Category Archives: Roasting

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

The world is full of great food and chefs – we only need to open our tastebuds to them. For instance, at Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse, at The Phoenician, a Starwood property, French-born Executive Chef Jacques Qualin may be the area’s only stove helmer to have worked at four Michelin restaurants – two in France and two in New York – a very rare distinction. If you are a sports fan, it’s like saying you played soccer with Manchester United and Real Madrid; then moved to the United States, and played baseball with the Yankees and Mets.

Qualin, like many chefs, started cooking with his mother, tying his apron strings and sticking close to her, learning about food from the region of his birthplace, Franche-Comté, home to Comte and Emmenthaler cheeses. As a young cook, he traveled to Paris, where he studied under Michelin-rated chef Michel de Matteis, working at his three-star Restaurant Taillevent, defined by The New York Times as “the best in Paris, if not all of France.” Several other kitchens later, including working for Daniel Boulud in New York at the world famous Le Cirque, Qualin worked again in Paris as at the cosmopolitan Restaurant La Marée, before working with his friend Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Jojo’s on East 58th Street as the culinary great’s first sous chef.

After closing his seventy seat restaurant in upstate New York, The French Corner, The New York Times reviewer said, “(Qualin) created a unique and wonderful restaurant…delightfully rustic and complex all at once.” Vongerichten asked him about working together again, this time in Phoenix. He says, “I had been in France and New York City for fourteen years and I was looking for opportunities to come to the West Coast.”

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu SauceWorking in the Valley of the Sun, Qualin now defines himself as a “Frenchman who cooks with an Asian flair,” speaking to Vongerichten’s penchant for European and Asian cuisine. He says about working at J& G Steakhouse, a long distance from European Michelin restaurants, “I like good food and I like the brasserie-style we have at J&G. It’s a different restaurant than before, but it’s a steakhouse. I like that.”

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

How long have you been cooking?
I have been cooking as far back as I can remember, I have loved cooking my whole life.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I get very excited when I see or find a product that looks pristine in quality and freshness, and that’s the way the flavors will come out the best. French cooking is my soul, Italian my guilty pleasure, and I like all Asian types of cooking.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
I love hot sauce, so I always have good selections from wacky hot to mild. French mustard is a must too and fresh herbs.

What do you cook at home?
Everything from a six course tasting for my friends, to a simply grilled fresh fish. I do like to do some classical French dishes that remind me my childhood or some Asian dishes, like a Pad Thai.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
To be open to try new things and flavors.

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Ignorance.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
I used all of them, but I tend to go back to Pyrex as it’s PBA free and can take extreme heat or cold, such as liquid nitrogen.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
All of them! Depending on the mood and the occasion or the food. I love to start with a ginger margarita or a crafted beer and wine (red or white), with a preference to the old world.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Many of them! I do have quite a extensive collection, from old traditional French cookbooks to the latest trends in cooking.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Cake tasters are very helpful for checking the food.

Your favorite ingredient?
Hard to say; there are too many I like, from yuzu to ginger or mint.

Your least favorite ingredient?
Fish sauce.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Not doing anything in the kitchen.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French/Asian.

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu SauceBeef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
All, I like a nice Prime beef grilled to perfection, Milk feed Chicken roasted whole, Smoked and Braise Pulled pork sandwich with Habanero sauce, or seared tofu with a cilantro pesto.

Favorite vegetable?
Beets.

Chef you most admire?
Hard to pick because there are so many. Maybe Francis Mallman, as I like his philosophy of cooking and being genuine to the product.

Food you like the most to eat?
I like perfectly cooked pastas, Miruguai sashimi, fresh line-caught fish, and flavorful soups.

Food you dislike the most?
Okra.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None, not into that at all.

Recipe: Roasted Whole Snapper Citrus and Garlic with Yuzu sauce

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

For the Yuzu Mayonnaise
3 each Egg yolks
1 tsp Salt
2 oz Yuzu juice
1 oz Lemon juice
1 oz Orange juice
1/2 qt Grape seed oil

Combine all but the oil in the robot coupe and drizzle in the oil to emulsify. Put in a siphon and charge with 2 cartridges.(soda)

Roasted Snapper:
1 pc Snapper 1.2# deboned from the inside and still attached and scored.
3 slices of Yuzu
3 slices of oranges
6 slices of fresh Ginger
1 tbsp. cilantro picked and chiffonade
1 tbsp. mint picked and chiffonade
6 slices of Serrano peppers
15 g garlic sliced ¾ inch
½ cup Olive oil

Season the fish with salt on all sides, arrange all the slices and the herbs evenly inside the fish. In a Dover plate, pour the oil and the garlic in the bottom then lay the fish on it, baste with the olive oil. Cook in the oven at 375 F for 10 min, basting it often. When almost cooked, finish under the broiler to get a nice brown color while basting. Drain ¾ of the oil, leaving the garlic inside.

To serve:
1 pc of fancy lemon
1 small bunch of cilantro
On a big black plate, fold a white napkin squared, put the hot plate on it. Add the lemon and cilantro and cover with the lid, serve the Yuzu mayonnaise on the side.
– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours’ Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa RecipeCulinary public relations is Beth Heidrich‘s forte, and she has represented such chefs as Dean Fearing, Kent Rathbun, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Trotter, Norman VanAken, Jacques Pepin, Larry Forgione, Julian Serrano, and Julia Child. Beth began her interest in food and wine while studying abroad in Italy during college, and began her career at Mobil Five Star acclaimed The Mansion on Turtle Creek, where she managed culinary events and celebrity fundraisers. She has managed public relations campaigns for such celebrity chefs as Dean Fearing, including collaborations with ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, BBC, Food Network, The Travel Channel, MTV, Conde Nast Publications, as well as many other online, radio and print media.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

 

A native St. Louisan, Beth returned home in 2003, delighted to find such a flourishing culinary industry, and she began consulting for such clients as James Beard awarded Larry Forgione (An American Place) and such hotel properties as the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance Grand & Suites. Beth went on to work with celebrity chefs in her position at L’Ecole Culinaire as Director of Public Relations at L’Ecole and then for all of Vatterott Colleges, and she directed all marketing and public relations for Overlook Farm, including the hiring of award-winning Chef Timothy Grandinetti.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe
Beth and Anne Croy on FOX2

Beth co-founded the St. Louis chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier with an invitational brunch featuring Cat Cora, Iron Chef. She co-chaired the Les Dames d’Escoffier International conference in St. Louis, in October, 2012 at the Ritz Carlton and co-chaired the Farmer’s Fete event as well. Beth is currently the Member Liaison on the Executive Board with the St. Louis Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa RecipeBeth’s business is StL Culinary Tours, an intimate experience with St. Louis’ top culinary talent, which has already garnered the title of “The top gourmet walking tour in the US” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and “Best of the Midwest” by Midwest Living Magazine. St. Louis Culinary Tours intimately connects food enthusiasts to St. Louis’s progressive and outstanding culinary world by offering an array of kitchen tours, culinary field trips, and visits to local wineries and breweries. Through both public and private tours, they provide an exclusive look into St. Louis’ culinary scene while introducing you to the owners and chefs that make it all happen – and half of all proceeds of public tours dedicated to benefit Operation Food Search. These entertaining and informative tours provide the ultimate St Louis foodie experience. Let’s go!

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Spaetzle – I love the process of making the dough and pushing it through the holes into the water, then sauteeing it in butter.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Homemade hot sauce

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A sense of humor and appreciation for quality ingredients and preparation.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A person who does not treat service staff with respect.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail

Your favorite cookbook author?
Julia Child and Jacques Pepin

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My clean hands and then knives. I love knives.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I learned a lot of Southwest techniques from Chef Dean Fearing. My favorite thing to cook is seafood on vacation, of course near the docks.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork is so exquisite in the Midwest. We have so many farmers with heritage breeds like Newman Farm, Rain Crow Ranch, and many others.

Favorite vegetable?
Spring asparagus

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe
St Louis Culinary Tours Chef for a Day Michael with Chef Rex Hale making creme brûlée. — with Rex Hale at Boundary at the Cheshire.

Chef you most admire?
In my own city, Chef Rex Hale, hands down. Otherwise Jacques Pepin and the late Charlie Trotter.

Food you like the most to eat?
Ozark Forest Mushrooms, Baetje Farm’s World Cheese Awards winning Fleur de Valle washed-rind cheese, Eckert’s Farm’s peaches and so many fresh vegetables from our home garden in the summer.

Food you dislike the most?
Raw onions and green peppers, along with most processed food.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Karaoke

Who do you most admire in food?
Jacques Pepin

Where is your favorite place to eat?
Boundary at The Cheshire in St.Louis

What is your favorite restaurant?
Boundary at The Cheshire in St.Louis

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos, sorry.

Recipe: Charred Tomato Salsa

My husband and I make this every summer with almost every ingredient from our own garden. We eat it all year long. We also share it with family and friends.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

6 large ripe Cherokee Purple tomatoes, core removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic

2 jalapeno chilies, stem removed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Salt to taste

Lime juice to taste

Preheat broiler to 500 degrees.

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and brush the tops with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place pan under broiler and char until skin is blackened, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place onion, garlic, and jalapenos on a baking sheet and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Toss to coat. Place pan in oven and roast for 12 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

In a meat grinder, with a medium die, grind tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapenos with cilantro. To mixture add a generous amount of salt and lime juice to taste.
The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Napa’s Chef Sean O’Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za’atar Roasted Chicken

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted ChickenSean O’Toole, the chef/owner of critically acclaimed TORC in downtown Napa, developed a passion for locally farmed produce early on in his cooking career. Originally from Massachusetts, O’Toole has a broad understanding of global cuisines and techniques as well as a deep appreciation of locally sourced, artisanal foods.

Over the course of his cooking career, O’Toole cooked at San Francisco’s Ritz Carlton hotel, Restaurant Maximin in France, and Tabla Restaurant and Café Boulud in New York City. He cooked as Sous Chef at San Francisco’s Fifth Floor restaurant and Masa’s, Chef de Cuisine at Alain Ducasse’s Mix in Las Vegas, the Culinary Director of San Francisco’s Mina Group, Executive Chef at Bardessono in Yountville, and Chef/Director of Kitchen Operations at San Francisco’s Quince and Cotogna.

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted Chicken

O’Toole is culinary focused on cooking with the region’s bountiful selection of fresh products, forging longstanding relationships with the people that produce, forage, and glean them. His combination of experience, passion, and culinary skill define O’Toole’s ingredient-driven cuisine at TORC — a very personal endeavor that reflects his family heritage, and the culinary influences and mentors that have shaped his career.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook?
Any

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Straus greek yogurt

What do you cook at home?
Mostly meats and grilled vegetables

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted ChickenWhat marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
People who know what they want

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Indecisiveness

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
In that order: beer, wine, cocktails

Your favorite cookbook author?
Currently David Thompson

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Microplane

Your favorite ingredient?
Any mushroom wild and foraged

Your least favorite ingredient?
Ripe papaya

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Direct unmotivated people

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted Chicken

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French infused American

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

Favorite vegetable?
Artichoke

Chef you most admire?
Currently Chef Jean-Francois Piège

Food you like the most to eat?
Chicken wings

Food you dislike the most?
Ripe papaya

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
One!

Recipe: Sumac and za’atar roasted chicken with roasted vegetables

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted Chicken

Recipe serves 4 people

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon ground sumac
2 teaspoons za’atar (Eastern Mediterranean spice blend containing thyme, cumin, sumac, and sesame seeds)
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 2 1/2- to 3-pound chicken, wings and wishbone removed

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Soften 2 tablespoons of the butter to room temperature and combine with the parsley, sumac, za’atar, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Fill a small disposable piping bag (or plastic bag with a corner snipped off) with the mixture and reserve.
Place the piping bag under the skin at the top of the breast and squeeze the butter mixture under the skin. Using your hands, spread it out to cover the whole breast. With butchers twine, make a loop below the knee joints on the drumsticks. Pull the neck skin underneath the bird and tuck the drumettes. Using the twine looped around the legs, tie a knot.
Coat the outside of the chicken with the remaining tablespoon of soft butter, and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a hot cast iron pan. Cook the chicken in the oven for 50 minutes, basting with the renderings every 10 minutes. Remove the chicken to rest and reserve the pan and the renderings to roast the vegetables.
Roasted vegetables:
1 piece fennel bulb, cut into quarters and cored
6 white pearl onions, peeled
6 small potatoes, cut lengthwise into quarters
Finely grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
10 Taggiasca olives, pitted
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Increase the oven temperature to 425° F. Toss the potatoes and fennel in the pan that was used to roast the chicken, so that they are coated with chicken renderings. (You may also choose to roast the vegetables in a clean pan, tossed in the renderings and additional butter or olive oil, if needed.) Roast for 15 minutes, then add the pearl onions and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Drain the excess renderings from the pan if necessary, then toss with the zest, olives and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, quarter the chicken and cut the legs in half, at the joint between the drumstick and thigh. Serve the chicken and vegetables together on individual plates, or pass family-style.

 

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Phoenix’s Barrio Café Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza & Chiles en Nogada Recipe

i8tonite with Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe Chef Silvana Salcida Esparza & Chiles en Nogada RecipeThere is no doubting Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s immense impact in the Phoenix restaurant world. Ask any chef currently with a restaurant in the Valley of the Sun about Esparza, and they will respond, “Oh, she’s the best. She’s tough, but she is one of the best.”

A second generation Mexican American, Esparza was born as a hija de las panaderias (baker’s daughter) in Merced County, California, America’s Salad Bowl. In her early teens, she already started using her entrepreneurial skill set and cooking acumen to fashion her first carnecaria, serving up grilled meats next to her parent’s bakery. She worked a variety of well-paying jobs as a broker, Aramark and executive chef at a variety of Arizona hotels before opening Barrio Café.

i8tonite with Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe Chef Silvana Salcida Esparza & Chiles en Nogada Recipe

Currently, she has four restaurants and another one on the way, Barrio Café Gran Reserve, opening in downtown Phoenix, on Grand Avenue, a hipster spot. Esparza came to Valley of the Sun prominence in 2002 with Barrio Café, serving central Mexican food with European influences, tableside guacamole, and real south of the border sauces. Her dishes include 12 Hour Roasted Pork and Posole Verde. In The Yard, a large complex housing four restaurants, Esparza created Barrio Urbano, a hipper, millennial friendly experience, which also serves breakfast, and two in the Sky Harbor International Airport. Esparza is undeterred in her quest for making the best Mexican that she can make, as she says, “I will not resort to using yellow cheese.”

Ezparza is an outspoken, leading advocate on immigration and LGBTQ causes. To showcase the creativity the Mexican American population has brought to Arizona, she, along with other community leaders generated a non-profit organization called Calle 16, dedicated to showcasing various arts, food, and other Mexican exports to the Valley of The Sun.

i8tonite with Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe Chef Silvana Salcida Esparza & Chiles en Nogada Recipe

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking? Since I was six years old.

What is your favorite food to cook? Italian

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Condiments, demi-glaze, anchovies

What do you cook at home? Barbeque.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? I love when they are enthusiastic.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? When they lack enthusiasm. I don’t want them to be dead fish.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Tupperware.

i8tonite with Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe Chef Silvana Salcida Esparza & Chiles en Nogada RecipeBeer, wine, or cocktail? Cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author? Patricia Quintana

Your favorite kitchen tool? Molacajete

Your favorite ingredient? Chile

Your least favorite ingredient? Lavender

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? If I have to…wash dishes.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Pork

Favorite vegetable? Chayote

Chef you most admire? Patricia Quintana

Food you like the most to eat? Italian, barbeque.

Food you dislike the most? Fried chimichanga. Fake Mexican. Yellow cheese.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? Too many.

i8tonite with Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe Chef Silvana Salcida Esparza & Chiles en Nogada Recipe

Recipe: Chiles en Nogada

i8tonite with Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe Chef Silvana Salcida Esparza & Chiles en Nogada Recipe
Chiles en Nogada Recipe

Ingredients
Chiles:
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced small
2 teaspoons diced onion
1 teaspoon diced apple
1 teaspoon diced dried apricot
1 teaspoon diced pear
1 teaspoon raisins
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine, preferably Cabernet
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled

Nogada Sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup white wine, preferably Chardonnay
2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving

Directions
For the chiles: Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the canola oil when hot. Add the chicken and saute until the chicken starts to turn white, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the onions and continue to saute until the onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the apple, apricot, pear, raisins and garlic and saute until they begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir so the paste coats all of the ingredients. Add the red wine and cook until the chicken is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let cool slightly. Remove the seeds from the peppers by making one long slice down the sides, stuff them with the chicken-fruit mixture and keep warm until ready to serve.

For the nogada sauce: Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, add the shallots and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute until the garlic has turned a light caramel color, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and reduce until almost gone, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until reduced by half, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and finish with the almonds.

For serving: Place each stuffed pepper on a plate and spoon some of the nogada sauce over top. Garnish with the cilantro and pomegranate seeds.

Note: This recipe was originally published by Chef Silvana Salcida Esparza at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/chiles-en-nogada.html

Pin for later:

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's recipe for Chiles en Nogada

– The End. Go Eat. –

I8tonite: 4th of July Homemade Barbecue Sauce

American Flag
American Flag

Barbecue is a fundamental right of every American to enjoy. It is an American creation as much as our Declaration of Independence. It not just a food for celebration, it is a showcase of our cultural melting pot that helped to create our nation.

Barbecue, the act of grilling or smoking meats with a fire may or may not come from the Spanish word barbacoa. Historians seems to be uncertain but they do know that the technique came to the United States by way of the Caribbean, via the Spanish and the reprehensible slave trade. Cooking over slow-burning coals, although brought to the shores in the 17th century, became rooted in our country’s Southern states by the late 19th century and is every bit as American as jazz and rhythm and blues.

BBQ

A very, very truncated version of barbeque history is that slaves had much to do with the barbeque as we know it today. Pigs were plentiful and hid in the woods so they were free. However, it was a long process to clean the animals so gatherings were created to butcher, prepare, cook — and give away — as much of the meat as possible. The sauce was adopted with a vinegar and tomato base to “mop” the meat, saturating it to assist in cutting the pig’s fat and possible gaminess of a wild hog upon eating. The slow-roasted meat, like in many cultures, was basted and then served with the same sauce.

As we celebrate this auspicious day in our country’s history, we are cooking a time-honored tradition that was created — not by just one culture – but by many generations born in the United States and on American soil.  For me, it brings to mind why we honor July 4th – for freedom for all — and that whether you are black, white, gay, straight, hermaphrodite, transgendered, yellow, orange, gender-neutral, rainbow-colored or albino the first sentence of the second paragraph from the Declaration of Independence: “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress, July 4, 1776

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Homemade BBQ Sauce (Adapted from the kitchn) Makes 3 cups

I tablespoon olive oil

½ chopped red onion

4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced (I love garlic)

1 (8-ounce) can of tomato paste and 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce or 1 (16-ounce) can of tomato sauce.

2 teaspoons of cumin, preferably freshly ground and toasted

4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

¾ cup of apple cider vinegar

¼ cup of honey (or molasses, agave syrup, maple syrup, Karo syrup). Each one will impart a different flavor so it’s up to the cook and what you have in your pantry.

1/8 cup of Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup of yellow, brown or Dijon mustard (never grainy)

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

Several dashes of hot sauce to taste (if you want it with some kick.) I used sriracha as it had the heat. I wanted to temper the sweetness with some high temperature on the finish.

barbecue-sauce-7

Let’s make this puppy:

Using a medium size sauce pan, drizzle in the olive oil and get it hot. Throw in the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic. Stir until fragrant.

Add the cumin and tomato sauce/puree. (Add 8 ounce of water if using the puree). Stir.

Now add all the remaining ingredients and stir until thickened. Add more water, if you would like a thinner sauce. Also, at this point, see if you want to add more sweetener or make it zestier.

Use it as a baste for meats or non-meats. Serve extra on the side.

NOTE: This is a homemade barbeque sauce. It’s delicious but you can definitely play around with the ingredients. There should not be a hard and fast rule. Just deliciousness.

Cuban Mojo (pronounced “mo-ho”, not Austin Powers “mojo”) Chicken

Image result for cuban style mojo chicken

Nick is cooking tonight…and he’s making Cuban Mojo Chicken which is a marinade or sauce of only 5 ingredients: bitter orange, freshly ground cumin seeds, garlic, fresh oregano and olive oil. Having lived in Miami for most of his adult life, Nick loves Cuban food. According to LAist, there are quite a few Cuban restaurants in Echo Park, which we will need to check out.

Mojo originally appeared in The Canary Islands which are not far from Spain. As the frisky Spaniards started conquering The New World, we know they brought much of their language and food with them. This marinade which is fairly international, as the travelers dropped anchor at every island, can be made with any combination of acid/ oil such as red peppers (roasted and ground), green peppers (roasted and ground), cilantro, onions, and on and on.

In Cuban cooking, mojo typically applies to any sauce that is made with garlic, olive oil, and a citrus, in this case, bitter orange. Home cooks will notice in Cuban recipes that mojo is frequently used to flavor the yucca and is also used to marinate roast pork.  Cubans supposedly refer to the sauce as ‘mojito’ – not to be confused with the mint, rum and cachaça drink — and used for dipping fried plantain chips and yucca.  (I don’t know that for sure because the closest Cuban I have to is Nick. And he’s half Ecuadorean, not from Cuba but only lived in Miami where there is massive Cuban community. HA!)

If finding bitter (Seville) oranges is difficult – but not impossible — you might find it easier to add a couple of tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime and lemon to the fresh orange juice which is what Nick does.

(Incidentally, consumers can find this bottled and made with cornstarch. Don’t buy it. Make it. It’s so much better.)

1 to 1 ½ heads of garlic

1 cup fresh bitter orange juice (or if you can’t find  that substitute ½ cup of fresh orange juice, 1/8 cup of fresh lime juice (or approximate) , 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1 ½ teaspoons of dried)

1 full teaspoon toasted and freshly ground cumin seeds (Easy to find in your local market and will make a HUGE difference in the outcome with a wonderful smoky flavor.)

(With salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste)

Mash the garlic in a mortar and pestle or smash it into a paste which the flat side of a knife. Toast the cumin seeds in a skillet until fragrant. Grind.

Place everything into a bowl and stir well. Marinate any meat (chicken, pork or beef) for in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. Grill, roast or broil according to your taste. It’s a taste of the islands…and drink lots of mojitos.

 

 

 

 

i8tonite: Chinese Roast Pork (Char Sui) (adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis)

Char sui

I inherited the love of Chinese food from my mother. One of my earliest memories was eating at a Cantonese American restaurant in Monrovia, a suburb of Los Angeles. This was 1970 and try as they might, decorating correctness hadn’t been seen in Chinese restaurants. The dining room was lacquered red, dotted with Chinese lanterns giving the space a “World of Susie Wong” crimson glow. Spread before the two of us was a hearty Asian spread in stainless steel standing bowls and piled into them were the deliciously fatty food stuff such as  roast pork egg foo young, spareribs in black bean sauce, roast pork fried rice, roast pork eggrolls and the omnipresent white rice.

Yep, that roast pork was in everything.

As an incredibly poor college student looking for cheap eats in Manhattan’s Chinatown I discovered “real” Chinese roast pork hanging in storefront windows. It was as if you paddled into Hong Kong but you only walked across Canal Street. The bustling was stronger, headier than other parts of the city and you could tell you entered Chinatown by the smell of hoisin, sesame, soy sauce and food dangling in windows.  Char sui drenches windows in rows upon rows, covering the glass like a maroon-colored curtain, although sometimes it’s paired elegantly with a whole tea smoked duck. Smoked duck. Roast pork. Smoked duck. Roast pork. When a customer ordered a strip, a kitchen worker’s hand pushes through, parting the meaty fabric and yanks a strip for a hungry customer. Quickly they slice it, in a rapid machine gun motion and shovel it into one of the Chinese paper containers.

At the time, char siu was cheap, one dollar per order: I would get the roast pork, cold sesame noodles and white rice, just enough to get me through breakfast, lunch and dinner. I needed the carbs to keep me running through New York City streets. Walking from Union Square to Broadway so that I can get to Canal Street and back again. No twisting or turning….straight on through. But a long trek…a hike.

Often it’s made with red tofu paste, red dye and MSG.  It doesn’t need it. Using a really cheap cut of lusciously marinated and richly decadent pork, this can easily be served for masses. Home roasting made my house smell of Chinatown in a good way; while eating it will reminded me of being in college, running the streets of Manhattan and discovering myself.  Who knew you could get that from a recipe?

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2 ½ pounds of boneless pork shoulder

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 ½ tablespoons Chinese oyster sauce

1 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons of rice wine

¼ cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon of white pepper

Depending on the size of your pork, cut them into 2 inches wide and approximately 1 inch thick. Place the strips into a baking dish that will hold the meat in an even layer. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cover the pork with this mixture and marinate overnight.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees and bring the pork to room temperature. Roast for about 30 to 40 minutes basting every 5 – 9 minutes. At this point, it’s done but if you want to achieve that Chinatown look apply some mascara…..kidding….to achieve that roasted, marooned charred edge, place under broiler for about 3 – 4 minutes. It will achieve that beautifully dripping-in-fat appeal…lacquered and deliciously edible. Heat up leftover marinade and serve with the pork.

(Note: I served my roast pork as lettuce wraps with a variety of Asian condiments such as a peanut dipping sauce, alfalfa sprouts, pickled cucumbers and pickled ginger. It could have been served with rice.)

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