Macadamia nut white chocolate cookies are nothing new. The flavor combination of rich macadamia nuts and silky white chocolate is very popular and found in many mass-produced cookies. My version of macadamia nut and white chocolate cookies uses a very fragile short dough and is sandwiched with white chocolate buttercream and tangy orange marmalade before being dipped in white chocolate. They are one of my best fancy cookies. When produced in small one-bite cookies they are classified in a category known as petit four sec in classic French pastry.
I first developed this short dough many years ago when I was the executive chef at the Capital City Club in Raleigh, NC. In July I prepared them for a local ACF scholarship fundraiser dinner as a to-go gift.
Here is my recipe for the dough along with a step-by-step photo gallery for how to prepare them. 1) Prepare the dough and chill well 2) Roll out the dough on sheet pans and chill again 3) Cut the dough into crescent shapes with a fluted cutter 4) Egg wash half of them to be used for the tops 5) Bake at 350F until lightly brown and baked through 6) Cool to room temperature 7) Pipe a thin fence around the edges of half of the crescents with white chocolate flavored Swiss buttercream 8) Fill in the center with orange marmalade 9) Place the egg-washed tops on the filled bottoms 10) Dip in tempered white chocolate 11) Chill and serve.
Method: 1) With a paddle attachment in a large mixing machine cream butter and sugar until smooth. 2) Add nuts and blend well. 3) Slowly add eggs and vanilla until well-mixed. 4) Add dry ingredients to nut dough and mix well scraping the bowl often to ensure proper mixing. 5) Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes. 6) Remove just what you need and roll out and cut into desired shapes. 7) Bake and use.
Besides being used as a fancy sandwiched cookie I also use round cookies made from the dough as a base for one of my composed desserts, “A Taste of Gold” which is a layered sphere-shaped dessert made with Mango Bavarian Cream, Rum soaked Sponge Cake and Coconut Pastry Cream encased in a thin White Chocolate. A Taste of Gold is an award-winning dessert and the recipe can be found in my pastry book – Pastry & Dessert Techniques.
Inflation is running rampant and food costs are rising to historic levels. Improving and learning more about cooking and baking from scratch will save you money, increase your health and make your food taste better. As a professional chef, many of the ways that I have used to cut food costs in professional kitchens can also work at home. Here are 12 ways to cut your food cost and improve your diet for a healthier life.
Cook more with grains, legumes, and rice. Most of us love foods that are made with flour like pizza, pasta, and sandwiches made with wheat bread. However, flour is going to become much more expensive with the war in Ukraine. Learn how to make rice dishes like paella, jambalaya, stir fry rice, etc. Buy dried beans and legumes and cook them yourself instead of using canned beans which are more expensive and not as healthy.
Learn how to fabricate your own meats and fish then buy large sub-primal cuts like pork loins, top sirloins, whole legs, whole chickens, and skin-on whole filets of salmon. Then cut, marinate, and freeze. Additionally, use cheaper cuts of meat such as flat iron steaks, thigh meat, turkey, etc.
Learn how to use leftovers to cook in tasty ways. Enchiladas, pasta dishes, soups, stir fry dishes, etc. Purchase and learn how to cook in a slow cooker like an Instant Pot or Crock-Pot. Make stocks and broths whenever possible and use them in soups and sauces or in rice dishes to increase the flavor.
Cook in large batches, portion, and freeze – chili, stews, soups, lasagna, etc. Invest in a vacuum sealer to extend the freezer life of your food and inhibit freezer burn.
Control over production – don’t cook more than you will eat whenever possible. That is of course if you do not have a plan for your leftovers. Take rice for example: instead of cooking a cup of rice which is the standard recipe on most rice containers try cooking a half cup. The perfect portion for two sides of rice.
Cut your own vegetables, lettuce, and fruits. Whole heads of lettuce will last longer and are much cheaper if you buy them whole instead of pre-chopped. This goes for fruit as well.
Learn how to make your own desserts or dessert toppings instead of buying premade desserts, cakes, pies, etc. Some easy desserts that take minimal equipment and skill are cobblers, crepes, cheesecakes, pies, poached fruits, cream puffs, bread pudding, and dessert sauces such as chocolate, caramel, or fruit sauces.
Organize your refrigerator and freezer to minimize waste- try using inventory lists on your refrigerator. This will help you to rotate your food out before it becomes too old, or freezer burned.
Grow some of your own food if possible. Focus on vegetables that are easy to grow and produce high yields. Tomatoes, squash, potatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, Swiss chard, and herbs and learn how to preserve them by freezing, drying, pickling, and making sauces. Many of these can be grown in containers like 5-gallon plastic buckets or pots if yard space is an issue.
Compost your vegetable and fruit scraps and use them in your garden, mix with equal parts dry brown matter such as leaves or shredded brown paper, and turn frequently, perhaps in a compost tumbler. Coffee grounds and eggshells work well in compost as well. Don’t use any meat scraps or citrus fruits.
Don’t buy convenience foods such as rice mixes, dressings, frozen dinners, etc. Make them yourself. They will taste better and save you money.
When shopping- Instead of buying what you want or items that are listed on specific recipes buy items that are on sale (loss leaders), buy in bulk when possible, however, do so only if you can use the food before it spoils, purchase produce that is in season. Don’t shop when you are hungry so as not to impulse buy foods that are more expensive or risk purchasing too much.
Cooking more at home can be very joyful. If you have children cook with them to increase your family time and help them to learn life skills that will be useful when they grow up. If your children have grown and left the nest or you do not have children cook with friends before you dine with them. Have some small appetizers or charcuterie boards to snack on while cooking and promote the anticipation for dinner. Play some good music that matches the type of food that you will be cooking such as Latin music when making Mexican food, Italian opera when cooking Italian, or New Orleans Jazz when making Creole or Cajun foods.
I hope my ideas will help you cut your food costs and prompt you to cook more at home and have fun when cooking. Until next time- Bon Appetit!
The aim of a great sauce is to bring food to ethereal heights. Great soup creates sumptuous comfort when eaten and can create memories that will always be cherished. Developing flavor and silky consistency is the goal for cooks who make sauces and soups. Although this is a vast topic and one that takes years to master there are five core principles/secrets that will enable you to make great soups and sauces.
Extraction + reduction = Flavor
Low and slow cooking
High-quality ingredients produce the best results
The best soups and sauces begin with a great stock
Skim, strain, and reduce
In my Soup and Sauce class at Ozarks Technical Community College, I teach the classical ways to create soups and sauces in ways that could be used in contemporary fine dining establishments. We focus on building soups and sauces from stocks made carefully from bones, vegetables, and aromatics. In this post, I will discuss the 5 basic principles/secrets for building flavor. The photos in this post feature soups and sauces which were derived from modern versions of the Mother sauces found in the classical Haute cuisine. The Mother sauces that students learn are Espagnole, Veloute, Bechamel, Tomato and Hollandaise.
Extraction + Reduction = Flavor
This equation describes the process of developing flavor at its most basic level. Consider the example of making stock for a flavorful chicken soup. The first step is to create a stock by pulling the flavor of the chicken out of the bones, mirepoix, and aromatics into a pot filled with cold water. After the stock has cooked slowly for 3 to 5 hours it is strained and then reduced to evaporate some of the water and to strengthen the flavor of the chicken. Umami is the sought-after flavor profile in a great chicken soup and when it is consumed it can create a comforting memorable feeling.
Low and Slow Cooking
The best stocks, broths, sauces, and braised dishes are achieved by slowly cooking. When stocks boil rapidly with the bones and vegetables the process agitates the particles and any fat in the liquid. This results in a clouding finished product. Slow and gentle simmering creates a clear clean stock. Another important point when making stocks and broth is to always start with cold water. This is done to slowly draw out the flavor and nutrients from the bones, mirepoix (vegetables), and aromatics (herbs and spices) to create a stock or broth this is achieved through the scientific process of osmosis. In the braising of meats, slow cooking keeps the meat tender when finished. In contrast, if the cooking is done rapidly the meat can become stringy and unpleasant when eaten.
High Quality Ingredients Produce the Best Results
Always try to use the best quality ingredients when preparing soups and sauces. Start with the freshest and best ingredients and treat the products with care in the prepping and cooking process. This will produce the best results in finished dishes. We used to say you have to baby a soup or sauce when cooking it by treating it with the best care and techniques to yield extraordinary results.
Fantastic Soups and Sauces Begin With a Great Stock
Stocks and broths are the foundation of any great soups or sauces. Compare this to an analogy in the construction of a house, starting with a solid foundation on top of which a frame can then be built which will result in a beautiful house when finished. Without a solid base to start with the finished product will not be excellent. Always start with a flavorful clean and clear stock to build and produce the best sauces and soups.
Skim, Strain, and Reduce
These three actions are of the utmost importance when creating flavorful stocks and sauces.
Skimming the scum, grease, and impurities that rise to the top in the simmering process of stocks and sauces must be done carefully and often throughout the cooking process to create a clear stock and a shiny sauce. This technique is called Dépouillage in French. Do this by carefully pushing the scum to the side of the pot or kettle and carefully skimming it off and discarding it.
Straining the stocks and sauces is also very important to yield a clean and shiny sauce by removing any of the particles that would break down and cloud a sauce during the cooking process. This is often done several times throughout the process of reduction (cooking down the sauce to evaporate water). Each time transfer the sauce to a clean smaller pot and then repeat the process. A fine mesh strainer (Chinoise) or sometimes cheesecloth is used to achieve the finest results.
Reduction is the process of simmering or lightly boiling stock or sauce to evaporate the water to intensify the flavor of the finished sauce or soup. If a sauce or stock is bland and watery the flavor will be weak. Reduce it to improve and strengthen the flavor.
If you would like to make the short ribs in this post go to my page on recipes and scroll down to find my recipe for braised short ribs with wild mushroom sundried tomato risotto. I hope the techniques and images in this post will help you to improve your soup and sauce making and as always if you enjoyed this post or have any questions please let me know in the comments. Bon Appetit!
During the holiday season cooking at home for family and friends is enjoyable and can help to facilitate comfort and relaxation. In this post, I offer my recipe for Chicken Pot Pie, which I recently demonstrated in a virtual conference for high school consumer science teachers from the kitchen of Ozarks Technical Community College. In the actual demo, I prepared the Chicken Pot Pie with an Arugula Pear Salad with Candied Pecans, Gorgonzola Cheese, and Dried Cranberries. I decided to share the techniques and recipe on how to make a pot pie because many people serve roast turkey during the season and then wonder what to do with the leftovers. A pot pie is a good way to use leftover meat with a stock made from the roasted turkey carcass. In order to make a great pot pie two separate preparations need to be accomplished. First, a pie dough needs to be made and then the filling needs to be prepared. After the filling has been made and bowled up in an ovenproof dish or dishes, it is covered with the pie dough. In the final step, it is brushed with an egg wash and baked until the crust is golden brown and then it’s ready to be served.
½ lb All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp Salt
3/8 cup Shortening, chilled
1/8 cup Butter, chilled and small diced
¼ to ½ cup, or more Water, ice cold
In a stainless steel or glass bowl mix the flour with the salt
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender
Cut in the shortening until only small pea size lumps can be seen
With a fork mix in the water in small increments to form a shaggy dough
Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or over-night.
Once the pie is made prepare the filling with the following recipe:
Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie
Yield 2 Individual ovenproof casserole dishes or 1- 8” glass pie dish
12 oz Pie dough
Pinch Coarse Sea salt (optional)
2 cups Chicken, cooked and large diced (Leftover turkey can also be used)
¼ cup Carrots, medium diced
¼ cup Parsnips, medium diced
¼ cup Celery, medium diced
¼ cup Pearl onions, blanched and peeled
¼ cup Mushrooms, medium diced
2 ½ cups Rich chicken stock, or double chicken stock
3 TBL Butter
4 TBL All-purpose flour
1 tsp Chopped Tarragon or Chives
2 tsp Chopped Parsley
¼ cup Heavy cream, hot
2 TBL Dry Sherry or Maderia
Salt and pepper to taste
Corn starch slurry if needed 50/50 starch and Sherry or water
Egg wash 1 egg and 1 yolk, mixed with a little water
Large crystal sea salt if desired
AP flour for rolling out the pie dough
Prepare the pie dough and chill
In a heavy bottom sauce pot, melt the butter and sauté the pearl onions, carrots, parsnips, celery, and mushrooms
Dust with 3 TBL flour to form a roux and cook while stirring over low heat for 5 minutes
Whisk in the chicken stock to make a Velouté
Simmer while occasionally stirring for 10 to 15 minutes, skim any scum that forms
Add the diced chicken and return to a simmer, cook for 3 more minutes
Add the hot cream, chopped herbs, and sherry
Adjust the consistency if needed with some cornstarch slurry
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed
Remove from the stove and fill the oven proof dishes or pie dish with the filling using a slotted spoon so as not to get too much sauce. The filling should have just enough sauce in it to make a hearty filling and should not be too runny.
Dust a cutting board or surface and roll out the pie dough
Cut into the proper shape and cut a small hole in the middle of the dough to form a vent
Brush the rim of the dishes or the pie dish with egg wash
Cover the dishes with or pie dish with the dough and crimp the edges
Brush heavily with the egg wash and sprinkle on some of the large crystal sea salt if desired
Bake at 350F for approximately 30 to 35 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown
Chefs have many things in common. When it comes to food, we all get excited when a new high-quality purveyor comes to our area. Recently I was invited to a grand opening event introducing a line of beef raised, processed, and sold in Missouri both for retail consumers at Price Cutters and for restaurants and chefs from Springfield Grocers. It is also sold throughout the state. For more locations and information about the beef go to https://showmebeef.com
In this post I am using the short plate. The short plate is the sub-primal cut from which comes short ribs that are highly prized by chefs and beef lovers. Smoked short ribs that are fabricated from the plate are used in many ways such as slow smoked, braised in red wine and cut thin marinated and grilled in the Korean Style. For more information on the short plate go to https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/cuts/cut/2850/short-plate-primal.
Located in the front part of the belly in the carcass the short plate comes from the forequarter portion of the animal. It is a tough cut of meat with high amount of fat which makes for better flavor when cooked slowly.
The process to prepare the ribs first starts by trimming off the silver skin (tenuous gristle) and fat from the top of the short plate. Then portioning the plate into ribs by cutting down the plate between the bones separating them into single bone ribs.
Next prepare the spice and rub into the meat on the ribs and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. This enables the spice to penetrate and flavor the meat prior to smoking.
Prepare the beef jus use as a basting juice on the ribs in the next step.
To smoke the ribs I used my weber grill with charcoal and hickory smoking chips. First build a hot fire on one side of the grill. Bring out the ribs and allow them to come to room temperature for about 20 minutes and soak about 2 cups of chips in water. Once the charcoal is white and hot, sear the ribs directly over the coals. Once they are marked on both sides move them to the opposite side of the grill so that they are not directly over the coals (this technique is called indirect grilling). Place the smoking chips on a disposable pie tin or on a tray made from foil and put over the coals and bring them to a smoking point. Then cover the grill and open all the vents on the cover. Let smoke for 45 minutes and then uncover and add a few more charcoal briquettes and re-cover the grill. Continue to grill for 45 more minutes. Uncover and turn the ribs and baste with the beef jus. Check the charcoal fire and add a few more briquettes if needed then re-cover and continue this process two more times for a total time of 3 hours of smoking. Then turn the ribs once more and baste with the BBQ glaze and add a few more briquettes to the fire and continue to smoke for 30 minutes. Repeat the process until the beef ribs are tender. Then remove from the grill and cover with foil (tenting) and let them rest for 30 minutes, serve with BBQ sauce if desired. The total cooking time will take around 4 to 4 1/2 hours.
Short Rib Spice Rub
Yield approximately ¼ cup
2 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Paprika
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
Mix all together and use or store in a jar.
Yield 2 cups
½ pound Silver skin beef trimmings
½ each Small yellow onion, cut into slices
1 each Garlic Clove cut in half
1 each Small bay leaf
8 each Whole black pepper corns
2 ½ cups Cold water
Optional Parsley and rosemary
Spread out the silver skin on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400F until brown (to render out the excess fat) for 15 to 20 minutes
Drain the fat and discard or reserve for another use
Brown the onions in a little beef fat in a thick bottomed pot over medium high heat
Add the browned silver skin, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and herbs if used
Bring to a boil, skim and simmer for 1 to 2 hours
Strain and use as a basting juice for the ribs or reserve for another use.
Yield ¾ cup
½ cup BBQ sauce (commercial tomato based)
¼ cup Beer (IPA, Pilsner or light beer)
1 teaspoon Honey
Mix together and use as a mop to glaze the smoked ribs in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
As an added bonus I was given this rib eye to cook. It had great marbling of fat throughout the muscle and the steaks that were tender and flavorful. Compound butters are a great and easy accompaniment for steaks. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite butters that goes great with a grilled rib eye right off the grill or out of the the cast iron pan. Use the best quality butter for the best taste and flavor.
Hope you enjoy it and until next time- Keep on Grillin!
Yield 18 to 20 servings:
1 pound Butter (Unsalted European style)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon leaves
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives
2 Tablespoons Fresh flat leaf Parsley leaves
2 Tablespoons Minced shallots
½ teaspoon Ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Prepare the steak butter by coarsely chopping the herbs and mixing them along with the rest of the ingredients thoroughly with the soft butter.
Roll up in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill or freeze slightly to firm up into a cylinder.
Slice and top hot grilled steaks or chicken right off the grill.
After a semester of only serving food to go in our student run-restaurant “Scallions” at Ozarks Technical Community College, I am excited to announce that we are planning to reopen for full service dining this Fall. In this post I will summarize my teaching methodology for our capstone class and will showcase six of my past specials from 2019 that will hopefully give you some ideas for cooking at home or in a professional setting.
Held on the OTC campus in Springfield Missouri the aim of our Restaurant Operations class is to teach the students how to run an a la carte kitchen. The class is designed to give the students some real world experience in an actual restaurant setting and is open for lunch one day a week. In the restaurant we serve between 60 to 80 covers (guests) on an average day. In the class I teach how to design a menu, write the recipes, how to cost out the recipe items and determine the menu food cost as well as how to develop prep sheets and par sheets for each station. In culinary training I introduce new techniques and skills in the core menu and in my chef specials. The recipes also re-enforces previously learned techniques from earlier fundamental classes.
The students rotate between 6 stations every two weeks. The stations which are typically found in actual restaurant kitchens are Sautee, Middle, Grill, Pantry, Pastry and Sous Chef. The theme of the menu focuses on American Bistro style and offers the types of foods that are popular and easily procured in the Midwest region of the country. The menu is broken up into three sections: the core menu, student specials and chef specials. We prep the menu on Tuesdays and service is on Thursdays. The majority of menu items come from the core menu which I tweak every semester, the student specials come from a four-course signature menu that they plan and create at the beginning of the semester, and includes a salad, soup, entrée and dessert. I create the weekly chef specials and teach the students how to prepare and serve them. The orders are taken and the guests are served by the front of the house management class.
My chef specials showcase my philosophy for designing menu items that are desirable for the majority of guests that live in this part of the country. In this post are six of my most popular creations from past semesters, each of which sold out, with between 16 and 25 portions that were produced.
The opening image is of Colorado Grilled Lamb Chops. These were marinated in a Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette prior to being grilled to order.
The next special is Filet and Lobster which was a center cut 5 oz filet of beef topped with Maine Lobster and Asparagus Béarnaise sauce and a Veal Demi Glaze. Béarnaise sauce is a classic derivative sauce made from a base Hollandaise sauce, which is basically a butter egg yolk emulsion and is classified as one of the five mother sauces in classic haute cuisine. It is produced by making a tarragon reduction by cooking down white wine, vinegar, tarragon, and shallots and then adding it to Hollandaise sauce.
Grilled Swordfish with Sweet Corn Risotto was another popular dish that I served with grilled sliced zucchini planks, small diced red peppers, and corn. I then garnished it with grilled shrimp and charred scallions. Seafood is very popular in the Midwest however only well-known species are normally consumed by most diners. That being said I sell only sustainable species and steer clear of endangered overfished options that are often sold in many restaurants.
During the month of October, I sold Germanic-style inspired specials to celebrate the month. The most popular was my version of the German Classic- Beef Roulades with Spätzle and Red Cabbage. Two of the other Octoberfest specials of note were Chicken Bavarian, and a duo of Wiener Schnitzel and Venison Medallion with Huckleberry Sauce and Potato Pancakes both sold out quickly. Germanic style dishes are becoming harder to find in most restaurants, as of late, and I believe when done well are still very much desired by many Midwesterners. Supporting evidence of this statement is illustrated with the amount of feedback that I received when I posted this image on a “German Recipes and Traditions” Facebook group. The post garnered more than 1000 likes and comments combined.
Another popular Seafood Special that I prepared was Stuffed Bronzini filet with Royal Red Rock Shrimp and Bay Scallops with Italian Vegetables. To be more specific I used Zucchini, Fennel, Red Onion, Leeks and Red Peppers with a touch of garlic, basil, and oregano. Which was then served with a Pernod Beurre Blanc. I wasn’t able to get a good photo of the special so I used this image that I took from a seafood lab in my Fabrication class where I made the dish with Filet of Sole instead of Bronzini, the plate in the background is Bronzini also known as Mediterranean Sea Bass
The last of the six most popular specials is Braised Short Ribs of Beef in a Rich Red Wine Sauce with Risotto made with Wild Mushrooms and Sun-dried Tomatoes garnished with fried Parsnip Ribbons. I make this dish with a regional red wine -Saint James Norton which is a red grape varietal that is produced from Saint James Winery in Southern Missouri. A great dish that is always popular during the cold months of the year. If you want the recipe I have previously posted the recipe in my recipes page of this blog.
Classic traditional cooking techniques and recipes using regional popular foods will always be hit with diners. Unfortunately, many of these types of dishes are hard to find in many of today’s restaurants for a variety of reasons.
When I was a young cook it was always about learning advanced techniques with exotic ingredients. Although I still love that aspect of cooking… as I grow older I gain satisfaction from growing my own food and cooking it direct from the garden. Cooking fresh vegetables with basic staple items brings out their natural flavors giving new appreciation to the term- Eat your vegetables.
Nappa Cabbage is very popular in Asian cuisine. Perhaps best well known is the Korean national fermented dish Kimchee. It’s mild thin frilly leaves are also great when blanched quickly, shocked in ice water and then wrapped around fish with a stuffing prior to steaming. For a simple home use I often stir fry it with garlic, oyster sauce, chili oil and sesame oil.
Minimal processing and cooking with fresh herbs, olive oil, grapeseed oil, butter, vinegars, fresh ground black pepper and sea salt will allow your vegetables to taste their best.
In my garden I grow as many types of fresh herbs that I can in my region of the country like Basil, Chives, Thyme, Tarragon, Dill, Flat Leaf Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Sage, and Oregano. Three of the best ways to use them are in Pesto, Chimichurri, and Herb Compound Butters.
Compound butters are made by mixing soft butter with herbs, spices, citric acid and often other ingredients. In French classical cuisine there are many types. Maitre d’hotel butter is perhaps the most well known which is made simply with butter, lemon juice, shallots, parsley, salt and pepper. All compound butters should be served soft an slightly melted on a hot grilled or pan seared steak, chicken breast or firm fish steak (swordfish, tuna, etc.). Here is my recipe for a steak butter. I like to use it for grilled Rib Eye or Strip Steak.
Yield 18 to 20 servings:
1 pound Butter (Unsalted European style, Plugra) room temperature
1 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon leaves
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives
2 Tablespoons Fresh flat leaf Parsley leaves
2 Tablespoons Minced shallots
½ teaspoon Ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Prepare the steak butter by coarsely chopping the herbs and mixing them along with the rest of the ingredients thoroughly with the soft butter.
Roll up in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill or freeze to firm up into a cylinder.
Slice into disks and top hot grilled steaks or chicken right off the grill.
Preserving the harvest has always been a challenge for home gardeners as well as farmers throughout time. There are many different methods used. Pickling or fermenting with salt, vinegar, herbs and spices is a popular age-old method used for many vegetables.
For fresh herbs drying works well and can be done in a low temperature oven or in the traditional method by tying in bunches and hanging. Making Pesto and freezing or infusing them to make herb oils or herb vinegars also works well.
For tomatoes I like to make sauces and then freeze them in small batches to use in the winter. At home any of these methods will help you to enjoy your garden raised produce and herbs all year long. Bon Appetit!
Sausage is enjoyed all over the world and is a great way to use up the trim from fabrication of larger pieces of meat. In my fabrication (butchering) class at Ozarks Technical Community College I teach the fresh sausage making technique. Although my recipe Sundried Tomato Garlic Pork Sausage calls for using pork butt here I used the trimmings when I broke down a whole end to end pork loin. Shown here in the image.
In this recipe I use an additional technique of brining the trim in a salt and sugar solution prior to grinding the meat and stuffing the sausage casing. This step increases the flavor and moisture of the meat in the final sausage. I also tied the links in shorter lengths to create a more dramatic presentation once plated.
The next step I use is to poach the sausage in beer and onions prior to grilling the sausage. This also increases the flavor and is done so that the sausage does not burst open in high heat of the open grill.
Here is my recipe for the sausage:
Sun-Dried Tomato and Garlic Pork Sausage
By Chef Daniel Pliska CEC
Yield 3 1/2 Lbs
3 Lbs Pork Butt cut in 1”x 1” strips Cured in brine for 4 hours
5 oz Sun-dried tomatoes Blanched reserve blanching liquid and reduce to 1 cup
5 oz diced white onions
1 oz chopped garlic
1/2 Tbl. Chopped fresh sage
1 Tbl. Chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbl. Chopped fresh thyme
1/2 Tbl. Fennel seed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbl. Coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. Sweet crushed red pepper
2 extra large eggs
1/8 cup Cornstarch
2 Tbl. Olive oil
1 cup Sun-dried tomato blanching liquid
2 Quarts Warm water
1 ½ cups Granulated Sugar
1 ½ cups kosher salt
2 Tbl. Crushed Red pepper flakes
2 Tbl. Coriander seed
2 Tbl. Fennel seed
1 Tbl. Crushed Star Anise pods
12 Each Bay leaves
2 Tbl. Cracked Black pepper
20 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
Sweat onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent
Add sun-dried tomatoes all herbs and blanching liquid and reduce until dry then cool to room temperature
Remove the pork from the brine and rinse off all of the spices
Add the sun-dried tomato herb mixture and chill
Progressively grind the meat thru a large die in a meat grinder then thru the medium size die
In a mixing machine mix in the eggs and the cornstarch and chill
Place in a sausage stuffer and fill pre washed casings then tie into lengths
Poach in beer, onions and water or broth
Grill or pan fry as desired.
The final plated dish is completed. Skewered sausages on toasted sliced baguette and country mustard coleslaw topped with a olive-caper relish accompanied with fried Yukon gold sliced potatoes.
Made with only 10 ingredients this popular cake has two tricky steps that take some practice to get just right. The first is the Dunkel Wiener Masse which is better known as Cocoa Genoise or Chocolate sponge cake. Considered to be a pastry basic this extremely light sponge cake contains no leavening agents and is created by whipping a warm egg and sugar foam to its highest volume then folding in the flour and cocoa powder followed by a small amount of melted butter. This is where the technique of folding in the dry ingredients followed by a little melted butter must be done with utmost care to keep the batter from deflating.
The other step that takes some skill is making smooth chocolate cream. Once made it must be used immediately to sandwich the sponge cake layers with dark sour cherries. It is made in a three-step process: first whip heavy cream to soft peaks, then mix 1/4 of the cream into melted dark semi sweet chocolate (couverture). Lastly, pour the chocolate cream base back into the remaining 3/4 of the whipped cream and quickly whisk it all together. If not done correctly the cream will turn into a chocolate chip whipped cream instead of a smooth rich chocolate cream.
According to legend the cake was created by Josef Keller in 1915 at the Café Agne in Southern Germany in what is now the city of Bonn. The distinguishing feature of this famous torte is the use of Kirshwasser (cherry brandy) that some have called cherry firewater. In the torte, as in all tortes made with sponge cake, the sponge must be saturated with kirshwasser mixed with a simple syrup of sugar and water. Genoise is extremely light however it is somewhat dry if not doused with a syrup.
Lastly, to create the best torte use the best quality Kirshwasser and dark sour cherries to yield the best results. As in all pastry, and cooking as well, the best finished products use the finest base ingredients. Light and creamy with rich chocolate cherry flavors this world famous cake has been and will continue to be a popular dessert that has stood the test of time for over a century.
Listed below is the recipe for the cocoa sponge cake and the chocolate cream. To make the cake cut the cake into three layers and soak each layer with a good kirshwasser simple syrup and sandwich each layer with the chocolate cream and canned sour cherries. Lastly, make more whipped cream and sweeten with a small amount of powdered sugar and ice the entire cake with the cream. Pipe into the top large rosettes of cream and top with cherries. Shave dark chocolate and cover the cake then dust with powdered sugar.
Black Forest Cake (Swartzwalder Kirsch Torte)
Yield 1 -10” cake
6 each Extra-Large Eggs
6 oz. Granulated Sugar
4 1/2 oz. All-Purpose Flour or Cake Flour
1 ½ oz. Cocoa Powder
2 1/2 oz. Melted Butter
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and the sugar together over a pot of boiling water until warm (110F).
Transfer the egg sugar mix into a mixing machine bowl and whip on high speed until light and frothy (ribbon stage). Reduce the speed to medium and continue to whip for 10 minutes (this creates a more stable egg/sugar foam)
While the egg foam is mixing, sift the flour and cocoa powder together on to a piece of parchment paper.
Turn off the mixing machine sift in and fold in the dry ingredients by hand (be very gentle and do not over mix or batter will deflate).
Fold in the melted butter last and pour into the cake pan that has been greased and lined with a parchment or wax paper circle covering the bottom.
Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until the cake springs back when depressed slightly with your finger-tips.
Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and turn over onto parchment paper.
Let cool to room temperature then remove from the pan and use or freeze.
2 cups Heavy Cream (whipped to soft peaks)
8 oz Semi Sweet Dark Chocolate Couverture ( melted)
Mix 1/4th of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate
Quickly whisk in the remaining whipped cream to form a smooth chocolate cream
Tomato or Tamato, no matter how you pronounce it, the fact is Missouri grows some of the best varieties of this annual favorite. Indigenous to South and Central America the word tomato comes from the Aztec word Tomalt. They were first brought to European cooking in the 16th Century and have since then become prominent in cuisines of Italy, Greece, Spain, Southern France, and of course Mexico where they originated. Known as “pomodoro” by the Italians, which means golden apple, tomatoes are also called “pommes d’amour” in French means love apple.
Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from green and purple to yellow and crimson red. There are many varieties; some that are better for eating raw and some that are at their best when cooked. Once thought of as poisonous because they belong to the nightshade family, the fruit itself is obviously harmless although the leaves and stems are toxic.
Tomatoes can be classified as heirloom or hybrid. According to Tim Reinbott, the Director of Field Operations for CAFNR at the University of Missouri, heirloom tomatoes must be grown from seeds that have not been crossed with any other varieties for at least 50 years or longer. Heirloom tomatoes are not known for their beauty since they are often misshapen; however they do ripen into many different colors and when it comes to flavor and taste, heirloom varieties have some of the best flavor. To be classified as an heirloom, the seeds for the annual planting are saved and passed down from many generations. Reinbott says that hybrid varieties, unlike heirlooms, are interbred in order to improve their disease resistance, thickness of skin, and yield. By creating new hybrid varieties, taste and flavor is sometimes sacrificed to improve other qualities.
When it comes to selecting tomatoes that will be grown at home one should consider the harvest season for when the fully ripened tomatoes will be ready for picking. Some gardeners like to have the bulk of the tomatoes to ripen at roughly the same time and others wish to have tomatoes ripen at different times so as to make them available throughout the growing season. This characteristic is known as the determinate or indeterminate variety of plant. The determinate types is when all of the tomatoes on the vine grow to maturity and ripen at the roughly the same time. The indeterminate type is when the vine bears tomatoes all season long in lesser quantities and they consequently ripen at different times. Missouri has a good climate for both determinate and indeterminate types. As far as general tips for home growers Reinbott offers this advice:
When it comes to keeping the tomato vines disease free sanitation is very important. To do this wipe down the steaks, cages or anything that touches the vines with a 10% bleach to 90% water solution
Mulch the vines with a thick layer of straw or leaf mulch. This helps with water retention as well as disease prevention
When low branches touch the ground make sure to stake them up or trim them
Tomato plants love the heat but do not do well in wet conditions. When the growing season is rainy tomatoes tend to have a lot of problems
One of the pests that can damage tomatoes is the hornworm. If you find them on your plants it is best to hand pick them off and dispose of them
Blossom end rot is another common problem for tomatoes which is attributed to a nutrient deficiency. To guard against this, use calcium nitrate around the roots of the vines
Tomatoes come in a vast array of varieties many of which grow well in Missouri’s hot humid summers. They can be loosely categorized into four major groups: salad, plum, cherry, and beefsteak tomatoes. Each group of tomato has its own specific characteristics which pertain to the sweetness/acidity level, thickness of skin, amount of seeds, and amount of water that the tomato contains. Tomato colors span the spectrum from red, orange, yellow, purple, pink, black and green when fully ripe. Some varieties are best grown on the ground, some staked or in cages and some grow well in pots or containers.
Salad tomatoes are normally 2 to 3 inches in diameter and are used in salads, sandwiches and salsas. Heirloom and hybrid varieties include Arkansas Traveler, Creole Original, Djeena Lees Golden, Oh Happy Day Hybrid, Green Zebra and Garden Peach.
Plum Tomatoes contain less seeds and water then salad tomatoes. This makes them an excellent choice for sauces and soups. This is also the type of tomato that is used to make tomato paste. Plum tomatoes along with cherry tomatoes are delicious when dried or slow roasted in olive oil with garlic and herbs. Some varieties are Roma, Amish Paste Tomatoes, Amos Coli and San Marzano.
Cherry and grape tomatoes bear fruit in clusters and can be grown in pots. Served most often in salads, cherry tomatoes are a good starter plant for young children who love to eat the tasty ripe tomatoes when harvested. Varieties include Chadwick Cherry, Fox Cherry, Pearly Pink, Black Cherry and Blue Cream. Some of the best are Super Sweet 100’s, Sun Sugar, Sun Gold and Sugary.
Beef steak tomatoes are prized for their size and mild flavor, usually used in sandwiches. These behemoths can weigh as much as 1 to 3 pounds. Due to their gigantic size, they have a longer growing time when compared to the other types of tomatoes and special care has to be taken since they are so large. Some types of beefsteak tomatoes are: Steak House hybrid, Mortgage Lifter, Big Rainbow, Cherokee Purple, Brandy Wine Pink and Missouri Love Apple
Three of my favorite ways to serve tomatoes are as a smoked tomato relish (great with grilled steaks), as a slow roasted tomato in olive oil known as a tomato confit in culinary terms (best served on croustades with chopped olives and herbs or as a garnish for grilled fish or chicken), or in a cream of roasted tomato soup garnished with goat cheese and chive mousse. No matter how they are served, when homegrown tomatoes are picked at the peak of their ripeness and prepared carefully with top quality ingredients, they will be the hit of any summer get-together or dinner party. It is no wonder why they are called love apples.