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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Butternut Squash Soup - Recipe

butternut squash soup, pumpkin seed oil, micro arugula
I thought I'd start my recipe vault with my most requested recipe from my career. No other dish was asked for as much as this soup. This was also the one recipe I held pretty close to my chest and refused to share. BUT now, here we are in a time in my life when I want to share as much as possible, I give to you my butternut squash soup recipe. If it doesn't come out right for you, try adding more love. Good luck with any recipes, and remember, it's food, have some fucking fun!!

Butternut Squash Soup


Ingredients: 

  • 2ea butternut squash
  • 2ea granny smith apples
  • 1ea yellow Spanish onion
  • 2tbl vegetable oil
  • 2tbl honey
  • 2tbl maple syrup
  • 1tsp vanilla X
  • 2tbl crème fraiche
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp madras curry powder
  • 2tbl heavy whipping cream
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • water
  • more vegetable oil to coat the squash when roasting


Other Stuff:

  • sheet tray
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • measuring cup & spoons
  • vegetable peeler
  • utility spoons
  • soup pot
  • ladle
  • rubber spatula
  • blender


Instructions

  1. heat your oven to 375. do not pre heat, pre heating doesn't exist, it's either "heated or unheated. Pre heated is a meaningless f*#king term".
  2. carefully slice a tip off the bottom of each squash. proceed to cut each squash in half lengthwise.
  3. scoop out the seeds and save them for garnish, or future late night snacks.
  4. place squash, flesh side up on the sheet tray. lightly coat each half with vegetable oil, and place in oven.
  5. cook for about 45 minutes, or whenever the flesh has a nice browned caramelized finish.
  6. while they are cooking you should proceed with the broth. peel, core, and rough chop the apples. peel and rough chop the onion. in your soup pot, add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pot and slowly sweat your onions and apples over medium heat. do not allow them to caramelize or become brown.
  7. once the squash has cooled down enough for you to handle them without burning yourself, take a spoon and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
  8. add squash into the pot with the apples and onions and season aggressively with salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover the vegetable mix, and bring to the boil. the exact second that the soup begins to boil, you need to turn it down to a slow simmer.
  9. allow to simmer for 45 minutes.
  10. you are now ready to proceed to the blender portion of the recipe. If you don't know by now, never add hot liquid to a blender then turn it on full blast, like never do that, EVER NEVER EVER. Unless you want to clean your walls and ceiling while feeling the pain of hot liquid dripping from your eyebrows. So either wait some time for the soup to chill, or if you have one of those fancy type blenders, you can start it on low then slowly turn the dial to increase the speed. Or don't, and see it for yourself.
  11. in said blender, add the rest of your ingredients with the squash mix. if while pureeing, it seems a little too thick, just add some more water to attain a nice silky smooth consistency. Taste the soup and adjust any seasoning to your personal preference. Maybe you want more ginger, salt, pepper, or curry, or maybe you want to add cayenne for a kick. Whatever you want at this point, it's your soup and you should make it the way you want.
  12. garnishing the soup can be done using a myriad of different ingredients. maybe some ginger snaps, some pumpkin seed oil, ginger bread, marshmallows that have been burnt with a blow torch, chives, toasted pumpkin seeds, some cinnamon whipped cream. Whatever you want really. Once the soup is made you can do whatever you want to enhance it with anything you may like to eat.
  13. enjoy and share!!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

DO BETTER



            As I make my 39th trip around the sun I’ve discovered something about myself. There is an undeniable beast in my belly trying to get out. All this beast wants to do, is better. Not be better, do better. Put forth the effort that I know I can.

Don’t misconstrue this for low self-esteem or self-worth, I’m perfectly fine there, life is grand, how could it not be with the coolest wife in the world, and the greatest 2 kids OF ALL TIME (sorry, I ‘m sure your kids are cool too, but have you met mine, yet?).

This past year a musician named Frank Turner, that I had never heard before, released an album, yes I’m old and continue to call them albums just as every other self-respecting music fan should, called “Positive Songs for Negative People”. That title alone was calling out to me to listen. This was the philosophical change I needed in my head. Yes, admittedly I am a negative person by nature, I think of the worst before I think of the positive side of most situations. So this concept of positive thinking for a naturally negative person hit me hard this past year, and I realized THIS is what I want for me. I want to turn my thinking around and be more positive and optimistic. He has one song that I’m pretty sure he wrote just for me called Get Better (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB4Avdlz3lk). These are the lyrics that opened my mind:

“So try and get better and don’t ever accept less. Take a plain black marker and write this on your chest. Draw a line underneath all of this unhappiness. Come on now, let’s fix this mess. We could get better. Because we’re not dead yet”

Get better, because we’re not dead yet. Yup, that resonates with me right now, and I’m digging it. A lot. So let’s tie that into my life, your life, our life, this blog. I want to start a wave of culinary challenges between myself and anybody who wants to participate. I challenge you to DO BETTER with food. I have several ideas for small contributions to the world using the culinary arts. I also challenge you to challenge me as well. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about here’s a few ideas I have thought of:

Clean out your pantry and donate all your canned goods to a local shelter or food bank and set up a new pantry. Make your neighbor a pot of soup on a whim using organic ingredients. Remember your favorite dish you had at a restaurant and try to make that dish or meal. Seek out a new local restaurant in your area that you can make your new spot instead of a chain or franchise. After eating a great meal, buy the chef a glass of wine and ask them to autograph a menu.

Those are just a couple of ideas. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just try to make somebody’s day. Keep it cheap, doable, fun, and fulfilling. So please either respond to this post or email me if you want to participate. Send me challenges you want me to do, and I’ll send one for you. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing what some of you can come up with.
 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What is a Chef?

I always held the title Chef with such regard.

It meant something majestic to me; it meant that if you were called Chef, you were a master at your craft. It meant you were the loudest voice amongst a rowdy crowd. It meant intelligence, and intimidation.

The further along I got in my career, and the more popular the food network and other foodie shows got, the more bastardized the name Chef became. I got to the point in my career where my job title eventually became Executive Chef, and holy shit was I excited and proud of that distinction. BUT, I began to think about what that word had always meant to me, and then that word always made me feel uncomfortable.

I found it very bizarre that I would somehow have the same job title as Georges Perrier, or Thomas Keller, or Tony Clark, or Joel Robuchon. It didn’t make sense to me. In no shape or form should I be able to hold the same title as these iconic legends that I worshipped.

Then the food network took over, and these other cooking game shows became all the rage. Within these TV broadcasts, it became extremely clear that there was no true definition of the term Chef. Everybody and anybody was being called Chef. There is no way that the guy who runs the snack bar at your local swim club, who’s now competing on Gordon Ramsey’s game show, should hold the same title as Paul Bocuse.

It never made sense to me.

Should Chefs be like black belts and have degrees to their title? Maybe we need something to differentiate between a true master of the craft, and somebody who holds it down at Applebee’s. You know, like, Hey, I’m a 5th degree Chef, thank you very much.

What the hell is the true definition of a Chef? Well, I tried to break it down as best I could. I may have missed something along the way, but feel free to add any dimensions I may have accidentally forgotten:

The ego, the perseverance, the dedication, the conductor, the loyalty, the obsessive compulsive behavior, the alcoholism, the drive, the sex, the drugs, the beauty in chaos, the loud & beautiful music, the flavors, the textures, the sounds, the smells, the scars, the sights, the sensory overload of having too many things going on at once, the physical pain, the emotional strain, the 18 hour day + the 8 hour after party, huh?, the pushing of oneself past a nervous breakdown to come out on the other side with a poetic meal, the master of walk-in tetris, the orgasmic look on someone’s face as they taste your latest conception that you stayed up all night counting the minutes til you were in front of the stove again to make, the learning of a new technique, the learning of an old technique, the yearning for perfection only to realize perfect doesn’t exist because everything can be better somehow, the systematic cleaning of your kitchen, the spending of your rent money on cookbooks, the working for free more than being on the clock, the brotherhood, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the laughter, the love, the rage, the knowledge, the swagger, the thick skin, the soignee, the vamanos, the “MOVE YOUR DICK, SIR (thank you Chef Perrier, that’s still my favorite), the spreadsheets, the accountant, the lawyer, the peace maker, the babysitter, the master with duct tape and a screwdriver, the refrigerator repair guy, the janitor, the nutritionist/dietician, the psychic, the mentor, and the ability to shut it all out and conduct your kitchen like a goddamn Jedi Knight.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Holidays? Already? But it's 70 outside today...

Yo! Hope everyone is on the verge of massive hysteria as the holidays are upon us. Yes, it's T-day time, and according to retail America we're already 2 months into the Christmas season. Seriously though, there were Christmas decorations up at Kohl's the week after labor day. Football season hadn't even kicked off yet, and I was looking at Christmas trees. I wanted to tear em all down and run out of that store screaming "FREEDOM", Willam Wallace style, but I didn't think getting arrested with the kiddos in tow would be a good example. Anyway, thanks to a Charlie Brown Christmas, my kids know that commercialism will not ruin the true meaning of Christmas. And the true meaning of Christmas is getting together with your loved ones, some of your liked ones, and even some of your eh-I-can-tolerate-em ones.

So I'm just going to throw this idea out there and see if anybody wants to bite the bait. Is anybody looking to host a small gathering this December? If so, I'd love to be able to cook it up for you. I'm looking to do some nice fun small dinners or cocktail parties, so please get a hold of me, and we can discuss any ideas you are thinking of. I'm not looking to do a lot of these, so let's think of this as a limited basis. The only weekend off limits will be the weekend of December 17th, i'll be busy seeing Episode VII nonstop, and my brain won't be able to compute anything other than Star Wars. And remember, Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good chef at your holiday gathering...........





Monday, October 26, 2015

Inspirational People

uniteforher.org
Five years ago, while I was still the Chef at Terrain at Styer's, we did a wellness day for an organization that finds ways to take care of breast cancer patients and survivors through a myriad of therapies and nutritionists. Unfortunately this wellness day came only two weeks after learning our own Aunt Beth had just been diagnosed, thus putting extra compassion and care into this wellness day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

So, what is this?

Yo! Welcome to my new website. You may be asking yourself the exact same question I’ve been asking myself, what the hell is this? Well, it’s a bit of a long story, and I’ll do my best to explain it, and with minimal curse words. Any of you who know me, knows how effing difficult that will be. I’m looking for a way to share my long and storied career as a restaurant chef and culinary professional. I plan on doing that through recipes, anecdotes from thousands of outstanding memories, pictures, and adventures and dreams that have yet to be realized.

Let's Get Cooking

Having had some amazing adventures during my 20 year career, beginning as a dishwasher all the way to Executive Chef and cooking for the James Beard Foundation, my goal now is to continue exploring food with people as passionate as I am. Whether it's to help a restaurant develop their menu, team and costs, throw a spectacular experiential dining event on the Main Line of Philadelphia or surrounding areas, or simply to experiment and cultivate a new culinary vision, I'm on a quest and looking for people to join me.

Let's get started!
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