Jul 30, 2015

Atlanta & Co. Cooking Segment

Made a live appearance yesterday on the NBC Atlanta & Co. show. Had a great opportunity to share a valued firehouse recipe with Christine and the staff. Had a wonderful time and would love to return. Here's the clip.

Jul 4, 2015

Fourth of July

Happy Birthday America! 


Stay low, stay safe, and stay hungry on this Fourth of July!

Jun 28, 2015

NBC's Food Fighters Season 2 Premiere

NBC's Food Fighters Season 2, Thursday July 30th at 8:00 pm, just sayin'...

Please tune in and support me as I try to represent the rich tradition and honor of the fire service in the heat of the kitchen.

Spread the word and share with friends and family. Good to be back and I hope all is well with everyone.

Stay hungry and stay safe.

R.

Jun 6, 2015

Huevos Ahogados


Eggs, the bane of many a pro chefs and home cooks a like, nothing tests the culinary skills quite like these shells of potential. Ah, but what a wonderful conundrum to contend with.  Cooking an egg properly has no equal in the food world. Rumor has it that many a renown chef will have a hopeful student apply by simply cooking an egg. So, in my never-ending search to master them whilst simultaneously serving up cheap flavorful eats, I bring you my version of Huevos Ahogados.

This recipe was born from laziness as most great accidents often do. I’m half joking here as there wasn’t much at the house to cook with and our protein stores were running low. But I had an overabundance of dried peppers and fresh herbs growing in the garden to work with.  With a recent Yotam Ottolenghi recipe providing the inspiration and my love of Latin food the drive, I set about constructing my own, unique version of drunken eggs.  Indulge.


Fuel

1 can diced tomatoes (24 ounce)
⅔ can of chipotle salsa
2 dried chipotles
1 dried guajillo
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. Creama
4 garlic cloves minced
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
4-6 eggs
*Avocado
*Creama (or sour cream)
*Cilantro

*Garnish

Tools

Blender
Cast iron pan
Various bowls
Ramekins
Small deep saucepan
2” deep 10-12” wide saucepan with lid

Tactics

In the cast iron pan, place over medium-high heat and add the dried peppers. Cook until lightly browned on both sides, 3-5 minutes. Place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

Sometimes it's good to heat your spices in fat. 
In small sauce, deep saucepan, add the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, dried oregano and cumin, mix and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, cilantro, chipotle salsa and dried peppers (chipotles and guajillo) then bring to a soft boil. Lower the temp to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes. 

Give the flavored complexity (and heat) a chance to build.
Remove the dried peppers. Add the Crema and mix to combine. Place the tomato sauce into the blender with the water and blend to combine, 30 seconds. In the wide saucepan, add the tomato sauce and bring to a low simmer (really, just have small bubbles gently break the surface) . Crack the eggs in ramekins and slow add to the tomato sauce and cover (don’t crowd the pan). Cook until done to your likeness, 5-8 minutes for the various stages of runny, 10+ minutes for fully cooked. Hint: mine hit near in the 6-minute mark for perfectly running interiors.

Poach gently! Nice double yolk there.
One of the very few times a clear lids came in handy.
Plate the egg with a generous spoonful of the tomato sauce on a small plate. Garnish with sliced avocado, Crema and cilantro then salt and pepper to taste. Indulge!

Cumin, chili, dried oregano, onion, salt& pepper.
*I’d recommend frying a corn tortilla huevos rancheros style to plate the tomato sauce on. Also consider some Mexican seasoned potatoes (as I did) or black beans for your sides. 

May 6, 2015

Aroma Coffee and Tea Company

When visiting LA, nostalgia always hits me as arrive to LAX and I start to walk under the sky and palm trees of Southern California where I was born and raised. It builds as I get stuck in the never-ending traffic, see an ever busy In ‘n Out, and catch a glimpse of my first set of Mickey ears. But LA is large and sprawling, and depending on your current location and mode of transport, finding good food can be a challenge. Take my most recent stay as an example. I’m in Universal City at a boutique hotel and not much is around without a long Uber ride. My family and I are in a hurry and the only thing looking reasonable for breakfast is a local coffee house. Little did we know the gem of a restaurant we be walking into.

Aroma Coffee and Tea Company located on Tujunga Avenue was a brisk walk from our hotel but as the blue, cloudless sky was calling our name, what better way to work up an appetite then under the So Cal sun?  The neighborhood was quant and typical LA; boutique shops abound, updated 70’s style homes line the curbs and $3,000-a-month apartments rise up from the ground. Plenty of parking street side and near the adjacent abodes are there for the taking free of charge.

When one first strolls up to Aroma, you can’t help but take notice of it’s controlled confusion with relation to its vibe and decor. Eclectic doesn’t even cover it; French, Spanish, rustic American, Creole… It was fun to tour the different sitting areas and rooms, many outside under umbrellas and down quant corridors to find knick-knacks and themed art. We settled in one such corridor with water fountains and plenty of shade after ordering our food.





Picking your dish is another adventure of its own as their menu is as varied and all encompassing as their establishment. Outside of the typical LA fare (healthy, vegan and bursting with color), the plates were egg heavy with sandwiches, omelets and scrambles galore but I quickly zeroed in on their bueƱos dias los angelos section. Lo and behold, my wife, often much quicker on the draw had beaten me to the punch and already selected their Classic Burrito so I settled for their Mexican inspired Chipotle Steak Benedict. My son didn’t disappoint with his safe and loyal order of their version of a County Breakfast. Ordering takes place in the centrally located coffee and pastry bar (kitchen wasn’t of the open variety per my preference) but it was lively and colorful. We settled in for the meal.



Coffee was served tableside and didn’t disappoint. Herbaceous, dark and richly bitter my only complaint was their cavernously large bowls they were served in. As a firefighter, one never has to look too far to reach for fresh, hot coffee at the firehouse and it’s a tradition I’ve made permanent at home. So it seems sacrilegious to have anything below steaming Jo for me now. This may just be my snobbery bubbling to the surface (pun intended) but anything with too much surface-to-air contact let’s all the wonderful heat and aroma (pun unintended) escape too easily and one is soon left with luke warm flavored water. But I digress…
















The Chipotle Steak Benedict was everything it was labeled to be, equal part luxury and spice. Perfectly poached eggs, aggressively seasoned steak and a warm, spicy chipotle hollandaise sauce over a toasted ciabatta bun, it was the perfect start. Portion size was on par and a bowl to rival the coffee filled with seasonal fruit that rounded out the plate. A solid entry into my Benedict experience.


My wife’s Classic Burrito was a refresher course on surf side street fare from way back when; scrambled eggs, black beans, smoked bacon, roasted peppers, pico de gallo, guacamole, and plenty of cheese wrapped in a hand-made flour tortilla. The power of food has been well chronicled and experienced by many but nothing tops its ability to transport one to fond memories. Years can pass, friends can come and go, but food has the ability to remind us what we’ve had and can always reclaim. My wife seemed lost in thought (or ignoring me as that’s always in play), high praise.


The Country Breakfast was workmanlike in its approach in both presentation and size and hit all the requisite points for my ever-growing son and his bottomless stomach. Eggs properly cooked, bacon rendered and buttermilk pancakes fluffy, he devoured it all without complaint or playing with his food (huge points), well done Aroma.

Service was standard and expectedly slow with such a large layout and the on slot of the Saturday morning breakfast crowd swooping in just after our arrival. Our coffee was never refreshed and they were a tad slow on clearing the table as we enjoyed the ambiance and refreshing climate. Get here early for breakfast, as this place is a local hot spot with all the dog walkers and near by hoteliers. 

As we left the restaurant, we all grabbed some of their baked items; sticky bun, blueberry scone and plum tart. All were solid and worthy grab-and-go pastries for those on the rush.


Overall, Aroma Coffee and Tea Company was a hit. More experience then just dining; come to get lost in the varied, fun vibe, swimming pool size coffee, and well portioned and memory inducing food. A strong recommend.


Date: May 2015


3 ALARMS

Aroma Coffee & Tea on Urbanspoon

Feb 6, 2015

Spicy Hot Chocolate

There is no more an appealing concoction during the cold months of the year then a rich, hot cup of cocoa. But I have taken my connoisseur devotion of all thing hot chocolate to the level of adding spices, herbs and on occasion, an adult beverage (off shift mind you). So I give you a recipe that should start you down the road to experimenting with your generic hot cocoa mix by adding the subtle heat of cayenne pepper. It's not overwhelming (my kids will drink it) nor the dominating flavor, but it somehow enhances the chocolate. Indulge!

*This makes one serving

Fuel

Chocolate mix (whatever your heart desires)
8-10 ounces Whole Milk
1-3 ounce(s) dark chocolate chopped
½ tsp. Vanilla
¼ tsp. Coffee grounds or Espresso powder
¼ tsp. Salt
tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Tools

Blender (immersion or standard)
Saucepan

Tactics

Place the saucepan over medium heat.

Using a stand-alone blender, add all ingredients sans the chopped chocolate and blend till fully combined, 60-90 seconds. I like to see a bit of foam as it creates a more luscious mouth feel and I know all the powder has been properly mixed. Add the chocolate mix and chopped chocolate to the saucepan and gently warm ensuring not to boil the milk.

Alternately, with an immersion blender, add al the ingredients sans the chopped chocolate into the saucepan and spin using the low setting till it’s thoroughly combined and layer of foam sits on top. Add the hopped chocolate and then gently warm your mixture ensuring not to boil the milk.

Serve immediately or store in a warmed thermos.


A few after the fire critiques: The higher quality chocolate you use, the better. I also gave the recipe some leeway with the amount of chopped chocolate to add. Some like chocolate less then others, crazy, I know. I my opinion, hot chocolate isn’t something to skimp on, please splurge. I often enjoy highlighting the hot chocolate with spices as you can tell with the inclusion of cayenne pepper: nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, to name but a few are others to consider. Lastly, consider adding some marshmallows. Hit the link as I have a recipe for fresh ones. They’re quite good. Indulge.


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