Posts Tagged ‘cooking’


I want to write.  I have a ton to say.  I want to give you a ton of information about factory farming and how horribly we treat farm animals.  I want to tell you not to eat any pork from an animal that was raised in a metal pen, 7 feet long by 2 feet wide that never sees the light or stands on dirt.  I want to share all the information that I’ve read, but I can’t write well and I don’t have much time.

If you are interested in what gives me nightmares and what has driven me to spend as much as 100 percent more for humanley raised meats for my restaurant and my home here are a few links to check out:

Humane Society of the US

Food and Water Watch

Sustainable Table

Righteous PorkChop

If you live in Reno please check out slowfoodreno.com and come to one of our meetings and say hello.  I can’t write well, but I can talk! 🙂

As for this recipe, it rocks.  If you want to cook Mexican food, pick up a Rick Bayless book.  I have three now and every recipe I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a ton) is awesome.

This recipe looks hard but it’s not!  I did it for dinner after work.

Gorditas with Classic Shredded Beef


  • 1.5 pounds boneless beef chuck steak, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 small white onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus oil to a depth of 1/2-inch for frying
  • 1 (28-ounce) can good-quality whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped or 2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 serranos or 1 to 2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and very finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 pound (2 cups) fresh, smooth-ground corn masa for tortillas or 1 3/4 cups powdered masa harina mixed with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking power
  • About 1/3 cup grated Mexican queso anejo or other dry grating cheese, such as Romano or Parmesan
  • About 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the meat with 2 quarts salted water, about 1/3 of the onions, and half of the garlic and simmer until the meat is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain, reserving the broth for another use. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it into coarse strands with your fingers or 2 forks. Don’t worry that there are bits of onion and garlic mixed with the meat.

Wash and dry the saucepan, set it over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is hot, add half of the remaining onions and cook until golden, about 6 minutes, then stir in the remaining garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and chiles and cook until most of the juice has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the shredded meat and simmer for a few more minutes, then taste and season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat a well-seasoned or nonstick griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. Knead the masa (fresh or reconstituted) to make it pliable, adding a little water if necessary to achieve a soft-cookie-dough consistency. Knead in the flour, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Divide the dough into 10 portions and roll into balls; cover with plastic to keep from drying out. Line a tortilla press with 2 pieces of plastic cut to fit the plates (to be on the safe side, cut them from a food storage bag; the thicker plastic usually works better for beginners). Gently press out a ball of dough between the sheets of plastic to about 4 inches in diameter (it’ll be about 1/4 inch thick). You’ve now made a gordita, which is what you call a fat tortilla. Peel off the top sheet of plastic, flip the gordita, uncovered side down, onto the fingers of 1 hand, and gently peel off the second piece of plastic. In one flowing movement, roll the gordita off your hand and onto the heated griddle or skillet. Bake for about 1 1/2 minutes, then flip and bake for another 1 1/2 minutes on the other side. The gordita will be lightly browned and crusty on the top and bottom, but still a little uncooked on the sides. Remove to a plate. Continue pressing and griddle-baking the remaining gorditas in the same manner.

When you’re ready to serve, warm the shredded beef. Rinse the remaining onions in a small strainer under cold water and shake to remove the excess moisture. Have the cheese and cilantro at the ready.

In a deep heavy medium skillet or saucepan, heat 1/2-inch of oil over medium to medium-high until the oil is hot enough to make the edge of a gordita sizzle sharply, about 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. One by one, fry the gorditas, turning them after they’ve been in the oil for about 15 seconds, until they’re nicely crisp but not hard, about 45 seconds total. When they’re ready, most will have puffed up a little, like pita bread. Drain on paper towels.

Once they all are fried, use a small knife to cut a slit in the thin edge of each one about halfway around its circumference, opening a pocket. As you cut them, fill each gordita with about 1/4-cup shredded meat and a sprinkling of the onions, grated cheese, and cilantro.


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We cut open the Applegate Farms, Oven Roasted Turkey Breast on Friday and the consensus was that it tasted like actual turkey and that is was awesome.  We sell a ton of turkey in the restaurant so I was really concerned that we might not like the new product.  With very few antibiotic-free, sustainable and humanely-raised options available in bulk packaging my quest for better meat could have been stopped dead cold.  Fortunately this is not the case!

We will crack open the ham and the salami this week, but I know they taste great because I have purchased them both at Whole Foods in retail packaging!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to offer sustainable, hormone and antibiotic free, humanely-raised meats at Dish.  As far as I can tell there is not another sandwich place in a 200 mile radius doing anything like we are!

We were also excited because we are now using Niman Ranch bacon.  Niman Ranch, though Bill Niman is gone, still has one of the best hog raising standards in the country.  I’m happy to say we are taking a large amount of $$ out of the factory farmed animal side of things and this is only the beginning.

A couple of other notes to put out there.  HBO is running a new documentary called Death on a Factory Farm.  I suggest you take a look at it.  It starts next week

I’ve mentioned before an organization that labels products with the Certified Humane logo.  Here is their up-to-date listing of producers across the US with links to each company’s website!

Okay so on to bread.  I purchased the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes per day last year and I love it.  We have made a ton of bread out of the book and the only time it didn’t turn out perfect was when I forgot how much flour I measured into the bucket and guessed wrong!

I would go out and buy this book if you like bread, you want to make your own and you don’t want to spend hours managing the process.  It’s incredibly easy and the results are great.  In fact when I made the honey whole wheat bread I took a loaf to work and all the employees thought it was great.  No easy task with a bunch of foodies!

So take a look at the below recipe, get the book to get all the exact details!

Oh and you can visit Zoe Francois’ (one of the authors of the book) blog to get more details – http://www.zoebakes.com


No Knead Honey Whole Wheat Bread- (makes 5 one-pound loaves)


  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
  • 6 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

Warm the water and milk to about 100 degrees. Add the yeast, honey, oil and the salt to the water in a 5 or 6 quart, resealable, lidded plastic food container.  You can pick these up at Resco or Smart and Final or other restaurant type food service places.

Now add all of the flour at once.  Mix with a wooden spoon, stand mixer with a dough hook, or a food processor fitted with a dough hook attachment.  You are done when everything is uniformly moist with no dry areas.  Should take no longer than a few minutes.

Cover with a lid, not airtight and allow to rise until it starts to flatten on the top or begins to collapse.  Should be about two hours.  Do not use mason jars with a lid or anything airtight…it could explode. Put the dough in the refrigerator overnight or for at least three hours.

I tried to make it in a loaf pan and didn’t put enough dough so experiment as you see fit.  I like the free-form loaves the best so I haven’t tried it again in the pan.

On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent it from sticking when you slide it into the oven.

Sprinkle the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a grapefruit size piece of dough.  Hold the dough, flour your hands if you need to.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.  You are forming a round ball of dough. The bottom side will be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during baking. The top will be mostly smooth and cohesive.

Rest the loaf on the pizza peel for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the loaf, preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a baking stone place on the middle rack and a empty metal roasting pan or broiler tray for holding water on the shelf below.

Dust the bread with flour and then slice about 1/8 of an inch slashes into the bread.  You can do them in any pattern you see fit.

After the 20-minute preheat, open the oven. Slide the bread onto the stone. Quickly pour 1 cup of hot water into the roasting pan or broiler tray, shut the door and bake for about 60 minutes until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Dot not open the oven or the steam will escape. The steam helps make the crust.

Allow to cool on a wire rack and then eat it!

Store the rest of the dough in your lidded, not airtight, container in the refrigerator up to 14 days!

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I unfortunately didn’t take a picture of this one.  But it’s rice pudding, how can you go wrong.  I made this on New Year’s Eve and it was a huge success.  I only slightly modified it from the Ina Garten recipe I watched on Food Network that day.

This is not low calorie in any way, shape or form, but it’s worth it.  Next time you want a treat give this one a try.

Perfect Rice Pudding (serves 6)

3/4 cup white basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
1 extra-large egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine the rice and salt with one and a half cups water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring it to a boil, stir once, and simmer, covered, on the lowest heat for 8 to 9 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed.

Stir in four cups of half-and-half and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, until the rice is very soft. Stir often, particularly toward the end.

Slowly stir in the beaten egg and continue to cook for one minute. Off the heat, add the remaining cup of half-and-half, and the vanilla.  Stir well. Pour into a bowl, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.

Serve warm or chilled.

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Yes you read it right, Chicken Fried Hamburgers. I found this recipe in Kenny Shopsin’s book, Eat Me. The book is a great read and I recommend that you check it out on Amazon or your favorite local bookstore. There are great stories mixed with recipes from his restaurant in New York.

This past week has been interesting to say the least. We started the week out slow, then got extremely busy and then ended with a crazy catering at a UNR Wolf Pack football game on Saturday. On Tuesday morning we thought the restaurant was going to blow up, burn down or just get sucked into the nether. We were all busy working when we started to smell burning electrical wire. We immediately all started running around the place smelling every piece of equipment. It was a mystery at first and then the power started to flicker on and off.

“Oh crap,” I thought. I’m a pessimist or a realist at best and I was having visions of something burning in the walls. About then one of the employees yelled out that she was pretty sure it was one of the display cases.

We all stuck our noses in the case and agreed something was wrong. Now I started thinking that the brand new compressor I had just recently installed was burning up and I could see the dollar signs mounting. Nancy immediately called our refrigerator guy who asked us a few questions and told us to turn it off after the lunch rush and he would be by at the end of the day. Fortunately when he got there he discovered that it was only the plug thingee where one of the lights plug in. Damage = very little. YAH, this one worked in our favor.

As for the crazy UNR catering. I will tell you this, don’t trust a college student to point you in the right direction and always leave yourself time when you are delivering food. We fortunately gave ourselves more time than we needed, unfortunately we asked many college students for directions. To make a long story short, we rode the elevator up four floors, down three floors, walked halfway around the stadium to the left to only find out that it was a dead end, back to the start, all the way around to the right, dead end again, out the gate, back in the gate, up two stories and then we finally found the skybox. We did get our exercise for the day though!

Okay, on to the recipe. If you like hamburgers and you like grease and you like breading and you want something rich, then this is the way to go. I made the burgers pretty thick, about three quarters of an inch and they took a long time to cook in the oil. Next time, if there is a next time, I will do them a bit smaller than one half of an inch. The outcome was as follows – Nancy ate half and then told me I was crazy. Randy ate one and said they were interesting, but he liked them. Jacob and I ate one and a half each and then proceeded to start frying all kinds of crap while we watched Survivor (24, Survivor, Top Chef and Project Runway are my favorites shows!). If I recall correctly, we deep-fried some popcorn, cheese, peanut butter, bread and a cheese sandwich. Nancy scowled at us from the couch as we stunk up the house.

Chicken-fried Hamburger (makes 6 hamburgers)


  • Peanut Oil for deep-frying
  • 2 pounds ground beef (15 to 20 percent fat)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • All-purpose flour for dredging
  • Hamburger buns
  • Your favorite burger accoutrements

Preheat a deep fryer or a large potful of peanut oil over high heat to 375 degrees. Form the meat into six, five to six ounce patties. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Whisk the eggs and cream together in a shallow bowl. Put the flour in a separate bowl or pie pan. Dredge one of the hamburger patties in the flour and brush off the excess. Dunk the floured patty in the egg and cream mixture, lift, drain and repeat, dumping the patties back in the flour and then back in the egg and cream until you have gone through the process three times.

Carefully place one or two burgers in the oil and repeat with the remaining burgers, being careful not to overcrowd the deep fryer or the pot. Cook the burgers for 4 to 5 minutes until the crust is golden brown. While the burgers are cooking, butter and lightly toast the buns.

Serve them like any other hamburger…don’t forget to take your blood pressure medicine! Devour.

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I was going to post this before I left for the weekend, but time was short. So please read this like it was last Thursday or Friday!

Everyone is getting sick of chili in the house. This is the fourth version in the past two weeks. I made a buffalo chili this week, but didn’t like it so I’m not going to post about it. Not that it was bad, it was just not exciting in the least.

If you missed the first two versions you can find them here – Springfield Chilli & White Bean & Chicken Chili. Keep in mind that all three of these recipes are adapted from Cooking Light. They are not the full-fat versions!

We’ve continued to work on the business plan for the new restaurant and are almost done with the list of restaurants we are going to visit in San Francisco this weekend. There are so many cool places we want to visit to get inspiration for the interior of the new place.

I’m very much looking forward to visiting my friends, Diane and Brain’s, very cool, very unique candy store in San Francisco called The Candy Store. You can check it out here. Diane and I used to work together in the city back in the Internet hay days! Diane was one of my best friends in the city and I’m so excited that their store is successful. It had been a dream of hers for as long as I’ve known her, but the cost and expense of doing business is San Francisco is so high. She persevered and finally last year they were able to swing it. If you are ever in San Fran go take a look, it will be well worth it! And tell Diane Joe sent you.

As to my other major endeavor, keeping myself in shape…I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry about exercising or eating right until I come back from the city this weekend. Then I will get myself back on track. Though this chili is from Cooking Light so that’s helpful. Another picture below!

I did blow it big time last night. This will either make you queasy, laugh or make you feel sorry for me, but about six months ago we ran out of milk. We always have the fat-free variety in the house, so I decided to use some half and half. I loved it! Now I know that the caloric content is about 10 million times more so I don’t often do this, but every once in awhile I break down and have cereal with half and half. Last night was one of those nights. Two bowls at 9:00pm of a very cool Canadian cereal called Shreddies (my wife grew up in Canada) and a fair amount of cream. YUM! I’ve even tried it with heavy cream once, yes 40% fat, but this was a bit too much!

So how about more chili? This version is from Cincinnati and has pasta of all things. According to the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cincinnatians consume more than two million pounds of chili each year, topped with 850,000 pounds of shredded cheddar cheese. Wow, I guess I need to put A LOT more cheese on this next time. I did a Google image search and found some crazy pictures with so much cheese I couldn’t even begin to believe it. I guess this is fast food in Cincinnati.

Anyone from Cincinnati who can set me straight on what the real deal is let me know!

I liked it, not as much as the Springfield Chilli or the Chicken Chili, but it was a completely different taste profile and meal. Give it a try and let me know what you think. It was well worth the minimal effort to put it together.

Cincinnati Five-Way Chili (serves 4)

(adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground sirloin
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium), divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons spicy barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 3 1/2 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed, drained, and warmed
  • Oyster crackers (optional)

Heat oil a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add both the turkey and the sirloin to the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.

Add 2 cups of the onion and all of the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in 1 cup water along with the ingredients on the list up to and including the tomato puree. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Make the spaghetti when the meat mixture is almost done. Heat up the kidney beans in the microwave for one minute.

Place about 3/4 cup spaghetti into each of 4 bowls. Ladle 1.5 cups chili into each bowl. Top each serving with some onion, cheese, and beans. Serve with crackers and devour!

PS – I just picked up a cool Greek Cookbook. I’ve been wanting to try some Greek recipes for a while, not many good Greek places in Reno, so stay tuned. I think I will make pastitsio next week!

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Until this past weekend I had never made cornbread. Is this bad? I’m 40 years old and an owner of a restaurant? It seems like it might be bad and I shouldn’t be sharing this with my customers, but that has not stopped me in the past so what the heck.

I’m actually sitting in the restaurant right now, Wednesday night. Today was a killer day for us, in terms of sales and in physical energy spent, and it’s still going. I started the day behind schedule and stayed behind schedule right up until a few minutes before the caterings went out the door. Somehow, I don’t know how, they all went out, on time, correct without any shortcuts or sacrifices.

We are like cats when it comes to our catering business though, we always seem to land on our feet. I did have a feeling this morning though that I had used my nine lives and today would be the day that we might just miss something. I have this feeling periodically and each time things have worked out…hmmm, might be my inexperience and my general pessimistic (or what I call a realistic) attitude.

The difference between our catering business and many other catering companies is that we run a restaurant as well. What does this mean you might ask? We only have one kitchen and one staff to do both sides of the business.

We can almost completely control the catering side – we can turn down business for example if we are busy. We can’t control the traffic on the restaurant side. One day we will be slammed from the moment the doors open until we close…the next traffic will be normal and then the following day we could literally be bored and be sending people home early.

Today, for example, we had three lunch catering orders totalling about 80 people.  Each of the caterings has multiple moving parts.  Grilling chicken or tri tip, preparing the platters, making salads, bottling up salad dressing, baking fresh cookies or dessert bars, putting together the paper goods, drinks, chips, condiments, etc.

On a normal day we can do this without much problem, but today we had twice the amount of people than normal come in for breakfast, snacks and coffee drinks (the time when we are prepping for the day and creating the catering food).

It’s awesome and maddening at the same time. My regulars will know how busy we are with catering orders just by the way we look and how we act when they walk in the door.  They will look at me, laugh and tell me that I work too hard.  It’s mostly fun though, but I will tell you…don’t open a restaurant unless you truly love food, customer service, making people happy, cleaning and working hard, all for less than you can make working the counter at Starbucks.  Haha, okay not that bad.

As a matter of fact, I’m very excited right now because shortly I’m going to be cooking grilled filet of beef with a wine and shallot reduction for an event at the restaurant in a few hours. There was a time, not long ago, that I wasn’t trusted with any of the food here. I started with the salads only, then I was able to do the tri tip, later I was trusted with other proteins and tonight I get to prepare the slamming tenderloin! It’s pretty exciting and scary knowing that in a few hours there will be 18 doctors eating dinner in our restaurant and I’m preparing the main entree.  Fortunately tenderloin is fairly forgiving, but at $17.99 a pound and limited time I can’t screw it up…I won’t though!

Okay, so back to cornbread. I made a few versions this past weekend. All of them I made in a nine-inch cast iron skillet which seemed appropriate for cornbread.  The first version I used medium coarse cornmeal and a very small amount of sugar.  I was pleasantly surprised at the result. Nothing like the cornbread I’ve ever had. It was more rustic with more of a bite and was less sweet. It would be great topped with chili or to accompany a soup. I used yogurt in the first batch and buttermilk in the second.

The kids didn’t like the texture of either so I made another version Sunday night, adapted from Cooks Illustrated.  I used fine cornmeal and I added more sugar and more liquid. This was the favorite and the whole skillets worth was devoured in short order.

This cornbread is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Northern Style Cornbread (serves six to eight)

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more to grease the pan
  • 1 cup fine, yellow cornmeal such as Quaker in the round canister
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup shaken buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup milk

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet or a 9-inch square baking pan with butter.

Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Crack the eggs into the well and stir lightly with a spoon. Add the buttermilk and milk. Stir the wet and dry ingredients until almost combined. Add the melted butter and stir until the ingredients are just combined.

Pour the batter into the greased skillet or pan. Bake until the top of the cornbread is golden brown and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the skillet or pan, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool five to ten minutes on a wire rack or on a burner atop your stove. Cut and devour.

You can wrap in foil and store at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Reheat in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

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