Tag Archives: cooking recipes

Chef Megan’s Spicy Gorgonzola Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Spicy MashSweet potatoes were arguably one of the trendiest foods in 2016. We saw sweet potatoes on toast, as bread substitutes, puddings, and pies. But March Chef of the Month, Megan puts an amazing spin on the trendy potato. Warning – recipe below will induce hunger.

 

Spicy Gorgonzola Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Serves:  4-6

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cooking Time:  Approximately 30 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Yams or a bag of small Organic Sweet Potatoes
  • 5oz of a smoky blue or Gorgonzola cheese (For those feeling adventurous, go with something extra smelly. For a family or for a dinner party, go with something mild to medium)
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Cayenne Pepper (If you love heat as much as I do, sub the Cayenne Pepper for something spicier – I used Trader Joes Ghost Chile Pepper).
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup of cream (I use a heavy whipping cream, but you could also use whole milk if you are looking to make it healthier)
  • ½ stick of unsalted butter – room temperature

You will need:

  • Food Processor
  • Large Pot filled half way with water
  • Knife

Directions:

  • Place a medium to large pot on your stove top, fill half way with water (enough to cover all the potatoes), add 1 teaspoon of salt, and turn on high to bring to a boil.
  • While the water is heating up, scrub the potatoes and peel off skin. Cut the sweet potatoes into small to medium even sized pieces.
  • Once water is boiling, add potatoes.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your potatoes.   Rule of thumb:  when you can use a fork and easily break a potato in half, they’re ready
  • Place all ingredients and the cooked sweet potatoes into the food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Pro Tip: Add salt/pepper/spice to taste – start slow and work your way up to the level you want. You can always add more, but if you make it too spicy right way you won’t be able to tone the heat down.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Top with roasted veggies for a hearty and filling Vegetarian Meal.
  • Serve alone as a side dish at your next dinner party.
  • Top with Scallops & Filet Mignon (pictured) for a romantic dinner or splurge meal.

Follow Chef Megan for more recipes:

Website: www.forkthisdish.com

Instagram: @forkthisdish

Twitter: @ForkThisDish

Chef Alekka’s Ode to the South Pralines

pralinesOur featured recipe of the week is a sweet southern treat. Did you know? Pralines first originated in France and were brought over by French settlers to New Orleans, Louisana. This praline recipe by our Chef of the Month Alekka is a delicious take on the American Southern praline.

Chef Alekka lived in Atlanta, Georgia from 1996-2001 and says,”I was the assistant pastry chef for a restaurant group there. I learned so much during my time there. These classic southern pralines are great crumbled on vanilla ice cream or you can dip half of them in tempered dark chocolate.”

Ode to the South Pralines

~for about 2 dozen

Ingredients:

2 cups light brown sugar
½ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 ½ cups pecans, halves or pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine light brown sugar and evaporated milk in a sauce pan, boil, bring to soft ball stage.*
  2. Add butter and pecans, bring back to a soft ball stage while stirring.
  3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and beat until mixture begins to thicken.
  4. Drop by teaspoons on sheet pans lined with silicone mats.
  5. Let set and cool before serving; store in air-tight container.

*Soft Ball Stage for Candy Making using cold water test: 235 F to 240 F (118 C to 120 C)
A small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft, flexible ball, but flattens like a pancake after a few moments in your hand.

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 how to make these amazing treats!

Website: Give Me Some Sugar 

Facebook: Give Me Some Sugar

Instagram: @givesugar

Twitter: @ChefAlekka

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

February 2017 Chef of the Month Alekka Sweeney

 

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Chef Alekka is wearing CU coat #86515 in Sky Blue

We’re celebrating February aka ‘the month of love’ by bringing you an extra sweet Chef of the Month Alekka Sweeney! Chef Alekka is an owner of a shop that teaches pastry and baking classes near Chicago. Alekka is not only a baking and pastry master chef, she also has with an amazing personality accompanied with great advice and experience. It was truly a special treat for us to chat with her. Read more about our awesome February Chef of the Month below and stay tuned for her delicious recipes throughout the month.

1. Where were you born?

I was born in Naples, Italy. But I am American and so are both of my parents. My dad was in the Navy and stationed there so I was born there.

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

I am the owner of my shop called Give Me Some Sugar that is located in Roscoe Village, Chicago.  But it is not a bakery, it is a school where we teach classes on baking and pastry. I started the company 10 years ago. The first 2 years were in classes in client’s homes so that I could build up a client base and test recipes. This was right at the beginning of shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss. Back then my car was basically a mobile cake decorating machine; it was filled with buttercream. So eventually I had my real estate agent look for places. I visited so many places but then I found it. When I walked into the shop, I had a “this is it,” moment and we’ve been at this location for the past 8 years.

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

I can’t live without an offset spatula, serrated knife, and the mixer I’ve had since I was sixteen.

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

Smell.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

It is a tough industry to be in. You have to work nights, weekends, and holidays. But my best piece of advice is to find the pastry chef or chefs that you admire and respect. Try and work for them, even if it is for free and during that time learn as much as you can. Before you land on the place you want to work forever, the best thing you can do is learn and get as much as experience as possible. I’ve worked in hotels, bakeries, corporations, big business, small business. The culmination of doing all of that led me to where I am today.

Make sure to get your hands in everything and don’t settle on one thing. Work for as many people as you can so you learn new perspectives and different ways of doing things. And be prepared to stand on your feet for a long time, invest in your shoes.

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

Measuring properly. I see a lot of people using the wrong measure tool. Even on TV, I see people measuring dry ingredients with a tool that is for liquids. It is my pet peeve. First understand your recipes, master the basics, and make sure to read the recipes correctly. Baking is very precise.

7. What does good food mean to you?

I think the pastries I gravitate towards are the ones that make me think of my mom and being at home. I grew up eating my mom’s homemade bread. My mom saves water from mashed potatoes and makes potato bread, it is amazing. So I gravitate towards foods and desserts that are farm to table.

8. What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets)

I am so happy the industry is coming out with chef coats for women. Cuts for women that show that you have a waist. I also like front and side pockets to hold my must have my sharpie. I really like the women’s style of pants and chef coats. Especially not having to look like a potato sack. The features I like are having something that is both flattering and functional.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Chocolate. I really like tempering chocolate and making chocolate candies. I kind of had to teach myself. I used to work at a candy place in Chicago and I really had to learn myself. At that job, I had to temper white chocolate in the middle of the summer. I just kept playing with it over and over again and now they call me the chocolate tempering queen.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

Chicago first and then Pittsburgh is a close second. Pittsburgh is getting up there. Chicago is the one I like the most. You can get any kind of food here from any culture. I like that Chicago has amazing hole in the wall restaurants. It doesn’t have to be super fancy but you can go down an alley and in a scary door and the food is amazing. Chicago is a city that can satisfy any type of craving.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

It’s really simple. I really want to blow you away with a fancy French pastry. But whenever I go to my friend’s house or a party they always ask that I make chocolate espresso brownies. They are really fudgy and rich.

12. Person you would most like to cook for?

Dorie Greenspan. I really respect and admire her career path. She just released Dories Cookies and it is something like her 12th baking book. She’s comparable to Martha Stuart. She was before all the food bloggers, Instagram and Twitter accounts. She just seems so nice and super sweet and I just would like to hang out with her and bake cookies all day.

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

Two different versions of this story. I will tell you the real one and you can decide whether it is appropriate to publish. I was 24 at that time and it was 1997. After you go to culinary school, you have to do an internship somewhere. Normally once you are done with school most people go back to their internship and work there. I did that as well. The pastry chef at the time was involved with the owner’s daughter and he had a problem with alcohol. One day, they didn’t know where he went and they needed a wedding cake made in two days. They turned to me. This was in 1997 remember, there is no google, no videos, no internet to help me.

I turned to Martha Stuart’s wedding cake books. I always say it chose me, I didn’t choose it.But I have a very statistical mind and I follow formulas and recipes very well. It was the best thing for me. Baking is strict but it still leaves room for creativity. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Final note from Chef Alekka:

It was a series of events that got me working in this industry and then staying in it. First, it is a great industry to work in and there are so many outlets where you can work as a chef. You can travel, be a personal chef, baker, own a business or restaurant.

And this industry and food will never be replaced by a robot. Food is how you show your love. I have met people and all the places I have got to go are because this industry helped me get there.

Get in touch with our February Chef of the Month:

Website: Give Me Some Sugar 

Facebook: Give Me Some Sugar

Instagram: @givesugar

 

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/

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 Rod Knight’s Confit de Thon (Tuna Confit) Recipe

tuna1This week’s recipe comes from our December Chef of the Month: Chef Rod Knight! These extremely fresh ingredients and step-by-step directions will make anyone hungry!

Ever wonder how canned tuna is made? Well, here you go… There’s no salt in this recipe, that’s because salting the fish during the confit process will yield a different texture.

 

What you’ll need:

¼ – ½ lbs. filet of tunatuna2

3 or 4 sprigs of thyme

Garlic

Shallots

Whole black peppercorn

Green onion

Olive oil

 

Directions:

1. Cut tuna into smaller more workable chunks that will fit into a large skillet.

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2. Trim green onions, quarter shallots, slice garlic cloves in half to expose surface area and aid in flavor extraction.

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3. Add ingredients to a skillet large enough to fit all ingredients. Heat on medium until you start to see rapid bubbles.

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4. Turn down the heat to low add tuna.

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5. Baste the tuna with the oil as its cooking. It’s important to note here that you can cook the tuna to your preference – med rare, med, well, that’s completely up to you.

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6. Once the tuna is done to your likeness transfer to a container as it must be stored 24 hours before use. Cover making sure the plastic wrap if flush with the oil and fish, refrigerate overnight.

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We hope you enjoyed the first recipe from Chef Rod Knight, check back next week for another recipe from our Chef of the Month. Share this fresh dish with your friends and family at your holiday potlucks or parties!

Chef Anthony’s Tomato Recipe

Our final recipe from our October Chef of the Month, Anthony Hunt is his tomato recipe. This recipe can be used for party appetizers but it is also very versatile.  Enjoy!

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Confi of garlic and tomato spread

Ingredients:

16 ounces cherry tomatoes
15 cloves of garlic or less.
Bay leaves 3 whole dry or fresh
6 leaves of Basil fresh

Directions:

Submerge ingredients in olive oil
Bake with aluminum foil for one and a half hours.
Allow time to cool.

Remove ingredients from oil. Rooftop ingredients to drain off excess liquid. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil finish with chopped fresh basil.

Best served on sliced toasted baguette. As a final finish, add a sliver of fresh parmesan.

A big thank you to Chef Anthony for providing these awesome recipes and being our October Chef of the Month!

Chef Ana Birac’s Tiger Shrimp Recipe

September is almost over, so here is the final recipe from our first International Chef of the Month, Chef Ana Birac – a fresh Tiger Shrimp dish. Enjoy!

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Ingredients: 

Frozen White Tomato Mousse – Tomato Concasse with Bear Bow – Parmigiano Churros – Marinated Black Tiger – Chilly Cream – Cow Cheese Cream – Tuna Pellet

 

For 2 people:

0,25kg tomato ~ 8.8 ounces

0,2L whipped cream ~ 7 ounces

0,05L bear bow ~ 1.7 ounces

0,2L water ~ 4/5 cup

0,1kg butter ~ 3.5 ounces

0,2kg flour ~ 7 ounces

1 egg yolk

0,1kg grana padano (grated) ~ 3.5 ounces

2 pieces of black Tiger prawn

0,1kg mayonnaise ~ 3.5 ounces

0,05kg chili powder ~ 1.75 ounces

0,2kg cow cheese ~ 7 ounces

0,1kg cream ~ 3.5 ounces

0,02kg tuna ~ 1 ½ tablespoons

0,02kg onion (minced) ~ 1 ½ tablespoons

0,01kg parsley (minced) ~ 4 tablespoons

0,01kg thyme (minced) ~ 4 tablespoons

0,01kg majoran ~ 6 tablespoons

0,01kg rosemarie ~ 6 tablespoons

0,01kg basil ~ 6 tablespoons

salt, pepper

sunflower oil, olive oil

Directions: 

Blanch all the tomato. Take half of the tomato, peel it and leave to squeeze through cheesecloth over night. Take the other half and cut it into small cubes and marinate with olive oil, bear bow, salt, pepper, and basil.

The next morning whip the cream really hard, then add the tomato liquid and put it into freezer. Leave it there for 2 – 3 hours.

Heat the water with butter. When it boils, remove it away from the heat source and add flour. Mix it well and leave it to cool down to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit). After that happens, stir in the egg yolk and grana padano and mix well. Take the patisserie bag and put the batter inside and make rings. Fry it in sunflower oil.

Clean the Black Tiger prawns and put them in one pan over boiling water. Add butter, salt, pepper, olive oil and all the green spices. Heat it for exactly 12 minutes (until Black Tiger becomes lightly pink) and then cool them down.

Mix mayo and chili in thermomixer and put in the fridge.

Mix cow cheese and cream in thermomixer, pass the mixture through the sieve and add some salt and pepper. Then put in the fridge to cool.

Fry the onion and add the rest of the green spices and tuna, mix them well. Make small balls and put them on a pan and fry in sunflower oil.

Put everything on the plate just like it is in the picture.

Bon appétit! 

 Note: Chef Ana is from Croatia so 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. 

MS. CHEEZIOUS BBQ PULLED PORK GRILLED CHEESE RECIPE

Kick off the summer with this outrageous BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese recipe. Chef Brian Mullins does not disappoint with this tasty treat!

BBQ Pulled Pork

BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese

(Adapted for pressure cooker)

Ingredients:

3 – 4 lbs pork butt (cut into chunks)
1 Medium yellow onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, crushed
Kosher Salt
Your favorite barbecue sauce
1 16 oz beer, your choice
4 slices Texas Toast or other thick cut bread

8 slices Cheddar cheese

Salted butter, softened

Directions:

Start by salting the pork once you’ve cut it into pieces.

Place the pork into slow cooker.  Add the diced onion and crushed garlic.  Mix all the ingredients around and cover with beer.  Close cooker and cook for 4-6 hours.

When the time is up open the lid and remove the meat setting it aside. It will be very fragile, so be careful when you try to move it. Cover with tin foil and let it cool for a little while to lock in the juices. Then, using two forks, shred the meat.

Add back some of the sauce and juices from the pot to the pulled pork.  Salt to taste.  Add some of your favorite BBQ sauce.

Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Place 2 cheddar slices on each piece of bread.  On two slices add big scoop of BBQ pulled pork the top with 2 other slices of bread  Place on the griddle or pan; cover with a metal bowl and let the sandwiches get a nice golden brown, wait 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, cover again and cook until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

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