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My Favorites

As a (ex)professional chef I’m always being asked about my favorites.  “Hey, what’s your favorite thing to cook?  What’s your favorite wine?  What’s your favorite dessert?  Where is your favorite restaurant?”  As you can see this can become quite tiresome, especially if you’re like me and have a rotating palate (yes, I just made that up).

I COULD name for you a favorite for each of these categories but I typically prefer not to as I’m afraid that by the time the words leave my mouth my palate will javelin already rotated.  Then you might get the wonderful idea to cook my favorite meal for me, or buy me that perfect bottle of wine. It will have been an over-generous gesture which I will greatly appreciate but you might have expected a little more excitement.  I’m sorry, my palate rotated.

I’ve tried many things on this blog and most of them I’ve given up on after 1 or 2 posts.  This time I’ve cheated and have a few in my pocket already so let’s see how long I can keep it going!

Starting tomorrow I’ll be posting my favorites of the moment,  as they strike me, or if you’d like to know one feel free to ask! I’m not going to say daily, but I’ll definitely post more often!

My favorite new idea…this one!

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Events, Uncategorized

 

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Beef Stew for 2 (and a half)

With the cold at its pinnacle here in Hong Kong I’ve began my gauntlet of winter foods. Hopefully I can satisfy a years worth of cravings into a month….maybe two if we’re lucky. Beef stew is one of the healthier options on my cold weather favorites list and as it’s the start of a new year I figured I would start with that with everyone’s resolutions still intact. This recipe was made with my one year old in mind so ingredients are all cut into bite size pieces BEFORE cooking as to reduce cooking time as well as fussy time at the table. If your kid is anything like mine, once he sees the food he needs it in his stomach immediately, you’ll appreciate this. Otherwise I’d suggest having chunkier beef & veggies and doubling the oven time to get a fuller flavor.

Beef Stew

10oz Beef Butt (Rump) cut into 1/4in cubes
1 medium onion cut into 1/4in cubes
1/2 pack baby carrots cut into 1/4in cubes
2 baby red bliss potatoes cut into 1/4in cubes
10 cherry tomatoes quartered
1 clove garlic sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
Vegetable oil, salt, pepper, and flour as needed

1. Pour yourself a glass of wine and take a sip.  You should always cook with wine you’re willing to drink and cooking should be fun so let’s loosen up a bit!

2. Heat the oil in an oven safe pot. Place the beef cubes in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the seasoned beef in as little flour as it takes to just dust the beef.

3. Add the beef to the hot oil and cook until nicely browned.

4. Remove the beef and toss in the onions.  As the onions release their water make sure to use it to loosen up the beefy goodness stuck to the pan before it burns on the bottom.

5. Add the garlic and cook until the onions are just soft. 

6. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf.  Stir just until combined.

7. Deglaze the pan with the red wine.

8. Add everything else to the pot and bring to a simmer.

9. Once simmering cover the pot and pop it into a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Check it at 30 minutes.  If dry add just enough beef stock to loosen it up but not too wet!

Enjoy!

I like to let it cool, pop it in the fridge overnight and heat it back up on the stove SLOWLY for dinner the next day.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Baby, Dinner, food, Recipe

 

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Amy’s Snacks – Cheese Pizza

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When the word “organic” appears on a frozen junk food item I instantly become skeptical.  It seems to me that the powers that be would like to decimate the term organic so they can continue pumping chemicals onto our foods and creating a bigger profit for themselves.

This is not me campaigning for the organic food movement…although I would like less chemicals being sprayed on my food…but simply over stating that healthy almost never equals tasty in the frozen food section.

And then you have Amy’s.

Now…I’ll admit.  They have a long way to go before I stop buying Totino’s Pizza Rolls, but as Totino’s doesn’t wish to sell my favorite microwave snack to me in Hong Kong I may have found myself a fair substitute.

I was scared to go the Pizza Rolls way and just toss them in the microwave due to the above reason’s so I took the box’s directions to heart and put them into a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes.  Am I the only one that goes straight for the middle every time there is a variance on the length of suggested cooking time?  That’s right.  13 minutes in the oven.

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Before….and after….Image

Although their crusts could do with a bit more crispyness, and the filling could use a dash of salt, I’m going to call these a winner in my book (temporarily until I can put some in the nuke-box) as a simply snack for a rainy day.

On a side note…I have been notified that today is my 5th anniversary of blogging.  We’ve had our ups and downs (in views) but I’ve got a good feeling this year we’re going to be running on top!

Keep on Eatin’!

 
 

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Ice balls: Novelty or Necessity?

For me, the answer is yes.  An ice ball can be both a necessity and a simple novelty.

I received an ice ball mould for Christmas this year. Santa apparently knows that I’m a fan of whiskey. I thought that might have put me on the naughty list but Santa seems to approve and wishes to encourage properly chilled whiskies for 2013.

My original thought about these huge rounds of ice was pure awesome! I love anything a little funky and different and these sure do look cool in a glass!   Once I started using them on the higher proofed whiskies I completely fell in love with them as they last.  The worst is trying to enjoy a single malt on the rocks and the second half of your beverage being thin and tasteless. This of course being due to all the ice melting. At this point you would have been better off just doing a shot as you are now forced to slam it to get to the next full flavored one or dump it.

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You may also note that I am on need of rocks glasses haha!

So for my single malts and higher proofed whiskies I prefer an ice ball to maintain the flavor through the whole glass.  When it comes to the lower proofed stuff you may catch me with a ball in my cup but this is simply because it looks cool.

How do you take your whiskey?

Drink responsibly! Have a fantastic 2013

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Beverage

 

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Christmas 2013

The only good thing about working Christmas day and coming home after dinner is all cleaned up is being able to skip straight to sandwiches! Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the individual components that complete a Christmas dinner. I just feel like when they are all laid out on the table that I have to take certain proportions of each dish and enjoy them all separately. This is fine and dandy but what I really like about Christmas dinner is everything. So when I have the opportunity to cram as much as I can of everything between 2 slices of bread I’m a super happy camper. Paired with the last glass of a fancy bottle of wine and it’s instantly Christmas in my mouth!

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Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2012 in Dinner, What I'm eating, Wine

 

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Make Their Cake…and eat it too!

Angie has once again turned flour and sugar into something beautiful and delicious. Today was her grandfather’s birthday so last night after Jr. went to bed she got busy to create something special for him.

Just look at it in all of it’s chocolatey glory! Covered in ganache so creamy it would melt the iciest of hearts. Oh but she didn’t stop there. Grandpa’s favorite type of cake is a swiss roll…

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So this cake is stuffed with 6 rainbow layers of swiss roll style cakes. A cherry jam between the layers ensures that the chocolatey goodness doesn’t consume the whole palate. Another successful cake!

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Dessert, food, Product Review

 

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Picchetti Winery

Driving up Montebello Road may no longer the be place to go park your car and go “neckin” as my mother puts it…but one tradition has held on for more than 100 years!  This may be Cupertino, and it may be only 30min from the city…but take this little dirt road and you’re instantly transported to wine country baby!

Picchetti Winery has been in operation for over 100 years.  Their story is an interesting one of love, depression, passion, and rebirth.  While I was on holiday I had the opportunity to go to their Cupertino tasting room and sample some of that passion.

 

 

 

 

Now, I wont bore you with the tasting notes for all of the wines…mostly because I didn’t write anything down…oops…but I will tell you a little bit about our tasting experience.  We walked in as a small posse, my mother leading the pack followed by my military brother, our cousin, my wife with a baby strapped to her, and myself bringing up the rear carrying my camera and a bag full of lenses.  Instantly labeled tourists we began with the basic treatment.  Fortunately for us the basic treatment is quite good as the gentleman behind the bar is FULL of knowledge not only about the wines he is serving but also about the history of the area as well as similar wines in the area.

After about our third portion we found ourselves to be the only ones left in the room.  This is where my mother decides that it is time to show off her band of misfits and as the barkeep is pouring my next taste she explains to him that I am actually in the business of food and wine and out all the way from Hong Kong.  After a little discussion to prove these were in fact true statements (I can’t actually describe the context of the conversation as it is something only Food & Beverage professionals know and we like to keep it that way) he began to really wow us with stories of what once was.  He was particularly proud of a massive, what I assume to be old style wine barrel which dates back quite a ways and although it is not a super unusual piece this one was special as it had always been stored indoors and as such was in pristine condition.

He also decided that although the tasting is a paid event with a limited number of samples per payment…that we all just HAD to try their Cabernet Sauvignon…as I chose to skip it in favor of drinking as much Zinfandel during this trip as possible.  I sure am glad he pushed this taste (not that it took much pushing) as it really reminded me how amazing the quality for Cabernet Sauvignon in California really is.  After living in Hong Kong there are wines you crave (Zinfandel for me as you can’t find it) and those you forget about (California Cabs as most people simply prefer to drink Bordeaux here) both of which I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to sample.  If you’re in the area I highly recommend Picchetti Winery’s tasting room in Cupertino for an afternoon indulgence.  The wines are great, the views are spectacular, and if you’re lucky you just might run into one of the wild peacocks running around.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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