I work as professional chef, creating meals multiple times per day- breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, you name it- I make it- all day long.
But sometimes I wake up in the morning and nothing sounds good to me. I wake up and everything seems to simple. I want something extravagant. I want something with multiple components to it. I want something that is a CHALLENGE!!!
What’s a girl to do?
I could go to my trusty French Laundry Cookbook, but hey, who has the money or the time to eat like that daily? I want something that is out of the ordinary, something that is out of my comfort zone, and something that tastes good.
I hit up ethnic cuisine.
Yesterday I checked out one of my favorite websites- Food and Wine Magazine.
I looked up a fantastic vegetarian recipe for biyrani and curried veggies.
OUT OF THIS WORLD you guys. I poured my heart and soul into this dish and my clients ate the entire thing!!! It was spicy, sweet, rich with curry and coconut milk, full of spice (not heat) and perfect for a winters eve.
Recipe: Vegetarian Biryani
- 1 1/2 cups rice, preferably basmati, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 baking potato (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, defrosted
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
- 1 tomato, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in the rice and boil until just done, about 10 minutes. Drain the rice, return to the pot, and cover to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, melt the butter with the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the cumin, turmeric, curry powder, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Add the potato, carrots, water, and salt. Increase the heat to moderately high and simmer until the vegetables are tender and no liquid remains in the pan, about 10 minutes.
- Stir the peas into the other vegetables and remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the yogurt and rice and serve topped with the jalapeño, tomato, and cilantro.
I’ve taken my cooking to the next level, YAAAAAYYYY !!!!
I bought the French Laundry cookbook, like, 7 years ago. Never touched it. Never tried to cook out of it.
It scared the begeebees out of me. Daunting.
Roll the calendar ahead to 2012, 7 years later- and I’ve taken the challenge. I now, can follow a recipe written by Thomas Keller. I feel smart.
I’ve reached a point in my culinary career, where I can weave in and out of the veils between simple cooking and the full fine dining experience. The creativity is in fine dining….. sauces that take 3 days to make, powders made from tomatoes and mushrooms for dusting the plate. Layers of flavor that elevate and awaken the palate are created through slow cooking, at it’s finest.
A good bone broth starts with good bones. I get my bones through a CSA (Morris Family Grass Fed Beef, down in Watsonville) You can find local farmers in your area and become a CSA member @ http://www.eatwild.com/products/californiaresources.htm .
If you need something quick and easy, the best bet is to go to your local grocery store and ask them to cut you up some really good grass fed beef marrow and knuckle bones. I’ve tried this recipe with just knuckle and it isn’t the same. I recommend the marrow for the richness and gelatin.
To Prepare this Homemade Beef Stock Recipe, you’ll Need:
- Several Pounds of Grass-finished Beef Soup Bones (I routinely use 5-8 lbs)
- A freezer bag full of vegetable scraps (carrot peelings, onion tops, celery leaves etc. Don’t use brassicas or beets as they contribute an off-taste to the beef stock.)
- Fresh, filtered water.
- 2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
- 2-3 Bay Leafs
Instructions for Preparing Homemade Beef Stock:
- Rinse and clean the bones under clean water. Pat them dry.
- Roast the bones at 400 ° F for about an hour until the bones are well-browned and fragrant. Roasting the bones ensures a good flavor in the resulting beef stock. Failure to do so may lend a sour or off-taste to the end product.
- Once the bones are browned, drain off any fat.
- Add the bones to a big pot along with any vegetable scraps you might have. Avoid using brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, turnips, brussels sprouts etc.) as these vegetables will lend a bitter flavor to your stock. Instead, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery add great flavor.
- Add filtered water to cover and bring to a boil. Once you’ve brought the water to a boil, add the vinegar and bay leafs.
- Turn down the heat and continue to simmer for several hours. I usually simmer mine about 24 hours.
- Throughout the cooking process, skim off any foam and add water as needed.
- When the stock is finished simmering, filter through a fine mesh seive and bottle in mason jars. The stock should set just like gelatin, and the fat should rise to the top.
- Pick off the fat and reserve it for cooking, then scoop out the gelled stock and reheat to serve as soup. Note that it’s wise to serve this stock very hot as it may gel again once it cools.
A Recipe for Fresh Chicken Broth
To prepare a wholesome, mineral-rich chicken broth, you’ll need a heavy-bottomed stock pot as well as a fine mesh sieve. I keep kitchen scraps: carrot peelings, onion ends, celery leaves and bits of leek in a gallon-sized plastic bag in my freezer. While some purists insist that broth should not be prepared from vegetable scraps, I find that doing so cuts down on kitchen waste and expense. There’s value in finding a use for every item in your kitchen.
Ingredients for Fresh Chicken Broth
- 1 whole pasture-raised chicken, rinsed, cleaned with organs removed
- 2 chicken feet, peeled with talons removed (if you can find them)
- 1 gallon miscellaneous vegetable scraps (onions, carrots, celery, fresh parsley, leeks)
- 2 – 3 dried bay leafs
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- filtered water to cover
Method for Preparing Fresh Chicken Broth
- Add the whole chicken to a heavy-bottomed stock pot, cover with vegetable scraps, bay leafs and peppercorns.
- Cover with very cold filtered water into which you’ve stirred two tablespoons apple cider vinegar.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for four to six hours – skimming off any scum or foam that appears at the surface.
- After four to six hours of slow, gentle simmering, remove the pot from heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve or a colander lined with 100% cotton cheesecloth into jars or bowls to store.
- Refrigerate and cool until the broth sets into a firm gel.
NOTE: Don’t forget to reserve the meat from the stewing chicken. After you’ve strained and stored the broth, rinse off the whole chicken and pick it clean – storing the meat for later use in cooking. You may also save the chicken’s frame for a second simmer which is unlikely to gel, but will still extract more minerals from the bones. Brew this second batch until the bones crumble when you apply very gentle pressure with your fingertips.
Hi Folks! It’s that time of year again, autumn.
Even though it’s still been 95 degrees out here in sunny California, fall usually means it’s apple season. I came home yesterday to a plethora of apples on my kitchen counter. Fuji, braeburn, granny smith and pink ladies. (thank you honey, for all the fabulous fruit!!! )
What in the heck is a girl to do with all these apples before they go bad?
I like to peel, sliced and freeze them- that way I can have apple pie whenever I want, all year round. I like to make apple butter and freeze that- so when guests unexpectedly arrive from out of town, I’ve got something to put on toast, pancakes and I can even serve it with cheese and crackers.
My favorite thing to do with a big ol’ crisp granny smith though, is to seed it, core it and stuff it with oats, butter, cinnamon, sugar and a little nutmeg. I bake it in the oven at 375 for 40 min. with a little apple juice in the bottom of the tray, to help steam them and I serve them a la mode with a heaping scoop of HAGEN DAZ ice cream and home made caramel sauce.
This is of course a once in a while kind of dessert, definately not low cal, but so worth the wait for fall each and every year.
So guys, what are some of your favorite apple recipes? Pork chops and apple sauce? Apple muffin’s? Apple-tini’s? Share them with me here on tumblr or write me an email at Chefholbrook@myorganicopia.com
I’ll publish your fav’s in my October newsletter that is all about my favorite fruit- APPLES!!!!!
Bon appetite and happy friday, let’s make it a great day!
I perused facebook this morning over my deliciously rich cup of Peets coffee. My good ol’ friend Roxanne Turner is asking about slow cooker recipes (aka CROCK POT recipes, for you old timers out there)
When it’s cloudy and overcast, in the middle of August- my knee jerk reaction is to make a big vat of soup, or perhaps throw something in the good ol’ crock pot and let it simmer away and permeate my house with a welcoming billow of savory delight. ( I love how carried away I get with this descriptive writing. Thank you Ms. Sutton from my freshman english creative writing class.)
My go to- set it and forget it recipe is for my deep south pulled pork sandwiches. I’m offering this recipe today because it IS the middle of Hot August Nights, and although it’s overcast now, I’m sure it’ll be 102 by the end of the day, and who wants to suck up some stew on a hot day? Heck no, I’d rather have a sandwich or two.
Being that my family is from the south, I find it only appropriate to give you my personal favorite- CAROLINA BBQ!!!! There are different characteristics to BBQ. If you go to say, TEXAS- you’re going to get saucey, tomato based, heat filled slow smoked bbq. But if you go to the heart of the Carolina’s which is my territory- you’re going to find hole in the wall bbq pits with vinegar based sauce. I’m telling you- you can’t beat it. And finally, in the Mississippi territory, you’re going to find the saucy, tomato based pulled pork- which is sweet and spicy. Just know that with this recipe, you can switch it up to make whichever suits your fancy.
Crockpot Carolina Style Barbecue Pork
From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
2 medium onions, sliced, divided
5-7 pound pork butt, shoulder or fresh pork picnic ham
2 cups of water
5 whole cloves, optional
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
15 turns of the pepper grinder
2 tablespoons of Liquid Smoke
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar, or to taste, optional
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon Slap Ya Mama, or your
favorite Cajun seasoning
Coleslaw, store bought or homemade, optional
Sliced pickle, optional
Slice one onion and place into the bottom of the crockpot. Add water and cloves. Add pork and top with remaining onion slices. Cook overnight, or for 8 to 12 hours, on low.
Carefully remove pork from crockpot and set aside to cool just enough to handle. Drain off liquid from crockpot, except strain and reserve 2 cups. Cut up the meat from the pork and return to the crockpot. Add the chopped onion and sprinkle with the brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper and stir well. Combine the liquid smoke with the reserved broth, and add to the meat.
Combine ingredients for vinegar mixture - vinegar, Worcestershire, red pepper flakes, brown sugar (to counter some of the tartness only if desired), dry mustard, garlic salt, and Cajun seasoning; pour 1/2 of the vinegar mixture over the meat; stir well. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 8 hours, stirring a few times if possible. Place remaining vinegar in the refrigerator.
Serve meat on buns, drizzled with the remaining vinegar sauce, and topped with store bought or homemade coleslaw, if desired. Add a side of baked beans.
Leftovers? Build a BBQ Sundae!
This post is for you!!!!
I love shepards pie more than I think I love chocolate. I love it on a cold winters day. There are a myriad of recipes, some trying to be health conscious and some just down right luscious. This particular recipe is my personal fav!!! You can’t go wrong here. I double up the recipe and pop an extra pan in the freezer for those random out of town guests that pop by for the night. It’s comfort food at its finest.
THE BEST GRUBBIN’ shepards pie on the PLANET!!!!!
2 -3 lbs Hamburger Meat (lean) Or Ground Turkey
1 med Onion
1 stalk Celery
1/2 Green Pepper (1 whole pepper if very small)
3-4 Green Olives w/ pimentos chopped
1 can 12 oz Tomato Paste
1 tsp Garlic Powder or 1 Clove Garlic crushed
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
8 oz Cheddar/ or American Cheese
5 Medium to large Idaho Potatoes
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Salt
1/2 Stick Butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup Milk
1 TBS Mayonaise ( not Miracle Whip)
Cut up celery, onion, olives and green pepper into bite size pieces, Saute in Skillet / Frying Pan in a little oil, until onion is translucent. Remove vegetables, add hamburger and cook until done. (If you are using Ground Turkey add directly to the pan of celery and onion and pepper, cook until done, no need to drain).
Drain grease and return hamburger to pan with veggies. Add all spices and 1/4 cup water. Cover and let simmer 10 minutes. Add your tomato paste mixing well.
Peel Potato’s and add to cooking pot of cold water, enough water to cover potato’s. Add in a bay leaf, and salt. Boil uncovered about 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain potato’s in colander and return to pot. Remove bay leaf. Add 1/2 stick of butter and mash until soft. Heat up milk in Microwave or stove top.
Add Milk to potato’s a little at a time while using an electric mixer. Mix potato’s until a fluffy consistency. (For added flavor to your potatoes, add some onion powder, salt and pepper, or what ever spices you like in your home made potato’s.) (A Tablespoon of mayonnaise will make them rich in flavor and very few know why your potato’s are so great!)
In a Casserole Dish place the meat mixture on the bottom, cover with potatoes and top with the cheddar cheese.
Bake on 350 degree’s for 20 minutes.
As you know, I’m a private chef. And with being a private chef comes a HUGE responsibility to make great food, every night. I am blessed, because the majority of my clientel are health conscious, food lovin’ fanatics much like myself- who have a deep appreciation for the fine tastes in life.
Slow Food is something I have been an advocate of for years…. well, 5 years (I’m only 30)
It means taking time to slow down and enjoy a home cooked meal with your family, take the time to prepare a slow cooked sauce. Make the time to braise your meat until it’s tender and falling off the bone, and go hand pick your produce from the garden. Take the time to slow down and savor the moment.
My goal, as a Private Chef, is to cook with heart and to create an experience for my guests. I want to create a culinary moment that they’ll enjoy.
So last night I made a dish that I gave an A+. I ordinarily would NEVER rate my food with such fervor- but I’m telling you, this dish knocked not only my clients socks off, but it rocketed me to the 4th dimension!!! Out of this WORLD!!!
We started with just a very simple organic wild green salad with beets and a warm goat cheese round, followed by pan seared wild Alaskan halibut served with a curried corn sauce (slow cooked, may I add, making my stock from scratch and infusing all that glorious spice and cream and corn and heat into one mouthwatering bite) tomato relish and sauteed spinach. It was elegantly presented on a classic white rectangular plate and had all the elements of a great foodie moment…. it was spicy, sweet, savory and salty.
So what’s your favorite thing to make it the kitchen? What sets your jets in motion and rockets your taste buds into the 4th dimension? Happy Eating everyone, from Organicopia’s kitchen to yours.
Who loves Opah?
I’ve never had it before, but I got some last night. TDF (To die For) I made a pretty scrum-didily-uptious menu that I thought you may like to try.
Opah with a dijon herbed crust, slow roasted cherry tomatoes with rosemary and garlic served with a brown and wild rice pilaf, citrus and dried cranberries with almonds- and finally, some sauteed spinach.
I garnished this lovely little meal with a cilantro pesto I made that was sweet, tart and garlicy. The bomb digity.
I think the biggest difficulty home chef’s make is not prioritizing their meals. I always try and start making the component in the meal that takes the longest first, in this case, the tomatoes- finishing with the fish, obviously, so that everything comes out onto the plate hot and delicious.
Sometimes it helps to write a list of what to do first so you keep focused. My mom for example, gets lost in the kitchen every single Thanksgiving. It takes her all fricking day to cook the meal (even though we’ve had the same thing every year since before I was even born) and you’d think she’d get quicker as the years go by, with all the practice she’s had…. her problem is she doesn’t prioritize her time.
When you are cooking, start with all the prep work. (the chopping, slicing and dicing, measuring and mixing) In the restaurant world we call this our Mis En Place (everything in place). Once you have your ingredients together, THEN start cooking. Here’s my totally awesome recipe for Opah that I created last night. I thought it was pretty good. I’d love to know what you think. Send me your feedback either here, or post it on my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/myorganicopia
1 tbls. dijon mustard
1 tsp. agave nectar (dark or light, your preference. Or even some brown sugar or honey would work just as well)
2 tbls. finely minced herbs ( tarragon, basil, thyme, parsley….. whatever herbs you have a lot of)
Mix the dijon, agave, herbs, salt and pepper to taste in a small mixing bowl and spread on top of your fish like a paste.
Turn your grill on.
Spray the skin of your fish with either a little “Pam” or EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Grill your fish, SKIN SIDE DOWN, for 10 min. DON’T FLIP THE FISH!!! Allow it to cook all the way through, at roughly 400-425 degrees.
1 bunch cilantro
2 garlic cloves
1 tbls. honey or agave
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 tbls. red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Puree all ingredients in either a blender or food processor.
Brown rice/Wild Rice Pilaf:
1 c. brown/wild rice mix ( whole foods)
2 1/2 c. water or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. toasted sliced almonds
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 tbls. agave nectar
Add water (or stock) with rice to a small pan. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 40 min. (brown rice always takes longer than regular rice)
Toast your almonds over a stove top until nutty and golden brown
Once the rice has cooked, stir in the almonds, cranberries, lemon juice and agave.
Stir. Season to taste, if need be.
3 tbls. garlic
2 lbs. spinach (organic)
1 tsp. evoo
Salt and pepper to taste
Red wine vinegar to taste
In a very hot sautee pan, add your garlic and quickly take off the heat, so it doesn’t burn.
Add your spinach and stir constantly until the spinach has wilted, adding a little at a time until all the spinach has cooked through.
Add salt and pepper to taste as well as a splash of red wine vinegar for some tang.
Pre-heat oven to 250.
Toss cherry tomatoes with EVOO, fresh herbs, garlic and rosemary.
Bake tomatoes for 1 1/2 hrs. slowly to bring out the natural sugars in the tomatoes. The tomatoes will slowly burst and concentrate the flavors.
Take a large plain white plate ( I love square or rectangular plates for my food, but circles are just as beautiful)
Push 1/4 c. rice into a measuring cup and tap out in the center of your plate
Sqeeze the liquid out of your spinach, so it’s not watery, and put the spinach in a 1/4 c. measuring c. as well- tap onto the rice, making a tower
Take your fish from the gril and lean up against your spinach and rice
Take a spoonful of tomatoes and put on top of the fish or right next to the fish against the rice/spinach.
Garnish your plate with the cilantro sauce.
~ Recipe created by Organicopia’s Chef Molly Holbrook
Who doesn’t love a fresh squeezed glass of crisp, tart lemonade? If you don’t, you obviously haven’t experienced the joy that I’ve found with my new, handy dandy lime and lemon sqeezers.
I have found myself walking across the street and picking oranges off my neighbors tree just so I can squeeze my little heart out…… that’s how much I love my new hand held juicer. I got it at whole foods. It was pricy, I’m not gonna lie. Probably like, 18-22 bucks- or something like that. I never look at the price because any food gadget I purchase is a write off to me so, YAAAAAYYYY for Whole Foods. But what I’ve REALLY fallen in love with, is the fact that my hands no longer sting like the dickens when I juice my citrus.
I wash dishes for a living. Literally, all day long, I’m washing away. My hands get sliced, raw, dry and cracked. I also cook for a living. So you can imagine all the chopping, slicing and dicing I do as well. And then there’s the actual act of cooking, where I love to use my citrus. Citrus brings out the “idea” that what I’m serving is so decadent, full flavored and bright that it couldn’t possibly be ” healthy” for me…… but it iiiiisssssss.
That’s why I love my hand held juicer. It eliminates the screams, salivation from pain and gripes that I make each and every time the acid hits the cuts all over my hands. I no longer have to torture myself, just to make my food taste good. :)
Here’s a recipe I know you’ll love. I like to serve it in a beautiful glass pitcher with fresh basil and lemon to garnish.
I call it an Italian Spritzer. I make it religiously thoroughout the summer and I can guarantee you’ll become just as obsessed as I have.
To the Dull day’s of summer everyone!!!! Life is good!
Recipe for Italian Spritzers:
2 cups fresh lemon juice ( seeds omitted)
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 bunch basil (about 30 leaves)
1 quart soda water (seltzer water)
lemons slices and basil leaves for garnish
Put 1 c. sugar and 1/2 c. water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, reducing it to a light simmer for 3 min.
Turn off the heat and immediately add your basil leaves. This is going to be a basil simple syrup. Let the basil rest in the simple syrup for 20 min. or until the simple syrup has cooled completely.
Meanwhile, squeeze your lemons. Strain into a large glass pitcher. Put into the fridge to chill.
Right before service, pour your simple syrup through a strainer into the lemon juice, omitting the basil leaves.
Add 1 quart of soda water and lots of ice.
Give it a healthy stir and pucker up!!!! :)
Garnish the glass with a round of lemon and some fresh basil. I always like to garnish with something that is in the dish.
Have a great summer everyone!
I love cheese you guys. That ooey gooey, salty, melt in your mouth cheese. I love blue cheeses, goat cheeses and of course my latest favorite is brillatt…… A triple cream brie cheese that is literally so sinfully deliscious and rich that it falls off the rind.
I’ve also had the true pleasure of meeting a girl named Kristen, owner of Serendipity Jams, based out of Santa Cruz. All of her fruits come from the farmers market and they’re all organic. Her family has been making jams for years and now she’s taken all her family recipes and turned them into a masterpiece….. balsamic -strawberry, boysenberry -sage, brandied peach…… these are just a few of the full bodied, fruit forward jams that I thoroughly enjoy with my brillat cheese.
I sit in front of the TV with my jammy jams and cheese, eating water crackers and watching Real Housewives of Orange County. :)
If any of you are like me and crave the salty rich sweetness of a decadent dessert before you go to bed, try out this combo. You won’t be disappointed. They are by far, the best combination I’ve found yet, for my foodie pallet.