Monday, January 31, 2011

Pork Scallopini with Lemon Butter, Caper and Mushroom Sauce

This is one of those dishes that is so easy to make if you are a working Mom or Dad and want something delicious for dinner without spending alot of time. You can make this dish in a total of 30-45 including prep if you are well organized and have all the ingredients laid out in proper sequence. 

I love this dish for it's simplicity, and lemons.....I love all things lemon!

Pork Scallopini

  • 6 thin pork chops, pounded even thinner
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup of flour 
  • 1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 5 Tbs butter
  • 2  large lemons
  • 1clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2tsp of corn starch and  1/4 cup of water to thicken
  • 1-2 oz of cognac for deglazing
  • 2 Tbs capers
  • 4-6 oz of sliced mushrooms
Eat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Mix together bread crumbs, flour, salt, pepper. Dredge pork chops in mixture and shake off an excess.Cook for 1-2 minutes per side....the heat has to be high enough that they get some light browning during this time, your pork chops should be pounded thin enough that this will cook them 90%. Remove pork chops from pan and put on a wire rack and repeat process till all of your pork chops are cooked.

Add cognac to pan, flame and de-glaze pan, add two Tbs of butter, mushrooms, garlic and reduce heat to medium low. Add Chicken broth, and corn starch once Mushroom have cooked ( DO NOT OVER COOK) Squeeze the juice of the lemons and add to pan. whisk lightly till thickened and whisk in butter.Add in caper.

Add pork back in pan to heat (2 minutes) and remove, serve with sauce over pork. I served mine with Gnocchi and used the sauce over the gnocchi also.


Yummy Lemon Coconut Pie

I use to look forward of going to the orthodontist...I know sounds weird, but the reason is across the street from his office was a great bakery..Davidson's Bakery...once a month we would make our trip to the office and I always looked forward to the Black Forest Cake and Lemon Coconut cake my mother would pick up.

I was looking for a good dessert this weekend to make when I decided open this gave me the taste of the Lemon Coconut cake I remembered, but very easy to make.

I'm still working on my pastry bag skills. so please forgive my sloppy whipped cream on top photos!

Pie Crust

  • 1 1/3 cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup well-chilled Crisco Shortening
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water

  1. Cut chilled shortening into 1/2-inch cubes. Cut in chilled shortening cubes into flour mixture, using a pastry blender, in an up and down chopping motion, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea-sized pieces remaining.

  2. Sprinkle half the amount of ice cold water over the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top, distributing moisture evenly into flour. Press chunks down to bottom of bowl with fork. Add more water by the tablespoon, until dough is moist enough to hold together when pressed together.

  3. Shape dough into a ball for single pie crust. Flatten ball into 1/2-inch thick round disk

  4. TIP For ease in rolling, wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes

  5. Roll dough from center outward on a lightly floured work surface into a circle 2-inches wider than pie plate for the bottom crust. Transfer dough to pie plate by loosely rolling around rolling pin. Center the rolling pin over the pie plate, and then unroll, easing dough into pie plate.

  6. Trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold edge under. Flute dough as desired, and bake at 425 degree for 10-15 minutes.

    Lemon Filling:

    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice 
    • 1/2-3/4 cup of flaked coconut (based upon your preference)
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest 

    Whisk egg yolks in medium size mixing bowl and set aside.

    In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Turn heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually, 1 whisk-full at a time, add hot mixture to egg yolks and stir until you have added at least half of the mixture. 

    Return egg mixture to sauce pan, turn heat down to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter, lemon juice, coconut and zest until well combined. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees

Finding the Perfect Champagne for Valentines day

Those who know me well know that I have a few favorite drinks; Fine Scotch (18 year old + Macallan, Balvenie or Glenlivet) various martinis and champagne. Champagne use to be reserved by me for special occasions; birthdays, holidays, etc till I stumbled upon a fanatic buy that  I must share with you.

I am blessed that I live within miles of a liquor superstore, Total Wines and More ( not only do they have an incredible selection, but their staff is extremely knowledgeable. My typical champagne is a classic that most have tried, a Dom Pérignon Vintage 1998, pleasant notes and just exceptional on the palate, but for weekly drinking?? Too expensive for my budget to be consumed on a regular basis. 

While searching for a new champagne that I could afford to drink upon a regular basis, one of the consultants made the recommendation of a 2000 G.H. Martel & Co. Champagne Victoire based upon my descriptions of what my palate looks for in champagne; and I am so glad he did! As a result I have tried several of the G.H Martel Champagnes and have found many of them to be an exceptional buy that I would be happy to recommend to friends or family and that also makes a wonderful gift.

G H Martel Cuvée Victoire is also an exceptionally balanced champagne for those looking for a BSA (Brut Sans Année, meaning "non-vintage brut").  Both can be found for around $40.00 a bottle, which for me is not only affordable, but makes this one of the best buys you may ever find for champagne. Forget about those "American" champagnes...not real champagne or some other sparkling wine; this is real champagne which has a complex nose, beautiful fruity aromas, with overtones of toasted vanilla and citrus that explode on your tongue.

Go buy a bottle and thank me afterwards 


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dalmatian Brodetto (fish stew) with Creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano Polenta

This is a wonderful easy to make dish that every seafood lover is sure to love. I first had this dish over 25 years ago while visiting my brother and his wife in California. His wife and her family were immigrants from Croatia and this was a traditional family dish.  Being from Chicago, I had many Slavic dishes in the past, but this was new to my taste buds.

The combination of  the fish, the acids from the tomatoes and vinegar along with the creaminess  and texture of the polenta was a taste experience that I newer forgot. Many years later I was lucky enough to have  my brother's wife Vesna make this for us in my home.I think hers was even more delicious than I remember her mothers to be.

The beauty of this dish is you can use almost any seafood you like, even though traditionally it is made with a variety of rock fishes, sea bass, cuttle fish and  regional bivalves.

I lost the orginal recipe years ago, but have made my own variety of this dish based upon memory and fish that I can get locally. I used Cod9 inexpensive and holds up well) Shrimp (I live in a the coastal town on the Gulf of Mexico) and Mussels. Feel free to experiment and add what you like.
I hope that your family enjoys this dish as much as I enjoy making this.

Ingredients for Brodetto
  • 1 1/2 lbs of Cod fish
  • 2 lbs of Mussels
  • 1 lb of white shrimp, cleaned and shells removed
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced and halved
  • a small bunch of fresh chopped parsley
  • 29 oz can of Tomato Puree
  • 2  14.5 oz cans of stewed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 32 oz of Vegetable stock (you can use fish stock if your prefer)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Ingredients for Creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano Polenta
  •  32 oz of Chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 4 Tablespoons of  unsalted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of fresh grated  Parmigiano-Reggiano ( the real stuff, non of the fake!)
  • 1 3/4 cups of yellow corn meal
Direction for Fish Stew
  1. Cut the Cod fish into 2 inch pieces, clean the shrimp and mussels and set aside.
  2. Chop the onion, and crush the garlic in a garlic press; Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil and parsley. Add the salt and pepper and sweat till translucent.
  3. Add tomato puree, stewed tomatoes, and Vegetable stock, let come to boil, then add in the Vinegar, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the seafood, bring back up to a boil  and then reduce heat to a low simmer.It doesn't take long for seafood to cook, dish is down when Mussels open and shrimp have turned color. DO NOT OVER COOK
Direction for Polenta
  1. In Large saucepan bring chicken stock to a rolling boil. Add Salt.
  2. Add Milk and half and half
  3. Gradually pour in corn meal
  4. Whisk constantly to avoid clumping, while stirring in butter
  5. Reduce the heat to low and cook until mixture thickens.(10- 15 minutes)
  6. Stir in  Parmigiano-Reggiano
To serve, spoon polenta into bowl about 1/3 of the way top remainder with fish stew....  make sure you spoon from bottom and get polenta with every bite!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Espresso Martini

Happy Friday!

At the end of a long week, nothing helps to unwind better than a nice drink, I mean it's the weekend, who doesn't want to have a drink?

One of my favorite drinks are Martini's and I have a collection of them that I make. This one is my version of one that Jen at the World Famous Cigar Bar makes.

Simple, easy to make and delish!

In a shaker add crushed ice, then pour:
2 shots of Pinnacle Double Espresso Vodka
2 Shots of Pinnacle Whipped Chocolate Vodka
2 Shots of Kahlua
2 Shots of Espresso

Shake Well, pour into Martini glasses, top with Half and Half that has been frothed....enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ken's Lasagna

Growing up in Chicago, I grew up with lot's of Italian friends and have probably ate at least twice my body weight in lasagna! The BEST lasagna I remember growing up came one one our my parent's friends, Jean Kirkpatrick.( with a name like that...NOT Italian!) I would always look forward to going to there home for Jena's lasagna and her chocolate mayonnaise cake with a hot fudge sauce topping.

I bugged Top Chef Fabio today for a recipe, but no luck. After watching his incredible gnocchi demonstration on Sunday I was inspired to make something Italian for dinner tonight.

This recipe is my own, but inspired by Jean Kirkpatrick. She always put cottage cheese in hers, and I remember always loving the flavor and texture it put into her lasagna that was different from all of my Italian friends. I always make LARGE quantities of homemade sauce when I make sauce, put usable amounts into freezer bags, and take out of freezer to use for times like tonight. Use you own homemade sauce for this, or if in a pinch, you can use a quality canned sauce like Barilla. My sauce was a roasted garlic an basil sauce

Ken's Easy Lasagna


  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage or ground pork
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 14 oz can of diced Italian tomatoes
  • 1 cup of diced peppers (I use red, yellow, and orange)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup of Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 15 lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 24 oz of  small curd cottage cheese
  •  2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup provolone
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large pan, cook sausage or ground pork, ground beef and garlic over medium heat until well browned.  Drain. Stir in diced tomatoes tomatoes, Italian seasoning,  bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and bell peppers. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 10-12 oz of your prepaid sauce.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, cottage cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. To assemble, spread 1/2 cups of your pre-made sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 5 noodles lengthwise over sauce. Spread with 1/3  of meat sauce mixture, then top that with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella  and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken Corn Chowder

Well continuing on the cooking something for a cold winters day, what could be heartier than a nice bowl of chowder? I'm not a big football fan, but yesterday the bear's was in the playoff's..had to watch, along with watch Top Chef Fabio Viviani's excellent web stream on making his killer gnocchi. I would highly recommend the Chef's website for recipes, and his blog with recaps about Top Chef. As a result,  I wanted to make something simple, filled with flavor and easy to make.

You could easily put clams, or just about any other seafood in here instead of the Chicken I use, to make a very hearty seafood chowder. I prefer chicken thighs for this dish, they are inexpensive, tender, and infuse this dish with a ton of flavor.

I do not use alot of salt in this dish, because I prefer the natural sweetness of the corn, cream and unsalted butter to really come through. I have tried this with the addition of red and orange bell peepers to simply enhance color, but be careful! Too many bell peepers and it becomes the overwhelming flavor.


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces.
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 4-5 oz of Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced and cleaned 
  • 8 tablespoons (1stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 4  medium-diced Yukon Gold potatoes unpeeled
  • 5 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup of light cream


In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the chicken and olive oil until the chicken is slightly browned, about 4-5-minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the corn, and stir. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water, drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.)

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, mushrooms and potatoes, bring to a boil, and reduce hear, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are almost tender. Add the light cream to the dish, and continue cooking another 10 minutes Serve hot with a nice hearty bread. (I served mine with a roasted garlic bread.)

Make sure you check out Chef Fabio's website!!

When it's cold...Bake cookies!

It was a cold weekend for Southwest Florida, I think I'm spoiled. I was born and raised in Chicago, but when it gets down to 49 degrees, I'm cold. Could be worse, as I am writing this the weather channel says it is 13 degrees in Roselle, Illinois...the place I lived before becoming a Floridian.

Alli decided to ran to the grocery store with me last night...of course I was ONLY planing on picking up half and half for my morning coffee, but of course she had different ideas. By the time we left..."'ve got to make cookies...if I'm stuck home on a Saturday night, least you can do is make cookies" much for sitting around and reading.

 Alli LOATHES nuts in cookies, I personally love pecans or walnuts in my Chocolate chip cookies.

These may not be "Top Chef", but I've been making these for years. Simple, basic...who doesn't love a great Chocolate chip cookie. And unlike my favorite Top Chef Desserts star, Danielle Keene of Biittersweet "that taste but doesn't eat" ( I still think she just has "The Skinny Gene" )...I not only taste all of my cooking, I eat it too!

Ken's Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening (I use Butter flavored Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup  (1 stick) of butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg) of Milk Chocolate chips


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add egg beating until smooth and creamy.Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in Chocolate chips. Press into small round molds (or drop by medium scooper) unto ungreased baking sheets, or on silicone baking mat or parchment paper covered baking sheet. 

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I would LOVE if they did a Top Chef Amateurs!  Maybe if enough fans called/ wrote in? Shows like  Chef Gordon  Ramsay's MasterChef shows that there are home Chefs will skills, but no cooking show impresses me with as much as Top Chef for just talent...Next Iron Chef comes close...Would you audition? I would!

Just announced today:

TOP CHEF 9 & TOP CHEF: JUST DESSERTS 2 are NOW CASTING! Know a great chef good for either show? Send us their info:

If you know of any GREAT Chefs that would fit the bill...pass on the info!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pancakes anyone?

Yesterday I received an unusual amount of emails with references to pancakes....and I'm thinking pancakes? I've never seen any Top Chef breakfast pancakes, but after doing some research found some interesting ideas.
In Season 7, Episode 4 Chef's  Ed Cotton and Alex Reznik made a wonderful Prosciutto Potato Cake, Egg with Lemon Pancake, Bellini Cocktail for breakfast. 

Any other pancake ideas? Think I should try this over the weekend?? Let me know, it looks delicious!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mom's Fried green Tomatoes VS Jeff McInnis

This is not for the squeamish, vegans or food elitist  

If you are looking for my typical Top Chef dishes...turn away and come back another day.
This is simple, down home country cooking.

Around 11 days ago. I made Chef Jeff McInnis's fried green tomatoes; Seemed like an easy dish to dive into the world of Top Chef. I loved the overall flavor, crunchiness and ease to make, but growing up with southern parents something was missing.

Tonight I made my mother's recipe for fried green tomatoes, along with gravy and homemade biscuits and pork jowl bacon. These are the flavors I remember, this brings me back to a time in my childhood. This is not a dish I would recommend to eat on a regular basis...and if you don't like pork fat...then you won't like this dish at all!

I am sure that there many regional, or even family recipes for these. I've seen corn meal and a variety of different methods to cook them. These are simple, back hills of West Virginia 'maters...

Dora's Biscuits


  • 2  3/4 cups of all-purpose  flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your wooden spoon, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, ( mom used the top of a drinking glass) being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on a greased baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pork Jowl bacon
I find it easier and crisper to bake, but mom always fried hers up in a iron skillet, you be the judge. If baking, place bacon in a shallow lined baking dish lined with foil in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until done. Reserve bacon fat for fried tomatoes.

Dora's Fried Green Tomatoes


 4-5 Large green tomatoes
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup of milk or butter milk
1  cups of all-purpose flour
Reserved bacon fat and Crisco for frying
Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 thick slices, sprinkle with salt and pepper, set aside.
Dip each tomato slice in butter mil or milk, then dredge them in the flour.

In a cast iron skillet, heat bacon fat along with 2-3 tablespoons of Crisco over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tomato slices in batches to avoid over crowding, and fry, turning once until golden brown and crispy about three minutes total. Add more Crisco shortening as needed. Transfer the cooked slices to the paper towel lined wire racks. Blot dry and let drain.

Dora's "Biscuit" Gravy

Once the tomatoes are cooked pour off any excessive fat in skillet and leave 2-3 tablespoons worth. Add 2-3 tablespoons of flour and stir till browned. slowly whisk in milk (3/4-1 cup), continuing stirring till desired thickness( if too thick simply add more milk)

When I was young mom always used carantion evaporated milk and water, but I have found the flavor of 2% milk works fine. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut biscuits, pour gravy over and serve with fried green tomatoes and bacon...a true southern treat!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hosea's Bacon -Wrapped Halibut ( I used Cod...)

This was a wonderful dish to make. I must give kudos to Chef Hosea Rosenberg for this one. My family and next door neighbor Joe all fish dish ever.

I did have to make two substitutions to this recipe.  No yellow beets to be found anywhere, and the halibut...none of my fish mongers are stocking fresh...a few had frozen....but $27.00lb for way! They had some beautiful fresh cod for only $8.99 that's what I used...and I'm glad I did. Best fish dish I have ever ate.
I want to think my neighbor Joe Boisvert for supplying me with the Chardonnay for tonight's meal......he was repaid with a glorious plate of tonight's Top Chef meal.
  •     4 (6 ounce) pieces Alaskan halibut ( I used Cod...)
  •     4 strips thin cut bacon
  •     6 small Yukon gold potatoes, boiled and peeled
  •     2 small yellow beets, boiled and peeled
  •     16 French green beans, blanched and shocked
  •     Greens from beets, cleaned and chopped
  •     1 cup white wine
  •     1/4 cup lemon juice
  •     1 shallot, sliced
  •     10 black peppercorns
  •     3 bay leaves
  •     1/4 cup heavy cream
  •     1 1/2 pounds butter, cubed and cold
  •     2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
Wrap bacon tightly over halibut. Season with salt and pepper. Sear on each side in hot pan and finish in 350 degree oven till just cooked through, about two minutes.
Slice potatoes into rounds. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in oven at 425 degrees till lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Slice beets into matchstick sized pieces. Slice beans into small segments.
In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, sauté shallots and garlic in butter until soft, but not brown, about 1 minute. Add beets and beans to pan with a little salt and pepper and sauté, moving constantly, over high heat, for about 2 minutes. Add greens to pan and take off heat. Continue stirring mixture until greens have just wilted, about 2 more minutes. Finish with chopped parsley.
In medium pot, reduce wine, lemon juice, shallot, peppercorns and bay leaves till syrupy. Add cream and reduce till thick. Slowly whisk in butter till completely emulsified. Strain. Add mustard and check seasoning.
Arrange slices of potatoes in ring. Fill ring with vegetables. Top with fish. Spoon sauce around.

Breakfast or Dessert?

Thought I would share two different pastries made in my home...The first is a orange coffee cake made by Mary, and the second is my "Sex on a plate" Cinnamon sticky, sticky and messy....well, you get the picture.... :) both are similar. The orange cake used fresh Florida Honey bell die for....sweet, juicy, my favorite orange.

These are in honor of Chef Danielle Keene's new promotion at LA Creamery!! Nice job!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ken's Quick Pork Loin Chops with Roasted Fennel, Red Cabbage and Herbed butter

Long week....I try make simple dishes during the week, quick, simple easy to make. Tonight I decided to make thin loin pork chops.

3 Fennel bulbs
1 small package of thin cut pork chops
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 small sun-dried tomatoes
1 medium head of red cabbage
1 stick of butter
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Roasted Fennel
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove tops from fennel, cut in half. brush with Olive oil, salt and pepper and place in shallow baking dish.Roast for 15 minutes per side, or tender and caramelized.

Cooked Red Cabbage
In a large pan heat teaspoon of butter and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. remove outer leaf from cabbage. Cut in half and cut out core, chop medium. add to pan, salt , pepper to taste, add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, cook to tender and cabbage starts to caramelize.

Pork chops

On a shallow plate, mix some flour, salt, pepper and a small sprig of thyme. In a shallow pan, heat up olive oil. Dust pork chops in flour mixture and shake off excess. place pork in hot oil, cook about 2 minutes per side.

Herbed Buuter
 Take one stick of softened butter, add fine chopped sun dried tomatoes, and 2 springs of thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Place in piece of plastic wrap, roll into tube shape and place in freezer till firm. Remove from freezer and slice.

Tonight's dinner

Making Pork with Roasted fennel and red cabbage....some photos of tonight's ingredients, more for me to practice my food photo skills....just playing with hardware store reflector light..will be purchasing some Lowel eGO lights soon to given more even diffused lighting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Warning! Non Top Chef Content!!

Frittata for dinner any one?

I came in from work today and had no idea what I would make for dinner. I had taken nothing out of the freezer, tired, long day. I alot of nights I just create new dishes, or make something easy and homey and save the gourmet cooking for the weekends.

Well tonight I decided on something simple, but yet tastie...a gyro frittata. I know what your thinking...what? a gyro frittata?? Being from Chicago I love gyros...and a weekend favorite was going to my local favorite dinner and ordering a gyro meat for me this is as familiar as home.

The beautiful thing about frittata's is you can add anything you like in them...go ahead experiment...have some fun!

Ken's Gyro Frittata

6 large eggs
1/4 cup of half and half
1 tsp oregano
Kosher salt to taste
Coarse ground pepper to taste
8 strips of gyro meat (I purchase Kronos from GFS)
2-3oz of feta cheese
8 slices of Swiss cheese
1 small Roma tomato
1 scallion
Tzatziki sauce
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; Beat eggs with whisk in a medium bowl and whisk in half and half.
Add oregano, salt and pepper. Heat non-stick skillet (oven safe) with small amount of oil over medium heat, add egg and take off heat.
Put layers of gyro meat and Swiss cheese on top of egg and then sprinkle with feta, put in oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes.....DO NOT OVER COOK!

Serve with chopped tomato, scallions, and  tzatziki sauce

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fresh Produce

One of the best lessons I have learned from Top Chef and from the countless other Food shows I'm addicted to is to use fresh, premium ingredients.

When possible try to find fresh, local produce. When I lived in Chicago, I always thought there is NO WAY I could live in Florida....too hot....but truth is....summers are hot! ( Heck...summers were hot in Chicago!) BUT the advantage is we have a great variety of locally grown produce year round.....Florida isn't just citrus!

I picked up all of my ingredients for yesterdays dish from local farm stands. Freshness, your local farmers!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jeff McInnis 's Fried Green Tomatoes

I have LOVED fried green tomatoes for as long as I can remember. Even though I was born and raised in Chicago, both of my parents came from West Virginia and I grew up eating my mom's fried green tomatoes with gravy and biscuits my whole life.

Mom's green tomatoes are perfect to me...fried in a iron skillet, with bacon fat...OMG to die for.

These are just simply delicious...crispy and fresh. I decided to make a dinner of these, so I made my own purple potato and yellow zucchini salad. would love this dinner!

Chef Jeff McGinnis's Fried Green Tomatoes with Tomatoe Jam

7 Large green tomtatoes
Salt and fresh ground pepper
5 eggs
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups panko bread crumps
Olive oil for frying

Red tomato jam:
6 large, heirloom tomatoes
2 tbls olive oil
1 tsp salt

Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 thick slices, sprinkle with salt and pepper, set aside.

Beat the eggs with the water in a medium bowl. Combine flour with salt and pepper in shallow dish. Put the Panko in a shallow dish.

Dredge each tomato slice in the seasoned flour, skaing off any excess. Dip them in the egg wash, then dredge them in the panko crumbs.

Line 2 baking sheets with paper towels. In a heavy skillet, heat about 1/2 inch of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tomato slices in batches to avoid over crowding, and fry, turning once until golden brown and crispy about three minutes total. Add more olive oil as needed. Transfer the cooked slices to the paper towel lined baking sheets. Blot dry and let drain.

Serve with the tomato jam

Tomato Jam

Blanch and peel tomatoes, chop and combine with Olive oil and salt in a saute pan over low heat. Cook until tomatoes break down and concentrate into a jam, about 25 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Ken's purple potato salad

2 yellow zucchini
1 1/2 pounds of  new purple potatoes
1 scallion
1 small tomato
1 tbls of balsamic vinegar
1 tbls of ground mustard
3 tbls of  olive oil
1 tsp of oregano
5-6 oz of Feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until fork tender (about six minutes)
slice in half. Dice tomato, slice onion, and add to large bowl.

Cut zucchini  in half, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill till tender. Add to medium bowl.
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil.
Mix gently and toss with potatoes, onion, zucchini and tomatoes. Toss in crumbled feta cheese and serve.

My daughter, Alli acted as my Sous Chef tonight and loved tonights dinner...but really loved my Potato salad......wants it as a new regular side dish.

Blogger Pictures

New Profile Pic in my Top Chef Jacket!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rick Bayless's Queso Fundido Burger

Just made Rick Bayless's Burgers! WOW!!

Incredible flavor...Loved the trio of guacamoles, with the mango-jicama being my personal favorite.

VERY EASY to make...if you can make a burger, this is a great recipe to try your hand at for your first Top Chef recipe.. Ingredinets were easy to find, was able to find everything at my local grocery store PUBLIX.

The key to great food in my opinion is fresh ingredients, simplicity, balance of flavors, proper cooking, and of course the  I love to cook,  I love to bring happiness to others. Food is a way we share our lives together...gathered around a table with friends or family it is for me much more than just feeding our bodies, it is part of the very fabric of our souls that unites us in a common bond.

I hope you enjoy making this dish as much as I did.

  • 8 ounces Mexican chorizo sausage
  • 2 pounds ground chuck or ribeye
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • Salt
  • 8 thick slices Monterey jack cheese
  • 4 brioche buns, toasted
  • 1 red onion, thick sliced, oiled, salted and grilled
  • 2 poblano or Anaheim chiles, grill-roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced
  • 6 ripe avocados, flesh scooped from skin
  • 2/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped and rinsed
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt
  • 1/2 small mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 small jicama, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup  toasted pumpkin seeds, finely ground
  • 2 large tomatoes, hacked and quartered
  • 1 serrano, stemmed and roughly chopped
Cook chorizo until done, breaking up chunks. Drain and reserve.
Mix ground beef with chipotle and salt.
Form 4 patties, grill to rare. Cool on baking sheet.
Top each with a slice of Monterey jack cheese, top with a portion of chorizo and another slice of cheese. Bake at 400 degrees convention to melt cheese and finish cooking burger.
Plate on bottom bun with roasted peppers and onions on top. Serve with trio of guacamole.


Mash avocados, mix in cilantro, red onion and lime. Season with salt. Divide into three bowls.
To one, add mango and jicama.
To the second, add pumpkin seeds.
In food processor, finely chop tomatoes and serrano. Add to third bowl.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ken's Rice Pudding

While thinking about which recipes to cook this weekend for my blog and reading articles on Food photography, I decided to make some Rice pudding, Alli's favorite dessert...I've never done food photography...have to get better lighting....I'm a nature/ lanscape and building this will take some practice.... this picture is raw, not photoshopped.

2 cups of cooked rice
1 1/2 cuos of milk
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cups of sugar ( add more or less to taste)
2 tbls of starch
2 egg yolks
Cinnamon (for garnish)
Whipped cream ( for yumminess!!!)

In a large saucepan combine milk, rice and sugar, cook over medium heat stiring constantly for 15 minutes. Add Vanilla bean paste, stir.

Beat egg and cream, set aside.

Add starch to 1/4 cup of water, mix and slowly stir into rice mixture until it starts to thicken; Remove from heat.
Temper egg mixure by adding some of the hot liquid from the rice pudding, add to to rice pudding while stirring quickly...return to heat for 5 minutes more while stirring constantly.

I prefer to serve it warm and garish with Cinnamon and Whipped cream
(Alli likes it cold!)


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Own Meat Ball Stroganoff

Very excited about Top Chef All Stars tonight! Some of my favorites Chefs from all the seasons! Anthony Bourdain is one of my favorite judges, but more than anything can't wait to watch Tom Colicchio cook tonight!

Tonight I did not make a Top Chef. recipe..but my own Meat Ball Stroganoff...wanted something quick and easy tonight.

This has been one of my daughter Alli's favorite dishes since she was a little girl.

Meat balls:
1.5 lbs of ground round
1 teaspon of parsley, chopped fine
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

10-12 oz  Beef consomme
8 oz of Bella Mushrooms sliced thin
1/2  cup of water
1 tbl of corn starch
1/2 cup of sour cream

Mix together ground round and remain meat ball ingredinets and form into small balls ( smaller than golf balls, use a melon scooper to scoop and form)
Heat pan over medium heat with small amount of EVOO and turn meat balls till slight brown on all sides.

Add Consomme and mushrooms and simmer of heat till mushrooms become tender. Add corn starch and  half of water..cook till thickens. Mix sour cream and remain water together and slowly add to meatball and sauce mixture.

Add additional Kosher salt and pepper to taste, serve over cooked egg noodles immediately.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where to begin?

Much  debate with my 19 year old daughter Alli on which recipe to cook first.....I thought to start with season 1 and cook through to present...including Top Chef: Just Desserts. Alli wants me to cook my favorites from both my cookbooks and the website....

Also...don't be suprised if you get some ranting commentary about the current episode! Already counting down the hours! :)

First Post! (Edited)

It is unfortunate that something as simple as a food blog needs fro me to monitor, delete negative comments, or even edit the reasons I started this. The Blog is for me, and the interest I have...mainly food and photography....So.... Where to begin?

I decided to start a blog as a way to put together a few of my passions (cooking and photography) and personally to help me through some difficult periods in my life.

Of all of my favorite cooking shows, Top Chef is my all time favorite. It inspires me and I am always in awe of the talent and creativity of these truly amazing men and women.

My New Year resolution is to cook the recipes and dishes of Top Chef and bring them to life in a way that watching the show alone just can not accomplish. I encourage everyone to participate in my cook with have put love in your cooking and in all parts of your life.

May you all be blessed in everything you do!