Author Archives: jweaver@thymelife.com

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Operation Chile – Day One in the Chilean Wine Adventure

Having never been to South America I was looking forward to arriving in Chile very enthusiastically. Having long been a wine lover I was looking forward to arriving in Chile even more enthusiastically!

Chile is a long thin country in South America. It is about stretching 2,670 miles long but only 217 miles across.  Chile is a land of extremes. Bordered by the Andes Mountains, the Patagonian Ice Fields, and or course the Pacific Ocean cooled year round by the Humbold Current. A goliath border between the Chile and Argentina the snowcapped Andes tower above Chile shrouded in fog. Seasons change, snow and glaciers melt and as the winter passes they create rivers which travel all the way to the sea.  Some rivers still flow, others stopped hundreds or even thousands  of years ago creating fertile growing areas for a variety of grapes. Some grapes grow well in the volcanic soil of the Andes, others in the granite of the coastal areas or the alluvial soil in in between. Chilean wine makers are pushing the limits and trying to grow grapes in other non-traditional areas, working there soil, learning and focusing on the grape and the terroir.

Lunch Day one has brought us to an awesome winery in Isla De Maipo, the De Martino Winery.  Martino has a slogan, reinventing Chile.  After hearing the wine maker talk he is all about having the variety of grape speak for its self, allowing the flavor of the land and the grape shine through.  There wines were very good and really showcase where they are grown.  Truly appreciate there hospitality, wine and knowledge here at De Martino.

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A really nice first course prepared for us by the winery.  A traditional Chilean dish made with local fish and cheese.

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Local Beef and Potatoes with naturally with a red wine reduction!

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This is a  unique and a very old fashioned and traditional way to make wine.  They make two types of wine using this very natural technique.  The wine is fermented in these clay vessels called tinajas.  The tinajas are sealed with adobo.  The wine is natural and sulfate free and have a very unique flavor.  A picture of the bottle is below.  Cinsault is a traditional Chilean grape.  They also use Muscat.

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Barrels aging on a rainy day at the De Martino Winery

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Traditional oak barrels aging at the winery

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Many wine makers are going to a larger oak cask to limit the exposure to the wood.  Let the true flavors shine through.

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Table set to go!

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A job well done, by the time the afternoon was over we tasted 12 wines and have a full afternoon to go.  Not to mention the four more days of visiting wineries.  Its a tough life.  More on the rest of day, and week in posts to come soon.

Thyme for some wine

Jason

 

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A nice shout out on Starchefs!

A while back my good friend Jan Loov  and I had a chance to spend a afternoon with Antoinette Bruno and Will Blunt of Starchefs.com.   If you have not been on the website be sure to check it out, it is  a awesome resource for anyone who loves food and beverage.  To say starchefs.com is on the cutting edge of the industry is a understatement.  Guided by CEO and Editor and Chief Antoinette Bruno, Managing Editor Will Blunt and advised by a team of legendary chefs this site is a on line temple  of industry knowledge and creativity.

Yearly they host a international Chefs Congress which is a veritable magnet for the best Chefs and Beverage people in the industry.  I had a pleasure to go there twice once while I was with the French Room, when I  go to know Bruno Goussoult, and once while I was with Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, as part of the Pierre Gagnaire camp.  I highly recommend a trip to this congress held yearly in New York City, well worth it, you will learn and absorb so much knowledge (also food and drinks).

Some years back, while at the French Room I had done a tasting for them and had some photos put on the site.  What a honor to do it again.

Jan and I were very honored to have some of our cuisine photographed by Antoinette and posted on the site.  Check it out!  Congrats Jan!

https://www.starchefs.com/cook/photos/director-food-and-beverage-jason-weaver-and-chef-jan-loov-texas-spice-omni-dallas-hotel-dalla

Thymes Change,

Jason

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Easy and Spicy Pork Vindaloo

One thing I love about the cuisine of India is the fact that it is so full of flavor.  There is a reason it’s one of the most popular cuisines in the world. . .  It’s awesome.  I have always had a special place in my heart for Vindaloo.  Pork Vindallo, epic dish from the region of Goa.  Tangy, spicy, full of spices and flavor.  A stick to your ribs dish that will really remind you why you love food!

This is a relatively easy dish to make, not completely traditional but very close.  It takes a bit of time on the stove to get done if you use the pork shoulder, which I recommend if you have the time. Nothing compares to the depth of flavor achieved during long slow cooking!  The pork shoulder will take 4 or so hours to get tender.  Time well spent!

A even quicker option would be to make the base and keep in in the cooler.  If you are in a hurry for dinner take some of the sauce out and start reducing it.  Get a few pork chops out (or chicken breasts) of the refrigerator dice them up and add them to the sauce once it is 1/3 of the way reduced.  Cook the meat in the sauce until done and the sauce coats the meat.

Cooking the pork shoulder is a simple process stir it every so often the closer to when its done you will have to stir it more often as the sauce gets reduced.  If the pork is not tender when the sauce it getting too thick you just add a bit of water and continue cooking.

You want to have the meat beautifully tender but not shredded.  If you take your eye off it too long and it does shred, don’t worry, life is still good.  You can make tacos!  Put some of this on a tortilla with cheese, lettuce, tomato and some salsa.  You will be a believer!  Tacos are a great way to use leftovers of Vindaloo.  Another awesome way to use up some left overs is on eggs in the morning with a bit of naan bread or tortilla.

One last note.  Do not skimp on the quality of your spices.  Make sure they are not old.  If you do one thing make sure to buy powdered Kashmir chili only!  Do not even think of using a American style chili powder blend.  Kashmiri chili have a beautiful color and flavor.  They are a must, use 100% Kashmiri chili powder.

Serve with a nice toasted bread or some basmati rice.  I like this with a nice cold IPA or even a pilsner.

Ingredients

Base

2 onions, rough chop

1 inch of ginger (about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce), peeled and rough chopped

1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 ounces)

5 teaspoons ground cumin (10 grams)

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

10 teaspoons garam masala (20 grams)

6 to 8 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder (100% ground Kashmiri chili), 8 if you like it spicy

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

7 FL ounces  red wine vinegar (200ml)

Main

3 pounds pork shoulder, diced to 3/4 inch cubes

3 curry leaves

Water as necessary

Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper, and  cardamom as necessary

1.  Put all base ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

2.  While the main ingredients are being puréed heat a thick bottomed pot, big enough to hold the entire recipe.  When hot add 1/4 cup ghee (or olive oil) and begin browning the pork shoulder, if the pork cools the pan down and it doesn’t brown well don’t worry, just continue with the recipe.

3. Once the pork is browned off add the curry leaves and stir.  Add the entire base to the pork, stir and turn down to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring every 20 min or so.  The closer to being done it gets more reduced the sauce will be and you will need to stir more often.  Also depending on the size of your pot and the heat you may find the sauce is too reduced and the pork is not tender.  If this happens add 1/2 cup of water, sir and continue cooking.  You can do this as many times as necessary.  You want the pork tender but not shredded so you wild have to watch at the end! (if it shreds make tacos!)

4.  Before removing from the stove adjust seasoning with Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper and cardamom as necessary.  This dish gets even better the 2nd day.

Thyme in,

Jason

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Blueberry – Butterscotch Dump Cake

Once you have Dump Cake on the brain it’s tough to abandon the thought. Such a simple dessert and so many possible variations. I had to get lunch together today and had only an hour to do it. A quick trip to the store produced some nice fresh corn, some turkey burgers, jalapeño, and avocado. . . sounds good so far right?  Got a lot better.

When I was passing the baking isle I thought of Dump Cake, as I am prone to do! I went with a classic made with crushed pineapple, blueberry pie filling and yellow cake. However some butterscotch chips caught my eye so in the cart they went.

Once I got home this was ready to go in the oven in less time than it took to preheat.

Ingredients

1 can crushed pineapple (about 20 ounces), not drained

1 can blueberry pie filling (about 21 ounces)

6 ounces butterscotch chips

1 stick unsalted butter (1/4 pound)

1 box yellow cake mix (about 16 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350f

1.  In a 9 by 13 pan put the pie filling and the crushed pineapple.

2.  Spread 1/2 of the butterscotch chips evenly over the pie filling.

3.  Top with  the dry cake mix, scatter the remaining butterscotch chips evenly over the cake mix.

4.  Slice the butter in 1/8th inch slices evenly top the Dump Cake.

5.  Bake at 350f until golden brown on top.  Typically about 40 minutes.

6.  I prefer to serve dump cake cold or room temperature.  Top with a bit of whipped cream.

Thyme for More Dump Cake,

Jason

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Strawberry – Pineapple Dump Cake

One of the simplest and best things in life. . . dump cake!

I was first introduced to dump cake several years ago.  I was just married and  relatively fresh from the Marine Corps.  My Wife introduced me to a amazing classic American dessert, Dump Cake!  Any time we had to go to a pot luck or when I  would have my friends to the house to play Dungeons and Dragons (not a dork), she would always make dump cake and have fresh whipped cream.  It was awesome.

Dump cake is simple easy and quick to put together.  Don’t feel any pressure to buy a expensive cake mix.  It has been my experience that the cheaper mixes work great. I suppose there are those that have figured out how to do this from scratch, with out the box cake.  I personally have never walked that path, perhaps some day, for now Its too good and easy the way it is.     One thing to always remember is to buy unsalted butter.  Then again, Its always good to use unsalted butter. . . One of life’s simple truths.

One of these days I will include her “original Dump Cake” recipe but for today I decided to make a slight variation.  Here in Texas we have had so many days of rain and storms it seemed like when we had a day of sun something with strawberries, or at very least strawberry flavor,  seemed like the natural thing to make.  Funny how once in a while something from a can or box hits the spot.  Dorito Topped Chili Dog Enchiladas come to mind. . .  ahh another day perhaps.  Today there is Strawberry Pineapple Dump Cake.

Ingredients

1 can strawberry pie filing (about 21 ounces)

1 can crushed pineapple, not drained (about 20 ounces)

1 box strawberry cake mix (15.25 ounces), I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme

1/4 pound butter (1 stick)

Preheat oven to 350f

1.  In a 9 by 13 pan spread both the pie filling and the crushed pineapple.

2.  Dump the cake mix on top, trying to keep it fairly even.  Cut the butter in 1/8th inch slices and place evenly over the cake mix.

3.  Bake at 350f for about 40 to 50 minutes depending on your oven.

4.  Remove when golden brown.  Your kitchen will smell amazing, you will crave dump cake.

5.  Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream or even just plain.  I prefer to serve this either room temperature or cold.

Thyme for dessert,

Jason

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Cauliflower Hummus

Is Cauliflower  a misunderstood and underappreciated vegetable? You bet!  It’s often regarded as a peasant vegetable, not elegant or full of flavor, and that’s just wrong!  Cauliflower has many wonderful uses – not the least of which is this awesome low carb, paleo friendly, healthy “hummus”. It also happens to taste great!

I  love all things hummus but once in a while I find myself looking for something just a little bit healthier (not that hummus isn’t good for you), something with just a few more veggies and less carbs.  This is it!  Healthy and fantastic.

In this recipe the cauliflower is grated then cooked in the microwave with a bit of water.  This can take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes depending on the microwave.  Its very important to cook  completely or it will be impossible to get the smoothness you will want.

Cauliflower Hummus

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

1/8th cup of water

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 ounces of tahini (Lebanese)

1.5 ounces lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  Separate the head of cauliflower into flowerets that are a good size to grate.  Grate the cauliflower and put into a microwave save container.

2,  Add the water to the cauliflower and microwave on high for five minutes.  Cover and microwave at lest 3 more minutes (but up to 10 minutes depending on the microwave).  The important thing is its complete cooked.

3.  When the cauliflower is completely cooked put all remaining ingredients, including the cauliflower into a food processor and puree very well.  This could take 5 to 8 minutes.  Scrape down every minute or so with a rubber spatula.  This needs to be very smooth!

4.  Chill and serve with a drizzle of avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy and be healthy!

Thyme for a snack,

Jason IMG_2864 IMG_2849 IMG_2852 IMG_2859

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Quick, Easy and Delicious Hummus

Greetings all. I was recently enjoying a glass of wine (bottle actually) reflecting on things, life and hummus. Thinking of the old times when I lived in Dearborn, Michigan. Some if the best hummus in the world was a 5 minute drive away, to a restaurant called La Shish. In my post “Chasing the Hummus Ghost” I shared my experiences on trying to replicate the famed hummus of La Shish (complete with 15 years of failure).  I still hold to the belief that the recipe in that post gets really close to the magic of “la Shish”, however, I do realize not everyone wants to wait two full days to satisfy a hummus craving.

For years at work we have been making a “quick hummus” which has Greek yogurt in it. The yogurt adds creaminess and a tang to the hummus. Short of making the recipe from scratch with dried chickpeas this quick hummus is one of the best recipes you can find. It takes about 10 minutes to make, 5 to 8 of which is watching it puree in the food processor.

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking the time to make the hummus as smooth as possible. Put everything in a food processor and puree!! Every so often stop the food processor, grab a rubber spatula and scrape it the bowl down in case some chickpeas get stuck on the side or on the bottom. The cumin is optional. Some people are chickpea purists and would not want it, others like the extra spice. I fall directly in the middle and use it about half the time.

When I serve this I like to drizzle with some avocado oil (or extra virgin olive).  Use some nice warm flat bread or some nice crisp lettuce to scoop.

Thyme In,

Jason

Simple Quick Hummus

Ingredients

2 each 15 ounce cans of chickpeas (drained reserving ¼ cup of the liquid)

4 ounces Lebanese tahini

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (heaping)

4 teaspoons lemon juice

6 ounces Greek yogurt (2/3 cup)

1/4th cup of the drained chickpea liquid (optional)

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

  1. Drain the chickpeas, reserve ¼ cup of the liquid (adding the liquid is optional depending on the texture you like in a hummus)
  2. Place everything in a food processor except he reserved liquid.
  3. Puree very well. In my experience this can take 5 to 8 minutes. Occasionally stop the machine and scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. While pureeing you can decide if you want the liquid in. It will help with the pureeing but will also make the final hummus a bit lighter than without. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
  4. Puree until ultra-smooth!

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Founding Farmers and a Long Absence

Greetings Friends,

Wow, It has been too long!  I apologize for my long absence from Thymelife, but life has been a bit of a whirlwind for the last few months and I let some things slide.  Not ok!

One of the main catalysts to this “sliding” was my accepting a promotion to Food and Beverage Director.  Having been a Chef for 20 years I have had to adjust to this new responsibility and for the lack of a better explanation . . .  I had to “figure this thing out”!   In short I have shouldered the extra load and am ready to get back to it!

To complete my last post about Washington DC.  A little about dinner at Founding Farmers.

Founding Farmers is a well known farm to table restaurant in Washington DC.  I had first heard of Founding Farmers while in the process of opening up Texas Spice (a farm to table restaurant in the Omni Dallas). Founding Farmers had a great reputation and a solid menu. Naturally when I had the chance to visit DC, Founding Farmers was on my radar!    I will say that due to my delinquency to post, the menu has changed.  I do believe they are holding on to many of the classics though.

Nice welcome experience, host stand was alert and receptive.  I really like the fact that they had reading material to look at while we waited (although we did not wait long).

Once seated service was crisp and on point.  We did not wait for drinks or food, which is great as this is something I am very sensitive to.  Quick service Is a plus!  The restaurant was busy and had a great buzz to it, a popular spot..

Savory courses were very strong.  I think the concept of a popcorn of the day is cool and hard to resist.  The deviled eggs were well seasoned and rustic, lots of flavor.  Fried green tomatoes were crisp and the sauces were balanced and tasty.  The farm bread was one of the stand outs, warm griddle chiabatta with a tangy sauce and perfectly smoked salmon.  The lobster mac & cheese was also a favorite.

If you make it to Washington DC I strongly suggest you head over to Founding Farmers, really great food and service!

Thyme Back

Jason

 

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Popcorn of the day

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Deviled Eggs

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Farm Bread with Smoked Salmon

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Dogs & Rolls

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Fried Green Tomatoes,  Remoulade and Green Goddess

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Chicken Pot Pie

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Lobster Mac & Cheese

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Cookie Platter

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Red Velvet Cake

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Cheesecake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Washington DC in Black and White

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Botanical Gardens

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Library of Congress

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Sculpture Gardens

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Capital Building

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World War 2 Memorial

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A seat inside the Supreme Court

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Elevator to the Highest Court in the land

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Outside the Supreme Court

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Justice! Outside the Supreme Court

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The beautiful Washington National Cathedral

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Washington National Cathedral

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Where I sat for lunch at Chipotle!

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In my next post I will show some photos from our awesome dinner at Founding Farmers!

Thyme out!

Jason

 

 

 

 

 

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Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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I love it when great taste and good nutrition meet! The genesis of this was plain and simple . . . hunger and the desire to have something healthy! I had all the ingredients in the refrigerator so it was just a matter of measuring, mixing and cooking. With all the fragrant ingredients the house smelled awesome.

I often lean toward Asian flavors, could have something to do with working almost ten years working for an Asian hotel chain (Mandarin Oriental). This dish, although not based on a traditional recipe it is certainly full of flavor.

For old thymes sake,

Jason

 

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

 

Wraps

1 pound ground turkey

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 ½ teaspoons roasted sesame oil

1 bunch chopped cilantro

3 teaspoons soy sauce

3 teaspoons kosher salt

½ recipe of my essential cabbage slaw

16 lettuce cups romaine or bib lettuce work great

 

  1. In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the slaw and the lettuce. Mix well with a rubber spatula, trying not to let the mix warm up too much.
  2. In a nonstick pan cook a small amount to check and see if it has enough salt. You can adjust if needed.
  3. With your hand roll the mix into little meat balls about ½ ounce each. The mix will be a little soft but will firm up as they cook.
  4. Depending on the size of the pan you have you can cook the meat balls in batches. Put a small amount in oil in the pan and when it is at a medium heat add the meat balls. Cook moving them around until they are cooked through (165f). Try not to overcook as the turkey is lean and will dry out quickly.
  5. Serve them with the lettuce for cups, the slaw as a topping, and any other toppings you can think of. I like sautéed hot chilies or roasted peppers.