Dec 28, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is the day that my Dad was born, oh so many years ago... Thank you for your support, guidance and love. I wouldn't be here with out you Dad (literally). Happy Birthday!

Dec 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'm splitting up my time sharing this holiday with my 'two' families, at the fire house today and at the home surrounded by the wife and kids tomorrow. I hope that your holiday weekend is spent with those whom you love, that you recount all that you are thankful for, and that you surround yourself with good cheer, presents, and above all else, great food.

I'll be taking a break till the New Year to enjoy time with the family but have much in store for the second year of the FHC. I wanted to thank you for all your support and continued encouragement as it is what has kept me pushing and grounded at the same time. But above all else, I hope that the FHC has fostered a desire in you to step into the kitchen, where I hope you find yourself this weekend, to make some great Firehouse food. So without further ado, from my family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Stay hungry, my friends!

Dec 17, 2011

Christmas French Toast

Christmas French Toast
Often when the morning of Christmas rolls around, bed sheets are flung off, feet scamper down the stairs, and manic ripping sounds are what fill the house in the morning. Though as a parent, this comforting ritual brings a smile to my face with every cry for joy that gets uttered when each present's opened, my thoughts often boil down to the most basic of urges, hunger. This happens every morning but is delayed on Christmas because the joy it brings reminds us all of what is truly important in life, family. But even Santa needs to eat. So while I start up the fireplace, turn up Nat King Cole, and sip on some peppermint hot chocolate, my thoughts drift to breakfast.

Breakfast, for those of you who don’t know, is my favorite meal of the day, and it’s not even close. In fact, I have it twice, immediately after I wake up, then a second breakfast a few hours later. It usually consists of some whole grain cereal followed by yogurt and a banana. Then perhaps later followed with an omelet topped with pico de gallo. Nothing you’d call luxurious nor memorable. But we are talking about Christmas morning here; it only happens once a year and calls for something that will be both memorable and filling. So I will be sharing one of my favorite breakfast recipes to help accomplish both while at the same time requiring very little kitchen time (no one wants to be left behind) and remaining very inexpensive. Stay hungry, my friends!

Episode 29 - Christmas - December 25th, the big day where presents are opened while sitting around the Christmas tree, sipping on hot chocolate with Nat King Cole playing in the background... All that is missing is a great Firehouse breakfast, French Toast. In this episode, I show you that an inexpensive breakfast can still be luxurious, that which loaf you buy can be key, and that there are four major food groups (hint: we use one). For more, including the recipe, visit www.thefirehousechef.com.
Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)

Fuel

Sourdough Loaf
Heavy Cream (2 Cups)
Sugar (⅓ Cup)
Eggs (2)
Ground Cinnamon (1 tsp.)
Ground Nutmeg (1 tsp.)
Orange, juiced and zested (1 tsp.)
Salt (1 tsp.)
Butter
Powdered Syrup
Syrup


Tools

Large Skillet (Cast Iron preferred)
Deep Plastic Container
Whisk
Spatula
Cookie Sheet


Tactics

Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice the loaf into ¾” slices. Beat eggs in plastic container. Add the heavy cream, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange and mix until the sugar is evenly distributed. Soak the bread slices one or two at a time (ensure to very gently squeeze the air out of each like you would a sponge) for about 8-10 minutes per. Place the skillet over medium-high heat with about 1 tsp. of butter. Once the skillet is just beginning to smoke, place 2 slices on and sear for 3-5 minutes per side. Place all the cooked slices on a cookie sheet and then bake in the oven for an additional 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, place some syrup in a small pot and gently warm. Place French Toast on a warmed plate with syrup and powdered sugar and a slice of orange.

Dec 11, 2011

Holiday Cookies

Episode 28 - Holiday Cookies - With Christmas fast approaching, we delve into the world of cookie making. We make some chewy cookies, discuss leavening agents, and quote the greatest Christmas movie ever made. Visit www.thefirehousechef.com for more.
Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)

Dec 10, 2011

Holiday Cookies



*Serves 4 comfortably


Fuel

A/P Flour (2 Cups)
Sugar (1½ Cups + ⅓ for rolling)
Cream Cheese (2 ounces at room temp)
Butter (6 ounces, unsalted and melted)
Chocolate (8-10 ounces, a dark variety, chopped or chips)
Vegetable Oil (⅓ Cup)
Baking Powder (1 tsp.)
Baking Soda (½ tsp.)
Vanilla Extract (2 tsp. + 1 tsp)
Heavy Cream (2 Tbs., room temp)
Milk (1 Tbs.)
Egg  (beaten)
Salt (1 tsp.)

Tools

Cookie Sheet (2 lined with Parchment Paper or SiltPads)
Bowls (large and  2 medium)
Pot (medium)
Plate or Baking dish (shallow)
Spatula (rubber preferred)
Whisk
Cup and a Spoon

Tactics

Cookies:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F and set rack to the middle. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk in medium bowl. Place sugar (1½ cups), cream cheese and butter in large bowl and whisk together (it should resemble wet sand). Add the vegetable oil and mix until smooth (some lumps of cream cheese are expected). Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the dry fuel in three installments with a spatula until soft dough forms. Using a spoon, divide the dough into 24 equal pieces (roughly 2 Tbs. per). Using your hands, roll up the pieces into small balls then roll into the reserved sugar until covered on all sides. Place the balls on prepared cookie sheets and space them about 2” apart. Then using the bottom of a cup (I used a measuring cup), flatten the dough to the rough diameter of 2”. Bake, 1 cookie sheet at a time, for roughly 11-13 minutes (rotate the sheets after 7 minutes). Cool cookies on sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

*Option: Sprinkle some of the remaining sugar (or other sugar crystals) from the rolling on the tops of the cookies prior to placing them in the oven.

Ganache:

Place water, approximately 1 inch (ensure that the bowl you place on top does not touch the water), and heat to a slow simmer (small bubbles that occasionally break to the surface). Place the chocolate in a bowl then place the bowl over the pot. Allow the chocolate to slowly melt, occasionally stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn. When the chocolate melts completely, add the heavy cream, vanilla (1 tsp) and a pinch of salt and stir until combined. Turn heat off but keep chocolate over the bowl to allow for dipping. Enjoy!

*Note: Never allow the water to boil. To ensure, keep checking by periodically removing the bowl (use caution as the bowl will be hot) and looking. 

Dec 8, 2011

Tis the Season to Season

Quick update on the happiest time of the year. I have been busy with the family (as I hope you have) but still have a few episodes in the works for the Holiday's. A new one will be released this Saturday (think desserts) and I am currently filming one for Christmas (specifically Christmas morning). I feel that the food that is eaten for Christmas morning while the presents are being opened, hot chocolate is being slurped, or a long shift at the Fire House is being prepared for, sets up the rest of the jolly day. So in an effort to ensure that everyone is fat and happy after the Christmas morning ritual, I will be sharing one of my most popular breakfast recipes for the special occasion. It can be made simply or with decadence, cheaply or lavishly, whichever direction you want to take it for the family and friends you surround yourself with on Christmas morning. Until then, stay hungry!

Dec 3, 2011

College Food (Asian Noodle Soup)

Episode 27 - College Food (Asian Noodle Soup) - Had some collegate followers throw down a challenge of making firehouse worthy dorm food so here's the response. In this episode, we discuss fermented anchovies, what Coriander is, and that once you graduate the only thing left to do is to pay for it. Visit www.thefirehousechef.com for the recipe and more.
Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


Don't forget to visit the TASTY AWARDS website and vote for The Fire House Chef HERE! Voting end December 8th.

Stay hungry, my friends!

Dec 2, 2011

College Food Firehouse Style



*Serves 4 comfortably


Fuel

Chicken Broth (8 cups)
4 Ramen Noodle Packages (3 ounces each broken up into thirds)
Flank Steak (or similar cut beef, 1 lbs.)
Cabbage (½ Head, Napa or regular, julienned)
Cilantro (¼ cup minced)
Garlic (2 cloves minced)
Ginger (1 Tbs. grated)
Fish Sauce (2 Tbs.)
Srirracha (1 tsp.)
Soy Sauce (1 Tbs.)
Chinese Five Spice (½ tsp.)
Lime (cut into wedges)
*Peanuts (roasted and chopped)
*Pork Bone
*Onion (chopped)

*Optional

Tools

Dutch Oven
Spider (preferably dead, J/K) or Slotted Spoon
Grater

Tactics

Freeze the steak for 15 minutes before cutting to help cut thin, even slices (or right before you place the Dutch Oven on the stove). Place Dutch Oven over medium heat and place broth, pork bone, onion, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and five-spice powder and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer for 15-20 minutes to let the flavors meld. Using spider, remove pork bone and onion. Discard.

Remove the steak from freezer and cut into thirds lengthwise and then cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Add noodles to stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, bout 2 minutes (note: add more water if needed, a cup at a time to ensure the noodles are covered). Stir in steak, cabbage and Srirracha and simmer until cabbage is wilted and the steak is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Add cilantro. Place in warmed bowls, top with peanuts and serve with lime wedges. Enjoy.

Side Note: I got my pork bone from the local butcher for free. It is important to develop a good relationship with your local butcher even if the butcher is from the local grocery store. 
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