Dusk and Dawn, where are you? Come back. This is my last week in Charlotte. We have worked it out where I will still get to spend some time here, but it will probably be awhile. They have put me up in a studio for the first couple of months, so that takes out the biggest stress (where the heck do I live?) The complex where I will be staying is just a few blocks from restaurant row, so it will be heaven (or hell for the diet), and I will be in the middle of everything for the endless exploring that I will be doing. There is already a chance of snow flurries, but I am flying down to Florida the first week, so I guess I will pack my Hawaiian shirt with my wool jacket.
Archive for November, 2007
I spotted a deer walking in my back yard last week. Celeste then saw two more and named them Dusk and Dawn. I ran to the store, and she saw the whole family (five in all). That’s pretty cool considering we live only five minutes from downtown, and also pretty scary since their living environment is scarce at best. I doubt I will be seeing any deer in N.Y.C. (if you click on the deer, it kind of dances).
I can’t believe it is that time of the year again. I was real busy last year helping people cook their Thanksgiving dinner, we cooked a lot of stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, gravy, and prepped a bunch of Turkey’s. We also baked a bunch of pies- Josephine’s famous sweet potato, and this version that is a combination for those who can’t decide which is their favorite. It was a big hit, and Celeste seems to think it is one of the better things that I bake (next to chocolate volcano cake). We are going to let a restaurant cook for us this year, hang out at the Thanksgiving parade, and maybe check out a movie in the evening. Sorry I am posting this so late, if you skip making the crust, and buy prepared one, it is real easy to make.
Pumpkin Pecan Pie
- 3 eggs, divided
- 1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1/2 ts ground cinnamon
- 1/4 ts ground ginger
- 1/8 ts ground cloves
- 2/3 cup karo light syrup
- 2 T. butter, melted
- 1 ts vanilla
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 prepared deep dish pie crust
Preheat oven to 350. If using a frozen pie crust, do not thaw; preheat a baking sheet in the oven and place the pie on the cookie sheet to bake.
In small bowl, combine one egg, pumpkin, 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Spread in pie crust. In medium bowl, beat remaining two eggs, slightly. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 2/3 cup sugar, the butter and vanilla; stir until well blended. Stir in pecans. Carefully spoon over pumpkin mixture.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set around edge. Cool pie completely on wire rack.
Celeste surprised me on Friday and took me to an Ethiopian restaurant. I enjoy the cuisine, and the interactive way of eating it; it had been a few years since I have had the food, so I was excited. The place was packed when we first arrived, and after waiting ten minutes to be acknowledged they tried to sit us at a cramped two top next to the bar. We waited for them to mop up the spilled beverage from the booth we wanted instead. There is always an interesting crowd at an Ethiopian Restaurant (or any exotic ethnic restaurant for that matter; ever seen the crowd at an Iranian restaurant?), so it makes for extra entertainment. It took about ten more minutes to get the menu, and another ten to get our drinks. I ordered red wine, and she showed up with white (ten more minutes to get the red). She took our order, and came back ten minutes later and asked “what did you order again?”. The table next to us got in to a big argument, the older gentlemen (the dad?) started getting real upset with one of the other diners at their table (the daughter?), because she was arguing a point she had no business arguing (basically she didn’t know what she was talking about), she had enough of that, and stormed off to have a cigarette. Our food finally arrived, and was in no way what we ordered. I was supposed to get a sampler plate with two beef dishes, and two vegetable dishes. Celeste ordered a chicken dish with vegetables. We got one beef dish and six vegetable dishes, two of which were collard greens. We were clueless at that point and sometimes you just have to chalk things up for an experience. I promise we would have been lucky to get the right food back in ten minutes, so we just dug in. I don’t think Celeste embraced the concept of eating Ethiopian food. The food is served family style on a large round platter and set atop Injeera bread; you tear off a piece of bread and wrap it around the food and plop it in your mouth (no silverware neeeded). Well, that doesn’t work well for someone who is trying to watch their carbs, and staying away from bread (referred to as silverware in Ethiopia). If the food was good, that could at least save the day- well, do we need to go there? Suffice to say the beef was full of gristle and it went downhill from there. Celeste swears it was the worst restaurant experience of her life, and I just figure it didn’t screw up my diet too much. The great thing about eating out with friends is that it could be the worst experience ever, but still a great time , and some good stories to tell, we closed the place down, and our server didn’t even say goodbye (or good night).
I weighed in yesterday and…………………………………………lost a pound. It’s really getting anticlimactic at this point. Did I mention that slow and steady wins the race and this is a lifestyle? (just checking) My weekly weigh in post seems to be turning in to more of a restaurant review than an update. I had Linguine with shrimp, sun dried tomatoes, and tomato cream sauce, and Tiramisu at a great restaurant called Dolce on Friday, and I was getting in the New York frame of mind and had great pizza with caesar salad at a restaurant called Hawthorne’s Pizza on Saturday. Of course all of this did no good for my weight loss efforts. I met with my diabetes expert yesterday for my new website and she did a personal consultation with me on weight loss. She does a great personalized plan that I will include as a premium option on the new website as well. She goes over all of your eating patterns and comes up with a realistic solution. We found out that I am not very motivated right now since I recently got back from working my butt off this summer and am about to very busy again, so I am in vacation mode. We also found the white chocolate mocha that I brought along with me and the nightcap that I enjoy add up to 400 calories each! (I would rather cut out the mocha) She also wrote down this website that lets you look up the nutrition facts of your favorite restaurants. That has been my biggest problem, If I just followed the diet, the pounds would melt away, but hey, I’m really enjoying the new restaurants (I don’t even want to think what I will do in N.Y.!)
I was watching cbs news Sunday Morning, and they did a story on aging. They fed a monkey a reduced calorie diet, and another monkey a larger portion of food during the course of their lives. It was quite amazing to see the difference as one was climbing around the cage acting like a monkey, and the other was sedentary, and visibly older looking. Celeste asked me out of the blue how long I thought I would live, I have never really pondered it, but said 81. She laughed as though I was dreaming to live that long (though she seems to think she is going to live to be 107). The story also said that life expectancy in 1800 was 35 and in 1900 was 47. I think they said it is now 78, wow I can’t believe how low it used to be. To prove her wrong, I took this test to see how long I was going to live, and the result……………………….88 yrs. old! Hey, I just gained 7 years on my life expectancy this morning. I found the picture amusing, I have no idea what it is for?
Picking your favorite recipes for a chef is like picking your favorite child. I love all the recipes, or else I wouldn’t have posted them. I just scanned the site real quick though, and added a new category on the right. Click on it for some of the ‘can’t miss’ recipes that I have posted. Again, it’s the little things that I do for you. Let me know if I have left one off. This picture of the primal cuts of an animal comes from the restaurant Peking Moon that just added dog to their menu (bottom right).
It’s not really a movie, but rather a funny Japanese game show, enjoy!
3/4 pounds chicken breasts or thighs
2 tbsp sake (rice wine)
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tbsp sugar
Poke chicken using a fork. Mix other ingredients in a bowl. Marinate the chicken in the mixture for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan. First, fry the skin side of the chicken on medium heat until the skin is browned. Turn the chicken over to fry the other side on low heat. Pour the sauce used to marinate chicken in the pan. Cover the pan and steam cook the chicken on low heat until done. Remove the lid and simmer until the sauce becomes thick. Stop the heat. Slice the chicken and serve on a plate. Pour thickened sauce over the teriyaki chicken. Serve with steamed rice.
I recreated the shrimp dish that I had for dinner the other night for a private client. It really was good, and like all of the recipes I post- easy! It is usually served over grits, but would also be good with steamed rice. The other picture is of some of the things that I like to use. It’s funny, the things that you wind up using over and over again, or just feel comfortable with. I started using the sea salt last season, it is course, but very light; most chef’s like coarse salt so we can feel how much we are putting in the dish (I usually just use kosher salt). The pepper grinder is hands down the best out there, I have been using this one for years, and use it every time I need pepper (with Tellicherry Peppercorns), this, and the salt were found at Sur La Table. The oxo tongs are like an extension of my hands; the oxo whisk is perfect, that little plastic spatula fits my hand perfectly, and since I use nonstick pans quite a bit, gets used a lot, and finally, the rubber spatula gets used all of the time. All of those were bought at Williams-Sonoma. Oh, and a wooden spatula with a flat bottom, which is also great for nonstick, and getting in the corners (this makes you wonder- what is a spatula? I have three completely different options that I call spatula). Looks like a bottle of two buck chuck slipped in the picture, cheap wine, but actually pretty good for weeknight suppers.
1 lb. medium-large shrimp (cleaned without tails)
4 slices bacon (cut crosswise in to strips)
1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
1 package sliced mushrooms
4 green onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Brown bacon in the oil. Add shrimp, mushrooms, and onions. Saute until shrimp is cooked through and vegetables soften. Squeeze lemon juice over and cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper (depends how salty the bacon is).
It is getting cold, and Celeste wants me to start teaching her different recipes so she isn’t cooking her same Chicken and Tomatoes. The solution- Turkey Chili. I had made this a few weeks ago for a private client and brought some home, she loved it, and wanted me to teach her how to make it, so there you have it. Sometimes I make a version called ‘Buffalo Chicken Chili’ with blue cheese, and hot sauce. There are a million ways to go with chili, and so easy to make. A private client and I are trying out other chefs to take my place, and the first one we tried out made Turkey Chili. It is a great recipe, and he did a really cool recipe for the clients mom, who loved it. His info is on the recipe, and if you find yourself needing a private chef in Charlotte, I highly recommend him. I have another low fat version that I will have on the second week of the weight loss diet when the new website is ready.
Well, I went to the gym for my weekly weigh in, drum roll please…………………….lost 2 lb’s! Hey, I’m not complaining, slow and steady wins the race. This a lifestyle after all. That makes eight pounds for the month. Considering I am eating a bunch of crap it really is a testament to the diet. I went to a restaurant called NOFO on Saturday and had Calamari, Lowcountry Shrimp and Cheese Grits, and topped it off with Chocolate Pecan Pie and a couple of Mojito’s. I also packed on some Chicken and Dumplings at a restaurant called ‘Dish’ on Friday, and had a big plate of my mom’s Pot Roast at my brothers house. The rest of the week I was pretty strict though and WORKED OUT. I bashed fast food restaurants a couple of weeks ago, but there are healthier options these days. Click here to see two guys trying to keep it healthy at a fast food drive-thru. My friend Anita sent me this funny video about Chinese Food (it’s all in good fun), do you know where your cat is??
O.k., I am the last person who should start a book club, and I think Oprah is doing a good enough job. I do have a couple of recommendations though. I haven’t read a good novel in awhile so I just read a book called ‘The Ruins’ by Scott Smith. I was excited because it took place in the Mayan jungle, but it turned out not to be so good, young backpackers get forced on a remote hill in the jungle by Mayans and are eaten by Vines (no, I’m not kidding), there weren’t even any ruins involved in the story! I was at the bookstore looking for another book to read, and found ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt, an ex-girlfriend gave it to me to read years ago, and I remember loving it, so I am going to read it again. I also am going to recommend ‘The Secret Life of Pi’, by Yann Martel, which was lent to me while I was working on the boat, it’s about a boy who gets stranded on a lifeboat with a Tiger (yeah, it really does get interesting). I think I have mentioned in the past the book ‘Aztec’ by Gary Jennings, which is one of my all time favorites, there are a bunch of sequels, which I have not read, maybe I will start reading those? Click on the book if you want more info.
It’s official (kind of), I signed the offer letter and sent it away in the mail yesterday. My official title is “Executive Off Premises Chef” and I will be an Assistant Vice President. It all sounds pretty fancy to me! I will basically be cooking for all of their off premises events, so I will be doing quite a bit of traveling, spending time in Florida, Idaho, Connecticut, and New York. I will be based out of New York, but we have worked it out so I will still be able to spend some time in Charlotte to spend time with my family. Very exciting stuff, you never know which way life brings you. This job seems to fit me like a glove; I still get to cook food at the level that I like, and I get a chance to do some more traveling , along with staying grounded in Charlotte, and having a place in Manhattan. Now, I just need to figure out what neighborhood I want to live in, any suggestions? This will not affect mydietchef.com by the way, we are still going forward, I am just going to need some support with Administrative tasks so I can focus on writing the recipes. It looks like I picked a good name for this blog, I suspect there are going to be some real interesting stories as I settle in a new city, and lots more great recipes on the horizon!