Cranberry/Apple Chutney

If you would like to try an unusual approach to cranberry “sauce” give this recipe a whirl.

Cranberry/Apple Chutney

Ingredients:

1.5 cups water

1.5 cups sugar

3/4 cups onion (finely chopped)

1 tbs garlic

2 tsp  cinnamon

3/4 tsp  ground cloves

1/2 tsp   salt

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 ea.   12 oz. bag cranberries

1 cup white raisins

1 cup apples (peeled and diced)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup brown sugar

Method: Sauté the onions  in a little oil, add the first nine ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add everything else and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool.

The real gifts in our lives …

The real gifts are the people we learn from…

The Holidays have become a time for reflection for me. I start with Thanksgiving and the contemplation of all the things and people that I am grateful for. Then the Holiday season really kicks in. The restaurant business gets crazy, the family is pulling us in all directions and we are vaguely preparing to be broke in the coldest months of the year.

I think that is why it becomes easy to lose track of the real gifts. The real presents are the folks that we meet in our lives. Oh, sometimes we can start out disliking someone, or they make us nervous or we feel that an individual has nothing to offer. Then, as time passes we grow to realize that each person we come in contact with has their little bag of tricks, good and bad, that we can grow from and be enriched by.  Here are some of the people that have been gifted to me over the years.

Jimmy Knikos: Here is a guy, running an incredibly busy restaurant, waiters and cooks spinning out of control all around him, and he is calm. I mean really calm. Impeccably dressed and never a hair out of place. I was new to cooking on the “line” and almost totally inept. I was scared, unsure and unskilled. The line was set up such that the manager or expediter called all the orders in over a microphone. We cooks were expected to remember it all and coordinate the tables so that all the food came out together.

I was frequently lost, and just as often, Jimmy Knikos would talk me through the process. He would gently and calmly speak to me over the mic, saying things like, “Joe, turn around and open the oven. Now fire two more stuffed shrimp and don’t forget to take the other one out of the oven. No, that’s a wet towel, you’ll burn yourself, yes, the dry one…” Hours of this, without any anger or disdain at my obvious ineptitude. After a month or so, I got quick and could remember what was happening in sequence. I got good, but it was all Jimmy. He gave me the sense to be a fast and capable cook.

Victor Gouras: I did my “externship” at a New York restaurant called Periyali in early 1988.   It was owned by Charlie Palmer; one of the City’s best chefs. I wanted to work with Charlie, so I took the job.   The kitchen was in the basement of an old building in Flatiron/Chelsea.   As a matter of fact, it is still there (35 West 20th St # A, New York, NY 10011-3709, (212) 463-7890).  It remains a very good upscale Greek restaurant.

On my first day, I met Victor Gouras. He and his wife, Irina, were the “consultants” to ensure authenticity in our Greek-ness with regard the food. At the time Victor was around sixty and to describe him as “crusty” would be a gross understatement. He and Irina lived most of the year on the island of Patmos off Greece. They were in New York specifically to open Periyali. Victor had never gone to Culinary school and was openly contemptuous of anyone who did; think me.

He was also the fastest cook I had ever worked with.  He got more going before 8 AM that most cooks could in an entire day.   His motto; “If you put it on the stove, it will get done.”  He was so rough on me that I had to retire to the restroom to cry in peace on several occasions.  Over time I was able to hang with Victor, I got all the soups and the octopus and the lamb shanks going.  I made sure that I was respectful of Victor and his wife, mostly by making the food exactly the way he showed me.  By the time Victor and Irina had to go back to Greece, he was like a father to me. The tears I shed when we said goodbye were tears of love. I will never forget the lessons and the flavors that Victor Gouras gifted me.

Mark Erickson CMC: When I met Mark, I was doing a Fellowship at the Culinary Institute of America and he was the Director of Culinary Education (kind of like being in charge of the Sports department for the Olympics). He was going to take a job in Atlanta at the Cherokee Town and Country Club, and hired me to be a Sous-Chef.

The thing about Mark is his absolute mastery of so much of our craft. The “CMC” after his name means Certified Master Chef. He also has an MBA.  And he is a great mountain biker.  And he is the most humble and gentle chef I have ever worked with.  Most chefs have big, BIG egos, me included, but somehow Mark was able to out-cook and out-think everyone in the kitchen without the big head.  He was and is a great manager, drawing out the best work from his employees without a trace of histrionics. I saw him angry once, but gave him many opportunities to be angry with me.

I take from Mark the gift of quiet confidence, from Victor the ability to be accepting of knowledge no matter the source or style and from Jimmy the sense of order through the chaos that informs the working life of a chef.  I hope I can always be open and receptive to the gift of the people in my life.

Josh and Katie’s Wedding

The problem when both bride and groom are employed at the same restaurant is that, inevitably, some of the staff won’t be able to attend the wedding. I was experimenting with my new camera and decided to share some of my photos for those who want to see a bit of what Josh and Katie’s lovely wedding was like. They were married out at The Farm in Candler, NC, on a perfect golden afternoon on October 16, 2010. Best wishes to the happy couple!                (Note: If you’d like to see a picture more closely, just click on it)

Welcome to The Farm

Kevin signs us in...

Autumn colors prevailed...

The Farm, Candler, NC

Waiting for the wedding to begin

Sweet little girl in front of me, waiting patiently

Her twin sister...

Who let the Cat Burglar in here? (Joe Bly)

Terri Lenhart and Joe Scully

The groom, Josh Weeks

The bride, Katie, with her father.

The Big Moment

Katie and Josh

Cara Frieje, maid of honor

Michalene Talley, the evening's lovely bartender

Waiting for the wedding toasts....

Good beer in an old trough --- classic!

Kevin raises a glass to the golden afternoon

A perfect afternoon for a wedding!

Hand-rolled caramel apples as a thank you - delicious idea!

The gazebo where the ceremony took place

Joe Scully and Kevin Westmoreland, the Corner Kitchen masterminds.

Josh and his mother

"Let's get this party started..."

Rocky observes some of the guests

Michelle and Paulie

Katie and company

I LOVE this picture! This is SO Katie! ha ha

For those who wanted to enjoy the sunset

The dining area opened up to join the sunset

The centerpieces glowed warmly

McRae and Christina helping to make sure the evening went smoothly

The dining area had a wonderful rock fireplace at one end

Looking out at the last of the light

First dance as a married couple

I know it's blurry but I liked the feel of this picture

Katie and her father dance together

little dancers

Amy and Kevin Westmoreland

Time to decorate the car using Hank's artistic talents...

little love goats

Cheers!

Candlelight above the fireplace

The bathroom earned points with me because of the old wooden stirrup as the towel holder!

Best wishes for "Happily Ever After", Josh and Katie!

What’s the difference between soup and chowder? / Corn and Crab Chowder, Tomato Basil Bisque

Have you ever wondered why some soups are classified as “chowders”?

Chowder is a rather loose category, but usually indicates a soup that is rich and creamy with chunks of seafood and vegetables. The most famous, of course, is New England Clam Chowder. The word “chowder” evolved from the French word “chaudiere,” the name of the pot in which French fisherman would boil samples of their catches with potatoes and other vegetables. French settlers in the New England colonies introduced the culinary tradition to America. “Chowder” first appeared in a written recipe in 1751. By the 1800s, American cooks started to use mostly clams instead of fish because of the abundance of shellfish in the northeast.

(Source: http://www.souphoopla.com/chowder-soups.html)

If you feel inspired to connect with our colonial roots, try out our Corn and Crab Chowder recipe. Or, whip up our Tomato Basil Bisque too– just for comparison’s sake.

Corn and Crab Chowder

For the “Base”

Ingredients:

1 each   Red Peppers

1 each   Green Peppers

1 each   Small Jalapeno peppers

1 stalks  Celery, chopped

1 each    Yellow Onion

½  tbsp.  Garlic, minced

¼  lbs.   Butter

½  cups     A.P. Flour

2 lbs.   Frozen Corn

1 qt.     Clam Juice

2 qt.   Water

1 lbs.   Crab Claw meat

Method: Sauté all the vegetables (except corn) in the Butter. Add the Flour and cook for a minute (scrape the bottom of the pot!!!) Add clam juice, Water and Simmer for 20 minutes and remove from heat, Add Corn and Crab, cool and store in a labeled, dated plastic container.

For service

2 qt.   Corn and Crab Chowder base

2 cups   Half and Half

1 cup    Heavy Cream

To taste   Lime Juice

To taste    Salt and Pepper mix

As needed   Cornstarch Slurry

Method: Combine, base, and dairy products. Bring the soup to a simmer, season to taste and thicken if necessary.

Note: This soup should have a “slow burn” and be relatively thick. The Lime juice is used to keep it from being too flat and/or heavy

Tomato Basil Bisque

Yield: 10 portions

Ingredients:

2 quarts     Diced Tomatoes in Juice

1 each         Yellow Onion, small, chopped

½   tbsp.    Garlic, minced

1 Tbsp.      Fresh basil, chopped

¼  cup     Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½  each   6 ounce can Tomato paste

1 each    Bay Leaves

1 qt    Heavy Cream and Half & Half

to taste     Salt & Pepper

Method: Sauté onions in olive oil, add garlic, tomato paste. Add Diced tomatoes, bay and basil, Simmer for fifteen minutes. Puree, add cream and season to taste.

Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

As the air gets cooler in the mountains, consider using this recipe to make your own biscotti to dip in your hot coffee or tea.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched whole almonds
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7/8 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Toast the almonds in a shallow pan for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until almonds are lightly colored. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line 2 or 3 cookie sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Place 1/2 cup of these dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Add about a half cup of the toasted almonds and process for about 30 seconds.
  4. Return the mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir in the remaining almonds and chocolate chips. In a large measuring cup, beat the eggs, vanilla and whiskey with a fork to blend. Stir into the dry ingredients until moistened. Wet your hands and divide the dough into four portions. Keeping hands wet, form each quarter into strips about 9 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch high. Round the ends. Place two strips crosswise on each of the cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven. If baking more that one sheet at a time, reverse the sheets top to bottom halfway through cooking time.
  6. Using a metal spatula remove the slabs from cookie sheets and let cool for 20 minutes on cutting board. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees F.
  7. With a serrated knife, carefully cut at an angle into slices about 1/2 inch wide. Place the slices, cut side down, onto cookie sheets.
  8. Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the biscotti is crispy and lightly toasted.
  9. Turn oven off and open the oven door, allowing the biscotti to cool in the oven. When cool, store in an airtight container.

Asian Vinaigrette Dressing

Ingredients:

½ Cup    Sweet Thai Chili sauce

1 Cup      Rice vinegar

1 Cup       Sugar

½  Cup    Soy Sauce

2 Tbsp.   Chopped Cilantro

2 tsp.    Sesame Oil

¼  cup   Lime Juice

¾ Quart  Vegetable Oil

Method: Combine all.

This is a very easy to love salad dressing to be used in any number of dishes.

Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients:

2 #      Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced

1 each    Yellow Onion, chopped

1/4 cup    Ginger, peeled and chopped

2 ounce     Olive Oil

1/2 Gallon     Water

1 each     Bay Leaf

1 qt.     Half & Half

1 qt.     Heavy Cream

1 tsp.    Tabasco.

to taste    Salt & Pepper

Method: Sauté onions and ginger in olive oil, get them transparent but not very much color. Add Potatoes , water, and bay. Simmer until potatoes are fully cooked. Pull bay leaves, puree, and season to taste.

Note: A savory topping enhances this soup. Our favorite is to whip 1 cup of cream with the addition of a good sprinkle of cinnamon. Before it is too stiff add salt and white pepper to taste. Dollop this into the soup

Grits, Basic and Beyond

Stick with the classic Southern style, or spice it up!

Ingredients:

1 part    Stone Ground Grits

3 parts     Water

to taste    Heavy Cream

to taste    Salt and pepper

optional      Cheddar Cheese

optional      Jalapenos (chopped)

Method: Bring the water to the boil. WHILE BOILING, Sprinkle in the grits. Keep stirring until thoroughly combined. Simmer for around twenty-five minutes. Season and cream. Add the cheddar and/or jalapenos.

Gaspacho

Ingredients:

1 Cup      Yellow or red onion (diced 1/4 inch)

2 each     Celery stalks (diced 1/4 inch)

1/2 cup     Red peppers  (diced 1/4 inch)

1/2 cup   Green Peppers    (diced ¼ inch)

1/8 cup    Jalapenos

1 each    Euro Cucumbers

1 Tbsp.    Garlic (minced)

4 slices    White bread (trimmed and fine chopped in the cuisinart)

1 quart     Tomato Juice

1 quart     Bloody Mary Mix

1/4 cup    Lime Juice

to taste    Cilantro

to taste    Salt & Pepper

to taste    Tabasco

to taste    Sugar

Method:  Combine and Puree about ¼ of the mix.

Lavender Chicken

Ingredients:

2 ½ lbs.    Chicken (marinated, grilled and fully cooked)

1 each     Red Onion (1/4 moon slice)

¼ bunch     Celery (cut the same shape as the onions)

½  cups     Toasted Pinenuts

2 Tbsp.    Lavender herb mix (see recipe)

2 each    Lemons (filleted and tossed in sugar and salt & pepper)

¾  cups     Apple cider vinegar

½  cups     Olive oil

To taste   Salt & Pepper

Method:

Method:  Cut the chicken in fine strips.  Toss with all other ingredients.

Lavender Herb Mix:

Ingredients:

¼  cup     Lavender (picked)

¼  cup      Rosemary (picked)

1/8  cup    Thyme (picked)

1/8 cup      Oregano (picked)

1/8 cup      Sage (if available)

¼  cup      Parsley

Method:  Combine and chop all.

Marinade for Lavender Chicken:

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp.    Lavender (chopped measure)

1 Tbsp.    Rosemary (chopped)

1 Tbsp.    Garlic (puree)

2Tbsp.    Honey

1 ounce    Lemon Juice

¼  cup     Olive Oil

to taste    Salt & Pepper

Method:  Combine all.