When Life Deals You Tomatoes . . .

Make Bloody Marys!

The “Bloody Mary” in its most basic form is a drink made of vodka and seasoned tomato juice. Exactly where the Bloody Mary was first created is unsure. Some say Paris. Some say New York. Some say England. All that aside, here in the good old US of A the Bloody Mary is a nutritious breakfast, a good brunch item, and a hangover cure. Can’t ask for much more than that.
A Bloody Mary is one of the easiest cocktails to make. How hard is it, after all, to mix vodka and tomato juice.

20130926-191337.jpgMany, many more complex and more elaborate versions have come about all over the world, and it seems as if every good bartender has their own signature Bloody Mary recipe that he or she is proud of. The common garnish for the Bloody Mary is the telltale stalk of celery.
I have had Bloody Marys’ all over the map and I can honestly say I can’t name just one favorite. I can, however, name two. Coop’s Place in New Orleans, LA and Tomfooleries on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, MO. Both of these places feature consistently astounding BM’s. I did plenty of research and quality testing to qualify that statement.

I have seen over 50 different variations on this “meal in a glass”; the Bloody Molly (Irish Whiskey instead of vodka), the Bloody Maria (Tequila instead of vodka), and even the Bloody Hillbilly (Moonshine instead of vodka) just to name a few.
Here’s my take on the old classic.

20130926-191834.jpgWhat You Need To and What To Do With It:
V-8 Juice, 8 oz.
L & P Worcestershire Sauce, two shakes of the bottle
Cholula Hot Sauce, three dashes
Horseradish, 1/2 teaspoon
Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon Olive or Dill Pickle juice
1 Teaspoon A-1 Steak Sauce
Vodka, 2 oz.
Kosher Salt, dash
Ground Black Pepper, 2 dashes
Put the following in a pint glass – one dash of salt, two dashes of black pepper, three dashes of Cholula Hot Sauce, A-1, and two shakes of Worcestershire sauce. Then add the juice of 1/2 of a lemon, olive or pickle juice, and some cracked ice, put in two ounces of vodka and 8 ounces of V-8 juice, shake and pour.
Garnish with Olives, Salami, Celery, Cheese, Beans, Pepperoni, and whatever else you’d like to nosh on while getting your drink on.
Where have you had noteworthy Bloody Mary’s at? Let me know!

Pumpkin. Cinnamon, Spice, and Everything Nice. Apple Cider. Chili. Hot Chocolate. Thanksgiving Dinner.

Anyone want to grill out on their deck? Go out for ice cream or frozen Custard? Drink some fresh, zingy, ice-cold Sangria? Steve-O’s fresh squeezed, handcrafted Margaritas? Not so much, huh? These things are all to cool for school when summer starts, but there is something about cool weather and the start of fall that changes things.
We stop thinking about going to the beach (well some people do but not me – I want to be at the beach 365/24/7) baseball games and backyard BBQ’s, and instead focus on Tailgates, Football games, and Trick or Treating. It somehow seems easier to stay late at work or school, instead of daydreaming about pools, beaches, and laying in the sun. Baseball games start to mean a lot more as we get closer to the magic numbers, (Go Royals ! ! ! ,and football becomes the Monday Morning talk in offices all over the world.

It also seems that we start to crave different foods. Is it advertising or the media? Or, do our bodies crave things that are in season because fresh food is actually more nutritious than crap from a can?

Fresh food, especially produce is always better for you than crap from a can, but the essential thing is that fruits and vegetables taste better when their crops are in season. Fall is the season for apples, cranberries, and pumpkins, and it is no surprise that we see more of these foods both at the market and in the media in September/October.

So while we are easing into this year’s new fall season, I decided to poll SteveFromScratch fans and find out some of your favorite foods and drinks that you crave in the fall. So go ahead, don’t wait for the beep, don’t pass go, head directly for that comment button and let me know what are you most excited about cooking / and or enjoying this fall.
Do It ! !

Baba Ghanouj

Baba Ghanouj is a roasted and mashed eggplant dish. There are countless variations, almost as many as there are spellings for this decadent foodstuff. Depending on what area of the world the chef that made it is influenced by will determine what style of Baba you will get. I learned to make it from a friend of mine, Asif, who is from Syria. Baba is popular is Arab countries throughout the Middle East. I have made Baba Ghanoush many, many times over the years, and it didn’t take me long to develop a recipe that balanced the flavors so well that Nik Wallenda would be proud. Some people prefer a little more of this and a little less of that, but in reality “there are no rules in cooking, just make it the way you like it!”
All kidding and bets aside, Baba is healthy, vegan, all natural, gluten free, mouth-watering, and best of all it’s EASY!
First you need to roast the eggplant until its soft. Leave the fruit whole with the skin on, brush with olive oil and roast it in 350 degree oven until soft and wilted. Yupp I did say “fruit”. Eggplant is technically a fruit because it has visible seeds. most people refer to it as a vegetable but to be correct it’s “a fruit that we eat as a vegetable”.

20130920-195212.jpgAllow to cool and remove the pulp and the juice from the skin. Discard the skin. Save the pulp and juice. The juice will impart a subtle smoky flavor and richness to the finished product.

20130920-195328.jpgSome people puree theirs, I like to mash mine and leave it a little chunky.

20130920-195627.jpgTake some diced white onions.

20130920-195845.jpgAnd minced fresh garlic.

20130920-200007.jpgBrown in heavy skillet in small amount of olive oil.

20130920-200055.jpg Toss in some diced tomatoes and continue to cook until tomatoes are “melted”.

20130920-200216.jpgAdd in the mashed eggplant pulp and roasting juice. Cook over medium high heat until oil and juice is absorbed into the dish.

20130920-200328.jpgToss in some diced fresh basil and scallions. Season with fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt.

20130920-200452.jpgReady to enjoy with your favorite bread, cracker, vegetable, pita, or chip.

20130920-200615.jpgRECIPE

Best Bite

I spend my whole day and most nights around food. No problem. I get paid to do so. Pretty cool, right? You better believe it.
Sometimes I say… “I’m on a mission….and I’m wishin….. I can cure your hungry condition”….(think Bust A Move by Young MC). Yeah I crack me up.
But seriously folks… We have all had those memorable dining experiences that you’d pay huge dollars to relive. That meal that makes your tongue quiver, your stomach growl, and your mouth drips out that all too familiar drool when you think about it.

So I’m curious…what was one or two of the best things you’ve ever put in your mouth? Food and / or beverage please. What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten? Leave me a comment where it says “leave a comment” and lets get this party started.

The Wheat Controversy

A huge demand has developed for gluten-free food in the United States whether it is needed or not. If you’re confused by the gluten-free diet craze, you’re not alone. Gluten-free food is normally eaten as a diet for celiac disease, but people with a gluten allergy (unrelated to celiac) should also avoid it.
Gluten is different from protein in other grains such as rice and in meat such as steak because it is difficult for humans to digest completely Several grains and starches are considered acceptable for a gluten-free diet. The most frequently used are corn, potatoes, rice, and tapioca. Gluten may be used in foods in some unexpected and unnecessary ways, for example it is sometimes added as a stabilizing agent or thickener in foods like ice cream, ketchup, chocolate, deli meats, soy sauce, and even toothpaste.
Here is a good example of Gluten being introduced into a recipe when it is really not needed – Peanut Butter Cookies. Try these Bad Boys and I bet you’d agree that they are far better than any peanut butter cookie recipe you will find that includes flour of any sort. I have even tried these substituting Almond or Cashew Butter for the Peanut Butter and it comes out purty darn good as well.
Just another in my series of “Simple But Elegant” foods.
Five ingredients:

20130911-231219.jpgMix together everything except salt. Shape. Sprinkle salt lightly on tops.

20130911-231340.jpgPut them in the magic box.

20130911-231449.jpgSavor the fruits of your labor!

20130911-231545.jpgRECIPE

It Ain’t Easy Bein Cheesy !

I’m sure many people will have many different opinions on this, but to my knowledge, gained from 25 plus years of being a Chef, Food Master, and Cheeseologist, I am aware of about 900 known types of cheeses in the world. Cheese is a nutritious food made most often from the milk of cows but also other mammals, including sheep, goats, buffalo, camels and yaks. Here’s a little something you may or may not have known – – Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. Since protein fights off hunger and keeps you feeling full after enjoying it, cheese can help you lose weight. As part of a balanced diet, the protein in cheese can slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and help balance your blood-sugar levels and improve your overall mood as well.
I recently had a client hosting a reception with a James Bond theme and as a result they wanted to serve some English cheeses. By the powers vested in me from the Great state of Flavortown, It is my honor, to introduce to you today, 3 of my favorite English cheese varieties.
Sage Derby
This a type of English cheese infused with sage to produce a beautiful green marbling effect and very distinct earthy flavor.

20130910-115235.jpgThis cheese is made by layering salted curds from Derby cheese (which has a flavor very similar to a mild white cheddar) with fresh sage. It is then left to age for 6 months. It is rumored that way back in the 1600’s sage was added to the derby cheese as a health benefit. This cheese has a buttery creamy flavor that is great on sandwiches, on a cheese board paired with fruit and crisp white wines, and it also melts rather well.
Cotswold Cheese
This cheese is made by blending chives into Double Gloucester cheese.

20130910-115417.jpgDouble Gloucester is a traditional, full fat cheese made from cow’s milk. This cheese, made from the milk of once nearly extinct Old Gloucester cows, dates back to 1498 in the City of Gloucester, England. Gloucester comes in both single and double varieties. The single variety is made from skimmed milk, while the double variety is made from full fat milk and is more flavorful. The double variety has a smooth and buttery texture and an orangish apricot color that comes from the addition of annatto plant extract. The cheese is aged for a minimum of 4 months. It is the addition of the chives that transforms it into Cotswold cheese. It is also called “Pub Cheese” is England. This pairs well with a traditional English ale such as Bass Ale, or a dark red wine like a Syrah or Shiraz.
White Stilton with Mango and Ginger
Stilton is one of the best English cheeses made, in my opinion.

20130910-115532.jpgNow I know that opinions are like A-Holes, and everyone has one, but this is one damn good cheese. It is one of the only English cheeses to have an EU Protected Name. True Stilton cheese can only be produced in three counties, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire. This cheese is made from locally produced cow’s milk. It is made in a wheel shape and during aging it forms a coat or crust. The tell-tale look of this cheese is the deep blue veins throughout. The lesser known White Stilton is made by omitting the process that produces the blue mold veins – piercing of the cheese with stainless steel needles allowing air into the core of the cheese, allowing the mold to grow. This particular wheel I served was blended and aged with the addition of mango and ginger for a nice unique finish. This cheese pairs well with Madeira and Port wines.

Breakfast Of Champions

SO YOU’VE ALL HEARD THAT BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL, RIGHT ? WELL HERE IS ONE OF MY LATEST SIMPLE PLEASURES.
I GROUND SOME PORK, (GOT YOUR ATTENTION ALREADY DIDN’T I ?) ADDED SOME SEASONING, MORE PORK IN THE FORM OF BACON, AND SPICY HAM, AND MADE THESE LOVELY SAUSAGE PATTIES.

20130902-100547.jpgTHEY GOT COOKED ON THE GRIDDLE.

20130902-100705.jpgWHEN THEY LOOK LIKE THIS THEY’RE READY!

20130902-100801.jpgSO I HAD THESE LEFTOVER CINNAMON ROLLS. I CUT EM UP IN CHUNKS.

20130902-100913.jpgADD SOME EGGS.

20130902-100958.jpgSOME CREAM.

20130902-101034.jpgVANILLA.

20130902-101106.jpgSUGAR AND A PINCH OF SALT.

20130902-101152.jpgMIX ALL TOGETHER AND LET THE CINNAMON ROLLS ABSORB THE CUSTARD.

20130902-101304.jpgPUT IN MUFFIN PANS.

20130902-101404.jpgBAKE.

20130902-101448.jpgTHEN “GRIDDLE IT-JUST A LITTLE BIT”.

20130902-101631.jpgBOOM. CINNAMON ROLL BREAD PUDDING FRENCH TOAST STYLE W/ PUNCHED UP PORK SAUSAGE PATTIES.