Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sara's Mushroom Tart

Just thought I'd post a few pictures of the mushroom tarts my lovely and talented fiancee' made for me the other night.

Perfectly roasted mushrooms, smoky, creamy gouda cheese on buttery, flaky puff pastry. I drizzled a bit of white truffle oil on mine for some extra shroomy goodness.

We had a simple, green salad with some home made lemonade aioli, and some francis coppola chardonnay.

It was delicious. Be jealous.



I'd share the tart recipe with you, but Sara would come to your house in the night and suffocate you. So here's the Aioli...

1 Egg Yolk
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
6 ounces of grape seed oil
1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoons of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of olive oilo

1. In a bowl whisk together the egg yolk and lemon juice until pale yellow, and frothy. Whisk like you mean it.

2. SLOWLY and while whisking (still vigorously, you should totally be sweating) drizzle in the grapeseed oil. slowly equals less than 1 teaspoon at a time until you've achieved a proper emulsion. That's a big word, but you'll know your not screwing up when the mixture thickens with the addition of oil. If you have a thin, oil slick mess, you should start over. HINT: buy a lot of lemons... newb.

3. If you've reached this step, you're probably a better cook than everybody you know. If the aioli is too thick, you can a touch of water to thin it out. Otherwise, add the lemon zest, sugar, and season with salt and pepper. You're looking for a nice, slightly sweet, lemony dressing that's reminiscent of lemonade. You can finish the dressing with a dash of extra virgin olive oil for another layer of flavor. It goes great with some bitter, peppery arugula. ENJOY!


Monday, December 6, 2010


So... I ate one of these for the first time, and of my own volition.

Honestly, I had zero expectations. I was in a pinch. I knew it would be awful. I was not surprised.

For years I've heard from friends of the majesty of the McRib....

Friend (namely, my buddy Jimmy) : "Hey Juan, did you hear? THE MCRIB IS BACK!!"

Myself (disgusted): "Why do you know this?"

Let's be honest with ourselves, the McRib is made from the same ground pork they feed prisoners. pressed into the shape of comical, operation style ribs, slathered in the same shitty BBQ sauce that comes with your nuggets, and finally, for some class, sprinkled with the Mickey D's trademark onions and pickles...

An aside... I absolutely love pickle. However, when I was a child, I was convinced that I hated them. This notion was entirely based on the McDonald's "pickle". I'm not sure what type of liquid those pickles are... pickled in, but I'm fairly certain it contains the drug test urine from each potential McDonald's employee for the year. If you think you hate pickles too, TRY OTHER PICKLES. Anyway...

How is this something people look forward to? Why does everybody know when "the McRib is coming to town"? I understand that much of the allure of fast food comes in it's affordability, (how's that for a made up word, mama grizzlies?) and based on that fact, I can only hope the success of the McRib is due to the fact that the working man can't afford barbecue sauce. That has to be the secret, the barbecue sauce. If you ever find yourself having to smuggle a few kilos of smack into the country, just eat a McRib before you get on the plane. The drug dogs will be so preoccupied with the bog-of-eternal-stench BBQ sauce stain on your trousers, they'll never find the bag of dope strapped to your taint. If barbecue sauce is in fact the issue, please working man, go to the grocery store and buy a tub (yes, a tub) of Lloyds, of hell, even Manwich. For my loyal readers, I am in fact endorsing Manwich.

If I have any readers who are actual fans of the McRib and live in the Orlando area, I implore you to please try any of the following for a barbecue revelation.

1. For the best BBQ in Orlando: On a Friday or Saturday, take the 417 to Aloma and head towards Oviedo. There is a run down church, on the right, once you enter "Slavia" that turns into an outdoor BBQ extravaganza. Seriously, best BBQ I've ever had.

2. A literal tie for first place:

3. Great, beastly ribs

4. The Bubbalou's on Lee Road only, all other's suck ass.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Iron Chef is Super Balls

So, I'm sitting at the house, flipping through the channels when lo, and behold I stop at the cooking channel. Shocker. I'm watching some rando with a boner for seafood and tribal tats put out some plates for the purveyors of his restaurant; when, after ten minutes of way too many bamboo smokers, and an unnatural love for halibut, a commercial informing me of my next viewing choice blankets the screen. Iron Chef.... JAPAN. That's right, the real deal. Not the horrific American abomination featuring Bobby Frrray. He lost twice to those slick, Japanese, ninja chefs for the record. It was only when the good ole' US of A made their own version, that he got his "revenge".

My inner child-chef squeals in delight. I watched this show like it was my job when I was 14. My friends had posters of Cindy Crawford on their bedroom walls. I had a poster of this guy. Needless to say, I endure the remaining ten minutes of Chuck's Day Off, wherein he made a mojito that was less adult beverage and more fourth grade cafeteria fruit salad.

Iron Chef comes on, finally. The chairman is swallowing food whole, grinning maliciously, and making yellow bell peppers frightful that they're next... because they always are. He's monologuing about the culinary bad ass that's about to compete against his gang of veritable cooking yakuza. The only thing that could make the gastro-bout more fantastic is if the loser committed seppuku, and who knows, some of them probably did. It's no wonder this show caught on in America, it's completely over the top.

I was unprepared for what happened next: I was wholly uninterested. I was fighting to enjoy myself, to relive my teenage years of staying up way too late to watch Hiroyuki Sakai, the French Samurai, completely dream crush Bobby Flay, but I just couldn't do it. It probably has something to do with the fact that I went to culinary school, and am in the industry. It forces me to see through the mystique of creating five plates of insanity in an hour. I know that a good portion of their food is already prepared. I know that they have a week to plan their menus. I know that they have an army of cooks at their disposal, peeling garlic and scrubbing potatoes.

It saddens me that the show that was a childhood inspiration to make amazing food for a living has devolved to, at best, a guilty pleasure. It's like finding out Santa isn't real. I'm ecstatic at the amount I've learned about my job in such a short time, but I am nostalgic for that fourteen year old feeling. Knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss.

Friday, April 9, 2010



Only a little less Russian, and a lot more Portuguese.

So, with the strange exception of Lasagna and Ketchup (A story for another time my friends...) My Dad's absolute favorite food is Beef Stroganoff. Pops used to travel a lot when I was a kid, but every time he would come back from fixing mainframes in far off lands, my mom would have some Stroganoff waiting for him. My mom's recipe is based on the Brazilian version of the dish, which is apparently all the rage down there... No seriously, check out wikipedia.

Here's the Juancho version:

2 oz. Dried Porcini Mushrooms (Don't let the weight fool you, that's two packages)
3 cups Beef Stock
1 ea. Rosemary Sprig

2 ea. New York Strip Steaks, 12-14 oz each
1 tbsp. Smoked Paprika
2 tbsp. Flour
Olive Oil

1 ea. Medium Yellow Onion, small dice
1 ea. Shallot, small dice
2 ea. Garlic Clove, minced
1 tbsp. Tomato Paste
1/3 cup Sherry

1/3 cup Heavy Cream

Truffle Oil

1. You must rehydrate your mushrooms, as a crunchy Beef Stroganoff would probably be pretty awful... To do so:

2. Bring the beef stock to a simmer and add the mushrooms and rosemary. Let this bubble happily while you proceed to step 3. Just make sure to keep your eye on it. Ideally you want the 3 cups of stock to reduce by half (that'd be 1.5 cups of liquid remaining).

3. So, I used New York Strip because I had it already, but feel free to use whatever cut of meat you'd like. Just make sure to remove any excess fat / connective tissue and cut the steak into 1" cubes.

4. Liberally season your newly cubed meat with Salt, Pepper, Smoked Paprika, and then dust it with Flour (2 tbsp. of Flour should be more than enough to achieve said dusting).

5. Sear the steak in olive oil, a few pieces at a time, so as not to overcrowd your cooking vessel and deprive it of it's heat. You are looking to brown the exterior of the meat so as to generate tastiness. Once the outside is crispy, browned, and delicious, remove the steak from the pan and set it aside.

6. In the same pan, without washing all the bits out (I promise, they're delicious), sauté your onions until translucent, and add your shallots and garlic.

7. Once the garlic becomes aromatic add your tomato paste. Sauté until the mixture turns a rusty, reddish brown color.

8. Deglaze with Sherry, scraping up all the tastiness from the bottom of the pan. Let this reduce "Au Sec" (Until there is very little moisture left from the Sherry).

9. Remove the rosemary sprig from the stock and toss it. Add the stock n' shrooms to the pan with the onions and tomato paste and bring the pan to a simmer.

10. Add your beef to the pan in order to bring it back up to temperature.

11. Before service, stir in your heavy cream.

12. My dad loves his stroganoff over egg noodles, you can cover whatever you'd like with it though. Rice, Potatoes, etc....

13. Garnish with some chopped parsley, and if you're feeling particularly spritely, drizzle your finished plate with a little truffle oil, for that extra shroomy kick.