Monday, October 25, 2010

The Chill in the Air.

The Chill in the Air
Ah, fall has arrived and I love it. This is my favorite season by far, with the leaves all changing colors, Crisp cool temperatures, Football all weekend long, and warm fuzzy sweaters. It also means it’s time for Soups, Stews and Chili. This is one of my favorite cooking styles; I always go grocery shopping in the morning, and try to start cooking before 10 A.M. getting all the work out of the way for a day long adventure of football… Yesterday was just this kind of day; I finished all of the work by 11:30 A.M. and was able to enjoy the first game of the day while my Chili was simmering (perfect). Only problem was that I’m a Chicago Bears fan and they were playing some ugly Football, and lost of course. Oh well, the Chili was cooking and intoxicating the house with its smells and warmth.
This is our first Chili recipe with more to come, along with other Soups and Stews. Fall and winter bring a food style all of their own. I completely revamped my Chili recipe, so here’s the brand new rendition. Enjoy!

Chili with Goat Cheese Polenta Crouton
Butter- 2 tablespoons
Olive oil- 2 tablespoons
Onion- 2 cups (medium dice)
Green Pepper- 1 ½ cup (medium dice)
Serrano Pepper- ¼ cup (minced)
Chili Beans- 1- 30 ounce can 1- 15 ounce can
Black Beans- 3- 15 ounce cans
Diced Tomatoes- 2- 28 ounce cans
Chorizo- 15 ounces
Italian Sausage- 1 pound
Ground Beef- 1 pound
Chili Powder- 2 tablespoons
Cumin- 1 tablespoon
Coriander- 1 tablespoon
Oregano- 2 teaspoons (dried)
Basil- 2 teaspoons (dried)
Garlic- 2 tablespoons (minced)
Beef Broth- 2 cups
Salt & Pepper- to taste
Sour Cream- to garnish
Chives- to garnish

Method to the Madness

1) In a sauté pan cook off Ground beef, Chorizo, and Italian sausage all separately. Set aside.
2) In a large sauce pot over high heat add butter and oil. Add the onions, and peppers sauté for five minutes or until onions become soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
3) Add the Tomatoes, and all the beans. Add the seasonings, Beef broth, and all the meats. Mix well. Bring to a boil for 30 seconds. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 2 hours. I simmered for 4 hours.
4) Season with salt & pepper and taste.

Goat Cheese Polenta Croutons
1) Follow instructions on instant Polenta for 1 serving. Add seven ounce of crumbled Goat Cheese, just before its finished mix well. Spread cooked Polenta over a baking sheet, about ¼ inch thick and let cool.
2) With a cookie cutter, cut out Polenta circles and sauté with butter over high heat until golden brown on both sides
3) Top Chili with the Polenta, a dollop of Sour cream and garnish with minced Chives.
4) ENJOY!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Polish Flat Cake

Well today is a guest post, kind of. I’m actually writing the post but the recipe comes from a good friend of mine. Let me introduce you to Nicholas Fron, Nick is a great guy I just meet a few months ago. We worked together at a place call Preservation Bread and Wine… Great place and I still work there, Nick has moved on to a full service Steak House. He knew that he wanted to be a Chef at the age of seven, and started baking with his Mom at the age of ten and never looked back. As of now this guy is a great cook and baker, at the ripe age of twenty five. He attends Culinary School at Elgin Community College, full time and works full time. What can I say he has the cooking bug, and is going to go on to do great things!
A couple of months ago I told him that I started a Food Blog, and was looking for someone to do a guest recipe and he agreed. Unfortunately has taken me that much time to get his recipe posted. The recipe he gave me is for a Polish Flat Cake, which is great seeing that I’m not much of a baker. I enjoy baking I just don’t do it much. So here’s to my first baking post, please enjoy!
Polish Flat Cake
AP Flour- 2 1/3 cups
Baking Powder- 2 ½ teaspoons
Salt- ¾ teaspoon
Sugar- 1 cup- Divided into ¾ and ¼ cup
Light Cream- ¾ cup
Eggs-2 (large)
Baking Apples- 3 (large)
Peaches- 2
Nectarines- 2
Butter- ½ cup (soft)
Butter- 3 tablespoons (cold)
Cloves- ¼ teaspoon
Cinnamon- ¼ teaspoon (optional)
Nutmeg- pinch (optional)
Method to the Madness
1)      Pre-heat oven to 350. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, ¾ cup of sugar. Add ½ cup butter, cream, and eggs, beat for three minutes on medium. Batter will be sticky. While batter is mixing peel & half all fruit, remove pits and slice thin.
2)      Coat a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray, and spray a cake spatula. Spread a thin of batter layer on the bottom of dish. Layer half of fruit on batter.
3)      Micro plane cinnamon and nutmeg over fruit. Spread another layer of batter, reserving enough dough to dot top of cake. Add remaining fruit, dot with remaining batter.
4)      Cut remaining ¼ cup of sugar, cloves with 3 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle butter on top of cake.
5)      Bake in oven at 350 for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool and cut.
6)      Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chilean Miner Pork Stew with Tomatoes and Corn.

After the recent events in Chile I decided to make a recipe in their honor, but alas I can’t remember ever having Chilean food. I don’t remember ever going to a Chilean restaurant… Is that possible? I mean I have lived in Chicago for 18 years, at one point or another I must have gone to one; Right? I just don’t remember things like I use to.

So as a result I started doing research on Friday, combing through hundreds of recipes trying to find the perfect recipe. Then I started to think. What would I want to eat after being trapped in a mine for 3 months? I don’t think I can even answer that question; I have no idea what these guys went through or how they felt. All I know is it must have taken tremendous courage and a load of patients to get through an ordeal like the one they went through. I mean there they are on T.V. some 2000 feet underground trapped, singing and dancing, holding their country’s flag with the upmost of pride. It was amazing to watch. So cheers to the miners, now safe and sound and reunited with their families!

Chile Minar estofado de cerdo con tomate y maíz

Chilean Miner Pork Stew with Tomatoes and Corn

Bacon Fat- 2 tablespoons
Vegetable Oil- 1 tablespoon
Onion- 3 cups (sliced thin)
Poblano Pepper-1 ½ cup (sliced thin)
Pork Meat- 1 ½ pounds (cubed)
Oregano- 1 tablespoon (dried)
Cumin- 2 teaspoons
Coriander- 2 teaspoons
Garlic- 2 tablespoons
Tomatoes- 2 cans (14.5 ounce, diced)
Corn- 1 cup (frozen, thawed)
Rice- ½ cup
Chicken Broth- 1 cup
Parsley- 3 tablespoons (fresh, rough chopped)
Cilantro- 3 tablespoons (fresh, rough chopped)
Serrano Pepper- ¼ cup (seeded, diced)
Salt & Pepper- to taste
Method to the Madness
1) Heat the Fat and oil in a large sauce pan. Add the pork, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about ten minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
2) Reduce the heat to low, add the onions, Poblano, and sauté for 8 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, tomatoes and their juices. Simmer covered for 45 minutes or until pork is tender.
3) Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, add the corn and rice, cover and simmer for 20 minutes more. Season with salt & pepper.
4) Serve in a stew bowl and garnish with the parsley, cilantro and Serrano pepper.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Roasted Pork Loin with Goat Cheese Polenta wilted Spinach and Mushrooms


Wow this was shockingly delicious! I have always been a huge fan of Pork, and I have had many variations of the pig. This was a signature Entrée at the last restaurant I worked at, but this was one of those places that kept their recipes under lock and key. So I started to work this one out on Monday, I knew most of the ingredients. So I thought what the hell I know what I’m doing, right? It didn’t taste exactly the same, only better. I really am a fan of roasting; there is something great about the smell that intoxicates the whole house, as it builds the anticipation of a great meal.

Roasted Pork Loin
Pork Loin- 2 to 2 ½ pounds
Polenta- 1 cup (Instant)
Water – 3 cups
Goat Cheese- 7 ounces (crumbled)
Mushrooms- 1 large package
Baby Spinach- 1 large handful
Chicken Broth- 1 cup
Beef Broth- ¾ cup
Balsamic Vinegar- 2 tablespoons
Olive oil- 3 tablespoons
Salt & Pepper- to taste
Blackened Seasoning- 3 tablespoons

Method to the Madness
1) Rub the Pork with the Blackened seasoning, covering all of it. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. In a mixing bowl add the Mushrooms and toss them with salt & pepper, Balsamic vinegar and olive oil bake @ 375 for 20 minutes, set aside.
2) Pre heat the oven to 375. Place Pork in a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes until internal temp reaches 150 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. While the Pork is resting, bring the water to a boil and add the Polenta. Cook for 3 minutes, add the Goat Cheese and season with salt & pepper.
3) In a sauce pan bring the Chicken and Beef broth to a simmer. In a sauté pan over medium high heat reheat Mushrooms for 3 minutes add Spinach and cook for 1 minute more.
4) Place a cup of the Polenta in the center of a plate, surround it with sliced Pork, garnish with the Spinach and Mushrooms and spoon the broths over the entire dish.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Jambalaya! One of my favorite meals, Jambalaya is easy to make and if you double this recipe you can have enough for a couple of dinners. Which is always a good thing with everyone being so busy these days, again you’re looking at about one hour cooking time.
The first time I had Jambalaya was back in 1993. I had the pleasure of working at a bar that hosted a Crawfish Boil every year, and Jambalaya was one of the side dishes. Their recipe called for about one hundred pounds of the stuff, the place was always packed for this event. It was a great time and I always looked forward to it. The recipe I’m giving you makes two main course meals or four appetizers, like I said above if you double the amounts it makes for great left-over’s, two meals for the price of one. Enjoy!
Pork fat- 2 tablespoons
Olive oil- 2 tablespoons
Jalapeño- 2 tablespoons (minced, optional)
Onions- 1 cup (small diced)
Green Peppers- 1 cup (small diced)
Garlic- 1 tablespoon (minced)
Andouille Sausage- 1 ¼ cup (medium diced) you can substitute Kielbasa.
Chicken- 1 cup (medium diced)
Rice- 2 cups
Diced tomatoes- 1 can or 14.5 ounces
Tomato sauce- 1 can 8 ounce
Chicken broth- 2 ½ cups
Salt & pepper- to taste
Green onions- ½ cup plus ¼ cup to garnish
Bay leaves- 2
Salt- 1 ½ teaspoon
Oregano- 1 ½ teaspoon
White pepper- 1 teaspoon
Black pepper- 1 teaspoon
Thyme- ½ teaspoon
Cayenne Pepper- ½ teaspoon (optional)
Method to the Madness
1) Combine the Bay leaves, salt, Oregano, White pepper, Black pepper Thyme, and Cayenne in a mixing bowl and set aside. Heat the pork fat and Olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium high heat, add the sausage and render for 5-8 minutes until browned. Stir frequently. Add the onions, peppers and sauté for 5 minutes, stir occasionally scraping bottom for the pan. Add the chicken, raise the heat to high and cook for one minute, stirring the entire time.
2) Reduce the heat back to medium add the seasonings and garlic cook for 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and cook for 6 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil. Then stir in ½ cup of green onions and simmer for two minutes. Add the rice; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Fluff with a fork season with salt & pepper, and serve. Garnish with the green onions.