The Chef

Most people don’t realize the chef of a restaurant wears many hats, or should I say toques. The higher the toque, the higher the rank. A tall toque is the sign of the boss. To be a successful chef, you have to be a master of all trades.

The word chef is way overused today. So many people think that anyone that works in a kitchen is a chef. NOT so. I have come into contact with way too many people who call themselves “chef” but really can’t cook at all, and have no clue on how to actually run a kitchen. The Chef is the boss! In a large restaurant, or casino, or cruise ship, or other large facility, the Executive Chef is the main boss and completely controls everything that takes place in his or her kitchen. What the chef says goes. Period! They control the menu, the staff, the tableware, and everything in between. The Sous Chef (sous means under) is the next in line. The sous chef is responsible for all the food preparations and is in charge of all the kitchen staff, making sure they are doing their jobs and preparing the food according to Chef’s desires and expectations.

What are Commissary Kitchens?

But a chef is so much more than just the boss. A chef is creative and is a visionary. A chef is a true creative genius who follows his or her own heart and isn’t afraid to break or change a few rules along the way on to their path to success.

A chef is an artist whose medium is the food. It takes good quality products and utensils to create great quality foods.

Being a chef also means you like to please and give pleasure to others. Sharing our food is one of the best ways to connect with those we love. Yes, we want to make foods in our own ways, and to be free to create whatever we like and to leave our mark. And you can certainly do that, but in order to gain a following, you also have to know how to make others happy too. It is a win/win situation when the chef is able to do both.

Being a chef also requires the art of diplomacy. We never stop learning, or experimenting with new ideas. We are always on a quest to learn and to be the best.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Good-bye to My Beautiful Big Girl

Yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve had to endure for quite awhile. We had to say good-bye to our beautiful big girl, Lucie. Old age and broken parts got the best of her. She was in a lot of pain and agony this past weekend, and was unable to walk or move. We had no choice but to call the vet and let her go. The vet came about 11:30 and by noon, our beautiful Lucie had crossed over the rainbow bridge. Lucie was almost 9, which for a big dog, is pretty darn old. She lived a very good life, and she knows she was very well loved. As many times as we have had to do this, it NEVER gets easier. Needless to say, I was not in the kitchen at all yesterday. I was barely able to function. So today, is a tribute to my big beautiful girl, Lucie.

We have so many good pictures of her. She and her brother Vinnie were very close, so many of my favorite pictures are of them together. Vinnie is hurting just like we are. He misses her just as much as we do. We all need to heal.

We love you so much Lucie Lu. You gave us nothing but love. RIP big girl. Mommy and Daddy love you very much. Luzerne, aka Lucie, 12/10/2011-9/14/2020

Video #9 – Crab Cakes

We are celebrating Priscilla’s birthday today. Her husband Jonathan and I are making her a special birthday dinner to celebrate her day. Even Priscilla’s mother flew in from California.

Jonathan made some delicious lamb steaks that he marinated in a Dijon mustard sauce that he grilled up, Argentine style. Priscilla and her family are originally from Argentina.

After the lamb steaks were grilled to perfection we topped them with some toasted pine nuts mixed with parsley and Parmigiano cheese. We served it atop mashed cauliflower and served a Caprese salad, a green salad, some toasted garlic bread and of course, my crab cakes with the creamy curried sauce.

The birthday girl presenting her special birthday dinner.

We brought a BIG magnum of Italian Proseco for everyone to celebrate with. We opened that and enjoyed it with our dessert of little bundtinis or mini bundt cakes and my cherry custard tart that I brought along. http://Cherry Custard Tart

Here is the video of me making the crab cakes for the big celebration as well as the link for the curried sauce. http://Colorado Curry Fusion

Have a wonderful, happy birthday my dear friend. Thank you for allowing us to help you celebrate your special day. !Te amo mucho, mi Amiga!

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

A Colorado Curry Fusion

We love Indian foods, and curries are my favorite of all Indian foods. Traditionally curries in Indian cooking just mean foods cooked in a sauce, usually a spicy sauce, and the varieties and possibilities are endless. Because I am such a big curry fan, I am always excited when I come with some new curried twists to try. Chances are, if curry is in the name, I am going to love it, no matter what kind of curried dish it is.

We have been eating a lot of beef lately, and it was time for something a bit different. It was time for some pork. As usual, I am always looking for new ways to cook everything, along with new combinations of serving my foods. Colorado, in general, is always on the edge of new things, new flavors and new adventures. So coming across a new curried dish with a Colorado attitude was just perfect. Maybe this is why I consider Colorado home. 🙂

This meal was a hodge-podge of all kinds of flavors that wouldn’t necessarily be combined with each other, but really worked well together. I made curried pork chops that I topped with a spring/summer vegetable medley and served it alongside my spinach artichoke bread pudding. http://A Cold, Snowy Easter

Colorado Curried Pork Chops

2 lbs pork chops

1 tsp coriander seeds or ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 cup olive oil

1 TBSP garlic

1 tsp salt

2-3 TBSP red curry paste

Combine all the ingredients together and coat the pork chops with the sauce. Let marinate for at least 1 hour before cooking the pork.

The longer your marinate the pork, the juicier and more flavorful it will be. It will also be nice and tender too. You can grill it or pan fry it. We started it off on the grill, but our grill wasn’t cooperating properly, so I ended up cooking it in the pan instead. Reserve some of the sauce to use as a topping after the pork is cooked.

Once the pork is cooked to perfection and all the juices are clear, serve it up with your favorite side dishes. Or, be experimental like I usually am and come up with something new and different. It is much more fun to “play” with my food than to fall into a rut or the same old routine. Who knows what I am going to come up with. 🙂 I have some leftover sauce, that I have yet another fun adventurous use for. Stay tuned. Don’t touch that button. This sauce is too good to let it go to waste. I just had to come up with something to use up the rest of it. You will soon find out what I have in store for the remainder this delicious red curry sauce. 🙂

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Still Dining German Style

When we were in Hays, KS, the German capital of Kansas, we ate nothing but German-style foods the whole time we were there, especially since Larry and his family are all German. http://Nature Walks – A Walking Tour Of hays – Part 1 – the Early Days of Hays Once we got home, I guess we were still in a German frame of mind, because I was still cooking German-style foods. My friend Janet had made some red cabbage with apples or Rotkobl und Apfel, and she ended up making too much, so she gave us some. She had just made a German-style dinner herself, so I just had to continue with that theme. I cooked a German-style cubed steak with mushrooms, onions and bacon, along with some roasted potatoes to go with the red cabbage and served it all with a delicious, light red malbec.

German-Style Cubed Steak with Mushrooms, Onions and Bacon

1 1/2-2 lbs cubed stead

2-3 TBSP flour

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 onion, diced medium

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

4-5 pieces bacon

1 TBSP garlic

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken broth

2 TBSP olive oil

3 TBSP butter

Mix the salt, pepper and flour together and coat the cubed steak. In a hot skillet with the olive oil and some of the butter, cook the cubed steak until it is browned and crusted on both sides, about 5-7 minutes per side.

Cook the bacon in a separate pan until it is cooked. Remove the bacon and add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook in the bacon grease for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook down for about 1-2 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you like a thicker sauce, add some of the remaining flour to the mixture. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Add in the rest of the butter and combine well.

Mix everything together thoroughly, then re-add the bacon and mix in.

When the sauce is complete, serve it over your cubed steak, along with your favorite German sidedishes. Potatoes of any kind are always a good pairing with any kind of German foods. Potatoes have been a staple in German cooking since the mid 18th century, when many other grain crops failed in Germany, and potatoes were one of the few crops that would grow. Today, potatoes are used in every kind of German food and meal, and are prepared in countless ways.

Enjoy, or as they would say in German, gutes Essen, especially with a glass or two of red wine.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Our weather forecasters here in Colorado have definitely been in for a wild ride lately. Last week, and all through Labor Day weekend, the temeperatures were soaring in the high 90’s. Then the day after Labor Day – BOOM! Winter hit and we had snow. We literally had over a 60* temperature drop in less than 48 hours. We went from salad weather to soup weather overnight. Now all the snow is once again melted and it is supposed to get back into the 70’s today.

With our short, early burst of winter, I made a ham, bean and vegetable soup to help warm us up from the inside out. I used some leftover ham I had, lots of vegetables and butter beans. I served it with hot cheese bread and and a dry white wine and all was good.

Ham, Vegetable and Butter Bean Soup

1 1/2-2 lbs cooked ham, cubed

1 onion, medium dice

2 jalapeno peppers, diced fine

1 1/2-2 TBSP garlic

1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, diced

4 cups spinach, stems removed and chopped

1 1/2 cups diced squash, I mixed mine

8 cups chicken broth

2 cans butter beans, or cannellini beans, or other white beans of your choice

salt & pepper to taste

1 TBSP cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp cumin

olive oil for cooking

Cook the peppers, squash, onions and garlic in the olive oil for about 5-7 minutes. Add the ham and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Add the tomatoes, beans and seasonings. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Then add the spinach. Continue to cook for about another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The soup is now ready to enjoy. It is a simple, hearty, healthy soup that will help take the chill out of any day.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Jeanne & The Kids – 2nd Cooking Class

We had yet another successful cooking class with Jeanne & The Kids. This time Emma and Beckett had their friend Sophia join us too. Last time, we made some fun, healthy snacks http://Teaching My First Cooking Class and Emma and Beckett had mentioned they really like pesto and wanted to learn how to make it, but because of nut allergies, we had to come up with a good alternative to pesto. Chimichurri sauce is the Argentine cousin to the Italian pesto. So class today was learning how to make chimichurri sauce, that we used for both the steak and as a dipping sauce, just like how it is done in Argentina. http://Steak Chimichurri We also made some vegetable kebabs to go with the steak chimichurri.

We started by cutting our vegetables and marinating them in some Italian dressing. We used zucchini, yellow crookneck, onions, and red and green bell peppers. Once we had all the vegetables cut and were marinating, we focused on making the chimichurri sauce.

Chopping the parsley. I showed them how to do it both with a knife and in the food processor.

Emma is adding the balsamic vinegar to the sauce. She is carefully measuring it out and adding it to the mix. Sophia is helping by adding the olive oil.

Once the chimichurri sauce was made, and the steaks were marinating, I let the kids dip some bread into the sauce and enjoy it Argentine style. At first they were a little surprised by the vinegary taste, but it was a pleasant surprise that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

When the steak was done, we put it in the refrigerator for Mom and Dad to cook up later. Now it was time to skewer the vegetables.

Mom and Dad loved that the kids cooked dinner for them AND cleaned up the kitchen too. It was a double treat for them. “They made our dinner for tonight. Homemade chimichurri sauce for the steak and veggie kebobs. It was delicious and the best part was the kids did all the work.”

Ta Da!!!!!! Dinner is served.

We sent some vegetable skewers and chimichurri sauce home with Sophia too, so she could share it with her family as well.

All three of the kids did such a great job. We had a lot of fun, made a lot of messes that we all cleaned up afterwards, and hopefully, we all learned something new as well. I’d say we have some very happy and excited junior chefs.

*** I did NOT show any pictures of Sophia because I have not yet been given permission to share her photos by her parents. But rest assured, Sophia was a big help too and she also had a great time in the kitchen. ***

This is the flyer we are putting out there for anyone who is interested in cooking classes. Mine is not saved as a jpeg, so I copied this picture from Toni. A little bit of the top got cut off, but our real flyers have all the information on them.

I am not sure who is having more fun with these cooking classes. Is it me or is it the kids? Either way, we are all having a great time and cooking up a storm. I love to share my culinary skills with anyone who wants to learn, and Emma and Beckett love to learn. 🙂

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – Walking Tour of Hays – Part 2 – Hays Today

Part 1 of my walking tour of Hays was about the wild west and the history of Hays. http://Nature Walks – A Walking Tour of Hays – Part I Part 2 features the general everyday life in Hays. Hays, KS is middle America to the core. It is a small mid-western town in North Central Kansas, which is dead smack in the middle of the country. The main industries in Hays and the surrounding areas are farming and agriculture, oil and Fort Hays College. Life in general is pretty quiet and pretty simple, and often times a bit quirky.

Many of the streets are still paved in brick. A lot of the buildings and homes are made of limestone.

There were so many pretty, colorful flowers in bloom.

People seem to enjoy life and enjoy living life a little differently than others and most definitely living life on their own terms.

Even the squirrels seem happy and carefree. This big red-tailed squirrel was having so much fun just posing for me. He made sure I got him at all his best angles.

Life is short. Enjoy the ride, no matter where it takes you.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Video #8 – Baking With Ollie

The reason for our recent trip to Hays,KS was to visit with Larry’s family and to see his mom. As much as we try to get her NOT to cook for us, it doesn’t happen. She is always cooking and baking, especially her bierocks, which she is famous for. She is known all over the Hays area as “The Bierock Lady”. She has been baking them for decades, and has perfected the recipe like no other. She has passed the recipe down to all of us, but ours never seem to turn out quite like hers. Maybe it’s because I have only been making them for a few years vs her making them for a lifetime. As Ollie herself says, it takes a lot of practice. http://a taste of germany

Ollie starts out with one basic soft dough that she turns into 4 different recipes. She turns that one dough into her bierocks, her Polish sausage wraps, and her cinnamon rolls and cinnamon twists. People have been lining up to get her baked goods for years, and even though she has “retired” people are still begging her to make them for special occasions.

The ingredients.

Ollie’s Basic Soft Dough

about 4 lbs flour

1/3 cup yeast

3/4 cup dry milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 TBSP salt

4 cups warm water

2 sticks melted butter

2 eggs

3 TBSP vegetable oil

Ollie cooks a lot like I do, and how a lot of us who have been cooking for a long time do. We don’t really measure things out too much. We cook by feel and by sight. So like me, and all the rest of us cooks, Ollie measures by “about this much and about that much” rather than actual measured amounts.

In a big stand alone mixer, mix everything together, except the vegetable oil, at a medium speed using the dough hook, for about 10 minutes. Once the dough is mixed together, add the vegetable oil around the edges of the dough and fold in. Once the oil is incorporated into the dough, you can use it however you like by rolling it out on a lightly floured surface.

Since Ollie’s baking is legendary, it is also a family affair. All of her kids, her grand kids, and now some of the great grand kids have been helping Ollie out in the kitchen, even if only to “paint” the butter or eggwash onto the bierocks and cinnamon rolls or twists.

Ollie at home in her kitchen with her cinnamon rolls.

Larry is the youngest of 9 kids, and he remembers always “painting the bierocks” while growing up. He still paints them even now.

And now the video we’ve all been waiting for. This used to be a top secret recipe and has only been allowed to go public just recently. We are all honored that Ollie has finally decided to go public with this valued family treasure.

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I hope you all enjoyed this rare treat to get a chance to bake with Ollie. This is a video first.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.