Blending Rosemary Polenta with Creole Shrimp

Years ago I made a bombshell of a discovery. My Great Grandmother and Grandmother were from New Orleans. I already knew that my Grandfather and Great Grandfather were from Louisiana and of Creole decent but to find out that my Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Great Grandmother, and Grandmother on my Fathers side were all from Louisiana was strange because I never got the full story. I even found out that my Great Grandmother spoke Creole and knew very little English.
I was given clues based on the cuisine that I grew up with. By probing my Mother and asking her some tough questions about my past (that she wasn’t always ready to answer due to the history connected to it) I was able to get some answers.

I discovered that my Mother learned how to cook from my Grandfather. She unwillingly learned from him how to cook Rabbit, make a homemade roux, Gumbo, dirty rice, Jambalaya, create a homemade a barbeque sauce, prepare Frog Legs, duck, bake and use all parts of a pig. None of it was accessed from recipe books. I figured that her understanding of how to cook collard greens was past down from either her Father or other family members. I’ve read that Africans and Native Americans shared ideas on how to cook a variety of food, including collard greens. This is evident if you’ve ever eaten hot water cornbread ( AKA a Johnny cake). A Native American food that is a delightful crispy cornbread patty made from boiling water, a bit of oil, cornmeal, and patience. Although the ingredients are simple there is definitely an art to making them. The water temperature, cornmeal measurements, and oil need to be damn near perfect.

A lot of things clicked. It suddenly made sense why my Mom knew how to make so many Creole dishes from scratch. She ate Frog legs, fed me homemade souse on crackers (a type of cold cut made for the head of a pig, tongue, feet or heart to start that’s seasoned and bound with gelatin from within the skull) Yeah, it’s some hardcore shit. It’s said that people have been making Sous around the world since the middle ages.

So knowing all of this Creole/African/French/West Indian influence and loving all things New Orleans but being born and raised up North I felt inspired. I felt and feel that it’s my duty to keep the cooking traditions that I learned while growing up and to create traditional dishes that have my own personal touch. Basically, I don’t want to bastardize a dish. Like making a New Yawk version of gumbo. Or putting cheese on top of shit that doesn’t need cheese.

 

July 10, 2017 0 comment
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A Baking Experiment That Started With A Drawing

Most of my life I’ve been drawn towards and as a kid, I drew often. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do as much of something that I had to do. As a kid, I was attracted to books with complex illustrations. I would sit at home for hours trying to duplicate each Illustration by hand.As my drawings got better when I reached my teen years I graduated into airbrushing and graffiti.

I would make extra cash by airbrushing shitty nicknames on baseball caps and sweatshirts. One of my “clients” was a neighborhood gang member who tormented people in the area. I’m pretty sure that in the past he and a few other gang members, tried to fight me because I wouldn’t join their dumb, shitty gang. So, I made sure that the design I airbrushed on his hat was extra shitty. After I was done he smiled and said “Thanks”. I thought that it was ironic that he was now official shitty on the inside and outside thanks to my horrible airbrush skills.In the end, I felt that I was doing the neighborhood some sort of justice.

During my teenage years before I went to Columbia, I got more into graffiti. It had the perfect form of rebellion and could be as big or as small as I needed it to be. It was comprised of many components and usually required me to draw my ideas out first before doing big colorful pieces. I wasn’t much of a writer (tagger) then. I connected with a lot of other artists who created different kinds of art and used music as a vehicle to drive that art. Surprisingly, I still practice a few things that I learned during that time. Think of a concept, create the concept by sketching or writing it out, and build the concept. The concept writing or sketch phase forces you to look at problems that may not have been clear while the concept was in your head. Writing the concept down puts it into action. It allows you to organize your thoughts and execution.

July 10, 2017 0 comment
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A Different Spin On Monto Crisco

I’ve always felt guilty when eating a Monto Crisco sandwich. It’s distinctive taste of boiled ham and cheese on a crispy battered bread. There’s something magical yet completely stupid about it. It’s what you eat when you want it all. Fried, sweet, savory, filling and something that forces you to take a long nap in the middle of the day.

It has the ability to make me romanticize about how it came into existence. I picture a young fellow (no older than 7 years old) deciding to make a French sandwich while Mommy was out after watching the Three Musketeers movie. He likes ham, he likes cheese and he likes French Toast. He thinks to himself “If I stuff the ham and cheese inside of the French toast is it not still French, oui?” He then sprinkles powdered sugar on top of it. Why? Duh, because he’s 7. He then pours maple syrup on top of it. Why? Because Maple syrup is the shit! 80 years later people are still eating a sandwich invented by a 7-year-old

A sandwich that I love to hate but sometimes I have an irresistible craving for.

 Some say Monte Crisco is a variation of the French croquet Monsieur sandwich I say that it’s a bastardized yummy version of it.

July 10, 2017 0 comment
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Ground Lamb and Grass Fed Beef Burger Madness

The gourmet burger phenomenon has always been interesting to me. advertisements showing that bigger equals better or grass-fed equals quality can sometimes confuse people and make them wonder what all the big fuss is about. Over the years I’ve cooked burgers using different kinds of meats from fatty to grain fed to grass fed to bison and everything in between. For this dish, I decided to step back a bit and focus on texture.

This forced me to focused on each on each ingredient involved. From the bread to the meat used as well as the toppings and condiments. I was going for feels. What works and how can I make a texture work for me. Off the bat, I I hate eating a big bun just for the sake of it. I feel that If the bun is big it should be extremely soft so that it can not only compliment the condiments and cheese but also compliment the melted fat from the meat.

I decided to approach making this burger the same way that I approach creating any serious dish. Melding flavors and textures together that make sense. And it’s going to always depend on the flavors that you like.

 

THE FINAL DISH

Ground Lamb and Grass-fed beef burger with Columbo curry mayo topped with Maitake (hen of the woods) mushroom and covered with Truffelino (black truffle cheese) on a chewy pretzel bun Tator tots with crispy basil and Parmesan cheese and a side of spicy chipotle smoked ketchup

Grass-fed meat is excellent but you have to know how to cook it. If you overcook grass fed beef it ruins the texture and becomes rubbery. More so than corn-fed ground beef. This defeats the purpose of buying grass-fed beef because you won’t get the full flavor. Grass-fed beef tends to be softer than grain fed beef and in my opinion, has a meatier flavor. It also is easier to digest than 100% corn-fed beef. Has more omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (your heart will like this type of fat. Trust me), more vitamins and last but not least. Cows naturally eat grass so when you’re eating grass-fed beef you’re eating beef from a cattle on their natural diet. Please do not get fooled by the term pasture raised. Anything can grow in a pasture and that doesn’t necessarily mean that the cows in that pasture eat grass. Also, please don’t put six slices of cheese on a grass-fed burger and call it a heart-healthy grass-fed burger. That’s not a burger. That’s a grilled cheese with meat.

July 10, 2017 0 comment
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Scallops And Blood Orange Sauce

Most Béchamel sauce is a mixture of butter and flour and milk. The flour needs to be heated over low heat with melted butter. You stir the mixture until it turns a light sandy brown. Afterwards, you add hot milk while stirring. Most traditional béchamel contains a bit of nutmeg, a bay leaf, and white pepper. For this dish, I added smoked Gouda to add a bit of richness.

Note: I plan on adding a recipe section and list basic sauce recipes. Please feel free to go to the contact section and send shoot me a message if you have any recipe questions and I’ll be happy to help.

For my dish, I decided to create scallops with jalapeño peppers drizzled with a blood orange sauce and served with Romanesco broccoli with a Béchamel sauce.

 

July 10, 2017 0 comment
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