Jun 29, 2012

Vietnamese Noodles

While researching for a new summer recipe, I came across a great Vietnamese/Indonesian street food recipe I though perfect for sharing. It immediately brought me back to my youth in California and days of surfing with my good friend, Truc. He is a first generation Vietnamese American who’s mother would occasionally prepare Vietnamese meals after our surfing endeavors (that was when we didn’t go to Pedro’s Tacos instead).


This recipe highlights a lot of great Vietnamese flavors, rice noodles and vegetables galore. It can be served with hot noodles and chicken and the cold veggies or everything can be wrapped up, refrigerated and served chilled later. It’s a speedy recipe, inexpensive and healthy, a perfect weeknight meal at the firehouse or the home.


I tacked on a little infomercial on what it is like to live in California or Hawaii and surf/bodyboard at the end of the video, so watch for it.



This is a recreation of Asian Street food in a bowl with heavy Vietnamese influences. This cuisine reminds me of coming back from a morning of surfing in CA and eating at my friends house where authentic Vietnamese food was served from his mother. It is a light, fresh and inexpensive meal perfect for the firehouse and home. In this episode we discuss fermented anchovies, "lingering" crews in the kitchen and bodyboarding.
Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)

Fuel:

Chicken Breast or Thighs (3-4 or about 1.5 lbs.)
Rice Noodles (2-3 ounce packages)
Cucumber (sliced)
Carrots (shredded)
Radishes (sliced)
Green Onion (sliced)
Cilantro (minced)
Lime Wedges

Vegetable Sauce

Fish Sauce (6 Tbs.)
Brown Sugar (6 Tbs.)
Lime Juice (12 Tbs.)
Jalapeno (minced)
Garlic Clove (2 minced)

Meat Sauce/Marinade

Peanut Butter (creamy 6 Tbs.)
Fish Sauce (3 Tbs.)
Soy Sauce (3 Tbs.)
Rice Wine Vinegar (3 Tbs.)
Lime Juice (9 Tbs.)
Ginger (1” cube minced)
Garlic Clove (minced)
Sriracha (1 tsp.)

Tools:

Mandoline
Blender (if using)
Various Sealable Plastic Containers
Bowls of Various Sizes
Whisk

Tactics:

Vegetable Sauce

Place the lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, jalapeno, and fish sauce in a container and mix to combine until the sugar dissolves.

Meat Sauce/Marinade

Place the lime juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and peanut butter in a container and whisk to combine until a heavy cream like consistency is achieved. This can also be done in the blender.


Assembling the Noodles

Marinate the chicken in a third of the peanut sauce (tossing to coat) for a minimum of 15 minutes or up to an hour in a small bowl.

Cook the noodles by bringing a large pot of water to boil then turning off the heat (or just use an electric kettle). Pour the water over the noodles and allow them to sit for 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook the chicken on a grill or stovetop 4-5 minutes a side. Loosely tent with aluminum and allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice against the grain into thin slices and set aside.

Place all the vegetables in small serving bowls and sprinkle with 1-2 Tbs. of the Vegetable Sauce and toss 15 minutes prior to serving. Add remaining Vegetable Sauce with the remainder of the Meat/Marinade Sauce and mix till combined. Place all the bowls (chicken and rice noodles as well) out buffet style to allow people to choose what they want. Add 2-3 Tbs. of the sauce, top with cilantro, lime wedges and Sriracha. Note that the noodles and chicken can be cooled and chilled to serve cold if you so choose. Enjoy.

Jun 28, 2012

SafePath Culinary Competition


Can you find me? Yes, I have been recruited to compete in a local cooking competition here in Atlanta and it is open to the public. The culinary offerings from some of Atlanta's best chefs and main event (the cooking competition) are all being provided to support awareness and funds for the SafePath Children's Advocacy Center (click on the link below the video). I will be leading my team of 5 Firefighters into battle against Marietta Fire Department, CCPD Police Department and CCPD Sheriff's Department chopped style. There will be many plates to taste, entertainment and a chance to meet me, all the while raising money for a great cause. As I learn more about the event, I pass it along here and Twitter. Watch the video below (hint: I'm driving the small red rescue vehicle, oh, and I'm bald.)



For more information on all the great work they do...

SafePath

For more information on the actual cooking competition that I'll be taking part in...

Good Eatin' Great Cause 


Stay Hungry, My Friends!

Jun 24, 2012

Twitter and #Euro2012




Euro 2012, the European Soccer Tournament that takes place every four years is currently down to the semi-finals and is the direct cause of there being no new FHC episode this week (or maybe just delayed a few days). This mammoth gathering of 16 teams representing soccer's elite within Europe is a joy to watch as the majority of the World's best players are on display. Intriguing match-ups of current club team members squaring off, incredibly famous and scrutinized players throwing egos aside to represent their countries, and the best soccer anywhere, some would argue this tournament is as big (if not bigger) then the famed World Cup.

That being said, I have not been quiet. I often share the goings on of the behind-the-scenes research, trial and error on current recipes and what I cook on a daily basis (well, every third day including pictures) while at the firehouse. Everything is there via Twitter. Just follow me @thefirechef where I also pass along fire service related info I deem worthy of your time, the latest and greatest about the Atlanta food scene and other whimsical thoughts that pop into my head and are shared through my sarcastic filter. Hope you and your family are doing well.

Stay Hungry, My Friends!

Jun 18, 2012

Grilled Naan Pizza


When the summer zenith approaches and fresh garden tomatoes are a plenty, I often reach for a vehicle to highlight them with which leads me to one of my favorite yeast concoctions, Naan.  Naan finds its roots buried in the Persian area, though it’s many incarnations have globetrotted to Africa, Asia and the Americas; most people now associate it with Indian cuisine. Traditionally cooked in a Tandoor, which produces superheated temperatures (upwards of 900°F!) in a domed clay oven, it can be easily reproduced in the home kitchen with a standard oven to great effect.

I may one day tinker with a Naan recipe for the home cook, but until then, it can be purchased at most local grocery stores (I found the ones featured in the episode at my local Costco) where you typically find pita bread. It can be served both sweet (coconut milk dough with walnuts and raisins comes to mind) and savory (like this recipe), simply (heated and flavored with olive oil) or as a multi-topping pizza. It should stand in comparison to something as versatile as the all-purpose tortilla; it can be used as a taco, spit open and stuffed, a wrap, sliced into toast sticks, etc. Its usefulness is only limited by your imagination.

But the tangy tomato drove this rendition of Naan. In the episode, I chose to quickly pickle the tomatoes to give them added heat, spice and acidic bite but this step can be skipped to save time.  I also mention that a protein would’ve elevated the pizza, smoked salmon, Canadian bacon and spicy sausage (Chorizo) comes to mind. Enjoy!






Grilled Naan Pizza - Naan bread is one of my favorite yeast concoctions to reach for when I want to have a vehicle to highlight all the summertime tomatoes. Pickling the tomatoes and adding hummus, basil, and balsamic vinegar only elevates this non-traditional "pizza". In this episode we discuss how to season a baking sheet, that you can pickle more than just a pickle and that every Firefighter has their favorite tool. Stay Hungry, My Friends!



Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


Fuel

Pizza

Naan Bread (6-8)
Hummus (1-2 Cups with the variety of your choosing)
Pickled Tomatoes
Balsamic Vinegar
Basil (10-12 leaves cut Chiffonade)
Pepper and Salt
EVOO

Pickled Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes (1 pint quartered)
Vinegar (½ Cup)
Garlic (2-3 Cloves roughly chopped)
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (½ tsp.)
Whole Peppercorns (12-15)
Basil (1-2 leaves cut Chiffonade)
Sugar (1 Tbs.)
Salt (a Pinch)


Tools

Grill
*Re-sealable Plastic Container *(if pickling)


Tactics

Pizza

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Meanwhile, glaze the Naan with EVOO on both sides then season with Pepper and Salt. Place the Naan on the grill approximately 1 minute on one side (or until slightly crisped with noticeable grill marks). Add a spoonful of hummus (enough to cover the Naan with a thin layer), tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar to the charred side. Place the uncooked side of the pizza on the grill for another minute. Remove and sprinkle with additional pepper, salt and a high quality EVOO if available. Serve immediately.

Pickled Tomatoes

Add the balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, peppercorns, crushed red pepper flakes, sugar and salt and mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the tomatoes and cover with water. Mix till combined. Cover and refrigerate a minimum of 10-15 minutes (recommend an hour) or for up to a week. Note that the longer you pickle, the stronger the flavor. 

Jun 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!


Cherish the Father that you have. It could always be worse...

Happy Father's Day!

Jun 12, 2012

Chicken Pesto Panini

Father’s Day is rapidly approaching and nothing makes a man smile on this day more then a hot, cheese sandwich, A.K.A- the Panini. Gluttony is the name of the game for this one day (well, maybe your Birthday too... and every major Holiday… and, come to think of it, Sundays as well) so treat your Dad on this special day.

Now, the Panini is considered a pressed sandwich everywhere but in Italy where it is known as a Panino. You have to give it to the Italians and there unique use of bread... Working in the firehouse (your home kitchen as well), I’m sure you won’t have the luxury of having a Panini press, so I’ll show you how to work around it using common cast iron pans. I lean towards cast iron pans for the heat retention and weight (and they are just about the best thing to own in your kitchen when properly seasoned). But, alas, no classic grill marks.

I’ve added chicken breast and pesto to this recipe but the Panini encompasses just about any protein and cheese. I added roasted red peppers here as well but tomatoes are an awesome replacement and what I typically prefer but I was craving the brine from the peppers. When cooking for the crew (in bulk), you can skip the whole “pressing” and just bake them en mass on a baking sheet in the oven (350°F) till the cheese has melted. Enjoy!



Chicken Pesto Panini - A great hot, cheesy sandwich just in time for Father's Day, the classic Panini, firehouse style! In this episode, we discuss Bolillos, cast iron pans and chicken (it's what's for dinner). Happy Father's Day Dad!

Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


Fuel

Chicken Breast (4-5 either sliced in half or pounded out to ½”)
Pesto (½ Cup)
Mozzarella Cheese (Sliced)
Bread Rolls (8-10 Ciabatta or Bolillos Rolls)
Mayonnaise (1-2 Tbs.)
Liquid Smoke (1 tsp.)
Roasted Red Peppers (Julienned)
Pepper and Salt

Tools

Panini Press or two large and heavy Cast Iron Pans
*Grill (Optional)
Small Bowl
Bread Knife
Whisk

Tactics

Heat the Grill set to high for 10-15 minutes if using a Gas Grill or heat up 2-3 cups charcoal to an ashen color if using a traditional Charcoal Grill. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature (20 - 30 minutes), season with EVOO, pepper and salt, then place directly over the heat and cook 3-5 minutes each side. Remove and reserve. Meanwhile, place the two cast iron pans on medium-high heat and allow them the heat up (5 minutes). Place the pesto, mayo and liquid smoke in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place the pesto mix on both sides of the bread roll, season with pepper and salt, then add the chicken breast, cheese and bell pepper. Place the prepared sandwich on one of the cast iron pans then carefully place the other heated cast iron pan allowing the weight of the pan to “press”. Cook until the cheese melts. Slice in half and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Jun 3, 2012

Panzanella

When the weather is perfect and the blue skies lead you outside to your deck or porch, salads are usually what you carry. I like to salute the garden with this particular salad by the name of Panzanella. This Florentine salad usually centers on stale bread and tomatoes but the addition of capers, basil and mozzarella often accompany it.

I like to honor the colors of summer vegetables by adding peppers, onions and cucumbers. It is a great meal unto itself or serving as a great side dish to fish or poultry. And best yet, you can make it ahead refrigerate and allow it to come to room temperature before serving (being sure to keep the bread separate from the salad when refrigerate). You may also serve it warm (highly recommended). Either presentation will surely stimulate the senses and make you want to linger a little longer on the deck and watch the sun go down.

* Note that I sauté the onions to reduce their kick and increase the sugar level. I also remove as much as the tomato seeds as possible to decrease the water content. Remove the butter and replace with more EVOO if you are training for an upcoming Tough Mudder or a Triathlon. Stay Hungry!



Panzanella - Bread getting stale? Throw it into a Italian salad and call it a Panzanella. In this episode I share with you my new house, that cheese needs to be in every salad and that you need to visit CA when you can.

Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


Fuel

Salad

French Baguette (1 Loaf roughly chopped into cubes, day old bread preferred)
Mozzarella (8 ounces cubed)
Tomatoes (4-5 large cubes, deseeded and cubed)
Bell Peppers (1 red and yellow, seeded and cut into large slices)
Red Onion (1 sliced and sautéed)
English Cucumber (2, seeded and sliced)
Capers (4 ounces)
Basil (15-20 large leaves chopped)
Garlic (2 cloves minced)
Unsalted Butter (4 Tbs.)
EVOO (4 Tbs.)
Pepper (½ tsp.)
Salt (½ tsp.)

Vinaigrette

Garlic (1 clove minced)
Sherry Vinegar (3 Tbs.)
Whole Grain Mustard (2 tsp.)
EVOO (½ Cup)
Pepper (¼ tsp.)
Salt (¼ tsp.)


Tools

Small Bowl
Large Bowl
Large Sauté Pan
Bread Knife
Whisk


Tactics

Salad

Place the butter and EVOO into the sauté pan over medium heat. Place the garlic in the butter/oil mixture and cook for 30 seconds. Add the bread and cook until browned roughly 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl add the bell peppers, cucumbers, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Remove the bread from the heat and reserve on the side. Place the onion in the pan and sauté until translucent, roughly 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add with the bread and basil to the large bowl. Mix to combine if ready to serve immediately. Separate the bread from the salad if you are going to refrigerate for later but allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Add the Vinaigrette (below) just prior to serving.

Vinaigrette

Place the garlic, mustard and vinegar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add the oil to create an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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