Ricotta Gnocchi with Peas

Ricotta Gnocchi with Peas

  • 2.5 C Flour
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 lb. Russet Potato, baked and cooled
  • ½ C Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Egg
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • 1 C Green Peas, fresh or canned
  • ½ C Cream
  • ¼ C Fresh Herbs, chopped
  • Remove the skin from the cooled potato and shred finely on a grater. Place 1 cup of flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Place the potato, ricotta and egg in the well and start to mix. Lightly knead the dough on the floured surface adding a small amount of flour until it is light and does not stick to the surface. Cut off a small portion of the dough, roll into a snake, then cut the snake into small 3/4-inch portions and place on a sheet tray and freeze for 10 minutes.

    Pre heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan, then add the peas and toss for 3 minutes. Add the cream and bring to a simmer.

    Boil the gnocchi in salted water until they float to the top, about 90 seconds.

    Add the gnocchi to the sauce and cook until the sauce is thick then toss in the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper.

    Chicken Piccata

    Chicken Piccata

  • 3 Chicken Breast, sliced thin and pounded flat
  • 1 tsp. Salt and Pepper
  • 1/3 C Flour
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • 1 tbsp. Oil
  • 1/2 C Onions, sliced thin
  • 1/4 C Capers
  • 1/4 C Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2/3 C Prepared Chicken Stock, low or no salt
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  • Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and then lightly dredge in flour, shaking off any extra. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add half of the butter and oil to the pan. When the oil starts to shimmer, place 3 pieces of chicken into the pan. It should sizzle right a way. Cook for three minutes or until the bottom starts to brown lightly. Turn the chicken and repeat. Remove the chicken from the pan, add the rest of the butter and oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan, then add the onions and cook until soft. Add the capers, lemon juice and chicken stock stirring up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken and any juices back in to the pan and simmer on low heat, until the sauce is thick, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in a tablespoon of butter into the sauce and then season with salt and pepper.

    Garnish the chicken with fresh parsley and serve with pasta, steamed vegetables, potatoes, grains or rice.

    Fried Egg and Sweet Potato Breakfast Sandwich

    Fried Egg and Sweet Potato Breakfast Sandwich

  • 6 Bread, slices
  • 2 tbsp. Oil
  • 1 C Onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Sweet Potato, sliced thin about 1/8 inch
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Salt and Pepper
  • Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan, when it smokes, add the onions and cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown, tossing every 2 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan.

    Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel, add 2 teaspoon of oil to the pan, when it smokes, place the sweet potatoes into the pan and cook until golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn the sweet potatoes over and repeat, season with salt and pepper.

    Clean out the skillet, add the rest of the oil to the pan and place over medium heat. When the oil smokes, add the eggs to the pan, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the eggs over and cook for 3 more minutes or until the yolks are set.

    While the eggs are cooking toast the bread. Place a layer of sweet potatoes on one side of the toast. Top with onions and eggs and a toasty top.

    Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

    Sweet Chili Sloppy Joe's

    Sweet Chili Sloppy Joe's

  • 1 tbsp. Oil
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef, Chicken or Turkey
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt and Pepper
  • 1/3 C Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Oil or Butter
  • 2 C Onions, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp. Oil
  • 3 C Greens - Spinach, Kale or Mustard, chopped
  • 1 pinch Salt and Pepper
  • 4 Rolls or 8 slices of Bread, toasted
  • Place the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan, when it smokes, add the meat and brown well, about 10 minutes. Drain off the fat by using a pair of tongs and a wad of paper towels. Season the meat with salt and pepper then stir in the sweet chili sauce.

    Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan, when it smokes, add the onions and cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown, tossing every 2 minutes. Remove the onions form the pan, add more oil and then sautee the greens until just wilted about, 3 minutes. Season the greens with salt and pepper.

    Place 1/4 of the meat mixture on to the bottom of a roll. Top with sautéed onions and greens then serve hot.

    Steak and Fried Eggs

    Steak and Fried Eggs

  • 6 oz. Chuck Eye Steak or Skirt Steak, sliced to 1/2 Inch.
  • 1 tsp. Salt Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Oil
  • 2 Eggs, cracked into a bowl
  • Dry the steak very well with paper towels to remove moisture. Pound the steak flat with your hand to tenderize and season with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides. Place a medium non stick skillet over medium heat and add the 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. When the oil smokes, place the steak in the pan. Cook for 4 minutes or until you see the steak cooking up the sides. When the steak has browned well, turn once and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove the steak form the pan, place it on a plate and cover for 5 minutes. While the steak is resting, clean out the pan and place it on medium heat. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and when it smokes, place the eggs in the pan. Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the yolks are set.

    Serve the steak and eggs with a side of grits, oatmeal or fresh fruit.

    Chef Egg Makes a Chefs Knife

    Chef Egg Makes a Chefs Knife

    I recently finished a metal class at the Station North Tool Library in Baltimore. The goal of the class was to form my own chefs knife out of a thin sheet of steel, 2 rivets and 2 thin pieces of wood. The steel had already been formed so there would be no open flames and hammering for me. However there would be plenty of cutting, filing, drilling and sanding to be done before my knife would reveal itself.

    The first step, pictured above, was to pick out the shape and style of my knife using wood patterns.

    The next step required me to use a hand held saw/grinder tool to cut out the pattern. With lots of sparks and flying metal dust, I made sure to use eye, ear and breathing protection

    Now it was time to file down all of the sharp edges using a belt sander, making sure to get everything as smooth as possible.

    After everything was smooth, I clamped the metal cutout to a wood block and began to shave the metal down. This creates a bevel or angle creating a strong spine and the start of a razor sharp edge. After several hundred passes over several grits of sanding belts, I finally reach the right angle.

    Now it was time to heat treat my steel in a small kiln. This process would change the chemical and physical composition of my knife to create a very strong and flexible spine while keeping the blade edge soft and flexible enough to sharpen into a razor sharp edge.

    Sometimes the heating process can twist and turn, or even crack your blade if it's not done just right. Luckily for me, we just had to use a torch to heat my blade and straighten it slightly. After the blade is straight, it is cooled in a bath of oil.

    After this step, it was time to go home and do my homework. Now that the majority of the shaping had been done and the first heat treatment was complete, I had to do some more heat treating at home. In my home oven, I baked the knife at 400 F for 4 hours, let the heat come down naturally, and then repeated the process. This further "tempered" the steel to make it stronger. After that, I sanded the steel to remove any discoloration.

    When I returned to the shop, I had to choose wooden slats or "scales" for my handle. After drilling through metal and wood pieces, it was time to secure the wood to the metal using epoxy and metal rivets.

    On my last day, it was time to grind down the wood handle to match the steel and then sand everything until it was smooth. To finish the process, I used the sanding belt to create a very sharp and lasting edge on my knife. This took several grits of sand paper and a final polish. I finished the knife by oiling the wood and metal and wrapping it an oiled cloth for storage.

    Needless to say, this class was totally rad and gave me a great appreciation for the common tools that chefs and home cooks use every day. Now off to the shop for round #2!!!

    Flakey Buttermilk Biscuits

    Flakey Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 1 C Milk
  • 1 tbsp. Vinegar
  • 2 C Flour
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 6 tbsp. Butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
  • Pre heat the oven to 450 F. Mix the milk and vinegar in a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes to create buttermilk. Place the flour, salt, soda, powder into another bowl and whisk well. Place the butter into the dry ingredients, quickly smash the bits of butter into the flour using your fingers or a fork. Once you have pea sized pieces of butter in the flour mixture, slowly mix in the buttermilk mixture and stir until a dry dough forms.

    Place the dough onto a floured surface and lightly pat out into a 1 inch square, cut in half, stack on top of the first piece and pat down into another 1 inch square. Make sure you are very gentle with the dough. Repeat this 2 more times create the flakey texture.

    Pat the dough out into a 1 inch circle. Use a 2 inch floured cookie cutter or floured glass to cut out the biscuits, place them on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

    Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

    Shepherd's Pie

    Shepherd's Pie

  • 1 tbsp. Oil
  • 1 lbs. Grounds Beef, Lamb, Chicken or Turkey
  • 1 C Onion, small dice
  • 1 tbsp. Flour
  • 1/4 C Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 1 tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 2 C Beef Broth
  • 1 C Frozen Mixed Vegetables
  • 2 lbs. Potatoes, diced, skin on or off
  • 3/4 C Milk or Cream
  • 3 tbsp. Butter
  • 1 tsp. Salt and Pepper
  • Place the potatoes into a medium pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and cook until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes very well, then smash together with milk and butter. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and set aside.

    While the potatoes are cooking, pre heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan, when it smokes place the ground meat into the pan. Cook the meat until cooked through. Drain the grease from the pan by using a wad of paper towels and a pair of tongs. Add the onions to the pan and cook until the onions and beef are well browned. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, beef broth and vegetables. Cook this mixture down until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Pre heat the oven to 425 F. Place the beef mixture into a casserole dish and top with a layer of mashed potatoes. Spread the potatoes out with the back of fork to leave a rough texture. Bake the shepherd's pie for 30 minutes or until golden brown. You can place under the broiler to get more browning action if you like.

    Now Get Crackin'!

    Chef Egg

    Union Craft Beer, Andouille Sausage, Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

    Union Craft Beer, Andouille Sausage with Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • ¾ lb. Andouille Sausage, no casing
  • 1 lb. Shrimp
  • ½ C Beer - Anthem
  • ½ C Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan, when it smokes, place the sausage into the pan, toss the sausage until browned well. Add the shrimp to then pan and toss for 2-3 minutes, then add the beer and simmer for 2 minutes. Toss with fresh parsley and serve over the grits.

  • 2 tbp. Butter
  • 1 C Onions, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 4 C Chicken Stock
  • 1 C Beer - Anthem
  • 1 C Corn Grits
  • ¾ C Jalapeño Jack Cheese, shredded
  • Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook until soft. Add the beer and stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

    Pan Seared Lobster

    Lobster is generally seen as a super gourmet dish, very expensive with not a lot of return on investment. While it is generally steamed and served with melted butter, I find lobster to be kind of boring and bland. While steaming is a classic prep, it does nothing for adding flavor to the delicate meat of this fiesty crustacean.

    Like a great steak, I like to pan sear split lobsters in olive oil with a little salt and pepper for the ultimate experience. Remember, if you have live lobsters, place them in the freezer for 20 minutes to stun them. If you have frozen tails, run them under clod water to defrost them and dry them very well before you start to cook them.

    Pan Seared Lobster

  • 2 Whole Lobsters or Tails
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 3 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon, quartered
  • 1/3 C Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Very carefully split the whole lobster lengthwise through the whole body, remove the claws form the body and crack open with the back spine of a heavy knife. Season the meat with salt and pepper and set aside. Pre heat a large heavy, skillet over medium/high heat. Add the oil to the pan, when it smokes, place the lobster in the pan, meat side down. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown on the meat side. Turn the lobster over to the shell side and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes. The lobster is done when the shell will turn bright red and starts to curl up, the meat will also come out of the shell easily when tugged with a fork.

    Garish the lobster with a squeeze of lemon and a fresh chopped parsley. This dish goes great with steamed potatoes, risotto and grilled vegetables.

    Pics by Hank Vorher - Yes I made this, and it tasted fantastic!

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