Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

I look for any excuse to barbecue.   With my family visiting from out of town, Memorial Day weekend gave me an opportunity to pull out the grille.  I initially thought about making a grilled lamb flatbread, but my wife and brother had a craving for ribs.  To kick up my barbecued rib recipe, I decided to make an Asian Barbecue sauce using a base of Hoisin sauce and ketchup.  To the hoisin and ketchup base, I added plum sauce, rice wine vinegar, fresh ginger, and a little honey.   It had a really nice sweet, sour, and spice balance.

I used baby back ribs that I dry rubbed generously with a combination of brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and black pepper.  I cooked the ribs using indirect heat with a combination of charcoal and mesquite wood chips.  The ribs had a great smoky flavor.  I basted them with the barbecue sauce just before I pulled them from the grille, then again before they were served. They came out pretty darn good!  Below are some pictures. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Escargot Experience

My wife and I just returned from a much needed cruise to the Bahamas.  We had a great time just kicking back on the beach enjoying the weather and a cool island drink.  On the ship they had several restaurants as well as the main dining room, and overall I thought the food was pretty good.  This was my first cruise and I really wasn't prepared for the amount of food you could sample on the ship.  In the main dining room you could order as many appetizers, entrees, and desserts as you liked.  At our final dinner I ordered two of everything, I was on vacation, why count calories!  They also had a Johnny Rockets that was all you can eat, as well as a pizza shop and deli that were all you can eat as well.  It was food overload. 

I thought the dishes served in the main dining room really stood out. One of my favorite dishes was the escargot in a parmesan garlic butter sauce.  I have eaten a lot of different types of foods, from frogs legs to snapping turtle, but this was my first time eating escargot and I thought the snails were delicious.  The parmesan garlic butter sauce really complimented them, and when I ate it on a piece of warm sourdough bread, it was really good.  The next dish that really stood out was the pan roasted duck with cherry jus.  The duck skin was crispy and the meat was tender. The cherry jus had a nice balance of savory and sweet.  It was served with braised red cabbage and fried potato cakes. I really enjoyed all the different elements of this dish.  The best appetizer I had was an oxtail broth with diced vegetables and small pieces of oxtail.  The broth had great depth of flavor. 

I have sweet tooth and I had two desserts that really were outstanding. The first was a bittersweet chocolate souffle served with an espresso cream.  The souffle was light and airy with a nice chocolate flavor.  The waiter served the souffle and then created an opening in the center and poured in the cream. The espresso cream added a nice coffee flavor that always tastes good with chocolate. I could have eaten two of them.  The second dessert was probably one of my favorites dishes I had the entire trip. It was a banana praline caramel parfait, but it was molded into the shape of a piece of cake. It had a creamy consistency with a nice banana flavor with the pieces of praline mixed in.  The slice of parfait was placed on top of the caramel sauce.  I enjoyed it so much, I may try to re-create this dish in my own variation. 

I definitely will be taking a cruise again not only for the sun and sand, but more importantly the food!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kids & Brownies

Recently when I have been coming home from work, my kids have transformed my living room into a make shift kitchen. They have pots, pans, rolling pins, ricers, and bowls all laid out.  I asked them what they were doing and they said, "cooking like you".  My daughter would even throw one of my white kitchen towels over her shoulder exactly like I do.  I have to admit it was pretty cool to see my kids emulate my behavior in the kitchen.  My son even asks for real ingredients to use, but I had to deny that request if I didn't want heavy cream and eggs all over my furniture.  Maybe one of them will follow my foot steps into the kitchen, only time will tell.

In the past I have let my kids help me in the kitchen, especially when I bake.  They really like to add ingredients to the bowls and use the hand mixer.  This past weekend I told them that we would make brownies.  I'd figure it would be something fun for the three of us to do, and give me an opportunity to develop my own brownie recipe. 

Before we even got started, my daughter indicated she wanted to hold one of the boxes of semi-sweet chocolate, so I let her, and a few minutes later my son TJ came and told me to come into the living room.  There I see my daughter with an open box and an unwrapped piece of chocolate.  I guess I couldn't blame her too much, who doesn't love chocolate.  I rescued the chocolate from the couch and finished getting all of the ingredients together. 

The kids and I went into the kitchen and started melting the chocolate, and getting our dry ingredients together.  Once the chocolate was melted, I couldn't help but let them taste the melted chocolate, that may have been a mistake, because they wanted to keep eating it.  We finally finished our brownie batter and put it in the oven.  You would think the kids would be standing by the oven waiting for them to get done, but my little ones could care less.  When I pulled them out of the oven they smelled great.  We let them cool, and after dinner we tasted them and they tasted really good. The kids loved them.  I will post the recipe once I test it again. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Making Changes

I told myself that I really need to be more proactive about blogging, but between work, the business, and my family, I really just haven't had the time.  Since I really don't believe in excuses, I won't let this be one.  I am going to make a real effort to blog at least once a week.  I have been in the lab coming up with new dishes, and will be sharing the recipes for people to try and give me feedback.  

You may have also noticed I changed the layout and design, hopefully you like it, I do!  People have mentioned to me that they have tried to subscribe to the my blog, but since they didn't have a gmail account they couldn't.  I added a "Follow By Email" gadget to eliminate this.  Hopefully everyone you would like to subscribe will now be able to to easily follow the blog.  

My little ones (2 year old daughter and 3 year old son) and I will be making brownies tomorrow, so it should be real fun and crazy time in the kitchen.  There will be a definite blog entry for tomorrows adventure!

On another note, I shot two more cooking segments today.  We had a real good time shooting. I will be posting them in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for them.