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Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR

To many who read this blog it is already 2012.  I want to take a moment to thank all of you who read the blog and wish each of you a very Happy and Prosperous 2012! 

Let me know what you like in the blog and what I can do to make it better.  If you have questions, or need recipes let me know. I will do my best to help.

Thank you again for a great 2011 and may we  all enjoy peace and happiness in 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

New way to order DAVIS DUST

For those who have written and emailed me about DAVIS DUST there is a new way to order.  I added an order form on the website. Just go to http://vegaswes.com/DAVIS_DUST.html and fill out the form. In the comment section let me know when you want the dust sent. If you live in the Las Vegas Metro area I can also deliver it to you. 

SPECIAL OFFER FOR READERS - Tell me you saw this on the Blog ( you must name the Blog) and you can get a $1.00 discount.

Here is what some have said after trying the DUST

"We tried it on fish and it was excellent!"

"I used it on my steaks and they were out of this world!  I can't wait to try it on chicken"

"My husband used on his vegetarian stir fry with tofu.  It was wonderful!!  I even enjoyed the tofu!!"

"Wow this chicken is great!"

So give it a try.  I am sure you will like it.  As I tell people when I demonstrate the rub it is good on everything except ice cream.   You can use DAVIS DUST as a dry rub or wet rub ( just mix with olive oil) and as seasoning for sauteing and frying as well as for table seasoning too.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

BAKED BRIE

Yesterday I made reference to Baked Brie.  I had a reader ask me how to do that. So here is a simple but elegant way to serve Baked Brie

First buy good Brie. It is the main attraction so don’t skimp.  Next but some frozen pastry sheets. Let them thaw out overnight in the fridge.  The dough has to be completely thawed when you start.  20 minutes before you are ready put the Brie in the freezer so it gets hard enough to work with.  When you are ready, lay the puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured board. If there are any tears or holes just fix by pushing the dough together.

 Take the Brie out of the freezer and unwrap it.  Place in the center of the pastry sheet.  Take a sharp serrated knife and trim the top of the rind off the Brie.  The rind is bitter and this allows the topping to set on the cheese.   Now for the topping. Use one of these or make your own.

  1. Cranberry and Rosemary Syrup.
  2. Chopped nuts with Honey
  3. Any good fig jam or preserve
  4. Orange Marmalade.
These are only suggestions.

Once that is done, fold the corners of the pastry over the top and pull the lose ends up.  You can make a “Beggars Purse” by slight twisting the ends and corner that you pulled up and then using a straight piece of dough to make a bow tie. Use a spatula to lift the package on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Once that is done, brush the entire top with an egg wash.  Bake in a 375-degree oven until the top is golden brown.    Serve with good crackers or baguette rounds.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Entertaining for New Year's Eve

I know many people will have guests over for the New Year.  Whether it is a cocktail party or an afternoon brunch most will have some Appetizers.  I have some suggestions that may help.

Cocktail Parties - We have all been to one of these where the only food was chips and nuts.  Not a good idea when people are consuming alcohol. At the same time you want to be able to spend time with your friends and not be a short order cook.  Try some of these.

Stuffed Mushrooms - some time to prepare but you can have some done ahead and another pan in the fridge ready.  I use a hot sausage combined with the stems and bread crumbs. If you would like recipe just leave a comment below and I will post.

Cheese Straws - easy make ahead food that people love

Good Cheese - Sharp Cheddar, Stilton Blue and baked Brie -  all great choices and ready when the guests arrive with no fuss.. But do use a great cracker or small baguette rounds.

For Brunch -  Try my Spinach Quiche - serve it at room temp in small slices on a serving plate. Or use a small muffin tin and make mine quiches,. 

French Onion Soup - ready ahead and served as they sit down.  It holds heat well and frees up your time.

Deviled Eggs instead of a hot egg dish like omelets can be a great switch.  If you like add some Caviar to some of the eggs.

Small red potatoes - boiled with the skin on cut in half and then served with some sour cream and Caviar can also work

Salad - a field green salad with nuts and cranberries served with a Balsamic Vinaigrette is a great addition to a brunch.

These are just a few ideas that will let you have a party without spending extra time in the kitchen while your guests are waiting.

So what are your ideas?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tired of Turkey?

I had a great Christmas Dinner with friends.  But the next day I was full of turkey and needed something a little different.  So I made a Pizza. A Great Pepperoni Pizza!  Just right for those winter days when all of the mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing is making you feel - well stuffed!  Here is the quick recipe.  I had all these in my pantry so it was easy.

Crust

1 package yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup of warm water
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil.

Put the yeast and sugar in the water to dissolve and get foamy.  That will take about 10 minutes to proof the yeast. If it is not foamy after 10 minutes your yeast is dead.  Start over. The water should be about 100 degrees - not too hot or it will kill the yeast.

Put the flour and salt in your mixer and stir to combine.  Add the yeast mixture and the Olive Oil.  mix on low speed until it comes together.  Then need for 7 - 10 minutes.  Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to cover the dough with oil.  Cover with a towel and let raise until doubled in size.  Punch down and kneed slightly to get the air out.  Depending on the size Pizza you want, you can cut the dough in half or use the whole batch.  I use the bottom of my large spring form pan - just right for one or two people.  Or a Half sheet pan for larger pizza.

Oven temp --- convection 375   Regular Oven  400  preheat oven

Spread the dough out and top with your favorite pasta sauce, then cover with cheese and add the pepperoni or other toppings.  Cook for 15 - 20 minutes.    Enjoy!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

A very special thank you to all who have used this Blog!!  I will be taking a few days off for the Christmas Holiday.  Regular posts will resume on December 27.

I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas - Happy Hanukkah - and Happy Kwanzaa!

Aunt B reminds you not drink and drive. She wants you back here reading the blog!!

Thanks!!

Wes

PS - you can of course get DUSTED with DAVIS DUST  - that's legal and it won't harm you or others!! ;o)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

French Toast

I made French Toast today with the Sourdough bread that I baked the other day.  Sourdough made at home does get stale quicker than other breads.  However it makes a great French Toast.  Here is my recipe

2 eggs
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of Saigon Cinnamon
1 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the sugar, cinnamon  and milk and then add the eggs.  Whisk until it is all combined and then add the vanilla.   It will look at little different due to the spice but it cooks the same and is much better.  Dip the bread in the mix and cook in a non stick pan.  Serve with warm Maple Syrup. 

This is great with any day old bread. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Good bread

I made my first loaves of sourdough.  I must say the hardest part is the time.  You do have to be patient. However it is worth the time needed.  I encourage you to try it.  I am making more tomorrow as gifts and trying so variations.  One is an overnight version that promises a more tangy bread. I can hardly wait!!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sourdough Bread

I got my Christmas present early!  I ordered some sourdough starter and it arrived yesterday. I will let you know how it goes over the next few days.  I hope to have some sourdough breads to give as part of my Christmas presents this week.

While I did order my starter, you can also create your own.  It is easy and just take some time and patience. I will have recipes tomorrow.  Right now I have to check on my starter and feed it!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great Turnout!

Thanks to all those who showed up at the DUST party today!  We had some great people who enjoyed the food.  Be sure to let me know if you want any DAVIS DUST - you can email me and I will respond my email address is in this line - just eliminate the spaces vegas wes @ gmail . com

TODAY IS THE DAY! GET DUSTED!!

Today is the day to get DUSTED!  Now before anyone thinks I am promoting drugs, I mean DAVIS DUST my seasoning.  Today I am doing a Cookbook Party and premiering DAVIS DUST.  Come by the Williams Sonoma in The District at Green Valley  Ranch. AT NOON I will be sharing some recipes from my cookbook and you can get a free sample of DAVIS DUST.  Those who come by will also get a coupon for $1.00 off the cookbook and special pricing on DAVIS DUST.   (By the way - DAVIS DUST makes a great stocking stuffer for anyone who cooks - just saying..)

I hope to see you there!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Saturday Sous Chef and a Guest Chef!

Saturday at Williams Sonoma in The District at Green Valley Ranch we have our last Sous Chef class with a twist!  We have a guest Chef who will be showing you how to set up a Holiday Buffet in conjunction with the Sous Chef Class.  Drop by!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kitchen Tips

I was reminded about some of the tips I learned the other day when I had one of those "OOPS!" moment in the kitchen.  Every good cook has their time when they forget something or burn something etc.  How you turn an OOPS into to an AWE is important.  Here are some of my oops that turned out alright.

1. Scorched food.  Nothing tastes or smells worse that food that is scorched.  I forgot about a pot of soup and went back just in time to see it erupt on the stove.   When that happens, DO NOT stir it!  Instead take it off the heat and let it cool for a moment.  Then pour the soup into another pan. If you are lucky, the scorch will stay in the pan and the rest will be fine.  UNLESS you STIR it!

2. Broken Sauce or Gravy - If you are making a Hollandaise Sauce and it sets too long or gets too hot the Sauce will "break" - separate.  If that happens whisk a whole egg into the sauce.  It will fix it right up and you can serve it - quickly!  On gravy, if it is too thin you can always use a slurry of Cornstarch and water.  Whisk that in and bring to a boil

3. Your pasta sauce is too acidic or sour - add a little sugar.

Those are only a few.  I have a lot more that I have "discovered'!  We all learn by our mistakes  - I hope these help.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quick Reminder

SUNDAY DECEMBER 18, 2011  12 NOON - Williams Sonoma in The District at Green Valley Ranch - join me for my Guest Chef Appearance. I will be sharing recipes from my cookbook and it is the release date for DAVIS DUST.  I will have some great food to share, discount coupons for my book and free samples of DAVIS DUST.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cold Winter Day Remedy

We are having a cold winter day here in the desert.  So to warm things up I made my special Corn Bread.  It is very easy - I use a mix for Corn Muffins or Corn Bread.  It is a small batch - just perfect to go with a big pot of Chili! Here is what I do.

1/2 can of cream Corn
1 7 oz can of diced green chillies
1 cup of shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Package of Corn Bread mix - about 7 oz dry weight
1 egg slightly beaten

Mix all of the ingredients together. If the batter is dry then add milk a tablespoon at a time until the batter is the consistency you want.  Pour into a greased 8 inch pan and bake at 400 for 25 - 30 minutes.

Let it cool before cutting.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Class On Sunday

This Sunday I will be conducting a class on Holiday Feasts.  Here are some of the Menu Items I will  be cooking.

Beef Tenderloin
Carrot and Ginger Soup
Broccoli  and Blue Cheese Gratin
Potato Apple Kugel

Drop by!!  12 Noon Williams Sonoma in The District in Green Valley

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holidays are Hectic times!!

Sorry for the last few days - too much to do and too little time.  If this sounds familiar I may be able to help.  If you have cookies to bake and other treats to make for parties or work gatherings; I always try to plan out the cooking and baking schedule so a friend can help.  Yesterday a good friend came over and we baked cookies. LOTS of cookies.  Instead of doing just a single batch we did double batches and worked in tandem to bake and decorate.  By the time she left we had baked about 20 dozen cookies.  She had her work done for all the gifts she wanted to give.  Now she can package and deliver them early and have more time for other activities.  We had both of the Kitchen Aid Stand mixers going making dough. So at one time we could make 3 batches of cookies. We did the cookies that needed to chill first and put them in the refrigerator while we made the drop cookies. It worked like a charm! My oven can bake three dozen at time. (We used the convection setting to help speed up the process.)

With a little planning and a place big enough to work, you can produce a lot of cookies or cakes or whatever you need to make those home made gifts. Having a friend help makes it easier!!

Now if you have a small kitchen  then do one type of cooking at a time. For example - Make three batches of sugar cookie dough and warp each one in plastic. I suggest rolling the dough into a log and then wrapping it.  That way you can slice cookies rather rolling them out.  The dough will keep for up to three days or can be frozen until you can work on it. If you want to roll it out and use cookie cutters, then form into a disk and the wrap. You can also make drop cookie dough and refrigerate it. The biggest mess is making the dough,  if you have some ready then you can pull it out and make fresh cookies.

That is a few ideas,  I hope they help in this hectic time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Great Pork Roast recipe

I had a hectic day!  I am glad I used this recipe so dinner was ready when I got home!

I cooked this in the Cuisinart Multi-Cooker

 4 -5 pound pork roast
3 oz Orange Juice
1/2 cup of good wine - I used a white Zin but any white wine would do
1 onion - sliced
8 cloves of garlic
4 pieces of bacon

Salt and Pepper the roast on all sides.  Pour the wine and Orange Juice into the cooker.  Add half of the onions and put the roast on top of the onions. Add the rest of the onions. Cut the garlic cloves in half and sprinkle on the roast and in the cooker.  Place the bacon over the roast.  Turn cooker on HIGH for 4 hours.

After four hours the roast should be falling apart tender.  If not cook a little longer.  I had this with some applesauce, cottage fries and green beans.  Tasty!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

QUESTIONS FROM READERS AND CONSUMERS

This week I received a lot of questions about omelets.  I have covered some issues about this in earlier posts but thought it would be good to update new readers too.

At the recent class I asked how many people had trouble with omelets.  Over 80% raised their hands. One of the most common mistakes that people make with omelets is to add milk or cream to the eggs.  That may be good for scrambled eggs ( I only add it near the end - I will explain that in another post) but for an omelet is a bad idea.  I add a little water. Water creates steam which makes for a fluffy light omelet.  Milk and cream do not. So add about teaspoon of water for three eggs and whisk it in.  When you do you will see that egg mixture gets frothy and light.  

The other issue is temperature. Eggs are a delicate protein. Treat them gently. If your pan is screaming hot they will burn and turn dark brown.  NOT GOOD!  Also as the eggs set, lift the edges of the eggs and let the uncooked eggs run underneath. This creates layers and helps the omelet to rise in the oven. A really good omelet is finished in the oven under the broiler. Don't try to cook it completely on the stove as the bottom will burn and your filling may not get cooked or melted as intended.  Add your ingredients before you put the pan under the broiler. Watch the time under the broiler as it may be hotter than you think.  When the omelet is puffy and the filing is hot it is done.  Remember that there is residual heat so take it out sooner rather than later.  You can always put back under the heat but you cannot take the heat out once it has gone too far.

That is just a few things you can do make a really good omelet. So get your whisk and see what you can do. A little practice and you can make omelets like a pro.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

GREAT CLASS!!

We  had an awesome class today!  The Panettone Stratta ( Bread Pudding) was off the hook! And the home made sausage was super  I added some grated Apple to the sausage and it make a lot of difference.  So here is the Schedule for the rest of December

Dec 11 - The Feast  12noon -

Dec 17 - Sous Chef and Guest Chef.  - Prime Rib  and Holiday Buffets - Chef Greg joins me.

Dec 18 - My Day to be the Guest Chef - recipes from my cookbook and DAVIS DUST premier party!

So come on down and join us!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cooking class Sunday

On Sunday I will be conducting a Cooking Class at Williams Sonoma.  Our topic will be Christmas Breakfast/Brunch.  Some of the recipes I will demonstrate are:

Panettone Strata

Homemade Sausage

Egg Nog Waffles

So drop by and say hello!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hot Chocolate or Hot Cocoa?

There is a difference between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa.  Hot Chocolate is made with real chocolate that has been shaved and then melted into the milk.  Hot Cocoa is made with Cocoa powder. Both are very enjoyable!  If you have never tried "Hot Chocolate" stop by any Williams Sonoma this season.  They are usually setting out samples of Hot Chocolate to try. 

If you want to make Hot Cocoa there is trick that will make it easier.  First make sure you have a quality Cocoa Powder.  Most recipes will have a pinch of salt.  Mix the Sugar, Salt and Cocoa Powder together and then add a small amount of hot water to make a paste.  When you do this is much easier to add the hot milk and have a smooth blended drink.

Stay Warm!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Food Safety

Someone asked me how long they should keep the turkey from Thanksgiving.  Here is what several food safety  experts say.

1. No longer than three days - it is best to cut the meat from the carcase and either freeze or use it within 3 days. Every time you take the bird out to slice some more meat, the bird warms a bit.  So you are giving Bactria an opportunity to grow.

2. Dressing/Stuffing = two day max.  After that freeze or toss.  Do not keep dressing anywhere but the fridge. Also - do not add to the dressing.  That can introduce new bacteria to the dressing.  BAD IDEA!

3. Fresh Cranberries can be frozen. Cranberry Sauce can be kept for up to five days.

So be careful - it is easy to forget what to do.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Breakfast

The Holidays present some challenges for menus. Most families with young children get up early to open presents.  So what do you prepare for a chaotic morning? Some ideas include the usual pancakes and waffles.  Or you could have some Cinnamon Rolls or even a coffee cake to tide everyone over until lunch or dinner.  For those who don't have young ones try a Fritatta or a Strata.  Easy to do and you can use almost anything in them.

A Strata is basically a savor bread pudding.  You can use meats like sausage or ham or chicken sausage in them there are several great recipes on line for these.  The best part is that you make them the night before and pop them in the fridge.  Then when you get up they go in the oven. 

My cookbook has a great recipe for Cinnamon rolls too.

So what do you do?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dishwasher Miracle

Like many places in the Southwest Las Vegas has VERY hard water. Over the past two years I have battled with hard water film on my dishes. I blamed the dishwasher, changed detergents, bought new glasses only to have the same result.  Then I discovered Lemishine.  This product is amazing! After one wash all the glasses in the dishwasher looked like new and the hard water stains on the inside of the stainless steel dishwasher were gone. If you have film on your glasses check out Lemishine.

Monday, November 28, 2011

SAVE THE DATE! DECEMBER 18

Please join me at the Williams Sonoma in The District - Henderson NV on  December 18 at 12 noon.  I will be premiering DAVIS DUST and promoting my cook book

AUNT B'S BORDELLO AND BOARDINGHOUSE

 I will also be cooking some of the recipes from the book and serving samples.  There will be samples of DAVIS DUST and a special promo code to get $1 off the purchase of my book at Smashwords. So save the date and Get Dusted!

Please use the comments section to ask any questions or to get your place reserved at the presentation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making Food Gifts for the Holiday

I think that a well-made gift of food for the holidays is one of the best things we can do.  It shows you cared to assemble the ingredients, cook them and wrap them yourself.  That seems so much more personal than a gift certificate. Here are some ideas to help.
Stained Glass Cookies – these are simple sugar cookies that are formed into shapes with a small gap or pane in the design.  When you add some crushed hard candy and bake them, the hard candy melts and the result is like stained glass.  There are several sources for the recipes online.   I do recommend the Base for Filled cookies in my cookbook. It will stand up to the demands of this process.    (TIP - a silicone sheet under the cookies - it makes getting them out much easier!)
Fudge – who doesn’t like chocolate??  There are a lot of recipes for this online too. My favorite is a family recipe.  Make it ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.
If you have a favorite recipe, make a personalized mix for your friends.  Put the ingredients in a glass container that can be sealed.  Tie the instructions on with a ribbon and you have a very attractive gift.
Take a pot of your favorite soup to someone who is ill or has a lot of company. I am sure that they will enjoy it.
These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

DAVIS DUST IS HERE!

DAVIS DUST
SO WHAT IS THE “DUST”?
I love a good dry rub, but most were too salty or had overpowering ingredients.  So, four years ago I started to experiment with some different ideas.  DAVIS DUST is my original recipe, created from those four years of trying to get it right.  As a result, I  ended up with, not only a great dry for ribs, chicken and beef, but also a seasoning for stove top or oven cooking too. 
 DAVIS DUST is produced for me by Pacific Spice, under high quality control, using fresh blended organic and natural ingredients.  When you get your container, it will not have been sitting in a warehouse getting old.  I only produce small batches to control the age of the product.  When you open your container, the aroma will tell you that it is fresh and ready to go!
 For those who respond to this post, I am offering an introductory price of $6.00 for 3.2 oz. of DAVIS DUST.  The regular price is $8.50.  I want to get this out to a lot of people who can help me promote the product.  Anyone who wishes to do so, can also write a review and I will place it on the website.  For those who are out of town, DAVIS DUST can be shipped to your home for a nominal additional charge.

Here is what some of the focus group  and testers had to say.

“DAVIS DUST is about the only seasoning I use any more.”  SH  - Las Vegas
“We love it on ribs!  But it is great on chicken too!” – SP Portland
“I use it as table seasoning.  It is wonderful on my homegrown veggies – especially the tomatoes. “ LN
"We used it on our vegetarian stir fry with tofu.  It was great!" - GB Las Vegas

To order send an email to me vegaswes@gmail.com  The website http://www.vegaswes.com/ will have an order form soon as well as paypal.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Leftovers

So Friday means the start of Turkey leftovers.  Most people will have at least one more full meal of turkey and all the sides.  Then we start the slow decline into soup.  Here are some other ideas that may help

1. Instead of the usual fare, try Turkey Enchiladas or a stir-fry. It is easy to substitute turkey for chicken in any recipe.  Try a nice sour cream Poblano Sauce. Spice it up!

2. Make your own frozen dinners or lunches before anything is too old or dry to use.  That way you can have a new dish now and have the complete meal later.  The holiday season does present a lot of time challenges so having you second from Thanksgiving in a week or two is actually very good.

3. Dressing freezes very well. Portion out some small portions to use later with a Pork Roast.

4. Soup - If you like a hearty soup, then by all means clean the meat off the bones and cook the bones to make a soup base.  Adding some left over gravy will add more taste.  Just be sure to boil the bones and then take them out before adding any other ingredients.  If you just want to make stock then freeze it that is a good idea too.

5. Left over cranberries can be frozen for up to a year.  Relish will last about a week in the fridge.

Above all else - be sure to put the food away after dinner as soon as possible.  If something has been left out too long, it could make you ill.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Countdown To Turkey

At this point your turkey is thawed and ready to go into the brine tonight or tomorrow. Any last minute shopping to do I recommend it be done today. Here are some things that always help me bet organized.

1. Do a place setting and see if you have all the flatware, glasses and dishes you need. I also set the empty serving dishes on the table to see if they will all fit and to make sure I have the right size dish for sides. If you are low on room now, just wait until the dinner guests are here. 

2. A side area or side board. I sometime set up a side area for things like a crock pot for extra gravy or potatoes since those are always in demand.  I find it easier to have those handy rather than in the kitchen. If you are planning a buffet style this also helps keep the flow going.  For a buffet style dinner to work you need to think about the area and the traffic flow.  If everything is on the table then all the guests have to juggle plates and people to get their food.

3. Do ahead items can be done today too. Cheesecake can be made today and it will be fine for Thursday. As will Pumpkin Pie.  If you want do some of your prep - chop celery or onions and put them in a  plastic bag.

The best Thanksgiving is when YOU have time to enjoy the meal too!  So take a moment and relax and do some planning now.  It will make it easier.

Monday, November 21, 2011

TURKEY DEADLINE !!

If you have a frozen turkey you must start your thawing today.  It may be too late if the bird is over 14 pounds.  If that is the case you may need to thaw it in some cold water.  However, pay attention to the directions.  If not done properly, the turkey can be a place for bacterial growth. 

If you are brining the turkey, that should be done on Wed.  Allow for 16 - 48 hours for the Turkey to brine.  Make sure that the brine is cold - between 28 and 38 degrees all during the brine process.  Also wash your bird BEFORE and AFTER you brine. Washing before removes surface bacteria that may have accumulated during processing. Washing after removes excess salt and brine ingredients.

If you have any questions, please contact me or one of several hot lines for Thanksgiving.  Be safe and may all your memories of Thanksgiving be wonderful!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumkin Cheescake - new recipe

Here is the new Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe that I demonstrated at class today and will again on Monday at 6pm. This also has a Bourbon Sour Cream topping.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Bourbon Topping
Preheat oven to 250
For the Crust
¾             Cup Gingersnaps crumbs
½             Cup pecans or walnuts – finely ground – about 2 oz.
½             Cup packed Brown Sugar
3              Tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Place Gingersnaps in food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Add nuts and brown sugar- pulse until mixed.  With machine running add butter. Stop machine as soon as all of the butter has been added.  Pour the mixture into a greased 9’ spring form pan.  Use a one cup metal measuring cup and pat the mixture down and up the sides.  You can use the side of the measuring cup to form the sides of the crust.  Chill the crust for at least one hour.

Filling
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
3              eggs
½             cup dark brown sugar – packed
1              teaspoon Vanilla
2              Tablespoons of heavy cream
1              Jar Muirhead Pumpkin Butter (this is the secret!)

Beat eggs until they are light and lemon colored.  Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.  Set aside.
3              8 oz. packages of cream cheese – at room temp!
½             Cup white sugar
1              teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
¼             teaspoon ground cloves
¼             teaspoon ground Ginger
1 ½         tablespoons cornstarch
½             teaspoon salt
Fresh grated nutmeg to taste
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese until it is soft. Scrap down the bowl and paddle to ensure that no small lumps remain before adding any other ingredient.  Add the sugar and mix until the sugar is absorbed, then add the rest and combine.  Once this mixture is combined slowly add the pumpkin mixture on low speed.  Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again.  Take crust out and place on a sheet pan.  Pour the filing into the prepared crust and grate fresh nutmeg over the top – about ½ teaspoon.  Bake for 50 – 55 minutes.  The center should be just barely set.  Take the cheesecake out put on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool slightly while you prepare the topping before finishing the baking.
Topping
2              cups sour cream
½             teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
3              tablespoons of sugar
1              tablespoon of Bourbon
Return to the oven for 5 - - 7 minutes.  Turn oven off and open door.  Let cheesecake cool for an hour in the oven.  Then take the cheesecake out and cool to room temperature.  Cover the cheese cake in the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Take out an hour before serving so it can warm up.  Cheesecake is best served when it is not ice cold.   This cake can be refrigerated for up to three days – if it lasts that long!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Class Today

I will be teaching the Sous Chef Series Class today at noon in Green Valley in the Williams Sonoma in The District.  Great recipe for Caramelized Brussels Sprouts.  Come on by and try some.

Tomorrow at noon and again on Monday evening at 6 PM I will do a different class on Thanksgiving.  A new Recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake will be demonstrated and tasted!!

Come to any of the classes.  Let me know you heard about this on my blog!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Get Paid to Shop!

Ok so this is kind of a commercial for me. But it is also an opportunity to earn cash back at over 3000 stores when you shop.   Hey it is the holidays and we all shop so why not earn money for your purchases??  Need a new pan or a mixer?  Do some comparisons and find the best fit and the best price.  Just sign up as my customer and I can help you.  Don't worry it does not cost anything to sign up and you will earn money as you shop on the partner stores.  Got questions??  Let me know and I will take care of them. Here is the link.

http://www.marketamerica.com/vegaswes/?refEmail=1B13042A160E0805232C0818041A4D280A14&switchPrdCountry=USA

So after all the good cooking tips and recipes this one may save and/or earn you money.  I try to take care of my readers!!

Thanks!

Wes

Are You Ready for Thanksgiving?

This is a very busy time for most of us as we anticipate the Thanksgiving Feast. It is one week away. (YIKES!)  So take a moment and think through your menu now.  When I was a Catering Chef, I would often plan the party and menu and then just take a moment to visualize all the components. I find that helps. I also would write down the cooking and serving plan.  I do the same thing for a festive dinner like Thanksgiving.  Here are some things to look for.

1. Start at the beginning.  If you are planing appetizers think about how you are serving them and where you will serve them.  Most cooks want to be part of the gathering, But having people under foot as you finish the meal is not a good idea.  Assign someone to be in charge of the appetizers and check to see what plates, napkins etc they will need.

2. Depending on how elaborate the menu is, you want to consider how many plates, spoons and forks you need.  You may find that some more are needed or be prepared to wash some for desert.

3. Glassware - there is no shame in having some disposable for soda and the like for the kids. But if you are serving wine or cocktails to adults, they should have glass.  Do you have the right kind of glasses for the wine you are serving?

4. Menu options - if someone is bringing a guest that you do not know, ask if that person has allergies or is a vegetarian.  Better safe than having a guest eat celery all night while the rest indulge in all the goodies.  You may find that a simple addition of Ratatouille may not only enhance the menu, it may also prevent an awkward moment.

5. Is your turkey ready to thaw? Remember it may take up to four days or longer to thaw a large bird.  If you are brinning the bird do you have room in the fridge or do you need to plan to use a cooler and lots of ice?

These are a few ideas.  Take a few moments now and it will let you enjoy the day more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Great Class Tonight

Thank you to all who attended the class tonight!  It was great fun and lots of questions.  One of the things that some people had not seen was the Potato Ricer.  It does do a great job and I do recommend it.  The trick is to make sure that you do not put too many potato pieces in it.  But the results were very good.  Also remember to have your milk warm and ready to add.  Anyone can make great potatoes with a ricer.

The Butternut Squash souffle was a hit again.  Try the recipe and let know what you think.

Stay tuned for news on Davis Dust.  Coming soon!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Recipe - BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUFFLE

I decided to make something different for class today.  Here is my take on a different side dish

Butternut Squash Souffle

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon maple syrup - the REAL maple not imitation!
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk all of these together and then add

1 jar of butternut squash puree

whisk to combine until well mixed and the pour into buttered ceramic baking dish.  Bake in preheated 350 oven for 30 - 40 minutes.  The center should be just barely set.  Serve warm with a drizzle of Brown Butter and Sage over the top

Brown Butter and Sage

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 sage leaves - cut in a Chiffonade

In small saute pan cook butter and sage until the sage is crisp and the butter just starts to brown.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

I think we all like Turkey, but without the sides dishes it really is not Thanksgiving. I know many people are thinking of the standard Green Bean Casserole.  However I want to challenge you to try something a little different.  Here are some ideas

How about Brussels Sprouts? There are many ways to prepare them that are tasty and won't remind you of  those bitter and soggy attempts when you were growing up.  I am doing a recipe at the classes on Sunday and Monday that may change your mind.

Sweet Potatoes Souffle - a different take on sweet potatoes or Yams.  Easy to do and it bakes with the Turkey.

Mashed potatoes - how about Sour Cream and Chives or Leeks in your mashed? Or add some roasted garlic. 

Just some ideas - I will post some recipes this week that may change your mind about the side dishes at Thanksgiving - or any other time for that matter!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

Take a moment today to thank any of the Veterans that you know.  We often forget that many of the freedoms that we enjoy were at the expense of those who serve. No matter what branch they all deserve our thanks and support.

One of things I like to do is make a special food for some of my friends who are Veterans. A homemade meal, a batch of cookies or a pot of soup on a cold November day make for great gifts. Here are some ideas that may help in transporting food at the Holidays.

I make my Quiche for delivery to friends. To make that easier on me and them I make it ahead and once it is cooled, I double wrap in plastic wrap and then use a gallon size zip lock freezer bag and freeze it.  I print heating instructions on a small piece of paper & place it on top of the quiche before I freeze it.  The recipient doesn't have to worry about what to do and can put the quiche in their freezer until they are ready.

For cookies - if they are soft, I include a terracotta disk for keeping sugar soft in the tin. They get two gifts and the cookies stay nice and soft.  If the cookies are crisp, I put an extra layer of cushion in the form of tissue paper on the bottom before I add the cookies.

If I am taking a dish to a dinner, I do not use disposable pans.  Instead I buy a nice dish that will let me cook whatever I am bringing.  That way the hostess or host has the food and a nice nice dish to use for other times.

I hope these help.  Have a great Veterans Day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coming Soon - DAVIS DUST!

In my cookbook I reference a seasoning blend called Davis Dust. It was developed over the last four years as a dry bub for ribs.  However it is an all purpose seasoning and is good on almost everything.  I happy to say that it will soon be available on my new website.  ( LOOK to right of this post for the section that says Check this out -- the link is My NEW WEBSITE) Please take a look. I would love some feedback on the website and when the seasoning is available for purchase I will post a notice here.

I do hope you all try it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stuffing the Bird

For many the idea of Thanksgiving Turkey includes putting the stuffing in the bird and cooking the two together. This method does add some flavor to both.  However, if done improperly, it can have some serious consequences.  To avoid that I suggest you follow some simple guidelines.

1. Make your stuffing the morning that you plan to cook the turkey.  Stuffing should be warm when it is put in the bird. I fyou made it the day before you have to bring it up to temperature before stuffing.  ( 145 - 165)

2. Do not over stuff the bird.  Allow room for the stuffing to expand during cooking.  You can always put some in a dish and cook it along with the bird.

3. If you use meat in your stuffing, cook it before you put it in stuffing.

4. Cook by temperature not time.  If you do all of the above the stuffing and the bird will get done at the same time.  The breast should read 165 when it is done. Test the temperatue of the Stuffing - it should be at least 145.

If you do not want to worry just cook your dressing outside the bird. The only difference between "Stuffing" and "Dressing" is where you cook it!

For those like me who do not stuff the bird, use aromatics in the body cavity such as onions, celery, sage lemon  etc.  Whatever will compliment the meal

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Perfect Turkey

Today's class was a big hit!  I brined the turkey and cooked it so that it was done just before the class started.  That gave me time to let the bird rest.  Whenever you roast any meat, always let it rest at least 20 minutes or longer so the juices can stabilize.  That makes for a much more juicy and tender dinner.

For those who have never used a brine for a turkey, try it.  The results are very worthwhile.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Time for Turkey

If you are planing a big feast on Thanksgiving now is the time to think about your turkey. This is especially true if you want a fresh turkey. Most of the fresh turkeys need to be ordered ahead of time. You can pick the date you want it delivered.  Just remember that a fresh Turkey should only be held for no more than three days before it is cooked.  Also some stores sell "Fresh Turkeys" that are somewhat frozen. That is due to the FDA definition that a fresh turkey is held between 28 and 38 degrees. That is a good thing as you do not want any chance of spoilage. 

If you are using a frozen turkey, allow for four (4) days to defrost in your refrigerator.   DO NOT THAW YOUR TURKEY AT ROOM TEMP EVER!!  If you do the outside will get warm enough to promote bacterial growth.  Use the fridge!!

Brinning the turkey is a great way to add flavor.  I will go into more detail on that tomorrow.  Sunday's Technique Class at William Sonoma is all about Turkeys. Come by and see how we do it.

Check the blog for Brine recipes on Sunday.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tip on Cranberries

I love a good Cranberry sauce with my turkey! I always make it rather than use the jellied in the can stuff. Did you know that Cranberries can be frozen in the bag? I  try to buy at least one or two extra as soon as they come in the market and throw then in freezer. That way I have some for later in the year. Here is my recipe for Cranberry Orange relish.


1 bag of fresh Cranberries
juice an zest from one large Orange
1 oz Orange liqour'
1/2 cup of sugar or more to taste
1/3 cup of water

Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat until the Cranberries start to pop.  Be ensure to cover the saucepan with lid or mesh cover to eliminate extra splatters.  Once the majority of berries have popped, take the pan off the heat and mash the berries with a potato masher.  Put in a non reactive bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.  The addition of the orange juice and zest will make a big difference.   This can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. However it never last that long at my house.

You can adjust the consistency by adding more water while cooking.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting Ready for the Holidays

I am sure that many people are already planning their menus and wondering if Uncle Fred will fall asleep at the table again.  What many people over look are the tools that you use on the holidays.  I know some who have a special carving set just for the turkey or other meats that we consume at this time.  However, how many of those special sets are really sharp? Do you know the difference between honing and sharpening? A steel is used for honing the blade.  Basically when you use a knife, small bits of the blade turn against the blade as it wears.  These small bits of steel keep the blade from cutting at those points.  It makes the blade dull.  Using a steel knocks those off making the blade cut true again.  Sharpening puts a new edge on the blade.   I recommend that you SHARPEN the blade on that carving set and HONE the blade while using.

Also if you do not have a Roasting Pan - get one.  The Aluminum ones just don't cut it when it comes to things like making gravy or browning your bird before roasting.  I can tell you that when they collapse it can be very devastating!! The investment in a good roasting pan is paid back many times.

Over the next few weeks I will have more tips on holiday cooking.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

POT ROAST

YUP  It is turning cold here in the Southwest!!  Time for some Comfort Food. Nothing says comfort like a smell of a Pot Roast when you come in on a cold Fall day.  Here is what I am going to make for dinner on Wed.

Chuck roast or other roast that is cut thick and has a lot marbling.

Onions - rough cut
Carrots - about four peeled and cut in thick pieces
Celery - Two ribs sliced thin
Garlic - Three to four cloves - chopped or pressed.
Beef Stock - enough to cover the roast in the pan

Heat a Dutch Oven or heavy bottom roasting pan on the stove until hot.  Add 2 tablespoons of EVOO.  Salt and pepper one side of the roast and put the seasoned side down into the hot pan and oil.  Then season the the other side.  Brown the roast until it is ready to release then turn the meat over and brown the second side. (NOTE: if the pan is not hot or the meat is wet you will not have a good outcome!! Brown means Brown! Your gravy and the meat will taste much better if the meat is browned before you put in the oven.)  Add the onions and garlic so they can be flavoring the meat too.

pour hot beef stock over the roast. The liquid should boil.  If the liquid is cold the meat will be tough. Add the veggies and cover the pan and put in a 250 degree oven for at least 4 hours.  Longer is better especially if the roast is large.   The point here is that once the meat is browned and in the oven you are done until it is time to eat.  Once the roast is done you can take it and the veggies out and make gravy. I use a good roux = I think it works better and has great texture.  You can use cornstarch.  I also make mashed potatoes to serve with this. 

It is really easy to make an outstanding Pot Roast.  Try it.  Let me know any questions!  I will post some pictures tomorrow time permitting.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lasagna

Thanks to all who participated in the class on Sunday.   We had some good pies! 

Since in most of the country and very soon here it will be cold.  One of my favorite cold weather dishes is Lasagna.  Most people have their own recipes or favorite ways of doing Lasagna including some very good frozen entrees.  For me I like to make my own sauce and add my own touches.

Sauce

1 Lb of Italian Sausage - use 1/3 hot 2/3 sweet - removed from the casings
1 Onion - diced
4 cloves of garlic
Sweet Basil, Oregano, Thyme and bay leaf

Put 1 -2 tablespoons of EVO in a large stock pot.  Add the sausage, onion and garlic and brown.  Break up the sausage while it cooks.  Once the meat is browned, add your seasonings and cook for about 1 minute to wake the spices.  I did not give any amounts on the seasoning.  Use your judgement - it is easier to add more than try to adjust,. It will also depend on the sausage.

Then add

1 #10 can of diced tomatoes
1 small can of sauce
3 tablespoons of tomato paste

Stir to blend in the meat mixture and simmer for at least 1 hour - longer is better.  If the mixture is too dry add some wine or water.

After 1 hour  add 1 teaspoon good Balsamic and cook for at least another 30 minutes

Assemble your Lasagna

Put a small amount of sauce on the bottom of you pan.  They layer UNCOOKED lasagna noodles on top. Add more sauce and some Mozzarella cheese.  Repeat until you have filled your pan ending with sauce and lots of cheese on top.  Next cover as follows

Use a large sheet of clear plastic wrap: (Yes PLASTIC)  cover the pan so that it is sealed, then cover the plastic with Aluminum foil.  Make sure that the plastic is completely covered.

Bake in a 325 oven for about 45 minutes.  Test to make sure that the dish is done.   When ready take it out and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

NOTES" I only use uncooked pasta in my lasagna.  The sauce will cook the pasta in the oven and the pasta will be great.  The method of using foil over plastic ensures that the moisture stays in the dish and helps to eliminate spills in the oven.  I used this method all the time in commercial kitchens. It works - trust me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Oh My Its Time for PIE!

Yes boys and girls it is that time again!  Soon the holidays will be here and baking and cooking will start. This Sunday I will be teaching a class on pies - pie crusts, fillings for Thanksgiving.. Come by sample some of the goodies.

Best tip for a flaky pie crust - keep it cold and do not over work the dough.

See you Sunday at the William Sonoma in The District in Green Valley!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blog Issues and a recipe

Hum Seems that Blogspot has some issues. My last three post seem to have disappeared into thin air!!  Sorry about that!  Here is a favorite Recipe for a cold fall day.


POTATO CHEESE SOUP

2 Russet potatoes - about the size of  a large baker
1/2 Yellow Onion
1 Clove Garlic
1 rib of celery
1 -2 Tablespoons of chicken base
2 cups of shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese

Peel the potatoes and cut them into fourths and then slice. Dice the onion, celery and garlic.  Put all of the ingredients into a large stock pot and cover with cold water.  Add half of the chicken base. Bring to a boil and the reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender.  Taste the broth to see if you need to add more chicken base or salt.  Use an immersion blender and puree the soup in the pot - be careful as the liquid is very hot!   Add the cheese and continue to puree.  Taste the soup and determine if you want more cheese or to adjust seasoning.

Great on cold day!  This will make enough for 2- 3 servings.  Just adjust for a larger amount.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Class Today

We had a great class today.  The Vitamix is an awesome machine!  Here is a picture from today's class
Thanks to all who attended.  Next PIES!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Come the Williams Sonoma in Green Valley at Noon and try some of this great soup! Today is the Sous Chef Series cooking class. Recipes will be available there!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

GREAT NEW WAY TO HUSK CORN

When I saw this I was stunned.  I have not tried it yet but I thought I would pass it on.  Check it out

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnBF6bv4Oe4

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Foods

In most of the country the air is cool and winter is not far off.  Fall and Winter foods are usually warm comforting foods that help fight the chill.  This Saturday the Sous Chef Class will demo a great comfort food - Butternut Squash Soup.  If you would like the recipe just go to Williams Somoma website and look for the section on Sous Chef.

Maybe I will see you on Saturday and you can taste the soup that I will make as a demonstration.

For those of us in Las Vegas,  we may wait awhile before we have cold weather.  But the soup is good!

Sous Chef Class  Saturday  12 noon 

And Sunday is the class on Vitamix   - more great recipes.  Come by to see both!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Great Class on Sunday

Sorry I have had company in town so I missed a few days. 

The class went very well.  The Faro Salad, and two soups I prepared were a hit.  We had over 20 people attending. I stayed after and answered questions about the class and cooking in general.  That is a great time to ask questions and I can take the time to answer and also demonstrate techniques.  So come by and join the class every Sunday at 12 Noon at Williams Sonoma in The District in Green Valley.


Sous Chef Series Class is Saturday - more about that and the Sunday class on Vitamix later.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Great Grains

On Sunday come and learn about Great Grains.  Fall is in the air and beans and other grains work well for hearty food and cold temperatures outside.  Sunday @ 12 noon at Williams Sonoma in the District - see you there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Halloween Party

Here are some ideas for some Halloween Food.   Use purple potatoes to make potato salad - they have a great taste as well as the color.

Use Purple Sticky rice to make rice pudding. I use a small bowl to chill it and then when I unmold it on a plate I add details to make it look like brains. Kids love it.

Make home made Root beer.  Make sure an adult handles the Dry Ice so that as it being carbonated, it creates a fog.  Really great for effects.

So get creative and let me know your ideas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Readers Questions

I received several readers questions this week so I want to use this post to address some of them.

1. Cider - I was asked if I have a recipe for spiced cider.  Hot Spiced Cider is a great way to celebrate colder weather.  I have used many different ways to do this.  The most successful was to use a spice ball and put the mulling spices in that and then place it in the cider as it is heating. You can do the same with wine too. For the spices I use the William Sonoma Mulling spices blend because it has all the spices I like.  However you can use whole cloves, cinnamon sticks ( do not use the ground spice it will cloud the cider) as your base and then add the spices you like such as anise, orange or lemon peel etc.   Take the spices out before serving. 

2. Pie Crust - if you must make your own crust remember two things.   1- cold shortening and cold water and 2 - don't over work the dough.  I use puff pastry dough and/or frozen shells.  Buy the best quality not the store brands and you will do fine.

Thanks for the questions!  More later in the week

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

PLAN AHEAD FOR THE HOLLIDAYS

It is not too early to plan ahead for the upcoming holiday season. We all know how hectic the last two months can be.  So the question is how can get ahead now? Here are some tips that may work for you.

1. Shopping for food. If you see an item that you know you will need that is on sale get an extra amount.  For example things like celery or onions can be chopped in your food processor and then frozen in freezer bags for up to two months.  Often just before the holiday frozen foods go on sale. That is the time to buy puff pastry or pie shells to be used later.  Just look around and you will find some things you need later that will be more expensive then.

2. If you want to make some gifts to give, check your recipe now.  What do you have on hand?  What will you need?  Do you have the pans or other items needed? Disposable aluminum pans often go in short supply around the holidays.

3. MAKE A PLAN - PLAN A MENU NOW. If you have family and friends coming over plan your menu now and make sure that no one has any allergies or that you have alternatives. If you wait until latter the choices are limited.  Making a plan now gives you more time with family and takes a lot of stress out of the holiday season.

4. Relax and take a deep breath. It will be fine and you will have everything under control.If not so what? You did all you could and the rest is up to the Universe!! The important thing is to enjoy your holidays.  Preparing ahead will help you minimize the stress and enjoy more of the season.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Julian CA

If you have the opportunity to visit Julina CA do it. We went there on a recent trip to San Diego. It is a charming town and has some great food.  I recommend the Julian Pie Company.  Mom's Pies is also a good choice, but I think they are a bit over rated.  I also was able to pick up Apple Butter, and other jellies and jams at the Cider Mill.  They also carry a large assortment of sugar fee products.  Go to go I think my slice of apple pie is heated and ready for the ice cream!  YUM!

Friday, October 7, 2011

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT IN SAN DIEGO

On a recent trip my friends and I dinned at The Fish Market on Harbor Blvd.  It was incredible! For those who have never had Ciopino this is the place to try it. The Rib Eye Steak was well marbled  and well aged. It was a masterpiece. The setting at the Top of The Market was a blend of warm woods and ocean views.  The Service was impeccable. Overall on a scale of 1 - 10 ten being excellent this was an 11.  Do yourself a favor and  eat here.  The downstairs Fish Market is great during the day.  But the Top of The Market should not be missed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fred"s Mexican in SD

I always try to eat at Fred's in San Diego. This time my friends and I went to Old Town and had some appetizers in the afternoon.  We had Nachos, Chicken Quesadilla, and some tacos.  It was all great!  I recommend the Fred's on 6th street and in Old Town. Next time you are in San Diego drop in and try them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recent Trip

i took a few days off and went to San Diego.  I will post some restaurant reviews and travel tips from my trip.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quick Home Fries

Here is a quick way to have some home fries or cottage potatoes.  If you have some red potatoes, wash them and then cut them into the size you want.  Microwave  in microwave safe bowl for about 1 - 2 minutes depending on how many you have. You only want to precook them.  Then put them in a heated pan with some olive oil. it only takes about 2 - 5 minutes to have crispy brown potatoes  I add my seasoning for the last 30 seconds.  It is easy and quick. Try it!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another GREAT Class!

Wow we really had the place rocking today!  Thanks to all those who came to learn about Pressure cookers. I cooked Italian Bean and Pasta Soup; Lemon Basil Chicken, Garlic Smashed Potatoes all in pressure cookers.  Those who attend do get a class discount for anything that I discuss in class.  Drop by and ask me how you can sign up.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

FEEL THE PRESSURE!

Come by on Sunday and find out the great improvements in Pressure Cookers. I will be teaching a class on pressure cooking.  You will be amazed to see how technology has changed up this old stand by to a state of the art appliance.

Class starts at 12 noon.  Mention that you read about the class on this blog and I will give you a special gift.

Friday, September 30, 2011

CORRECTION ON COOKBOOK RECIPE

I must apologize!  I found a typo on the Cheesecake Recipe in my cookbook. The Temp setting should read 275  not 225!  Big difference.  Please take note for anyone who bough the book.  I will make the changes on the second edition due out next year.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Results on Bread recipe one

These pictures show how the dough performed.  The first one show the ingredients in the mixing bowl.  The directions tell you to put the yeast and water in the bowl. stir and then add the rest.  For this recipe I am using a 6 QT Kitchen Aid Pro mixer with the dough hook. 

The next picture shows how wet the dough is when you finish.  I did knead the dough longer than the recipe called for but I think after seeing the final product I would do it even longer.
This picture shows you the dough after a two hour rise and before it goes into the fridge.  By the next morning the dough was at the top of the bowl.

Over all the idea of the recipe is good, but the final results were disappointing.  When I find a really great recipe I will pass it on.  This one claimed that you do not have to knead.  However considering the structure of the bread and the fact that it does not rise much in the oven.  I would say that I disagree and will make some changes.  Due to copyright I cannot put the recipe here.  I will have  the link in a future post and the recipe will referred to as Bread 1.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Follow on the bread

well I will make some changes to that recipe. It is OK but the bread did not raise as high as I would have liked it.  The loaves were small  and dense with a nice crust. Much like you would find in an artisan bakery.  The bread had a good flavor. I still have some in the fridge so I will bake it in a few days to see if it develops a sourdough type taste.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bread

I have two loaves of bread in the oven as I write this.  It is one of the recipes that I wanted to try to pass on to you.  I have pictures and will post the results later.   The recipe I used lets you make a large "mother" batch that you take dough out as you need it for up to 14 days.  It came together well and the bread looks good.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Artisan Bread

I am doing some experiments with recipes for Artisan Breads.  These recipes are ones that do not use a lot of yeast and have long times for fermentation and raising.  They also rely on the air born yeast that is all around us to help.  Because they use such a long raise time ( usually about 12 - 24 hours) they develop a richer flavor and some will remind you of sourdough.  So stay tuned and I will post pictures of the research and the results.  (This will not be good for my waistline!  But I always like to go the extra mile for my readers and followers!)

More later!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

COOKING CLASS PHOTO

This was one of the displays for the class on Olive Oil 

I used wine glasses so the class could see the color and smell the aroma from the different Olive Oils. This one was the mildest.  The class was able to see not only the color differences but the vivid differences in the bouquet. 

Ollive Oil

Who knew there were so many Olive Oils?  If you had been a the class today you could raise your hand!
You would also have learned the difference between Extra Virgin, Virgin and Olive Oil.  If you have questions about Olive Oil let me know.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Faro Salad

I will demonstrating a new recipe in the Sous Chef Series at Williams Sonoma today at 12 noon. Come by for taste!  I cannot share the recipe here, but if you come by the store there will be copies there.  Today I will be making Faro Salad.  A great fall time change for an entree salad or a side dish. 

See there!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Some changes

I made some changes to the blog.  I added some links for Smashwords.  It is one of the places my cookbook is marketed.  They have been very helpful.  If you are considering writing a cook book or any kind of EBook, I recommend you check out the links.  I will add more links as I find cookbooks or other "foodie" stuff.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making Stock

Soon it will be time for soups and stews. If you make your own stock it will be better and you will know what is in it. If you have been keeping all your end pieces of celery and other veggies and the all the chicken parts you do not use in the freezer, then you are prepared to make stock.  If not just pick up a chicken and some veggies.  Here is a very simple stock method.

Chicken Stock

(Use the outside of onions - the part you usually throw out and you will have a deeper color to your stock)

Chicken Parts or one whole chicken cut in quarters
3 onions - peel and all
the end piece of a stock of celery
12 garlic cloves - slice in half
2 carrots - unpeeled and rough chopped
2 bay leaves
Bouquet Garni -- Rosemary, thyme, sage and tarragon - tied together or in an cheesecloth bag
12 cups of water or enough to cover

Put all the ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low so it barely simmers.  cook for 8 - 10 hours.   After about 1 hour check to see if you need to skim any foam that may have formed.  Note if you want to use the chicken meat, remove after about one hour. De-bone and return the bones to the pot. 

After the stock is cooked, strain out all the bones, veggies and spices. Pour the stock though a fine mesh strainer and refrigerate overnight.  Next day skim off any fat.  You can divide the stock into smaller containers.   Frozen the stock will be good for about 3 months.  Refrigerated the stock is good for about two weeks

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Non Stick Cookware

I have used one form or another of non stick cookware for years.  I am sure you have too. However do you know what not to use with non stick cookware?  Spray oil in a can.  After speaking with a rep from Calphalon, I discovered that over time the nonstick spray oil will build up a residue on the non stick pans.  This residue is hard to remove and in some case may also damage the pan.

Instead use a little oil or butter.  Not a lot!  Just a little and your non stick pans will last a lot longer.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Cooking Class

WOW had a great turn out today!  Lots of fun and good food!!!   Here are some of the tips I passed on during the class.

1. Put seasonings in your pizza dough.  I use the Williams Sonoma Pizza Spice which was very good. Not much about a tablespoon for enough dough to make two pizzas

2. When making your dough remember it is the foundation for your pizza.

3. Add extra yeast.  The recipe I used call for one packet.  I added two.  Why?  Because then I had a more active dough and could do more with it. It does add more niacin and if you want to make the dough a day ahead, just cover it and put it in the fridge.

4. Cooking a Pizza stone makes a great crust.

Drop by next Sunday when we go over Olive Oil.

Thanks to all that attended!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

COOKING CLASS SUNDAY

This Sunday I am teaching a class on pizza.  It is all about the crust and the many ways you can make pizza dough. So if you ever wanted to know the best way and the best short cuts come by the Williams Sonoma in Green Valley at The District in Henderson NV Sunday at 12 noon.

I will also show you a few other recipes that you how you can use pizza dough to make some great appetizers.  So drop by.

Friday, September 16, 2011

AUTUMN HOUSEKEEPING

Now that fall is almost here we all think about the change in menu. For most that means more oven coking and using the indoor appliances more. But at the same time you need to look at your spice cabinet.  Most spices only have a 2 year shelf life. That includes the time from manufacturing, shipping and setting on a stores shelves.  Look at your spices. If they are ground such as Cinnamon or other spices, they may need to be replaced.  Paprika will loose it red color over time. This does not affect the taste until it approached the 2 year mark but can affect how it browns food.  If you plan to make chili when the weather gets cold, are you spices too old to due your recipe justice?

Oil also has a shelf life. Check those too. Use the change in seasons to check your seasonings. Hopefully you also have fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Does it need to be recharged?

Fall and winter are usually very busy times in the kitchen.  Use this time to be prepared and you will enjoy cooking more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Food Processors

Recently I purchased a new food processor. The one I got has three bowls and lots of horse power.  It has all bells and whistles. During my research on which one to buy, I did find some very good information.

We all know that there are a lot of gadgets out there and lot of different prices.  What I found out that was news to me is what a difference the right blade makes.  If you have one that has a "Dough Blade" use it.  I never paid much attention until I found out that the longer blades actually cut the gluten when you are kneading the dough with a processor.  If you have made pizza dough or bread in a food processor and had so so results that is most likely why. 

So as you can see no matter how long you have been cooking, you can always learn.  If you have a tip pass it on.  It will help someone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

OOPS

Sorry for the late post!  But on the up side, I did get some recipes via email which I will include in the new cook book.  Remember send me any cookie or treat recipe for the holidays and you will be included in the book.

One of the tips I found in an old cookbook from 1920 was to dip your cookie cutter in cake flour.  That seemed a little odd so I tried it. It works very well.  The cake flour is lighter and does not leave any residue on the cookie. Try it

Monday, September 12, 2011

COOKIES!!

I am creating a Holiday Edition of Cookies and Treats. Yes I know it is only September but the holidays are not far off.  If you have a special recipe that you would like to share please submit it through the comments section.  I will credit you in the cookbook. If you send three or more I will send you a free copy of the cookbook. The deadline is Sept 30 and I will have the cook book out by October 15.

So get cooking and send me your recipes!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

PASTA

Since I will be teaching a class on Pasta today I thought I would post some facts about Pasta on the blog. Pasta is in every culture in one way or another.  Pasta was first found in China in the 2000 BC. The Greeks and the Romans all have references to Pasta.  One the most interesting to me was a dish called lagana that was very popular in the Roman Empire.  It was flour blended with lettuce juice and made into thin sheets. These sheets were then fried and served with herbs.  Most historians credit this dish with what we now call Lasagna.

The use of the word Pasta was first used in England. The Italians then adapted it to describe their "Pasta". Italian Law defines what can be used to make pasta - dry pasta or Pasta Asciutta, can only be made with durum wheat flour or durum wheat semolina.  In other cultures other grains are used.

If you are able drop the class today.  However we have over 30 signed up. Space is limited.  Let me know if you have any questions about Pasta.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Low and Slow

It is cloudy and gloomy here today. It reminds me that soon we will have cooler temperatures and be able to cook more soups, stews and pot roasts.  But why wait?  I just brown the meat - today some stew meat - in a dutch oven and then add 1 onion and some garlic.  As soon as the onion is translucent I add about three cups of beef stock and then put in the oven set at 225 - 250.  I set the timed cook feature to 4 1/2 hours and walk away.  Since it is still a little warm I turn on the vet fan. That takes the heat out of the house.  When I get back from work I could make a stew.  However I will shred the beef and then add some Hatch chillies and some other spices and make some enchiladas.  YUM!  Since I will not need all of the cooking liquid, I will freeze some in small batches to make gravy or to add to soup when it really gets cold.

Easy two or three meals all done while I am at work. 

By the way - I am doing a class on pasta on Sunday.  Drop by and see all the many varieties and shapes and how to use them.  Class is at 12 noon at the Williams Sonoma in The District in Green Valley.  See you there!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Davis Dust

For those who have read my cookbook, you may have seen a reference to Davis Dust.  I am happy to say that it is starting production and hopefully will be available soon. Keep an eye on the blog and I will announce the product roll out very soon.

Fro those who are not familiar with Davis Dust, it is a spice blend I have been working on for about four years. It is a GREAT rub on Pork Ribs, or Pork Shoulder and Butt, and is excellent on Chicken and fish. Originally designed as just a dry rub, we discovered that it also is superb seasoning for may dishes. So stay tuned.

I will have a website soon that will allow you to buy the seasonings and my cookbooks.  Yes there is more on the way.  Let me know if you want to be on the first batch mailing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Crispy Tempura and Other Fried Food

No one likes a soggy fried anything!  If you want a very light a crispy tempura, use rice flour.  If you do not have rice flour you can make it by using a Vitamix Blender or other powerful blender. Just put a cup of rice in and process for 30 seconds.  You will have some very light rice flour.  Use this instead of an all purpose flour and your tempura will be very light and crispy - Just make sure the oil is at the right temperature!!

For other fried foods I use panko bread crumbs in a three bread system.  Flour - eggs - bread crumbs. These will make big difference.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Drying Herbs

Summer is slowing ending and many people like to dry herbs that they have grown in their garden. Some tips for the beginner.

1. If you are drying leafy herbs like Oregano or Thyme, cut the sprigs at a point where you can have a stem to use for tying them together.  If you cut too close to the leaves, you will lose some of the herb in the process.

2. Hang herbs upside down to dry. the essential oils will concentrate in the leaves and will not evaporate out or run out the stems.

3. If you are placing the herbs on a sheet such a dehydrator or outside, leave room for air to circulate around the herbs. If you drying outside make sure that you cover the herbs with cheesecloth to keep the bugs and birds at bay.

4. Remember once dried, herbs are potent than when they are fresh.  Use them accordingly or you have a very bitter dish or one that is over seasoned.

If plan to make an herb vinegar be sure to read how to do that.  Otherwise you can have mold and other organisms invade and ruin your efforts,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to the grind!

So if you are like me and don't really have the time today to cook, and you do not want fast food what do you do?

On Sunday I took a chicken out of the freezer and put in a brine to thaw in the refrigerator.  Now all I have to do today is put in on the rotisserie or bake it. All of that can be timed so when I get home from work I have the main part of dinner ready.   By using some technology and planning ahead, I don't have to eat fast food or take hours to cook. (slow cookers work well with a brined chicken too. I just prefer a little brown to add flavor.)

Or if you have left overs from a weekend BBQ, You can make sliders out of brisket or pork or chicken.

Just some thoughts..

Saturday, September 3, 2011

HOT DOG OR BRATWURST BOIL

For those who may not have read the cookbook, there is a recipe in it that will improve the flavor of hot dogs or Brats especially if you are planning to grill them this weekend. Here is the short version.

Cook hot dogs in beer that you have added at least one clove of garlic  (smashed), half of  diced onion and a bay leaf.  Cook on simmer for 10 minutes and then grill.  You will be happy you did.

Have a safe weekend!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

For those who are planning a weekend feast some ideas that may help.

First - remember to make sure food is held and served at the proper temperature. Cold food should be held at less than 40 degrees and hot food held at higher than 140. Foods that have a lot of sugar and/or fat in them such as baked beans or some fruit salads can harbor bacteria once they cross the temperature threshold. Keep an eye on these.

Meats - Bratwurst and Hotdogs have a lot of fat and can go bad if they are left out even after they are cooked. Keep them cold before you cook them and keep them hot or serve them right away. Hamburger, Turkey Burgers etc. - if you are taking these to a cook out, then either use the frozen patties or keep the meat as close to 32 degrees as possible.

Mayo - keep it cold along with the mustard and ketchup.

Stay safe and enjoy the last three day weekend of summer.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Food Costs


As we all know the cost of food has risen lately.  Besides looking for bargains, you may want to start thinking ahead for fall.  I know it is over 100 here in Las Vegas and somehow the thought of cooking stews, roast etc is not on the top of our list.  But as the seasons change so do the prices on some items. Here are some hints that may help.

1. If you have meat that is freezer burned don't throw it out.   You can use that in stews or to make stocks and soups.

2. Save your old bones.  If you have trimmed a chicken or you do not use all the parts, put them in a freezer bag and make it for stock.  The same is true of vegetables - put your onion skins and ends of celery etc in a bag and freeze them. They still have flavor and although they may not be pretty, they will add a great flavor to soups, gravies and stock.

3. Bread - if you don't eat the heal or you have some bread that is drying out, make bread crumbs. Old fashioned but very frugal.  And you know what it is them!

4. Left over gravy or sauces.  Freeze these in an ice cube tray and them put the cubes in a freezer bag. Sometime you need a little something extra and theses come in handy.

So you got any tricks???  Share them in the comment section.  Fall is not that far off and the holiday season is around the corner.  I hope this helps you save money and cook more!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

GREAT CLASS THANKS SARA!!

My thanks to Sara from Encore who really brought it for a great class today on gluten free baking!! Sara is a the Pastry Chef at Boteroat Encore Las Vegas.  Her knowledge and experience was wonderful.  For those who missed the class, you can find the recipes on line and Williams Sonoma carries the mixes.

The best tip was seeing how Sara gave texture in the baked goods by mixing the batter longer than what the directions show.  For more information use the comment section and send in a question.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mini Pies

I recently purchased a Breville Pie Maker.  If you have not seen one of these, they cook four small pies in about 10 minutes.  I am working on a cookbook just for this appliance.  It is a kick to use and very easy.  Look for some new recipes in the next few weeks.

For those who attended the class today - Thank you for coming!  We had a great time and all enjoyed the shrimp.  The recipe is on Williams Sonoma Website. 

Now I am going to enjoy my mini chicken pot pie and have an individual apple with ice cream for desert. yum!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sous Chef Cooking Class

I will be teaching the Sous Chef cooking class on Saturday. The entree is Caramelized Shrimp with Lemongrass, Thai Chilies and Ginger.  The class starts at noon and will last about 15 - 20 minutes as the entree is a very quick cook. I will go over some of the ingredients and talk about how to use them and what to use if you cannot find particular items.

See you there!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Farmers Market

I went to the Henderson Farmers Market today. In truth it was the hottest day so far this year which made the veggies and fruit look even better.  I was disappointed that there were so few vendors but  I did get some great melons, green onions and tomatoes.  Next week I may get some berries and do some small scale canning.  If you have a Farmers Market near you I suggest that you check it out.  Even if there are not a lot of vendors, you can still get good food.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ollive Oil

I love to cook with olive oil. It adds a certain flavor and it is healthy. I was asked about Olive Oil since it is a fat and what the benefits are. So I found this link to the Mayo Clinic website. Check it out

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN01037

In some cultures Olive Oil is also used as skin lotion and on dry hair. Who knew??  I still like it best in food.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Old Cook Books

A friend gave me some very old cook books. It is interesting to see how things have changed and some things are the same.  The tried and true methods still work with some modern tweaks and new technology. But the basics are still a good place to start.  The biggest difference is that much of our food is already processed or has been enhanced in way our ancestors never knew about. That does change the availability and taste of food.

The top methods in all the cookbooks were Low and Slow on roasts and turkeys. (Which is still a good idea) And the use of butter and shortening for cakes and pastries.  No matter how we try there is still no substitute for butter in some dishes. 

I am experimenting with the recipes and will incorporate some in my new cook book next year.  I may post some here too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Great Class today!

Thank you to all that attended!  We had a great class with lots of good food! For those who missed it, The Sheppard's Pie was excellent.  I used the Williams Sonoma Caramelized Onions Braising sauce to cook the brisket. The beef was very tender and the sauce was delicious! 

You can always cook once and eat twice. The best food is any that you like and want to eat. 

I was asked during class about what wine to cook with.  The only answer is the wine you want to drink with dinner or one that you would drink. Do not use "cooking wine" as it has added salt.  I use a dry vermouth for a lot of dishes (including fried rice) to deglaze the pan and add another layer of flavor. It adds a great flavor that most people will not recognize. 

Have a great evening and send in you questions and comments!! 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cooking Class Sunday

Cook Once East Twice - That is the theme for Sunday's class.  Come by and see how you can use well prepared and planned cooking to add time to your busy schedule.

Some of the recipes we sample are - Individual pot pies, Quesadillas, Sheppard's Pie and others that use main course meats in a second round of entrees that are anything but left over.

Tips here after the class

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reader Poll

What is your favorite knife?  Do you own a set of knives or just a collection from various makers and types?

Whether you like an Oriental knife  - ex. Shun or Global etc.; or a European knife like Wusthoff or Hinkels, knives are very personal.  A quality knife will last a life time, Cheep knives and those made with lower quality break, pit and go dull sooner.  A dull knife is an accident waiting to happen.  So invest in at least one good knife.  You will be happy you did!!

So tell you which ones you like.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ice in Milk Shakes

You may not know it but in the best milk shakes, there is a little ice.  The ice crystals are disbursed throughout the drink. They help to rinse your palette which makes the drink taste better.  When you make a milk shake at home put about 1/2 cup of crushed ice in the blender.  It makes it colder and you will have a better drink.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dry Rub VS Wet Rub

If you have a dry rub that has started to cake or clump what can you do?  I was asked this during a recent cooking demonstration.  The answers are 1. Use a spice grinder to break up the clumps; 2. Use a blender to break it  upor -my favorite answer - add some olive oil and make it a wet rub or marinade. 

Whenever you buy a prepared dry rub or even if you make it your self, there comes a time when they may clump up due to humidity or other reasons.  Don't throw it out it is still good for other uses.  A wet Rub is just that - a rub that you use wet instead of dry.  A marinade has more liquid.  That is really the only difference.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Share Our Strength

Save the date - August 20 at your local Williams Sonoma. They are sponsoring a Marvel Comic Cookie Decorating event. For a meager $5.00 donation, your child can decorate two cookies that are made in the shape of the Marvel Comics.  The proceeds go to Share Our Strength for their efforts to feed American children.  Contact your local store for more details.