Avocado, Sausage, Onion and Wisconsin Jalapeno Colby Cheese quiche

January 17, 2011

1 Avocado – pitted and thinly sliced
¼ cup minced onion
6 oz Ground sausage (good quality)
1 oz canola or Grapeseed oil (if needed)
3 oz grated Widmer’s jalapeno Colby cheese
4 large eggs
¾ cup 2% milk
¼ tsp Salt
Dash of Ground Black Pepper (more if desired)
1-9” Pie crust

Preheat oven to 350˚F

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Toss in ground sausage and break apart as you cook. Stir and cook until it just starts to brown, still a bit pink. Add oil if there is not a lot of fat from the sausage and toss in onions and continue cooking until onions are lightly browned and sausage is completely cooked. Remove from heat and transfer sausage onion mixture to a separate bowl.

Take pie shell and line bottom with ½ avocado in a circle. Add in sausage and onion and top with grated cheese. Then layer remaining ½ avocado in a circle on top of the mixture making sure to press in slightly to stay below top.

In a separate bowl whisk together eggs and milk until well incorporated, stir in salt and dash of pepper. Pout egg mixture into pie shell and carefully place quiche onto a baking sheet and then into the oven, towards the bottom 1/3 of the oven.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until set and center no longer jiggles when checked. Remove from oven and allow to set for 5 minutes before cutting.

Irish Creme Moussecarpone Pie

January 4, 2011

This pie was created after working with Wisconsin Crave Brothers mascarpone in a variety of fashions including simply blending equal parts of mascarpone and chocolate. I took it one step further and created a crispy crust of fresh chopped pretzels, a little bit of butter and some brown sugar for sweetness.

It’s a nice dessert to have ready in a few minutes and that all it takes to make this delicious creamy dessert. You need about 6 minutes to cook the crust to set it and then about 5-8 minutes to blend the chocolate that you melted into the fresh mascarpone cheese. It really is that simple and your guests will think you went to great lengths; going to a bakery to purchase the pie or that you spent a lot of time in the kitchen creating this masterpiece.

Ingredients:
4 cups Pretzels – chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
10” deep dish pie pan or plate
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4 cups Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips, melted
4 cups Wisconsin Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
¼ cup Irish Crème Whiskey, you can substitute any variety
1 tsp Vanilla extract, pure

½ cup chocolate chips reserved for topping
whipped topping

1. Preheat oven to 325˚F
2. Chop pretzels in blender or doubled zip lock bag until very small particles then place into pie plate. Add in brown sugar and melted butter and blend together then press crumb mixture evenly into pie plate.
3. Place into oven and bake for 6 minutes, then remove from oven and set aside.
4. While crust is baking, melt the chocolate until smooth and creamy, make sure not to get any water into the chocolate or it will seize up and get lumpy.
5. Blend vanilla and Irish whiskey into mascarpone, mix until incorporated, and then gradually add in melted chocolate and whisk together until smooth. If you can’t do it by hand then use a hand mixer on low speed until mixture is smooth.
6. Spread the mixture into the still warm piecrust. Press lightly into the plate; this allows the mixture to flow into the crust to bind it to the filling.
7. Sprinkle the ½ cup of chocolate chips onto the top of the pie and place into a fridge and allow hardening for at least 1-2 hours.
8. Slice and serve with whipped topping and enjoy.

Cuisinart Rice Plus™ Multi-Cooker with Fuzzy Logic Technology

December 15, 2010


I like the Cuisinart Rice Plus™ Multi-Cooker with Fuzzy Logic Technology for one very important reason, it cooks with little guesswork on my part. As a professional chef it’s an easy setup and go cooking method and I really didn’t need to use the directions. I have noticed that a few review said that their rice cooking times seemed very long. On average cooking uncooked long grain or short grain brown rice does take some time. We are accustomed to having pre-done rice or minute rice, and cooking quality, healthy rice is simply not the same.

This is direct from the manufacturer: Cuisinart introduces a smarter way to cook rice…and a lot of other dishes, as well. Introducing the Rice Plus(tm) Multi-Cooker, the first product from Cuisinart with advanced fuzzy logic technology. This built-in “brain” senses fluctuations in cooking and automatically adjusts operation to ensure perfect results. With pre-programmed settings for six types of rice, plus oatmeal, soup, steam, slow cooking, and more – and easy dishwasher cleanup – this is destined to become a favorite.

I’ve used it’s many settings from cooking rice to making bean soup and everything has turned out perfect. I love it for cooking my brown rice. I simply add the rice, fill to the water level on the side based upon rice added and set it for brown rice and it’s done in about 1.5 hrs. Quick cooking is not necessarily the best for you even though it may be the simplest method of getting food to the table. If you want to eat healthy then you need to cook and prepare properly and this little cooker does the job. The interior wipes clean and the bowl for rice is easy to wash and wipe clean and the steaming insert just needs a quick rinse and you are ready to cook again. It doesn’t take up much counter space and I’ve kept it right by the sink to extend the faucet nozzle right into the cooker after adding rice to make the filling process that much simplistic. Lastly the nicest feature is the keep warm setting that allows you to hold the rice in the cooker without overcooking and turning to mush.

I did go back and spend some time on the directions after the initial setup and cooking and I must admit it is confusing and I could see how the common user would really have some difficulty in figuring out the cooking times and buttons. I give this rice cooker four stars for the quality of cooking and ease of setup, cleanup and service it offers but not five stars due to the complexity of the instruction manual. I think the steps and instructions could be written a little clearly and more towards the average consumer.

Just remember that quality cooking is more tan throwing food together it’s spending the time to create and bring out the best in your food. Do spend some time on the instruction manual if you are used to cooking minute of fast rice, because if you simply put rice in to cook 15 minutes before the rest of you meal is complete you will be waiting for your rice to complete the meal.

Cuisinart Rechargeable Salt and Pepper Mill

November 29, 2010

Right from the box this salt and pepper set worked well. There did seem to be an issue of charging but when I switched sides both units charged accordingly and have never been a problem since. The ease in changing the grind certainly helps with a variety of textures needed. Some recipes call for a coarse grind pepper such as grilled steaks but a finer grind in soups and sauces. This also applies to the salt mill as well and it’s ease of use.

The handle is ergonomically designed and comfortable to hold and both units have an easy to press button on the top to start the grinding. The base unit is great for storage and makes recharging easy as well as economical, thus saving on tossing batteries into landfills.

I also like the light feature so you can see what your grinding into and how much. The hoppers hold a nice amount of salt or pepper and are interchangeable and it you desire to add a variety of herbs or dried garlic/ginger the grinders are equally up to the task. Once I’ve used the grinder I simply put back into teh charging base and it ready for the next culinary need. Very simple and straight forward without a lot of guesswork on operation and cleaning the grinders and base charging station is a snap with a simple wipe with a damp cloth.

Pick up a set and enjoy the versatility of grinding wihtout the constant twisting of your wrist. Both grinders are also kid friendly, just make sure they hold them high enough above the food without dropping them into the pot, dish or plate.

Cuisinart Toaster Oven

October 21, 2010

The Cuisinart TOB-195 costs a little more than most toaster ovens but it has loads of features

1. All the controls are right in front.
2. Oven has a great convection feature.
3. Non-stick walls for easy clean-up.
4. Fits the pampered chef circular baking pan.
5. easy to clean surfaces.

The two main complaints is that the door gets really hot and does not pull the tray out when you open it. The door was hot enough to burn my daughter’s finger which occurred only after a really brief touch when opening to pull out some toast. The other issue is that the crumb tray needs to be removed from the back of the oven. That makes it difficult to clean since you have to pull the oven away from the wall to remove the tray.

The really nice feature of this oven is the quick start up, coming up to temp in a few minutes. It’s been great for my family and excellent for dorm style living where a small oven makes short work of those late night hunger pangs. The oven is so versatile that it cooks pizza to a delicious crispness one moment and then is ready to toast of your favorite bagel the next. My family likes it because it’s also an energy saver vs using the larger wall oven.

I like the overall look and versatility of using the larger oven for bigger items and then using this oven for cooking breads, smaller vegetable dishes and fresh baked muffins and pastries for the family.

You will not be disappointed if you purchase this oven but I do recommend making sure that your little ones are warned about the hot oven door and the possibility of getting burned. If purchasing for a dorm room make sure you have ample space for the rear tray removal and keep in mind it will get hot across the entire surface area so don’t store items on top or place it into an enclosed space.

Cooking with Passion – Is it true?

October 18, 2010

After a week at the Culinary Institute of America I came away with a resurgence of fire to cook well, eat well and run the best operation I know possible. For a week the honeymoon thoughts were in place, and then there was today.

Can anyone tell me what grilled means? Anyone at all? To me that means put onto a flat grill or char broiler and cooked over high heat. In that I asked for grilled cabbage I expected to see cabbage on the grill. No, what I received looked like tissue paper run through the washing machine, in essence steamed cabbage.

Grilling vs steaming, it’s not a difficult concept to grasp but it’s one that perplexes my mind when I look over the menu for service. Three step process

1. Turn on grill and season with oil when ready
2. Slice up cabbage and season with salt and pepper
3. Grill and pan up, and place on line for service.

Instead they went with a 4 step process

1. Turn on steamer
2. Rough cut cabbage and toss into pan.
3. Steam off Cabbage till is’ wilted and colorless
4. Add butter and walk it by the salt and pepper shaker and place on the line for service.

I guess I’ll need to have a cabbage grilling 101 course utilizing concepts of hot and cold and on and off for the grill. Maybe I should post a do not cross line around the steamer?

Healthy Cooking at the Culinary Institute of America

October 3, 2010

In looking at my Blog photo you can see the Colivata restaurant at the CIA. This week I return to the campus to continue my culinary training and honing of skills. I’ll be taking Healthy Cooking class in the morning and business management class at night.

The day starts at 5:30am and then ends around 8pm. What’s nice is that my place of rest is the Journey Inn, located directly across from the Vanderbilt Estate. Journey Inn is run by two sisters, Diane and Michelle DiNapoli, who are two of the most wonderful people you would ever meet. The B&B is beautiful and the rooms are comfortable, nicely decorated and relaxing. Service is top notch and if you get the chance, have breakfast, their selections are the best way to start your day.

I did enjoy my day, and was able to get to see the Vanderbilt property, FDR’s home and Eleanor’s home after her husbands passing in April of 1945. I then went to the CIA campus and spent a few hours at the library doing some research on healthy cooking along with recipe searches.

Tomorrow starts early so I’m heading off to bed.

Fresh Salads for your health

September 23, 2010

Today I had the pleasure of stepping into Earth-n-Eats produce truck. Samuel stops by every Thursday like clock work and the produce selections are simply incredible. From micro mixed greens including micro mustard greens, along with baby eggplants, the selections offered included some of the most delicious baby heirloom tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. what follows are three salads made with these fresh ingredients that are both colorful and flavorful.

The first salad was a snap pea salad with rough bias cut celery, fresh sliced radishes and pencil tipped asparagus. I made a Sesame ginger dressing with some fresh grated ginger, and sesame oil, a little bit of sugar and added a touch of fresh cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt. Very simple, and easy to make.

The second salad was fresh broccoli and cauliflower with grilled tofu and smoked Jalapeno cheese with sliced fresh mixed red and green sweet peppers. I made a nice honey red wine vinaigrette dressing with cracked black pepper and salt and touch six pepper blend for a little kick.

The last salad I made was using fresh heirloom baby tomatoes, sliced smoked Italian cheese, baby grape tomatoes and oil and vinegar with some minced garlic.

Fresh ingredients right off the farm, made fresh daily, can’t get any better than that!

WHAG-25, Tribute to Nikki Burdine

September 21, 2010

We will be creating some special recipes for Nikki Burdine’s last day at WHAG-25. She is leaving for a weekend Anchor job in KY. So stay tuned for her special recipe, that will be made on air, and later published in the Herald-Mail.

WHAG-25 Live at Noon, Salads for your health

September 15, 2010

I will be on WHAG-25 at noon making two healthy fresh salads today. The first will be a steak and potato salad atop mixed baby greens, with sliced red onion, Wisconsin Smokey Blue cheese and a light Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette dressing. The second salad is a variation of a Greek salad with Wisconsin feta, kalamata olives, red onions, banana peppers, and the same balsamic Honey Vinaigrette dressing.

The dressing is very light and refreshing and even though there is steak and potato on the first salad it’s not a lot, just enough for some great flavor and to give you the feeling of eating a steak and potato dinner with a nice salad. Think of it as a deconstructed Steak dinner at Outback without all the fat of blooming onion but with loads of fresh flavor mirrored with crisp fresh greens.