Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Dinner

Pork Loin with Apple and Cranberry stuffing

1 boneless pork loin (about 6 pounds)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cup seasoned croutons1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup peeled, chopped green apples
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbs cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onions
2 Tbsp Cranberry juice
2 Tbsp Honey

1 Preheat oven to 325°F.

2 Rinse the pork and pat it dry. You will be doing a "double-butterfly or Pin Wheel" on the pork roast. Lay the roast down, fat side up. Insert the knife into the roast 1/2-inch horizontally from the bottom of the roast, along the long side of the roast. Make a long cut along the bottom of the roast, stopping 1/2 inch before the edge of the roast. You might find it easier to handle by starting at a corner of the roast. Open up the roast and continue to cut through the thicker half of the roast, again keeping 1/2 inch from the bottom. Repeat until the roast is an even 1/2-inch thickness all over when laid out.

If necessary, pound the roast to an even thickness with a meat mallet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

3 Place croutons and stock in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, until the croutons have absorbed the stock and have softened. Stir in the apples, walnuts, cranberries, onions, cranberry juice, honey, salt and pepper. Spread mixture over surface of the pork.

Starting with the smallest side of the meat (which should be in the shape of a rectangle), roll up tightly.

Secure with kitchen string. At this point you can wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate if you are making ahead.

4 Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with cooking spray or a little olive oil. Place the roast in the pan and cook at 325°F, uncovered, for about 1 hour ten minutes, or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140-145°F. Start checking the internal temperature of the roast at about one hour. Let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the kitchen string and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices.

Coq Au Vin

Winter calls for a good hearty dish once in a while. I love this dish and serve it a couple of times a year in the fall and winter. I fixed this meal for a lovely couple in Lancaster Ohio. It’s a great way to spend an evening with family on a cold winters night.

Coq Au Vin

3 to 3 ½ lb fryer chicken cut up
½ lb Pancetta
8 sm white boiling onions (skins removed)
½ lb button mushrooms
1 ¾ C chicken broth (low sodium)
1 C dry red wine
2 Tb Dijon mustard
Bouquet of herbs: 2 sprigs of thyme and 1 sprig of Rosemary and 1 bay leaf, tied all together with string.
1 ts each cornstarch and water
2 Tb chopped parsley

Rinse chicken, pat dry and set aside. In a wide frying pan over medium-high heat, cook pancetta stirring, until crisp and well browned. Take out and set aside, leaving drippings in pan.
Add chicken to pan, a portion at a time, without crowding; cook and brown on all sides. Take out and set aside. Add skinned onions to pan, cook, and stirring until browned. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid has evaporated. Set onions and mushrooms aside.
Pour wine into pan and increase heat to high, scraping up brown bits from pan.
Stir in broth and mustard, mix well. Bring to a boil until reduced to about 1 ½ cups. Add chicken, onion and mushrooms back to pan. Add the Bouquet of herbs and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes until chicken is done. Stir in pancetta and return to a simmer
Transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving dish. Combine cornstarch and water and stir into sauce. Bring to a boil until thickened and pour over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Serves 4 or 5 people. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes or root vegetables and maybe some sautéed green beans.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gadget Corner - Calphalon

Gadget Corner: Calphalon Cutlery – Santoku Knives

One of my favorite toys is cutlery! To me it’s the main attraction for the kitchen. Whether you are making a cold salad or a main dish to just about anything you will always reach for your favorite tool…The knife!
Ever since I got married over eight years ago my wife thinks I have a fetish for kitchen tools, especially knives. No, I’m not a sadist, I’m a Chef who loves to cook! I’m sure there are many of you out there that feel the same way but may not know what a good tool is for the average home.
There are many kitchen knives out there from the cheapo five dollar chef knife to one that runs a good $200 bucks. I have recently purchased your decent middle of the road knife, a Calphalon Santoku knife, actually a pair and I have to say I feel good about my purchase.
My pair came with a 5” and a 9” Santoku. The blades maintain well and keep a sharp edge with the use of a good steel. For the average household these knives make a nice addition to the kitchen. The pair runs anywhere from $35 to $50 depending upon where you buy them from. Here are some specs from you might enjoy.

Calphalon Santoku Knives
Combining features of a chef's knife and a cleaver, the Santoku is an all purpose Asian-style knife that's ideal for cutting meat, fish and vegetables. The word santoku means "three good things" - a reference to the three cutting tasks it performs so well: slicing, dicing and mincing. The Santoku is designed with kullens, or indentations along its edges, which reduce friction and prevent food from sticking to the blade. The knife also serves as a spatula as you cut, removing cut foods quickly and easily from the cutting surface.
Full tang design provides better balance and superior strength.
One piece forging of blade, bolster and tang for long-lasting durability. No parts to separate.
Ergonomic grip handle uniquely contoured for one size fits all comfort
High carbon, no-stain German steel from tip to tang. Sharpens more easily than ordinary stainless and maintains its edge longer. Resists rust, stains, discoloration.
Each knife type individually balanced for efficiency and comfort.
Fully tapered from cutting edge to spine and from tip to heel for superior strength and greater cutting versatility.
Hand-ground to a perfect, equal edge and fine satin finish.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Italian Night

Tonight I thought I would do something Italian! Yes, this dish is a little heavy right after the holiday but it’s delicious and your family will love it. It’s very easy and will only take about 30 minutes from start to finish. Ok, maybe a little longer once you include clean up but it really is an easy dish. I suggest reading the whole recipe to get a good idea of the process and when to do what. I hope you enjoy this recipe. Serve with a nice crisp salad and some baked Italian garlic bread.

Chicken Romano with Linguine
2 Lg Boneless Chicken Breast
1 C Seasoned Italian Bread crumbs
1Tb Dried Italian Seasoning herbs
1 Tb Parmesan Cheese grated
¾ C Milk
2 Tb flour
1 Ts minced garlic
4 thick slices of Mozzarella Cheese
1 Jar of your favorite Marinara Sauce
1 Small jar of your favorite Alfredo Sauce
1 Pkg linguine pasta
2 Tb fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 375 and heat a large pot (I suggest 10 qt) of boiling well salted water. Pound chicken breasts thin to ½ inch evenly and cut in halves. In 3 small shallow pans (such as round cake pans) fill 1 with the flour, 1 with the milk and 1 with the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning and Parmesan Cheese. Take the chicken and dredge in flour then milk and then bread crumb mixture to coat.

In a large oven proof skillet, heat 3 to 4 Tb of Olive Oil to med-high heat. Place coated chicken in skillet, brown on each side for 3 to 4 minutes. Place pan in oven for around 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through. (test with a digital thermometer to 160 degrees). Place one slice of Mozzarella Cheese on each piece of chicken and place back in oven to melt.

While chicken is in oven cook pasta in boiling water until al-dente and in a small sauce pan heat the marinara sauce. Now, in a sauté pan melt 1 Tb butter and add ¼ Ts of minced garlic and cook until it blossoms, add a 4 oz ladle of the Alfredo sauce to the pan bringing to a simmer, sprinkle with a pinch of the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Note: most likely if you are using store bought sauces they will have enough salt. Add 1 serving of pasta to sauce and toss.

To plate: on a rimmed plate or pasta bowl ladle 3 oz of marinara sauce onto bottom of plate. In center of plate top with pasta (I suggest twisting it with a pair of tongs to a mound). Top with one piece of the chicken and garnish with parsley.

Do this for each serving or if you have a large enough sauté pan do all 4 servings in it and divide. Last note: some Alfredo sauces are thicker than others. If yours seem to thick when you add the pasta just add a little pasta water to it to thin it out some.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Big Day!

Wow, what a day! The Turkey coma has set in to most of the family and it was a day to remember. I don’t care who you are, no one is immune from mistakes or mishaps. I myself was almost a victim too. It started off with my oven. My reliable Whirlpool brand gas range that has always done a great job and is only 5 or 6 years old.

My turkey was resting on the counter at room temperature, my homemade stock on the burner cooking away, my onions, carrots and celery sautéing on the stove top when I decided to pre-heat the oven. I knew I had to re-arrange the racks inside so I went to open the door to do so when it happened. No, the door didn’t fall off and no it wasn’t a problem of the oven turning on but what did happen stopped me in my tracks. I pulled the door handle and boom, it wouldn’t open. I pulled again with more force thinking it was hung up on something but no, it had actually locked itself.

What happened you asked? Well, the hook that locks the door when you turn on the self cleaning function decided to arm itself and was trying to deny me my succulent bird. Why? Why, I asked myself of all days would this appliance have an attitude of “I’ll show you!” and put me into a direct point of panic.

First, I pulled harder thinking I could beat the door at its own game but it wouldn’t give. Then I calmed down and thought for a while. Looking through all my tools to see what I could do and finally I found something that could help. Just a long piece of metal that could help me release the hook. It worked and I was totally relieved. I’m not sure why it happened but it did but at least I was able to fix it.

That wasn’t the only thing, since I was now behind schedule I was probably rushing more than I needed to and in doing so realized I forgot to add the apples to my stuffing. Luckily I was able to fix that to before cooking the stuffing while the bird was in the oven.

With all that fun happening during the day at least dinner was a success. I hope your big day was a success too and your recipes went off with a bang! I just purchased a new digital camera so come back regularly for new recipes with some nice pic’s too but I was able to take this pic of the turkey.

Please leave a comment if you happened to try any of the recipes to let me know how they came out or to just leave a comment on what you would like to see on this site.

The Home Chef

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Recipes from the Thanksgiving menu

I'm doing my best to get the whole menu posted before this evening but it's a little challenging. Here is the Turkey recipe and I'll have more of the menu done by the end of the day. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family has in the past. I'm getting a new digital camera to start loading pictures of these wonderful creations. Enjoy!

Herb Roasted Turkey

1 12 to 14 lb turkey
3 oranges
2 Yellow onions
1 stick unsalted Butter
1 tb each fresh Sage, oregano, thyme finely chopped
Whole sage leaves and thyme for the cavity
1 tb chopped garlic
Salt & Pepper
1 ½ c Chicken broth

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Clean and wash turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels completely inside and out. Salt cavities of bird liberally. In a sauce pan melt butter and add chopped herbs. Sauté for about a minute on low, add garlic and sauté for another 30 second or so until the garlic blossoms and releases its wonderful aroma. Take off heat and refrigerate until just jelled and no longer a liquid state.

With turkey on a stable surface take your fingers and open the skin from the meat carefully not ripping any wholes in it. Take half the butter mixture and evenly spread it under the skin and between the breasts. Take the remaining butter mixture and rub it all over the outside of the bird not leaving any large lumps. Quarter the oranges and onions and place inside cavities of bird along with some whole sage and thyme stems. Truss the bird with butchers twine.

Place turkey on a rack in a sturdy roasting pan and put the chicken broth in bottom of pan, put in oven uncovered for 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 300 and place a foil triangle over the breast only and put back in oven. Cook until internal temp reaches 180 (use a probe thermometer between the thigh and breast not touching the bone). Baste a couple of times during the cooking process. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes and baste again. You will be left with a delicious crispy skin.

Take bird out of oven and tent with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving, (this is the key to a successfully moist bird).

Note, you could stuff the turkey with my Apple and Sausage stuffing just before cooking too if you prefer this method. I do it both ways. I will remove the stuffing and add it to the rest of the cooked stuffing and mix together…makes a delicious moist stuffing. Recipe: Apple & Sausage Stuffing

Sweet & Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes

4 lg sweet potatoes chopped in 1 inch cubes
4 tbs honey
2 tbs Cajun seasoning
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

In a large bowl toss potatoes with olive oil to coat. Spread on a large baking sheet lined with non stick foil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning and then drizzle honey over potatoes. Bake at 425 for approximately 25 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender and a little crispy. Put in your favorite serving dish for the table

The Home Chef

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu recipes for the big day

Here are a couple of the recipes from the menu posted yesterday.

Cranberry Sauce

1 - 12oz bag of fresh Cranberries
1c – sugar
Juice from 2 Naval Oranges (save halves)
1c – water

In a sauce pan squeeze juice from oranges discarding any seeds and saving the halves, add the water and sugar and bring to a boil dissolving the sugar. Once sugar is dissolved add the cranberries and place the squeezed orange halves on top cut side down. Bring back to a boil then reduce to a slow boil (med, heat) and simmer for 10 minutes. Take pan off heat and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve. I recommend do 2 days before to let the flavors meld. Before serving, top with a little lemon and orange zest.

Apple & Sausage Stuffing

3 Lf Sourdough bread
2 golden delicious apples peeled, cored and chopped in small chunks
1 lb sage ground sausage
2 lg yellow onion diced (divided)
4 Stalks Celery diced (divided)
4 lg carrots shredded (divided)
2 tbs Italian Seasoning herbs dried
Giblets from turkey
3 clove garlic chopped
3 tbs Olive oil
4c Low sodium Chicken broth
3c water (you can use all chicken broth for a richer stuffing)
Salt and Pepper

Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and crisp in the oven the day before. Day of, in a large Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and sauté 3 to 4 minutes until vegetables soften. Add garlic and Italian seasoning herbs and sauté for 30 to 45 seconds until the garlic blossoms (releases it aroma).
Add the giblets, chicken stock and water and salt and pepper, bring to a boil, reduce heat cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours. While stock is simmering, in a separate skillet brown sausage and drain, set aside, melt 2 tbs butter and the divided onions, carrots and celery and saute until soft, add apples and cook down until medium soft. Drain and set aside
Once giblet stock is finished, take out giblets and discard or remove meat from neck and add to the mixture. In a large mixing bowl add the sourdough bread, apples and sausage, strain the stock into another bowl and add the vegetables to the bread mixture. Add enough stock to the bread to moisten richly. Put the stuffing into a lightly buttered casserole dish and cover. Refrigerate until ready to cook. Place in oven (375 degrees) when you remove the turkey from oven and cook for 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve with dinner. If stuffing seems a little dry before cooking add more liquid.

Note: if you don't want to go to the trouble of making your own stock, cut the veggies in half and just use heated chicken stock from the store.

This will make enough to stuff your bird if you choose and fill a large casserole pan.


The Home Chef

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Menu

If you’re wondering what kind of menu to serve this Thanksgiving day, here is a sample menu that I have served before. Over the next couple of days I will publish these recipes so you can try them for yourselves. Enjoy!

Holiday Menu:


Humus Dip with Crispy Flat Bread Chips
Cheese Ball and Crackers
Veggies Tray: your favorite combination of fresh veggies
Shrimp Cocktail

Main Menu
Herb Roasted Turkey
Apple & Sausage Stuffing
Spicy Green Bean Casserole
Sweet & Savory Roasted Root Vegetables
Seasoned Gravy from pan drippings
Garlic Chive Mashed Potatoes
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin Pie Bread

Thursday, November 15, 2007

All Day Event!

I was thinking about Thanksgiving day and what usually takes place during a normal holiday. Reflecting back over the years, I think of family and sometimes friends getting together to enjoy really good food, drinks and fellowship but I know of so many families that only gather at dinner time and then there may be a little relaxation and then it’s dessert and after only a few hours it’s time to go home.

To me it’s kind of a shame to put all that work into a great meal, only to be doing the dishes in a couple of hours and miss time with your family and guests, especially those that come from out of town. To me, this day should be an all day event.

If this sounds like your family why not try this to make it a nice day to enjoy family and friends. Try inviting them over early around noon to a nice spread of appetizers which can include a delicious cheese tray, fruit tray, bruchetta’s, maybe shrimp cocktail and crackers and dips. Have the family munch while you put in the turkey and sides etc. This will give you, the home chef, time to relax before dinner and actually have time to enjoy the company of your guests while the dinner is in the oven. Have the big dinner around 4or 5 in the evening.

Here are a couple of recipes for your pre-dinner party:
Sweet Cajun Shrimp

1 lb Large raw Shrimp (U-15's shelled and devined) rinsed and dried with paper towels
¼ C. Lemon infused olive oil
2 Ts. Cajun/Creole spice
2 Tbs. Honey
2 Ts. Soy Sauce
1 Clove Garlic (minced)
2 Tbs. Chopped Parsley
2 Tbs. Butter

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Combine oil, Cajun spice, honey, soy, garlic in oven proof dish (6x8 ceramic). Stir well
3. Add shrimp to mixture. Let marinade for 15 minutes.
4. Bake shrimp in marinade until opaque 8-10min. remove from oven.
5. remove shrimp from dish and reserve mixture and heat a sauté pan and melt the butter
6. Add the sauce mixture to melted butter and stir with a whisk and cook down to thicken. 1-2 minutes. Add shrimp to pan and toss in thickened sauce to coat.
7. Plate shrimp and drizzle with some of sauce and sprinkle fresh chopped parsley to garnish
Makes 2 servings

Simple and Quick Bruchetta

1 loaf Italian baguette sliced in ½ in thick pieces on the bias
3 cloves of garlic
Olive Oil – extra virgin from 1st cold press
Olive tapanade
Tomato tapanade (both can be bought at you local grocier)
Freshly graded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place sliced bread on a large sheet pan. Place in oven to crisp bread about 8 to 10 minutes. Take out bread from oven and let cool until able to handle with hands, only a minute or so. Slice a clove of garlic in half and rub cut end on 1 side of the bread slices. Top bread with each kind of Tapanade, drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with freshly graded parmesan cheese. Place on a serving platter and serve. Enjoy!

The Home Chef

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving Continued

As stated in yesterdays post, planning is the key to a stress free holiday season. I myself get a true joy of planning for the holidays. Cooking and preparing a large spread of delicious food for everyone gives me a sense of satisfaction that doesn’t come with other things. Working in a restaurant only gives you a few short moments of satisfaction because most of your day is handling several items at one time and usually isn’t in the preparation if the food. Managing a commercial kitchen is made up of deliveries, employee problems, quality issues, equipment problems and many others but cooking for family and friends when planned and executed correctly will give you a great sense of satisfaction and joy.

What are you planning for this holiday season? Is it the usual turkey cooked the same way you have fixed it that last ten years in a row or do you have the confidence in trying something new to your recipe? I love trying new recipes or creating my own. Maybe it’s time for you to venture out and try something new too!

Here are some recipes I found online you may want to try from the food network. I will be featuring my own recipes in the next couple of days.
Roast Turkey with Gravy

Please continue to check in on this blog several times a week. I will be adding some exciting items soon such as cookware reviews and suggestions, recipes from my own creation and some of which I have tried and loved. I will also be adding some restaurant reviews now and then along with some of my favorite places to shop for high quality foods and some great wines. I want to also add some menu’s for your daily home cooking. It’s always great to get a recipe on how to fix a nice main dish like fish, chicken, beef, pork or lamb but you usually don’t have good suggestions on what sides to serve with it. The simple dishes of corn, greenbeans or the grocery box sides can get pretty boring and I don’t ever suggest them. Yes, they are good in a flash but wouldn’t you rather have something fresh and much more delicious that may only take a few more minutes to create? I know I would and do.

Please leave a comment on what you think so far and also what kind of content you would like to see in this blog. I look forward to reading them. Here’s to great cooking and good times!

The Home Chef

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving and Fine Home Cooking

This blog is a celebration of food, cooking, wine, festivity, and a bounty that draws people from all walks of life together. It’s the season of Thanksgiving and in just over a week millions of people will be gathering together for good fellowship, good food, good wine and much more.

When I think of this holiday there is something inside me that reverts to my childhood. I am reminded of good times with family getting together to celebrate and enjoy the best of home cooking from many different family members. Everyone would bring their best dish to the party and all would enjoy the bounty before them.

Today, I start several weeks out thinking of different recipes, from how to prepare the bird to what kind of sides I want to prepare that everyone would enjoy. This takes time to really prepare a delicious menu and to please everyone on the guest list. Even this very moment my mind races to what would be the best combination of food and spices that will create a fantastic meal. Of course the menu can’t be the same as last year because that would be like eating the same meal as I did yesterday. Where’s the fun in that?

Cooking for the holidays doesn’t have to be drudgery either. It should be an enjoyable event, especially for the one who is cooking. Preparing a fantastic meal is just that, preparing! Here are some easy tips I feel really help me in planning for a big day of eats and takes some of the stress away which can accompany the holidays.

First, start with a guest list. The key to planning a good menu is to know who your audience will be and what kind of food they like. Yes, I know that most homes will have a nice big Tom Turkey on the table but it doesn’t have to be the same old bird you have every year. There are so many ways to cook a delicious bird that there isn’t enough room on this page to list them. Secondly, know what kind of food your guests like, do they have any food allergies to be aware of. Lastly, create a menu. You will need the main dish, and several sides and of course the condiments. Write everything out that you think you want on the menu. It’s ok to go back and add more or delete some dishes but once you come up with what you want to be served, decide if you are going to ask other guests to cook some of the menu or if you will have them bring their own special dish. If you go this route it’s good to ask what they will bring so you can either mark something off the list if you wish.

After you have created the menu then write out each dish and what you will need to create it especially spices, herbs etc. It will really put a damper on your day if you look into your pantry and you’re out of something vital the day you want to cook it, especially if all the stores are closed. Next, decide what can be made a day or two in advance such as homemade stock, croutons for stuffing, cranberry sauce etc. The last thing you want to do is try to prepare the entire meal for several people the day of so get done all that can be without diminishing from the quality of the dish.

More to come in the next day or two.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Coming soon

Newly created blog for the daily home chef. Will be posting soon. Please check back daily. I'm looking forward to sharing with you.
Home Chef