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Chef Alekka’s Chocolate Espresso Brownies

brownies2.jpgThis recipe comes from our February Chef of the Month, Alekka Sweeney. Valentine’s Day is approaching and we all like to take this time to indulge in some dessert. This recipe caters to anyone with a sweet tooth and love for all things chocolate. Take a break from your New Year’s diet and enjoy the finer things in life… and one of those things is sugar!

Chocolate Espresso Brownies

Yields 32 brownies

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter

5 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon instant-espresso powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup 64% Chocolate pistols (I prefer Valrhona)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of foil to hang over ends of pan, and grease foil well (except overhang) with 1 tablespoon butter.
  2. Melt remaining 11 tablespoons butter with unsweetened chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt (mixture will be grainy), then add eggs 1 at a time, whisking after each addition until batter is smooth.
  3. Toss together flour and chocolate pistols in another bowl and add to batter, stirring until just combined.
  4. Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake in middle of oven until top is firm and edges just begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 20 minutes –be careful not to overbake.
  5. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then carefully lift brownies from pan by holding both ends of foil and transfer to rack to cool 10 minutes more. Cut into 32 squares and lift brownies off foil with a spatula.

Love this recipe? Get in contact with Chef Alekka and visit her shop Give Me Some Sugar if you’re in the Chicago area so you can learn to bake like a pro!

Website: Give Me Some Sugar 

Facebook: Give Me Some Sugar

Instagram: @givesugar

Twitter: @ChefAlekka

Chef Stefen’s Breakfast Mac n’ Cheese

recipe-2-0For all of the breakfast lovers, this recipe goes out to you. We’re stoked to showcase this recipe from Chef Stefen but we wish we had more! Not to worry, this one will have you drooling and ready for breakfast, brunch, or brinner. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (both mom and science say). Breakfast and brunch foods have become even more popular and trendy in recent years, this recipe is cutting edge. We hope you enjoy and get ready to salivate!

Breakfast Mac n’ Cheese

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 large sweet potato, unpeeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 jalapeños, diced
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 box penne rigate
  • 3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle golden ale (I prefer Kona Big Wave Golden Ale)
  • 1/2 quart (16 ounces) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 24 eggs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Yield: ~12 servings

Step 1: The Prep (Prep 5 min, Cook 30-40 min)

Preheat oven to 400°F degrees.

Place sweet potato and jalapeño on a sheet tray and toss in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until fork tender. Pull out and set aside for later.

In a large pan bring some salted water to a boil. Add the box of penne rigate and a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until al dente (you are going to bake this again later in the mac so you don’t want the noodles overcooked). Drain and save for later.

Step 2: Make Your Cheese Sauce (Prep 10 min, Cook 25-30 min)

Heat butter in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until they are a nice golden color. Slowly add in the flour, stirring constantly to create a roux. Cook the roux until it is lightly golden in color, about 10-15 minutes. While whisking vigorously, slowly pour in your bottle of golden ale to create a smooth sauce. Add in the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add a few squirts of your favorite hot sauce (I like Sriracha and/or Tabasco). Add in your cheese, being sure to constantly mix to create a smooth and delicious sauce.

Step 3: Finishing Touches (Prep 5 min, Cook 30-40 min)

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Once your cheese sauce is ready, it’s time to assemble the mac! Combine the noodles, roasted sweet potato and jalapeño mixture, and cheese sauce into a baking dish. Top with the panko breadcrumbs and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

When the mac is almost done, cook your eggs any style of your choosing. I prefer sunny-side up for the presentation and runny yolk.

For presentation. I like to add a pool of Sriracha to the bottom of the plate. Add a slice of the mac, and then top the whole thing with the eggs, some fresh green onion, and thinly sliced fresh jalapeno.

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If you can’t get enough of our January Chef of the Month, Stefen, make sure to keep following him:

Facebook: Big Chef Little Kitchen

Instagram: @bigcheflittlekitchen

Twitter: @BigChefLilKitch

Website: http://www.bigcheflittlekitchen.com/

Chef Stefen got his aprons from CU ChefUniforms.com, make sure to go check out our amazing chef and cooking apparel!

Chef Stefen’s Vegan Walnut-Kale-Basil Pesto

recipe 3.2.jpgFood experts say healthy food will be all the rage and trending throughout 2017. But we are here to show you just because the recipe has kale in it does not mean it isn’t delicious. We’re showcasing our January Chef of the Month Stefen’s second recipe a vegan walnut-kale-basil pesto sauce that pairs well with basically anything! So it is time to put away the bacon and get your kale on.

(Prep 3-5 minute, Cook 3-5 min)

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 ounce basil leaves
  • 1 ounce kale
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Yield: ~ 2 servings

recipe-3-3Directions:

Combine all ingredients except the nutritional yeast into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times until combined.

Add in the nutritional yeast and pulse an additional 4-5 times until all ingredients are mixed to your desired combination.

Mix it with pasta, throw it on your eggs, put it on a cheese board; let your imagination run wild with possibilities. This simple and versatile sauce is sure to please.

Enjoy!

Get in contact with our January Chef of the Month:

Facebook: Big Chef Little Kitchen

Instagram: @bigcheflittlekitchen

Twitter: @BigChefLilKitch

Website: http://www.bigcheflittlekitchen.com/

Chef Stefen’s Beet Sliders Recipe

That’s right, it says beet, not beefbeets2this recipe takes traditional sliders to the next level. Plus it is perfect for all of our vegetarian friends but don’t worry meat-eaters, you’ll forget there is no meat in this dish after you take the first bite! Enjoy our January Chef of the Month, Chef Stefen’s first featured recipe – beet sliders!

Beet Sliders (Prep 45 min – 1 hour, Cook 20-25min)

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 3 beets, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 package sliced muenster cheese
  • 1 package King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green tomatoes, sliced
  • 1-2 cups arugula

Yield: ~12 sliders

Directions:

The first thing for a delicious beet slider is to “make” and marinade the slider “patties.” To make the patties, cut off the top and bottom of the beet. The next step is the big one that makes these sliders unique (be prepared for purple hands). With a firm grip, take the beets and peel the outer skin with a vegetable peeler before slicing. Peeling and slicing prior to grilling is the key to the flavor and texture of these sliders.

Layer the beet slices in an airtight food storage container and add a tablespoon each of mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper.beets3

Once everything is in the container, close it up, seal it tight, and shake vigorously. The goal here is to create a sort of vinaigrette for the beets to marinate in. Marinate for at least 1 hour.

Once the beets have been marinated, fire up the grill, (you can also bake these in the oven or pan sear them, but I think grilling makes the best slider) and cook like you would a normal burger. Cook 10-15 minutes on each side until marked and the beet is fork tender. Add some of the muenster and melt on top.

If you want to toast your buns, like I do, now is the time to do so.

Spread the mustard on the bun, add the avocado, onion, patty, green tomato, and arugula.

Enjoy!

Get in contact with Chef Stefen:

Facebook: Big Chef Little Kitchen

Instagram: @bigcheflittlekitchen

Twitter: @BigChefLilKitch

Website: http://www.bigcheflittlekitchen.com/

January 2017 Chef of the Month Stefen Dobrec

 

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Chef Stefen is wearing ChefUniforms Bold Stripe Apron style #300BOL

Happy New Year, we hope you celebrated the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 with loved ones and great food! All of us at ChefUniforms are excited for another year of awesome chefs, great recipes, and exciting news coming your way.

We’re starting 2017 off with a bang and are very excited to introduce our January 2017 Chef of the Month, Stefen Dobrec! Read more about his life and journey as a chef below.

1. Where were you born?

I am from a little town called Danville in California.

2. Where do you work and where are you based?

I run my own website called BigChefLittleKitchen.com. The inspiration for the name came from me being almost 6’4” and cooking in my small Manhattan apartment kitchen. The name was one of those “ah-ha” moments that just came to me, I checked the domain and it was available so that’s how it all started.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?

My chef knife. Honestly, I use it the most, it is the tool I have invested the most money in. So much chopping goes on in the kitchen. I always say to invest in two things, your shoes and your bed. My third is a good chef knife.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?

Probably my taste. I am not a big recipe guy. I visualize it first and hope that through trial and error it turns out tasting the way I want it. Then after I taste it and perfect it, I go back and figure out the measurements for a recipe.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

The main advice I would offer aspiring chefs is to cook every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s one meal, three meals, or five meals. Cook something every day. I try to cook something new but even if I don’t and I end up cooking one of my staple dishes, every time I cook it I try to make the dish better.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?

Make and master scrambled eggs. It is the simplest thing, but it goes a long way. I’m sure most people feel the same way. There is an ongoing joke with my girlfriend’s side of the family that you have to “make Stefen eggs.” My only secret to delicious eggs is season them before hand and whip them with a form to make them light and fluffy.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food means a lot of things to me. It’s almost an event. It’s sight, the smell, the taste, the sounds, and the people you are with. Good food is just being around a table with family and friends and enjoying a variety of things.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your Chef outfit?

I am pretty standard; I like to wear business casual. The biggest thing is the apron for me. My go-to is my apron over the top of a collared shirt with rolled up sleeves. I like my apron to have one or two pockets in the front, with sturdy material that I know will last after multiple washes. I also keep a towel because I am constantly washing my hands and need a place for my phone just in case I get sudden inspiration and want to add it to my notes.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

My favorite ingredient to work with is beets. They are so versatile. My signature dish is my beet sliders. They are a very underutilized vegetable. You can roast, grill, shred them; they can be sweet or savory. To me, the possibilities are endless.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

I have to say New York City. It is the culinary capital for a reason. There is a great mixture of 5-star restaurants as well as mom and pop places. Both have high quality and equally delicious foods. Plus, you can find whatever you are craving during any time of the day or night.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

Honestly my breakfast mac and cheese, it’s not as healthy as most of the other stuff I make, but honestly, it is ridiculous.  The mac itself has sweet potatoes and jalapeño, and the whole thing topped with a sunny-side egg. I personally like to add Sriracha too. It’s even better served with mimosas.

12. Place you eat most often on your days off?

My dining room table. I said my best advice is to cook every day and I try my best to abide by it. I cook breakfast and dinner almost every single day. And lunch most days as well. I am big on preparing my groceries the day I get them so it is easier to come home and throw something together.

13. Who is the person you would most like to cook for?

Honestly Bobby Flay. My love for food and cooking came when I was young and would come home after various practices and watch Boy Meets Grill or Iron Chef America.  Just to be able to cook for him and get his input and just talk to him about food and cooking would be insane.

14. What is new on your DVR?

I was all in on Westworld; So on my DVR I would say I’m most looking forward to starting the new show by Donald Glover, Atlanta.

Stay tuned and check back for some amazing recipes from Chef Stefen that will be shared throughout the month. Make sure to check out his website BigChefLittleKitchen.com and follow him on Instagram @bigcheflittlekitchen.

Chef Rod Knight’s Cured Salmon Recipe

1.pngPresenting our final recipe of the year and the last recipe from our December Chef of the Month, Rod Knight. This cured salmon recipe looks delicious and can be a great appetizer or used as a main course!

Before we get right into the recipe, we’d like to give a shoutout to all of the chefs we featured this year. It was a pleasure to get to know and work with all of the 2016 chefs. Not only do these chefs have amazing recipes, they also have passion and great personalities!  Here is a quick recap on our awesome 2016 chefs:

  1. January: Ace Champion
  2. February: Jacoby Ponder
  3. March: Yvonne Anderson-Thomas
  4. April: Sean Thompson
  5. May: Jimmy Rodriguez
  6. June: Brian Mullins
  7. July: Joy Crump
  8. August: Dakota Soifer
  9. September: Ana Birac
  10. October: Anthony Hunt
  11. November: Mikey Termini
  12. December: Rod Knight

Thank you to all of our chefs! Now back to the recipe.

This dish is so incredibly easy to make and packed with flavor you’ll never want to buy store-bought Gravadlax again. Serve it with a bit of horseradish, thinly sliced green onion, tomato, olive oil, and crostini.

What you’ll need:2

Salmon

2 cups kosher salt

2 cups Sugar

1 cup of chopped herbs (Dill, Thyme, and Parsley)

Citrus Zest (Lemon, Lime, and Grapefruit)

Directions:

1. Mix salt and sugar thoroughly and generously line the bottom of the pan.

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2. Finely chop the herbs.

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3. In a bowl, combine citrus zest, herbs, and a few tablespoons of the salt and sugar curing mixture. Mix well.

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4. Place the salmon in the pan skin side down. Apply more of the curing mixture to the flesh of the fish, thoroughly covering all surface area.

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5. Next, add the herb mixture on top of the first layer of cure.

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6. Finally, add the remaining cure on top of the herbs. Be very generous with this layer and firmly pack it down. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

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7. Rinse with cold water, slice, and serve!

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We hope you have enjoyed this recipe and all of us at CU (ChefUniforms) look forward to another adventurous year. We hope you all have a prosperous and healthy New Year!

Chef Rod Knight’s Easy Croque Monsieur Recipe

1I don’t think you all are ready for this recipe! As the holidays approach, sometimes we just need a quick and delicious meal, Chef of the Month Rod Knight shares us with his amazing Croque Monsieur recipe.

This quick and easy Croque Monsieur sans béchamel is guaranteed to satisfy the snack attack. It is a classic French sandwich that translates literally into “Crispy Mister,” due to the Gratin on the finish. We [Chef Rod and his team] actually “discovered” this method on accident – one shift during service we ran out of béchamel and had to fulfill the order, and this was a happy accident, as they say, necessity is the mother of ingenuity.

What you’ll need:2

1/2 lbs of baby swiss cheese

1/2 lbs of good quality ham

1/4 cup of heavy cream

6 slices of Harty Sliced Bread

Salt/pepper

Ground nutmeg

Directions:

1. Grate Cheese

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2. In a mixing bowl, combine salt and pepper, ground nutmeg to taste, heavy cream, and cheese. Mix well.

3. On a greased cookie sheet, place 3 slices of bread, apply the cheese mixture to the slices and spread evenly across the whole slice.

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4. Then layer the ham.

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5. Repeat the same process for the top layer and place cheese side down on the sandwich.

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6. Then next step is to add another layer of cheese to the top of the sandwich.

7. Bake on middle rack for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

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8. Transfer to the top rack and broil until they are golden.

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The final product:

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We hope you enjoyed this week’s delicious recipe from Chef Rod. Stay tuned for our Chef of the Month Rod Knight’s final recipe next week, it is a recipe that will satisfy all fish lovers’ cravings.

Chef Ana Birac’s Chickpea Butter Recipe

Our September Chef of the Month, Ana Birac sends us her Chickpea Butter recipe all the way from Croatia.

chickpea-butter-image

CHICKPEAS BUTTER

For 2 people:

0.25kg* chickpeas ~ 1 cup

1L cooking cream ~ 4 ¼ cups

0.5kg sour cream ~ 2 cups

salt, pepper – according to your taste

 

Cook chickpeas in cooking cream until it becomes soft and tender. Watch out, the temperature of cooking cream cannot pass 83 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Fahrenheit! When the chickpeas are cooked, leave it aside to cool down. After one hour it will be ready for the next step. Take the thermomixer and put it inside. Mix it until you get smooth paste. Pass it through a sieve and leave it in clean bowl.

Put the sour cream in the blender and whip it until it becomes a mixture very similar to ordinary butter. Add chickpeas, salt and pepper to your taste. Mix it until you get a mixture just like butter – nice and tender.

Put it in the fridge and leave over night to cool down.

You can use it as a spread on the bread, to spice the dishes or to cook on it.

 

Bon appétit!

*Note because Chef Ana is from Croatia, she uses metric system measurements (along with the rest of the world). We have done our best to convert the measurements to the U.S. customary system. 

 

Chef Dakota Soifer’s Oyster Mushrooms with Sherry Recipe

oyster mushrooms image

Oyster mushrooms with Sherry.

At the cafe we love sherries and were always looking for a way to get people to drink more of it.  This dish, while great on its own, is a great showcase of how fun pairing sherry with food is.  We encourage you to check it out.

Ingredients:

½ lb oyster mushrooms

2T Olive oil

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1T (heaping) picked fresh thyme leaves

Salt

Black pepper

1/4c mushroom or vegetable stock

1T butter

1T fine sherry

Great EVOO

Directions:

Trim the woody root off the oyster mushrooms, saving them for mushroom stock.

In a thick bottomed pan with enough space to accommodate all of the mushrooms in a single layer, heat the 2T of olive oil over a high heat.  It is really important that the mushrooms aren’t overcrowded when they cook or the will steam rather than sear, muting the flavors & mushing the texture.

When the oil is simmering and almost smoking, dump the mushrooms in.  Don’t stir them right away let them sit & cook nicely for a moment.  Just stir once in a while. Think of it more as searing little steaks than stirring vegetables up in a pan.  Using this technique will help you take advantage of the mushroom’s unique texture and give the dish more character.

After 3 to 4 minutes and the mushrooms are browning nicely, stir in the butter, garlic and Thyme.  Once the garlic turns golden and the Thyme has become very aromatic, stir in the stock and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.  After the stock reduces and become a thick flavorful sauce, add in a nice splash of the sherry, careful not to flame it, return to the heat for a few more seconds and you’re done!

Serve over soft polenta, or on grilled bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with some great extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy!

Chef Dakota Soifer’s Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons – Just what your pantry needs!

lemons


Chef Dakota Soifer has shared with us some of his favorite recipes.  See what special ingredient he always has on hand at his restaurant, Cafe Aion!

We love preserved lemons at Cafe Aion.  It is one of the most important ingredients that help make our identity.  The only tricky thing about them is that they take a long time (4-60 days) to properly cure. We usually make a 20lb batches every couple weeks!  For (most) home use a small amount will go a long way and if you get into the habit of making a batch every month or so, you won’t run the risk of being out.

You’ll need:

4 lemons

3/4c sugar

1 1/2c salt

1T coriander seeds

1 cinnamon stick

3 chili de arbol

1 Qt Ball jar

Directions:

Mix all the salt, sugar and spices together.  Cut the lemons almost into quarters, top to bottom, so that the four pieces are just connected at the tip.  Stuff each lemon with a big pinch of the salt mix and then put into the clean jar. After jamming all the lemons into the container pour any extra salt & seasonings in as well.  Then, with your hand or a wooden spoon press the lemons to begin releasing some of their juice.  Screw the top on and keep in a cool dark place for 2 months, turning the jar over every week or so.  Eventually the salt will pull out more and more of the lemon’s natural juices turning the packed salt into an intense brine, softening the lemons’ skins & introducing some of the spice’s flavors.  After 2 months, or as long as you can wait, take a lemon out, rinse it under cold water & discard the pulp.  Pull one of the quarters off and lay it skin side down.  With a sharp paring knife slice away as much of the white pith as you can.  The yellow peel is the good stuff, use it as bigger pieces in braises and roasts or chop it finely and sprinkle into grain-salads or atop a paella!

Enjoy!

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