joseph's blog
Disney World Bans Foie Gras
Monday, October 6, 2008
What alot of people don't know, is that I spent a few years cooking in kitchens ranging from one man hole-in-the-wall bar kitchens to upscale operations where I reported to an executive chef. Despite their perceived differences, they had one thing in common - some asshole yelling at me about food cost. That yelling really sunk in. At home, I scrape mixing bowls with a rubber spatula to make sure nothing gets wasted.
Along the same lines of making more money with less ingredients is this 3 part video. It shows easy tricks on how to turn a single duck into over $200 cash by being creative with every part of that tasty little beast.
Related video on breaking down a chicken.
Why buy already quartered bird parts? Quarter yourself and save money plus end up with parts for stock!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Here is the background on my battle.
My wife and I dropped our 2002 Freelander off to diagnose a "check engine" light warning. When we picked up the car, my wife noticed the following new issues.
* The locks on all the doors no longer work
* The back window won't go down
* The built-in security system no longer functions.
When we informed Land Rover about this situation, they had the following response
* These types of things happen to cars
* Nothing they did would have caused this
* That it is possible the problem existed when we brought it in (not true)
* That it is just bad luck on our part
Their service manage refuses to help and let us know that we'll need to pay them to get it fixed.
My wife is in tears over this customer service nightmare.
Some people say I should call the local news channel. I say no. I say use Social Media to spark action!
Please help me in my fight by doing the following few things
* Posting a link to my blog post somewhere
* Retweeting my call to action
* Talking or leaving a message for the Fields BMW service manager. Let them know that consumers have power and they should take care of their customers. Let her know that this is a campaign on the behalf of Jeremy Hilton. Please be polite when you call.
* Twitter me with a list of the actions you took @jeremyhilton
Fields BMW customer service manager - Tina / 407.695.xxxx
Thank you so much!
UPDATE - We won our battle!
Social Media Wins!
Monday, September 29, 2008
In the spirit of his post, I'm writing what my last meal will be. Compared to his, mine is pretty simple, but it definitely reflects me and my tastes.
One rule about my meal. No bread. Don't get me wrong, I love good bread, but this is my last meal, and I'm not wasting room on bread.
So to start, lobster and foie gras with black truffle butter. I'd pair this with a bottle of Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape White.
After that, Kobe-beef ribeye with duck fat roasted new potatoes. For this I'd go big with a bottle of Ornellaia. Hands down, one of my favorite wines.
As far as dessert, I'm easy. Give me a simple Creme Brulee with more than a few shots of really good espresso and Frangelico.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
This recipe is radically different than your usual frites as you don't have to blanch these in at a lower temperature and then fry in a higher temperature.
Things you'll need -
Two russet potatoes
A big pot
Peel your potatoes and cut into 3/8 inch sticks.
Rinse and dry these thoroughly.
Place your soon to be frites in the pot and fill with peanut oil until they are covered.
Please note, I didn't say to place your pot on a heat source. That's right, the oil and potatoes go in cold.
Take your pot with oil and potatoes, place on the stove over high heat.
Let them cook on high until a deep golden brown. They'll kind of look like they're over cooked.
Remove from the oil and salt.
If done right, these frites should be perfectly crisped and moist inside.
Serve with Dijon mustard of course.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Who the hell knows the answer to these questions?
I'm sure the seasoned chef could confidently answer them, however, the home chef might not have these tidbits of knowledge committed to memory.
Thankfully, you don't have to. Culinary Artistry to the rescue.
One of my favorite culinary books, this gem is NOT a cookbook. This is a source of cooking muse; inspiring cooks of all levels to deeply think about the artistry behind cooking. It also provides a roadmap of flavor pairings, ingredient seasonality, and much more.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
5 dried figs, stems removed and chopped into a medium dice
1 cup of tawny port
Place the figs and tawny port in a sauce pan over medium heat and reduce until the mixture has a thick syrupy consistency.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
In the unlikely case that you don't know who he is, Eric Ripert is the executive chef at one NYC's finest restaurants, Le Bernardin.
His blog, Avec Eric, showcases videos and recipes for simple yet beautiful dishes that can be prepared in minutes and cooked in a toaster oven. Avec Eric is not what I expected from a 3 Michelin star chef, considered to be one of the best in the culinary world. And that's what I love about it.
Special hardware or cooking techniques aren't needed to execute the relatively simple recipes, making them very accessible to home cooks. Their level of sophistication, however, will have your guests calling you a culinary rockstar after your next party.
My understanding is that Eric Ripert will have his own cooking show in the not to distant future. If it keep's the same spirit as his blog, he could very well be the new celebrity chef on the block.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Whenever I make duck, I try to buy a whole bird and quarter it for use. I'm not doing this as a cost saver. Rather, I'm buying a whole bird to collect the massive amount of excess fat these little guys have and render it for later use.
How to render duck fat.
Take the excess fat you've collected and rough chop into smaller pieces. Inch squares are fine.
Put the fat into a pot that is big enough to hold it and an equal amount of water. Bring this up to a simmer, and keep there for about 60-90 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the liquid into a bowl, through a fine mesh strainer, and place in the fridge. While in the fridge, the rendered fat will rise to the top and solidify. Once fully cooled, the fat will come out in solid chunks, leaving a gelatinous layer beneath it. I usually discard this layer.
Store in an air tight contain in the fridge. Your duck fat should last for months.
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves 1 person
- 1 12 oz bag potato chips, salt and vinegar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp water
- 1 rib pork chop, 1 to 1.5 inch thick, bone on
- flour, seasoned
- shortening OR canola oil
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Put the chips in a zip top bag, seal and roughly crush them. Don’t go for a uniform meal, just beat them up: you want a contrast of size and shape.
Transfer the chips to a pie pan. Beat the egg together with 2 tsp of water and place the mixture in a second pie pan.
Place the chop in a third pie pan and dredge with seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour and coat the chop in the egg mixture.
Drain briefly, then transfer the chop to the potato chip pan. Press on the pieces so that the chop is completely coated. Place on a rack and let the chop rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
In the meantime, in a cast iron skillet or an electric skillet, heat enough shortening to come halfway up the side of the chop to 350 degrees F.
Cook the chop for 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to the a rack set over a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 27 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature hits 145 degrees F.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I didn't attend culinary school and haven't much formal training in cooking. Most of the techniques I have learned were taught to me through reading and then trying someone's recipe.
Challenge yourself by reworking recipes.
Reworking recipes is a fantastic exercise that has helped me build confidence in culinary improvisation. I'll do such things as ingredient substitutions or building my own dish by cherry picking elements from a few recipes.
When reworking recipes, experiment and don't be afraid to fail when doing it.
Thanks to a failed dish, my wife and I have eaten cereal for dinner on more than one occasion. At the time, it's pretty frustrating. You spend 2 hours prepping and cooking only to be rewarded with a bowl of Golden Grahams and a sink full of dishes. However, in the long run, I've learned something extremely valuable. I've learned why something didn't work.
For most, filling a potato chip craving means buying a bag from the store and eating. There are a variety of tasty flavors to choose from, my personal favorite being salt and vinegar.
Unfortunately, many store bought items just can't match the flavor of their homemade counterparts. This is true for potato chips. The homemade variety is really tasty, and even more addictive than store bought.
Before you go down the road of making your own chips, you should invest in a decent deep fryer. It is possible to use a cast iron skillet or some sort of pot to fry your chips in, but controlling the heat of the oil is pretty difficult. The deep fryer you purchase should have, at a minimum, temperature control and a basket for frying in. I'm pretty happy with my fryer - Waring Pro Stainless Steel Deep Fryer.
Now on to the chip making!
Pour peanut oil into your fryer and heat to 350 degrees.
For your chips, use a floury potato such as an Idaho Russet. I'd recommend frying one potato per person.
Peel your potato with a peeler and discard the peels. Now many recipes would call for making chips using a mandolin. I, however, like to stick with the peeler. Using the same motion you used to peel the potato, start peeling off ribbons of potato. Try to make these ribbons as long as possible. Peel as much as you can without peeling your fingers.
Grab a handful of potato ribbons and drop into the oil. You'll want to stir the chips around for 5 to 10 seconds with metal tongs so they don't stick together.
Fry your chips until golden brown. Please note: the first couple of batches in new oil won't brown up as much as you'd expect.
Once done, remove from the oil and sprinkle with kosher salt immediately (while the chips are still wet). To switch it up a little, you could also try sprinkling with Parmesan cheese (the powdery processed kind).
BTW, you can do the same recipe with sweet potatoes. These are also seriously good.