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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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Simple Pickled Peppers

 

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Have a garden full of peppers and not sure you can keep up?  No problem!

This year I planted a garden made up almost exclusively of hot chili peppers.  We have been getting a lot of rain and the garden is going wild!  Peppers are rolling in faster than we can eat them.  Last week I made an awesome hot pepper sauce, this week they are destined for a pickle jar! This very simple pickled pepper recipe will not only help you preserve your peppers but it has great flavor too.  Your pickled peppers will be great on sandwiches, pizzas, salads and just about anywhere you want a little heat.

I use this same simple pickle recipe to pickle all sorts of vegetables when I have the chance.  It makes great pickled carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, or green beans.  I have even used it to pickle hard boiled eggs.

For this recipe, which is just a quick simple pickle, I cooled the liquid before pouring on the peppers. This will help them keep the color and crisp texture. You don’t have to do that. You can pour the hot liquid on the peppers (be careful) and the peppers will take on a softer texture and will take on the pickle flavor faster.

 

Simple Pickled Peppers

Makes 1 quart jar of pickled peppers

 

Ingredients

Enough peppers to fill a 1 quart canning jar

2 cup vinegar (either white wine or red wine)

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

5 sprigs of thyme

  1. In a non-reactive sauce pot combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer just enough to dissolve everything.
  2. Put the liquid in a refrigerator and chill.
  3. While the liquid is chilling, wash all the peppers and put in the caning jar. You want to fill the jar but not to pack them too tight. The peppers can be touching but not jammed in there as you need the liquid to work its magic.
  4. Pour the cooled liquid over the peppers, add the sprigs of thyme, cover and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of three days. Then enjoy.
  5. These peppers will keep for at least a month in the refrigerator as long as they are covered.

Thyme Out!

Jason

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Easy and Quick Hot Sauce

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If you are like me you believe that hot chilies are one of the four basic food groups. It is a rare day when I don’t use some sort of hot sauce, salsa or chili relish. My garden this year is almost entirely made up of hot chilies. Today I picked so many chilies I decided it was a perfect opportunity to make some awesome hot sauce. A simple hot sauce is surprisingly easy and quick to make. What I like about a simple chili sauce is that it’s a great representation of the chilies used. If you make it with jalapeños, it tastes like jalapeños. If you make it with cayenne, it tastes like cayenne.  It also doesn’t hurt that it’s easy and quick!

Quick Hot Chili Sauce

Makes 2 cups

 

Ingredients

8 ounces garden fresh hot chilies

2 ounces white onion (about ¼ of an onion)

3 cloves garlic (about ½ ounce)

1 ½ cups red wine vinegar

½ cup water

1 lime (juice of)

1 lemon (juice of)

2 teaspoons salt

  1. Wash the chilies well and then cut the tops off (it’s good to wear gloves for this process).  Cut them into rough slices (doesn’t have to be perfect as you will be pureeing later). Put in to a pot that will hold all ingredients, but that is not too big.
  2. Rough chop the onion and garlic and add to the pot.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, put on the stove and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached turn to a simmer and simmer for 12 minutes.
  4. Carefully put in a blender (it’s good to have a blender that has a variable control). Start on low and gradually turn up to high. Liquefy the mixture (this may take a few minutes in the blender).
  5. If your blender did not do the job it is ok to strain the sauce. If you have a good blender you should not need to strain.
  6. Chill the sauce right away. It will keep in the cooler for a few weeks. The sauce has a high vinegar content and therefor a good shelf life.

Thyme for some heat!

Jason

 

 

 

 

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Cooking with Friends, 72 Hour Short Ribs, Eggs at 62c, and Walls of Lettuce

I recently had the opportunity to get together with some great Chefs and collaborate on a 4 day general managers conference in La Costa Resort in San Diego, California.  Several Chefs from around the country, including myself,  flew in to help.  We are talking 15 hour days — on your feet the whole time.  There were several creative minds who refuse to do anything standard; who were always pushing the envelope.   At the end of each long day there was always time for a few drinks, because why would anyone want any extra sleep.  Good times to be sure!

It was great to see and cook with my task force brothers once again.  For 190 people we did three days of  breakfast, lunch, dinner, breaks and after parties.  There were also several amenities.  Working with these Chefs barely feels like work!

The whole event culminated with a sit down gala including my sous vide 72 hour short rib.   A great time had by all.  Wonderful to work with the team!

Chef Daven Wardynski

Chef Joshua Hasho

Chef Michael Gottlieb

Chef Breanna Metauro

Chef Marc Therrien

Pastry Chef Jaimie Hileman

Many thanks to the great chefs at La Costa for allowing us to share there kitchens with them!  An excellent team to be sure.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention the awesome team of food and beverage directors who came out to help and support!

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Arrival amenity, healthy snacks

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Table set for a nice picnic arrival lunch

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Trail Mix Break

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House Made Seltzers, fresh pressed juices, carbonated at the last minute

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Nice creative signage for the sliders

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Kobe sliders and crab cake sliders

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Breakfast Breads

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Love the sound of eggs circulating in the morning!  Eggs at 62c with spinach, duck confit            and hollandaise sauce

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Granola and yogurt display

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Nice garden salad buffet

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Carving boards ready for meat!

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Creative signage and garden herbs

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A wall of living lettuce

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A break with a construction theme

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The final gala – butter presentation on tomato chimichurri, black salt

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Butter lettuce salad, blue, candied walnuts, tomato vinaigrette

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The 72 hour sous vide short rib, potato and artichoke gratin

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Tro of desserts to finish it off!

 Good thymes,

Jason