Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What I Cooked Today...

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Can't go wrong with this traditional favorite.


Chicken and Noodle Soup

Simple. Delicious.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

1 lb spaghetti noodles
8 ounces ground beef
2 cups really good tomato sauce
1/2 yellow onion diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp parsley flakes
2 cups chicken stock

Boil a pot of water, and add salt to the water! In a sauté pan, cook the onions with a little bit of oil. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl add ground beef, cooled onions, a cup of the tomato sauce, garlic, parsley flakes and salt and pepper. Roll into balls and set aside.

Simmer 2 cups of chicken stock, and drop meatballs into chicken stock. Cook through.

Boil spaghetti until it is al dente, which means "to the tooth." The pasta should not be overly soft. Add tomato sauce to the top and place meatballs on for garnish. Top with cheese right before serving.

Happy Cooking!

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Carving Pumpkins!

Carving pumpkins is as easy as one, two, three!

1. Find a perfect pumpkin with a smooth side, take off the top and clean out the insides.
2. Draw out your design.
3. Use carving tools to get detailed cuts.

Stand back and enjoy!

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

What I Made Today...Delicious Chili. Happy Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite time of year.
First of all the fall is so beautiful, and second of all the changing flavors is so rewarding after a long hot summer. The deep rich flavors of stews, soups and braises make my taste buds sing. Every year I host a pumpkin carving party and the traditional treat is home made chili.

Chili is one of those perfect meals that you can do ahead of time while you are carving pumpkins (which is what I will be doing). The longer it sits the more flavor it gets.

1 lb Ground beef 80/20
1/2 lb ground pork or Italian sausage (take it out of the casing)
1 yellow onion diced
1 can tomatoes diced
1 can of dark beer
1 cup chicken stock
1 package of brown bag chili spices

Sauté onions, brown meat, add tomatoes, stir in beer, dark beer and spices. Cook on low heat for about four hours.

Happy cooking

Grocery Shopping in Oklahoma

I recently went to Oklahoma to throw my girlfriend who is having a baby girl a baby shower. Being the LA Chef that I am I volunteered to cook for the event. I went to one of the only grocery stores in Oklahoma and bought ok produce, and frozen fish. As I pushed my cart up to the check out stand the woman asked paper or plastic. I said paper, and then realized none of their paper bags had handles!

Then as the clerk finished ringing my groceries, I heard her say $220 dollars. I couldn't believe my ears. What was I paying for? At whole foods in Los Angeles I could get it everything I bought, and better quality for around $120. Is the Midwest really that behind?

Happy Cooking, and I wish you better success shopping in the Midwest than I had!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ask Mary...It's All About Taste

Do you actually taste your food before you serve it? I suggest that you do. A simple test for you to try at home the next time you are cooking. This test works well with soups. While you are cooking, don't add a lot of salt.

To begin put soup into a few different bowls. Then add a pinch of salt to the first bowl, a little more to the next and a little more to the next, etc. The last bowl you should add too much. This will help you to taste the difference between too little and too much salt and everything in-between. Have Fun!

Happy Cooking,

Ask Mary...How to tell if chicken is done?

Do you know how to tell if chicken is cooked? You open the oven and smell the deliciousness of the Chicken. You take it out of the oven, and then....
You don't know if it is done, so you sit and look at it for a few moments. Then with out any tact you cut right through the top of the chicken breast only to find out that it is not done and have to put it back in the oven. It cooks for a little longer and when you pull the chicken out again it is dry and over cooked with a huge slash through the middle. You present it to your guest, and immediately feel remorse for cutting through the chicken.


When cooking chicken, look for signs for the chicken to be cooked, clear juices (seriously they are clear), meat is pulling away from the bone (if it is on the bone), and firm to touch. If all else fails. If you have to cut it, go to the side of the chicken, and cut through length wise so no one can tell that you cut it, also you can cut it from the back!!! If you are cooking a whole chicken cut underneath the leg. DO anything but DON'T cut through the middle!
I check too, every once in a while, it is not that you cheat it is how you cheat. You don't need anyone else to know!

Happy Cooking!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hail Mary's, Starlight Arcade

Last Saturday, October 13th, my company Hail Mary's did an event for a thousand people. I must say it was supper successful. It was for the Junior League's Starlight Arcade. I was lucky enough to be 1 of the 10 food vendors. The event was held on the sony lot and there were tons of video games, new and old, beer, wine and liqour flowing.

My menu...
Braised short ribs over couscous
Butternut squash soup
Wild mushroom polenta with a roasted garlic red pepper sauce

I hope you enjoy the pictures...

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What I Made Today!

Today seems like a very productive day! I made...

Haricot Vert (Green Beans) with Roasted Garlic...

1 Bunch Haricot Vert (french green bean that is much smaller and consistant in size)
6 cloves Garlic
1/4 C olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In foil place garlic, oil and a pinch of salt, close tightly and throw it in the oven 325 for 30 minutes. Heat salted boiling water, and cook green beans for 3 minutes, then add roasted garlic, and salt. Call it a day. I hate recipes that have too many ingredients and take longer than 10 minutes.

Pan Roasted Boneless 1/2 Chicken...

Ok well I butcher my own chicken, but you probably won't so just ask a butcher to do it for you. Rinse and dry (it is important to dry because otherwise the oil will spit at you, and that is really painful)

Salt and pepper the outside of the chicken, place in a cold saut pan with oil and chicken skin side down. Turn on medium high heat. This will brown the outside and once it is all golden brown flip it over and put it in an oven at 325 for 20 minutes!

Mary's Secret Mac and cheese.

If I told you it wouldn't be secret any more!

Happy Cooking!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tickets in a Restaurant.

This picture is a typical moment for every chef in the back of a kitchen.
Tickets lined up, with only minutes to get the food out! We should all have a little more compassion when the food get's to our table with nothing wrong.

Happy Eating!


Ask Mary...How to get the lumps out of mashed potatoes?

Have you ever wondered why resaurants have perfect mashed potatoes and yours are lumpy and tasteless?

Well here is a little tip with the holidays approaching.

When buying your potatoes try Golden Potatoes (Yukons) instead of Russets. They have a smooth golden outside and much creamier inside. You can cook them like your regular mash potatoes. (for those of you who don't know. you can boil them after peeling them, but make sure you cut them into equal pieces, so they cook at the same rate) When they are finished, pour out the water and put them back onto the stove for a few more minutes. It will help cook out the water.

Next heat cream and butter, these liquids incorporate into the potatoes easier if they are hot.

While the liquids are heating mash the potatoes. You can use one of two tools to do this...1. A Ricer around $150, (I just bought one and I love it). There is a picture attached with this blog, and me actually using it. It turns the potato into rice looking form, that you can easily mash, and it gets rid of all lumps. I love that part. Or 2. Potato masher around $20. (spend a little extra and buy the one with a rubber handle, you will thank me later) This is cheaper than the ricer but you don't have near the same results.

As you are mashing the potatoes, add the butter and cream mixture (low fat milk for those of you who are watching the calories, and for those who want no calories try chicken stock, and for those who are vegetarian try vegetable stock). Make sure at this pint you are also loading in you salt, always add more than you think! Potatoes take a lot of salt.

Well I hope this helps you out in the future of holiday cooking!
Happy Cooking,

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Changing the Way Kids Eat

I am obsessed with changing the way we eat and live. I believe that we need to start with the children of today's world. I love getting involved in the community.

I have found two organizations that I am creating awareness for... 1. School Lunch Initiative by the Chez Panisse Foundation http://www.chezpanissefoundation.org/lunch.html. and the other 2. Kids in the kitchen, http://kidsinthekitchen.ajli.org/. I encourage all of you to check out these web sites and support them if you can!

Help Support!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Waterfront Dinning.

You won't find this in LA unfortunately. Off the beaten path not far from the highway 1 in the woods is a restaurant where you can dine on the river. Literally IN the river.

As we stepped down a few stairs we peered on to this trickling stream of a river, and there amongst nature was enough seating for about 45-50. The restaurant was in sight up on the hill.

Some chairs deeper in the river than others, some chairs big enough for two, and some chairs isolated so that you can take a breath.

We weren't quite willing to roll up our pants so we stayed close to the edges. But for a moment the world disappeared. We realized there was nothing fancy, nothing ornate, just simplicity at its best. We wanted nothing more.

While we are in the hustle and bustle of LA we can take a moment and remember that not everyone moves at lightning speed, and that is better to just sit and take it all in.

River Edge
Highway One at Pheneger Creek
Big Sur, CA 93920
(direct) 831.667.2700
(toll free) 800.548.3610
(fax) 831.667.2743
(email) info@bigsurriverinn.com
(web) www.bigsurriverinn.com

Happy Cooking.

Viagra with out a prescription!

We all need a little help, don't we?

I was in a little tiny family owned seafood shop that I love. It was a beautiful fall day. I arrived to this cozy shop, and through the window I notice a clever sign on the Oysters. VIAGRA IN A SHELL!

This is why you love small family run stores. You would never see a sign like this at albertsons or ralphs.

It is a priceless moment. I laughed, the owner saw me, and I said "why don't you hold it up, I'll take your picture with it" He merely laughed at his grand old age of around 58 and said, "oyster's, I don't need oysters, and I don't want anyone else to think I do either!"

Happy Cooking, Enjoy Viagra the natural way!

FISH...The TEST!!!

Did you know that I was the head chef of a restaurant that I helped open in LA? Well I was.

I would have job interviews for a line cook. It was amazing to see how many people could not cook but say they could.

The test... to cook one piece of salmon.

The Trick.. I would give them a choice of 3 different types of saute pans (old, nonstick, and regular) , and 3 different types of kitchen tools (plastic spatula, fish spatula, and tongs) they would also have the option to use...salt, pepper, and oil.
All of these things were there to create the perfectly cooked and seasoned piece of fish.

I was always amazed to see what they came up with.

The fish never looked, or tasted the way I wanted, and most times it looked and tasted awful.

Just remember if you are cooking fish better be safe than sorry. Always cook with non-stick, and when you are using such an expensive pan use the plastic utensils. Everybody wins!

Happy cooking,

Cooking and Painting...Ken Auster

There is this amazing artist that captures the Kitchen to a "T". He paints chefs, and restaurants in their moments. A few years ago the paintings were around $800, and at that point I thought oh that is more than I have. Today they are going for around $1900. I am in love with them. His colors, techniques, and subjects are perfect. I suggest that you check him and his work out. His name is Ken Auster.


Happy Hunting, and Cooking!