Mar 29, 2012

Next Shift on the FHC: Steak Fries (AKA- Potato Wedges)

Steak Fries, otherwise known as Potato Wedges, are coming up the next shift. No oil over an open flame though, looking out for your heart and the mess in your kitchen. So, get your Roasted Garlic Chipotle Sauce, Avocado Lime Mayo, and Homemade Ketchup. Gonna need them all... Stay hungry, my friends!

Mar 25, 2012

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival


Coming May 10-13 to Midtown Atlanta is the annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. Though I have never been, the allure of all the great culinary minds of the South in one location is powerful. Daily lectures, demonstrations, tastings and a chance to rub shoulders with some the innovators in the field are what the festival is known for. This is were inspiration is born, techniques learned, and friendships spring from. I am reaching out to anyone who has ever attended any previous Food & Wine Festival (whether here in Atlanta or elsewhere) and to inquire if the price of admission ($$$$) is worth the experience. Please either comment below or reach me via Twitter @thefirechef and let me know. For more on the upcoming festival, I have provided a link (click on the logo below):

Mar 20, 2012

Herbs Part 2 Revisited

It was recently brought to my attention from a new viewer that started the FHC 'tutorial' from numero uno, that Episode 8 - Herbs (Part 2), released more than a year ago, was no where to be found in the archives. From those that don't know, I archive all the episodes on my YouTube channel so you can always have the availability to go back and soak in more knowledge. In fact, all episodes are made to be watched twice by design (hence the footnotes during the episodes).

So I thought it is a good time to revisit what I consider to be one of the 'foundation' episodes, as it demonstrates the use of fresh herbs in four different applications; a Compound Butter, Pesto, Bouquet Garni and Chimichurri. I'd of course recommend that you first catch up with Part 1 before jumping right into this episode to get yourself familiar with the greens. It is also cool to see what the show was like more then a year ago. How time flies...






Episode 8 - Herbs - Part 2 (revisited)- In this episode we examine what I label as the 8 everyday herbs. We'll discuss each one and then play with them in some recipes (Herb Butter, Pesto, Bouquet Garni and Chimichurri).



Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)

Mar 13, 2012

Broccoli and Cheese Soup


Winter is coming to a close, much faster then I had anticipated, but that won’t stop me from releasing a great cold weather recipe like the classic Broccoli & Cheese soup. This recipe is near and dear to my heart, as it brings me back to my days of strolling down the paths of my favorite place to experience Southern California with my family, Disneyland. Outside of the crashing waves of my beloved California shore, Disneyland is what I think of most when people ask me about my time spent growing up there. On a side note, I’d also consider retiring there and working with the Disneyland Fire Department (which I came to find out is comprised of mostly retired Southern California Firefighters). What a job!

More specifically with this recipe, Broccoli & Cheese soup was a staple that my family and I would look forward to when visiting the Disneyland California Adventure Park. Inside the park was a re-creation of Fisherman’s Wharf located in San Francisco (the way only Disney can do it) including the great bakery/soup restaurant, Pacific Warf Café. The warm and comforting soup in a bread bowl was a fantastic way to dust off the chill of the night and sit back and enjoy the great atmosphere. In sharing this recipe with you, it's my hope to re-create that same sense of warmth and comfort when spending time with your family.




Episode 35 - Broccoli and Cheese - In this episode, we examine one of my favorite vegetables, Broccoli. Steamed, roasted, or as in this recipe, simmered, broccoli elicits either praise or revulsion from people, so I try to temper their expectations by combining it with one of it's classic partners, cheddar. We aslo discuss San Francisco's Wharf, that potato and onion are the foundation and that Darth Vader knows what's cool.


Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


Fuel

Broccoli (roughly 3 cups)
- Florets (2 cups, chopped)
- Stems (1 cups, peeled and chopped)
White Cheddar Cheese (4 cups)
Canadian Bacon (1 cup, chopped)
Poblano (charred, peeled, de-seeded and chopped)
Onion (one medium and chopped)
Potato (1 cup chopped)
Garlic (2-3 cloves chopped)
Chicken Stock (4 cups)
Cumin Seed (¼ tsp. toasted and ground)
Butter (3 Tbs. cubed)
Flour (3 Tbs.)
Pepper and Salt to taste

Tools

Dutch Oven
Blender
Spice/Coffee Grinder
Slotted Spoon
Aluminum Foil
Tongs

Tactics

Place the poblano over direct flame on the stovetop. Char on all sides then loosely wrap in aluminum foil and allow steaming for 10 minutes. Place the poblano under running water and peel the skin, split open the poblano and remove the seeds (and veins if you don’t want it to be too spicy) then chop into bite size pieces. Place the Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Place the Canadian bacon in and brown for about 5-8 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined bowl. Put onion in and cook for 5-8 minutes or until translucent.  Add Garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Make a small well in the middle of the Dutch Oven then add butter. Melt butter then add the flour then mix until incorporated and cook for an additional 3 minutes (to remove the flour taste). Pour in the chicken stock and deglaze the bottom (use the spatula to scrap the bottom to remove the goodness). Add the potato, broccoli stems, poblano and cumin, and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the broccoli florets, Canadian bacon and cheddar cheese then mix to combine (and melt cheese). Pepper and salt to taste. Enjoy.

Mar 9, 2012

Pickled Onions (still on my mind...)


Well, some days the stars just don't align even with the best of intentions and preparation. Last day at the firehouse was one such instance. I had to hustle to prep dinner immediately after breakfast because we had a full day of training ahead of us. So I had the intention of making some slow cooked, pulled pork sliders with a mustard barbecue sauce, pickled onions, dill coleslaw and corn on the cob. Now, for those that don't know, I am relatively new to the station that I am currently at, so I haven't had a chance to use all the kitchen tools. So I dusted off the station Crock Pot and after sautéing the pork, threw it in and set the pot on low for 6 hours. Can you see where this is going? Yes, I know you can...

After a tough day of training we were all very hungry, (I can always tell when I am too hungry when even fast food looks good and I don't eat fast food). So I headed up to the kitchen to get everything on the table before the trucks even finished backing into the bay . I pulled out the fixings from the fridge, tossed out the plates then turned my attention to the pork and found to my surprise and shock that it was only partially cooked (partially cooked is being kind, it was rare). So no slow-cooked, succulent, shredded pork for tonight (sigh). So I called for "all hands on deck" and implemented Plan B. (BTW, Plan B is doing whatever it takes! I live by that motto when on the fire ground, in fact I even have it on a coin on my helmet...). With my crew in the kitchen backing me up, I quickly sliced up 7 pounds of Boston Butt and sautéed it in a pan then tossed it with the barbecue sauce and in less then 15 minutes, everything was on the table. Not at all what I had intended but life, like any working fire, teaches that you have to roll with the punches. 

All that story leads me to the biggest surprise of the night and that was that the pickled onions were a hit. Not a one at the table had ever had pickled onions and they were shocked when I informed them that pickling doesn't require months but as little as 10-15 minutes. A few notes: you are more than welcome to blanch the onions in some boiling water for about 2 minutes to subtle their flavor (not something I'd choose but it's an option). You can also heat the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes then add the rest of the fuel and allow it to cool (it's a fun experiment to prepare both and taste their differences to see how heat changes ingredients). Also, these onions pickled for about 5-6 hours while we were sweating the day away. But I felt they had the right about of tang and very subtle spiciness from the jalapeño. Longer pickling would intensify the heat.

Fuel

Red Onion (quartered and thinly sliced)
Jalapeño (½ of it then minced)
Garlic (2 cloves minced)
Apple Cider Vinegar (¼ Cup)
Peppercorns (8-10 whole)
Sugar (1 Tbs.)
Salt (¼ tsp.)

Tools

Sealable Plastic Container

Tactics

Place all fuel in the container and add enough water to cover the onions.  Place the lid on the container and shake it to mix or until the sugar and salt are dissolved.  Place in a refrigerator for no less then 10-15 minutes. Should be good for a month. Note that the longer it is pickled the more intense the flavor and spiciness.  Enjoy cause it’s good.

Mar 7, 2012

Apple Crisp


Dessert at the Firehouse is sometimes viewed as a double-edged sword.  We are like most and love to finish a quality meal by splurging with a sweet indulgence but the health detractors hang heavily over us.  It is not forgotten on all of us the health concerns that we face as we advance both in our profession and in age.  Cardiac related events are the No. 1 killer of Firefighters followed closely by Cancer and Traumatic events (driving to and from emergencies).  We willingly sign on knowing that our career paths that take us into IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) environments that expose us to stresses that most professions wouldn’t allow. So anything to limit ‘stress’ to our bodies and minds is encouraged.

As Diabetes, Obesity and Cardiac conditions are a concern to all, they are doubly so for us. As most of you know, I am a big proponent of engaging in physical activity as I view Firefighters as highly trained professional athletes and that includes (but is not limited to) a work out regimen and a sound diet.  The benefits are well chronicled as anyone who routinely exercises can attest. But what life has taught me as I get older is that your diet shouldn’t deter one from enjoying the ‘sweeter’ things in life and this recipe is here in case you feel the need to live a little and push the IDLH concerns away, if only for as long as you enjoy a nice dessert.

*I use Granny Smith apples cause I enjoy the tart kick but any apple will do







Episode 34 - Apple Crisp - In this episode, I throw together a simple, quick and inexpensive Firehouse dessert, the Apple Crisp. We also discuss that sometimes the forbidden fruit is the best, that Dulce de Leche can be compared to liquid, hot magma and that recipes are never set in stone.



Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)



Fuel

Filling

Apples (6 peeled and chopped)
Pecans (Toasted and chopped, ¼ Cup)
Brown Sugar (⅓ Cup)
Lemon (Zested and juiced, 2 Tbs.)
All Purpose Flour (2 Tbs.)
Molasses (1 Tbs.)
Cinnamon (1 tsp.)
Nutmeg (½ tsp.)
Vanilla (1 tsp.)
Salt (1 tsp.)

Topping

All Purpose Flour (½ Cup)
Brown Sugar (½ Cup)
Pecans (Toasted and chopped, ½ Cup)
Oatmeal (Quick Cut, ½ Cup)
Unsalted Butter (¼ Cup, cold and chopped)
Cinnamon (1 tsp.)

Dulce de Leche

Sweetened Condensed Milk
Heavy Cream (1-2 Tbs.)
Vanilla (1 tsp.)
Salt 

Tools

9” x 13” Baking Dish
Medium Bowls (2)
Spatula
Slow Cooker
Can Opener
Tongs

Tactics

Make the Dulce de Leche, place the can (remove the paper lining) and cover with water, at least an inch above the can and set to low. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours. Remove with togs and place in sink to allow to rest, 30 minutes. Covering with a towel, use a can opener to carefully open the can. Pour into a medium bowl, add heavy cream, vanilla and salt and mix to combine. Pour into a squeeze bottle (if using) and reserve.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.  To assemble the apple filling, place lemon zest, lemon juice, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl and mix to combine.  Place to the side.

To assemble the topping, place the flour, brown sugar, oatmeal and cinnamon in the other bowl and mix to combine.  Then add the butter and using either a pastry blender or your bare hands, mix until the ingredients resemble course sand. 

Place the apple filling into the baking dish and place the topping evenly in top.  Place the dish into the oven and cook for 1 hour.  The top should be nice and browned.  Allow it to cool for 10 minutes and then serve. Enjoy. 
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