Friday, May 28, 2010

New Pictures

I wanted to post these pictures because l am pretty proud of this work.  Garde Manager (Cold Food Production) is very detailed oriented food preparation and I was able to put this together pretty much on my own.  It is a Goat Cheese and Roasted Vegetable terrine, deconstructed walforf salad, tomato pesto crostini, with Muhammara sauce.

Thinking outside of the box

The key to any dish is building a solid foundation of flavor that can be expanded upon, but some of the most classic dishes have been created by mistakes or experimenting with different flavors.  Any chef or cook should use food as a medium to be creative.  One thing that I particularly love to do is take an established dish and put my own twist on it.  This allows me to start with a solid foundation, and from there I can use different herbs, spices, proteins, veggies or fruits to make the dish my own.  Eventually through this process I come up with 2 or 3 completely new dishes in my head.  This is one of the main reasons I love to cook, the creativity it allows me to express.   Not only can you come up with new dishes, but the way you plate the dish can make it new and innovative alone.  Here are a few examples of dishes I have made and how I changed them to make it my own.

Chicken Pot Pie:
I made this dish for a get together with friends.  It consisted of paprika spiced chicken, onions, celery, carrots, apples, with a sweet potato biscuit crust.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy it.  Then I made a pot pie for my wife which consisted of lump crab meet, shallots, fennel, and peas with a pie crust.  She told me that this is one of her most favorite dishes that I have ever prepared for her.  The pot pie I made for my friends was done casserole style, while the dish I made for my wife was cooked in individual ramekins.  Each dish looked completely different but was a derivative of the Pot Pie.

I now have plans to create recipe for a Caribbean Pot Pie made with okra, jerk spiced chicken, yucca, onions, carrots, coconut milk with a plantain biscuit crust.  I will post the recipe once I test it.

Cioppino is a seafood stew in a tomato and white wine broth usually served with garlic toast.  I have made traditional Cioppino many times, so for a twist I added coconut milk, green curry, and red pepper flakes.  As I was making the dish I just got motivated to do something different, so I made the changes and it came out absolutely wonderful.   For the seafood components, I used cubed black sea bass, scallops, and shrimp.  Traditionally crab, clams, mussels, squid are used.  So you can mix and match ingredients for your preference.

French Toast:
Everyone seems to have their own recipe for delicious French Toast.  For a birthday party I was catering I decided to put it on the menu.  So I thought about how I could transform French Toast into something completely different.  I started with using Challah bread.  Challah is a Jewish braided bread made from eggs, flour, water, and sugar.  Then I made a Creme Brulee custard consisting of milk, heavy, cream, vanilla, and sugar.  I cook the mixture until it was at custard consistency.  Once it was cooled, I dipped my bread into the custard and then cooked it on the flat top.  I accompanied the French Toast with cinnamon butter, and a mixed berry compote of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries cooked in red wine and sugar.  The dish was a hit at the party.  The combination of flavors worked really well together.  Now I am searching for ways to build upon this dish to make it different and even better.  One idea I had was for a dessert chocolate french toast, with a caramel butter, topped with whipped cream.  We will see how this one comes out.

You can do a lot with food, you just have to be creative and be willing to take chances.  Sometimes you win and sometimes it doesn't work out, but then you just go back to the drawing board and come up with a new game plan.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Friday's Night Dish

Wanted to post the dish I made for my wife Friday Night.
Spanish Spiced Pork Tenderloin,  Creamy rice with Pasilla Peppers, Roasted Corn, Manchego cheese, and cilantro, and a Pineapple & Tomatillo chutney.

What's your Niche

I have asked myself this question many times, and I really haven't sorted it out just yet.  As a chef, having a niche can mean many different things.   It could mean the specific type of cuisine you prepare, it could mean the type of career path you choose.  These decisions can very well dictate how your career will progress as well as define you as a chef. 

As a late starter in this field, I do not have the luxury to apprentice under a established chef and further hone my skills.  Time will not allow me to work my way through the ranks in a kitchen.  As a husband and father I have a responsibility to provide for my family, but I want to be able to do this while pursuing my passion.   With all of these factors I made the conscious decision to go on my own as private chef and caterer.  This gives me the flexibility to work full time and pursue my passion on the side.  The goal is to eventually be a chef full time, but you have to crawl before you walk.

Since launching Troy's Taste, in about 2  month's I have done several events including a few birthday parties, a salon grand opening, and a christening.  I have been blessed so far to have done these events simply by word of mouth, but I want the momentum to continue.  This lead me to this post..should I choose a specific niche cuisine and focus on that, or should I remain flexible and become familiar with all cuisines?  I am leaning to the latter because of my love for all food.  How should I market myself?  I am working through all of these different questions to figure out my identity as a chef.

Even though I do not have a specific niche carved out just yet, I do believe figuring out where I want to go in my culinary career is going to help me find my place.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Some of My Creations

Just wanted to post pictures of some dishes I made in Culinary School.  This is a Garde Manger platter consisting of Chicken Galantine, Oxtail Terrine, Tomato Confiture Tartlet, Leek and Black bean Salad.

This an individual portion of the dishes from the photo above.  The sauces are Cumberland and a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette.


 Smoke Trout with Waldorf Salad.

Asian spiced Smoke Duck with a Soy & Ginger dipping sauce.

Shrimp and Oyster Po' Boy with Old Bay Chips and pineapple & strawberry fruit salad.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Getting Started

As a recent culinary school graduate I wanted to find some way to discuss and write about my love for food. Like many Chef's my passion for kitchen started at a very young age. My obsession with pancakes is my earliest memory of wanting to find out how to make a dish and how adding different ingredients to would change the appearance and flavor.  I watched every cooking show that I found on TV, from Julia Child to Jack Pepin, even watching a show on the Country Music channel just because the host and I shared the same last name. Even in middle school, some of my closet friends remember me saying I wanted to be a chef. Now as a grown up, I fulfilled this life long dream. At a certain point in my life I never thought I would realize this dream, but all things happen for a reason, and here I am.

For me this blog will be my sounding board for all things food. Cooking is my passion so why not share it. More posts and pictures will be coming soon!