Monthly Archives: March 2014

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Savor Dallas – William Hill Wine Dinner

It’s always a good thing to receive several bottles of wine from a fantastic winery, then task yourself  with tasting them all while thinking of what to serve with each of them!  Makes for a great day. I  really enjoy thinking about and creating a menu like that.  Fantastic wines make it both easy and difficult to pair with food.  It is important to make sure to do the wines justice!

I had the opportunity to do a dinner with William Hill Winery in conjunction with the great annual event, Savor Dallas.  Jim White and his wife Vicky Briley-White were kind enough to include me in the programing.   I had a great time tasting the wines, putting together the menu and ultimately cooking the dinner.  We were lucky enough to have Scott Koze, Vice President of Coastal Winemaking with E. & J. Gallo at the dinner to speak about the wines.  Scott oversees many winemaking teams including those at William Hill.  It was a real honor to have him at the dinner.  I was happy to speak about the food and the pairings.

A few of the pairings were controversial, specifically the pairing of the Venison with the 2010 Bench Blend Chardonnay and then the Pairing of the King Crab with the two Cabernets.  The Sika venison, the celery root and the vanilla pineapple paired so well with the Chardonnay because of the delicacy of the dish.  The mildness of the venison and the vanilla ultimately brought it together.  The king crab was poached with butter and garlic, the sunchoke ravioli was earthy and rich. . .  ultimately the umami of the mushrooms made it work with the cabernet, which had notes of porcini in the nose.

The wines from William Hill are Fantastic!  Great food wines!

I think we had a great success and I hope to work with them again!

Could not have done it without great Chefs and their teams:

Bryce Dahlgren – Chef d Cuisine

Pablo Martinez- Chef Garde Manger

Kristina Kent – Pastry Chef

Good Thymes!

Jason

 

The Menu

Passed Reception
2012 William Hill North Coast Chardonnay
2013 William Hill North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon

Foie Gras “Key Lime Pie”
Buckwheat Noodle and Lobster Spoon – Chef Bryce Dahlgren
Watermelon, Prosciutto, Mozzarella, Balsamic Pipette – Chef Pablo Martinez

Dinner
Sika Venison, Vanilla Pineapple, Celery Root
2010 William Hill Bench Blend Chardonnay

Herb Cured Wild Salmon, Smoked Potato,
Caramalized Onion, Horseradish
2012 William Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay

Sunchoke Ravioli, King Crab, Garlic, Wild Mushrooms
2010 William Hill Bench Blend Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 William Hill Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

44 Farms “72” Hour Short Rib, Basil Potato, Pickled Rhubarb
2009 William Hill Meritage Red Blend

Lemon Yogurt Cake, Berries and Mint – Chef Kristina Kent
Lamarca Prosecco

Dark Chocolate Cake, Caramel, Cardamom – Chef Kristina Kent
2009 William Hill Meritage Red Blend

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Cilantro Chimichurri

 

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It was only a matter of time until I posted this recipe.  I have used it for years in multiple ways.  This is one of my “have-to-have-it-around” sauces.  Having a sauce like this on had makes it easy whip up something delicious.   It is, by its very nature, a perfect sauce for steak. But, it is also so much more!  I use it on fish, chicken, pork, I toss roasted fingerling potatoes in it, finish sauces, use it to flavor compound butter, and even add it to vinegar and oil for salad dressings.  It also make a nice dip for appetizers like crab cakes or spring rolls.  If you make it . . . you will use it!

For old thymes sake,

Jason

Cilantro Chimichurri

Ingredients

Sauce

2 bunches cilantro

1 bunch parsley

4 garlic cloves

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 small hot chili (optional)

  1. The first thing to do is get your blender out.  It is very helpful to have a blender with a plunger such as a Vita Prep.  Adjustable speed is a plus too. The mixture is very dry at first and the plunger will help.
  2. Wash the herbs under cold running water.  I break the stems at the point where there are no more leaves.  Discard the lower stems and then put the herbs (upper stems and leaves) in the blender.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients.  Add the hot chili only if you want to spice it up!
  4. Puree in the blender until smooth.  Use the plunger to push down on the herbs.  Once it starts to become a puree it will be thin enough that you won’t need to plunge.   Puree until its smooth, but don’t over puree.  The heat from friction will warm the sauce and cause it to turn a dull color if you over blend.  This sauce should be as bright green as it tastes!

 

 

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Swiss Muesli With Oats, Mango, Flax and Quinoa

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Yes, I know, another muesli recipe — I couldn’t resist.  This was so easy, quick and delicious to make I wanted to share the recipe.  I was lucky it was a beautiful day with nice light so it photographed very well too!

We had gotten some really nice mangos the day before while touring around the Asian market.  For some reason the mango at our Asian market are always so much nicer than at our local grocery store.  When putting together my muesli for breakfast the mangos were a clear choice!  Typically I would have done an apple but not with those mangos about.  I decided to add the quinoa for a few reasons.  First, it was there, and second, I have been doing a lot of exercise lately so why not add quinoa?  Quinoa is an awesome ancient grain (technically a seed I suppose), which contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Throw in some flax seed, some toasted almonds and garnish with some grapes . . .  you have a fantastic and healthy breakfast!

Swiss Muesli with Oats, Mango, Flax, and Quinoa

Makes about 1.5 quarts

Ingredients

2 cups quick oats

½ cups cooked quinoa

3 cups skim milk

2 tablespoons agave nectar

½ tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon flax seed

1 ripe mango, diced

4 tablespoons sliced, toasted, almonds

20 grapes, sliced in half

  1. In a container large enough to hold all the ingredients add the milk and cinnamon, then whisk to dissolved the cinnamon and work out any lumps.  Add agave nectar.
  2. Add oats, cooked quinoa, flax and the mango.
  3. Allow to sit anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours before eating.  If it sits longer you may need to add a splash of skim milk to loosen it up.  Sometimes I make enough where I have some in the refrigerator for the next day.  This does change the texture as the oats absorb more of the milk, however if you thin it out with a bit of skim milk it’s still delicious and fresh.
  4. I like to add the almonds and some sliced grapes on top when dishing up.  You can even reserve a bit of the mango for the top too!

Thyme to get busy,

Jason

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Swiss Muesli with Grapes, Dates, Almons and Pecans

 

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For those who have not had the chance to try homemade Swiss Muesli it’s definitely something you should do.  First introduced to the Swiss by a doctor who was making it for his patients at his hospital, Muesli is easy to make, delicious, healthy and easily adapted to ingredients you have on hand.

I was first shown how to make Muesli by a Chef I worked for, Christian Schmidt. Christian is from Germany, a fantastic Chef, and I worked for him for 9 years (in 3 states).  We worked at the Ritz – Carlton in Michigan, the Mandarin Oriental in Miami and Opened the Mandarin Oriental New York together.  I credit Chef Christian for getting me ready for my first Executive Chef Post at the Mandarin Oriental in New York when he moved on to another hotel.  We all need someone to help us along!

I did not realize how authentic the recipe was until years later.  I had an Austrian general manager, Nils Stolzlechner, and we were doing menu tastings for breakfast.  A former Executive Chef in Austria, I could tell when I was presenting the Muesli (that one was very similar to this recipe but with apples, dried cherries and honey) he was skeptical.  One bite later he looked at me and asked, “Who taught you to make this?”  From that point he was in the kitchen every day for breakfast, taking my Muesli base and adding what he wanted in it for the day, sometimes berries, sometimes extra yogurt, different nuts or seeds.  That’s part of the beauty of Muesli, very adaptable.

Swiss Muesli

Makes 1.5 quarts

Ingredients

2 cups quick oats

2 3/4 cups skim milk

½ tablespoon cinnamon

1/3 cup of grapes (sliced in half)

2 tablespoons agave nectar

3 tablespoons chopped dates

3 tablespoons chopped almonds

20 pecan halves

  1. In container large enough to hold all the ingredients add the milk and cinnamon, then whisk well to dissolve the cinnamon.  Add the agave nectar, whisk to dissolve.
  2. Add the oats and dates, mix.
  3. At this point I typically allow the muesli to sit for 15 to 30 minutes to allow the oats to absorb some of the milk.  As the muesli sits it absorbs the milk more and more.  It’s a matter of personal taste.  Some people make it hours in advance and if need thin with a bit more skim milk.
  4. I like to sprinkle the nuts on top rather than mix it in.

Thyme to go,

Jason

 

Chasing the “Hummus Ghost”

 

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Years ago my wife and I moved from our relatively miserable neighborhood (actually downright dangerous) to our first “nice” house.  Granted we were in Michigan, not Texas, so the standards of “nice” were clearly different,  As we all know, Texas is the supreme state and is difficult to be rated against.  Specifically Allen, Texas (where the dew falls first from Heaven). I digress….

So we end up in Dearborn, Michigan, a wonderful city.  I was working at the Ritz – Carlton Hotel, all was good.  We loved Dearborn, because it was close to work and . . . . the food! We ate hummus, baba ganoush, shawarma, and falafel almost daily. To us it was as normal as pasta or burritos, and was so flavorful and multidimensional, we ate it often!   We had no idea how special this little area of the world was!  Since Dearborn we have lived in Miami, New York City, Allen TX, Las Vegas, Houston, and back to Allen TX.  I had never even come close to having Middle Eastern food as good as in the “Dearborn Days.”  Not even close!  There was a particular restaurant called “La Shish” that was a real stand out.  Their hummus was legendary, the best I have ever had.  Creamy and rich with a depth of flavor that I could never achieve in a hummus.  It was addictive. One of the great culinary achievements!

For years I tried to get close to that hummus, searching hummus recipes high and low.  I looked in professional cooking books, home style cooking books, text books from culinary schools, the internet . . . you name it.  Never found it. I made hummus hundreds of times, and it was always good, unless you compare it to “La Shish”.    About two years ago I hired a younger cook named Rashid.  He is a Lebanese guy with some good experience.  Of course on my mind right away, hummus.  For 15 years I had been chasing the “hummus” ghost.  I asked him if he knew how to make a great hummus.  Rashid says “I ran the best Lebanese restaurant in DC.  I make the good hummus.”  I was intrigued.  When he said he needed three days . . . I was really intrigued.

Rashid “made the good hummus.”  I could close my eyes and think I was back in Dearborn.  The “hummus ghost” . . . I had it in my sights.

In Rashid’s hummus the devil is in the details.  The chickpeas are soaked in water and baking soda overnight.  Then they are cooked at a slow gentle simmer, for 6 or 7 hours, in the same water they soaked in.  The cooking should be stopped when the water is at the level of the chickpeas, and the chickpeas are very tender.  The chickpeas are cooled in that liquid, which will gel like a classic, well-made stock (Rashid chilled his overnight).  The liquid and the chickpeas are pureed together with tahini, garlic and lemon.  The puree must be very smooth!

Lebanese Hummus

Makes 1.5 quarts

Ingredients

½ quart dried chickpeas

¾ tablespoon baking soda

3 quarts water

3 ounces tahini (Lebanese if you can find it)

½ ounce garlic

¾ ounce lemon juice

¼ ounce kosher salt

  1. In container large enough to hold the 1st three ingredients, combine the dried chickpeas, baking soda and water.  Cover and allow to soak overnight.
  2. The next day, in a thick bottomed pot dump the chickpeas and water in to simmer, do not drain, simmer in the same water it soaked in.  Bring to a light boil then turn down to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer for 6 or 7 hours.  The simmering time will vary greatly depending on the size of you pot, specifically the width because of increased evaporation.  I have had great luck simmering between 5 to 7 hours.
  3. The cooking should be stopped when the liquid is level with the chickpeas.  Do not drain!  Cool in the liquid.
  4. When very cool the liquid will gel like a well-made stock.  You will be pureeing chickpeas and this liquid in the final step of the recipe.
  5. In a food processor (you may need to do in a few batches.  It’s ok, just stir all of the batches together well at the end) puree the chickpeas (and the gelled liquid) with the remaining ingredients.  Here is the final detail . . .  it must be velvety smooth.  You may have to puree in your food processor for 5 or 10 minutes, scraping the sides every so often.
  6. Adjust seasoning a bit if necessary, although you should not need to.
  7. Cool down and store in your refrigerator.  It will last for 5 days but you won’t need to worry about that, it will be gone well before the expiration date.

Thyme Remembered,

Jason